Well hello, Cove Church! Winston here and I’m going to share with you the meaning of The Lord’s Prayer. We’re going to do a couple of blog posts to unpack this prayer because we’re going to be praying this prayer together as a church in our services this next weekend and for the next couple of months.
Why would we do that? Why would we pray this prayer every week? I think there’s a lot of good reasons. Something can be said about taking those things that are good and doing them regularly. But even more than just that simple thought, the most obvious one is that this prayer in particular, The Lord’s Prayer, is special. It's unique because it was given to us by the Lord himself. There are a lot of prayers in the Bible and there are a lot of prayers you can pray on your own or make up your own. But this prayer was given to us by Jesus himself. More than that, it was given at the prompting of the disciples who said, “Teach us how to pray.” So when asked that, Jesus said, “Here’s your prayer.” And He gave us The Lord’s Prayer.
Pray it, yes. Make it your own, yes. If it’s difficult to even think about making somebody else’s prayer your own prayer, I understand that. But I don’t think it has to be that way. I think one thing that can help is just by looking at each line, each thought of this prayer, and bringing yourself into the picture. So that when you say those words they can be truly your words.
It starts out, “Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” There’s a lot there. Even just in the first couple words, there’s a lot. “Our Father...” It says a lot about who we are and who God is, and who we are in relationship to each other. It doesn’t say, “My Father,” it says “Our Father.” We pray this prayer together, recognizing God as our Father. And if God is our father, we are sons and daughters, and if it is us saying this together, we are brothers and sisters in Christ. It reminds me of Galatians 4:6 which says, “And because you are children, God has sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts crying, ‘Abba, Father,’ so you are no longer a slave, but a child, and if a child, then also an heir through God.”
When we say God is our father, when we direct our prayers to Him in that way, we’re saying that we are sons and daughters. To be an heir means to have a place, to have an inheritance that can’t be taken from you. Nobody’s going to take this place you have as a son or daughter of his Kingdom. But you’re also a child coming to God, and as a child comes to God, we come to God in simplicity and trust. No strings attached. Just love and acceptance. That’s what it is to be a child and that’s how we come to God in prayer.
The next little part of that opening line, “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,” is the other side of this. When we come to God, we recognize that He is holy. His name is to be hallowed. So as much as God is our father, He is also our Lord, he is God, He is the highest. That just deepens and makes the relationship all the more dynamic. It reminds me of Isaiah 6, where Isaiah comes into the throne room, is in God’s presence, and the angels were surrounding him crying, “Holy, holy, holy!” Shielding their faces from his glory with their wings, he falls down on his face and he says, “Woe is me! For I am a man of unclean lips, I live among people of unclean lips.” He recognizes his brokenness and how different he is from God’s holiness.
So when we say “Hallowed be thy name,” we say it with the same recognition that we are broken. That God is not like us in that way. He is altogether different and to be honored and to be feared. That holy fear is tempered by the fact that God is the one who lifts us up and says, “You are a son and you are a daughter.”
Intimacy with holy fear. It can be difficult to hold those two things together, but Jesus teaches us to do that. He shows us, “you pray in these two ways.” We tend to always want to go one way or the other. We either want to say, “God is to be revered and feared and none of this Jesus-is-my-boyfriend stuff because it is too intimate to be thinking of God that way.” And rightly so. We need to be thinking of God that way, but also on the other side of that, God invites us into a relationship of love and closeness. We hold both together and we come to Him as a child and He as our Father, but also in recognition that He is our God and He is lifted up and He is most high and most holy. Pray in both of those ways through the Lord’s prayer.
We’ll be getting into the next section of the Lord’s prayer next week or so. Let’s just go step by step together and learn how to pray this prayer and pray in the way Jesus has called us to pray.