FATHER, HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME, YOUR KINGDOM COME
Matthew 6:9-15, Key Verse: 9, 10
“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.”
In the last message, we learned what we should do in prayer. Prayer is not a way of showing off but of building a personal relationship with God. Prayer is more than words. God the Father listens to our hearts. Prayer is the expression of total dependency in our helplessness. It is one of the foundations of our spiritual life. It is a kind of breathing. Without it, there is no spiritual life in a person. May God bless us to pray and build a deep relationship with God our Father in 2018.
Today’s passage is called the Lord’s prayer, yet it is not how Jesus prayed but how he taught his disciples to pray. It teaches his disciples the priority of our prayer. It tells us where our hearts should be first. There are two parts, first God-centered and next human needs, similar to the Ten Commandments. May God grant each one of us one word of God through this passage.
I. God-Centered Prayer Topics (9-10).
There are three prayer topics in the first part. First, hallowed be your name. Look at verse 9. “This then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, hallowed be your name.’” Jesus reminded his disciples to whom they pray. So, I also want to remind us about it again. In Jewish society at the time of Jesus, calling God “Our Father” was a revolutionary concept. A Jew could not call God Almighty, Elohim, because God is too big and awesome to be called by his original name but by a substitute; such as Adonai, Jehovah Jireh and so on. To a Jew, God is an impersonal judge who monitors what they do wrong and condemns with a ticket for any violation. But Jesus came and changed their way of thinking, to understand that God is his Father and their Father, who cares for each of his children with protection and provision. Moreover, this Father so loved his fallen children that he came down to die for their sins so that they could be saved and call God “Abba Father.” As they come in prayer, the disciples should remember this grace and privilege.
We also should remember this grace and privilege in our prayer. This is like a new and direct wireless phone line to our Father in heaven for free through Jesus Christ. It is like having a private counselor on call for 24 hours 7 days a week for the rest of our lives. Wow! You can call your heavenly Father, the best counselor, anytime, anywhere, 24 hours 7 days a week, and share your problems free of charge! Let’s call him, “Our Father in heaven!” “Abba, Father”
What does “Hallowed be your name” mean? To hallow means to make holy, greatly revere or respect. With these definitions, we can say that it is to make God’s name holy, or greatly revere or respect God’s name. How can we make God’s name holy? God is holy! Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty! Holy is his name, so we cannot make God more holy but the Bible says to us, “Be holy for God is holy!” Even though we are privileged to call him Abba Father, we must revere him as God. God is the creator of the heavens and the earth, almighty, powerful, holy and righteous but also loving. We must call him with honor and respect. Like psalmists, we must glorify, honor and praise God’s name with all our hearts, with all our minds and with all our strength. Amen! In heaven, all the angels praise God with the elders, saying, “Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”
Without holiness, we cannot see God. Let us praise and glorify God’s name not only with our mouth but also with our actions. When we grow in the holiness of God, we can reveal God’s holiness. Practically speaking, we should be sanctified, struggling to obey the word of God everyday, so that our lives and actions reflect Jesus’ holiness to the world. Let us make God’s name holy to the people.
Secondly, your kingdom come on earth. What is God’s kingdom? First of all, we need to think about God’s kingdom in heaven. How can I describe God’s kingdom in heaven where I have never been to? But there is at least one who wrote about glimpses of heaven in the book of Revelation. God is on the throne with appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four elders with thrones and crowns of gold. There came flashes of lightening, rumblings and pearls of thunder, and seven lamps were blazing from the throne. All the angels, elders and living creatures were singing, praising, glorifying, honoring, and giving thanks for ever and ever. (Rev 4) When I read this, I feel still lack a lot because John the Apostle tried to describe the beauty and majestic scene of God’s kingdom but it seems impossible to do so, but we know it is where God rules with his almighty power and wisdom, glory and honor. Where God is the king, there is God’s kingdom.
God established a paradise on earth and gave it to man and woman with one command. But they lost it by listening to Satan. Since the Fall, it is God’s ultimate desire to restore paradise back to earth. For this reason, God came down to this world. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. Jesus’ first message was “The kingdom of God is near, repent and believe the good news!” “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Mt 4:17) But God did not come to rule us by force.
How can God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven? When someone repents and accepts God’s love in Jesus, God’s kingdom comes in their hearts. God is their shepherd, Lord, and king. He rules with peace and love, full of grace and truth. And the kingdom of God is given to them. They taste the kingdom of God through the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. This is the restoration of God’s paradise in one person.
We are the one person who should pray, your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. As you know well, the world is being ruled by the devil. But Jesus wants us to be ambassadors of God’s kingdom through sharing the message of our king, Jesus. May we also pray like the Saint Francis of Assisi, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me bring love. Where there is offense, let me bring pardon. Where there is discord, let me bring union. Where there is error, let me bring truth. Where there is doubt, let me bring faith. Where there is despair, let me bring hope. Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy. O Master, let me not seek as much, to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love, for it is in giving that one receives, it is in self-forgetting that one finds, it is in pardoning that one is pardoned, it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.” May his kingdom come in our hearts and Amen!
Thirdly, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. There are two levels of God’s will, the global level and personal level. The global level: God so loved the world and saves the world. John 6:40 says, “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” God wants to save everyone through his Son Jesus Christ because he loves the sinful world. This is the reason Jesus gave us the world mission command to go out to the world. God’s mission gives a person purpose of life and meaning of existence. It is one very important element of God’s paradise in the Garden of Eden. When a person accepts this global level of God’s will as his own, he or she lives in a different heart and level of life like Apostle Paul.
And there is a personal level of God’s will. Many people think about his or her personal task when it comes to a personal level of God’s will, asking, “What does God want us to do?” But God’s will is beyond our talents and skills. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” What we do is important, but how we do it is more important. No matter what we do, we must do it all for the glory of God. We need to learn to rejoice even in the midst of sufferings, meditating on what God’s will is. We need to learn to give thanks in all circumstances, as we pray to know the will of God in that situation, whether good or bad.
Knowing God’s will on a personal level is important because without it we cannot fulfill the global level of God’s will. Yet, without accepting the global level of God’s will, there is no true growth on a personal level of spiritual life. I do not know which one should come first. According to Paul, grace and apostleship came together. As he followed God’s calling for the gentiles, he found God’s will for him to be Christ-like in the power of Jesus’ resurrection through the sufferings of life. May the will of God be fulfilled personally and globally as well in 2018. Amen!
II. Personal Prayer Topics (11-15).
There are three personal prayer topics as well. First, give us our daily bread. This reminds me of the time of Exodus in the wilderness. When the people of Israel grumbled that they had nothing to eat, God provided manna from heaven. In verse 5, Jesus said that God knows our needs already, so why did he ask us to pray for our needs? Without prayer, however, we do not know who provided even though God did it. Through prayer, God wants us to know that he is the true provider.
We should pray not only for ourselves but also others, saying, “Give us our daily bread.” Hebrew society is not individualistic but communal, just as the first church shared everything they had as a community.
This is just for our physical needs. God did not neglect our physical needs. He provided a beautiful garden for Adam and Eve, good for food and pleasing to the eyes, for their physical needs. But God also provided their spiritual needs, giving them the tree of life and the tree of knowing good and evil, which is the life-giving word of God. Jesus is our bread. God wants us to pray for both physical and spiritual food. With both, they were to keep living in paradise.
Secondly, forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors. Forgiveness comes from forgiving. God already forgave, but you cannot enjoy God’s forgiveness until you forgive others from your heart. Jesus had more comments on our forgiveness: the importance of forgiving. Being unforgiving makes a person live in misery, self- and eternal-condemnation. When you do not forgive others, you reveal the unhealed part of yourself. (Sprinkle of Jesus). When we forgive, we are free from self- and God’s condemnation.
Thirdly, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Temptation comes from the evil one through our weaknesses. We need God’s protection and salvation. We are weak, so we may fall into temptation and under the power of the evil one. The devil is like a roaring lion, trying to find a Christian to devour because they were rescued from his hands. Without prayer, no one is safe. Without God’s help, no one can be saved from the devil. May God help us to overcome temptations due to our sinful nature. When we fall, help us to be delivered from the evil one. Amen!
Through today’s passage, we learned that Jesus wants us to seek God’s kingdom and his righteousness first even in our prayers. When we do so, he promised to provide all our needs, his provision and protection. Through our life of prayer, may God help us to build our relationship deeper so that his kingdom comes into our hearts and lives through receiving and giving the forgiveness of Jesus. Then, we may also bring the kingdom into the hearts of the people we meet, in obedience to his will for world salvation as we serve our upcoming International Summer Bible Conference 2018.