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Verse 9

Matthew 6:9. After this manner 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 our devotions. By the expression ουτως , thus, or after this manner, our Lord could not mean that his disciples were to use the words of this prayer in all their addresses to God, for in the Acts and Epistles we find the apostles praying in terms different from this form; but his meaning is, that we must frame our prayers according to this model, and that in respect both of matter and manner; that we must pray for the things here mentioned, and often in these very words.

This prayer, it must be observed, 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 that faith, humility, and love of God and man, with which we are to approach God in prayer.

Our Father which art in heaven Almighty God has a peculiar right to the title of Father, as from every creature, so particularly from mankind, being the father of their spirits, Hebrews 12:9, the maker of their bodies, and the continual preserver of both: and he is in a yet higher sense the father of his believing and obedient people, whom he adopts into his family, regenerates by his grace, and restores to his image: so that, partaking of his nature, they become his genuine children, and can with holy boldness call him their father. Being, in this sense, made his children, we are here directed to call him our father, in the plural number, and that even in secret prayer, to put us in mind that we are all brethren, and that we ought to love one another with pure hearts fervently, praying not for ourselves only, but for others, and especially for our brethren in Christ, that God may give them likewise the blessings requested in this divine prayer. The words, which art in heaven, do not confine God’s presence to heaven, for he exists everywhere; but they contain a comprehensive, though short description of his divine glory, of his majesty, dominion, and power; and distinguish him from those whom we call fathers on earth, and from false gods, who are not in heaven, the region of bliss and happiness; where God, who is essentially present through all the universe, gives more especial manifestations of his presence to such of his creatures as he has exalted to share with him in his eternal felicity. Hallowed be thy name The name of God is a Hebraism for God himself, his attributes, and his works. To sanctify a thing is to entertain the highest veneration for it, as true, and great, and good, and to manifest that veneration by our dispositions, words, and actions. Thus it is used 1 Peter 3:15; Isaiah 8:13. The meaning of this first petition, therefore, is, May thy existence be universally believed; thy perfections revered, loved, and imitated; thy works admired; thy supremacy over all things acknowledged; thy providence reverenced and confided in. May we, and all men, so think of thy divine majesty, of thy attributes, words, and works, and may we and they so express our veneration of thee, and subjection to thee, that thy glory may be manifested everywhere, to the utter destruction of all idolatry, sin, and misery. “The phraseology of this and other prayers recorded by the inspired writers, wherein the worshippers addressed God in the singular number, saying, thou, and thy, is retained by all Christians among us, with the highest propriety, as it intimates their firm belief that there is but one God, and that there is nothing in the universe equal or second to him, and that no being whatever can share in the worship which they pay him.” Macknight.

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