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DAY 4 – JESUS TEACHES US TO PRAY – Our Father
Matthew 6:9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
Jesus continues His teaching on prayer in Matthew 6 by teaching His followers how to pray. We are going to take our time understanding what Jesus is teaching us about prayer. We know from our study yesterday that Jesus is NOT asking us to simply memorize this prayer and repeat it over and over again. The mindless repetition of some memorized prayer – even if it’s the prayer Jesus gave us as an example of how to pray – is never as effective as simple, honest communication alone with the Lord. But if the emphasis of prayer is not on repetition, then what are the things Jesus emphasizes when He teaches us to pray?
Jesus basically supplies us with a pattern or a template we can follow when we pray. By studying each instruction we can learn the basic things the Lord wants us to focus upon when we pray.
First Jesus instructs us to begin praying by addressing God as, “Our Father.” In other words, as we begin to pray, we should focus our attention on the PERSON of God. He is our Father.
Have you ever considered the fact that you have a Father in heaven? Most of us understand what a father is by the experiences we have had with our own fathers. If our earthly fathers loved us well, we are likely to view fathers as a positive influence. If our earthly fathers loved us poorly, a father is most likely viewed as a negative influence.
In either case, when Jesus instructs us to begin praying by addressing God as “Our Father,” our tendency is to automatically relate the idea of father to the earthly father we’ve experienced. It is a mistake, however, to understand our heavenly Father through the relationship we’ve had with our earthly father.
Unlike our earthly fathers, our heavenly Father is perfect. To fully realize what Jesus is teaching us when He tells us to begin praying by focusing on God’s Person, “Our Father,” we need an accurate, scriptural understanding of the qualities and characteristics of our heavenly Father. Our first goal in learning to pray, therefore, is to understand the character and person of our heavenly Father.
There is not enough ink in the world to accurately record every aspect of our heavenly Father. But here are a few things scripture teaches about our Father:
- Our heavenly Father thinks outside the box.
Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
- Our Father has emotions – He feels
Genesis 6:6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.
- Our Father is present with all who obey Him
John 14:23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
- Our Father in heaven is loving.
1 John 3:1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!
- Our heavenly Father cares for us.
1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
- Our heavenly Father protects us:
2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.
- Our Father provides for us:
Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
- Our Father disciplines us:
Hebrews 12: 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.
- Through Christ our Father has adopted us into His family:
Ephesians 1:5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will–
- Our heavenly Father listens:
1 John 5:14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
Jesus teaches us to reflect on the person of God as we begin to pray. He is our Father. We haven’t even scratched the surface when it comes to all the Bible teaches about our heavenly Father. But perhaps the few things mentioned above will help you begin your next prayer time with a moment or two of reflection on Whom you’re praying to. He’s your Father. He loves you. He will provide for, protect, love, and even discipline you. He has authority and He’s always right.
Notice please: We are not asking God for anything yet. Jesus instructs us to simply meditate on the Person of God.
- When we pray Jesus instructs us to focus on the ______________ of God – Our Father
- What are the benefits of beginning your prayer time by focusing on the Person of God instead of focusing on your problems and circumstances?
Take a minute or two and write down how you feel about your earthly father (substitute the person most like a father figure, or your Mother or your Guardian if your biological father was not in your life). How has your experience with that person impacted your life?
Now compare and contrast how your heavenly Father is different than your earthly father in the areas of life you just mentioned.
What other characteristics does scripture teach about your heavenly Father?