Sermon

God's Word Faithfully Preached from the Pulpit

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 46: Praying to God, Our Father (Matthew 6:9-13)

INTRODUCTION

  • Clarify last Sermon’s statement: “Prayer is natural to the Christian soul”
  • Examples of prayer from a changed heart and mind within (e.g., when crossing a highway, when facing a job interview, when in the face of temptation, when receiving a provision, when thanking God for every new day, when overcoming temptation)
  • But not because it is natural means it is easy (just like breathing). For instance, having a “dedicated” time of prayer is hard, and we are often distracted. Nevertheless, as believers, we are also in the process of sanctification wherein we learn to pray appropriately.
  • Hence, we study how we should be praying to God and what we should be praying for.

Observation of the Text

Matthew 6:9 — “Pray then ‘like’ this…”

  • This doesn’t mean when we pray, we recite these words, and nothings but these words
  • What Christ is teaching us is the right approach and attitude in our prayers, and the things we must prioritize in our prayers. We pray in this “manner.”
  • Hence, it is the fundamentals of prayer. As Heidelberg Catechism puts it, this is the “basics” of Christian prayer, and it begins with praying to “God, our Father, who is in heaven.”

[Transition]: And that will be our main sermon points (1) We must Pray to God as Our Father and (2) We must Pray to God who is in Heaven

Point 1: We must Pray to God as Our Father

  • How is God our Father?
    • Ephesians 2:1-3 — “Dead in sin… We are by nature children of wrath.” Because of our sinfulness, we are all objects of God’s wrath, but…
    • Romans 5:10 — “While we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son…” The perfect sacrifice of Christ made justification possible.
      • Order of Salvation — Election, Regeneration, Effectual Calling, Conversion, Justification…
    • And once we are justified as righteous in his sight, he now accepts and a new relationship is now in place. God adopts us to be his children.
    • READ John 1:12-13
      • Because of the controversy with Arminians, we seldom use or meditate on this verse.
      • Yes, we affirm that no one can believe unless God works in him/her first (v. 13). Nevertheless, the promise and the call/commands to faith remains the same:
      • “Believe and you will be saved,” “Believe” (embrace Christ, believe that everything he did is for you, embrace him as your Savior and Lord) “and he will give you the right to become his child.”
  • IMPLICATION: What does it imply that God is now our Father?
    • We now have access to him
      • “Right” — Authority, power (Example: “Authorized personnel only”)
      • ILLUSTRATE: When a child is adopted into a family, he/she gains all the privileges. Anytime, he can request from the parents.
      • Same with us, believers, we can pray to God
    • He is inclined to do what is best for us
      • Matthew 7:9-11
        • I’m not a parent yet, but I understand the nature of most parents: You want what is best for your children. (Example: Speaking to a parent who imagines how hard it will be if your child dies first)
        • If we, as parents, are inclined to give what is good to our children—how much more God is toward his children?
      • CLARIFY: As Father, God withhold what is unnecessary (hindi kailangan), useless (walang pakinabang), and hurtful (makakasira satin). It is in this way that God deals with us, giving us all good things, temporal and spiritual, which are necessary and profitable, and contribute to our salvation. – Zacharias Ursinus commentary
  • Application
    • We pray to him
    • But as children, our attitude should be of Reverence and Trust:
      • Reverence
        • EXAMPLE: A child shouldn’t dare to say to his parent, “Pa, bigyan mo nga ‘ko ng 5k.”
        • We come to God, our Father, in humility and respect. May pag-galang. Hindi yung parang ka-tropa mo lang.
        • EXAMPLE: Puritans in prayer. Always humbly acknowledging who God is, and our unworthiness to come into his presence.
      • Trust
        • Though we are unworthy in ourselves, God is pleased to hear our prayers. And as we trust that our earthly fathers will lovingly give what we ask for, God will all the more be willing and loving to give what we need.
        • EXAMPLE: As children, we all long and enjoy when our parents listen to us. (Drama: Umiiyak sa mga magulang)
        • Open your heart to God. Present all your worries and anxieties, “let your request be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6). He listens and provides for his children. 

Point Summary: As our Father, because of Christ, God intentionally seeks our good and will give what is best for us. Therefore, we shouldn’t hesitate (alinlangan) to ask him. He even encourages us to ask him.

[TRANSITION]: Now, after recognizing God as our Father, the Lord’s Prayer adds, “Our Father, who is in heaven.”

Point 2: We must Pray to God who is in Heaven

  • What does it mean that God is in the heavens?
    • When we say “God is in the heavens,” we’re not referring to heavens as a “local place” (i.e., pinnable in Google Maps) and God is locally there. Where exactly heaven is and how exactly it looks like is beyond our finite minds.
  • God is spirit, and as Solomon said, “the heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you” (1 Kings 8:27).
  • But “heaven” is contrasted with “earth,” where everything is finite and even fallen because of sin.
    • God being “in the heavens” means he ‘transcends’ all of creation. (Transcendent — “lampas, kataas-taasan”)
      • Clarify: His transcendence doesn’t mean we cannot know him or experience his presence (i.e., immanence). Sa Kanyang Espiritu, ang presensya at kapangyarian ng Diyos ay kahit saan.
      • But the transcendence of God establishes his ‘holiness.’ He is not like any creature, he is beyond all of us.
    • God being “in the heavens” means he is ‘sovereign’ over all. He owns and rules over all creation.
      • Psalm 103:19 — “The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.”
  • IMPLICATION: Now, if God is in the heavens, what does it mean to us:
    • (1) Let it humble us to think that this holy God would care for us and listen to us.
      • READ Psalm 8:3-4
      • God is holy and we are sinners, and God is under no obligation to care for our needs or even listen to our prayers
      • Yet we see the great love of God, that in Christ—the God in flesh—he desired to save us and dwell among his people. And as Christ intercedes for us before the Father in heaven, we have access to the heavenly throne.
  • Again, similar to approaching God as our Father, let this give us the sense of REVERENCE and AWE when we pray (privately & public worship). The one we are talking to is the Sovereign King of all.
  • (2) At the same time, that God is in the heavens gives us encouragement and confidence that he can give “everything needed for our body and soul.”
    • ILLUSTRATE: If you’re a multi-billionaire, you can give almost anything to your child.
    • How much more can God—who owns everything—give anything to us!
  • Hence, like praying to God our Father, this calls us to TRUST God in our prayers.
    • Sometimes, we hesitate in our prayers as if God “might not” give it or “be able” to give it.
    • CLARIFY: Of course, don’t pray unrealistically. (E.g., Praying for a job, but you’re not applying. Praying for marriage, but you’re always hiding. Praying for maturity, but you’re not reading God’s Word). In that case, pray for obedience.
    • EXAMPLE: I need a lot of wisdom as a pastor. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” – James 1:5
    • I don’t know when, I don’t know how much… but I should trust that he can and will give it.

Point Summary: So praying to God means we should revere him and trust him who is our Father in heaven.

As Father, he seeks our good and will give what is best for us according to his will. As God enthroned in the heavens, he has all the power to give anything we ask for in faith.

And with these truths, let us be mindful…

  • EXHORTATION: It is an act of unbelief and disrespect when we don’t pray to God who is our Father in heaven.
  • ILLUSTRATE: What if your child asks the neighbor for help? Or he/she doesn’t ask help at all (perhaps, because he/she knows you won’t listen)? (Not applicable of course for less dependent grown-ups)
  • Examples of some kings in Israel and Judah, who refused to ask God for signs and wonders to rescue them from their enemies.
    • Example of Ahaziah seeking Baal-zebub about his sickness, and then confronted by God through Elijah, “Is it because there is no God in Israel?” (2 Kings 1)
  • The need to balance things: Often, especially if we move out of our evangelical churches and prosperity gospel teachings, we move to the other extremes. (I.e., we’re called to glorify and praise God, instead of just asking God for our needs. Or dapat puro spiritual things lang pina-pag-pray natin)
    • CLARIFY: Well, if you see God like a “genie” to satisfy your earthly needs, while not being concerned about his glory and your salvation, is indeed wrong.
    • But there’s a big difference between “demanding” and “asking,” between “claiming” and “praying.”
  • To pray and ask God for our needs in faith and submission is actually WORSHIP. Because that is our expression that we are helpless in everything! We recognize that nothing comes into our hands unless it comes from the hands of God in heaven. (Walang kahit anong mapupunta sa ating mga kamay maliban kung ito’y magmumula sa kamay ng ating Panginoon sa langit).
  • ENCOURAGEMENT: Again, it is our privilege to come to God as his children.
    • READ Romans 8:31-32
    • Brother and sisters, what are your burdens and anxieties right now? Salvation of your spouse/child, healing from sickness, daily provisions, protection in school/work…etc.
    • Take it to the Lord in prayer. And hope that God, in his mercy, shall grant it to you according to his perfect will.

Conclusion

Beloved, our ultimate motivation to pray is who God is.

In Christ, we are adopted as children of God. Because he is our Father, God will give what is necessary and best for us. Because he is enthroned in the heavens, God has all the power to give anything we ask for in faith. May that encourage us all the more to seek his favor in all our needs—both body and soul, for this life and for eternity.

+ posts
Share with others:
Facebook
Twitter
Email
Print

Leave a Comment