Afternoon Sermon: What Does The Preface Of The Lord’s Prayer Teach?, Baptist Catechism 107, Romans 8:12-17


Baptist Catechism 107

Q. 107. What doth the preface of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?

A. 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. (Matt. 6:9; Luke 11:13; Rom. 8:15; Acts 12:5; 1 Tim. 2:1-3)

Scripture Reading: Romans 8:12-17

“So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:12–17, ESV)


Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.


I was looking over our Confession of Faith the other day when chapter 12 caught my eye. If you are reading the confession in a full-page format it really stands out because it is so brief. It is by far the shortest chapter in our confession being only one paragraph long. And what is chapter 12 about? The title is, “Of Adoption”. It is situated right in the middle of those chapters which speak of those things which God alone does for his elect. In chapter 10 we learn that God effectually calls his elect to himself, in chapter 11 we learn that justified his elect the moment they believe, and in chapter 13 we learn that God sanctifies his elect, making them more and more into the likeness of Christ. Chapter 12 is situated right in the middle of all of that. There we learn that God adopts the elect as his own. There is something so tender and warm about this teaching. The doctrines of effectual calling, justification, and sanctification are vitally important, of course. But so too is the doctrine of adoption, and I have found that it is often neglected. It is a shame because the doctrine of adoption really gets to the heart benefit of our redemption in Christ Jesus, namely reconciliation with God the Father through faith in the Son by the working of the Holy Spirit. Because of sin, we are by nature children of wrath. But through faith in Christ, we are made to be beloved children of God. Think of that. Is this not the highest blessing of our salvation? Not only have we been cleansed. Not only have we been pardoned and declared not guilty. We have been brought near to God so that we might call him Abba, Father. 

May I read chapter 12 of our confession to you? 

“All those that are justified, God vouchsafed, in and for the sake of his only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God, have his name put on them, receive the spirit of adoption, have access to the throne of grace with boldness, are enabled to cry Abba, Father, are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by him as by a Father, yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption, and inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation.” 

Oh, what a blessing! How comforting and warm! 

So what does this have to do with the preface to the Lord prayer and Baptist Catechism 107? Well, I think you can see. “The preface of the Lord’s Prayer, which is, ‘Our Father, which art in heaven,’ teacheth us…”, my words now, to pray to God according to the reality of our adoption in Christ Jesus. Those who have faith in Christ do not pray to God merely as Creator, nor as Lord, nor Savior, nor Provider — he is all of those things to us, and these truths should be considered in prayer too — no, Christians are invited to pray to God Almighty as Father, and this is true only because they have been effectually called, justified, and adopted.  

This brings up an important observation. Not everyone may regard God as Father. Liberal theologians like to talk about the universal Fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man. By this they mean to say, all have God as Father, and all are therefore brothers. There is a bit of truth to this. If by “Father” we mean “Creator” or “source”, then it is true. God is the Father of all, and we are all brothers and sisters. But that is not how the term is used in the scriptures. 

When Christ taught his disciples to pray, “our Father in heaven”, he invited them to pray to God as the one who had redeemed from sin, Satan, and death unto adoption. The scriptures are so very clear that we do not have God as beloved Father by birth, but we are “by nature children of wrath” (see Ephesians 2:3). Jesus himself spoke to those who persisted in unbelief, saying, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here… You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires…” (John 8:42–44, ESV). This is our natural condition ever since Adam, our Federal head, fell into sin and broke the Covenant of Works that God made with him. So no, we are not natural children of God. By nature, we are his enemies! But by his grace, he has washed us in Christ’s blood and adopted us as his own through Spirit-wrought union with his beloved Son received by faith.  

The words, “our Father in heaven”, are to remind us of all of that. And being reminded of all of that, we are then enabled to “draw near to God” — that is what our catechism says next. In prayer, we are to draw near to God. We are invited to pray to God, not as God Almighty, or LORD (he is God Almighty and LORD to us!), but as Father. Think of that for a moment. We are invited to come near to him and to know for certain that he loves us and cares for us as his beloved children.  

This catechism question is so very helpful in teaching us how we are to draw near to the Father. We are to draw near:

“[W]ith all holy reverence…” To revere God is to fear and respect him. Yes, God is our Father, but he is no ordinary Father. He is our Heavenly Father. He is God Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, YHWH, the self-existent, eternal and unchanging one. He is our Father, but this doe not mean that we we should approach him carelessly, and certainly not irreverently. We are to draw near with holy reverence.

Next, notice the words “with… confidence.” We may come boldly before the throne of grace because we approach the Father not by our own merits, but according to the merits of Christ. By the way, this is what it means to pray in Jesus’ name. It is not that we must add Jesus’ name to the end of our prayers, but rather, we must approach the Father through the Son, being found in him by faith.     

We are to come to God “as children to a father…” Those who had evil fathers, or absent fathers in this world may find it a little more difficult to know what this means, but it is not impossible, is it? I think that all know what a father should be. And we understand that even the best of earthly fathers fall far short of the perfection that is our heavenly Father. Clearly, this is analogical language being used here. When we think of God as Father we must strip away everything creaturely and imperfect associated with earthly father and know that in Christ God is our Father perfectly so. 

In Christ we are to come to God “as children to a father”, knowing that he is “able and ready to help us…” He is able to help us, for he is God Almighty. Nothing is to hard for him. And he is ready because he is willing. He has set his love upon us, has promised to finish the work that he has begun in us, and to keep us faithful to the end. To come to the Father knowing that he is “able and ready to help us”, requires faith. We must pray believing that what the Word of God says is true.  

Lastly, our catechism adds these words: “and that we should pray with and for others.” Where does this insight come from? It comes from the plural pronoun “our” found at the beginning of the Lord’s prayer. We are to pray “our Father in heaven”, not my Father in heaven. This will not only help us in corporate prayer, but in private prayer too, for even when we pray in private we are to pray being mindful of others. 

“Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:9–13)



Q. 107. What doth the preface of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?

A. 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. (Matt. 6:9; Luke 11:13; Rom. 8:15; Acts 12:5; 1 Tim. 2:1-3)

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