December 28, 2023

Why Do We Pray? Manuscript

Matthew 6:9 (ESV)
Robert Tansill

Take notes here


Good morning, Gateway Church! I am Robert Tansill, the Pastor of Care and Counseling. And, as always, it is a pleasure and joy to worship with you here in our combined worship service at County Road 9 Campus.



‌This morning, we will answer the question, “Why Do We Pray?” And to do so, I want to look at one verse in Matthew 6 that I believe is the basis for why we pray and which impacts how we pray. And it has to do with the character of God. In Matthew 6:10-13, Jesus tells us six things to ask God for when he says, “May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today the food we need, 12 and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. 13 And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.” 

And the reason he gives us for being able to ask for these things, or anything else for that matter, is because of what he says about God in verse 9. In short, because of who Jesus tells us God is in verse 9 is the reason he gives us for being able to pray for anything. So, what do we learn about God in verse 9 that answers the question, “Why do we pray?” 

Let’s look at our passage this morning, which is found in Matthew 6:9. Matthew writes…



 9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” Matthew 6:9, ESV


As we read this verse, Jesus shows us three reasons to pray. And the first reason can be summed up this way…


Point 1: We Pray Because… God Is Our Father (Matthew 6:9a)

Folks, this is one truth we might take for granted or struggle to believe. Yet, the first thing Jesus tells us to do when we pray is to address God as “Father.” What does he mean when he says this? When we pray, we first need to remember that God loves us, cares for us, and wants an intimate relationship with us. That means that as we pray, we can be assured that he has our best interest in mind because he is our loving Father. In fact, at least seventeen times in Matthew’s gospel, as Jesus talks to his disciples and all those following him, he refers to God as “your Father.” (Matthew 5:45, 48-6:1; 6:4, 6, 8, 14-15, 18, 26, 32; 7:11; 10:20, 29) 

Though the idea of calling God “Father” in the Old Testament was almost unheard of, with the coming of Jesus, this is now the standard for all those who have placed their trust in him. One commentator says, “Like Jesus, believers, too, can call God their Father in a special way. They are the children of God through faith in Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:26). They have received the Spirit of adoption whereby they cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ (Rom. 8:14f.). They are to pray: ‘Our Father…’ (Mt. 6:9). They are heirs with Christ of the kingdom of God (Rom. 8:17). They have the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom. 8:21). They are assured of a glorious destiny in virtue of their sonship (Heb. 2:10). Indeed, in a bold phrase it can even be said that they are made “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4). So significant is their union with the only begotten Son, and so real is the Fatherhood of God in Him.” (G. W. BROMILEY, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Revised)

Because we trust in Jesus, we can now address God as “Father” because that is who he is, which is a gift from God. As Author and Pastor Kevin DeYoung reminds us, “To pray with intimacy to God as father is not a human right; it is a spiritual privilege. It is a privilege for the people of God who have been born again by the Spirit of God.” (Kevin DeYoung, “The Lord’s Prayer”) 

But having God as our Father is not the only reason we pray. All of us have or have had at one time, a father. Some of our fathers were good, and some were not so good. But one thing we can say for sure about God as our Father is that he is always good. However, even though God is always good, that doesn’t necessarily separate him from the pack. But, in verse 9, there is a second thing we see about God that truly does separate him from all other fathers according to Jesus, and is another reason to pray, which is this…

Point 2: We Pray Because… God Is Sovereign (Matthew 6:9b)


Listen again to Jesus’ words in verse 9, “Our Father in heaven…” Literally, in the Greek, this says, “in the heavens.” What is so special about that? Typically, when we think about heaven, we think about things like the planets, stars, galaxies, etc. But what Jesus has in mind here is God’s sovereignty over all of creation. Let me give you one example.

In Psalm 33, the Psalmist is praising God as Creator and Sustainer. And in the process of doing that, he says in verses 6-9, “The LORD merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born. 7 He assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs. 8 Let the whole world fear the LORD, and let everyone stand in awe of him. 9 For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command.” (NLT) What’s the point?

Not only is God a good father, but what separates him from all other fathers is his sovereignty, the fact that he is in complete control over all things, working it all together for our good and his glory (Romans 8:28). This is why numerous times in the Psalms God is described as “above the heavens.” He is not only sovereignly creating all that is, including the stars, planets, and billions of galaxies, but also overseeing it and maintaining it down to the last molecule (Psalm 8:1; 57:5, 11; 108:4-5; 113:4; 148:4). And because of this, we can come to God with our prayers, confident that he hears and answers us as a loving father does for his children, and will do so for our ultimate good and his ultimate glory.

Author Jerry Bridges is right when he says, “Prayer assumes the sovereignty of God. If God is not sovereign, we have no assurance that He is able to answer our prayers. Our prayers would become nothing more than wishes. But while God’s sovereignty, along with His wisdom and love, is the foundation of our trust in Him, prayer is the expression of that trust. Because God is sovereign, we should pray. God’s sovereignty does not negate our responsibility to pray, but rather makes it possible to pray with confidence.” (Jerry Bridges. “Trusting God.” NavPress; January 10, 2017) 

Did you hear what Jerry Bridges said, “Because God is sovereign, we should pray with confidence.” By praying to God, we aren’t praying to someone who doesn’t care about our needs or is unable to do anything about them. Instead, we have a loving father in heaven who does care about our needs and has the sovereign power and authority to do something about them. This is why we pray!

But there is still one last reason to pray that Matthew shows us in our verse, and we can sum it up like this…

Point 3: We Pray Because… God Is Holy (Matthew 6:9c)

Listen again to Jesus’ words in verse 9, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name…” When Jesus says that God’s name is to be “hallowed,” he means that it is “holy, set apart, or perfect.” This is why the New Living Translation says, “Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.” This is also why David, the King of Israel, in Psalm 18:30, can say, “This God—his way is perfect.”

Why is this another reason for us to pray? Because, for each of us, God has a perfect plan that he is sovereignly working out in the lives of his children, whom he deeply loves as believers in his son, Jesus. However, just because it's perfect does not mean it’s easy. We see in Jesus’ own words in Matthew 26:42 as he is about to face death on a cross when he says, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” (NLT)

This is also why, in verse 10 of our passage, the first petition that we should make to God is, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (ESV) And why the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 

So, to wrap up, why do we pray? We pray because we have a loving Father who is sovereignly working out his perfect will in our lives for our good and his glory. And for us to know what that perfect will is, even though it might entail suffering, we must be in close communication with our Father in prayer.

And what do we have to lose by praying? Author Paul Miller sums it up best, “Control. Independence. What do I gain? Friendship with God. A quiet heart. The living work of God in the hearts of those I love. The ability to roll back the tide of evil. Essentially, I lose my kingdom and get his. I move from being an independent player to a dependent lover. I move from being an orphan to a child of God.” (Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting With God In A Distracting World. NavPress; April 5, 2017) 

Folks, this is why we pray.



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