By Bill Murphy ( I’ve omitted the © symbol from this work. It belongs to everyone! )
Jesus said, “After this manner therefore pray ye:”
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Matthew 6:9-13 (KJV)
This prayer is traditionally called The Lord’s Prayer – because it’s the prayer our Lord taught His disciples – and us. In truth, it should be known as OUR PRAYER. He gave it to us, not as a prayer to recite, but as model or guide as to how we should pray. Alas, all to often we ‘say’ the prayer, without praying the tremendous depth and meaning behind the words.
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
OUR FATHER underscores the parent/child relationship we have with God. While other gods are tyrants over those who cow in fear, our God is our loving FATHER, who embraces us in unfathomable compassion and love.
God is many things. He is supreme, He is all powerful, all knowing, endless, the ultimate judge, the Almighty. We can never begin to comprehend the greatness and majesty of God. However – and this is hard to fathom – in spite of how far above and beyond our human frailty He is, He wants RELATIONSHIP with us! And the relationship He wants is that of Father and child! Attempt to get your head around that awesome concept. Modern science has taught us to appreciate the vastness of the universe of which we are but a tiny part. And yet, God who CREATED it all, stoops to love us – as his children!
which art in heaven,
Scripture tell us God is omnipresent, that He is everywhere. So why then would Jesus refer to Him as being “in heaven?” Jesus was teaching us, as mortals, how to relate to the spiritual. As mortals, we’re encaged within flesh and blood, in a physical world. Our physical world is constrained, defined by measurable dimensions, understood by placement in both time and space.
God is a SPIRIT. As physical mortals, we understand physical limits of time, place, and space. He is not constrained, not limited by measurable dimensions or amounts. Because of the spiritual attributes of God, how could He be limited or constrained within a specific location? I say, He cannot be. Therefore, I cannot believe that ‘Heaven‘ is a specific ‘location’. Like God Himself, His ‘dwelling place’ is – everywhere!
Hallowed be thy name.
God is holy. And even His name is holy. ‘Holy’ means ‘set apart.’ It also means ‘sacred.’ God’s name is set apart from common usage. It’s to be revered and thoroughly respected. God’s name is never to be used lightly – and certainly never in vein.
Exodus 20:7 tells us plainly, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” If we can revere (and almost reverence) sports figures and movie stars, then how much MORE should we also revere God Himself! He above all others is due our unfailing respect and total reverence. God loves us far above any love others can give, and far beyond anything we could ever imagine. Knowledge of this alone should make us fall at His feet in praise and thanksgiving!
He is WORTHY of praise. But how many times a week do you hear people foolishly using the Lord’s name both carelessly – and purposely – in vain! This is never His will!
Thy kingdom come –
This is an affirmation of our allegiance to Him. It’s an assertion that we want God to rule and reign! In John 18:36 Jesus told Pilate, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ Jesus taught ‘separation of church and state.’
A great spiritual battle rages around and within us continually. Although the war’s already won, daily battles continue to rage. When we tell the LORD “Thy kingdom come,” we’re affirming that we want His kingdom to triumph, we want righteousness to win, we want Him to rein and rule. We are pledging our allegiance to Him and to Him alone!
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
If you want an insight into how much God really loves us, consider this:
Genesis 1:27 tells us… “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” ‘In his image’ means in His LIKENESS. That means God created us to be LIKE HIMSELF! But this ‘image’ is NOT a PHYSICAL image – not a two arms, two legs, one head likeness. No. It means that we are LIKE Him in CHARACTER and in CHARACTERISTICS. Imagine that! God loves. We have the ability to love. God has understanding. We too have the ability to foster understanding.
And the most amazing thing of all is this: just as God has a will – He gave us a will also!
Because of giving us a will of our own – He gave to us the ability to REJECT Him! It would be more practical if we didn’t have a personal will! It would be more practical (for God’s Kingdom) if we were programmed to follow Him. Of course, then we’d be little ROBOTS! But instead, God gave us a WILL of our own, the freedom of choice! Why?
God didn’t want robots, He wanted CHILDREN. He wanted living, breathing children He could LOVE! He wanted children who would RESPOND to Him and to His LOVE. He wanted to be loved in return! He didn’t want toys or pets. He wanted children.
“Thy will be done,” is our ultimate pledge of agreement and recognition that His Will is best for us – that He has our best interest in mind – and that He knows what He’s doing. We aren’t required to understand, and often we don’t. But we can always be assured that ‘Father Knows Best!’
“…what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 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?” Matthew 27:9-11 KJV
Give us this day our daily bread.
Personally, I tend to spend a lot prayer-energy on STUFF. You know what I’m talking about – wants and wishes, perceived needs – and imagined problems. Things. We pray about the things – and stuff-related things that consume our lives. Yes, God DOES want to hear our petitions. He cares. He cares about our every need. But the truth is: God is always at work caring for and helping His children. All too often those things which trouble us, God has already taken care of! Jesus didn’t tell us to pray for jobs, house, transportation, and all that other “stuff.” He didn’t admonish us to pray about all the creature-comforts that we’ve made so much a part of our lives. No. Instead, he boiled it down to the NECESSITIES – “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Is that really like us? No, it’s not. Yes, we want the bread. But we want the butter and jelly on it. And, we want it toasted. Oh, and make that whole wheat. Thin sliced, please. You see what I mean?
Perhaps we should pray, “Thank you Lord, ever so much, for all the good stuff that’s piled around me – stuff that I can enjoy. But if it’s your will that I no longer have tons of stuff, then please, just give me bread to eat each day.”
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
I don’t believe that Jesus was altogether referring to MONETARY DEBTS when he said we should pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
Conscientiously as well as inadvertently – we disappoint, we affront, we injury others – emotionally as well as physically. Because of this we OWE them restitution, or at least apology. This is a DEBT in the truest sense of the word. Just as we want a positive response from others who cause an affront to us, Jesus says that we owe the same to them.
Look closely at what He says – forgive AS WE FORGIVE! We’re praying that God will forgive us in the same manner as we forgive others! If we refuse to forgive others, how can we expect God to forgive us?
I’ve often heard it said, “Never do business with family or church friends.” Why? That’s because we find it hard to forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors. Otherwise, it would be a preferred thing to do business with them!
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Were I to paraphrase this verse it would be (in reversed order): “Lord, save us from the devil, and please save us from our selves!”
If we’re sincerely praying “deliver us from evil,” this is the easier part to pray.
James 4:7 tells us to, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” That appears to say that keeping the devil at bay is easy. Not so – it’s a full time undertaking. I Peter 5:8 tells us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” He uses every trick to accomplish this. We CAN resist him and he’ll flee, but we need HELP. Satan is powerful. We’re weak. He’s cunning. We’re gullible. We need God’s strength WITHIN US. This is why we need to pray, “Deliver us from evil.” Be thankful for the opportunity to request God’s assistance.
On the other hand, “Lead us not into temptation,” involves placing more of self into the equation.
I always thought this was a strange request.
Why would God even consider leading us into temptation? Scripture has this to say about temptation: “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.” James 1:13 (NIV) When we pray, “Lead us not into temptation,” we’re not praying for God not to tempt us. Instead, we are praying that He not lead us into situations where we can be tempted.
“But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” James 1:14 Therefore, when we pray “Lead us not into temptation,” we’re praying that God will lead us away from areas where our personal desires, habits, weaknesses, and human ambitions might expose us to spiritual failure. In other words, we’re praying that HIS DESIRE for us will supersede our own desires. We’re praying that His understanding supersede our own, where His infinite knowledge will supersede our foolishness and ignorance. This can be a difficult prayer to pray sincerely – for it requires SURRENDER.
Many a prayer request has been offered to God that – in truth – was in OPPOSITION to His will!
(A side note: There’s a major difference between temptation and TESTING. God tests us, He never tempts us. The sole aim of temptation (from Satan) is to foster FAILURE. The sole aim of testing (by God) is to foster understanding, wisdom, and SUCCESS!)
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
There’s a difference between “Thy kingdom come,” and “For thine is the kingdom.” The former looks to the future. The latter proclaims the moment!
“And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layette up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-22 (KJV)
This man’s wealth was his ‘kingdom.’
We use the expression that a man’s home is his castle. Our little piece of the world can become our kingdom. It can be our profession, our talents, our possessions. They can become our kingdom, to rule and rein over. Jesus tells us to give relinquish our kingdoms to God! It should never be, MINE is the kingdom. No – THINE is the kingdom. It’s another statement of surrender.
and the power –
One must have authority to rule. And one must have power to successfully execute that authority. True, God freely grants both authority and power to His children – but He does NOT grant them to be used for selfish purposes. When authority and power are abused, only destruction can follow! “Thine be the power” is our pledge to God that any authority, any power that we might be granted, are always and forever to be under HIS direction and control. It’s also a statement of recognition that all power and authority comes from Him!
and the glory –
When God created us in His likeness, He shared with us traits and characteristics which we, as human beings, find difficult to manage (control). And perhaps this is the key to our problem. God never intended, nor wanted us to ‘control’ these Godly traits. If we would ever learn to “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.” Luke 20:25 (KJV), then we would have no problems in these areas. Like God, we too respond to GLORIFICATION and ADORATION and HONOR.
Hollywood has taught us to glorify the flesh, both of others, and our own. BILLIONS of dollars are spent each year for make-up, apparel, and body ‘sculpture,’ all so that we may receive glory. Solomon said it right when he said, “All is vanity!” (Ecclesiastes 1:2 KJV)
When we say, “Thine is the glory,” we are pledging to give all the glory to God! Yes it’s true that often others do praise us, others do bestow honor and glory upon us. But this is our pledge to pass that honor and glory on to God. In truth, the origination of all glory and honor comes from Him anyway!
for ever. Amen.
Roughly only half of this prayer is supplication (wants). The other half is proclamation – proclamations of God’s greatness – and pledges of our allegiance to Him. “For ever. Amen” is such a pledge.
I’m reminded of weddings vows, where couples pledge their love and devotion “until death do us part.” When we pray, “For thine is the kingdom, power, and glory FOR EVER,” this is such a pledge and affirmation.
But in this case it’s far BEYOND “until death do us part!” We proclaim this not for just the moment, but for – FOREVER.
“Amen” simply means SO BE IT! Yes Lord, so be it!
How can we ever again look at ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ in the same old way?