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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel

Of the Preface to the Lordís Prayer.

Q. 100. What doth the preface of the Lordís prayer teach us?
A. The preface to the Lordís 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.

Q. 1. What doth the word Father import in this preface?
A. It imports the Spirit of adoption to be the principal thing in all acceptable prayers; Galatians 4:6. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

Q. 2. What is the first benefit, or help we have in prayer, from the Spirit of adoption?
A. He excites our spirits to seek God in prayer; Psalm 27:8. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.

Q. 3. What is the second assistance he gives us in prayer?
A. He indites and suggests suitable and acceptable matter to us in prayer; Romans 8:26. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us, &c.

Q. 4. What is the third benefit we have by him in prayer?
A. He fills our souls with spiritual and holy affections in prayer, and helps us to act his graces iii our duties; Romans 8:26. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Q. 5. What else doth this word Father import?
A. It imports that holy confidence which believers may, and ought to draw near to God withal, as children to a Father; Ephesians 3:12. In whom we have boldness and access, with confidence, by the faith of him.

Q. 6. Doth it only signify our relation and confidence?
A. No, it also signifies the reverential fear of God, which ought at all times to be on our hearts, especially in prayer; Malachi 1:6. A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: If then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear?

Q. 7. What is further imported in this word Father?
A. It imports Godís willingness and readiness to grant the best mercies to his people that seek them duly at his hand; Matthew 7:11. If ye then being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Q. 8. Why is he here called our Father?
A. To signify to us, that it is not only our duty to pray secretly by and for ourselves, but also with and for others? Ephesians 6:18. Praying always, with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance, and supplication for all saints.

Q. 9. Why is God said here to be in heaven?
A. It is to note his sovereign power and dominion over all, as a ground-work of faith in prayer.

Q. 10. What else doth it import?
A. The great distance between God and us, which should fill our hearts with an holy awe of him; Ecclesiastes 5:2. God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.

Q. 11. What is the first inference from hence?
A. It shews us, what a sad case all those are in, that have no special interest in God as a Father.

Q. 12. What is the second inference from hence?
A. It shews us, what a glorious privilege the Lord Jesus Christ hath purchased for, and settled on his people? Hebrews 4:15-16. For we have not an high-priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Q. 13. What is the last inference from hence?
A. That seeing believers have a Father in heaven, they should never fear wants while they live, nor be afraid to die, since death brings them to heaven their Fatherís house.

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