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“The Lord’s Prayer, Part 5” (4-7-02

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Introduction: So far we have seen: 1. What prayer is: “Prayer is the soul’s breathing itself into the bosom of its heavenly Father” (Thomas Watson). “Praying is the same to the new creature as crying is to the natural. The child is not [taught] by art or example to cry, but instructed by nature; it comes into the world crying. Praying is not a lesson [learned] by forms and rules of art, but flow[s] from principles of new life itself” (William Gurnall). “Prayer is the pouring out of our hearts to God in faith with the help of the Spirit in adoring Him, thanking Him, praising Him, confessing our sins against Him and asking for His pardon, and in seeking the things He has promised for our good and the glory of His name.” 2. Why prayer is important: It’s commanded, it’s a part of the example we are to follow, it is through prayer that we ask for and receive God’s blessings, and the lack of prayer reveals a serious spiritual problem. 3. When we are to pray: we are to pray at all times cultivating communion with the Lord, continually until the Lord answers prayer, and consistently everyday in our private, family and corporate prayer. 4. How we are to pray: since prayer is an act of worship, it is important to the Lord how we pray. We are not to use vain repetitions or meaningless phrases, and we are not to pray to be seen by men or to receive honor from men. We are, for the most part, except when we are gathered for public prayer, to pray in secret. And when we pray we are to pray according to the pattern that Jesus gave His disciples. 5. From the preface to the Lord’s Prayer we learned that we are to address God as our Father, as those who are adopted members of His family. But we are to do so with reverence, remembering that He is in heaven and we are on the earth. 6. This morning, we will want to look at the first petition, “Hallowed be Your Name” (v. 6). And what I want us to see here is that Jesus teaches us to pray that we and everyone else would treat God as holy, or, which is the same thing, that His name would be regarded as sacred. I. First, we need to remind ourselves that if we and everyone else were simply left to ourselves, apart from the grace of God, we would not treat God as holy. We would treat Him as something common or profane at best and hate Him at worst. A. Now think about this for a moment. God is a King, the King of the universe. Would we ever treat the common royalty of this world as profane (if I can use this term because of the great difference between God and the kings of this world)? No.

2 We wouldn’t even dream of it. 1. If you lived in a great country, which was ruled by a wise and mighty king, one who was feared and respected throughout the world, and this king summoned you to appear before him, how would you treat him? a. Would you wear your cutoff jeans and sandals? No. Would you go without combing your hair, or you ladies, without putting on your makeup? No. You would dress up and groom yourself. You would make yourself look the very best you could. b. Would you address the king in familiar terms, “Hi, how’re you doing?” Would you turn your back on him while he was taking with you? No. You would polish up your manners and be careful to speak only in the most polite and courteous way. You would show him respect because of his great office. c. How would you treat the president of the United States? In a similar way. d. You wouldn’t treat him as a common person. You certainly wouldn’t treat him with contempt or threaten him. But this is exactly what the people of this world do to God. 2. If a king or president is worthy of the kind of honor we have been talking about, how much more is God? If we were to multiply that honor by a thousand, and then by a thousand more, we still wouldn’t come close to what it is that God deserves. B. But yet the Bible reminds us again and again that this isn’t how men treat Him. Why not? 1. The problem is that the hearts of all men are full of sin. a. Sin is a very powerful thing. It is an extremely potent evil. It is always at work and never takes a rest. b. It continually turns people away from God, rather than to Him. It makes them hate God, rather than love Him. c. Sin must be a terrible evil, for when a man looks at the most beautiful Being in all the universe through its eyes, he doesn’t see anything lovely or desirable, but only what is hateful. 2. But is it true that all men see God? If they do, why are there so many today who don’t believe God is real? a. First, it is true that all men see God and know that He exists, whether they admit it or not. Again, I would remind you of what Paul says in Romans 1:18-21, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

3 b. God’s wrath is continually poured out on man because knowing God, he rejects Him. God reveals Himself to every man, everyday, everywhere in the world. He is constantly showing the world His everlasting power and His infinite nature. Even the smallest blade of grass tells us that God exists. No one has any excuse not to believe in God. Even Helen Keller, who was born blind and deaf, who never saw the sun rise nor heard the voice of another human being, had enough of God’s revelation to convince her that God existed. c. If all men have all this knowledge, then why are there so many people who say they don’t believe in God? Are they being honest? No. They are lying to themselves and to others. They are being deceitful so that they can live with themselves. The truth is they know Him, and knowing Him, they love their sin and hate Him so much, that they will not confess Him. God’s revelation of Himself gets through to all men, leaving all without excuse. C. But are the unconverted the only ones with this problem? Are they the only ones who don’t treat God as they should? No. If we would only examine our own hearts and for a moment as Christians, we would also have to confess that we don’t treat God as we should. Why is this? 1. We have a very similar problem. We still have sin in our hearts. a. Does that mean that there isn’t any difference between us and the unconverted? No. We have grace in our hearts, while the unbeliever doesn’t. The Holy Spirit is actively at work in our hearts, if we are trusting in Christ. But sin is also there, so much sin, that if God did not help us, we would not be able to honor Him at all. b. Paul realized something about himself that we seldom do about ourselves. He realized that even though he was in Christ, he still had a lot of sin to wrestle with. He wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:15, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” Now if this was true of Paul, and that near the end of his life when his sanctification would have reached its height, how much more true is it of us? 2. This is why, left to ourselves, we would be as weak and helpless as the unconverted man when we try to give God the kind of glory and honor that he deserves. We cannot do it on our own. We need His help. 3. By the way I should mention that this petition and the next two are all aimed at sin, sin in man, sin in us. Sin is the problem; therefore the answer to the problem must be the bringing in of righteousness and the destruction of sin. In other words, it entails the bringing in of the kingdom of God, which is built on righteousness, and the overthrow of the kingdom of darkness, which is built on sin. II. What should be done then? Since it’s true that unconverted men don’t honor the Father as they should, and since we don’t honor Him as we should, what should we do? Jesus tells us to pray that God would bring this about.

4 A. He says that we should pray that the Father’s name would be regarded as holy. Why do you think He doesn’t tell us to pray that the Father Himself would be treated as holy? Why does He say His name? 1. A name is a revelation of who and what a person is. When God tells us His name, it is one of the ways that He tells us about Himself. 2. For instance, the name God, which is Elohim in Hebrew, reveals God as the One who made all things. He is the God of Creation. His name Yahweh tells us that He is the One who is the same no matter how many years go by. He is the One who will keep His Covenant. He will keep His Word to all generations, to those who love and fear Him. In other words, His name is an expression of who He is. 3. This is why it’s such a terrible sin to break the third commandment. The Lord says, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain” (Ex. 20:7). a. This commandment is broken whenever anyone uses God’s name in an empty or irreverent way, whenever anyone uses it as a common swear word. b. It’s also broken when a person takes an oath or makes a vow in God’s name and then breaks it. When we do this, we are calling God to bear witness to what we say as true, whether it’s something we’ve seen or something we are intending to do. If we call God to witness to a lie, then we are using His name in vain. We are not treating Him as holy. B. Therefore, when we pray that God’s name will be regarded as holy, we are praying that God Himself will be treated as holy. We are praying that God will be regarded as the most special and important being in the universe, both by Christians and nonChristians alike. 1. When Jesus tells us to pray this, He must certainly have the next two petitions also in mind, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done.” Unless His kingdom comes and comes with power by His Spirit, this petition will never be fulfilled. 2. But realize that this is a prayer both for ourselves and for others. a. Our Lord is telling us to pray that God’s love and mercy would so fill our hearts, that His Spirit would so fill our souls, that we would reverence Him and treat Him in this way, as well as everything else by which He is pleased to reveal Himself, such as His Word, His worship, His sacraments, His Providence, His Law, and His promises. It is also a prayer that in everything we think, say and do, we would bring honor to Him. It is a prayer, first of all, for our personal holiness, for our being filled with the Spirit, for unless our hearts are filled with His gracious influences, we will never be able to treat God in this way. b. But He is also telling us to pray that God would so pour out His Spirit upon the earth, that everyone else would do the same. I don’t believe that this can only be fulfilled by the conversion of all men, but it certainly must be fulfilled by the pouring out of the Spirit. There are two reasons why a person might treat God as holy, one is love and the other is fear. The Christian has both, but the unbeliever can only fear. In this case, our prayer would be that the fear of the Lord would so fall upon the people of this world that they would begin to reverence the Lord as they should, so that He would not fall

5 upon them in His wrath. There was a time when the fear of the Lord was far greater among unbelievers than it is today. Since the Enlightenment and the death of God movement, when the fires of hell were put out in the minds of men, that fear has not been as great. But the Lord can still bring it back, and we should pray that He would. C. One last thing I would draw your attention to is the place where this petition is in the Lord’s Prayer. 1. Notice that it comes first. What should this teach us with regard to prayer? It teaches us that we should be praying for God’s glory and honor first. Anything else that we might ask for is not nearly as important as the glory of God. 2. We need to learn to set aside our own comfort and our own well-being as being our primary concern and make God’s kingdom the foremost. I think we will find when we finally get to our needs, they will not be as great or as important as we thought they were in the first place. We also need to remember what our Lord Jesus will say later in the Sermon on the Mount, “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:31-33). If we put Him and His honor first, He will take care of all our needs.

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