QUESTION 100. What doth the preface of the Lord's prayer teach us?

ANSWER: The preface of the Lord's prayer which is, "Our Father which art in heaven," teacheth us, to draw near to God with all holy reverence and confidence, as children to a Father, able and ready to help us; and that we should pray with and for others.

Q. 1. In what words is the preface of the Lord's prayer contained?

A. It is contained in these words, Our Father which art in heaven.

Q. 2. What is the end and design of this preface?

A. It is to give us a directory how to invoke or address the true object of all religious worship.

Q. 3. What is it to invoke or address God in prayer?

A. It is, in a believing and reverential manner, to make mention of some of his names, titles, or attributes, in a suitableness to the nature of the duty in which we are engaged: as in 1 Kings 8:23; Dan. 9:4.

Q. 4. Whom do we invoke, or call upon, when we address the Father.

A. We invoke the Three-one God; because though each person of the Trinity be the object of worship, 2 Cor. 13:14; yet when any of these adorable persons is addressed, we are, in our minds, to include the other two; in as much as the very same divine nature and essence is in them all, 1 Chron. 29:10.

Q. 5. Why are we directed to address the Three-one God as a Father?

A. To teach us, that the object of true and acceptable worship, is a reconciled God, Psalm 130:4.

Q. 6. In what respect is God called a Father, with reference to men?

A. He is called a Father, with reference to them, either in respect of creation, external covenant-relation, or the grace of adoption.

Q. 7. To whom is he a Father in respect of creation?

A. In this respect he is a Father to all mankind in general, Mal. 2:10.

Q. 8. To whom is he a Father in respect of external covenant relation?

A. To all the members of the visible church, or such as profess the true religion, and their children, 2 Cor. 6:18.

Q. 9. To whom is he a Father in respect of the grace of adoption?

A. To believers only, or such as are "the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus," Gal. 3:26.

Q. 10. May not every one who hears the gospel warrantably cry to God, "My Father," according to Jer. 3:4?

A. No doubt but it is their duty to do so, upon the call and command of God; but none will actually do it in faith, but they into whose hearts "God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son," Gal. 4:6.

Q. 11. What are we taught, when we are directed to invoke God in prayer, by the title of Father?

A. We are hereby taught, to draw near to God -- as children to a Father.

Q. 12. In what manner should God's children draw near to him as their Father?

A. With all holy reverence and confidence.

Q. 13. Why called holy reverence?

A. To distinguish it from that dutiful regard and respect which children owe to their parents by the dictates of nature's light.

Q. 14. In what consists the nature of this holy reverence?

A. It consists in a most profound inward esteem of God, as a Father, accompanied with "other child-like dispositions,"[180] becoming that relation, Isa. 64:9.

Q. 15. What are these other child-like dispositions, which accompany the reverence with which God's children approach him?

A. Among others, there are patience under his rebukes, Mic. 7:9; obedience to his commands, Acts 9:6; and a fervent zeal for his honour and glory, Mal. 1:6.

Q. 16. What is that confidence which God's children have in him as their Father?

A. It is that entire trust they repose in him, as able and ready to help them.

Q. 17. Whence are they persuaded of his ability and readiness to help them?

A. From his all-sufficiency, Luke 11:13, and boundless liberality, Psalm 84:11, as laid out in the promise for their benefit.

Q. 18. What help does he afford them?

A. Such a help as to do all; "for it is God that worketh in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure," Phil. 2:13.

Q. 19. Why are we directed to address our Father in heaven?

A. To teach us to draw near to him with "heavenly affections, Lam. 3:41, and due apprehension of his sovereign power, majesty, and gracious condescension, Isa, 63:15, 16."[181]

Q. 20. What does the consideration of his being in heaven more particularly teach us?

A. It teaches us from whence to expect our blessings and benefits, and likewise the manner in which we ought to address God for them.

Q. 21. From whence are we to expect our blessings?

A. "From above," James 1:17, because they are in heavenly places, Eph. 1:3.

Q. 22. Why are our blessings said to be in heavenly places?

A. Because their original is from thence, and there will the full enjoyment of them at last be, Psalm 16:11.

Q. 23. What does the consideration of God's being in heaven teach us, with reference to the manner in which we ought to address him for our blessings? A. It teaches us to be modest, humble, and cautious, in our conceptions of, and applications to him; as being a God of such inconceivable greatness, and glorious majesty, Eccl. 5:2 -- "Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth, therefore let thy words be few."

Q. 24. To whom does the relative pronoun our, in the preface, refer?

A. It refers both to ourselves and others.

Q. 25. What is the import of it as it refers to ourselves?

A. When we are directed to say our Father, it imports the faith and confidence we are warranted to express in him, as standing in such an amiable relation.

Q. 26. Upon what grounds are we warranted to express our faith and confidence in him, as standing in the amiable relation of our Father?

A. Upon the ground of his being "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," Eph. 1:3; and upon the ground of our new-covenant Head calling him "my Father," in the name of all his spiritual seed, Psalm 89:26 -- "He shall cry unto me, Thou art MY FATHER."

Q. 27. What do these words, our Father, import, as they have a respect to others?

A. They import that we should pray with and for others.

Q. 28. What is it to pray with others?

A. It is to be the mouth of others to God, or to join with them in family or social worship.

Q. 29. What is it to pray for others?

A. It is to express our concern about them, or our sympathy with them before God, as sincerely and ingenuously, as we would do with reference to ourselves, were we in the same circumstances, Psalm 35:13.

Q. 30. Who are these others for whom we should pray?

A. We should pray for "all men," 1 Tim. 2:1; yea, for them which despitefully use us and persecute us, Matt. 5:44; but especially for "all saints," Eph. 6:18.

Q. 31. Why have all the saints a special claim to our prayers?

A. Because they are the special favourites of heaven, John 15:9, and therefore the very butt of the keenest resentment of hell, 1 Pet. 5:8.

[180] Larger Catechism, Question 189.

[181] Ibid.

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