Back Talk: The Lord’s Prayer
Pentecost 10 (Proper 12) Trinity Lutheran Church
24 July 2016 Murdock, NE
+Jesu Juva +
You Good Friday-ed people are not given to misuse God’s Name. Instead, you are to use God’s most holy name properly. That’s the Second Commandment. What is one of the best ways to use God’s Name? It’s prayer. God mandates prayer. But God also promises to hear the prayers of His people. “Call upon me in the day of trouble,” God commands. And then comes the promise: “I will deliver you and you shall glorify me,” (Psalm 50:15).
Jesus prays. He is always praying. Even hanging on the cross He prays: “Father, forgive them.” “Into Your hands [Father] I commend my spirit.” He perfectly lives by faith in His Father, His Father’s Word and will. He lives the life of love for others. Faith prays. Faith naturally prays. It’s what faith does. Jesus prays perfectly FOR YOU. His prayers avail FOR YOU and for your salvation. After all, He is the only mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2). Remember His prayers while hanging on the cross? One of His disciples has taken note of it. “Teach us to pray,” they beg.
“Teach us to pray.” Teach! What does that say? It means that prayer doesn’t come naturally. Prayer goes against our sinful nature. We don’t make the time for it. We don’t believe it really helps. And when we do give it a whirl it’s all about what we selfishly want.
Prayer and praying is to be learned. “Teach us to pray,” the apostles beg. Let us at least learn this if nothing else today. Prayer is to be learned. And it is to be learned from Jesus.
Prayer is a polite conversation with God the Father. I said polite. In a polite conversation two people don’t talk at the same time. And since you’re God’s children what is the polite thing to do? It means that God the Father speaks first. You hush up for a change and listen to Him. He has His say. He’s got something on His mind. Children speak only to their Father after they’ve been spoken to.
In addition, children learn how to talk by first listening. Parents speak first. Then the children imitate. Word for word. They say back what they’ve heard. Back talk. Repeating what Dad and Mom have said. And what joy that brings to Dad and Mom. “Did you hear what little Johnnie said? He said . . . Just like we said it.”
“Teach us how to pray Jesus.” So He gives us the words to pray. He provides the content of the prayer.
“When you pray say: ‘Our Father in heaven. Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our trespasses. Lead us not into temptation. Deliver us from evil.’”
Better know to whom you’re praying. Prayer is to God the “Father” Jesus says. Nobody dared to pray like that in Jesus’ day. And most people don’t today. The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is also your Father. So with these words God tenderly invites you to believe that He is your true Father and that you are His true children. So that with all boldness and confidence you may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father. You dare to pray like that because Jesus teaches you to pray that way.
Jesus suffered and died so that you can call God “Father.” Jesus died so that you can speak to God the “Father.” So that you have access to Him! And the Father loves it. Like a proud Papa.
So that there’s no misunderstanding Jesus mandates that you pray to “Father.” Not Mother. Not Father-Mother. As if Jesus wasn’t politically correct enough to know the difference. Jesus knew about mothers. He had one of His own. He loved His mother Mary deeply and cared for her. But Jesus never directs His disciples or you to pray to her. In addition, Jesus never prayed to God as Mother.
The pressure in His day to do that was absolutely huge. The pagan religions all had goddesses. Most of the religious leaders in the pagan world were priestesses. The world was your mother: thus the language “Mother Earth.” Sound familiar? To pray to God as “Father” and not “Mother” would label Jesus and His disciples as haters, bigots, and an enemies of true spirituality.
Jesus goes totally against the idolatrous PC cultures and most world religions. You are not free to use whatever name you choose for God. Jesus is categorical and clear. He dares to preach and teach the truth. God is His Father and your FATHER! You only have access to God through His Name. And it’s: FATHER. GOD THE FATHER WHO IS GOD FOR YOU! He created you. He has redeemed you through His son. He has sanctified you through the Holy Spirit.
Now, let’s take a deep breath and note that Jesus even sets the agenda for your praying. He defines your needs. You don’t. That’s really a good thing! Really it is! You learn to pray against yourself and for the things that really matter.
Jesus says to pray for these things.
Pray that the Father’s Name will be holy. On your lips and in your lives. You live holy lives when you live according to God’s Word, not your own. For that you pray when you pray “Hallowed by Thy Name.”
Pray that His kingdom comes to you through the Word of the Gospel preached and the sacraments given.
Pray that His will be done among you. That your sinful nature, the devil and the world are thwarted. And that heaven is yours.
Pray for daily bread. Recognize that all you have comes from Him and give thanks for it.
Pray for the forgiveness of sins and for the ability to forgive those who sin against you.
Pray for protection against every temptation to sin and evil that would cause you to stumble and fall from faith.
And then say “Amen.” Which means: “I’m absolutely certain and sure that Father has heard me and will answer my prayer.” No doubt about it.
Do your unbelieving neighbors pray this way? They don’t. They haven’t been taught how to pray by Jesus. They refuse to learn.
You don’t. You love to learn how to pray from Jesus.
Is it OK to ask for God’s Name, Kingdom, Will, Daily Bread, Forgiveness, and Protection? Do we dare be so bold to ask for such things? Yes. Why? Jesus Himself teaches you to pray that way!
So if Jesus says to pray this way, He also encourages you to pray this way boldly. Shamelessly. Courageously.
You dare to trouble the Father of the universe for these things. Like Abraham who bargained with the Lord over the destruction of Sodom. Abraham’s problem was that he wasn’t bold enough. He didn’t whittle God down to one believer. He probably didn’t think God would go that far. But God does. For the faithfulness of one Man, Jesus Christ, God doesn’t destroy our cities. Cities which appear to be hell bent to be exactly like Sodom and Gomorrah. No. Hell-bent on going beyond Sodom and Gomorrah’s sinning.
So I beg you as the Lord’s died-for and redeemed disciples, pray the Lord’s Prayer as Jesus teaches. Every day. The Small Catechism would have you pray it at least five times a day. In the morning when you get up. In the evening when you retire to sleep. And in between at each meal: breakfast, lunch, and supper. At the Higher Things youth conference in Fort Collins this week we will pray the Lord’s Prayer at least three times a day because we will worship three times a day. Some of the kids that are going may just think that’s way too much. “Once is enough isn’t it pastor?”
But we will pray that way so often in Fort Collins because to pray that way so often is like the courage of a friend who pounds on your door at midnight. He doesn’t just knock once. He repeatedly pounds on the door. Won’t leave until he wakes up the kids to borrow some bread because of an unexpected visitor from out and town and he didn’t get groceries that day. That’s courage. After all, the owner of the house could greet his friend with a shotgun.
But when you’ve been forgiven everything by Christ — when you believe that Jesus died for you — you can have such chutzpah before God the “Father.” Because you’re in God the Father’s good graces for Christ’s sake you can be bold to bang on God’s door at midnight. Our Father is committed. He’s promised.
So ask. Seek. Knock. The heavenly Father loves to be asked. So go ahead. Jesus says so. Ask boldly and confidently for what He promises to give you in the words of the Lord’s Prayer.
In the Name of Jesus.