Monday, August 16, 2010

The Lord's Prayer, Petitions 1-3

As mentioned a couple of postings ago, Calvin taught that there are six petitions which make up the Lord's Prayer. Today's reading consisted of the first three: "hallowed be thy name," "thy Kingdom come," and "thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

Petition 1: "Hallowed be thy name"
God's name is holy and should be treated in an appropriate manner by all. We are always to revere His name. Calvin writes, "we should wish God to have the honor he deserves; men should never speak or think of him without highest reverence." This petition ought to be unnecessary, and would if any of us had one ounce of godliness within us. But we do need to be reminded to give God the respect that He deserves. We ask this petition to the following ends: (1) that all impiety which dishonors the name of God be destroyed (2) that all mockery of God's name be banished and (3) all sacrileges be done away with so that "God may shine forth more and more in his majesty."

Petition 2: "Thy Kingdom come"
This petition according to Calvin contains nothing new from the first petition, but it is right to keep them separate. It is to aid in overcoming our sluggishness. Calvin defines "Kingdom" in this section by stating: "God reigns where men, both by denial of themselves and by contempt of the world and of earthly life, pledge themselves to his righteousness in order to aspire to a heavenly life." In this Kingdom there are two parts: (1) "God by the power of his Spirit correct all the desires of the flesh which by squadrons war against him" and (2) "he shape all our thoughts in obedience to his rule." In this petition we are also asking that God gather His churches back to Himself from all over the earth. We are asking that the church increases in number of true disciples of Christ. We are asking for His blessings upon the church and that there is order within the church. For those outside of the church, we are asking that God cast down all those who are opposed to pure teaching and religion. We ask that those are scattered and their efforts are crushed. The second petition serves three functions for us. First, "This prayer ought to draw us back from worldly corruptions, which so separate us from God." Secondly, "it ought to kindle zeal for mortification of the flesh." And thirdly, "it ought to instruct us in bearing the cross."

Petition 3: "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"
Whenever I pray the Lord's Prayer, I almost always emphasize the word "Thy." I have to remind myself all the time that it is God's will with which I should concern myself and not my own. Like the second petition could not be separated from the first, the third petition cannot be separated from the second. Calvin explains this by stating that "God will be King in the world when all submit to his will." This petition is not speaking of God's secret will, where He directs all things. "God's other will is to be noted - namely, that to which voluntary obedience corresponds - and for that reason, heaven is by name compared to earth." We desire to cast off the wants of the flesh and align our will with His. We desire for God to rule our hearts and minds. "In sum, so we may with nothing from ourselves but his Spirit may govern our hearts; and while the Spirit is inwardly teaching us we may learn to love the things that please him and to hate those which displease him."

The first three petitions can be summed up in the following ideas. We are asking God for His will to come to pass without any consideration for our own desires. In these petitions we are not looking for any advantages for ourselves, but for God's glory. We are asking for God to execute His plans even against the consent of those who are opposed to Him, and "the result will be their confusion and destruction."

Tomorrow's reading: 3.20.44-3.20.47

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