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Matthew 6:9

Matthew 6:9

After this manner therefore pray ye
That is, in such a concise and short way, without much speaking and vain repetitions; making use of such like words and expressions as the following: not that Christ meant to pin down his disciples to these express words, and no other; for this prayer is not a strict form, but a pattern of prayer, and a directory to it, both as to brevity, order, and matter; for we do not find the disciples ever making use of it in form; and when it is recited by another Evangelist, it is not in the selfsame words as here; which it would have been, had it been designed as an exact form. Besides, Christ does not bid them pray in these very words, but "after this manner"; somewhat like this: not but that it is very lawful to use the very express words of this prayer in any of the petitions here directed to; and which indeed were no other than what good people among the Jews did frequently make use of; and which were collected and singled out by Christ, as what he approved of, in distinction from, and opposition to, other impertinent expressions, and vain repetitions, which some used; as will appear by a particular consideration of them.

Our Father which art in heaven.
This may be looked upon as the preface and introduction to the prayer, and regards the object of it, and his character, which is an epithet of God, often to be met with in Jewish writings, and particularly in their prayers; for thus they F11 say,

"(Mymvbv wnyba) , "our Father which art in heaven", show mercy "to us, because thy great name is called upon us."

Again F12, let the prayers and the requests of all Israel be received by (aymvb yd Nwhwba) , "their Father, which is in heaven". They seem to have a regard to this prayer, when they apply that passage in ( Proverbs 3:35 ) "shame shall be the promotion of fools", to the nations of the earth, who, they say F13,

``do not consider the glory of the law; and how, say they, "our Father which art in heaven", hear our voice, have mercy on us, and receive our prayer?''

So in confessions, thanksgivings, and sacrifices of praise, they required, and looked upon it, as the main thing, for a man to direct his heart (Mymvbv wybal) , "to his Father which is in heaven F14." By "father", our Lord means the first person in the Trinity, who is the Father of all men by creation, and of the saints by adoption; who are to address him in prayer under the character of "our Father", partly to command a reverential fear of him, and partly to secure boldness and liberty of speech before him; and also to express fiducial confidence in him, faith of interest in him, and relation to him; which arises from some experience of his paternal love, and requires the witnessings of the Spirit of adoption; and inasmuch as the direction is not to say "my Father", but "our Father"; it shows that we should pray for others as well as for ourselves, even for all the dear children of God. It is a rule F15 with the Jews,

``that a man ought always to join himself in prayer with the church;''

upon which the gloss says,

``let him not pray the short prayer (Mybr Nwvlb ala dyxy) (Nwvlb) , "in the singular, but in the plural number", that so his prayer may be heard.''

The object of prayer is further described by the place of his residence, "in heaven"; not that he is included in any place, but that the heaven of heavens is the place where he most eminently displays his glory: and this may teach us to look upwards in prayer, and seek those things which are above; and also, that this earth, on which we dwell, is not our native country, but heaven is, where our Father dwells. Next follows the first petition,

hallowed, or sanctified be thy name;
so the Jews F16 in their prayers,

``(Kmv vdqty) , "let thy name be hallowed", or "sanctified by us", O Lord our God, before the eyes of all living.''

And very often F17,

``let his great name be magnified and sanctified in the world, which he hath created according to his will.''

And again F18,

``let us sanctify thy name in the world, as they sanctify it in the highest heavens.''

By the "name" of God is meant he himself, the perfections of his nature, and the several names by which he is known, and which we are to think and speak of with holy reverence. By sanctifying his name, is not meant a making him holy, but acknowledging, and declaring him to be holy, and a glorifying him, and all his perfections. He is sanctified by himself, by declaring himself to be holy; by glorifying his perfections in his works; by implanting grace and holiness in the hearts of his people; by restoring the purity of his worship; by diffusing the knowledge of himself in the world; and by taking vengeance on the wicked: and he is sanctified by others, when they fear him, believe in him, call upon his name, use it reverently, submit to his will, acknowledge his mercies, regard his commands aud ordinances, and live a holy life and conversation; all which is earnestly desired by truly gracious souls.


FOOTNOTES:

F11 Seder Tephillot, fol. 4. 2. Ed. Basil.
F12 Ib. fol. 33. 2.
F13 Raya Mehimna in Zohar in Lev. fol. 34. 1.
F14 T. Bab. Shebuot, fol. 15. 1.
F15 T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 30. 1.
F16 Seder Tephillot, fol. 78. 1. Ed. Amstelod. Zohar in Exod. fol. 43. 4.
F17 Seder Tephillot, fol. 17. 2, Ed. Basil. & passim.
F18 Seder Tephillot, fol. 22. 1. & passim.
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