The Lord's Prayer Up Close
If you believe in Jesus you have said The Lord's Prayer. And you'll know that it's found in The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5,6,7). But beside that you are likely to have said it as part of a public occasion or religious event. Sometimes it's referred to as "the prayer that Jesus taught us" or "the model prayer" or "the Our Father". And usually it's this traditional version that is said:
“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).
Some say it because it's part of an occasion otherwise they wouldn't say it at all simply because it's not relevant to them. Others, who probably learnt it in their childhood, say it in times of crises. For others it relates as part of the Sunday church service and they might say it during the week as well.
It's rarely said in services of born again Believers, however parts of it are preached on from time to time. But it does seem to be perceived that Jesus said Believers should say it.
As those who have truly received Christ and born again, Believers are partakers of His New Covenant and His Kingdom understandings. For them it's likely that The Lord's Prayer has aspects that are relevant, irrelevant or relevant but in a different way.
One example of irrelevance is, "deliver us from evil". But what is this "evil"? And why the need keep asking to be delivered from it? After the Holy Spirit came and brought those new understandings, Believers can say that our heavenly Father "has delivered us from the power of darkness," Colossians 1'12.
Hence, The Lord's Prayer Up Close. Needless to say, it isn't really Jesus' own prayer. He prayed personally to His Father. So it will be The Prayer from here on in.
As with taking an up close look at any Biblical statement, knowing its context is critical. In this case there are two contexts: the context of the Lord's listeners then and the context of Believers now.
Believers come first because of the New Covenant-Kingdom understandings, shown in Acts 1'1 to Revelation 3'22, some in Matthew 1'1 to Acts 1'26. The early Believers had this context. Jews and Gentiles received Jesus Christ and heard the Word of Christ from the apostles. And Jesus spoke of these understandings throughout His ministry, especially toward the end when He said:
“... when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.
All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you," John 16'13-15.
He finalised the Disciples' preparation in the forty days prior to His ascension, "... speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1'3). When the Holy Spirit came He began His work of guiding the apostles into the Christ-Kingdom understandings. Peter was first, preaching to the Jews who were gathered for the Feast of Pentecost. After that all the new Believers received and experienced the teachings of the first principles of the oracles of God, also called the elementary principles of Christ, which made up their foundation (Hebrews 5'12 and 6'1-3).
The Holy Spirit also inspired the scriptures that would convey the context of spiritual understandings by which the Word of God could be rightly divided for all who believed from then on.
The context of those listening to Jesus' on the Mount was that they were Jews. They were brought up hearing about the Law and the Prophets from their Bible (our Old Testament) and the various teachings of the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes which provided their understandings. Foremost was their hope of the Messiah. He stood for difference, renewing or superseding some of the old things, introducing others and leaving some as they are. Matthew says:
"... so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes," Matthew 7'28-29.
Jesus spoke like a Messiah. Although they could only act on what applied to them in the here and now, nevertheless, they could believe Jesus. This is faith like the faith of Abraham. Like him, the Disciples had believed and responded, in their case it's God's call through Christ.
"IN THIS MANNER"
Before introducing The Prayer, the Lord spoke about the shameful public ways of praying of the religious hypocrites (Matthew 6'2-6). And He says to everyone listening:
"But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly," Matthew 6'6.
In the first instance their praying is to be private and relational, in contrast to the hypocrites. So He addresses them as individuals (the Greek word for "you" here is singular). He's saying they can relate to the Father personally. Then He speaks to the them about meeting together in groups:
“... when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
“... do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him," 6'7-8 (the Greek word for "you" here is plural).
With those words Jesus introduces His manner of relational praying. Up to now He's been saying "your Father" to His listeners. Now they can say “Our Father". That means they are family, brothers and sisters. So He says: “In this manner, therefore, pray: "Our Father in heaven ...."
YOUR NAME, YOUR KINGDOM, YOUR WILL
Jesus said, say this your Father: “... Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven," (6'9-10) and end with: "For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.".
The name that Believers know through the Holy Spirit is "Abba" Father. Again, Jesus' life demonstrates what it means to respect, honour and fear Him (Galatians 4'6). Towards the end of His earthly ministry Jesus introduces the Kingdom inheritance relationship of Believers as heirs. He called Mary Magdalene to take a message and said:
"... go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God',” John 20'17.
Perhaps they didn't realise it but He was acknowledging them as His brothers. But they may have remembered Him saying, “... whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother,” Mark 3'35. Initially, it sounds like the same kind of relationship He has with His Father but He is saying, "My Father and your Father", "My God and your God". That makes things different. Nevertheless, He was lifting them to the same level of relationship that He had with His Father while He was on earth.
On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit sealed the Disciples' precious relationship, as He does for everyone who truly believes in Jesus. Later, Paul says to all Believers, male and female: "... because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, 'Abba, Father!'” (Galatians 4'6). That's the name of the one we respect, honour and fear. He's the one who “... so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3'16).
Jesus told those on the Mount to say "Your Kingdom come". They could not know that His Kingdom would be in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14'17). But they did know what kingdoms were about from their history, not to mention their present situation. In spite of that, Jesus was directing them to say that they wanted the Father's kingdom to come.
Wherever Jesus was He represented His Father's Kingdom. To all intents and purposes He was in it like the first citizen. Now, His New Covenant Kingdom people can rejoice,
"... giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins," Colossians 1'12-14.
This is the position into which the Father places each born-again son or daughter. He stands side-by-side with each of us, as He said, "... where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them," Matthew 18'20. Hebrews 2'11-12 explains more fully:
"For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: 'I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You'".
At His last Passover meal He said: “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom”. And, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” Matthew 28'20.
By saying, "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven", Jesus explains the basis of kingdom life. Our Father's Kingdom is about doing His will here on earth in the same way as it is done where He is. Jesus is the example. He said: "Father ... not my will, but Yours, be done" (Luke 22'42) and “...He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him,” John 8'29.
Much later, Paul and Timothy say: "... we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus," 1 Thessalonians 4'1-2.
As sons, being in the Kingdom of the Son of the Father's love is about doing things that are right before God as The Son did. Peter says that He "... Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness ...," 1 Peter 2'24. And Paul gives the perspective: "... the kingdom of God is ... righteousness ... in the Holy Spirit," Romans 14'17.
"GIVE US THIS DAY"
"Give us this day our daily bread" is the first direct prayer request. And it may seem an odd thing to say because He had said earlier, "... your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly" and "... your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him," Matthew 6'6,8.
A little later He's going to warn them about the danger of serving money because that makes it impossible to serve God. He's going to say so "do not worry" about such things as life, food, drink and clothing, and more (Matthew 6'24-30). And:
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble," Matthew 6'31-33.
Nevertheless, He told them to say: "Give us this day our daily bread". Perhaps it's not surprising. It's likely that many of them wake up in the morning wondering where their next meal is coming from anyway. Also, He could be telling them to just say it, leave it with their heavenly Father and not worry. Sometime after Pentecost, Paul said: "... my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus," Philippians 4'19.
"FORGIVE US OUR SINS"
Jesus moves from "give us" to "forgive us". However, it's unforgiveness, not forgiveness, that is the biggest concern in our Father's eyes. Hence, receiving forgiveness from Him involves more than simply asking. Jesus told them to say:
"... forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil," verses 12 and 13.
These two sentences are spiritually linked. When Believers forgive those who sin against them the Father is willing to forgive them. That makes the second sentence redundant. But if they don't forgive, or won't, the Father will not forgive them and that activates the second sentence. And Jesus knew that unforgiveness is serious and will more than likely lead to serious consequences. (More on that later.)
"BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL"
In the traditional version of The Prayer the meaning of "deliver us from evil" is vague because it seems to say that the pray-er is in a continual state of evil and needs continual deliverance from it. But most later translations read "deliver us from the evil one", because the New Testament Greek word for "evil" is poneros which also translates to "wicked one", or "evil one", or "evil", depending on its setting.
“When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart" (Matthew 13'19) and “... let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one" (Matthew 5'37).
That makes the full sentence: " And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one". It's good to keep in mind that born again Believers have been delivered from the devil.
Jesus knew what temptation was all about when He told His listeners to say "lead us not into temptation". He was intensely tempted by Satan and overcame him (by quoting the Word of God). Not only for Himself but for us too. (Matthew 4'1-11; Luke 4'1-13.)
Temptation has many versions. For example, from another person (Matthew 16'22-23), our own selfish desires (James 1'13-15, 1 Timothy 6'9) or common human ones (1 Corinthians 10'13). The blessing is that the Lord "was tempted in every way as we are yet without sin" (Hebrews 4'15) and that He "knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations (2 Peter 2'9). However, in The Prayer Jesus is targeting willfully withholding forgiveness.
Following the end of The Prayer Jesus goes back to what He said about forgiveness and unforgiveness and emphasising it and the condition, "as we forgive them" which is crucial because of the consequences:
"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (verses 14-15).
The immediate consequence of willingly withholding forgiveness is "neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" which means that the Believer's relationship with the Father has been ruptured and the Believer's safety under His authority and power uncertain.
As Paul says: "Be angry and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil," Ephesians 4'27-28. Anger could be about anything including being offended. It may be an understandable reaction, but there is no such thing as righteous unforgiveness. (Read the article which partners this one, Kingdom Forgiving, on the Menu.)
By telling His listeners to say "Our Father" in The Prayer, the Lord suggests that forgiving is exclusively about one brother sinning against another brother and doesn't refer to outsiders. And God does tell His born again family, the Body of Christ, to "... be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you," Ephesians 4'32. Unforgiveness goes against everything that He desires for them.
Nevertheless, outsiders come under the Lord's umbrella of forgiveness. Jesus says quite plainly: "if you do not forgive men their trespasses".
In order to show how critical forgiveness is Jesus spoke to his disciples about it. He explained about remedying the brother-to-brother situation which starts with the first step of dealing with it man-to-man in private. If that fails the offended brother can take it to the congregation to deal with the brother who is at fault (Matthew 18'15-17).
Hearing what Jesus had said, Peter asked Him about how many times he should forgive but had trouble with the Lord's answer. So Jesus told him a parable (Matthew 21-35). This is what He said in summary:
The kingdom of heaven is like ...a certain king called his servants to settle the money they owed him. One owed him a very large amount so he pleaded with the king for patience. Taking pity on him, the king forgave his entire debt. However, that same servant decided to call in debts that were owed to him by other servants. They pleaded with him for patience but he was merciless and denied them without any thought of treating them as the king had treated him.
The king found this out and was angry and said: "Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?" So he delivered the servant to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. Then Jesus said to His disciples, "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses,” Matthew 18'23-35.
Not forgiving a brother or sister goes completely against Jesus' desire for His Called-Out Ones to “... love one another as I have loved you," John 15'12. Our Father calls His Children to be like His beloved Son and forgive. He was tempted in every way so He knows our feelings.
Beside willful unforgiveness, there can be serious consequences from other things, like jealousy and resentment. Believers are to be "... looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled," Hebrews 12'15.
In Christ the grace of God carries many blessings. But holding "any root of bitterness" and thus falling from grace has consequences. Nevertheless, the Father provides the remedy. Believers can go to Him, with a witness and pray and thank Him for His mercy. Confess and ask His forgiveness. Decide to turn away from whatever it is - and do it. Thank Him for the power of the Holy Spirit, in Jesus' name.
The point is that, for those who harbour unforgiveness or intentionally move from away from the Word of Christ, the kingdom in their lives is not the Father's. It's either their own or the enemies.
It has to be true when we say: "Yours is the kingdom" because then His is "the power and the glory" (Matthew 6'13). Only when the kingdom is His can we be part of His purpose: "To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the Saints to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places ...," Ephesians 3'10-12. So:
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him," Colossians 3'15-16.
"For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us," 2 Corinthians 1'20.
"... that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father," Philippians 2'11.
Finally, from 1 Chronicles 29'10-11, here's what King David said:
"'Blessed are you, Lord God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever.
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory, The victory and the majesty;
For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours;
Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, And You are exalted as head over all".