on Matthew 6 :9
After this manner therefore pray ye - Forms of prayer were frequent among the Jews; and every public teacher gave one to his disciples. Some forms were drawn out to a considerable length, and from these abridgments were made: to the latter sort the following prayer properly belongs, and consequently, besides its own very important use, it is a plan for a more extended devotion. What satisfaction must it be to learn from God himself, with what words, and in what manner, he would have us pray to him, so as not to pray in vain! A king, who draws up the petition which he allows to be presented to himself, has doubtless the fullest determination to grant the request. We do not sufficiently consider the value of this prayer; the respect and attention which it requires; the preference to be given to it; its fullness and perfection: the frequent use we should make of it; and the spirit which we should bring with it. "Lord, teach us how to pray!" is a prayer necessary to prayer; for unless we are divinely instructed in the manner, and influenced by the spirit of true devotion, even the prayer taught us by Jesus Christ may be repeated without profit to our souls.
Our Father - It was a maxim of the Jews, that a man should not pray alone, but join with the Church; by which they particularly meant that he should, whether alone or with the synagogue, use the plural number as comprehending all the followers of God. Hence, they say, Let none pray the short prayer, i.e. as the gloss expounds it, the prayer in the singular, but in the plural number. See Lightfoot on this place.
This prayer was evidently made in a peculiar manner for the children of God. And hence we are taught to say, not My Father, but Our Father.
The heart, says one, of a child of God, is a brotherly heart, in respect of all other Christians: it asks nothing but in the spirit of unity, fellowship, and Christian charity; desiring that for its brethren which it desires for itself.
The word Father, placed here at the beginning of this prayer, includes two grand ideas, which should serve as a foundation to all our petitions:
1st. That tender and respectful love which we should feel for God, such as that which children feel for their fathers.
2dly. That strong confidence in God's love to us, such as fathers have for their children.
Thus all the petitions in this prayer stand in strictest reference to the word Father; the first three referring to the love we have for God; and the three last, to that confidence which we have in the love he bears to us.
The relation we stand in to this first and best of beings dictates to us reverence for his person, zeal for his honor, obedience to his will, submission to his dispensations and chastisements, and resemblance to his nature.
Which art in heaven - The phrase אבינו שבשמים, abinu sheboshemayim, our Father who art in heaven, was very common among the ancient Jews; and was used by them precisely in the same sense as it is used here by our Lord.
This phrase in the Scriptures seems used to express:
1st. His Omnipresence. The heaven of heavens cannot contain thee. 1 Kings 8:27 : that is, Thou fillest immensity.
2dly. His Majesty and Dominion over his creatures. Art thou not God in heaven, and rulest thou not over all the kingdoms of the heathen? 2 Chronicles 20:6.
3dly. His Power and Might. Art thou not God in heaven, and in thy hand is there not power and might, so that no creature is able to withstand thee! 2 Chronicles 20:6. Our God is in heaven, and hath done whatsoever he pleased. Psalm 115:3.
on Matthew 6 :9
This passage contains the Lord's prayer, a composition unequalled for comprehensiveness and for beauty. It is supposed that some of these petitions were taken from those in common use among the Jews. Indeed some of them are still to be found in Jewish writings, but they did not exist in this beautiful combination. This prayer is given as a "model." It is designed to express the "manner" in which we are to pray, evidently not the precise words or petitions which we are to use. The substance of the prayer is recorded by Luke, Luke 11:2-4. In Luke, however, it varies from the form given in Matthew, showing that he intended not to prescribe this as a form of prayer to be used always, but to express the substance of our petitions, or to show what petitions it would be proper to present to God. That he did not intend to prescribe this as a form to be invariably used is further evident from the fact that there is no proof that either he or his disciples ever used exactly this form of prayer, but clear evidence that they prayed often in other language. See Matthew 26:39-42, Matthew 26:44; Luke 22:42; John 17; Acts 1:24.
Our Father - God is called a Father,
1. as he is the Creator and the Great Parent of all;
2. the Preserver of the human family and the Provider for their wants, Matthew 5:45; Matthew 6:32;
3. in a special sense he is the Father of those who are adopted into his family; who put confidence in him; who are the true followers of Christ, and made heirs of life, Romans 8:14-17.
Hallowed be thy name - The word "hallowed" means to render or pronounce holy. God's name is essentially holy; and the meaning of this petition is, "Let thy name be celebrated, venerated, and esteemed as holy everywhere, and receive from all people proper honor." It is thus the expression of a wish or desire, on the part of the worshipper, that the name of God, or that God himself, should be held everywhere in proper veneration.
on Matthew 6 :9
6:9 Thus therefore pray ye - He who best knew what we ought to pray for, and how we ought to pray, what matter of desire, what manner of address would most please himself, would best become us, has here dictated to us a most perfect and universal form of prayer, comprehending all our real wants, expressing all our lawful desires; a complete directory and full exercise of all our devotions. Thus - For these things; sometimes in these words, at least in this manner, short, close, full. This prayer consists of three parts, the preface, the petitions, and the conclusion. The preface, Our Father, who art in heaven, lays a general foundation for prayer, comprising what we must first know of God, before we can pray in confidence of being heard. It likewise points out to us our that faith, humility, love, of God and man, with which we are to approach God in prayer. Our Father - Who art good and gracious to all, our Creator, our Preserver; the Father of our Lord, and of us in him, thy children by adoption and grace: not my Father only, who now cry unto thee, but the Father of the universe, of angels and men: who art in heaven - Beholding all things, both in heaven and earth; knowing every creature, and all the works of every creature, and every possible event from everlasting to everlasting: the almighty Lord and Ruler of all, superintending and disposing all things; in heaven - Eminently there, but not there alone, seeing thou fillest heaven and earth. Hallowed be thy name - Mayest thou, O Father, he truly known by all intelligent beings, and with affections suitable to that knowledge: mayest thou be duly honoured, loved, feared, by all in heaven and in earth, by all angels and all men.