CCW Sermon: Sunday 11th April 2021. Rev David Russell, Vicar
Matthew 6:7-15 The Lord’s Prayer (Part 1)
When I was at school I sang in a production of ‘The Pirates on Penzance,’ by Gilbert and Sullivan. You may know it. Now I was quite young, about 13. And I learnt the words of the songs by heart, and I could sing them with gusto. But looking back, I didn’t know what they meant. If you know Gilbert and Sullivan’s work, you’ll know that they liked clever word plays, one for example, in the Pirates of Penzance, is ‘often’ and ‘orphan’ – you see, if you say ‘often’ with a posh English accent it sounds like ‘orphan.’ Now, as I say, I never understood these word plays at the time. So, I sang from memory and with enthusiasm, but I didn’t really know what I was singing about.
Today we’re going to start looking in some detail at the Lord’s Prayer – the prayer that the Lord Jesus gave His followers. It’s a prayer that many of us, probably most of us, know from memory. But how often have we stopped and thought about what it means, and about what we’re asking for? Even more seriously, how often have we stopped and thought about whether we actually agree with what we’re saying – is what we’re saying really what we want from God, is it really our prayer?
In the run-up to Easter we worked our way through the Sermon on the Mount, recorded for us in Matthew 5-7. And you’ll remember that Jesus’ teaching on prayer is there, including the Lord’s Prayer. But we were only able to touch on it briefly, and I thought at the time, that it would be really good for us to return to look at it in some detail.
So, over the next 4 weeks, we’re going to look very carefully at what Jesus is teaching us to say in this prayer.
When we looked at it before, we concentrated on the opening phrase, ‘Our Father in Heaven’ and we thought about the amazing privilege that Jesus teaches us that, as His followers, we have - that we can address the Sovereign God of all with the intimate term ‘Father’
Today, we’re going to think about the next three phrases:
1. ‘Hallowed be your name,’
2. ‘your Kingdom come’
3. ‘your will be done’
Things to clear up:
But before we do that, we need to just clear a few things up. As we look at the passage we can see that it’s different to what we’ve learnt by heart. Essentially there are 2 main differences.
First, there’s the language itself. What we know is a translation from the original Greek into old-fashioned English – so we say the ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ but what we have in front of us is a translation from the same original Greek into modern English, so we have ‘you’ and ‘your.’
The second difference is the end. As you can see there’s no ‘your is/ thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory for ever and ever, Amen.’ Why not? Well, Jesus probably didn’t say that, which is why it’s not in our Bible passage. What it says is true, but it was probably added by the Church later in history as a way of closing the prayer
I mention those two things, just so that we are all clear that what we have in front of us is what still what it always has been – this is the Lord Prayer!
Moving into the detail
Now, let’s move into the detail.
With today’s three phrases, the Lord Jesus teaches us that, first and foremost, we are not to be praying about our own wants and needs (although Jesus definitely teaches us that there is a place for that) but our first concern should be that God, our Heavenly Father, should be glorified.
We pray that the wonder of our glorious, loving, almighty, righteous and holy Heavenly Father would be seen - that is at the heart of the Lord’s Prayer, and it’s what we see that with today’s 3 phrases.
‘Hallowed be your name’
In the Bible, a person’s name is more than a way of identifying a person. Their name is intended to express something about them and their character. And that is especially the case with God’s name. His name, which the 10 Commandments reminds us is not to be taken in vain, relates to His character – who He is, that power, love, righteousness and holiness we just mentioned.
And for His name to be ‘hallowed’ means that who God is, is to be seen, known, respected and regarded as holy.
We are then praying that our Heavenly Father would be known about, honoured and worshipped.
‘Your Kingdom come’
God’s King is the Lord Jesus Christ – that’s a big theme in Matthew’s Gospel. And Jesus’ kingdom is built as people turn in faith to Him, and by so-doing, become citizens of His kingdom and seek to live His way.
And that should always happen with an eye to the future, because Jesus teaches us that one day He will return to earth (Matthew 24-25). He will punish sin and those who have rejected Him. But will eternally save everyone who has turned in faith to Him.
And at that point of His return, He will bring in His new perfect, eternal Kingdom.
So, when we pray ‘your kingdom come’ we’re praying that people will come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and will seek to live how He wants us to. And, to add to that, we are ultimately praying that the Lord Jesus will return soon. We’re praying for Him to come back.
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