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Praying Is for Children - Luke 11, HCLD 46

A service plan from the Lord's Prayer teaching that praying is for those who have come to know God as Father in a series on prayer as explained in the Heidelberg Catechism.

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

As we begin our examination of the Lord's Prayer (as a "pattern" for our praying), we encounter the immediate instruction of Christ that we address God as "Father." "When you pray, say: Father." (Luke 11:2) is a profound instruction about how to pray. Such an address is not merely speaking about formal protocol but is teaching us that praying is for those who have come to know God as their Father. The established relationship of faith with God is, therefore, the foundation for approaching him in prayer.


We suggest a number of resources that will be valuable tools for you in this study of the Lord's Prayer.

  • Each week we will provide references for you from the Heidelberg Catechism and both the Larger and the Shorter Westminster Catechism.
  • The website of the Center for Excellence in Preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary also provides sermon ideas for each Lord's Days.
  • Comfort and Joy: A Study of the Heidelberg Catechism, Andrew Kuyvenhoven, Grand Rapids: CRC Publications, 1988.
  • Our Only Comfort: A Comprehensive Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism (vol. 2), Fred Klooster, Grand Rapids: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2001.

Catechism References:
Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 46
Westminster Larger Catechism, Q.179-182, 189
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q. 98-100

* * * * *


Prelude: "Our Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth" [seemusic notes]

Call to Worship [see liturgy notes]:
Why did Christ command us to call God "Our Father"?
At the very beginning of our prayer
Christ wants to kindle in us
what is basic to our prayer—
the childlike awe and trust
that God through Christ has become our Father.
Our fathers do not refuse us
the things of this life;
God our Father will even less refuse to give us
what we ask in faith.
Why the words "in heaven"?
These words teach us
not to think of God's heavenly majesty
as something earthly,
and to expect everything
for body and soul
from his almighty power. (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 46)

*Song: "O God, Our Father, We Come" PsH 450:1-3

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:
Congregation of Jesus Christ, in whom do you trust?
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

*Response: "O God, Our Father, We Come" PsH 450:4


Children's Moment [seeliturgy notes]

Call to Confession

Prayer of Confession [seeliturgy notes]

Assurance of God's Pardon: Romans 8:12-17

Song of Response: "My God, How Wonderful You Are" PsH 499, TH 35, TWC 65

God's Call to Grateful Living:
For you were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light
(for the fruit of the light consists
in all goodness, righteousness, and truth)
and find out what pleases the Lord.
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness,
but rather expose them.
For it is shameful even to mention
what the disobedient do in secret.
But everything exposed by the light becomes visible,
for it is light that makes everything visible.(Ephesians 5:8-14, NIV, TWS 2.7.10)


*Song of Preparation: "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light" RN 152, SNC 77, SWM 207, TWC 539, UMH 206, WOV 649[seemusic notes]

Prayer for Illumination

Reading of Old Testament Scripture: Psalm 33:18-22 [seeliturgy notes]

Reading of New Testament Scripture: Luke 11:1-4
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Sermon: Praying Is for Children
Prayer Patterns 2

Anthem: "But the Lord Is Mindful of His Own," Mendelssohn [seemusic notes]

Prayer of Application


*Song: " 'Abba, Abba, Hear Us,' We Cry" SNC 211

Prayers of the People [see liturgy notes]:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Help us to really know you,
to bless, worship, and praise you
for all your works
and for all that shines forth from them:
your almighty power, wisdom, kindness,
justice, mercy, and truth.
Help us to direct all our living-
what we think, say, and do-
so that your name will never be blasphemed because of us
but always honored and praised.
Your kingdom come.
Rule us by your Word and Spirit in such a way
that more and more we submit to you.
Keep your church strong, and add to it.
Destroy the devil's work;
destroy every force that revolts against you
and every conspiracy against your Word.
Do this until your kingdom is so complete and perfect
that in it you are all in all.
Your will be done on earth as in heaven.
Help us and all people
to reject our own wills
and to obey your will without any back talk.
Your will alone is good.
Help us one and all to carry out the work we are called to,
as willingly and faithfully as the angels in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Do take care of all our physical needs
so that we come to know
that you are the only source of everything good,
and that neither our work and worry
nor your gifts
can do us any good without your blessing.
And so help us to give up our trust in creatures
and to put trust in you alone.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Because of Christ's blood,
do not hold against us, poor sinners that we are,
any of the sins we do
or the evil that constantly clings to us.
Forgive us, just as we are fully determined,
as evidence of your grace in us,
to forgive our neighbors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
By ourselves we are too weak
to hold our own even for a moment.
And our sworn enemies-
the devil, the world, and our own flesh-
never stop attacking us.
And so, Lord,
uphold us and make us strong
with the strength of your Holy Spirit,
so that we may not go down to defeat
in this spiritual struggle,
but may firmly resist our enemies
until we finally win the complete victory.
For yours is the kingdom and the power
and the glory forever.
We have made all these requests of you
because, as our all-powerful King,
you not only want to,
but are able to give us all that is good;
and because your holy name,
and not we ourselves,
should receive all the praise, forever.
It is even more sure that you listen to our prayer,
than that we really desire what we pray for. Amen. (based on Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A's 119, 122-129, TWS 4.4.11)

The offering of music: "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light" [see music notes]
or: "Go, My Children with My Blessing"
We bring our gifts for.


*Song: "Go, My Children, with My Blessing" SNC 284, WOV 721, WR 719 [seemusic notes]

*Benediction with Congregational Amen!

Postlude: Prelude and Fugue in F Major," J. S. Bach [seemusic notes]

*Please stand if you are able.

* * * * *

Sermon Notes

Underlying the instruction of Christ is the fact that "God through Christ has become our Father" (Q&A 120). It is clear that Jesus is not talking about a generalized relationship in which all humans may call him father because he is the creator, but rather about a specific relationship that comes through the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. Praying, therefore, is for Christians. It follows, then, that the sermon ought to ask each hearer to carefully examine their personal relationship with God their Father through Christ. Some folks may be finding it hard to pray because they have not come to know this relationship with the Father. Others, who know him, may yet be neglecting their prayer life because they fail to comprehend what a privilege they have been given.

Three other thoughts beg for consideration in this matter:

  • The posture of a child of God instills "childlike awe and trust" in our hearts. See other passages of Scripture in which Christ speaks about this, such as Matthew 18:1-5.
  • Confidence is the mark of a child. Romans 8:15-16 gives us the right to use the warm, personal and trusting address "Abba". Q&A 120 uses the analogy of our earthly father from whom we rightly expect good things (We should remember throughout this entire sermon, however, to be cautious and sensitive to the needs of those who have not had a positive experience with an earthly father!)
  • The heavenly nature of our Father creates expectations that are much higher than that of earthly fathers. Unlike our earthly fathers, our heavenly Father will never disappoint us. (Matthew's gospel includes the phrase "in heaven;" Luke does not, indicating some discrepancy in the ancient documents.)

The question will inevitably arise in the minds of hearers about whether people who do not believe in Christ may pray. The question warrants some attention, and the sermon should probably strike a balance of holding two fundamental truths of Scripture. First, prayer to "our Father" is the gift given to his children through Jesus Christ, for they alone can pray in the name of Christ. Second, God, in his mercy (common grace), may chose to respond to the call and cry for help from an unbeliever. However, this response is not that of a father's loving care for his child, but from God's merciful concern for his creatures. The latter does not involve the privilege of day-to-day personal communication with him (as "Abba") that the Christian enjoys.

This sermon begs for vibrant illustrations, but we suggest that the most effective illustrations are those which are personal, local, and from within a family. From your own experience point to a time when a child dared to ask for something significant and did so respectfully and confidently because of the firm parent-child relationship. Such a setting can be contrasted with the impossibility of such a request either by or to a stranger. In a way that portrays pastoral understanding, another illustration could portray a home with broken relationships or the pain of abuse that destroys the confidence of respectfully asking.

Since we have said that the Lord's Prayer is a pattern for our praying, it would be wise to conclude this sermon with a call to self-examination. This will set the pattern that throughout this series we use the Lord's Prayer to teach us to examine our own prayer life. End this sermon with some probing questions: Are you a child? Can you pray? Does your prayer life reveal a warm day-to-day communication as with a loving parent? Are you comfortable with the term "Abba" and what that means? Can you trust him, even when he does things differently than you would like? How do you experience "awe"?

Music Notes:

Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
CEL Celebration Hymnal (Word Music/Integrity Music)
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church,
Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SWM Sing With Me (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great
Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)
WR Worship & Rejoice (Hope Publishing Company)

You may wish to include the singing of the Lord's Prayer throughout this series of services. Here are some suggested settings that could be used congregationally:

GREGORIAN [The Lord's Prayer] (UMH 270)
LANGDON [The Lord's Prayer] (PsH 207)
MALOTTE [The Lord's Prayer] (RN 177)
MELITA [The Lord's Prayer] (TH 725)
ST. MICHAEL [Our Heav'nly Father] (RL 262)
VATER UNSER [Our Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth] (PsH 208)
VATER UNSER [Our Father, Clothed with Majesty] (PsH 562)
Our Father in Heaven (PH 571)
Our Father in Heaven (SNC 196)
The Lord's Prayer/Our Father (SWM 174)

Suggestions for prelude on based on the historic chorale setting of the Lord's Prayer:

VATER UNSER [Our Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth]
Bach, J. S. The Liturgical Year (ed. Riemenschneider) Ditson [1933] (E-M)
Edmundson, Garth. Four Modern Preludes on Old Chorals. Galaxy 1773-9 [1950] (E-M)
Haan, Raymond H. The King of Love. SMP KK277 [1983] (E-M)
Leupold, A. W. An Organ Book. Chantry Music Press [1960] (E-M)
Manz, Paul. Ten Chorale Improvisations, set 2. Concordia 97-4656 [1964] (E-M)
Mendelssohn, Felix. Music for a Celebration, set 3. Morningstar MSM-10-565 [2004] (M)
Mendelssohn, Felix. Organ Works. Schirmer 227 [1924] (M-D)
Sweelinck, Jan Pieterszoon. Music for a Celebration, set 4. Morningstar MSM-10-579
[2005] (E-M).

Alternative harmonizations on the song of preparation can be found in:

HOUSTON [I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light]
Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Sedio, Mark/Cherwien, David. Let It Rip! At the Piano, vol. 2. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7580-0

The anthem "But the Lord Is Mindful of His Own" by Felix Mendelssohn is scored for SATB voices and organ. It is published by Schirmer 4431 [1905] (E-M).

Suggestions for offertory music, following through on the song of preparation or on the closing hymn can be found in:

HOUSTON [I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light]
Biery, James S. Twentieth Century Hymn Tune Settings. Morningstar MSM 10-863 [1995]
Osterland, Karl. Lift One Voice. Augsburg 11-11039 [2000] (E-M)
Wold, Wayne. L. (1998) Augsburg Organ Library - Epiphany. Augsburg 11-11073 [2001] (E-M)

Hamilton, Gregory. As the Grains of Wheat. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7577-0 [2003] (M)
Sedio, Mark. Once Led to Your Font. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7785-4 [2005] (M)

Behnke, John. I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light. Concordia 97-6611 [1996] (3 or 5
octaves, level 2)

AR HYD Y NOS [Go, My Children, with My Blessing]
Burkhardt, Michael. Seven Hymn Improvisations and Free Accompaniments set 1 Morningstar
MSM-10-847 [1992] (E-M)
Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 8. AMSI SP-105 [1991] (E-M)
Ferguson, John. A Wedding Triptych. Morningstar MSM-10-650 [2003] (E-M)
Haan, Raymond H. Welsh Hymn Tune Preludes. SMP KK426 [1989] (E-M)
Harris, David S. Ten Hymn Preludes in Trio Style, set 2. H. W. Grey GB643 [1978] (E)
Hildebrand, Kevin. Musica Sacra: Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ, vol. 3. Concordia 97-7052
[2004] (E-M)
Jordan, Alice. Worship Service Music for the Organist. Broadman 4570-27 [1975] (E-M)
Stoldt, Frank. Five Hymn Settings. Morningstar MSM-10-931 [1988] (E-M)
Wood, Dale. Seven Folk Tune Sketches. H. W. Grey GB 357 [1966] (E-M)

Leavitt, John. A Mighty Fortress Sacred Reflections for Piano. Concordia 97-7254 [2007] (M)
Shackley, Larry. Celtic Hymn Settings for Piano. Hope 8117 [2001] (M)

Alternative harmonizations on the closing hymn can be found in the following resources:

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001]
Burkhardt, Michael. Seven Hymn Improvisations and Free Accompaniments, set 1. Morningstar
MSM-10-847 [1992]
Eggert, John. Creative Hymn Accompaniments for Organ, vol. 2. CPH97-6851 [2000]
Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 2. Ludwig O-07 [1983]
Hobby, Robert A. Three Evening Hymns, set 2. Morningstar MSM-10-514 [1998]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Albrecht, Mark. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]

The organ postlude Prelude and Fugue in F Major by J. S. Bach is one of the 8 Little Preludes and Fugues. This piece can be found in many different editions.

Liturgy Notes

1. The Call to Worship can point to the theme of prayer from the opening of the service. The worship leader or pastor can explain that in some traditions all worship is called the time of prayer; when worshipers go to church, they "go to prayer." Reading Lord's Day 46 responsively as our "coming to prayer" can surround the entire service with an awareness of prayer. To reprint for personal use, a ministry setting, or classroom use, include this credit line: © 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI. Reprinted with permission. Here is the text of Lord's Day 46:
Why did Christ command us to call God "Our Father"?
At the very beginning of our prayer
Christ wants to kindle in us
what is basic to our prayer—
the childlike awe and trust
that God through Christ has become our Father.
Our fathers do not refuse us
the things of this life;
God our Father will even less refuse to give us
what we ask in faith.
Why the words "in heaven"?
These words teach us
not to think of God's heavenly majesty
as something earthly,
and to expect everything
for body and soul
from his almighty power. (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 46)

2. The Children's Moment could either include comments and teachings about prayer in general. Perhaps include indications of the different kinds of communication we have with our earthly fathers: we ask, we say thanks, or we come for help, even cry—just as it is with God. The Children's Moment may also lead into a time of confession by pointing out that, just as sometimes we need to apologize to our parents, so we need to do the same with our heavenly Father.

3. For the prayers of confession, each week you may either rely on your own formulations of this prayer or draw from the many resources available in The Worship Sourcebook (TWS), section 2.2.

4. In each of these services both an Old Testament and a New Testament reading will be paired together to present the message that prayer is a discipline of both covenants.

5. We suggest that in this series of services the Prayers of the People be an extended responsive paraphrase of the Lord's Prayer, according to either the Heidelberg Catechism or the Westminster Shorter Catechism. We acknowledge that the form included in this service from the Heidelberg Catechism is rather lengthy. You may choose to shorten it by deleting certain parts, though be careful to retain its proper content. Here is the version of the Lord's Prayer which includes phrases from the Westminster Shorter Catechism:
Our Father in Heaven
hallowed be your name.
We draw near to you with all holy reverence and confidence,
coming as children to a father able and ready to help us
as we pray together and for others.
Enable us and others to glorify you in all that we do
as we live and work in the creation that displays your power and mercy,
and be pleased to dispose all things to your own glory.
Your kingdom come.
We pray that Satan's kingdom may be destroyed
and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced,
ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it,
and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened.
Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
We pray that you, by your grace, would make us able and willing
to know, obey, and submit to your will in all things,
as the angels do in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
We pray that of your free gift we may receive a sufficient portion
of the good things of this life, and enjoy your blessing with them.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
We pray that you, for Christ's sake, would freely pardon all our sins-
and we are encouraged to ask this because by your grace
we are able from the heart to forgive others.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
We pray that you would either keep us from being tempted to sin,
or support and deliver us when we are tempted.
For yours is the kingdom, and the power,
and the glory, forever.
We take our encouragement in prayer from you only,
and in our prayers we praise you,
ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to you.
And to testify of our desire and assurance to be heard, we say, Amen. (based on Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q&A's 100-107, TWS 4.4.12)

Also in this series:

Continuing to Pray - Luke 18, HCLD 45
Take the Name and Hold if High - Psalm 34, 86, HCLD 47
Seeking His Kingdom - Luke 17, Matthew 6, HCLD 48
Learning His Will - Matthew 7, HCLD 49
Bread for Today - Exodus 16, HCLD 50
The Forgiveness Matter - Psalm 32, Matthew 6, HCLD 51
Calling for Deliverance - 1 Corinthians 10, HCLD 52
The God Who Is Big Enough - Luke 11, Romans 11, HCLD 52