Principle for Bible Reading
There is no more familiar prayer in the Bible than the Lord’s Prayer. In the last lab of his three-part series, John Piper highlights two major new insights he’s seen over the years in the structure and relationships within this paradigm-creating prayer of Jesus.
We are praying to a Father who knows what we need before we ask him. He loves us, and he loves to do these things for us, his adopted children.
Commands, Not Confessions (02:29–06:12)
- You might be tempted to think of the first three prayers (God’s name, kingdom, and will) as confessions or acclimations, and not requests, but they really are prayers.
- With those three prayers, we really are asking God to act and bring something about. We really are asking or even commanding that he hallow his name, establish his kingdom, and execute his will.
- The last three prayers (for food, forgiveness, and protection) are how the first three play out in our daily lives (Matthew 6:11–13). We need these three in order to be an active part of bringing God’s glory, kingdom, and will into the world. We become useless to God’s mission when we die or despair or are (spiritually) destroyed.
- There is a global dimension (first three) and a personal dimension (last three) to this prayer.
The Prayer of Prayers (06:12–12:17)
- Lots of people think of these six prayers only as two sets of three. The first three are global, spiritual, and kingdom requests, and the second three address our personal and practical needs.
- “Hallowed be your name,” though, is a unique and supreme prayer among the others (Matthew 6:9). This request alone directly targets our heart, because only the heart hallows (treasures or reveres or loves).
- The other five prayers all culminate in hearts that hallow God’s name. When God answers (acts, provides, forgives, delivers), he gets the glory as his children exult in him (cf. Psalm 5:11).
- All of this comes very near to the heart of Christian Hedonism. We might say, “God is most hallowed in us when we are most happy in his holiness.”
- Look at the six prayers in Matthew 6:9–13. Do you see any discernable structure? Can they be grouped or categorized?
- Describe the nature of the first three prayers. Take each one at a time and ask how they would be fulfilled. Are they fundamentally different in any way from the last three?
- Now look at the first prayer, “Hallowed be your name,” in Matthew 6:9. Can you determine any differences from the other five prayers? Is there anything that sets it apart? If so, how does it relate to the others?
Piper: “God is most hallowed in us when we are most happy in his holiness.”
‘The Lord’s Prayer’ Series
This lab is part of a series through Jesus’s prayer in Matthew 6:9–13. If we are going to learn to be alone with God in prayer, we need to slow down and mine everything we can from this short lesson Jesus gave his disciples. John Piper reveals several key insights he has seen in these verses over the years. Visit ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ series page to see all three labs in this series.