Resting in the Heavenly Power of Heard Prayer

Good Morning!

I’ve made this point, probably too much, that the central beauty of the Presbyterian way of looking at things is that we are to always understand ourselves to be a part of a covenant community grounded in the free gift of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What that means practically is that the unity of the body is bound by the promise of mercy we have in the forgiveness of sins and the new life in and through our savior. It is a joint blessing and there is no sense in which we are to experience these glories alone. Even when we pray for individual needs we do so in the sure and certain knowledge that our brothers and sisters in Christ are likewise lifting us up to the Lord of glory. This mutual benevolence of faith people is united together in the eternal nature of our Triune God. That is part of what Paul is speaking about in his letter to Thessalonica as he encourages the people by giving thanks for the way they are always praying for the brethren in Jerusalem and elsewhere.

Another aspect of this is discovered in the picture drawn in the Old Testament of how the tribes were to help one another in the conquest of the land, and also how each of them were in turn and kind then to support their brother Levites in their labors. It is this image of the parts working together with one purpose that the more godly elements of the church is to follow in time. What does all this have to do with the Lord’s Prayer? As we enter into the separate parts of the Lord’s Prayer to whom and why we are lifting up supplications to God needs be kept central.

Let’s go ahead and read the Q/A and get started:

Q. 189. What doth the preface of the Lord’s prayer teach us?

The preface of the Lord’s prayer, contained in these words, Our Father which art in heaven, teaches us, when we pray, to draw near to God with confidence of his fatherly goodness, and our interest therein; with reverence, and all other child-like dispositions, heavenly affections, and due apprehensions of his sovereign power, majesty, and gracious condescension: as also, to pray with and for others.

That first word is what the opening paragraphs have been all about. OurOur Father. Also, remember the One who is introducing us to this form of prayer is the Son of the Living God. When He says Our think about what that means. We get a deeper sense of that in Jesus’s prayer in John 17. As we are brought into the inner-life of the Trinity there we hear the love of Christ for His Father, and for His love for His brothers, and those for whom He will soon die, and be raised. Every time we go to God in prayer we are praying in the gospel. We are praying in the assurance of faith. We are praying in the knowledge of the history of God’s love for His sheep as they are in light of the covenant promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This inheritance of peace is our gift in prayer. We are very much in a cloud of witnesses as we raise up our own ebenezer to the God of our salvation.

That title Father also probably needs some more conversation. We are not to think of God as this big grandpa-like figure handing out Werther’s Originals to his grandchildren; just kind of a benevolent super-star up above doting on his little ones. While we confess and gladly believe that the Lord loves us with all His might and grace, we also recognize in humble reliance the same God who swirled around the top of Mount Sinai in thunder and lightning. His power and authority is the reason why we can pray at all. We must never domesticate the living and true Jehovah. He is the one who moves the mountains that we pray for, and He is the one who can alone deliver us from the trials and tribulations of this life. We are to walk through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil because Our Father has watch over us, and as Jesus says no created thing can separate us from Him.

As a goal-oriented people we are keen to be reminded of the eternal destination of those who love the Lord. While we do not believe that the present world (in the sense of the dirt) is evil, or that the flesh is naturally bad, we do long for redemption of all things, including their being made new, hence the New Heavens and the New Earth of Isaiah. This is why the more we come to terms with the spiritual union of our souls with the risen Christ and through Him the church universal the more fervent our actual prayer life becomes. As we lift our needs in what the catechism is calling the preface to the Lord’s Prayer we next come to the detail that Our Father is in Heaven. While we understand that the Father is a spirit and therefore does not take space nor have a physical location, the Bible is interested in helping us to think more clearly about the authority that He has, in other words Our Father Who Art in Heaven is as much a title, or a description of His being, as a geographic statement. Considering the majestic glory of the first person of the Trinity allows us to pray without fear as well as without anxiousness. If God is for us who can be against us? That is the comfort in which we begin the Lord’s Prayer.

In closing, the divines note that one of the ways that we approach God is with child-like dispositions, or faith. We hear Jesus speak on that when the disciples disabuse the young ones coming unto Him. He says from Mark 10:14-15:

But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”

What our Lord means there is ably stated by Matthew Henry and it is a good way to close this entry into the last section of the catechism on the Lord’s Prayer:

We must receive the kingdom of God as the child Samuel did, Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth. Little children depend upon their parents’ wisdom and care, are carried in their arms, go where they send them, and take what they provide for them; and thus must we receive the kingdom of God, with a humble resignation of ourselves to Jesus Christ, and an easy dependence upon him, both for strength and righteousness, for tuition, provision, and a portion.

Last word:

Blessings in Christ,

Rev. Benjamin Glaser

Pastor, Bethany ARP Church

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