STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn
Q. 100. What doth the preface of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?
A. The preface of the Lord’s Prayer, which is, “Our Father which is 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.
Scripture References: Isa. 64:9; Luke 11:13; Rom. 8:15; Eph. 6:1; Acts 12:5; Zech. 8:21.
1. When we say “Our Father” in the prayer, are we speaking of one God the Father?
No, we are speaking of the triune God. The Father is mentioned but the Son and the Holy Spirit are included because they are the same in essence.
2. Is it possible for everyone to pray this prayer?
No, it is a prayer that only those who are believers are able to pray. It is only those who have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them because of their relationship to Jesus Christ that can call out “Our Father” and sincerely mean it.
3. What can we be taught from the words “Our Father” in the prayer?
We can be taught that we can address our Lord with an attitude that is likened (though deeper) to the attitude of a child towards his earthly father. It is an attitude of love, adoration, and delight.
4. Why is it important for us to know God is in heaven?
It is important for us as by this we can direct our prayers to Him away from the cares of this world and to expect our blessings from above. It should also teach us to be careful of our attitude toward God that it is a holy attitude and an attitude of carefulness of our words directed toward Him. (Ecclesiastes 5:2).
5. Should we not remember that the preface contains the word “Our” as we pray?
Yes, we should remember this constantly. This should teach us to pray with and for others. It should remind us that we are “one in Christ Jesus” and that we are not alone no matter what our trouble or difficulty might be here on earth.
One of the difficulties of the prayer life on the part of many is that they attempt some of the more advanced patterns of prayer before becoming well-versed in elementary prayer. What is elementary prayer? The simple procedure of making of requests and giving thanks.
There are higher patterns of prayer. There are such things as adoration, communion, spiritual warfare, intercession and contemplation. But so many times the young believer–and many times the believer of many years–will attempt some of these higher patterns, become discouraged, and the prayer life will continue to suffer. How can we train ourselves to reach the higher patterns some day?
One of the simple methods is to keep a “Prayer Card” in your pocket or in your Bible or in your purse and keep an orderly list of things for which you can pray. As new things come to your attention, add them and you will be amazed at how your list will grow. You will also be amazed at the increases in urgency in prayer on your part.
This urgency in prayer is one of our greatest needs. So many times we seem to feel we can only pray when we are in the right mood. We should remember that our Sovereign God knows all about our moods and will give us the grace, as we cast ourselves on Him, to rise above our moods and be regular and urgent in our prayer lives.
Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman tells the story of Praying Hyde (John Nelson Hyde) coming to his room for prayer. Dr. Chapman stated, “He came up to my room, turned the key in the door, dropped on his knees, waited five minutes without a single syllable coming from his lips. I could hear my own heart thumping and his beating. I knew I was with God. Then with upturned face, down which tears streamed, he broke out with, ‘O, God!’ For five minutes he was still again. When he knew that he was talking with God, there came from the depths of his heart such petitions for men as I have never heard before. I rose from my knees knowing what real prayer is.”
We need more Praying Hydes today. Will you join with me with some elementary prayer? (Luke 18:1).
Published by The Shield and Sword, Inc.
Dedicated to instruction in the Westminster Standards for use as a bulletin insert or other methods of distribution in Presbyterian churches.
Vol. 7, No. 4 (April 1968)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor.