Church of Christ
at
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3) Matthew 6 - Praying (continued)
The wise and godly man approaches God as Father, who's Name he really hallows (Matthew 6:9).

Jesus did not intend only a verbal repetition of this prayer, since Luke (11:2-4) gives it another form by omitting
words and phrases reported here.  Again, neither Jesus nor His disciples are ever reported to have prayed this
form, although they prayed often (Matthew 11:25-26, Matthew 26:36-44, John 17, Acts 1:24-25, Acts 4:23-31).

Man unaided hardly knows how to approach God (Romans 8:26).  It is vital that Jesus reveal a list of the most
important matters which every prayer should touch.  Thus, the extent to which our prayers deal with the significant
issues that Jesus included in this model reveals the degree of seriousness we attach to our Lord's wisdom in
exhorting us to "pray after this manner."

Our God is Father.  This truth settles our relation to the unseen world:  we do not fear a host of unknown forces "out
there," since we abide in our Father's love.  It took Jesus to reveal Him as Father.  Therefore, He is Father in a
special sense to those who accept Jesus' revelation (John 1:29-33, 1st John 1:3, 1st John 2:22-23, Ephesians 1:5).  
He is our Father: this speaks of our relation to others who are His children.  We share this relationship:  God is no
man's exclusive possession.
He is our Father in heaven.  This description of His palace reminds us of the scope of His existence and His infinite
elevation above us (1st Kings 8:27, Isaiah 66:1-2, Jeremiah 23:24, Hebrews 12:25).  Not only has He set His
dwelling in the heavens where He rules (Psalms 11:4, Psalms 103:19), not only has He established there His throne
of grace (Hebrews 4:14-16, Hebrews 7:26, Hebrews 8:1), but there He would have us place all our desires, hopes
and dreams (Matthew 6:20, Psalms 73:25, Philippians 3:20, Colossians 1:5, 1st Peter 1:4).  But we can hardly
address Him as "Father in heaven," when we really seek only earthly ends (See Luke 17:32 in context).

"Father" must never be cheapened to an easy sentimentalism or a crude vulgarity.  What a sharp rebuke this is
both of common blasphemy and of the refined hypocrisy of those who utter God's Name in prayers addressed to the
ears of men!  It cuts deep into blind partisan zeal and outward wickedness that would hide behind God's Name, as if
it somehow justified all practices done in its shadow (Isaiah 52:5, Ezekiel 36:18-23, Romans 2:24, 1st Timothy 6:1,
Titus 2:5, 2nd Peter 2:2).
We hallow His Name by giving thanks at every remembrance of His goodness, by our utter humility, and, most of all,
by our submission to His will.  Meditate upon John 12:27-28 in the context of Jesus sermon "Dying to Live," and glory
in the Lord's own example of upholding God's will even in the face of certain personal suffering.

Historically, the kingdom was concretely realized when the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles on Pentecost,
thus empowering them to open the doors of the kingdom to "as many as the Lord our God shall call unto Him" (Acts
2, Acts 8:12, Acts 19:8, Acts 20:25, Acts 28:23, 1st Corinthians 15:24, Colossians 1:13, Hebrews 1:8, Revelation
1:6, Revelation 5:10, Revelation 20:6).  Thus, some would object to praying this petition on the ground that the
Church, the most obviously visible and practical evidence of God's reign upon earth, has already come.  But it is
significant that Jesus did not say, "Thy Church come," for the Church and Kingdom are not necessarily the same.  
One may be part of the Church and yet not be fully part of God's Kingdom (Acts 14:22, 1st Corinthians 6:9-10, 1st
Corinthians 15:50, Galatians 5:21, Ephesians 5:5, 1st Thessalonians 2:12, 2nd Thessalonians 1:5, 2nd Timothy
4:18, James 2:5, 2nd Peter 1:11).  Therefore, if the "kingdom" (Luke 17:21) is defined as "the perfect submission of
the will of man to reign of God," there is no time at which this phrase is outdated.  Indeed, we may pray for the
consummation of all things in God's glorious rule (1st Corinthians 15:24-28).
Thy will be done.  This formulates the best definition of God's kingdom ever expressed in the life of the individual, in
the government of the universe, in God's moral victory at the consummation of the ages.  In these simple words
rests the simplest statement of man's deepest commitment, his most far-reaching confession and his most satisfying
decision.

As in heave so on earth.  The manner matters:  the example is clear.  God's servants render Him constant, prompt,
humble and cheerful service (Psalms 103:10-22, Isaiah 6:1-8, Daniel 7:10, Hebrews 1:14).  Doing God's will is not a
matter of perfect obedience when we are finally ushered into His presence at the end of time, but a practical putting
into effect His slightest wish on earth right now!

Can we really pray "thy will be done," if we question His wisdom, deny His right to our obedience or resent any of His
commands?  Further, can we pray like this if we have made little or no effort to search His Word for every indication
of His will as it touches every phase of our life?  In this petition we pledge ourselves to do things God's way as He
has actually revealed His will, and we pledge our opposition to all that opposes Him.
If we have placed our lives wholly under our Father's control, we may accept without murmur, hesitation or doubt
whatever He chooses to send, whether suffering, trials or crosses.  This decision is already made when one submits
himself to the will of God, and is maintained by continued commitments as each situation arises.

God has revealed enough in His written Word to keep us so busy doing the things that really matter that we shall
have little time to worry about the unknown facets of His will of which He has not informed us.
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