The Lord’s Prayer is a most wonderful example of how we are to pray to God, our Father in Heaven. Let me begin by saying Christ did not provide the Lord’s Prayer as an example for us to simply express in a rote manner, over and over, with no meaning or thought to what each word signifies (Matthew 6:7). The Lord’s Prayer is an example that will help us to truly enter deep, thoughtful, and meaningful prayer time with God. Though we are to pray continually as discussed in Prayer –Part One, it is important to remember that we must spend quality time with God as well. Just as we spend time with our friends to develop deeper connections, so too we must spend quality time with God to grow in our relationship with him and to receive from him all the blessings he has in store.
With that said, let’s take a look at the Lord’s Prayer and dig deeper into the picture Christ is providing us of how to pray to such an awesome God.
Our Father 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 debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
The prayer begins with “Our Father in Heaven”. This is to remind us that God is our Father, our provider, our preserver of life (Matthew 6:28-33, 23:9, 1 Peter 1:17). He is the Parent of all of Creation, including us! We have been adopted into God’s family, heirs to kingdom of heaven, when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior (Romans 8:14-17).
The second line is “hallowed be Your name”. Hallowed means holy. We are to greet our Father in heaven with reverent fear, knowing that he is holy. He is to be celebrated, venerated, and receive honor that is due him. To be holy means to be pure, sacred, and to be entitled to the act of worship. Our God is holy and worthy of our worship and devotion. (Leviticus 11:44, Isaiah 5:16, 43:3).
“Your kingdom come” has two differing understandings in the Christian realm, but both are interconnected. The first is in reference to the spiritual condition of an individual, an inner kingdom within the heart, mind, and soul of the believer. When we ask for God’s kingdom to come upon us as believers, we are in essence asking him to reign in our lives, making us more like Christ and less dependent on ourselves and our own devices. The second understanding of this portion of passage is in reference to the actual Day of the Lord’s return. As Christians, we are petitioning God to bring Christ’s second coming swiftly so that his reign is complete and we are all reunited with Him in glory and splendor.(Matthew 3:2, 4:17)
“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” refers again to two things as well. First, we are asking that his will be done in our lives. That he fill us with his purpose and set our feet on his path for us. We are also seeking for God to reveal his law, his will to us that we may respond in obedient love. Second, we are asking for God to make things here on earth the way they will be in heaven, bringing his plan of salvation into the lives of all mankind, thereby ushering in his kingdom and fulfilling his promise to those who love him and give themselves to him. (Luke 22:42, Acts 21:14)
Jesus continues saying, “Give us this day our daily bread.” This verse in the prayer denotes our reliance on God to supply all our needs. There are two types of needs we have: those that are physical and of this world and those that are spiritual, beyond what we can see, taste, feel, smell, and hear. God provided the physical needs of food and water for the people of Egypt daily, so too will he meet all our needs, therefore sustaining our life. When Christ was tempted by Satan in the desert, Satan told him to turn the stones into bread to sustain him. Christ replied with this simple, yet powerful statement, “Man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the word of God” (Matthew 4:4, Deuteronomy 8:3). This brings us to the spiritual needs. We must read, listen to, and meditate on the words of God if we are to be fed and sustained spiritually. To take this verse one step further, and dig a little deeper, you will notice that Christ prays that the LORD give US our daily bread, not singular at all. The word us is often used, especially in the new testament, to denote family or the family of Christ. Part of the digestion and sustenance through the word of God is prayer. Jesus was praying for his family, for us, that we be provided for in all ways concerning our life—both spiritual and physical. We need to also pray for our families that they are provided for and their needs met. (Ruth 1:6, Proverbs 30:8, Isaiah 33:16, Luke 11:3)
“Forgive us or trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. There is so much here to dissect, though it appears so simple. Trespass is a newer translation of the original word “debt” that was used in earlier versions of scripture. Debt was not used in the literal sense of pecuniary or monetary value, but rather in the spiritual and heartfelt sense. As scripture states we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and therefore we need his forgiveness in order to be washed pure and made holy and acceptable in his sight (Psalm 51:2-7, 2 Corinthians 5:21). He will indeed punish every sinner without the blood of Christ to wash them clean (Matthew 26:28, Ephesians 1:7, 1 John 1:7). Now that we have established that we do indeed need God’s forgiveness to obtain a place of righteousness in his kingdom, we now can examine the second half of this verse—“as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Scripture is very clear that we are to forgive others in order for us to receive God’s forgiveness. That is right, I went there! The family member who abused you, the coworker who steps on you to get ahead, the neighbor who won’t help to cover the cost of the privacy fence you share, the friend who lied to you and betrayed you. That is right; you are called to forgive them! Just as we are required to love, we are required to forgive…both are hard to do in the flesh, but with God all things are possible (Mark 10:27, 14:36, Matthew 19:26). Take a moment to read Matthew 18:21-35—the parable of the unmerciful servant. In this story Christ very clearly displays the need for forgiveness (Matthew 6:14-15, Mark 11:26, Luke 6:37). When we forgive we are releasing our right to revenge the wrong done to us. With that, we release our anger, frustration, hurt, pain, bitterness, and resentment–all the things that keep us from growing and developing a deeper relationship with God. If we cannot forgive from the heart, then we have assurance that God will not forgive us. So, when you pray for our Father in heaven to forgive your trespasses as you forgive those who trespass against you, make sure it is from the heart and that you perhaps also ask God for the strength to forgive others and surrender the wrongs done to you.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from all evil.” Before diving into this section of the Lord’s Prayer there is one critical thing we must remember—God tempts no man (James 1:13). David in Psalm 141:4 states “Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with the workers of iniquity, and do not let me eat of their delicacies.” In both David’s and Christ’s prayer, they are asking the LORD God to deter them from, to keep them away from tempting things. To take this verse to another level, it is important to realize that the word temptation does not refer to sinful things per se.
In Greek, the word temptation refers to trail, affliction, calamity, testing, probation, anything that tests our virtue. Satan will tempt us to fall in more ways than one, and it can be through the trials and tribulations that we encounter. Our prayer here is for the Lord to bring us through the trials and calamities without allowing them to overtake us. It is also a request for God to deliver us from the traps and snares Satan puts before us, to protect us from Satan’s evil schemes.
Is it wrong for us to ask God to save us from suffering…of course not! Even Christ asked that God “take this cup from me, if it be Your will” (Luke 22:42). The key phrase being, “if it be Your will.” Though we may not like the “cup” God allows in our lives, we ultimately have to surrender to his will, trusting that he will bring us out of the afflictions and testing stronger, more faithful, and more like Christ. (Luke 22;40, John 17:15, 1 Corinthians 10:13, 2 Thessalonians 3:3, 2 Timothy 4:18, 2 Peter 2:9, Matthew 4:1, 13:19, 1 John 2:13-14, 3;12)
“For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory”. This part of the prayer illustriously display who God is in our lives. When we acknowledge his kingdom, we are accepting the reign and dominion of Gods control. When we pray for the power of God we are admitting we are weak and cannot navigate this world in our own power. We are also confessing that all things are possible with God. The glory of god is the honor and praise we give God. As one author wrote, “Approaching him with these feelings, our prayers will be answered; our devotions will ascend like incense, and the lifting up of our hands will be like the evening sacrifice.” God gives us his best and he deserves all of our honor, respect, praise, and all else we have to give. (1 Chronicles 29:11, Psalm 22:28)
The Lord’s Prayer is indeed a powerful prayer, if you truly understand what it means. With an open heart and a yearning soul, you do not need to pray the Lord’s Prayer with vain repetition without feeling, reverence, or meaning as the hypocrites did in Matthew 6:5-14. Instead you can take this example of prayer from Christ and make it your own, surrendering to him your heart, mind and soul, letting him bless you with peace, love, and understanding, drawing closer to him through grace and mercy that is released through sincere prayer.
Pray with your heart and let God move in your life in ways you have never known before.
With love and hope for a renewed prayer life.