by Ezekiel Hopkins
WITH A CATECHISTICAL EXPLICATION THEREOF BY WAY OF QUESTION AND ANSWER,FOR THE INSTRUCTING OF YOUTH
It being, therefore, as I hope, clear and evident, that we may often pray in these words, and that we must always pray after this manner; let us now proceed to consider the Prayer itself. In which there are these Four Parts.
I. The PREFACE, or INTRODUCTION, to it.
II. The PETITIONS, or REQUESTS, we present to God; in which the greatest part of it consists.
III. The DOXOLOGY, or PRAISE-GIVING: for praise is a necessary part of prayer.
IV. The CONCLUSION, or RATIFICATION of all, in the sealing particle, Amen.
I shall speak somewhat of these briefly, in the general; and, then, more particularly of each, as my text directs me.
FIRST. For the Introduction or Preface unto the prayer: and that is contained in these words Our Father, which art in heaven.
This is used as a preparative to prayer. And what greater inducement can there be to dispose us into a holy awe and reverence of God, than to set before us the greatness and glory of that Majesty, before whom we prostrate ourselves?
And, therefore, we find that the Saints in Scripture, in all their approaches to the Throne of Grace, were wont, in the beginning of their prayers, to affect and over-awe their hearts with the humble mention of God's glorious attributes. Thus Solomon: 1 Kings 8:23. O Lord God of Israel, there is no God like unto thee, in heaven above or in the earth beneath; who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants. Thus Jehoshaphat: 2 Chron. 20:6. O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? And rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathens? And in thy hand is there not power and might? So Hezekiah: 2 Kings 19:15. O Lord God of Israel, who dwellest between the cherubims, thou art God, even thou alone, who hast made heaven and earth. And so the Prophet: Jer. 32:17, 18, 19. Ah Lord God, behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth, by thy great power and stretched-out arm; and there is nothing too hard for thee. The Great, the Mighty God, the Lord of Hosts, is his name, great in counsel, and mighty in working. And thus our Saviour himself: Mat. 11:25. I thank thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth. And so the Apostle: Acts 4:24. Lord, thou art God, that hast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is.
And, thus to consider seriously of and reverently to express the infinitely glorious attributes of God, is an excellent means to compose us into a holy fear and awe of God; such as becomes vile dust and ashes to be affected with, when it stands in the presence of its great Lord and Creator. Only here let us remember, that we dwell not so long upon the titles and attributes of God, nor run so much out into preface, as to forget our errand unto him.
SECONDLY. Next after the Preface, we have the Petitions following in their order. Of these, some reckon six, others seven: but which soever we take, the matter is not great. They may all be reduced under two general heads.
First, Such as respect God's glory.
Secondly, Such as respect ourselves and others. The three first respect God's glory; and the three or four last our own good: and that either temporal or spiritual. Temporal, in begging at God's hands our daily bread: spiritual, in desiring both the pardon of and deliverance from sin.
And here again we may observe the admirable order and method of this prayer; in that our Saviour hath placed the petition, which refers to our temporal good, as it were in the very midst and centre of it, it being encompassed round about with petitions for heavenly and spiritual blessings. And this may intimate to us, that we are only to bait at the world, in our passage and journey to heaven; that we ought to begin with spirituals and end with spirituals: but only to take up and refresh ourselves a little with our daily bread in our way.
THIRDLY. In the Doxology, or Praise, there are four things contained.
First, God's Sovereignty: Thine is the kingdom.
Secondly, God's Omnipotency: and the power.
Thirdly, God's Excellency: and the glory.
Fourthly, The Eternity and Unchangeableness of them, and of all God's other attributes, noted to us in that expression, for ever.
FOURTHLY. Here is the ratifying particle, Amen, added as a seal to the whole prayer: and it importeth a desire to have that confirmed or granted, which we have prayed for.
And thus Benaiah, when he had received instructions from David concerning the establishing of Solomon in the kingdom, answereth thereto Amen; and explains it; 1 Kings 1:36. The Lord God of my lord the king say so too.
So that when we add this word, Amen, at the end and close of our prayers, it is as much as if we had said, The Lord God say so too; or the Lord grant these requests: for the proper signification of Amen, is, so be it, or so it is, or so it shall be: the former notes our desires; the latter, our confidence and assurance of being heard.
Now of all these four parts, of which this Prayer is composed, I shall speak in their order.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PREFACE TO THE READER
A PRACTICAL EXPOSITION ON THE LORD'S PRAYER
A CATECHISTICAL EXPOSITION ON THE LORD'S PRAYER