Below is the text for my message from yesterday's gathering focusing on the first part of the Lord's Prayer. Below the message is the discussion questions that we used for after the message to flush out the application in a deeper way. Today we begin a six week series looking at what has come to be known as the Lord’s Prayer. We’ll break down the prayer into six parts with six different themes and we’ll seek to apply those themes to our lives as followers of Jesus both on an individual level but also a corporate level. We’ll be taking a look at the prayer found in Matthew 6:9-13 and using other Scriptures throughout the six weeks to further explore the themes found in the prayer.
But before we get into the first part of the prayer, we need to look at the overall context of the passage in which the Lord’s Prayer sits. Matthew 5-7 is what is known as the Sermon on the Mount, and includes some of Jesus most foundational teachings on what it looks like to live in the Kingdom of God and the values that are a part of life in the Kingdom. And so Matthew 6 starts off by talking about giving to the needy and also about prayer. But the thing that underlies both themes is that giving to the needy and prayer shouldn’t be about getting and gaining recognition for these acts of Kingdom life. Jesus is contrasting the life of the Pharisees with what life in the Kingdom of God is all about. And so what we find in the Lord’s Prayer, as far as the themes that we will be exploring, ideas that are crucial to life lived with Jesus and life in the Kingdom.
And so in this part of Matthew 6 we see Jesus again contrasting two types of prayer, one type of prayer that is prayed by Pharisee’s who want recognition and honor from people, and one type of prayer that is about God primarily and also about life in the Kingdom of God. And so with that context for the Lord’s Prayer, that it is about life in the Kingdom, let’s turn to the prayer found in Matthew 6:9-13 and we’ll read the entire passage and then focus our energy today on the first verse, verse 9.
“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’” So we will be focusing on “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” And before we jump into this message too much farther, I realize that this might be a difficult theme to talk about, the Fatherhood of God, due to perceptions and relationships with our earthly Father’s. I know that some of us have really difficult and strained relationships with our earthly Fathers, and that it might be a struggle to call God our Father. But my prayer today is that each of us will come to a place realizing that God is the perfect Father, and no matter what your relationship is with your earthly father, that you can call out to our Heavenly Father, and even move beyond calling him Father to calling him Abba…which means Daddy or Dad. And that you will then rest in the knowledge that not only is God your dad, or father but that you are an adopted child of God, and that there is nothing you can do to make God love you anymore and there is nothing you can do to make God love you any less. He loves you fully as his adopted son or daughter. You are a son or daughter of the King of the Universe. And so I pray that this message and our discussion today can redeem, even in a small way, the term Father (Dad) for you and that you can begin to pray, not to God, Lord, etc… but to cry out (especially in hard times, and struggles) to Dad/Abba/Father. With that in mind let’s turn to further explore the idea of God being Father and also our role as adopted sons and daughters of the Father.
In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus begins where all prayer should be focused, on the true focus of prayer, God himself. I don’t know about you but a lot of the time it seems like my prayers are not about God and for his glory. Instead they are about me and my glory and happiness. “God if you will only……” Here Jesus is placing our focus during prayer squarely on God the Father. This, according to Jesus, is the right way to pray. Acknowledging that God is Father and also acknowledging that he is our Father in heaven which means he is holy and full of glory. And so as we pray we call out to our Father in heaven, which would then make us children, sons and daughter’s of God. And living as a child of God should mean an intimate, joyful relationship with God- not like the bondage and fear by the law. As a child of God we can have a relationship with God so close that we can cry out “Abba/Daddy/Father”. Let’s look at some other Scriptures throughout the New Testament that unpacks what it means to be children of the Father and a metaphor that the writers of Scriptures give as we live out our roles as children of God. The first Scripture we can look at the talks about the Fatherhood of God and our role as sons and daughters is found in Romans 8:15 which says, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Here the Apostle Paul is contrasting the status of slaves versus sons. The status of a slave was actually no status at all. Slaves lived in fear, had really no socio-economic status, and definitely weren’t loved by the Father of the household. But the son of the Father, had his Father’s status (or would) and was loved by the Father. Even if that son was an adopted son. In the Roman world of the 1st century an adopted son was a son deliberately chosen by his adoptive Father to perpetuate his name and inherit his estate; he was in no way inferior in status to a son born in the ordinary course of heritage. Also under Roman adoption the life and status of the adopted child changed completely. The adopted son lost all rights in his old family and gained all new rights in this new family. The old life of the adopted son was completely wiped out, with all debts being cancelled, with nothing from his past counting against him anymore. Sound exactly what happens when we become adopted sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. Followers of Jesus are called to perpetuate the name of the Father, inherit his estate called the Kingdom of God, our status gets radically changed, we gain all new rights, our old life is wiped away, and all our debts are cancelled with nothing from our past counting against us anymore. When we become followers of Jesus we become adopted sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. This concept that our Heavenly Father has adopted us as full children of God is all throughout the Scriptures and the Apostle Paul talks a lot about it not only in Romans but also in Galatians 4:4-7 which says, “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” The Apostle Paul in verse 4 is using language of the Roman legal world when he refers to adoption to sonship which means full legal standing of an adopted male heir in Roman culture. You and I are sons of our Heavenly Father all due to Jesus, as it says in verse 4, that “God sent his Son to redeem those under the law so that we would receive adoption to sonship/daughtership. And so we have been redeem from slavery to sin, death, and Satan, and made adopted sons and daughters. And because we have moved from slave to son/daughter we are able to cry out in prayer, Abba (Daddy) Father. And because we are sons and daughters of God, we have access to the same intimacy with God the Father that God the Son, Jesus Christ had. Jesus addressed God the Father as "Daddy" when He prayed, Abba, Father as recorded in Mark 14:36. And Jesus is telling us the very same thing in the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer that we can address and have the same intimacy with our Father as he has with His Father.
There is one other Scriptures that I want to briefly touch on that, if you haven’t heard it by now, deal with the fact that we have a loving heavenly Father who has adopted us as his own and because of that adoption and love, we can call him Abba. That Scripture is 1 John 3:1, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” We are children of His not because of anything that we are, have done, or ever could do. We are adopted sons and daughters of our Father because of what it says in this verse, because of the love that he has lavished on us. It’s because of him, his love, his sending Jesus, his Kingdom, his vision, and his redemption that we can stand before him and even pray the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer. It’s because of him that we can even cry out or utter those words, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”
So let’s spend time unpacking what it looks like to live as adopted sons and daughters of our Abba Daddy in Heaven. Let’s honestly confront the struggles that we have in even calling him that. Let’s talk about our prayer life and how this part of the Lord’s Prayer speaks to us. And let’s look at what it might look like in regards to our mission as followers of Jesus and our life in the Kingdom.
1. What thoughts, comments, questions, insights, push back, etc... do you have regarding the message and/or Scripture? 2. Do you find it difficult to pray using Father in your prayers? If so, why is that? How can the term Father be redeemed for you? 3. What does it mean to you to know that you are an adopted child of God? How might this knowledge play out in terms of our missional engagement with the world? 4. What is God saying to you and what are you going to do about it? What do you think God is saying to us as a community and what should we do about it?