And he said to them, When you pray, say, Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done…
I. The INTRODUCTION to the Lord's prayer — "After this manner, therefore, pray ye." Our Lord Jesus, in these words prescribed to His disciples and us a directory for prayer. The ten commandments are the rule of our life; the creed is the sum of our faith; and the Lord's prayer is the pattern of our prayer. As God did prescribe Moses a pattern of the tabernacle, so Christ hath here prescribed us a pattern of prayer — "After this manner, therefore pray ye," &c. Not that we are tied to the words of the Lord's prayer; Christ saith not, "after these words, pray ye"; but "after this manner"; that is, let all your petitions agree and symbolize with the things contained in the Lord's prayer; and indeed, well may we make all our prayers consonant and agreeable to this prayer, it being a most exact prayer. calls it, a breviary and compendium of the gospel; it is like a heap of massy gold. The exactness of this prayer appears —
1. In the dignity of the Author; a piece of work hath commendation from the artificer, and this prayer hath commendation from the Author; it is the Lord's prayer. As the moral law was written with the finger of God, so this prayer was dropt from the lips of the Son of God.
2. The exactness of this prayer appears in the excellency of the matter. I may say of this prayer, it "is as silver tried in the furnace, purified seven times." Never was there prayer so admirably and curiously composed as this. As Solomon's Song, for its excellency, is called "the song of songs," so may this well be called "the prayer of prayers."The matter of it is admirable.
1. For its succinctness; it is short and pithy, multum in parvo, a great deal said in a few words. It requires most art to draw the two globes curiously in a little map. This short prayer is a system or body of divinity.
2. Its clearness. This prayer is plain and intelligible to every capacity. Clearness is the grace of speech.
3. Its completeness. This prayer contains in it the chief things that we have to ask, or God hath to bestow. There is a double benefit ariseth from framing our petitions suitably to the Lord's prayer.
1. Hereby error in prayer is prevented. It is not easy to write wrong after this copy; we cannot easily err, having our pattern before us.
2. Hereby mercies requested are obtained, for the apostle assures us God will hear us when we pray "according to His will." And sure we pray according to His will, when we pray according to the pattern He hath set us.
II. THE PRAYER ITSELF, which consists of three parts:
(1) A preface;
(3) the conclusion. First.The preface to the prayer.
1. "Our Father."
2. "Which art in heaven." To begin with the first words of the preface. "Our Father." Father is sometimes taken personally — "My Father is greater than!": but Father in the text is taken essentially for the whole Deity. This title, Father, teacheth us to whom we must address ourselves in prayer; to God alone. Here is no such thing in the Lord's prayer as, "O ye saints or angels that are in heaven, hear us!" but "Our Father which art in heaven." In what order must we direct our prayers to God? Here is only the Father named; may not we direct our prayers to the Son, and Holy Ghost? Though the Father only be named in the Lord's prayer, yet the ether two Persons are not hereby excluded; the Father is mentioned because He is first in order; but the Son and Holy Ghost are included, because they are the same in essence. Princes on earth give themselves titles expressing their greatness, as "high and mighty"; God might have done so, and expressed Himself thus, "Our King of glory, our Judge"; but He gives Himself another title, "our Father," an expression of Jove and condescension. God, that He might encourage us to pray to Him, represents Himself under this sweet notion of a father, "our Father." The name Jehovah carries majesty in it, the name of Father carries mercy in it. In what sense is God a Father?
1. By creation; it is He that hath made us — "We are also His offspring"; "Have we not all one Father?" But there is little comfort in this; for so God is Father to the devils by creation; but He that made them will not save them.
2. God is a Father by election.
3. God is a Father by special grace. Such only as are sanctified can say, "Our Father which art in heaven." What is the difference between God being the Father of Christ, and the Father of the elect? God is the Father of Christ in a more glorious transcendent manner. Christ hath the primogeniture. What is that which makes God our Father? Faith — "Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." An unbeliever may call God his Creator, and his Judge, but not his Father. Faith doth legitimate us and make us of the blood-royal of heaven — "Ye are the children of God by faith."Wherein doth it appear that God is the best Father?
1. In that He is most ancient — "The Ancient of days did sit." A figurative representation of God who was before all time, this may cause veneration.
2. God is the best Father, because He is perfect — "Our Father which is in heaven is perfect"; He is perfectly good. Earthly fathers are subject to infirmities.
3. God is the best Father in respect of wisdom — "The only wise God." He hath a perfect idea of wisdom in Himself; He knows the fittest means to bring about His own designs; the angels light at His lamp. In particular this is one branch of His wisdom, that He knows what is best for us. An earthly parent knows not, in some intricate cases, how to advise his child. He is the only wise God; He knows how to make evil things work for good to His children. He can make a sovereign treacle of poison; thus He is the best Father for wisdom.
4. He is the best Father, because the most loving — "God is love." The affections in parents are but marble and adamant in comparison of God's love to His children; He gives them the cream of His love, electing love, saving love. No father like God for love! If thou art His child, thou canst not love thy own soul so entirely as He loves thee.
5. God is the best Father, for riches; God hath land enough to give to all His children, He hath unsearchable riches. He gives the hidden manna, the tree of life, rivers of joy. God is ever giving to His children, yet hath not the less; His riches are imparted, not impaired; like the sun that still shines, yet hath not the less light. He cannot be poor who is infinite.
6. God is the best Father, because He can reform His children.
7. God is the best Father, because He never dies — "Who only hath immortality." Earthly fathers die and their children are exposed to many injuries' but God lives for ever.Wherein lies the dignity of such as have God for their Father?
1. They have greater honour than is conferred on the princes of the earth; they are precious in God's esteem.
2. God confers honourable titles upon His children; He calls them the excellent of the earth, or the magnificent, as Junius renders it.
3. This is their honour who have God for their Father — they are all heirs; the youngest son is an heir.
(1) God's children are heirs to the things of this life; God being their Father, they have the best title to earthly things, they have a Sanctified right to them. Others may have more of the venison, but God's children have more of the blessing; thus they are heirs to the things of this life.
(2) They are heirs to the other world; "heirs of salvation," "joint heirs with Christ."
4. God makes His children equal in honour to the angels. How may we know that God is our Father? All cannot say, "our Father": the Jews boasted that God was their Father — "We have one Father, even God." Christ tells them their pedigree: "Ye are of your father the devil." They who are of satanical spirits, and make use of their power to beat down the power of godliness, cannot say, God is their Father; they may say, "our father which art in hell."Well, then, how may we know that God is our Father?
1. By having a filial disposition. This is seen in four things. First. To melt in tears for sin. A child weeps for offending his father. He grieves for sin(1) as it is an act of pollution. Sin deflowers the virgin-soul; it defaceth God's image; it turns beauty into deformity.
(2) He who hath a childlike heart, grieves for sin, as it is an act of enmity. Sin is diametrically opposite to God.
(3) A childlike heart weeps for sin, as it is an act of ingratitude; sin is an abuse of God's love; it is taking the jewels of God's mercies, and making use of them to sin. God hath done more for His children than others. Second. A filial, or childlike, disposition is to be full of sympathy; we lay to heart the dishonours reflected upon our heavenly Father; when we see God's worship adulterated, His truth mingled with the poison of error, it is as a sword in our bones, to see God's glory suffer. Third. A filial disposition, is to love our heavenly Father; he is unnatural that doth not love his father. A childlike love to God is known, as by the effects, so by the degree; it is a superior love. We love our Father in heaven above all other things; above estate, or relations, as oil runs above the water. A child of God seeing a supereminency of goodness, and a constellation of all beauties in God, he is carried out in love to Him in the highest measure. Fourth. A childlike disposition is seen in honouring our Heavenly Father — "A son honoureth his father.How do we show our honour to our Father in heaven?
1. By having a reverential awe of God upon us — "Thou shalt fear thy God."
2. We may know God is our Father, by our resembling of Him; the child is his father's picture. Wicked men desire to be like God hereafter in glory, but do not affect to be like Him here in grace; they give it out to the world that God is their Father, yet have nothing of God to be seen in them; they are unclean; they not only want His image, but hate it.
3. We may know God is our Father, by having His spirit in us.
4. If God be our Father, we are of peaceable spirits — "Blessed be the peacemakers, they" shall be called the children of God." Grace infuseth a sweet, amicable disposition; it files off the ruggedness of men's spirits; it turns the lion-like fierceness into a lamb-like gentleness. They who have God to be their Father, follow peace as well as holiness,
5. If God be our Father; then we love to be near God, and have converse with Him. An ingenuous child delights to approach near to his father, and go into his presence. David envied the birds that they built their nests so near God's altars, when he was debarred his Father's house. See the amazing goodness of God, that is pleased to enter into this sweet relation of a Father. God needed not to adopt us; he did not want a Son, but we wanted a Father. God showed power in being our Maker, but mercy in being our Father. If God be a Father, then hence I infer, whatever He doth to His children, is love. But will God be a Father to me, who have profaned His name, and been a great sinner?Wherein lies the happiness of having God for our Father?
1. If God be our Father, then He will teach us. What father will refuse to counsel his son? A man may see the figures upon a dial, but he cannot tell how the day goes, unless the sun shine; we may read many truths in the Bible, but we cannot know them savingly, till God by His Spirit shine upon our soul. God teacheth not only our ear, but our heart; he not only informs our mind, but inclines our will; we never learn till God teach us.
2. If God be our Father, then He hath bowels of affection towards us. If it be so unnatural for a father but to love His child, can we think God can be defective in His love? That you may see God's fatherly love to His children:(1) Consider God makes a precious valuation of them — "Since thou wast precious in My sight." A father prizeth his child above his jewels.
(2) God loves the places they were born in the better for their sakes — "Of Zion it shall be said, This man was born in her."(3) He chargeth the great ones of the world not to prejudice His children; their persons are sacred — "He suffered no man to do them wrong; yea, He reproved kings for their sakes, saying, Touch not Mine anointed."(4) God delights in their company; He loves to see their countenance, and hear their voice.
(5) God bears His children in His bosom, as a nursing father doth the sucking child.
(6) God is full of solicitous care for them — "He careth for you." A father cannot always take care for his child, he sometimes is asleep; but God is a Father that never sleeps.
(7) He thinks nothing too good to part with to His children; He gives them the kidneys of the wheat, and honey out of the rock, and "wine on the lees well refined." He gives them three jewels more worth than heaven; the blood of His Son, the grace of His Spirit, the light of His countenance.
(8) If God hath one love better than another, He bestows it upon them; they have the cream and quintessence of His love. God loves His children with such a love as He loves Christ.
3. If God be our Father, He will be full of sympathy — "as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him" —
(1) in case of infirmities;
4. If God be our Father, He will take notice of the least good He sees in us; if there be but a sigh for sin, God hears it. God spies the least good in His children; He can see a grain of corn hid under chaff, grace hid under corruption.
5. If God be our Father, He will take all we do in good part. A father takes a letter from his son kindly, though there are blots or bad English in it. What blottings are there in our holy things?
6. If God be our Father, then He will correct us in measure. "I will correct thee in measure"; and that two ways: First, It shall be in measure, for the kind; God will not lay upon us more than we are able to bear. He knows our frame. He knows we are not steel or marble, therefore will deal gently. Second, He will correct in measure for the duration; He will not let the affliction lie on too long. A sting a-wing.
7. If God be our Father, He will intermix mercy with all out afflictions; if He gives us wormwood to drink, He will mix it with honey. In every cloud a child of God may see a rainbow of mercy shining, As the limner mixeth dark shadows and bright colours together, so our heavenly Father mingles the dark and bright together, crosses and blessings; and is not this a great happiness, for God thus to chequer His providences, and mingle goodness with severity?
8. If God be our Father, the evil one shall not prevail against us. God will make all Satan's temptations promote the good of His children.
(1) As they set them more a-praying.
(2) As they are a means to humble them.
(3) As they establish them more in grace; a tree shaken by the wind is more settled and rooted; the blowing of a temptation doth but settle k child of God more in grace. Thus the evil one, Satan, shall not prevail against the children of God.
9. If God be our Father, no real evil shall befall us — "There shall no evil befall thee." It is not said, no trouble; but no evil. What hurt doth the furnace to the gold? it only makes it purer. What hurt doth afflictions to grace? only refine and purify it. What a great privilege is this, to be freed, though not from the stroke of affliction, yet from the sting! Again, no evil befalls a child of God, because no condemnation — "no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus."
10. If God be our Father, this may make us go with cheerfulness to the throne of grace. Were a man to petition his enemy, there were little hope; but when a child petitions his father, he may hope with confidence to speed.
11. If God be our Father, He will stand between us and danger; a father will keep off danger from his child. God calls Himself a shield. God is a hiding-place. God appoints His holy angels to be a lifeguard about His children. Never was any prince so well guarded as a believer.
12. If God be our Father, we shall not want anything that He sees is good for us; "They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing." God is pleased sometimes to keep His children to hard commons, but it is good for them.
13. If God be our Father, all the promises of the Bible belong to us; God's children are called "heirs of promise."
14. God makes all His children conquerors. First, They conquer themselves. Though the children of God may sometimes be foiled, and lose a single battle, yet not the victory. Second, They conquer the world. Third, They conquer their enemies; how can that be, when they oft take away their lives? God's children conquer their enemies by heroic patience. A patient Christian, like the anvil, bears all strokes invincibly; thus the martyrs overcame their enemies by patience.
15. If God be our Father, He will now and then send us some tokens of His love. God's children live far from home, and meet sometimes with coarse usage from the unkind world; therefore God, to encourage His children, sends them sometimes tokens and pledges of His love. What are these? He. gives them a return o! prayer, there is a token of love; He quickens and enlargeth their hearts in duty, there is a token of love; He gives them the firstfruits of His Spirit, which are love-tokens.
16. If God be our Father, He will indulge and spare us — "I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him."
17. If God be our Father, He will put honour and renown upon us at the last day.
(1) He will clear the innocency of His children. God's children in this life are strangely misrepresented to the world.
(2) God will make an open and honourable recital of all their good deeds.
18. If God be our Father, He will settle a good land of inheritance upon us — "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, who hath begotten us again to a lively hope, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled." God's children shall not wait long for their inheritance; it is but winking, and they shall see God.
19. If God be our Father, it is a comfort, first, in case of loss of relations. Hast thou lost a father? Yet, if thou art a believer, thou art no orphan, thou hast an heavenly Father, a Father that never dies, "who only bath immortality. Second. It is a comfort in case of death; God is thy Father, and at death thou art going to thy Father. If God be our Father, we may with comfort, at the day of death, resign our souls into His hand: so did Christ — "Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit." If a child hath any jewel, he will, in time of danger, put it into his father's hands, where he thinks it will be kept most safe. Our soul is our richest jewel, we may at death resign our souls into God's hands, where they will be safer than in our own keeping. What a comfort is this, death carries a believer to his Father's house, "where are delights unspeakable and full of glory!"Let us behave and carry ourselves as the children of such a Father, in several particulars.
1. Let us depend upon our Heavenly Father, in all our straits and exigencies; let us believe that He will provide for us.
2. If God be our Father, let us imitate Him.
3. If God be our Father, let us submit patiently to His will. What gets the child by struggling, but more blows? What got Israel by their murmuring and rebelling, but a longer and more tedious march, and at last their carcases fell in the wilderness?
4. If God be our Father, let this cause in us a childlike reverence — "If I be a Father, where is My honour?" If you have not always a childlike confidence, yet always preserve a childlike reverence.
5. If God be our Father, let us walk obediently — "As obedient children."
6. If God be your Father, show it by your cheerful looks that you are the children of such a Father. Too much drooping and despondency disparageth the relation you stand in to God.
7. If God be our Father, let us honour Him by walking very holily — "Be ye holy, for I am holy." A young prince asking a philosopher how he should behave himself, the philosopher said, "Remember thou art a king's son." Causinus, in his hieroglyphics, speaks of a dove, whose wings being perfumed with sweet ointments, did draw the other doves after her. The holy lives of God's children is a sweet perfume to draw others to religion, and make them to be of the family of God. saith, that which converted him to Christianity, was the beholding the blameless lives of the Christians.
8. If God be our Father, let us love all that are His children — "How pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"
9. If God be our Father, let us show heavenly-mindedness; they who are born of God do set their "affections on things that are above." What, a son of God, and a slave to the world! What, sprung from heaven, and buried in the earth I
10. If God be our Father, let us own our Heavenly Father in the worst times; stand up in His cause, defend His truths.What may we learn from this, that God is in heaven?
1. Hence we learn that we are to raise our minds in prayer above the earth. God never denied that soul his suit who went as far as heaven to ask it.
2. We learn from God's being in heaven, His sovereign power. "By this word is meant, that all things are subject to His governing power." "Our God is in the heavens, He hath done whatever He pleased." God being in heaven governs the universe, and orders all occurrences here below for the good of His children.
3. We learn God's glory and majesty; He is in heaven, therefore He is covered with light; "clothed with honour," and is far above all worldly princes as heaven is above earth.
4. We learn, from God's being in heaven, His omnisciency. "All things are naked, and opened to His eye."
5. We learn from God's being in heaven, comfort for the children of God; when they pray to their Father, the way to heaven cannot be blocked up. One may have a father living in foreign parts, but the way, both by sea and by land, may be so blocked up, that there is no coming to Him; but thou, saint of God, when thou prayest to thy Father, He is in heaven; and though thou art ever so confined, thou mayest have access to Him. A prison cannot keep thee from thy God; the way to heaven can never be blocked up. "Father," denotes reverence; "Our Father," denotes faith. In all our prayers to God we should exercise faith — "Our Father." Faith is that which baptizeth prayer, and gives it a name; it is called "the prayer of faith"; without faith, it is speaking, not praying. Faith is the breath of prayer; prayer is dead unless faith breathe in it. Faith is a necessary requisite in prayer. The oil of the sanctuary was made up of several sweet spices, pure myrrh, cassia, cinnamon: faith is the chief spice, or ingredient in prayer, which makes it go up to the Lord, as sweet incense — "Let him ask in faith"; "Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." Faith must take prayer by the hand, or there is no coming nigh to God; prayer without faith is unsuccessful. As Joseph said, "You shall not see my face, unless you bring your brother Benjamin with you," so prayer cannot see God's face, unless it bring its brother faith with it. This makes prayer often suffer shipwreck, because it dasheth upon the rock of unbelief.O sprinkle faith in prayer! We must say, "our Father."
1. What doth praying in faith imply? Praying in faith implies the having of faith; the act implies the habit. To walk implies a principle of life; so to pray in faith implies a habit of grace. None can pray in faith but believers.
2. What is it to pray in faith?
(1) To pray in faith, is to pray for that which God hath promised; where there is no promise, we cannot pray in faith.
(2) To pray in faith, is to pray in Christ's meritorious name — "Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do."(3) To pray in faith, is; in prayer to fix our faith on God's faithfulness, believing that He doth hear, and will help; this is a taking hold of God.
3. How may we know that we do truly pray in faith? We may say, "our Father," and think we pray in faith, when it is in presumption: how, therefore, may we know that we do indeed pray in faith?
(1) When our faith in prayer is humble. A presumptuous person hopes to be beard in prayer for some inherent worthiness in himself; he is so qualified, and hath done God good service, therefore he is confident God will hear his prayer.
(2) We may know we pray in faith, when, though we have not the present thing we pray for, yet we believe God will grant it, therefore we will stay His leisure. A believer, at Christ's word, lets down the net of prayer, and though he catch nothing, he will cast the net of prayer again, believing that mercy will come. Patience in prayer is nothing but faith spun out.
1. It reproves them that pray in formality, not in faith; they question whether God hears or will grant — "Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss." Unbelief clips the wings of prayer, that it will not fly to the throne of grace; the rubbish of unbelief stops the current of prayer.
2. Let us set faith a work in prayer, "our Father." O pray in faith I Say, "our Father." And that we may act faith in prayer, consider(1) God's readiness to hear prayer. Did God forbid all addresses to Him, it would put a damp upon the trade of prayer; but God's ear is open to prayer. The Ediles among the Romans had their doors always standing open, that all who had petitions might have free access to them. God is both ready to hear and grant prayer; this may encourage faith in prayer. And whereas some may say, they have prayed, but have had no answer: First. God may hear prayer, though He do not presently answer. We write a letter to a friend; he may have received it, though we have yet had no answer of it. Second. God may give an answer to prayer, when we do not perceive it.
(2) That we may act faith in prayer, consider we do not pray alone. Christ prays over our prayers again; Christ's prayer is the ground why our prayer is heard. Christ takes the dross out of our prayer, and presents nothing to His Father but pure gold. Christ mingles His sweet odours with the prayers of the saints.
(3) We pray to God for nothing but what is pleasing to Him, and He hath a mind to grant; if a son ask nothing but what his father is willing to bestow, this may make him go to him with confidence.
(4) To encourage faith in prayer, consider the many sweet promises that God hath made to prayer. The cork keeps the net from sinking: the promises are the cork to keep faith from sinking in prayer. God hath bound Himself to us by His promises. The Bible is bespangled with promises made to prayer.
(5) That we may act faith in prayer, consider, Jesus Christ hat
Parallel VersesKJV: And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.