Luke 11:2: The Lord’s Prayer: Getting the Heart Right

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There is a repeating pattern in the Bible which trains our hearts and minds to think and want correctly, it is the pattern of God first and man second. Think of the greatest commandments. Matthew 22:36-40, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Think of the Ten Commandments, there are traditionally the two tables of the law, the first 4 commandments of no other gods, no images, not taking God’s name in vain, and keeping the Sabbath all have to do with loving God; then honouring parents, not murdering, committing adultery, stealing, bearing false witness or coveting all have to do with loving our neighbour. God first and then man second. The same pattern repeats in the Lord’s Prayer, that prototypical prayer which should shape all our praying. We see that the first part of the prayer, the address to God as Father, and the 3 requests for His name to be hallowed, His Kingdom come and His will be done, are putting God and His concerns first; then in the second three petitions for provision, pardon and protection concern man. This later version of the Lord’s Prayer is a slightly abbreviated version but it has the same pattern. We see in v2 that this God first man second pattern has not changed, it is part of the basic DNA of how we should pray, ‘And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.’

I cannot emphasize enough how important this pattern of thinking and desiring is for us. Because of our sinfulness we tend to put God second, to make God our servant, to make Him serve our will. The logic of a universe driven by our sinful hearts has man and his concerns and desires at the centre of it all. We could say that at the heart of all of the sin and evil in the world is the problem of getting this order backwards. Take any issue in the world today, take the large issue of sexual ethics, what is driving how decisions are made, is it God’s will or man’s will? We can clearly see that our bodies are viewed not as instruments to do God’s will but a private possession to indulge whatever desire we think is ok. Take the matter of abortion, what lies at the centre of the pro-choice view, my choice, man’s choice, the babies personhood has to take second place to the fact that it is geographically positioned in ‘my’ body. What about euthanasia, what lies at the heart of allowing people to murder themselves? Man’s comfort, man’s choice, man’s suffering and not God’s glory is given the first priority. Many of the laws that are being put in place now that are overturning Christian values and institutionalizing sin have a moral veneer of seeking to love humanity, to bring humanity comfort, to give humanity freedom, to allow humanity to be free. There is a seeming loving face to all of these moves and it is this apparent moral veneer which gets enables everyone to get so angry at the Christians who insist on God’s will. The battle in their minds is the will of an imaginary God which is nothing more than culturally influenced ethics from an earlier and benighted era against liberating the poor victims of prejudice and oppression. But God is real and He is God not us. We cannot develop our values as the world does, God is real, God is supreme, God is the one who made us, owns us, defines us, and has the right to rule us. He is wiser than us, more good, holier than us, and so His ways will always be better than our own. Not only is it right to put God first it will also be better for humanity in the long run.

The Lord’s Prayer is so important because in Christ teaching us pray, we as we pray this prayer daily, not only are we constantly reminded of the wonderful relationship we have to God as Father because of our faith in Christ. We are also trained to remember that our first concerns in prayer must be the Lord’s concerns. So today we will deal with the two God cantered requests that open the Lord’s Prayer. Our two points will be, honouring God’s name, and secondly, seeking God’s will.