“Let your name be sanctified.”
1. How might we use the prayer recorded at Matthew 6:9-13 in our ministry?
MANY people can recite the Lord’s Prayer from memory. In our door-to-door ministry, we often refer to this prayer to help householders understand that God’s Kingdom is a real government that is going to bring wonderful changes to our earth. Or we may refer to the first request in the prayer to show that God has a personal name, which is to be sanctified, or “treated as holy.”
2. How do we know that Jesus did not intend that the model prayer be repeated word for word every time we pray?
2 Did Jesus intend that this prayer be repeated word for word every time we pray, as is done by many in Christendom? No. Just before Jesus provided this prayer as a pattern, he said: “When praying, do not say the same things over and over again.” (Matt. 6:7) On a later occasion, he restated this prayer but used different wording. (Luke 11:1-4) Thus Jesus helped us know what sort of things we need to ask for and in what order of importance. Hence, it is fitting to call it the model prayer.
3. What questions could we meditate on as we analyze the model prayer?
3 In this article and the next, we will analyze the content of the model prayer. As we do so, ask yourself, ‘How can this model help me improve my own prayers? And, more important, am I living in harmony with the prayer?’
“OUR FATHER IN THE HEAVENS”
4. Of what does the expression “our Father” remind us, and in what sense is Jehovah “Father” to Christians with an earthly hope?
4 The expression “our Father,” not “my Father,” reminds us that we belong to an “association of brothers” who truly love one another. (1 Pet. 2:17) What a precious privilege that is! Anointed Christians, who have been begotten as God’s sons with heavenly life in view, rightly address Jehovah as “Father” in the fullest sense. (Rom. 8:15-17) Christians whose hope is to live forever on earth can also address Jehovah as “Father.” He is their Life-Giver, and he lovingly provides for the needs of all true worshippers. Those with this earthly hope will in the fullest sense become God’s children after they have reached perfection and have proved their loyalty in the final test.
5, 6. What fine gift can parents give to their children, and what should each child do with this gift? (See opening image.)
5 Parents give their children a fine gift when they teach them to pray and help them to view Jehovah as a caring heavenly Father. A brother who now serves as a circuit overseer in South Africa recalls: “From the day our daughters were born, I would pray with them every night unless I was away from home. Our daughters often say that they do not remember the exact words of those nightly prayers. However, they recall the atmosphere, the sacredness of communicating with our Father, Jehovah, and the feeling of calm and security. As soon as they were able to, I encouraged them to pray out loud so that I could hear them express their thoughts and feelings to Jehovah. This was a wonderful opportunity to get a glimpse into their hearts. Then I could gently coach them to include important elements of the model prayer in order to give their prayers a meaningful foundation.”
6 Not surprisingly, the brother’s little girls went on to make fine spiritual progress. They are now happily married, and along with their husbands, they are doing God’s will in the full-time service. Parents can give their children no greater gift than that of helping them to develop a warm, close relationship with Jehovah. Of course, it is up to each one to maintain this precious relationship. That involves learning to love God’s name, treating it with the deepest respect.
“LET YOUR NAME BE SANCTIFIED”
7. What privilege do God’s people have, but what does it require of us?
7 What a privilege it is for us not only to know God’s personal name but also to bear it as “a people for his name.” (Acts 15:14; Isa. 43:10) We implore our heavenly Father: “Let your name be sanctified.” Your making such a request may move you to ask Jehovah to help you to avoid doing or saying anything that would dishonor his holy name. We do not want to be like some in the first century who did not practice what they preached. The apostle Paul wrote of them: “The name of God is being blasphemed among the nations because of you.”
8, 9. Give an example of how Jehovah blesses those who are concerned about sanctifying his name.
8 We want to sanctify God’s name. After the untimely death of her husband, a sister in Norway was left alone with a two-year-old son. “It was a very difficult time in my life,” she explains. “I prayed every day, nearly every hour, for strength to keep my emotional balance so that I would not give Satan reason to taunt Jehovah because of any unwise decision or unfaithfulness on my part. I wanted to sanctify Jehovah’s name, and I wanted my son to see his father again in Paradise.”
9 Did Jehovah answer such unselfish prayers? Yes. This sister received support from her regular association with caring fellow believers. Five years later, she married an elder. Her son, now 20 years old, is a baptized brother. “I am so happy,” she says, “that my husband helped me to raise him.”
10. What is needed for the complete sanctification of God’s name?
10 What is needed for God’s name to be completely sanctified and cleared of all reproach? For that to happen, Jehovah must act to remove all who willfully reject his sovereignty. (Read Ezekiel 38:22, 23.) Mankind will gradually be brought to perfection. How we long for the time when all intelligent creation will treat Jehovah’s name as holy! Then, at last, our loving heavenly Father will “be all things to everyone.”
“LET YOUR KINGDOM COME”
11, 12. Toward the end of the 19th century, true Christians were given what insight?
11 Before Jesus ascended to heaven, his apostles asked: “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” Jesus’ answer showed that it was not the time for them to know when God’s Kingdom would start ruling. He told his disciples to focus on the important witnessing work that they needed to do. (Read Acts 1:6-8.) Nevertheless, Jesus taught his followers to look forward to the coming of God’s Kingdom. So Christians since the days of the apostles have been praying for it to come.
12 When the time approached for God’s Kingdom in the hands of Jesus to start ruling from heaven, Jehovah helped his people to understand the timing of events. In 1876, an article written by Charles Taze Russell was published in the magazine Bible Examiner. That article, “Gentile Times: When Do They End?,” pointed to 1914 as a significant year. The article linked the “seven times” of Daniel’s prophecy with “the appointed times of the nations” spoken of by Jesus. *
13. What happened in the year 1914, and what do world events since that time confirm?
13 In 1914, war broke out between nations of Europe
14. (a) Why is it still important to pray for God’s Kingdom to come? (b) What are we privileged to do?
14 The prophecy recorded at Revelation 12:7-12 explains why the birth of God’s Kingdom basically coincided with the beginning of the disastrous events that continue to plague mankind. Jesus, the King of God’s Kingdom, began to rule amid his enemies. Until his conquest is complete and he has brought an end to wickedness on earth, we will continue to pray for God’s Kingdom to come. At the same time, we must live in harmony with such prayers by sharing in the fulfillment of a most amazing feature of “the sign.” Jesus foretold: “This good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
“LET YOUR WILL TAKE PLACE . . . ON EARTH”
15, 16. How can we live in harmony with the request for God’s will to take place on earth?
15 About 6,000 years ago, God’s will was being done perfectly on earth. That is why Jehovah could look upon the fine start he had given to mankind and say: “It was very good.” (Gen. 1:31) Then Satan rebelled, and ever since, comparatively few humans have done God’s will on earth. But today we are privileged to be alive at a time when about eight million Witnesses not only are praying for God’s will to take place on earth but also are striving to live in harmony with that prayer. They do so by their way of life and by having a zealous share in the disciple-making work.
16 For example, a sister who was baptized in 1948 and who served as a missionary in Africa says: “In line with this part of the model prayer, I often pray that all sheeplike people will be contacted and helped to come to know Jehovah before it is too late. Also, when I am about to witness to someone, I ask for wisdom to reach the person’s heart. And regarding sheeplike ones who have already been found, I pray that Jehovah will bless our efforts to care for them.” Little wonder that this 80-year-old sister has success in her ministry and, along with aid from others, has helped many to become Jehovah’s Witnesses. No doubt you can think of other good examples of individuals who pour themselves out in doing God’s will despite the limitations of old age.
17. How do you feel about what Jehovah will yet do in answer to our request for his will to be done on earth?
17 Until the enemies of God’s Kingdom are removed from the earth, we will continue to pray for God’s will to be done. Then we will see God’s will taking place in an even more complete way as billions are resurrected on a paradise earth. “Do not be amazed at this,” Jesus said, “for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear [my] voice and come out.” (John 5:28, 29) What a wonderful time to be alive to welcome back our dead loved ones! God “will wipe out every tear from [our] eyes.” (Rev. 21:4) Most resurrected ones will be “the unrighteous,” who lived and died without learning the truth about Jehovah God and his Son. It will be a privilege to impart knowledge of God’s will and purpose to resurrected ones, thereby helping them to qualify for “everlasting life.”
18. What are mankind’s greatest needs?
18 Universal peace and harmony depend on the sanctification of Jehovah’s name by means of God’s Kingdom. Thus, the complete answer to the first three requests of the model prayer will fulfill mankind’s greatest needs. Meanwhile, we have other vital needs that are mentioned in the remaining four requests in Jesus’ model prayer. They will be discussed in the following article.
^ par. 12 For an explanation of how this prophecy was fulfilled in 1914 with the birth of God’s Messianic Kingdom, see the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? pages 215-218.