Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name...Matthew 6:9
As I prepared Sunday's message on this, the first petition of the Lord's prayer, I came across an old, dead guy with whom I was unfamiliar: a dutch theologian by the name of Hermann Witsius (1636-1708). You know when you listen to someone or read their words and it hits you like a wave of fresh air, and you know this man or woman has been in the presence of God. As I read Witsius' words about hallowing God's name in his Sacred Dissertations on the Lord’s Prayer, I kept thinking, "Old Hermann knows his God." He was not only writing about a subject with which was familar, but he was also writing about a Person with whom he was very familiar.
First of all, it floored him that we're able even to talk to God at all:
It is a very extraordinary and almost incredible familiarity of [conversation] which a man is permitted to maintain with God in holy prayer. That a base wretch,—a sinner under sentence of condemnation, a worm that deserves to be trampled under foot,—should be admitted to [converse] with the Divine Being, whose majesty the brightest inhabitants of heaven approach with lively praise, and yet with the lowliest adoration, is certainly a high privilege.
But as it pertains to the hallowing the name of God, he recognized first that we must understand, The name of God, however, does not strictly denote God, as he exists in himself, but as he reveals and makes himself known to rational creatures. That is the name of God represents the sum total of who he is as he has chosen to reveal himself to us.
And therefore God's name is hallowed when he is declared to be holy. Now, the holiness of God is the purest love of his attributes and perfections. Or, if the expression be preferred, it is that purity of the divine nature which renders every act of his understanding and will consistent with his perfections, and fitted to promote their manifestation.
He goes on to say that when we pray for his name to be hallowed, we declare three things:
(2.) By moving our hearts, so that we may be at liberty to say with David, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise.”
(3.) By exciting our tongue to praise him. “O Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.”
(4.) By regulating our whole life, through the influences of his Spirit, so as to promote the glory of his name, that in all he may appear “wonderful and glorious.”
He summarizes by saying,
Our highest happiness is to be entirely devoted to the Divine glory. Our highest rejoicing is to rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:2)...Above all, we must frequently meditate on those works of God which are only taught in the school of Grace, and by which he has manifested his glory in obtaining eternal redemption for us. The highest powers of the understanding cannot be directed to a nobler object, or employed in a nobler manner, than in the contemplation of the truth itself, and of all the sublime and saving truths concerning himself which that truth has been pleased to reveal. In this manner, the name of God is hallowed by our understanding.
But we must not stop here. The knowledge of the Divine perfections must produce in us love, reverence, wonder, and adoration. Let us frequently, out of the full treasure of our heart, exclaim: “O Lord, how manifold are thy wonders! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.” (Psalm 104:24)
This was a man who truly knew what it meant to pray, "hallowed be your name." May we learn from the heart of one who has communed with the Almighty.
Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven. . . (Matthew 6:9, ESV)
Perhaps one of the most unbelievable parts of the Christian life is that God lets us call him Father. Seriously, think about that for a moment. Out of all the things Jesus could have directed us to call God when we pray, he calls him Father. Not Soverign Lord. Not Mighty King. Not All-Powerful, Omni-present One. But Father. He is all those things to be sure, but we can come to him as needy sons and daughters and cast ourselves upon him and his grace.
There are many implications which come to mind but here are a few I jotted down:
1. This father delights in calling us his children. We are not unwanted refugees. We are chosen children (Eph 1:4). He handpicked us. That's amazing. Remember that next time you are tempted to tip-toe into his presence wondering whether he wants you around.
2. He longs to provide. He wants us to ask (Luke 11:5-13). He doesn't even mind if we ask him a lot (Luke 18:1-8). God is not a stingy God. Come before your Father knowing he wants to hear your requests.
3. He wants our trust. I know, it's easier said than done. But just as a child simply believes the words of his own mother or father, God desires for his children to simply believe what he says and to take him at his Word.
What a comfort to be able to pray the words: Our Father in heaven!
Recently, on a Sunday morning, we listened in to hear what John (that is, 1 John 2:15-17) had to say about worldliness. Something all of us are dying to talk about!
He bluntly says, "Do not love the world or the things in the world" (v.15a). Pretty straightforward.
Why does the idea of worldliness unnerve us a little? I think, in part, because we all live in the world. And sometimes it’s hard to live in this world and not be worldly. Most of us have cell phones, houses, money (a little anyway), hobbies and eat donuts . . . just like the world does! Does that make us worldly.
I think there’s another reason we get a little restless when the topic of worldliness rolls around: because we are worldly in a lot of ways and we don’t want to admit it.
But does a topic like worldliness really even matter? Don’t we have bigger spiritual fish to fry? Don't things like discipleship, building projects, spiritual disciplines, marriage, parenting, lust, getting along with one another command more of my attention than worldliness? According to John, the stakes are pretty high: "…if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (v.15b).
Yeah, that's serious.
So what is worldliness anyway? What does it mean to "love the world." David Wells says worldliness is that "which makes sin look normal and righteousness seem strange."
John Wesley said it was anything that cooled his love for Christ.
John helps explain it for us further when he says:
"For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world" (v.16). Worldliness involves sinful longings that come from within (cravings), the temptations the world offers us (coveting), and our default preoccupation with ourselves (conceit).
Worldliness is not always easy to spot in our lives, but that's often because we don't want to look. It cuts to the heart of our affections. When something tugs on my heart, it's usually something that will give me, at least, some sort of temporal enjoyment. But when it pulls on my heart, it draws me away from Jesus.
You know, worldliness is starting to sound a bit like idolatry. Hmmm.
So how do we spot it in our lives? Does this mean we need to stop enjoying, watching, eating, playing, or driving anything that is not explicitly "Christian" (whatever that is)? I don't think so.
Here are some questions to identify if I might be in love with the world:
But those things might just be exactly what you need to do.