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Catechism Class – The Last Word!

10/03/2021

Catechism Class. Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 52B

How Do You End Your Prayer? 

Readings: 1 Chronicles 29:11-13, Matthew 6:13.  

The last two questions in the catechism concern the ending to the Lord’s Prayer.  It’s in the biblical text in Matthew, but not in Luke.   It’s likely that these are two separate occasions, for in Matthew Jesus is teaching his disciples, in the Sermon on the Mount, while in Luke he has been praying, which prompts his disciples to ask him to teach them to pray also.  Matthew Henry concludes that the differences in the two gospels is a key indication that we should be careful not to use the prayer rigidly as a ‘set prayer.’ But rather to make it the pattern of our daily prayers.   So, what does our instructor in the Heidelberg Catechism teach us about the ending to the Lord’s Prayer?

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Q128 How do you end your prayer?  A. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  That is: All this we ask of you because, as our King, having power over all things, you are both willing and able to give us all that is good, and because not we but your holy name should so receive all glory forever

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We have brought many basic needs before the Lord in this prayer, taught by Jesus to His disciples.  But how do we know that God will answer these prayers?  Romans 10:11-13  The assurance that God answers our prayers comes to us in this coda.  ‘For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever.’

  • Because he is our KING.  Psalm 115:1  We bow before him as we bow before a mighty potentate!  
  • Because he is ALL-POWERFUL.  Jeremiah 32:27. There is NOTHING too difficult for God.  Whatever your need is, bring it before the Lord in prayer, knowing that with God, all things are possible.
  • Because he is ETERNAL.  I am mortal.  I may make a serious promise, fully intending to keep it, and the Lord may have other plans for me; may take me from this scene of time.  God CAN keep his promises, because unlike us, he will always be there for us, he is from everlasting to everlasting.  He never changes and never dies.  So we say FOREVER, and it assures us of the surety he gives us.  1 Kings 8:56.  
  • Because he is WILLING.  We do not come to God our father as if we are wresting some favour from a parent unwilling to part with some blessing.  God wants to bless us, wants us have our prayers answered. John 14:13   But be careful, for we have already learned that we are not to ask for excess or for wealth or for personal advantage.  We must ask ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, and when we do, Gd our Father is willing, always to bless us with his answer.
  • Because he is ABLE. Jude 24-25  

When we pray, ‘For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory’ we are acknowledging that our heavenly Father is powerful enough, willing enough and able enough to hear our cry and rush to our rescue. 

Let’s move on to Q129 What does the word Amen mean? A. Amen means: It is true and certain. For God has much more certainly heard my prayer than I feel in my heart that I desire this of him.

Amen is the last word in most prayers, and it is often the appropriate response, in an act of corporate worship, when someone has been publicly praying and others want to express agreement.  This has been the practice of the church in corporate worship from the very earliest times.  Correcting the Corinthians’ faulty pneumatology, Paul warns them that if they speak in an unknown language, in public worship, how can those those who are unlearned in that language, agree with them and thus say AMEN. 1 Corinthians 14:16  When we say Amen we demonstrate:-

  • CERTAINTY.  We’ve often been taught that AMEN means ‘so be it.’   It is true and certain that God will hear us and answer us. Isaiah 65:24    We know with certainty that God has heard our prayer.  2 Corinthians 1:20  
  • OBJECTIVITY.  Our trust in God is not subject to human feelings.  It’s really hard for 21st century people to believe something objectively.  We have been conditioned by the culture to rely on how we feel.  Even to the extent that we will put our feelings above science and biology.  Shania Twain’s song, “Man, I feel like a woman” has taken on a whole new meaning.  The Christian doesn’t rely on his or her personal feelings.  We know that our heart is deceitful, and will lead us astray, so we trust in the facts, given to us by God our Creator and Saviour in His Word, his objective revelation.  We are taught in the scriptures that even if we go so far as to think that it is unlikely God will hear our prayers, and we actually fall into disbelief in that respect, God still remains faithful, he does not change and his will remains certain.  2 Timothy 2:13   So we are assured that God will answer our prayers, will always remain faithful, not because of our subjective feelings – but because of what we KNOW from the Scriptures, that he has promised to hear and answer.

So when we pray, or when we hear others pray a prayer we can agree with, let us say a hearty, and heartfelt AMEN!  So be it Lord!  And when you say that AMEN, remember ‘God has much more certainly heard my prayer than I feel in my heart that I desire this of him.’

Matthew Henry: And forasmuch as we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, according to his will, in faith we have the requests that we have asked of him, and we will glory in his praise. Now we know that the Lord hears his Anointed and for his sake will answer us from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand:  And therefore, in token not only of our desire but of our assurance to be heard in Christ’s name, we say, Amen, Amen.

© Bob McEvoy. March 2021

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