We are in a series entitled “Soul Shift.” We have bounced around a bit, but our intent is to work our way through Matthew 6:9-13. What’s been called the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ – or, the ‘Model Prayer.’ Our objective – as individuals, as couples, as community groups, and as a church is to move from ordinary prayer to extraordinary prayer.
Here are the most important principals we have learned so far about prayer:
- Gospel-centered (or, Christ-centered) prayer is less about petition and more about worship and adoration. (The focus is on what Christ has done.)
- Prayer is not as much about trying to get God to do what we think He should do, as it is about learning to want what God already wants (i.e., prayer changes us).
- Probably the most important aspect of a high-quality prayer life is viewing God as a loving, kind, and adoring Father.
By way of review, The Lord’s Prayer is made up of nine parts:
- The address: Our Father in heaven…
- There are seven petitions in the Lord’s Prayer:
- The first three are majestic and Godward:
- Hallowed be Your Name
- Your kingdom come
- Your will be done
- The following four petitions are a bit mundane and every-day ordinary – yet necessary:
- Give us this day our daily bread – “God, I look to you daily for my provision…” Pastor and theologian Arthur Pink calls this, “Providing grace.”
- Forgive us of our sins. This is a longing for the grace to prevent us from repeating our (besetting) sins. Pink: “Pardoning grace.”
- Lead us not into temptation. This is an acknowledgement of our weaknesses and our inability to stand apart from God’s strength and power. Pink: “Preventing grace.”
- Deliver us from evil. Pink: “Preserving grace.”
- The Prayer concludes with a doxology – or, an ascription of praise to the One addressed: “For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”
Here’s what we know so far from the address and opening petition: “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your Name” (v.9):
The word “Our” is important for two reasons:
1. “Our” is a reference to Jesus inviting us into His Trinitarian relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus, who is teaching the disciples to pray, is the Second Member of the Trinity. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have dwelled together in infinite relational harmony for all eternity.
- Some theologians, including (the 7th century) John of Damascus, C.S. Lewis, and (more recently) Tim Keller have suggested that this relationship is like a dance, with each member of the Trinity deferring to and delighting in the Other.
- The idea is that we have been invited into this dance as we enter into relationship with God. We’ll come back to this idea of ‘dance’ a bit later…
2. A second implication of the word “our” 2,000 years after Jesus taught the disciples is an invitation to consider and celebrate the wider and historical family of God.
- We want to be particularly cognizant of those who have been martyred for there faith.
- Current estimates are that just under 160,000 people a year lose their lives for the sake of the gospel.
- Again, THE most important thought/perspective that will lead us to a dynamic, extraordinary prayer life is viewing God as a loving and adoring Father.
And in this opening salvo of the Lord’s Prayer we want to view “heaven,” not as a destination, but as a perspective – a viewpoint. Our Father sees and knows all things…
Now we come to the first petition: “Hallowed be Your Name”…
The word “hallowed” means ‘to make holy’ and signifies to set God apart as perfected in holiness.
This phrase is a plea that God would do something about His name. It is a plea that God would cause His name to be ‘hallowed’ in our hearts and in the hearts of all people.
John Piper has said, “We can tell how our theology is changing by the way our prayers are changing.”
The first and most important thing that Jesus instructs us to ask God to do—the most central, the most supreme is to ask God to cause His Name to become supremely valuable in the hearts and minds of all people.
I would like to drill-down on one of the implications of this word “hallowed,” this concept of declaring the fame of God’s name, to segue into some teaching on worship.
I believe that it’s important for us, as a church, to consider the role of worship in our lives – and in our Sunday gatherings. I’d like to start a 30,000 feet and then move toward some very practical application for SBF…
6 basic (overlapping) principles regarding worship:
- Simply stated, worship is the activity of glorifying God in His presence with our voices, our hearts, and our bodies. The gospel call is a call to worship – to turn from sin a call upon the name of the Lord.
- As we have said repeatedly over the last couple of years – the primary purpose for gathering on Sundays is to worship God.
- We worship Him with singing (this is intended to get our emotions involved), through prayer, through confession, through the giving of tithes and offerings, through engaging Chrsit in the Scriptures, and through celebrating communion (Eucharist).
- All forms of fellowship are secondary…
- At the deepest level every human being on the planet is created for worship. But this instinct, this impulse, has been corrupted by the sin nature.
- Jonathan Edwards spoke of ‘religious affections’ — the core of our being that orients our mind, will, and emotions toward an object. But the sin nature causes our affections to stray, propelling us toward lesser worship relationships such as, achievement, work, food, sex—many things other than God.
- Biblically speaking, these things are idols. (An idol is when we turn a good thing into an ultimate thing.
- **Worship is pulling our affections off our idols and refocusing, or reorienting, them toward God.
- The word ‘worship’ comes from the old-English word ‘woerthship’ and means to ascribe to God the worth He deserves.
- Worship is about treasuring God. Job says in 23:12b, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”
- Worship has two parts:
- Seeing the worth of God.
- Giving (surrendering?) to God what He is worth.
- All worship, private and corporate, must have those two elements.
Something that is very important for us to keep in mind as we move forward is that ‘worship’ and ‘mission’ (or evangelism) are two overlapping concepts that are impossible to untangle.
Here is a well-worn quote from John Piper’s book, Let the Nations Be Glad:
“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Mission exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity…But worship abides forever.”
Passion for God in worship precedes mission — because we cannot commend what we do not cherish.
How these (6) principles relate to SBF:
It’s time to move from a settler mindset to a missional mindset. Authentic worship fuels mission. The Great Commandment (Mat 22:37) is the fuel of the Great Commission (Mat 28:18-19). It is time to commend what we cherish – or, to cherish what we commend.
Music preference and style are not developed or described in the NT.
The closest we have is Eph 5:19 and Col 3:16, which both instruct us to “Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.”
And we would be hard-pressed to say what that would they have looked like 2,000 years ago. Preference and style are not described in the NT because they is not the point.
What we DO know is that different forms of art open different doors into our souls. But each form must have at its core true worship – seeing and responding to God’s worth.
What we are seeing around the country is that the worship wars are largely over. Churches, young and older, want what can be called a blended worship style that mixes contemporary with (primarily) contemporized hymns. There is a shared longing around the country for a greater theological depth in worship music.
Having said that, the repetitive and more contemplative songs are just as important as the rich theological songs. Repetition and contemplation are good for the soul. I have a daughter that used flash cards for the basis of her learning in middle school and high school and she graduated with a 4.6 grade-point average. She’s gone on to earn a Master’s degree in Spiritual Formation and Leadership and she did it through repetition…
I believe it’s important that our hearts, our voices, and our bodies become involved in the worship service. (Only at Patriots, Celtics, or Red Sox games?)
There are many, many passages that instruct us to lift-up our hands along with our hearts and our voices…
There are many passages that speak of us bowing down in worship…
There are even passages about dancing before the Lord…
And finally, at least for today, I would suggest that we view our Sunday morning worship experience like a dance. There are three partners at any given time:
The leading partner is always God. What does God want? Can I ask you to be praying for the worship service weekly? Pray for the band, pray for the one preparing the sermon, pray for those deciding about future sermon series,’ pray for the one (or ones) that are putting together the song list.
Another partner is whoever is leading the different parts of the worship service: We have a weekly host, we have a worship team to lift our affections toward God, and we have someone to exegete the Scriptures to help us to help us worship Christ in the text.
And we have the gathered congregation. For those of us who lead different parts of the worship service it’s good for us to keep in mind Pro 27:23 – “Know well the condition of your flocks, And pay attention to your herds.”
Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
3 Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise. [Tabernacle area and Temple]
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
5 For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.
Ps 98:4 (KJV) — Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
Lift Your Hands
Psalm 28:2 — Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You for help, When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.
Psalm 63:4 — So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.
Psalm 119:48 — And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, Which I love; And I will meditate on Your statutes.
Psalm 134:2 — Lift up your hands to the sanctuary And bless the Lord.
Psalm 141:2 — May my prayer be counted as incense before You; The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.
Lamentations 3:41 — We lift up our heart and hands Toward God in heaven.
1 Timothy 2:8 — Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.
Bow Down To Him
Exodus 34:8 — Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship.
Psalm 45:11 — Then the King will desire your beauty. Because He is your Lord, bow down to Him.
Psalm 95:6 — Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
Matthew 2:11 — After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Matthew 15:25 — But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”
Matthew 28:9 — And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.
Revelation 19:4 — And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!”
Romans 12:1 — Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
John 4:24 — God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.
Nehemiah 8:6 — Then Ezra blessed the Lord the great God. And all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
2 Sam 6 — 14 And David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod.15 So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouting and the sound of the trumpet.
16 Then it happened as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.
17 So they brought in the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent which David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. 18 When David had finished offering the burnt offering and the peace offering, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts. 19 Further, he distributed to all the people, to all the multitude of Israel, both to men and women, a cake of bread and one of dates and one of raisins to each one. Then all the people departed each to his house.
20 But when David returned to bless his household, Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel distinguished himself today! He uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants’ maids as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!” 21 So David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel; therefore I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will be more lightly esteemed than this and will be humble in my own eyes, but with the maids of whom you have spoken, with them I will be distinguished.” 23 Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.
1Cor 14:24-25 — But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.
 While many commentators limit the petitions to six, Arthur Pink adds a seventh – “deliver us from evil.”
 The Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer, Baker Books 1979:123.
 Who described the Trinity as Perichorēsis (lit. ‘circle dance’).
 Mere Christianity, p. 152.
 The Reason For God, pgs 214-222.
 Grudem, Systematic Theology, Ch. 51.
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