The Lord’s Prayer
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9-13)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I LOVE prayer but it’s so easy to fall into repetition and mindless lists when you aren’t intentional. I think of how many times and places you hear The Lord’s Prayer yet we often don’t stop to think what we are actually saying. So, today I’d like to do just that.
Our Father in heaven…
God has so many names and character descriptions but Father has got to be at the top of my list of favorites and yet, I find that many people don’t view him that way. Many only see God as the “big guy in the sky” which makes having that personal, deep connection with our Father difficult and definitely makes prayer uncomfortable and monotonous. It’s the difference between having an intimate conversation with a stranger or having it with a loved one. Visually it makes me think of the royal protocol of curtsying/bowing to royalty. You curtsy to the King out of respect, tradition and honor which is why this picture of Prince William and his children is so endearing. It’s obvious that he is not the future King William to them but just daddy. Like little George, Charlotte and Louis, we are children of the King and we too, can come to him without fear or awkwardness and climb right into His lap to have a chat.
...hallowed be your name…
Consecrate. Honored. Revered. Those are some pretty intense action words to describe how we are supposed to view the Lord’s name. On the opposite side of my above thought is when we only view the Father as a friend or companion and forget that He is the perfect and holy Creator God who gives us our very breath and next heart beat. See, the concept of holiness is a lot to process for someone so unholy as me so it’s often easier to just agree that He’s worthy but not dwell too terribly long on what all that entails. However, for just a second really consider what the holiness of the Almighty God means and then it’s not too hard to find the desire to consecrate, honor and revere His name and person.
...your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…
If you looked at the current state of my Bible you might think it was attacked by an angry toddler who had access to an Office Depot. I mark, highlight, underline, write and even add stickers to help me remember and glean as much information as possible from the passages I’m reading. In my Bible the word YOUR is highlighted over and over as a constant reminder that we are not working on my agenda. I’m a planner. A doer. I like being in control of my life and I get frustrated when things don’t turn out the way I expected so the highlights of this passage remind me that HIS kingdom should come. HIS will should be done not mine and as this passage is literally Christ teaching the disciples (and us) to pray, His use of YOUR might be a great addition to our prayers. Of course we have outcomes and desires we would prefer but ultimately I want the Lord’s will to prosper in my life even if I don’t understand it.
Give us today our daily bread…
To me, this is a statement of faith that the Lord will provide but in that I think the key word is daily. It reminds me of the way He provided for the Israelites during their wandering in the wilderness and how His provisions came daily. They had to believe that the Lord was going to continue to be faithful and if they tried to save extra food out of fear it would spoil. I want to see the path ahead but often the Lord’s provision comes one step or day at a time. Also, this is a great reminder that your relationship and communication with God needs to be daily. It’s daily bread NOT a fancy feast. Can you imagine how your health would suffer if you didn’t eat Monday through Saturday and then ate a week’s worth of calories on Sunday? You would suffer terribly and that’s exactly what happens with your spiritual health when you choose to only visit the Lord in the church building.
And forgive us our debts…
The Father is not Santa and yet, so often we come to Him with a wishlist of wants and needs and have no other conversations with Him. The old adage of praying “ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication)” is quite helpful when you need to focus in your prayer time especially when you have something on your mind. I never want to take for granted the blessings He provides so thanksgiving is pretty easy but I also know that confession and forgiveness is also a huge part of my Christian walk. It’s not comfortable to confess your sins and I find that my desire to go before the Lord is severely hampered when we need to have a tough talk. Much like a child who’s done wrong, I try to hide from my Father which is about as effective as a toddler sticking their head under a cushion and thinking they can’t be seen. The grace, mercy and ultimate forgiveness of the Lord is necessary in every moment of my life and freely waiting for me but I have to confess to my Father first.
...as we have forgiven our debtors.
We like that we are forgiven of our debts but we aren’t quite as keen to forgive the debts of others or we want to do so with some caveats. Personally, my pride wants to dig its heels in but confession and forgiveness before the Lord makes me far more gracious to others because I know just how much compassion I’ve been shown when ultimately I deserve nothing. Maybe that’s why the Savior put the last section in first. A nice reminder of who we truly are in relation to the holy and perfect God. In the end, the Lord has to check my perspective and heart on this often but I find that if I’m truly listening to Him, He will bring it to my attention.
And lead us not into temptation…
No, I don’t think this means the Lord leads us into situations to fail… Trust me, He doesn’t have to lead me because I am more than capable of finding my own way to all the tempting things. Temptation is a part of life because we are fallen and sinful but according to the book of Matthew we know Jesus was tempted while here on earth. In fact, Hebrews 4:15 reminds us that “...we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Our intermediary understands temptation because He experienced it while He walked the earth. I find that often we don’t pray for help from temptation because we enjoy it too much and we don’t want to be convicted or held accountable so we figure we can just ask for forgiveness on the back side but remember, forgiveness does not erase consequences of poor decision making.
...But deliver us from the evil one.
There’s a famous line in the movie “The Usual Suspects” that says “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist” and boy, does that speak volumes of truth! Many view the Devil as a red guy with horns and a pitchfork which takes away the concern that should accompany the knowledge that he is out there prowling about trying to lead us astray. See, we do need to be delivered from the evil one because he is very much after us. As the old adage goes, if he can’t get your soul, he’ll make sure you are useless while you’re here. Until we truly accept Satan for the enemy of our spiritual warfare that he is, we are just floating along trying to be good.
Finally, some versions and passages of the Lord’s Prayer end with the phrase, “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” which I love because I think it sums up the truth of God. This is His creation. He has the ultimate power and authority over all and because of who He is, He deserves all the glory we can possibly give. And then the closing of “Amen” literally means so be it. A confirmation of the words you have spoken to the Father. So the next time you hear the Lord’s Prayer at a football game or recited by a little child, try to take to heart the truth and power of the words we learned from our Savior.