Arguably the linchpin of the entire Sermon on the Mount, the Lord’s Prayer fills a critical role in as Jesus taught his disciples. Up until this point, Jesus has issued his blessings as the Supreme King in the Beatitudes and has given marching orders to his vassals. He now arrives at the matter of prayer. “Pray like this,” Jesus commands.
Jesus teaches us to start our prayers by remembering we belong to God’s family—the family that God has rescued and is gathering together from all nations.
The Church belongs to Christ. His blood purchased her through the ransom of the Cross. Because of the Father’s election, the Spirit’s regeneration, and the Son’s propitiation, we belong to him.
When we pray our prayers, the entire army we call “Church” comes together to petition the heavenly throne room. Our God. Our Father. Our Lord. He is ours.
The Lord’s Prayer begins with corporate solidarity. We are one, and one are we. Together we make up the Body of Christ, and together we petition him. The Church is a unit that functions together in such a way as to be more than just a bunch of individuals who have shared interests in common. No, we are his, and he is ours. We are one in Christ, and together we approach him.
But who is this God? Sure, we come together and approach his throne, but who is he? God is our Father, and we are his children. He is compassionate, patient, loving, and majestic. He is sovereign, yet approachable, and transcendent, yet immanent.
We can knock on his door at 3:00 am, and he will still let us in. We can approach him with whatever is on our minds because he is Father, which means he is love.
To approach our Father is to approach the infinite God of the universe with tempered fear and courageous boldness. He is both other and majestic. He is utterly distinct from his creation, yet his heart is so full of joy.
He takes part with his creation with much delight. His ear is never too full and his attention never too short; he is our Father, and our Father is eager to hear from his children.
We are not careless when we approach our Abba. Yes, Father cares for you and me, but we aren’t flippant. If we wish to pray like this, we must be sober in our approach to the throne of glory. The throne is still holy. The fact that we can even approach his throne is only by the mercy and grace of Christ. We needed someone to let us in, and Jesus did just that!
God is holy, which means he’s entirely unstained by sin and evil. His clothes are white, and there’s no stain remover in heaven. Because of his morally uncorrupted nature, we pray that God’s name would be revered and honored as holy everywhere. We desperately want not to just see God’s glory, but to taste it as well. And not just taste it; we want to share it with the world!
To hallow something is to revere something as entirely distinct and separate. We wish to see the holiness of God on display in the world so people will respect and pay tribute to him. We say, “Hallowed be” because God is.
We long to see the name of God venerated in all nations. We want God’s name—his character, personhood, and glory—to be treasured, valued, and esteemed by everyone everywhere. The Lord’s Prayer is a global prayer.
We hope that God’s holiness, majesty, knowledge, love, wrath, purity, patience, loving kindness, justice, righteousness, and light will become the priority of all peoples in all nations.
The name of God is sacred. His character is wrapped up in these two words, “I AM.” God simply is. Because he is, we pray that his name be hallowed. To pray likes Jesus is to approach God with joy, happiness, fear, and trembling. We come to God together because he is our Father. And we want the name and fame of our Father to be revered everywhere! He’s just that important.
What about you and your prayer life? Does your prayer life reflect these things? Do you pray to our heavenly Father? Is there a hint of trepidation and elation in your prayers or are you glib about it? Do you come to God knowing that he is both “Father” and “holy”? What about the content of your prayers? Are they simply a reflection of whatever randomness you have going on, or is there a hint of cosmic significance?
When it comes to the issue of maturing disciples, we need to keep in mind that our aim is twofold:
- We want the glory of God to be revered in our lives and the lives of others;
- We desire to see the gospel restore the imago Dei in us.
Maturation takes time—it takes much practice to restore virtue in a heart once ruled by vice. To accomplish this task of learning from Jesus, we must be people of prayer. We must be people who live within the confines of the Lord’s Prayer; we must be people who practice the Lord’s Prayer.
Whoever you are, wherever you are located, know this: he is our Father, and he longs to hear from you. Turn to him this very moment, like a child to his father, jumping into his ginormous lap and know that his ear is turned towards you.
And let that joy ruminate deep within your soul with the prayer that everyone everywhere would hallow God’s perfect name. As we seek to make, mature, and multiply disciples, the Lord’s Prayer is the gold standard for accomplishing such an audacious vision.
Rev. Jason M. Garwood (M.Div., Th.D.) serves as Lead Pastor of Colwood Church in Caro, MI and author of Be Holy and The Fight for Joy. Jason and his wife Mary have three children, Elijah, Avery and Nathan. He blogs at www.jasongarwood.com. Connect with him on Twitter: @jasongarwood.