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Part Three

:
Knowing the Father (1)
Matthew 6:5-9; Luke 11:1
Church in the Boro, Rob Wilkerson

Introduction: How’s Your Prayer Life?

For many people, saved and unsaved alike, God is a distant person who lives way up high in the
sky, far away from people and their interests. He is much like the other gods of the world who
stay out of people’s business until he wants something. Then he plagues and pesters humanity
with problems and punishments until mankind eventually wakes up and listens up and gives up.
Consequently, they do not know God like Jesus did. Jesus knew God as a Father. We often
refer to Him as the heavenly Father.

The misunderstanding or ignorance of God as a Father is what makes prayer so extremely
difficult, if not seemingly impossible sometimes. There are so many elements that go into the
makeup of how we actually view God. For many, dad was largely missing in our lives when we
were growing up. One author, David Blankenhorn, wrote a book in 1995 entitled, Fatherless
America: Confronting our Most Urgent Social Need (New York: Harper Collins). He writes there,

The United States is becoming an increasingly fatherless society. A generation
ago, an American child could reasonably expect to grow up with his or her father.
Today, an American child can reasonably expect not to. Fatherlessness is now
approaching a rough parity with fatherhood as a defining feature of American
childhood.

This astonishing fact is reflected in many statistics, but here are the two most
important. Tonight, about 40 percent of American children will go to sleep in
homes in which their fathers do not live. Before they reach the age of eighteen,
more than half of our nation's children are likely to spend at least a significant
portion of their childhood living apart from their fathers. Never before in this
country have so many children been voluntarily abandoned by their fathers.
Never before have so many children grown up without knowing what it means to
have a father.

If this trend continues, fatherlessness is likely to change the shape of our society.
Consider this prediction. After the year 2000, as people born after 1970 emerge
as a large proportion of our working-age adult population, the United States will
be divided into two groups, separate and unequal. The two groups will work in
the same economy, speak a common language, and remember the same national
history. But they will live fundamentally divergent lives. One group will receive

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basic benefits - psychological, social, economic, educational, and moral - that are
denied to the other group.

The primary fault line dividing the two groups will not be race, religion, class,
education, or gender. It will be patrimony. One group will consist of those adults
who grew up with the daily presence and provision of fathers. The other group
will consist of those who did not. By the early years of the next century, these two
groups will be roughly the same size.

Source: http://www.americanvalues.org/html/bk-fatherless_america.html

Maybe your dad, like mine, was so busy working that you hardly saw him around the house. I
have very few and vague memories of “hang out” time with Dad, outside of summer vacation.
And for that reason alone, I surmise it’s been difficult for me as a Christian to get a grip on how
to relate to God as my Father, since I don’t recall much relating to my own father. Maybe some
of this was related to the fact that I was a “typical” teenager, pursuing my interests in females
and basketball, and basically “doing my own thing.” Perhaps I don’t recall some of my father’s
involvement because I was out to lunch much of the time. Nevertheless, the fact that I don’t
have an overwhelming recollection of always having dad around with me supports the
conclusion that my dad just wasn’t…well…around very much.

I wonder how much worse this is for the children who live in my neighborhood. We live on
Mikell Street here in Statesboro, which is not exactly one of the most upstanding pillars of the
city. The poor, needy, and mainly fatherless live on my street. There are over twenty children
who don’t live in my house, and six of them have their father living with them. And those two
families just moved in about six months ago. Most of the adults in my neighborhood didn’t
grow up with their father either, so this concept of getting a woman pregnant and then leaving
her and the baby to be cared for by the government was as normative as eating, drinking,
breathing, and sleeping.

Imagine then what it must be like to think of God as your Father. If you don’t have one now, or
never did have one, how can you relate? What do you think a father is even like to begin with?
Those who live on my street have some vague recollections of men who moved in to live with
their mommas and shack up for a while, drink a lot, do drugs, beat them, yell and scream at
them, get their mommas pregnant again, only to leave and repeat the cycle in another
household somewhere else. That vague notion was called “step-dad.” And I have to think that
in some strange way this actually exacerbates the problem of relating to God as Father.
Without a father around at all it’s at least easy to start from scratch and be educated about God
as a Father. But when you’ve had an abusive step-dad in the house for any amount of time, or
when that step-dad cycle has been repeated over and over again, you gotta believe that there’s
some serious re-education that has to be done in order “unlearn” what a father is supposed to
be before you can re-learn what God as a Father is like.

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Daddyology: A Brief Introduction to the Doctrine of God as Father

The bottom line in all of this is simple, isn’t it? Dad just isn’t around. He’s somewhere else. We
would say in some sense that he’s “transcendent.” We don’t know where he is…he’s just…out
there. The Jews had a concept of God as “transcendent” but their view was shaped differently
than ours. God lived among them and with them when the nation first started. Officially Israel
probably became a nation of people after the Exodus from Egypt. They had God leading them
as a pillar of cloud by day, a pillar of fire by night, and they saw thundering, lightening, and
smoke ascending and descending from Mount Sinai when God was talking to Moses. They saw
the pillar of cloud ascend and descend into the tabernacle which was built in the wilderness.
The point is that they saw a physical, visible, tangible presence of God.

As Israel grew and matured as a nation their relationship with God de-matured. They didn’t
have a relationship with God as a Father. Their relationship was primarily one of servant and
not son. As a result, it became harder and harder for them to relate. Yet this was something
that was intentional on the part of God Himself. He wanted His people, His creation, to see that
only a relationship of Father and Son would do for humanity, because the relationship of
Master and Servant simply doesn’t hold up in the long run. The heart isn’t changed.

As a result, God was forced to discipline and punish Israel for their disobedience. The nation
was split in half, each of which was carried off into different parts of the world under two
different kings and kingdoms. When they came back about seventy years later, they were so
insistent and determined that they not go into exile or be punished by God again that they
decided to firm up their relationship with Him. Only now, the relationship was still built on God
and Servant, but with such a transcendent view of Him that they didn’t even dear mention His
name. They figured that by acknowledging how holy God really was, they’d be fearful to sin
against Him. So they just decided to not say or write His name anymore as a reminder to them.
All this did was simply separate themselves from God in heart and mind even more. This is
precisely where we find the people of Israel by the time Jesus arrives on the scene.

There is a famous scene from Monty Python’s The Life of Brian. (And everything
in the movie doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of this
pastor.) It’s the stoning scene where John Cleese is acting
as the priest or Sanhedrin member in charge of executing
those whose disobedience of God’s law deserves death.
You can click on the picture to the right and access that
scene from Youtube.

In the scene from the movie, Matthias, son of
Deuteronomy of Gath, is being charged with “uttering the
name of our Lord, and so as a blasphemer,” he was “to be
stoned to death.” In his defense, Matthias simply stated
that the piece of fish his wife cooked for dinner was “good enough for Jehovah.” At that, John
Clease and the attending crowd of women (pretending to be men, since only men could be

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present at a stoning, according to Jewish law) were shocked at the outrageous and
blasphemous uttering of the Lord’s name again! After sending one to the back for starting the
stoning too early, Matthias pipes up, “Look. I don’t think it ought to be blasphemy, just saying
Jehovah,” and more screaming and outrage ensues. Another person throws another stone,
again too early. The scene ends with John Cleese correcting the crowd that no one was to
begin the stoning until he blew his whistle, and that was even if, they say “Jehovah.” And with
that, the angry, transvestite mob stoned the priest instead!

Jesus Came to Earth with a Clear Sense of Father-Son Relationship

A early as twelve years old, Jesus had a sense of God as His Father. Maybe you’ll recall that
story where his parents had left town, but Jesus didn’t keep up with them. Instead, He stayed
behind discussing the things of God with some Jewish leaders. After a frantic search His
parents found Him and scolded Him. But Jesus responded, “Why were you looking for me? Did
you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).

Jesus submitted to His earthly father, Joseph, until around 30 years old when it was clear to
Jesus at least that His earthly ministry should begin. And begin it did with His baptism by John
the Baptist. After Jesus was baptized, Matthew tells us in his gospel that “a voice from heaven
said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (3:17). This was Jesus’ Father, of
course, which marks for us again this clear sense of relationship which Jesus had with His
heavenly Father, and which Matthew and the other disciples also recognized in Jesus.

In Jesus’ first sermon following His temptation in the wilderness, He gathered His disciples and
began to teach them about the kingdom, with scores of others gathered around listening in on
the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). After the introduction on those who are blessed,
Jesus introduces the concept of God as Father in verse 16 of chapter 5, with the phrase, “give
glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Following this, Jesus refers to “your Father” and “our
Father” fourteen more times. For Jesus, it was crucial that the very first concept He introduced
to people, one upon which He would build everything else later, was upon the truth that God is
a Father.

For the Jew, this essentially had the effect of transposing everything they knew about God from
the OT over into Jesus’ understanding of God as Father. Now, this was not new to the Jew, to
be sure. God had been referred to in the OT, but I am only able to find four references to it:
Deuteronomy 32:6 (during Moses’ time), Isaiah 63:16 and 64:8 (during pre-exilic times), and
Malachi 2:10 (during post-exilic times).

However, the understanding of God as a Father, and particularly to the children of Israel, is
seen pretty clearly in passages like Exodus 4:22; Deuteronomy 14:1; 32:5-6; Isaiah 1:2; Hosea
1:10; and 11:1. God is spoken of as the father of the Israelites in general (1 Chronicles 29:10;
Isaiah 63:16; and Jeremiah 3:19), as well as to orphans and widows (Psalm 68:5). But
interestingly, it was only to two individuals in the entire Old Testament that God specifically
declared His relationship to them as a father, and that is David (2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 89:26),

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and Solomon (1 Chronicles 28:6). (These declarations, though, are within the context of the
kingship of these two men over Israel…something which is actually a foreshadow of Someone
greater to come later.) This shows us that it is not typical at all for God to be described in terms
of a father to individuals. Nor do we find individuals in the Old Testament expressing their
understanding of God as a father to them individually.

When we come to the gospels, we find that the fulfillment of the fatherhood of God to David
and Solomon is found in the God-man, Jesus Christ, who is not just the King of the Jews (like
David and Solomon before Him), but King of the Universe! This unique relationship Jesus has is
what gives Him the title, “Son of God” (Matthew 11:25-27; Mark 14:36; John 20:17; 2 Peter
1:17). But, what happens in the ministry and teaching of Jesus is that the fatherhood of God is
expanded now to include all those who follow Jesus. Therefore, since the Father has a special
relationship with Jesus, He also has a special relationship with those who follow His Son. This, of
course, includes those who have been adopted by the Father (Luke 11:2, 13; Romans 8:15;
Galatians 3:26; 4:6), and made brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.

This is why when we get to the New Testament, we find that the fatherhood of God is the
single most essential and crucial concept of God for believers. Every single document in the
New Testament represents God as the Father of believers. Here’s a brief breakdown of how
this is presented to us.

 God is the Father of mercies (2 Corinthians 1:3), the Father of glory (Ephesians 1:17), the
Father of spirits (Hebrews 12:9), the Father of lights (James 2:17), and all those who’ve
been adopted by Him can call Him, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6-7).
 In the role of a providing Father, God “has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every
spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).
 Peter blesses, “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great
mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of
Jesus Christ from the dead…” (1 Peter 3:3).
 Peter writes of God as the Father who judges everyone impartially according to their
works (1 Peter 1:17).
 In Hebrews, God is a Father who disciplines His children for their own good (12:5-9).
 When we sin, we have Jesus Christ representing us as an advocate with the Father (1
John 2:1).
 Acting as a teaching Father, God draws people to Jesus (John 6:45, quoting Isaiah 54:13;
Jeremiah 31:34).
 Jesus demonstrated the Father’s love in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32).
 Paul writes that it is the Father who “has loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good
hope through grace” (2 Thessalonians 2:16).
 John exclaims, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be
called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1).

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 Just like children go with requests to their fathers, believers do the same with their
heavenly Father (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:13). And in response, believers are thankful
for their Father (Ephesians 3:14; 5:20; Colossians 1:3, 12; 3:17).

This is the theological foundation for understanding God as not just the Father of Jesus Christ,
but the Father of everyone who believes in His Son, Jesus Christ. If you’re with Jesus, you’re
with the Father, adopted by Him, never to be removed from His family, for eternity. And as a
son in His family you have the right to be called a son, and to receive all the blessings and
inheritance that rightly belongs to a son. This is what Jesus, and all the other NT writers, want
us to most understand about God. This fundamental change in our relationship to Him means a
fundamental relationship in how we relate to Him, and most importantly, in prayer.

The Foundation of our Prayer Life

The fatherhood of God, as I said before, is referenced a total of fifteen times in the Sermon on
the Mount, which is where we first encounter the Lord’s Prayer in the gospel of Matthew (the
first document in the New Testament). Jesus builds His sermon on the relationship of God as
Father to His people, to those who want to follow Him and be in His family and in His kingdom.
So when we get to part two of the sermon, found in Matthew 6, Jesus begins building His
teaching about prayer on the fatherhood of God.

When it comes to prayer, understanding the relationship of God as a Father, and specifically as
your Father, is so extremely important. It’s so important that if you miss it, your prayer life will
be totally empty. It may be why you’ve felt so empty when you pray. If you have no concept of
God as a loving Father to you, then you will be praying and talking to some other God out there
whom you believe deep inside cannot really relate to you. Yet you’ll keep on doing it because
you do have some concept of God which seems to hold you accountable to praying at all.

Well, there is definitely accountability when it comes to prayer. But it is through a relationship
with God as a Father. When you have a sense of God as your Father, you talk to Him
differently, because you think about Him differently, and you feel certain things towards Him
and about Him that are different. Everything is different in your prayer life when you think of
God and relate to God as your Father.

I’m reminded here again of Monty Python, who seemed to have a knack for mocking the
religiously ridiculous. In The Meaning of Life, Part 2 the chaplain of the all-boys school leads the
boys in a congregational hymn to end the morning assembly. It’s another hilarious mockery of
the world’s view of God. Do you view God like this…secretly?

O Lord, please don't burn us.
Don't grill or toast Your flock.
Don't put us on the barbecue
Or simmer us in stock.
Don't braise or bake or boil us

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Or stir-fry us in a wok.
Oh, please don't lightly poach us
Or baste us with hot fat.
Don't fricassee or roast us
Or boil us in a vat,
And please don't stick Thy servants, Lord,
In a Rotissomat.

What a telling view of God the Father this chaplain and group of students must have had! I
grew up with something similar in my years at an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church
school. God was more to be feared more than embraced as a friend. As a result, this had the
effect of continuing to keep God at a distance from me personally, yet someone to whom I was
always trying to measure up, please, and make happy. Biblically, it is good to make God happy,
because what son doesn’t want to please His dad. Unbiblically, however, without the
knowledge that Jesus Christ, THE Son of God, has already made my heavenly Father happy, I
never had any satisfaction that what I was trying to do was already being accepted by my
Father. To be sure, I believe that God surely was accepting it, because I did deeply love God
and want to please Him as a youth. I see now that God was simply working out His sovereign
plan in my life to bring me to the understanding of Him I have today. And that is radically
changing the way I talk to Him and listen to Him.

Are You Praying Like a Hypocrite, Orphan, or Son?

The fundamental issue Jesus addresses in Matthew 6 on prayer is the misunderstanding and/or
ignorance of God as Father. Because the average Jew didn’t understand God in this way, they
either prayed like hypocrites or orphans. A few prayed as sons, however.

But if you think about it for a minute, a totally transcendent view of God as Master and yourself
as slave pretty much leaves the relationship void and empty, doesn’t it? So if it’s void, then the
most obvious thing to do is to try to impress people with how close you guys really are, right?
Human nature’s first tendency is to cover up with embellishment and exaggeration that which
is really lacking underneath. That’s the way the Pharisees prayed in Jesus’ day. Their goal was
simply to be “seen by men” which made their prayers hypocritical, since they were supposed to
be praying in order to be seen by God.

What if you’re not a Jew, though? Then you’d be classified as a Gentile, a pagan. You’d be a
pagan because you didn’t have a religious system where you worshiped only one God. You
worshiped a bunch of Gods, and hopefully you could remember them all. I recall being in India
and Nepal watching people pray. One guy told me that the Hindu religious system has
thousands and thousands of gods and goddesses, and that no one could really remember them
all. I asked him what would happen if he happened to pray to one of them too much and
forget to pray to the other ones. He said they’d pretty much get ticked off, which is why they
have to keep offering so many sacrifices, burning so much incense, and taking so many trips to
altars and worship centers. How sad!

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For Romans and Greeks, their gods, though not as numerous as the Hindu system, operated
much the same way. Consequently, there was no relationship of Father-Son. And this meant
that religiously speaking, the people were orphans. No god had given them birth, and no god
would adopt them. So the only recourse one has in times like these is to mentally give way to
whatever confusion takes over. And that explains the way they prayed, and still pray today.
Pagans pray like orphans, as those with no dad, no real God, no heavenly Father. They repeat
themselves over and over again in mantras which have no meaning or power. But the hope is
that somehow, in some strange way, some god or goddess will hear them and take up their
cause. But it never happens.

Most importantly to Jesus, in His teaching on prayer, there are three particular things He
teaches that you should know and believe and feel about the Father when you pray. And these
three issues address the heart of the issue for those who pray like hypocrites and orphans.

1. God is always present.

In Matthew 6:6 Jesus makes reference to the Father as one who can see you in secret. Jesus
was teaching here about hypocrites who pray in such a way so that everyone will hear them
and be impressed by them. He’s pretty clear in His description here that this is probably the
single, dumbest way to pray ever invented.

5 "When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on
street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you
the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. 6 But when you pray, go away
by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then
your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

The reason this method of prayer is so insane is that it completely ignores the fact that God is
the audience for our prayers, and not others. The only reason somebody would pray like this is
because they either don’t believe God can hear their prayers unless other people hear them
too, or they believe other people should be just as impressed with their prayer life as God
probably is. Either reason makes this way to pray really stupid.

Jesus teaches a concept of the Father here as one “who sees everything.” This is something
only God can do. He can see everything because He is everywhere. Theologians call this the
omnipresence of God. He is always everywhere. And that includes anyplace we go where we
think we are in private. In one sense we are private, because nobody else is around. But in
another, and very real sense, we are not in private, because God is right there with us and He’s
watching us.

When you relate to God as Father, you relate to Him as omnipresent. You relate to Him as
present everywhere. And that’s why you want to relate to Him in private. You believe that
because He sees you and watches you and hears you wherever you go, you want to relate to

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Him secretly, privately, personally because, after all, there’s no better place to relate to a dad
than when it’s just the two of you.

I know my kids enjoy this immensely. Every Saturday, rain or shine, as long as I’m in town, one
of my children is with me from 1 to 4 PM. It’s on the calendar, it’s scheduled each month, each
kid generally knows when it’s coming. And they totally look forward to it. I pretty much don’t
have to plan anything because they’re so excited about it that they’ve already planned it all out
for us. The thing that lights them up is knowing that they have me all to themselves. They
don’t have to share me with anyone else. It’s a personal, private relationship, even though we
may be out at the movie theatre, or the mall, or the restaurant, or wherever. That builds such a
sense of love between us. They can’t wait each month until it’s their turn, and I can’t wait each
week until I get to be with one of my kids.

When you believe that God is your personal Father, you can’t wait to spend time with Him. And
you’ll look for times and places to get away to talk with your Dad. The secret, quiet places are
the best. And you don’t mind going there…in fact you want to go there…because you believe
He IS there! My favorite place is the Georgia Southern University Botanical Garden. I’m almost
always by myself when I go there to pray. I can walk the little pathways there, grab a bench,
stretch out in the grass, hang with all kinds of flowers. A friend of mind described it as God’s
cathedral. And it’s my private place…my secret place to go and pray. And God is there with me.

So I don’t need to make a big, flipping, hairy deal about my prayer life in public for two basic
reasons. First, because I know God hears me in private and secret just as good as He hears me
in public. Second, because I know I’d rather be alone with my heavenly Dad, because that’s
when I have the most awesome, powerful, intense, and effective times of prayer.

2. God is always knowing.

The second thing Jesus wants us to know about the Father when we pray is that He is prescient.
That means He already knows everything before it happens. So we’ve got these two arguments
from Jesus here that proves the deity of the Father. He is everywhere at all times, and He
knows everything already before it happens. This last one is something theologians call
omniscience. He always knows everything, past, present and future…possible and actual. Only
God can do that. And that God is a Father. When you don’t believe this, you pray in incredibly
dumb ways. Listen again to how Jesus describes stupid prayer.

7 "When you pray, don't babble on and on as people of other religions do. They
think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and
again. 8 Don't be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even
before you ask him!

Stupid praying is when we go on and on and on and on, saying pretty much meaningless things.
When we pray like this we either don’t have a relationship with God as a Father, or else we’ve
forgotten that He is a Father. And it’s okay. He forgives you. We do it all the time, which is

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why Jesus talked about God as Father so much. He has to constantly remind us of our
relationship to Him, and His with us.

My kids do the same thing all the time. They’ll ask me incessantly, non-stop, for things they
already know they’re going to get. They’ve never missed a meal in their entire life. Yet when
they get hungry, all bets are off, and somehow they are in doubt as to whether they will
actually get to eat again…ever. So they ask and ask and ask and ask, until they wear me or their
mother down to an exhausted nub and our eyes are rolling back in our heads from mental
chaos. So I have to remind them, every single time it seems, that I am a good father, that I’ve
never let them go hungry (at least on purpose, anyway), and that based on my character and
my track record they have every reason in the world to believe I’ll feed them another meal.

That’s where we come to terms with the fatherhood of God when we pray to Him. Do we really
believe that His character is good and His track record is 100%? Or do we believe He might fail
us somewhere? If so, then that’s why we start praying like hypocrites, using long-wordy
prayers to somehow get God’s attention or impress Him so that He’ll listen and answer our
prayers. But if we know that God is our Father, then we know that He already knows about our
needs, and wants to meet those needs (because He’s a good Dad). Consequently, this means
that when we pray we don’t “babble on and on as people of other religions do.”

There’s a hilarious story about this kind of praying, and we read about it in 1 Kings in the
famous “Showdown at Mount Carmel” where Elijah faced 400 prophets of the false god, Baal.
Elijah picked the fight, to be sure. He wanted to show all the people of Israel that Jehovah was
real and Baal was not. So he ordered that each side build an altar and ask their deity to bring
fire from heaven and burn it up. The prophets of Baal went first.

25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, "You go first, for there are many of
you. Choose one of the bulls, and prepare it and call on the name of your god.
But do not set fire to the wood."
26 So they prepared one of the bulls and placed it on the altar. Then they called
on the name of Baal from morning until noontime, shouting, "O Baal, answer
us!" But there was no reply of any kind. Then they danced, hobbling around the
altar they had made.
27 About noontime Elijah began mocking them. "You'll have to shout louder,"
he scoffed, "for surely he is a god! Perhaps he is daydreaming, or is relieving
himself.* Or maybe he is away on a trip, or is asleep and needs to be wakened!"
28 So they shouted louder, and following their normal custom, they cut
themselves with knives and swords until the blood gushed out. 29 They raved all
afternoon until the time of the evening sacrifice, but still there was no sound, no
reply, no response.

Their god couldn’t respond because he wasn’t real. He didn’t exist. Essentially then, when
people pray like this, they are praying to a non-existent deity. They are praying into the air.
Their prayers really don’t make it up past the ceiling. Therefore, when we as believers pray, we

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ought to take this seriously. God can hear us and God is with us. He does already know what
we need before we ask Him. So praying like Jesus wants us to pray…praying like Jesus Himself
prayed, means praying like we know God really does love us. This leads to the third
foundational element of our prayer life.

3. God is always promising.

If you relate to God as your Father, then you will pray to Him as a little child, with the faith of a
little child, believing at every turn that your good heavenly Dad wants to hear you and answer
you prayers. Jesus said “your Father, who sees everything, WILL reward you.” And that’s a
promise. Jesus makes this promise on behalf of His Father, because He knows His Father. He
knows His Father loves to make and keep promises. If you have a relationship with the
heavenly Father which is built on the assumption that He’s always present and always knowing,
then you’ll pray with sincerity and wholeheartedness. You’ll truly believe that He sees, hears,
and knows, and that He will reward you.

This is essentially what faith is all about. The writer of Hebrews teaches us in 11:1 that, “faith is
the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen…And without faith it is
impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and
that he rewards those who seek him” (ESV). Praying with faith means praying like you believe
God exists, like you believe He’s there listening and watching and caring, and like He’s going to
answer your requests and reward you for your faith. Basically then, simply the act of praying
like God is always present and always knowing brings a reward from God. In short, any action
you take which points to the truth that God exists and that He watches and listens and cares
will always bring a reward from His hand.

Now if these truths are indeed the things we ought to be believing about God before we come
to Him in prayer – if these things root us in the way we relate to God based on the way He
relates to us – then we will pray differently.

 If we relate to our Father in a way that believes He is always-present, then our prayers
will be authentic. We will pray like we know that He knows us and we won’t feel
compelled to impress God with pomp and circumstance.
 If we relate to our Father in a way that believes He is always-knowing, then our prayers
will be brief. We will pray like we know that He hears us and we won’t feel compelled
to beg God with long and burdensome prayers.
 If we relate to our Father in a way that believes He is always-rewarding, then our
prayers will be prioritized. We will pray like we know we will be rewarded and we will
feel compelled to pursue His glory, His name, His kingdom, and His will…not ours.

I believe these three things are like columns in our prayer life. They stand on top of our
foundation (what we believe about God and how we relate to Him), and support the way we
actually pray to the Father. Let me break these three down.

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Four Support Columns of our Prayer Life

1. The Brevity of our Prayers. Our prayers will be brief. This is evidenced in the brevity of
each request we make of the Father in the disciples prayer. There is no need to drag on and
on in prayer when we know the Father is always present with us and always knowing about
us. Are your prayers brief?

2. The Simplicity of our Prayers. Our prayers will be simple. It’s amazing when you read many
of the prayers in the Bible how simple they were. God we need this, God we need that.
God You are worthy! The knowledge that God already knows, and that He’s already there
with us and that He promises to bless us means that we can make our requests simple.
They don’t have to be complicated, because God has taken all the complication out of the
process. Are your prayers simple?

3. The Authenticity of our Prayers. Our prayers will be in faith. Just as a man enters a private
office to transact business with another man, we enter a quiet place to “do business” with
God. It’s a “secret” place where we go to be alone with God, and talk to Him in full faith
about everything we need. There’s no puffing up or flattery or pomp and circumstance
necessary. We know who we are. We know our situation. We know our needs. And so
does God. We can’t fool Him so we don’t need to fool ourselves.

Instead, we pray in faith, believing He cares about us and will answer us. We can be “real”
with God. We can just say out loud whatever is on our mind, because God knows what’s on
our mind anyway. We don’t have to pretend that He doesn’t know. We don’t have to feel
like we have to get our prayer right before we say it. All of this makes prayer just a game.
But when we relate to God as our Father, we don’t have to play at prayer. We can
just…well…pray! We can get down to business with God…immediately! Are your prayers
authentic?

4. The Priority of our Prayers. Our prayers will reflect a priority. We will direct all praying to
the Father, because (1) all our answers come from Him, and (2) all our answers are in
reference to Him (His name, His kingdom, His will, His glory, etc.) Jesus teaches us how to
pray in Matthew 6 and Luke 11, and in His lesson prayer doesn’t start with us. It starts with
God. Because HE is present, more present than we really are, we start with Him. Because
HE is all knowing, we start with what HE knows, since it’s more real than what we know.
Because HE is the promise-maker and promise-keeper, we start with what HE promises. It
is not until the last half of the Lord’s Prayer that we get to our needs. Prayer starts with
God, not us. Do your prayers reflect God’s priority?

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Conclusion: The Connection to the Mission

 Jesus makes it clear from the outset of the Lord’s Prayer that this whole thing is about the
kingdom of God coming to earth like it is in heaven. That’s what He came to establish on
earth when He came. He didn’t come to make us feel better about ourselves. He didn’t
come to hang out. He came as a King to establish a kingdom. That’s why the prayer He
teaches us to pray begins and ends with the kingdom of God. That’s our mission, right
there. Praying it down and putting it into action.

 But the very foundation of this kingdom is relating to God as “our Father.” In this kingdom
there are no servants anymore. There are only sons and daughters. Failing to understand
this and live it out and embrace it means it will be impossible to completely participate in
the building of the kingdom of God on earth. Why is this? Because when we don’t relate to
God as a Father, we don’t think about Him this way, we aren’t affected by Him in this way,
and we end up spending inordinate amounts of time doing the wrong things and praying
the wrong ways. Essentially, we become trapped in what feels like an endless cycle of
useless praying. So nothing gets accomplished, and the kingdom isn’t brought to earth and
put into action.

 When we acknowledge Jesus came to earth to build a kingdom, and when we acknowledge
that the way He teaches us to pray is based on that work of building a kingdom, then we
can pray like those who are building a kingdom with Jesus. Things get done. Things change
when the connection of our prayer life is inseparable from the mission of the kingdom of
God coming to earth as it is in heaven.

The mission now should become more clear. If the mission is about building the kingdom of
God on earth, and if the kingdom of God is about a Father-Son relationship, then our mission
starts with rebuilding people’s concept of God. Pretty simple and basic right? The mission
starts with God as a Father to us.

Everything we want to do as a church family from this series onward is going to be based on
this theology Jesus teaches us in the Lord’s Prayer. Discipleship, preaching, evangelism, Life
Mission Groups, parenting, marriage…everything! will be based on learning about God as our
Father, learning to relate to Him as sons instead of servants, loving Him and being loved by Him
because that’s what fathers naturally do with their sons, and that’s what sons naturally love to
enjoy from their fathers.

Let our evangelism as a church body now shift from leading ourselves into a deeper
understanding and relationship with God as Father, so that we can then lead others into this
same understanding. This is how God wants to be known because that’s why He sent His Son
Jesus. Jesus said if we’ve seen Him we’ve seen the Father. The Father wants us to see HIM as
as FATHER! Let us change this and we will change the world!

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