How Our Heavenly Father Helps Us to Live a Life of Prayer

Good Morning,

Including today we have six lessons left in the Larger Catechism. Over the past four years, starting in October of 2020, we’ve walked gently through the shorter and larger catechisms and took a bird’s eye view of our confession of faith. When we started this it looked a lot different than where we are now. Having spoken with a few folks who receive this there is a desire to get into what is called hermeneutics, which is a fancy way of talking about how we read the Bible and how Christians are supposed to approach understanding using the Bible properly in order to both honor God and benefit from our interactions with the living word. We’ll start that up in August. For now though we are closing out our look at the Lord’s Prayer.

Here is our Q/A for today:

Q. 190. What do we pray for in the first petition?

A. In the first petition, (which is, Hallowed be thy name), acknowledging the utter inability and indisposition that is in ourselves and all men to honor God aright, l we pray, that God would by his grace enable and incline us and others to know, to acknowledge, and highly to esteem him, his titles, attributes, ordinances, word, works, and whatsoever he is pleased to make himself know by; and to glorify him in thought, word, and deed: that he would prevent and remove atheism, ignorance, idolatry, profaneness, and whatsoever is dishonorable to him; and, by his over-ruling providence.

Names have a lot of importance in the scriptures. When Hosea’s children with the harlot Gomer are presented to us, Lo-Ammi and Lo-Ruhamah, their names signify God’s lack of mercy and covenant-ownership of Israel due to their sin and wickedness. On a more positive note we see this with the angel as he speaks to Joseph in Matthew 1:21, “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”. Lastly, in relation to our catechism lesson today we see an application of the Third Commandment, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” When we come to our Heavenly Father to pray we do so with a lot of pre-conceived notions as to who He is, what He can do, and how He goes about doing it. Lifting up our needs is an act of faith founded upon the finished work of Christ and the promises contained in the covenant of grace. Speaking the name of God, as the answer reminds us, is a testimony to our own weakness and inability to do whatever it is we are seeking in prayer.

As we think about this first petition of the Lord’s Prayer everything that we understand about or relationship with the Creator is born out in how we approach Him at this moment in our life. If we come to Him flippantly without thought then we are missing something about the grace He has shown to us, and the love by which He has brought us unto Himself. We recoil when we see spoiled children act out in public, how much more so should we be watchful not to treat our merciful God in such a way when desiring His presence and listening ear?

That is why our catechism is so keen on us preparing ourselves before we pray. That’s not to say we need to spend hours reaching inner nirvana before approaching the throne, but it does mean that we should be living in such a way that God is not a last resort, but one in whom we are actively engaged in conversation as we go about our day. Sometimes we misunderstand what prayer is. Yes, it is the folding of hands, centering of mind, and speaking audibly, either in our head or out-loud, however, more often than not it is the commentary of our heart as we walk in the way of faith. Those mutterings we make as we struggle and know not what exactly to say.

How do we get to that point in our Christian life where we can kind of have that running conversation with the living God, as friend to a friend? Part of that is born out of a desire to know the Lord better. The more we take advantage of the means of grace found in the reading of the word, public and private and family worship, the sacraments, godly fellowship, etc… The more the prayer we offer to the king of Heaven will become more natural. It is in the studying of the Scriptures and going deeper in our understanding which provide us an opportunity by which we no longer grasp for His presence, but always know He is present with us. Not taking the benefits of the new covenant into our soul, of having the law of God written on our hearts, of being the Temple whereby the Spirit dwells, can impoverish our relationship as it is born out in prayer. Being a Christian takes effort, and if we want to be lazy in our testimony, then we will fail in what we seek in prayer. Often, we miss the simple while trying to create our own complicated tower of Babel. We need not work our way to Heaven, when Heaven has come to us in Jesus. The ladder of Jacob is ours by faith in the free gift of salvation granted unto the covenant people of God, of which you are one in the promises honored in Christ.

In closing, as we consider again the first petition, Hallowed Be Thy Name, it is in the title here presented that we have our motivation to pray. An oft underused help to prayer can be found in the opening verses of the book of Genesis, 1:1-3:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

It is in these words we are encouraged to remember that our God is the one who made all things, and if this is the case, as it is, then what John says in the start of his gospel resonates even more with our prayer life, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” You, who were in the mind of God before the world was made, can by virtue of the redemption purchased by the Word have the light of life to speak unto Him and be at peace.

Nothing extra today.

Blessings in Christ,

Rev. Benjamin Glaser

Pastor, Bethany ARP Church

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