Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

No one could have predicted the last two weeks. And for that matter, every day from here forward is an adventure. One silver lining in the uncertainty of these times is that many of us have been moved to pray. Not only that, but I can say I have had more time to pray and in new ways. Last night I had an online prayer meeting with some of the MVP’s from my favorite community groups from across the years and across the country. I have spent time praying in our empty sanctuary at church for our city and the members of our congregation. I have prayed more with friends on the phone. I have prayed with my wife regularly throughout the day. I have prayed with my kids. I have laid awake on my bed and prayed. And my God, my Father, has heard me.

I would encourage you to press into your prayer life personally and with friends and family in the days ahead and seek the Lord. And then, when this bump in the road is over, keep praying.

I want to take a little time and think about what it means to pray and how to do it. In Matthew 6:9 Jesus in the sermon on the mount instructs us to, “Pray then like this:” Jesus goes on to give in Matthew 6:9-13 what has come to be known as “The Lord’s Prayer” in which he instructed those listening that day on the hill and everyone who would read these pages of scripture how to pray.

In this post I want to take the first line of the prayer and consider what it means to pray as Jesus instructed us today in the midst of everything going on. In Matthew 6:9 Jesus says, “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.’”

Notice first, that our prayers are addressed to the Father. When we pray we are addressing the God of the universe who becomes our Father when we confess Christ as Lord. And as Matthew 6:9 tells us he is located in heaven. Jesus is referencing the fact that God is sitting on his throne in heaven above the earth and everything that we are facing. When we come to our Father and pray, at one level we are coming to be comforted, but we are simultaneously being reminded of the right order of things. God is above all things. He is in heaven. He is still on his throne. There is nothing that is going on now that surprised God. He is above this sickness, he is above your job insecurity, he is above your fragile finances, and he is bigger than your emotions. And when we come before him, everything can be laid at his feet.

Hebrews 8-9 paints a great picture of God’s heavenly throne room. In fact, the tabernacle in the Exodus and later, by extension, the temple were meant to be copies of God’s heavenly throne room to show us what was required by God to enter his holy presence. Sometimes we take the act of praying lightly and even for granted. But being able to call on our Father in heaven was bought with the blood of Christ. It is because of Christ that we can boldly approach the throne of God. Because of Jesus’ life and death on the cross he is qualified to be our high priest forever. Hebrews 4:16 calls us to then to boldly approach the throne of God and make our requests known. Jesus is able to save us in the midst of our trials when we draw close to God as Christ is always there with God making intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). Don’t let the fear and the anxiety of the day keep you from seeking the Lord. He is ready and willing to hear from you, in fact, he has made a way for you to be in his presence before his heavenly throne. Let’s go and pour out our hearts to our Father.

So, we address the Father through Christ and pour out our hearts to him. And he is our Father. God cares for us in this time and wants to hear our thoughts just like any good earthly father would. He wants to take our anxiety, carry our sorrow, and hear the requests of our hearts. In fact, Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:8 that our Father already knows what we need before we ask him. How many times did you sheepishly approach a parent with a request only to find out (with great relief) they already knew what you were going to ask and were excited to talk about it? Our Father is like that. God is a caring, understanding Father that wants to hear from his children. In this time, let’s boldly approach the throne and have a conversation with Him.

And then we are to “hallow” his name. Now this is an unfamiliar term for most of us which basically means to revere and honor God as Holy. Basically, we are to praise God for who he is and what he has done. When was the last time you opened your prayers praising God for who he is? Many times, I find myself quickly jumping into confession of sin or just praying for things to go my way by quickly make many requests to God without really considering who I am talking to. But Jesus asks us to honor and revere God’s name. And this brings the world quickly into proper perspective.

We need help honoring and revering God’s name. For me in this time I have found the Psalms to be very helpful. Here we have a whole book dedicated to revering God and his name. They do this by praising him as creator, covenant maker, as the only God, the loving God, the strong God, the God who is present and hears, the God who provides, who gives direction, who moves times and seasons, who orders the rhythms of the universe, and the God that walks in the midst of our daily sorrow. I would suggest when you pray to start by reading aloud several Psalms that revere and honor God. Try Psalm 117, Psalm 136, or Psalm 150. Psalm 136 is one of my favorites as it recounts all the deeds of the Lord in the life of Israel and then praises him with the refrain “For his steadfast love endures forever.” As you praise God for who he is recount what he has done in your life. What do you have to be thankful for? How has God provided for you? What has God done in your life? What is he doing in your life? Praise him for his good and holy character and the ways you have experienced that in your life. That is hallowing God.

The road ahead is unsure, but we have a great Father in heaven to pray to. Let us revere and honor Him for who He is and what He has done. Praising God will rightly order our minds for the rest of our prayer and as we go once again from our knees to face our world. 

*The image above was used in accordance with the licensing agreements of WikiCommons and in no way reflects the views of the artist that produced the image.
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