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“Living the Liturgy: Lord’s Prayer”
Matthew 6:9-13 & Luke 11:2-4


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Lent Service VI—April 13, 2011

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

For our Lent services this year we are having a series of meditations on the various portions of the traditional Liturgy of Christian worship.  One common feature of almost all Christian worship services is the Lord’s Prayer, which is recorded for us in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.  “One of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray . . .’  And he said unto them, ‘When you pray, say, “Our Father who art in heaven . . .”’”

Next week on Maundy Thursday we will gather here to remember with a special service of Holy Communion our Lord’s institution of the Sacrament.  In Scripture we are told before he celebrated the first Lord’s Supper Jesus “gave thanks.” It seems likely the prayer of thanksgiving he shared with his disciples gathered that night for the Last Supper in the Upper Room was the very same prayer that earlier in his ministry he had taught them to pray: “Our Father who art in heaven . . .”

That is why as the early Christians were shaping the Liturgy they decided to put the Lord’s Prayer right before Words of Institution.  For, there could be no better prayer of thanksgiving for us as Jesus’ disciples to pray before we celebrate and receive Holy Communion than the prayer our Lord himself has taught us to pray.

Introduction

“Our Father who art in heaven.”  God is our heavenly Father first of all because he is our Creator, he has “fathered” us.  But, like disobedient children, we have all sinfully rebelled against our heavenly Father.  So, we deserve from him not fatherly love and blessing, but to be banished eternally from his family.

But, Paul says in Ephesians that we are “adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ.”  God is your heavenly Father not only because he is your Creator but also because his Son, Jesus Christ, himself paid for your sinful rebellion, earning for you the privilege of being God’s child once again, earning for you re-admission into the family of God.  As John says, “To those who believe on his name, he gives the right to become children of God. . .  How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”  That is why we pray in the Lord’s Prayer with boldness and confidence, “Our Father who art in heaven.”  Through faith in Jesus Christ you have the right to call upon God as your heavenly Father.

First Petition

“Hallowed be Thy name.”  Martin Luther explains in the Small Catechism, “God’s name is indeed holy in itself; but we pray in this petition that it may be holy among us also.”

There are two gross blasphemies against God’s name.  The first is teaching false doctrine in the name of the Lord, using the Lord’s name to give an aura of authority to false teaching, proclaiming “Thus says the Lord,” when in fact the Lord never said any such thing.  So, when we pray “Hallowed by Thy name” we are praying first of all that all false prophets would be silenced and the word of God be taught among us in its truth in purity.

The second gross blasphemy against God’s name is when we bring disgrace to the name Christian by living an ungodly life.  Paul says in Ephesians, “Live a life worthy of the calling you have received. . .  Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.”  So when we pray “Hallowed be Thy name,” we are also asking God to help us personally hallow his name in our everyday lives, bringing glory to his name, and the name Christian which we bear, with a god-pleasing life.

Second Petition

“Thy kingdom come.”  Jesus told Pontius Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world,” and he said to his followers, “The kingdom of God is within you.”  The kingdom of Christ in this world will never be an actual, physical kingdom but an invisible, spiritual kingdom, “within you” and all believers.  The kingdom of Christ is the Holy Christian Church.  When you pray “Thy kingdom come,” you are praying for the fulfillment of Christ’s command, “Go and make disciples of all nations;” you are praying for the continued success and growth of the Christian Church throughout the world; you are praying for the Lord’s blessings upon our own congregation and Synod and our missionaries and outreach.

The kingdom of Christ exists on earth only in the hearts of individuals, individuals brought to faith in him through the Gospel.  When you pray “Thy kingdom come” you are also saying, “Lord Jesus, you are my king.  Come and rule in my heart; make my heart your kingdom.”

Third Petition

“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  Like little children who totally trust their parents, we are to totally trust our heavenly Father, to commit all things to his will, as Jesus himself prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not my will but thine be done.”

But when things seem to go wrong, when things happen that we don’t understand, we have fears and worries and doubts.  When you pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” you are saying, “Father, take away my doubts, calm my worries, soothe my fears, help me to trust that you are working all things together for my good, as you have promised.  Make your ways my ways, bring my will in conformity with your will.”

Fourth Petition

“Give us this day our daily bread.”  Luther writes, “What is meant by daily bread?  Everything that belongs to the support and wants of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, field, cattle, money, goods, a pious spouse, pious children, pious servants, pious and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.”  When you pray “Give us this day our daily bread,” you are asking God to give you these and all other things that you need for a blessed earthly life.

Fifth Petition

“And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  John says, “This is how God showed his love for us: He sent his only-begotten Son into the world that we would live through him. . .  he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  When you pray, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,” you are saying, “Father, help me to forgive others, out of gratitude for your wonderful forgiveness toward me.”  As Paul says in Colossians, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Sixth Petition

“And lead us not into temptation.”  Luther explains, “God indeed tempts no one; but we pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us, so that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us nor seduce us into misbelief, despair, and other great shame and vice; and though we be assailed by them, that still we may finally overcome and obtain the victory.”  A paraphrase of this petition would be, “Let me not fall into temptation, and in times of temptation, help me, Lord, to resist.”

Seventh Petition

“But deliver us from evil.”  Luther explains that this final petition summarizes all that we have prayed in the Lord’s Prayer: “We pray in this petition, as the sum of all, that our Father in heaven would deliver us from every evil of body and soul, property and honor, and finally, when our last hour has come, grant us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this vale of tears to himself in heaven.”

Conclusion

“For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.”  The word “Amen” literally means, “Yes, yes, it shall be so.”  Luther says, “I should be certain that these petitions are acceptable to our Father in heaven, and are heard by him; for he himself has commanded us so to pray, and has promised to hear us. “

One commentator says, “The Lord’s Prayer is perfect in every respect; no other prayer has ever equaled it.”  Jesus said, “This then is how you should pray.”  But, don’t let the Lord’s Prayer become a meaningless repetition.  Every time you recite its beautiful words think about what they really mean, all the significance that is packed into it, all the things you are really praying with those words.

Amen.

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