“Our Father, who art in heaven
Hallowed be Your name
Your kingdom come
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our sins
As we forgive those who sin against us
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.
For Yours is the kingdom and the glory and the power forever.
Most people do pray, however, few of people actually pray to God on His terms. The Lord’s Prayer is one of the most familiar of all prayers ever and it is prayed over and over by many, but do we fully understand it’s message and power? Jesus gave us this prayer as a blueprint for prayer and it is still as relevant today as it was over 2,000 years ago when He first taught it to His disciples.
A lot of people ask a very common question: “Why pray at all?” and it often seems that the basic purpose for many is to get thing from God. Anyone who has read the Bible knows that it assures us that He hears us and He gives us what we need. But is that what Jesus was teaching when He gave us The Lord’s Prayer?
Today, when we pray, often we tend to concentrate on the gifts that God has in His hand and we ignore the hand of God that is giving us the gifts. We might pray for a new job or for good health or whatever needs we might have. Then when we receive these gifts we have asked for, we’re happy about them but then we tend to have little more to do with God. If we are only looking for gifts from God then we are only using the hand of God to pay our rent, heal the illness, or get through some crisis. Then once our needs have been met the hand of God doesn’t seem to mean much to us.
Sure God offers good gifts to His children but He also offers us much more than gifts. He offers us Himself. So, those who are only interested in the “trinkets” they get from the Father’s hand is missing the best part of the reward you get from prayer and that reward is communicating and communing with God of the universe!
To Jesus, prayer was the “work” and His ministry was the prize from that work. Think about it, where was it that Jesus sweat drops of blood? Not in front of Pilate, not in front of the High Priests, nor on His walk to Golgotha to be nailed to the Cross. No, instead it was in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is where He offered up prayers and supplications with cries and tears to His Father who was able to save Him from death. Instead of asking to be saved from all of what was to come, He praised God and gave into His will. A lot of us, had we witnessed this may have asked “If He is so broken up when all He is doing is praying, what will He do when He faces a real crisis? Why can’t He be as calm and confident as His three sleeping friends?” But when the real test did come, it was Jesus who walked to the cross alone and beaten with more courage than anyone has ever seen, and His three friends? Well, we all know what happened, they fell apart and ran away.
Jesus spent a lot of time praying during His three year ministry and the disciples approached Him and said at one time “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” Since prayer was so essential to His ministry, He wanted it to be vital to theirs as well, so He responded to them by giving them The Lord’s Prayer.
The Lord’s Prayer is a primer on prayer for people just like us. It serves us in praying as an outline serves a minister when he preaches his sermon or a blueprint serves a builder when building a home. It guides us as we go.
Jesus starts off this prayer with “Father” because He knows we need to know who we are praying to. According to Jesus, when we come to God in prayer, we can call Him Father. When we bow before God and call Him Father, we are acknowledging that at the heart of the universe there is not only ultimate power, but there is ultimate love.
The relationship that we have with God as our Father only comes through our relationship that we have with Jesus. It is a privilege to be able to call God our Father and we have Jesus to thank for that. There is nowhere in the Old Testament where the children of God ever called Him Father, they did not feel they had the right to become that personal with the God of Israel. However, you will find God referred to as “Father” over 275 times in the New Testament. Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, we can come before God and call Him Father.
The almighty God of the universe offers His throne of grace to us only because of His Son Jesus Christ. Because of what Christ did we are now allowed to approach His throne of grace in prayer and call Him our Father.
Jesus tells us where God resides so that we might be in more awe of our Creator. It is a way for us to visualize the immensity of God’s kingdom. It tells us that He is all powerful and has all authority over the universe.
Hallowed Be Your Name
When we say “Hallowed be Your name”, this means that we are talking about the character and person of God. To hallow something means to sanctify something, to set it apart from the ordinary, to make it special. Jesus wanted us to show the Father reverence and by saying “hallowed be Your name”, we are doing just that in prayer.
If you look closely at this prayer, you will see that none of the petitions in the prayer are for our personal holiness. The first step in spiritual growth is to make sure we ask God to be God in our lives and not ask for inner feeling or inner change. A spiritual life actually begins when we let God simply be God in all aspects of our lives – personal, family, business and even recreation as well as to let Him set us apart for His good purposes.
There are times that people pray as if God were deaf and they have to shout to make Him hear them, almost as if He were ignorant and they have to explain to Him to try and make Him understand. Those kind of prayers reveal a very inadequate idea of who God is.
Your Kingdom Come
This is the part of the prayer where Jesus is talking about His future messianic reign on earth. You can find tons of places in Scripture that looks forward to the Messiah who will rule in righteousness when the kingdom of this world we are now in becomes the kingdom of God and His Son. This means that when we pray “Your kingdom come” we are looking toward that happy time when His messianic kingdom prophesied all through the Ol Testament will finally be established by Jesus’ return to earth. When we pray this we look forward to the climax of history when God’s will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven.
There is also one more thing we ask for when we pray this and that on the small bit of earth that we occupy now, we submit our will to God’s will. When we pray “Your kingdom come” we acknowledge God’s right to rule all people, including us.
Your Will Be Done
When we pray “Your will be done” it provides us with a foundation for our prayers. Basically we are asking God that His will be done in our lives and in the world around us. But we often get this upside down, and pray as if we expect God to change the way He is running the universe because we have given Him our petitions. This is the wrong thing to do because it’s like we are treating God like He’s some sort of genie in a lamp and when we rub it and make a wish we seem to expect God to change the universe to give us what we want.
Instead, what we need to do is recognize the vital importance of conforming our will to His will. Prayer is not for us to get God to do our will in our lives but to ask that God’s will be done in our lives, our families, our business and all our relationships just as it’s done in heaven.
We need to realize that we live in a combat zone, in a realm that is ruled by Satan and we need to understand that this is a hostile place to God and His children. So in order to do God’s will we need to go against the current.
A lot of people despise god because He has not made them the masters of their own fate. But those who know God as Father and have a relationship with Him know that the heart of God is gracious and kind. God is using all things for the furtherance of His kingdom, even if it is not the way we would like it to be done.
Give Us Our Daily Bread
When Jesus decided to teach us how to pray, He designed this beautiful blueprint for us to follow. The first three parts of this prayer has requests that deal with God’s glory. “Your name.”, Your kingdom.”, “Your will.”. The last three requests are all about us. “Give us.”, “Forgive us.”, and “Lead us.”
When Jesus said “Give us our daily bread.” He meant a lot here, not just running down to the store and picking up a few steaks for our next meal. He was pointing to a lot of things. Our daily bread has a broad meaning, it points to the Eucharist, the Word of God, food on our tables, a roof over our heads, clothing and so on. Even though God knows our daily needs Jesus still asks us to ask for “our daily bread” through prayer. God knows that if we don’t have the things we need we will not have the strength needed to serve His will. So having a job, a home, our next meal and so on all is important to Him and He is concerned about all the little things we are concerned about on a daily basis.
By praying for “daily bread” it also teaches us not to be selfish and not to hoard the things we are given. For example if we have two loaves of bread and our neighbor has none, we are to share. Our extras are not meant to be saved but are for sharing.
Forgive Us Our Sins
Superficially it seems, many people don’t seem to worry too much about their sins.
After we ask God for provisions we then ask for pardon: “Forgive us our sins.” As you can see “Forgive” follows “give”. Jesus links these two requests together. So in this way we think of our needs and then we will recognize our need for pardon as well. It also helps us to confess our guilt, and we consider how we have handled our relationships with others in our lives.
We also are told that we must forgive others who have sinned against us. Our own forgiveness does not cause God to forgive us, instead it is evidence that we have entered into God’s forgiveness. We are never closer to God than when we admit our own sin and ask for pardon and we are never more like God than when, for Christ’s sake, we give forgiveness fully and freely to those who have sinned against us.
Lead Us Not Into Temptation
So why is it that we need to ask God not to lead us into temptation? To ask Him to keep us out of temptation would probably make more sense to us. Truth be known we seldom want to be delivered from temptation because it promises way too much fun. Temptation stirs the blood and inflames the imagination. Sure there may be times when we can see where temptation will take us and we might cry out for help. However, temptation often doesn’t seem very bad, so we play with it and we invite it into our lives. When we pray about our sins, it’s not temptation that bothers us; it’s the consequence of our disobedience that we want taken away.
In The Lord’s prayer however, we are not just asking God to keep us from being bad little girls and boys. Here we recognize the work of Satan threatens more severe danger than that. We are bombarded by seductions to live life apart from God. It is in our ambitions and in our successes we are often tempted to honor our own names, to build our own kingdoms, to take credit for baking our own brad, and to deny our need for God’s forgiving grace. The enemy of our souls wants us to run away from God. Only God is the one who can help us see sin for what it really is. If we saw chains of bondage coming with temptation we might find it easier to resist it on our own. But it doesn’t. Instead, it brings flowers and perfume and promises of good times and satisfaction. It bribes us with wealth and popularity and it entices us with promises of prosperity and unbridled freedom. Only God can keep us from falling for its charms.
Deliver Us From Evil
The Lord’s Prayer serves as a reminder to fear the strategies of Satan with it’s last request “Deliver us from evil.” When we pray “Deliver us from evil.” we recognize the power of Satan and affirm our weakness, and we plead for the greater power of God to lead us away from the lies, temptations and traps that Satan has set for us.
The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory
“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” This was not part of the prayer that Jesus gave us and in fact it didn’t appear until the second and third centuries. However, the prayer called out for a conclusion. Otherwise it stops with the threat of temptation and the warning that Satan has set his snares on all of us. When the young church would say this prayer they felt that instead of ending on such a frightening note that there should be affirmation and praise to end it. Even though this final part of the prayer was not given to us directly from Jesus Himself you can find Biblical support for it.
“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty;…Yours is the kingdom.” (1 chronicles 29:11)
“Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13)
This doxology is not an assumption that we must accept in order to pray, instead it is a confidence to which repeated prayer draws us. When we pray we truly experience God’s forgiveness of our sins and not that He shuts His eyes to our disobedience and He provides us with the power to be able to forgive others and He leads us away from the traps of Satan if we let Him.
When we pray we will discover a Father who is rich and generous and inexhaustible beyond all measure. His is the kingdom and the power and the glory.
In order to learn how to pray, you need to pray. You need to take it seriously and take time out each day to do so. Jesus gave us the blueprint for praying, use it just like that. Start by praying….”Our Father who art in heaven….” Concentrate on each section of this prayer and let it become the foundation of all your prayers.
Prayer is hard work, but it is vital that we have communication with God for our spiritual well being and prayer is a good place to start.