Loving & Living the
I have virtually ignored the Lord’s Prayer most of my life. In my mind, the familiar “Our Father” belonged in a category of high church liturgy or at best, “nice verses” that lacked power or grandness or personal application. But in spite of my inattention, The Lord’s Prayer had somehow gotten itself lodged in my memory.
And I’m so glad it did.
This year was a tough one. On the stress management point scale, I experienced some big numbers and consequently took on some un-like-me characteristics. The twenty minutes it took me to drive to and from work seemed to be the hardest. As my brain went into neutral in the routine drive, anxiety joined me in the car. Worry came along for fun. I knew I needed to take some defensive action.
I began my anti-anxiety strategy by recalling Scripture I had committed to heart. Beginning in Matthew, I intended to work through the entire New Testament, rehearsing Scripture I held dear. That’s when I stumbled on The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6.
Repeating the familiar words there in my car, I felt like I was hearing them for the first time. Gone was background wedding or funeral music accompanying the text. No candles. No liturgy.
Just Jesus’ words.
For the first time, I heard His simple requests of faith . . . and relationship . . . and daily living . . . and eternal life. I pictured Him sitting with His disciples, saying, “This is the way to pray.” In essence, “This is the way to live.”
OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN
With this simple beginning, Jesus changed the way man approached God in prayer. In the Old Testament, God’s people recognized Him as Creator-Father of their nation, but never as their personal father.
No one had ever prayed like Jesus. And now Jesus escorted them into the intimate relationship He had with His Father. In fact, Jesus addressed God only as Father, using the common Aramaic word, Abba, that any trusting child would use to call his Dad.
By example and instruction, Jesus transformed man’s relationship with God from a distant, corporate experience into a new kind of intimacy. . . and He invites us to share in it as well.
HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME
Jesus then reminded us that though we have intimate access to God, we should not forget who He is. He is the Almighty. He is holy. He is set apart in His glory above all else. Jesus was saying, in your familiarity with God, don’t lose your reverence.
As people who wear God’s name, our actions should also reflect this holiness. In deep gratitude and respect, we are to be set apart from anything that doesn’t reflect God’s character.
YOUR KINGDOM COME, YOUR WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN
What does it mean for God’s kingdom to come? In Hebrew, “may His kingdom come” has less to do with time and more to do with the kind of action taking place. In other words, His kingdom is in the process of taking place. “May You continue establishing your Kingdom,” Jesus prays.
When you follow Jesus’ model prayer, you invite God to be involved and to accomplish whatever He sees as necessary in your life and throughout the earth, as He also reigns in Heaven. You welcome His rule personally and sovereignly.
GIVE US TODAY OUR DAILY BREAD
To the Jewish man or woman living in Jesus’ day, the children of Israel’s rescue from Egypt was never ancient history. They re-lived the miracle every year in their celebrations of Passover and the Feasts of Tabernacles. Never far from their minds was the way God provided food from the sky every morning.
Like their wandering ancestors, the disciples were to pray for “food that is needful for me today.” Here, Jesus alluded to a favorite proverb that said: “Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion (food that is needful for me today).” (Proverbs 30:8)
Over and again, Jesus taught that dependence on God is a daily choice. We must trust Him for our physical needs . . . as well as our relational needs.
FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS, AS WE ALSO HAVE FORGIVEN OUR DEBTORS
Forgiveness always sounds like a great idea---until you’re the one who must forgive! Forgiveness may be one of the hardest things you ever do, but, it is also one of the greatest evidence that you understand the grace God grants you in forgiving you.
Only a forgiven and forgiving heart can approach Abba and enjoy His fellowship.
AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION, BUT DELIVER US FROM THE EVIL ONE
It may have only been weeks before Jesus taught this prayer lesson that He Himself had squarely faced the temptation to sin. Forty days in the wilderness, haunted by His own physical need and by evil himself, Jesus’ petition for protection came from personal experience.
In this phrase, Jesus reinforces the reality of spiritual warfare. But it also returns us to the reality of our position as Abba’s child, relying on His Spirit to strengthen and enable us to resist temptation. 1 Corinthians 10:13 also assures us that God will not allow us to be tempted above or beyond that which we are able to endure or bear.
FOR YOURS IS THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY FOREVER. AMEN.
This wonderful doxology, though it only appears in half of the early Bible manuscripts, gives marvelous perspective to Jesus’ meaningful prayer model. Near the end of his life, David had this same worshipful response when he offered a prayer very similar to our Lord’s model. In 1 Chronicles 29:10—13, David prayed:
“Blessed are You, O Lord God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O Lord, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name.”
While the disciples wanted Jesus to teach them how to pray . . . Jesus wanted to teach them how to live. Today, He wants you and me to follow His lead. May He continue to accomplish His will in our lives and receive all the glory as we apply His Word to our thoughts, our prayers, and lives.