“Our Father”
Matthew 6:5-14

In honor of Father’s Day, I thought we would look closely at one of the most famous prayers from the Bible which happens to address our Father in heaven. 

Many have it memorized, but do many use it as a format for prayer? 

If we read the context from which it derives, I think Jesus was using this prayer to teach His disciples how to pray. I’ve chosen The Message from which to read, as it helps us understand this point. Before I begin chapter 6, I want to give the context of what was happening. Jesus has just delivered His Sermon on the Mount, you know, the “Blessed are those who”….message. He was giving the people straightforward answers to what God was looking for from His children.  
By the time we get to chapter 6, Jesus was telling those who were listening what it meant to be “good.” It turns out, God’s way of what it meant to be “good” was the exact opposite of what the religious leaders were doing.  Matthew 6:1-14
“Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.
“When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. 
That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.
“And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for fifteen minutes of fame! Do you think God sits in a box seat?
“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. 
The last sentence tells us how to pray… “pray very simply.” Then we are told how to pray. 

We begin with the APPROACH

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,”

Think for a moment, of all the names that you use for God. 

Heavenly Father
Eternal God
I am
Prince of Peace
Wonderful Counselor

A.W. Tozer wrote, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us”
Many of us begin our prayers with the word “Father.” But many of us may not relate to that word in a positive way because of the relationship we have had with our earthly fathers. So we have come up with alternative names so as not to evoke negative emotions. I think God understood the wayward fathers in the world, let me read Matthew 7:9-11, 

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

Let’s face it, there are fathers out there who do give their children stones and snakes. But our Father in heaven even out gives those fathers who are good, He gives good gifts to those who ask Him. 
The direct translation for “father” in this context is the word “Abba” which has the connotation of “Daddy.” The name a small child would give their loving father. 
Jesus was telling us to approach God as “Daddy” the Father who wants to give good things to His children.

First we APPROACH, 

Second we are told to ASK 

“your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.”

I have provided you with a web diagram.  Write your name in the center oval on the paper. Now I want you to fill in the ovals around it with the people, situations and places that you want God to move in. Include anything that has been worrying you. If you have more than four people or situations, add some more ovals. 
Ask God to teach you to pray His will for his kingdom in each of these situations. Take this paper home and place it in a convenient spot where you can be reminded “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Also remember to thank God that He has all of your life in His hands.

We have approached God
We have asked God, 

Now we are going to REFLECT 

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

Think back through the past 24 hours; the things you’ve done, people you’ve met. Ask the Holy Spirit to highlight things you’ve done wrong, or times where you should have acted and did not. 
Write everything that’s come up on the half sheet of paper I have provided for you. Now look at the things you have written and as you read them, say you are sorry, then tear the paper into small bits. You can dispose of them in the trash baskets on your way out the door. Thank God for forgiving you. 

You have been forgiven, Now, is there someone you need to forgive today? Ask God to show you who. Then make a point to do so.

We have taken the format of the Lord’s Prayer and we have APPROACHED GOD, 
Now we close with PRAISE. 
Revelation 1:6
“and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.”

Why does God deserve glory and power for ever and ever? 
Because of who He is and what He has done. Think back to the names we have for Him. I have provided a small list of some synonyms of God in your bulletin. 

Circle those names that you find true in your life.
Many of these names for God are in the praise songs we sing. 
Jesus stood in front of His disciples and those who came to hear Him speak, and He knew they needed a better format for prayer to the Father, then what religious leaders were demonstrating. 
They were complicating the process. Jesus taught us to keep it simple:

APPROACH – God as, Daddy, with humility and sincerity
ASK – for what is on your heart
REFLECT – on what is happening and how you can change to make things better, then
PRAISE, – God for who He is and what He’s done and will do.

The Lord’s Prayer is fairly short. Jesus provided fewer words with more intimacy. Our Heavenly Father knows what we need before we ask. I think Jesus wants us to spend less time talking to God and more time listening to God. The important thing is to spend time with Him in the first place. 
Let’s pray. 

(Directions: Write them down, ask for forgiveness, then tear the paper up into pieces and throw it away.)
(Directions: Write them down, ask for forgiveness, then tear the paper up into pieces and throw it away.)