“Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name….”
We’ve said praying is not as complicated as we’ve been made to think. We preachers sometimes function like lawyers who pile up billable hours, but in our case we heap up rules and regulations and, pardon the expression, insights on how to make spiritual things work. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves.
Prayer is as simple as speaking to the Heavenly Father. Period.
(Ha. You knew that was coming, I betcha.)
Something inside us rightfully wants to pray more effectively, to address God in a way honoring Him, and to be able to express all that is within us.
So, let’s talk about it.
First, a question or two….
How would one start to address the Lord of the Universe, the God of Creation, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ? What words would you choose and what manner would you adopt? Or would you just rush in and start talking as though no protocol were involved and no procedures had to be observed?
How would anyone dare to enter the Throne Room of the universe where the Captain of It all sits and reigns and pilots? After all this is not exactly Captain Kirk holding forth from the captain’s chair. We’re told that “He alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen or can see” (I Timothy 6:16).
A frightening concept.
Here on Earth, our astronauts don special protective gear as they prepare to enter unfamiliar territory which could be impossible for humans to endure, such as the vacuum of space or the surface of the moon. How much more careful we will want to be as we enter Heaven’s inner sanctum!
Obviously, we enter that room and speak to that One only because we have been invited, and urged even to come.
And we will want to be careful to get this right.
Old Testament people, you will recall, were forbidden to enter the Holy of Holies at all, with the single exception of the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. Once a year, one person and one only.
And here you and I are proposing to enter the Holy of Holies to address the Sovereign Lord of the Universe? What are we thinking?
We’re thinking of doing it, of course. Coming to God in prayer. Good.
When the veil of the temple was rent (Luke 23:45), as though the Almighty had taken hold of the top with two fists and ripped it down the middle), it signaled that the God of the Universe is no more a stranger, and that all are welcome in His presence.
Heaven is open for business.
Let that sink in a while!
We are welcome in His presence.
We are invited to pray….
“Call unto Me and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33:3).
“Call upon Me in the day of trouble and I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me” (Psalm 50:15).
Believers are expected to pray…
“When you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites…..” (Matthew 6:5).
“When you pray, go into your inner room…” (Matthew 6:6).
“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do….” (Matthew 6:7).
Disciples are commanded to pray…
“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name….” (Matthew 6:9).
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made know to God….” (Philippians 4:6).
“Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17).
People are rebuked for not praying….
“Yet you have not called on Me, O Jacob; but you have become weary of Me, O Israel” (Isaiah 43:22).
“You have not because you ask not” (James 4:2).
Entering Heaven’s throne room and praying to the Heavenly Father was the Lord’s idea. So, He expects us and wants us there.. However, slow down. Let’s get this right….
We are to come humbly.
We are so out of our league here, in the holiest place in the universe. Stop and think about what you are doing and you may feel you have just entered a royal banquet hall where everyone around you is decked out in robes of majesty while you yourself are barefoot, unbathed, and naked. “Woe is me,” said one who found himself in just such a situation. “I am undone. I am a man of unclean lips…. For mine eyes have seen the King!” (Isaiah 6).
“Guard your steps as you go to the house of God, and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few” (Ecclesiastes 5:1-2).
See a parable Jesus told of two men who went up to the temple to pray, one of them boldly and boastfully, the other humbly (Luke 18:9ff.).
We are to be holy.
“Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water…” (Hebrews 10:22).
And therein lies a problem. Because I ain’t holy. I am a sinner and so are you. (Romans 3:10,23 if you need a Scripture on the subject; otherwise, just look in the mirror.) If we are to get holy, we’re going to need help.
We have help. Just the right kind. Here is one important word on the subject….
“God made Him who knew no sin (that is Jesus) to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Our righteousness is His. Our holiness is all of Jesus.
So, we come to the Father through Jesus.
It took us all this time just to get to this point. Which is where we should start out, of course. Our praying was His idea, His command, His promise, His example, and so forth and so on.
So, we pray, “Father, I come to Thee through the Lord Jesus….”
There! That’s a great way to start.