The Lord’s Prayer provides a model, and I hadn’t looked at parts of it the way I do now.
As we know, prayer is communication with God. It involves petition, praise, sharing, baring the heart, pleading, groaning, interceding for others, and more. Prayer also involves listening to what the Lord has to say. Prayer is supposed to be two-way communication. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah (Psalm 4:4). I personally like the word “communion” for prayer. It’s us sharing with God and God sharing with us.
God’s part includes Jesus interceding for us and the Holy Spirit interpreting our prayers to God the Father. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1). Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26).
He also provides guidance. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (James 1:5). I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye (Psalm 32:8).
Let’s look at the Lord’s Prayer again, and examine the “new” concepts in it. Jesus is speaking to His disciples: 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).
How many times do we think about God the Father, His name, and His kingdom? I don’t know about you, but I usually crank up my prayer time with talking and asking instead of meditating on God Himself. I confess I’ve seldom prayed for His kingdom to come. How about you?
Thy will be done. I read a book about a grandmother known for her effective praying. One of the things she did was make sure she first knew God’s will about the object of prayer and then pray for that. (You can read my review of that book, here.) God still wants His will done in the earth.
It is so easy to throw up our hands when we see all the sinfulness around us: amorality, secularism, and many people who never consider God. But, look at the Lord’s model prayer: Thy will be done in the earth, as it is in heaven. That’s the way we’re supposed to pray. Looking toward perfection—heaven—and sinlessness, we’re supposed to pray for the world that way.
The truth is, God’s divine purposes will happen. They’re already programmed, and we’re instructed by God Himself to pray for God’s will on earth, just like it’s done in heaven. We look forward to Jesus’ reign and ultimately, the New Jerusalem when we pray this way.
The first petition comes next: Give us this day our daily bread. I’ve always found this fascinating. It’s not, “Give us this day a new pair of shoes, or a nice, new house.” It is the practical human need for food. It isn’t steak, fruit, or a salad, either. It’s basic: bread. The Lord promises to meet our need. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). The Bible says we’re supposed to learn contentment and to be satisfied with two needs met: And having food and raiment let us be therewith content (1 Timothy 6:8). I think it’s worth pointing out that it doesn’t mention a roof over one’s head. Consider Jesus. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head (Luke 9:58).
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. At first, this language may seem to be about business debts and transactions, but the Lord makes it very clear after the amen that it’s about forgiving—those hurts, slights, and words, as well as actual crimes against us. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew 6:14-15). God’s daily forgiveness after salvation is contingent on our forgiving others.
As far as I can tell, this forgiveness doesn’t have to be only if the offending person has asked for forgiveness—although that’s ideal. We are to forgive in obedience to the Lord. Just do it.
Some people say, “forgive and forget.” That, too, is an ideal. It’s great when you can actually forgive and never think about that offense again. I believe it’s possible in most cases. But, there are some awful hurts that we bear from time to time, and those are difficult to forget. Some hurts are like scratches. They heal easily and are soon forgotten. Others are like stab wounds. They hit nerves and cause scars. Those are hard to completely forget.
I would love to be more like God, who has put our sins away forever. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12). He has a very good forgetter. Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more (Hebrews 8:12b).
Let’s make forgiving others a regular part of our prayers.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Now, we know that God doesn’t lead anyone into temptation. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man (James 1:13). I believe this is speaking of asking for God’s protection from temptation and deliverance from evil and harm.
God protects His people, according to His will. I am not sure how this works, but we indeed have “guardian angels.” For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways (Psalm 91:11). This verse from Psalms is quoted two times in the New Testament, also. I’m not sure we always know when we’ve had divine protection, but the fact is, we do.
Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Jesus’ model prayer ends reflecting the beginning—acknowledging God’s power and glory and His kingdom, which is to come. It also speaks of God’s eternal authority over man.
Amen. Let it be so.