Small Catechism: Lord’s Prayer Introduction and First Petition
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
Holy Baptism. We don’t fully grasp the benefits given to us in Holy Baptism. In fact, we don’t really believe that all the benefits and blessings that Scripture attaches to Holy Baptism are really true.
Christ, His cross and death for you, His empty tomb, His resurrection from the dead, the Holy Spirit with all His gifts, salvation itself, eternal life, a new heart, being born from above—all these things (and more!) are poured out wholesale in the water and Word of Holy Baptism. All these things are given you as a gift, and so they’re all yours!
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Pastor, you’re supposed to preach about the Lord’s Prayer. We even confessed some of what it means. Why are you talking about Holy Baptism?”
The Lord’s Prayer—and all prayer for that matter—is also a gift. The gift of praying to God isn’t just some right that you have as a human being. No, the Lord’s Prayer is a gift to the Baptized. In fact, it was prayed over you and given to you when you were baptized! The Lord’s Prayer is the prayer of those who are baptized into Christ Jesus.
But we screw up prayer and make it all about our doing it—if we even do it! (Set aside time for it? Who’s got time for that?) There’s more important things than that. So, we reject the gift by turning it into a chore, a chore we scarcely do. Doing both those things offend your Father: not praying, turning it into a chore.
But think about what Baptism gifts to you when it comes to prayer. You not only have the gift of praying, not only the gift of being heard, but, with the Lord’s Prayer, the Lord even gifts to you the very words to pray—words He loves to hear and answer.
So now, the Words: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.”
((2. Holy Baptism holies you with a holy name to call upon.))
Yes, God the Father is now your Father. The Father, who “in the fulness of time sent forth His Son, born from a woman, born under the Law to redeem those who were under the Law, so that we would have adoption as sons.” He’s no longer just the Father of Jesus, as we confess in the Creed, but He really is your Father, too.
He has to be. He gave you His Name in Holy Baptism. You were baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” He gave you His name not only to make you and mark you as His child, not only to deliver salvation to you, but He gave you His name for you to “call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.” He’s given all that you need to cherish the Second Commandment!
He holies you with His name, and so you call upon that name, “as dear children ask their dear father.” You pray every prayer, but especially the Lord’s Prayer “with boldness and confidence.” Fully trusting that your prayer is not acceptable to your Father, heard, or even answered by Him because of what you’ve done or haven’t done. It’s not based on how often you’ve prayed in the past. And certainly no bargaining with Him needed.
No, instead, He holies you with His Name in Baptism. He continues to preserve His name as holy: holy-ing you through His Word, whenever it’s read, preached, bible-studied for you, to you. He holies you with His Son’s body and blood.
So, you are the Father’s holy child, doing everything that’s pleasing to him. “He is our true Father, and we are His true children.” He’s made sure of that. Son sent. Baptismal adoption given. Just like our first hymn tonight: “He came to that which was His own, But He was not received; Yet still through Him God’s glory shone, And some His name believed. To these He gave the right to be The heirs of heav’n above, Born not of human ancestry But born of God in love.”
((1. The Baptism-given Spirit works in and through you to pray.))
But the Father doesn’t just send forth His Son for you. He doesn’t just give you His name. He doesn’t just holy you with His Holy Word and Sacraments. No, He gives you the Holy Spirit, too. (More on that in the 2nd Petition.) Paul talks about that, too: “Because you are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, who cries: ‘Abba, Father.’”
The Spirit was given you in Holy Baptism, and now the Spirit works in and through you to pray. When you don’t pray, you’re stifling the Spirit. Like Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5. But the Spirit works within you as you pray. Yet another gift of Baptism! You have the Spirit who now not only makes your prayers holy, but He holies you so that you actually pray—set aside time! There He uses you as an instrument and gift for others as He, you pray for them.
The Spirit is the one who cries out: “Abba, Father,” and your heart, you get the credit. You are heard. You are answered. Because the Spirit, given you in Holy Baptism, makes you holy like Jesus, so you look and sound like Him, too. It’s all by way of gift. Gift given for you to use and enjoy.
True prayer is a baptismal gift. It’s a working of the Baptism-delivered Spirit. Old Adam, your flesh, you on your own will ruin the gift. Not use it. Abuse it into a chore. So, we rejoice in our Baptism all the more! That Christ not only died to redeem us, but that we have the Spirit who works in us to pray the Lord’s Prayer and every prayer.
Holy Baptism. The Lord’s Prayer. You can’t really separate them. You can’t separate Baptism from salvation and prayer according to Paul in Galatians 4 either. It’s all blessing and gift of Holy Baptism. God doing and delivering all that you need.
He sent forth His Son for you so that you would be redeemed by His death and receive adoption at the Font. There He delivered His Name to you, making you and marking you as His child. Now, He’s your Father. He also gave you the Spirit who cries out through you: “Abba, Father.” No Baptism, no Spirit. No Baptism, no adoption. No Baptism, no heard and answered Lord’s Prayer or any prayer.
YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER MAKES HIS NAME HOLY FOR YOU AND THROUGH YOU. Holy for you in Holy Baptism. Holy through you in prayer by the Holy Spirit.
So, there’s no need to start prayers by saying, “I know it’s been a long time…” There’s no reason to say, “If you do this for me, then I’ll do this for you…” There’s no reason to say, “Why should I pray, then?” There’s no reason to not pray! That’s all flesh, Old Adam, unbelief. That’s the way of rejecting the gift.
There’s no reason for any of that because Holy Baptism holies you with a holy name to call upon. The name of your Father. And you’re not left alone by Him. The Baptism-given Spirit works in and through you to pray: “Our Father.”
YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER MAKES HIS NAME HOLY FOR YOU AND THROUGH YOU.
“You’re no longer a slave but a son, and if you’re a son, then you’re even an heir through God.”
INI + AMEN.