Thoughts on The Lord’s Prayer
As Christians, we would have memorized and said the Lord’s Prayer countless number of times but I am not sure about you, I have been guilty of just rattling the words without actually diving into what is in it. Jesus warned in Matthew 6:7 (NASB) just about this when He said
“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.”
God does not need be the flattered, He is God and all He wants is a willing and honest heart.
Since Easter is coming, it is definitely appropriate to examine it in a little more depth.
In fact when I dive deeper into what is said in the Lord’s Prayer, I am convinced it isn’t something that should be ritualistically said but more a template of our relationship with God and His relationship with us. It actually sums up how we should live.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let’s look at the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6:9-13 (NASB)
9 Pray, then, in this way :
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be your name,
10 ‘Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts,as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]
Let’s look at each verse in some depth.
Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be your name
Paul in Romans 8:16-17 (NASB) wrote
16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
Jesus didn’t just die on the cross to break the bondage of sins, He also came to bridge the divide which separates us from God. With His shedding of blood on the cross, our sins are forgiven and His resurrection restores our standing with God the Father. As children of God, we have a direct line to Him.
However on the other side of the coin, we should not regret God lightly. Even though we can call him Father, he is nevertheless still the one and same God who appeared to Abraham and Moses. He is still to be revered as God and King.
This reminds me of Moses and his encounter with God at the burning bush in Exodus 3:14-15 when Moses asked what the name of God is and He replied in verse 14 “I AM WHO I AM”.
In the Torah, Exodus 3:13-14 reads
Moses said to God, “When I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’and they ask me,’What is His Name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 And God said to Moses, “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh”. He continued, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites, “Ehyeh sent me to you.'”.
“Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh” is roughly translated to “I AM WHO I AM”. This was later obfuscated as YHWH in Hebrew. His name is so holy that the Jews dare not even pronounce or mentioned it. That is how revered the name of God is. We should follow them and not take the Lord’s name in vain but offer Him all the honor as God and King. His name is higher than any other name.
Your Kingdom Come. Your Will be Done, On Earth as it is in heaven.
Mother Teresa puts in nicely when she said
Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts
In fact, the only part of the Lord’s Prayer which involved asking is relates to asking for God’s will to be done and that our daily needs be met. There is nothing in the prayer that said “God give me this and that”. It is not about us but about Him and His will be done.
As human beings, we are just like audience watching a movie and not knowing what the next step or the ending would be. God as the director of our destiny knows. We should leave everything up into His hands.
I know it is hard at times to know what His will is for us and what we should do especially when we are at the crossroads of our lives and when things are not turning out as planned or how we hope for. It is hard to say “Your Will be Done” when everything around us is crumpling. I do not have the answer for this but to just prayer and leave the issue at the feet of Jesus.
In Exodus chapter 14, when Moses and the Israelites faced the sea in front of them and the Egyptian army at their back, he didn’t give up but he said in Exodus 14:13-14
13 But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”
The battle is the Lord’s and as long as we do our part and hand Him our cares and worries, He will be timely in meeting our needs. At times what will happen will be not as we wanted or hoped for but God has a better plan for us. Perhaps if we take a different path, we will not encounter our full potential.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-27
25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?
Give us this day our daily bread.
One of the many names of God is Jehovah Jireh which translates to “The Lord will provide”. The first place in the bible that this name was mentioned was in Genesis 22:14. The setting was that God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac on Mount Moriah to test his loyalty to Him. At the point right before sacrificing Isaac, the Angel of the Lord appears to stop him and at the same time God provided a ram who was trapped which he used as a burn sacrifice instead.
As with the earlier verse, Matthew 6:25-27, Jesus basically tells us not to worry as God will provide as He has provided for nature and He has provided for the Israelites food enough for each day while they journeyed through the wilderness.
The concept of the daily bread has it’s place in the Israelite’s journey through the wilderness in Exodus 16:4
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction”
God will provide for our daily needs and most times it will not be everything in a single go but enough for each day. His blessings is renewed every morning.
And forgive us our debts,as we also have forgiven our debtors.
When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, our debts with God is cleared. His forgiveness is not selfish and we are to follow His example by also forgiving others. Jesus wasn’t light on this one but emphases this over and over again.
In Matthew 6:14-15
14 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
and Matthew 18:23-35
23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26 So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 27 And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30 But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31 So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32 Then summoning him, his lord *said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34 And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”
These are really very harsh words when we read it. It shows that whether our sins are forgiven is not unconditional. It requires us to be truly repentant and adopt the heart of God which is about forgiveness. In fact, one of the core mission of Jesus was to initiate God’s forgiveness over our lives. Over the scriptures, we see countless people, even those who are deemed holy, falls into sin and yet God accepts them.
We see that even when David sinned against God, he was repentant about it. David is not perfect, like we are not perfect but David was willing to forgive and follow God’s will for his life and to fulfil what God wanted him to accomplish. So much so that David is said to be a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22).
Jesus came to forgive and we should do likewise. It is not something within human nature to do. Let’s do what Jesus said
Luke 6: 31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you
Luke 6:35-36 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most high; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
We are called to be light of the world, a witness to God’s mercy and how are we do to that if we do not echo the same forgiveness and love that God has showered upon us.
Luke 6:31 does echo something which I like about the Buddhist teaching about Karma which the law of cause and effect. I would not go into believing reincarnation and paying for past lives. But this teaching is one of the tenets of living peacefully. Do unto others what you want them do unto you. In the end, everyone pays for their sins no matter how hidden they are. It’s like a criminal cannot run from the law forever without having to worry every single day when he would be found out. Having a clear conscience in life, forgive others and do good. Be a positive impact in this life as it reflects the nature of God.
We are already born condemned but Jesus redeemed us and we have to be grateful for that. Salvation isn’t just about saying the sinner’s prayer and go on with our lives like nothing happened. It should be manifested from a transformed life. It’s hard for our flesh to be holy on our own and that’s why we should constantly ask for His strength and forgiveness when we stumble. The Holy Spirit is there to make sure that when we fall, that we will be taken care of.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
We are always bombarded with temptations in our lives. It could be something we think as innocent like taking office supplies home or pocketing bribes. Things which others may not see or know about but God knows. A small missteps can lead to straying from God and His purpose for our lives. It’s like if a ship were to stray just 1 degree from its course, it will end up somewhere else.
Human nature is such that no matter how strong we are, we can be vulnerable and fall into temptation. But we should not give up when that happens but turn back to God as He is a forgiving God. When Peter asked Jesus how many times we should forgive others, Jesus replied in Matthew 18:22 was “seventy times seven”. I doubt we should take that literally and keep a scorecard and when it hits 491, we should stop forgiving others. When we forgive enough times, it will become part and parcel of our nature. Whether the others is sincere or not is not our responsibility, it is between them and God.
It’s appropriate to end this with Psalms 23. This echoes the heart of David
The Lord is my shepherd,I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He guides me in the [c]paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.