- “Lord, teach us to pray . . .”
- Jesus said, “This is how you should pray:
- ‘Father, may Your name be kept holy.
- May Your Kingdom come soon.
- Give us each day the food we need,
- and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who si n against us.
- And don’t let us yield to temptation.'”
[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.] Matt 6:13
“Lord, teach us to pray.”
Jesus could have told the disciples, “Well guys, when you pray, give Father God praise and worship, confess your weaknesses and ask for His help in the things you struggle with and don’t forget to thank Him when He answers you. And guys, don’t make it all about you. Make sure you think of others too, okay. Don’t be thinking about yourself all the time. Hey guys, I know what we will call this. Let’s call it ACTS as a mnemonic so you remember it better, where A = Adoration, C = Confession, T = Thanksgiving and S = Supplication.”
Instead He couched it all in terms of God’s reign and rule (Kingdom), the outworking of His power and for the sake of His glory. As I clipped from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown yesterday, there is a pattern to the Lord’s Prayer. The first three elements are focused on God: “Your name be kept holy”, “Your kingdom come” to which Matthew adds “Your will be done.” If His Kingdom comes then let me assure you, His Will will have been done. The other four elements are to do with us: “Give us our daily bread”, “Forgive us our sins”, “Lead us not into temptation and therefore more sin”. Again Matthew adds another one, “Deliver us from evil.”
Notice that even in the granting of our requests His name is glorified. The word “for” links the reign, power, and glory of God to those things that we have requested. The ultimate purpose is not that we will be forgiven and have everything we need, but that God’s name and glory will be made known. His glory is of first importance when we approach Him. He is to be the One who has preeminence, or as Barnes puts it, He is to be “first, last, supremest and best” in our eyes. When we approach God in this way, our prayers will be answered, without any doubt. When you seek the Kingdom of God first, all other things will be added to you. Remember: JOY = Jesus then Others and lastly You. It is all a matter of the priorities of life. When you get your priorities straight and learn to shape your prayers according to His will, then you will have what you desire from Him.
Everything about this prayer pattern or example prayer that Jesus gave the disciples has God at its centre rather than us. Do you pray “me” prayers or do you pray “Him” prayers? This pattern Jesus gave us in the Lord’s Prayer is at its very essence God centered. That is what happens when God’s agenda is given first priority. The honour of His name is of prime importance. All things are done according to the priorities of His Kingdom, and in so doing, His will is done. When anyone submits to the rule of God in their personal life, by definition the Kingdom of God is present. In the context of the outworking of His will, we are totally taken care of. So our needs and desires are met totally in Him. But of first priority, above daily needs, are our spiritual needs and the first of those is restored relationship with our Father in heaven. When forgiveness is present and operative, then we are in right relationship with Him and so we have a right to call Him our Father. When we are given the right to become the sons and daughters of God everything else flows, including protection from the evil one. Being kept from temptation is important if we are to carry out God’s will.
All of this is so that the Kingdom of God and His power and glory might be clearly seen. What drives your agenda? Is it a desire to do the will of God and please Him in all you do? Is there a longing in you to live and move and have your being focused on the Kingdom of God? To see His power become a reality in the lives of those around you? To see Him get the glory? These are not just nice words at the end of a prayer. We have taken them and turned them into a doxology. A doxology is a praise saying from the Greek [doxa] meaning “glory” and [logia] meaning “saying”. A saying or song which gives glory to God. But this could be a life goal. Make it yours. You will be surprised at what happens when you link your life to God in this way.
Notice one of the differences between Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer and that of Matthew is that it is shorter, punchier and more down to earth, in keeping with the everyday patterns of life. Matthew’s version is more fitting to the life of church. Think about that. Many suspect that is where the addition has come from. But whatever the case, we need to blend those two perspectives within each of us as individuals. Taking that which belongs to church and making it relevant to our every day lives. There are many variations in the manuscripts of the New Testament for the Lord’s Prayer. This was not supposed to be a set piece to be recited but a living prayer based on relationship with our Heavenly Father.
It has been shown that Jesus may well have appropriated this prayer from one of the Jewish Euchologies, the whole of which is:
“Our Father who art in heaven, be gracious unto us! O Lord our God, hallowed be thy name, and let the remembrance of Thee be glorified in heaven above, and in the earth here below! Let thy kingdom reign over us now, and for ever! The holy men of old said, remit and forgive unto all men whatsoever they have done against me! And lead us not into the hands of temptation, but deliver us from the evil thing! For thine is the kingdom, and thou shalt reign in glory for ever and for evermore.” [Gregory’s Works, 4th. 1671, p. 162]
One final word on the final word – Amen. This is a Hebrew word originating from a verb meaning “to be firm, secure, to be true and faithful.” To finish our prayer with Amen has the sense “so be it” “let it be established” according to what I have been praying. Many of us use it these days as the full stop at the end of the prayer. So we can tell when someone has finished praying and there is no more that is going to said. Some churches, including ours, add after the prayer . . . “and all God’s people said”, to which everyone is expected to reply, “amen”. Please let it be established in my life according to what you have prayed. Or when we have been the one praying, please make this prayer I have prayed become reality for me, be established in my own personal life. Very important really. It is not just a word to close a prayer. There is much more to it. Start using it as it was meant to be used rather than to signal “the end”. Check out whether you can say “amen” to what has been prayed or do you want more than that? It might revolutionise your life if you make your prayers in accord with your “let it be established like that”. Is that how you really want your life to be; in accord with your prayers? Changing your prayers would change your life. Think about it.
If you spent as much time praying as you do complaining, you’d have a lot less to complain about.Rick Warren
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.Garth Brooks
If you do all the talking when you pray, how will you ever hear God’s answers?A W Tozer
Action without prayer is arrogance; prayer without action is hypocrisy.Jose Zayas
Prayer is exhaling the spirit of man and inhaling the Spirit of God.Edwin Keith
Do you really want it to be done according to how you pray? Think about it. To some that would not be good news.Ian Vail