A Father’s Prayer
Text: Matthew 6:9-13
Proposition: As God has chosen to use the title of Father for us to relate to Him it also points to what He desires every earthly father to be.
Introduction: Fathers and Mothers, probably two of the most influential roles in any person’s life. The absence of either can have a deep impact on us. It’s even been said that how we experience our fathers is often what we imagine God to be like as well. Whether the experience is positive or negative we tend to see God through that lense of how our father loved us. Perhaps that’s not so far off base because of all the names God could have used to relate to us He has chosen the name of Father. The word for ‘father’ occurs over 1100 times in Scripture, God has much to say concerning fathers, what they are to do and who they were. I was looking through the Bible to see when the first time was that God was referred to as our Father. I was surprised to see that it wasn’t until Isaiah 63:16 where Isaiah cries out, “Doubtless You are our Father, though Abraham was ignorant of us and Israel does not acknowledge us. You, O LORD, are our Father; Our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your name.” The next time the Scripture is blatantly clear about God being our heavenly Father is when Jesus makes this statement in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” For Isaiah it was a point of discovery, for Jesus it was an opportunity for truth. In the very next chapter of Matthew Jesus is asked by the disciples to teach them how to pray. His response is what people over many generations and all around the world have come to know as The Lord’s Prayer. What I’d like us to consider this morning is that as this prayer frames the way we are to relate to our heavenly Father, is it possible that it also points to the responsibilities of our earthly fathers, the ones who are meant to mirror or reflect the character of God to their families? Turn to Matthew 6:9.
Our Father in Heaven… It is one of the prime duties of every father to address the questions of their children as to where they came from. The idea of Father, and the modifiers of, “Our” and “in heaven”, point to the One from whom all things began. The way you answer the questions of origin have everything to do with the way we see significance, worth and purpose. Omit talking about God as our Father and your children will have to get significance, worth and purpose from a lesser place. Our Father, the One who created us, is in heaven above and hears us.
Hallowed be Your Name… The Name refers to the very character of God, to all that He stands for. To consider His name to be hallowed or holy means that He is different from everything else, there is nothing like Him, there is nothing lacking in any way in Him. As fathers teach their children about the holiness of God’s character, they point their children to One who will unfailingly love them. It’s the earthly Dad’s role to do this to the best of his means. Knowing his own humanity he needs to direct them to One who will never fail them. Holy is His Name.
Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…If you were born in the early 50’s or even 60’s you might remember the TV show, “Father Knows Best”. It was a show about family life but the Dad was a man of character and integrity. There are almost 1100 shows today about the family, about 15 of them portray the father as a person of honor and integrity. Honor and integrity are where justice comes from. “Your kingdom come”, refers to the intention of God to bring perfect justice to earth, to cause His will to one day be known unmistakably by all. Fathers use your home, your kingdom, use your will to demonstrate a justice built on integrity and honor, a justice that glorifies God.
Give us this day our daily bread…Dad’s, and in many cases Mom’s, it’s our role to be the ones who bring home the bacon, to be the bread winners of the family. Children have a need to know that there is food, food translates directly into security. I worked in home for emotionally disturbed kids and one of the things that the workers did was to keep a large jar of candy visible. The purpose was simply to assure that there was food and that there was safety. Fathers we know how quickly work can evaporate, the truth of the matter is that it is God who provides and in Him is our security. Our daily bread points to the one step at a time way that God provides for us. It helps us as Dad’s to counter the ways of excess that pull at our children’s hearts and minds.
Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors…The very wording of this shows that in order to receive forgiveness we have to extend or grant forgiveness.
Lewis Smedes in his book ‘The Art Of Forgiving’ describes three steps to forgiving someone. 1. Rediscover the humanity of the person who wronged you. 2. Surrender the right to get even. 3. Wish them well. In short that’s what God did for us in Christ. With the shed blood of Christ He washes away our sin and reveals a humanity in Christ worth redeeming. God in the gift of Jesus to us surrendered His right to get even. Smede then says that grace is shorthand for God wishing us well. Fathers be quick to forgive sin, they are literally debts in another’s mind, it’s the means by which are able to have our own debts cancelled.
Do not lead us into temptation but deliver us from the evil one…Fathers how will you protect your children from temptation? I guess the short answer is ‘Don’t lead your children anywhere near it.’ What you do with money, sensuality, sexuality, work, worship, worth…we can lead our children into dangerous places by treating that which is powerful, significant, holy, worthy as if it weren’t. That would be the strategy of Satan in our lives, to take something of great worth, of great power, something very precious and to make it profane. We appeal to our heavenly Father because He can see temptation for what it is and He knows our weaknesses. We need His protection, His delivering hand that we would be able to navigate the swamps and sink holes in life. Fathers do the same.
Our heavenly Father takes a great and wonderful pleasure in His creation, that includes you and I here this morning. Fathers know that God loves you more than you love your own children and that He now calls you to a lifelong work, a father.