Scriptures

The Lord’s Prayer

Introduction

There’s nothing more terrifying when a person becomes a Christian and they don’t know how to pray, they don’t know what to say or how to say it, they don’t where to begin and where to end. This is to be expected, after all Jesus own disciples didn’t know how to pray, even though they had heard and seen many people pray. But there must have been something about the way Jesus prayed and the words He used that encouraged the disciples to want to learn. Luke 11:1.

‘This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today 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 the evil one. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.’ Matthew 6:9-15

There are a few religious groups who like nothing more than to repeat this prayer every time they meet together, but Jesus never intended for these words to be recited week in and week out. If He wanted this prayer to be recited, then this would go against everything he taught earlier about vain repetition in prayer. Matthew 6:7. It’s such a shame that this is what this prayer has become for many religious groups.

Notice also that Jesus’ didn’t tell them they were to use these exact words, He said this is HOW we should pray, we should pray in this manner, we would call it a model prayer because the prayer itself reminds us of what are prayers should be about.

‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name’

Notice that God is our Father and we are His children. Many times, Jesus got into trouble with the religious leaders because He called God, His Father. This is all about our relationship with God and so, when we pray, it’s always good to begin our prayer by recognising who He is and who we are in relation to Him.

The word ‘hallowed’ is similar to the word ‘holy,’ which means to be separate for God’s purpose, to be dedicated to Him. Remember that God is a Holy God and His name is holy and He deserves our respect because He is in heaven.

It’s here we see the balance of our relationship with the Lord, yes, He is our Father, but He is also to be hallowed by us, kept holy, we must respect Him when we’re speaking to Him in prayer.

‘Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’

At the time these instructions were given to the disciples, the kingdom God hadn’t yet come, Matthew 16:18-19 / Mark 9:1 / Acts 2. The disciples were to pray that men accept the kingdom reign of Jesus in the sense that the will of the Father be done on earth as it is done in heaven. As the will of the Father is done in the hearts of men and women on earth as it is done in heaven, then the kingdom comes. Jesus here asks the disciples to pray that people accept the heavenly kingdom reign in order that they accept His kingship that was yet to come.

This has everything to do with the will of God and our prayers need to be in accordance with the will of God. Notice that our prayers aren’t all about what’s happening in our spiritual lives but in the lives of everyone in the world.

The whole point of this is basically praying that those of world who don’t have Christ will accept what God has done for them and come to be obedient to Him and His will, and so, enjoying the benefits of living in God’s kingdom.

Notice also that God is the focus point in the prayer, we start off by praising Him, for who He is, whilst recognising His holiness and then we pray that God’s deepest desires and will for mankind will be established on earth, just it has been established in heaven. To know what the Lord’s will is, we need to study His Word, Romans 12:1-2, and spend time with mature Christians.

‘Give today our daily bread’

Notice how we’ve moved from the focus of being on God, to ourselves and notice that He says our ‘daily’ needs. In the A.A. they have a saying which says, ‘keep it in the day’ which basically means take one day at a time. I think that’s good advice because this is what Jesus says over and over again, Matthew 6:28-34, notice our daily needs are the basic requirements for life, food, clothing and drink. When the Israelites were in the desert God provided Manna ‘daily’, Exodus 16:21.

None of us have a promise that we’ll be here tomorrow that’s why we have to learn to live and rely on God ‘one day at a time’, as Lina Martell once sang.

God is the one who is the giver of all blessings and He’s the one who will take care of our needs, but we need to learn to put our trust in God to provide what we need today, even though there may be times when we can’t see what will happen tomorrow. 1 Timothy 6:7.

‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors’

It’s difficult enough to pray for forgiveness when our hearts are broken because we know we’ve hurt God with our actions or thoughts, but it’s even more difficult to forgive those who have hurt us, especially if they are Christians who should know better.

But notice the condition that Jesus places upon our prayer for forgiveness, He says we can only ask for forgiveness when we have also shown forgiveness toward others. In other words, we can’t expect God to forgive us if we’re not willing to forgive others.

Now we can fight and try and justify our unforgiveness to others but notice that Jesus stresses this point again in Matthew 6:14-15. It never ceases to amaze me that people hold on to grudges for years, I was speaking to someone recently who was telling me about a brother really offending him many years ago and he still has the emails to prove it!

We need to remember that we have all sinned against each other at one time or another and we need forgiveness as much as the next person. Do we really believe that God will forgive us, if we’re holding people sins against them? yes, it’s hard, yes, we can’t forget, like God can forget, but we must forgive, otherwise there’s no forgiveness for us.

Jesus is also teaching us here that we need to admit that we sin, and we too need forgiveness and so when we become Christians confessing our sins to God is really important, otherwise no forgiveness will be available to us, 1 John 1:8-10.

‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one’

Jesus isn’t saying that God will lead into temptation, James 1:13, but what He is saying is that we need to ask God for deliverance from temptation, on order to help us with our weaknesses, and to strengthen us against the works of the devil. If we want to resist the devil so that he flees from us, we need to stay close to God and submit to His ways, James 4:7-10.

Many people misinterpret 1 Corinthians 10:13,

‘No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.’

Yes, we all get tempted, yes, God won’t allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear, but He doesn’t provide a way of escape from the temptation. The Greek text implies that God will give you the strength to endure the temptation, in other words, God will be with you and help you through that temptation.

Conclusion

Prayer is critical in the life of the Christian and in the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ or maybe we should call the ‘disciple’s prayer’, after all, He’s teaching them how to pray, we see the example of how to pray. We must remember who God is, we must remember that He is a Holy God, and speak to Him with the utter most respect, we must remember that our prayers need to be in accordance with His will, and He is desperate for His will to be carried out here on earth.

Take one day at a time and trust God to provide our daily needs, not our daily greed’s, ask God to help us to forgive other whilst we ask God to forgive us, and finally ask Him to help us through those temptations which the devil sends our way.

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

Colossians 3:12

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