February 3, 2020 by

Getting into the Heart of God

Matthew 6:9

“This, then, is how you should pray." 

When I started working on this lesson one question came into my mind. If God did not teach us the Lord prayer, how Christian in all the world would know how to pray?

So before we begin: How old were you when you first learned the Lord’s Prayer? How often do you pray the Lord’s Prayer? Why does this prayer (of all the prayers in the Bible) matter so much?

I. A Prayer for All Seasons

That one sentence, rightly understood, is the reason we began this study. In twenty centuries of Christian history, no prayer has surpassed the eloquent simplicity of the Lord’s Prayer. There aren’t many things that unite Christians of all persuasions, but the Lord’s Prayer is one of them.

All the major catechisms (Doctrine) of the Christian faith include the Lord’s Prayer as one of the three foundational documents.  The other two foundational documents are the Apostle’s Creed and the Ten Commandments. Every essential truth you need to know is contained in those three documents.  The Apostle’s Creed tells us what we believe.  The Ten Commandments tell how we are to behave.  The Lord’s Prayer teaches us how we are to pray.  Think of it as belief, action and prayer.  It’s all right there. 

For many of us our problem may be stated very simply: We have heard the Lord’s Prayer so many times that by now we take it for granted.  You could say it by memory without even thinking about it. It’s easy to see how that could happen.

We know it too well.  We understand it too little.  

The Lord’s Prayer is given to us as a guide or a pattern or a model or a framework for what Christian prayer is all about.  It is the answer to the question: what does Christian prayer look like?  Christian prayer looks like the Lord’s Prayer. It is given as a pattern to teach us what prayer is all about.

II. The Prayer That Has It All

God is in this prayerWe are in this prayer.  The past is in this prayer.  The present is in this prayer.  The future is in this prayer.  Father, Son and Holy Spirit are in this prayer.  Everything is here. Let me share a simple outline for the Lord’s Prayer.  The first half of the prayer talks about God, about “I am you child, God, get Your thing done though us. His name, His kingdom, His will.  The second half of this prayer talks about man, us, give us, forgive us, lead us, about “You are my God, my Father, get my thing done through you.  So God and man form the two great subjects of this prayer.

Look now at the second half of the prayer.  You’ve got the past: Forgive us our debts.  You’ve got the present: Give us today.  You’ve got the future: Lead us not into temptation. Notice the Trinitarian structure of the prayer in both halves of the prayer:

Hallowed be your name, it is the Father who magnifies his name.
Your kingdom come, it is the Son who establishes his kingdom.
Your will be done, it is the Holy Spirit who executes the will of God.

The above parts are about “I belong to you, Lord, I am yours. Get Your thing don through me”

Give us today our daily bread, the Father’s provision.
Forgive us our debts, the Son’s pardon from sin.
Lead us not into temptation, the Holy Spirit’s protection from temptation.

These last parts are about “Lord, You are my God, You are mine. Get my thing done though You5”

III. He Knows What We Need

Before we jump into the prayer itself, let’s take a moment to consider a question that has troubled many people: “If God is sovereign, why pray?” I would suppose that most Christians have wondered about it at one time or another.  Here are five biblical truths that we need to keep in mind:

1.  God knows all things.  We call this aspect of God’s character his omniscience.  It speaks to the fact that because God is God, he knows all things that could be known-past, present, and future-and he knows them at the same timeThat means that God is never surprised and that he never learns anything new.
2.  God has committed himself to provide for his people. We can state it even more forcefully than that.  God wants to provide for us, he intends to provide for us, and he will provide what we need. In Philippians 4:19 Paul assures us that “God will meet all your needs,” which is the New Testament version of Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” The whole record of the Bible teaches us that God is the Great Provider, which is why one of his divine names is Jehovah Jireh, "The Lord will provide” (Genesis 22:14).
3.  God has invited us to bring our needs to him.  We are told to ask, to seek, to knock (Matthew 7:7-8).  Why?  Ask and it shall be given, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened unto you.  In Psalm 81:10 the Lord declares, “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.” This is where prayer becomes intensely personal.  Our Heavenly Father, who already knows our needs, invites us to make our needs known through prayer.
4. We don’t know what we really need.  We think we do, but we don’t.  Or to be more accurate, we know part of our needs, but not all of them.  Our perspective is inevitably limited by our own experience, desires and personal knowledge.  Romans 8:26 reminds us that “we do not know what we ought to pray for.” How true that is.  God knew that we would often be baffled in prayer so he sent the Holy Spirit who intercedes for us.  He prays for us when we don’t know how to pray for ourselves or for anyone else.

5.  God knows what we need before we ask himMatthew 6:8 says this very plainly: Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” That means we don’t have to impress God, or use big words, or pray long prayers. We don’t have to repeat ourselves when we pray and we don’t have to worry about getting all the details correct or throw in flowery language when we pray. Since God knows us through and through, he knows our needs better than we do.  When you pray, you aren’t informing God of anything.  He knew your need before you bowed you head.

Every prayer is the cry of a child saying, “Help, Father, I can’t do this by myself.” 

IV. The First Rule of the Spiritual Life

A few years ago I came face to face with a truth I call The First Rule of the Spiritual Life: He’s God and We’re NotAll prayer is based on this simple truthHe runs the universe, we don’t.  We pray because he’s in charge and we’re not. And here’s a crucial insight: When we don’t pray, it’s because we’ve forgotten who’s God and who’s not.  A lack of prayer means we’re still trying to run the show.  It’s a sign that we’ve decided we can handle things on our own. Sometimes you see little signs that say, “Prayer changes things.” I believe that’s true.  And the first thing prayer changes is us.  It teaches us to depend completely on our Heavenly Father and it reminds us that he is God and we are not.

Why pray if God knows everything in advance?  Because God has ordained that our prayers are part of his plan for the universe.  Our prayers really do matter to God.  In a sense God limits what he can do in the world so that he can work through our prayers. It’s not that God “needs” our prayers. He doesn’t.  But in his grace, he has invited us to join him in the great adventure of bringing his kingdom to this sinful world.  Through our prayers, we partner with God in changing the world starting with us. Our greatest problem is not with God’s sovereignty but with our own sinful unbelief. The Bible says, “You have not because you ask not” (James 4:2). But Jesus himself invited us to ask God for anything that we need. So why don’t we pray more than we do?


Let’s wrap up this message with a very simple theology of prayer.  Our part is to pray fervently, sincerely, and honestly, bringing our deepest concerns to the Lord.  God’s part is to listen to our prayers and to graciously answer them in his own time, in his own way, according to his own will.  If we do our part, God cannot fail to do his. Through prayer we journey from wherever we are on earth to the very heart of God. The Father invites us to come into His throne room any time and all the time. The King of Kings wants to hear from you.  Don’t keep him waiting any longer.


Pray: Lord Jesus, we say with the disciples, “Teach us to pray.” Give us hearts that truly want to pray. Without you we can do nothing. Even our prayers are ineffective without your help. May our study of the Lord’s Prayer be more than an intellectual exercise. Set our hearts afire with a fresh desire to know you. Amen.