THE LORD’S PRAYER
Thomas Aquinas who was a medieval theologian once wrote: The Lord’s Prayer is the most perfect of prayers… In it we ask, not only for all the things we can rightly desire, but also in the sequence that they should be desired. This prayer not only teaches us to ask for things, but also in what order we should desire them.
In Jesus’ day, in Jewish culture, God was a distant figure, someone to be obeyed. He even had a name that could not be spoken. It was too holy. Even today the Jews put a dash in place of the “o” in GOD.
To the Jews, God spoke to the nation of Israel but rarely to individuals, unless you were someone special like one of the prophets or King David. God is the Defender in Psalm 84, the Fort in Psalm 18, A Fortress in Psalm 94, a King in Psalm 145, the Light is Psalm 24, and a Rock in Psalm 28, to name a few.
But Jesus addressing God as Father, brings a relationship of closeness.
Have you ever thought about how incredible it is the way that Jesus taught us to pray? He taught us to call upon God the Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, the Great I am, The Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End as our Father. And one of the things he taught was that the Almighty God, the All Powerful One, loves us and cares for us.
Matthew 6:9-13. This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
‘Our Father in heaven’ Jesus said: “Our Father” and not “My Father” and used the word Abba. Abba” conveys a sense of intimacy and familiarity which completely changed man’s approach to God. Abba is equivalent to our term Daddy.
‘hallowed be your name’ To be hallowed means to be made holy or to be set apart as special and unique.
‘your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ In heaven, God’s rule prevails entirely. But on earth, humans rebel against God. Jesus tells us to pray that God’s rule will be extended to earth as it is in heaven. In other words, pray for God’s divine intervention in your situations.
11 Give us today our daily bread. For many of us, prayer time is primarily focusing on our own needs. Jesus tells us that our Father knows our needs already.
Matthew 6:2532 (NIV) “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
Our priority in prayer is important. Not until we have worshipped God should we throw out our string of requests.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. The Bible says that God, being holy, cannot tempt someone with evil.
James 1:13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;
This has to do with the Hebrew thinking that attributes everything that occurs in this world to God because God, being almighty, must have allowed it to happen before that thing can occur.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV) No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
I like this LORD’S PRAYER DRAMA (author unknown). I pray it adds to our understanding of the prayer Jesus taught us.
“Our Father which art in heaven…..” GOD: Yes? What is it?
Excuse me, I’m praying. GOD: Ooh.
“Our Father which art in heaven…..” GOD: Hello, I’m here.
“Can you wait until I’m done.” GOD: But you called me.
“I did?” GOD: You said, “our Father who art in heaven.”
I didn’t call you. I’m praying. “Our Father which art in heaven…..” GOD: There you did it again.
Did What? GOD: Called me. You said, “Our Father which art in heaven.” Go ahead, I’m listening.
But I didn’t mean anything by it. I was just saying my prayers for the day. I always say the Lord’s Prayer. It makes me feel good, kind of like getting a duty done. GOD: All right. Go on.
Yeah, sure . . . “Hallowed be thy name…. GOD: Hold it. You really think so?
Think what? GOD: Think that my name is hallowed? Of course, you do know what it means! Right?
It means…..it means…..Good grief, I don’t know what it means. How should I know? It’s just part of the prayer. By the way, what does it mean? GOD: It means holy. You do mean that, right?
Yes, sure. GOD: Then how about yesterday, you were coming home on 79 and there was that slow moving car. My name was not quite so hallowed, then, was it?
I didn’t mean what I said, I was in a rush coming home. GOD: How would you like it if whenever someone stubbed their toe or was delayed, they said, “Oh Michael.”
Sorry. GOD: I forgive you. Now go on.
You know this is going to take forever if you keep interrupting me like that? GOD: Would that be so bad?
Would what be so bad? GOD: Talking with me forever?
I don’t know, I never thought about it like that. GOD: Well, do. It might happen.
Oh. GOD: Go on, continue.
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” GOD: Whoa, are you sure you want all of that?
Want all what? GOD: My kingdom coming and my will being done.
Well actually, I really like the on earth as it is in heaven. We can use more heaven on earth. GOD: What are you doing about it?
Doing? Nothing, I guess. I just think it would be kind of neat if you got your will to be done.GOD: Who did you expect to do it?
Well, since it is your kingdom and your will, I kinda thought, you . . . GOD: You can’t have a kingdom without subjects.
Well, I try to do good things. GOD: It’s really not as hard as you think. You need to love me with all of your heart, all of your soul, with all of your mind and with all of your strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.
Oh brother. GOD: Him too.
Wow!! You know, I’m just as good as a lot of people. GOD: Excuse me. I thought you were praying for my will to be done. If that is going to happen, it must start with those who are praying for it. Like you, for example.
I haven’t thought about it very much until now, but I really would like to cut out some things. I would like to be really free. GOD: Good. Now we’re getting somewhere. We’ll work together, you and I. Some victories can truly be won. I’m proud of you.
Can we keep moving along? GOD: Certainly.
“Give us this day, our daily bread.” GOD: You could actually use a little less bread.
Hey, wait a minute! I was doing my religious duty, and all of a sudden you break in and remind me of my shortcomings. GOD: You know, half of my people ate less today than you ate in one breakfast. Michael, praying is a dangerous thing. You know, you could wind up changed. You called me, and here I am.
Yea, I guess. Picky, picky, picky. GOD: You want me to do what’s best for you, don’t you?
Yes, but I just asked for a little piece of bread. GOD: And today the bread I’m giving you is a half hour Bible study, a free night with your family, and an extra $20 deduction from your checkbook to the world hunger group of your choice.
All that for me? You shouldn’t have. GOD: Hey, I like to give you good things. (Pause) Now on with the prayer.
You know this is taking a long time, maybe we can continue tomorrow. GOD: It’s too late to stop now. Keep praying, I’m interested in the next part of your prayer. (pause) Well, go on.
I’m scared to. GOD: Scared? Of what?
I know what you’ll say. GOD: Try me and see.
(Saying it fast). “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” GOD: What about Fred?
See? I knew it! I knew you would bring him up! Why Lord, he’s told lies about me, spread stories about my family. He never paid back the debt he owes me. I’ll get even with him! GOD: But your prayer? What about your prayer?
I’m not sure how much of it I really meant. GOD: Well, at least you’re honest. But it’s not much fun carrying that load of bitterness around inside, is it? How would you like your forgiveness?
He doesn’t deserve to be forgiven. He’s never sorry and he does those things on purpose. Now enough is enough. GOD: Whatever you say.
(Pause) What do you mean, “whatever I say.” GOD: Well, it’s up to you. I’m willing to forgive you for your sins, the one’s that you don’t mean and you know, the one’s you do mean. Remember, ‘as you forgive, so you are forgiven.’
Oh. GOD: What do you think?
Well, I guess I can try to forgive him, but I’m not too sure I can pull it off. The more I want revenge, the more anger and bitterness I feel. Lord, I want to be right with you. (Pause) All right, I’ll work on it. Help me to forgive him and someway, somehow, show him the right way. GOD: Great, I’ll tell you what, you do your part, and I’ll do mine.
Okay. GOD: And don’t worry, my best is pretty good. Come on, now just a little bit more.
“And lead us not in temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Now wait a minute, isn’t that kind of a funny thing to pray. You’re not going to lead me into sin, are you? GOD: I don’t know, you spend half of your time asking me to. You love being tempted. You’re always hoping I’ll arrange your situations so that you will be in precarious predicaments.
I guess every once in a while, a little innocent excitement isn’t so bad. What’s so wrong with winning the lottery, or having the perfect body and car, and what’s so wrong with having a date with Sally Sue? GOD: Then just don’t use me as your escape hatch.
What does that mean? GOD: You’ve done it a lot of times. You get caught in a bad situation. You get into trouble and then you come running to me, “Lord, help me out of this mess, and I promise you I’ll never do it again.” You remember some of those bargains you tried to make with me?
Yes and I’m ashamed, Lord. I really am. GOD: Which bargain are you remembering?
Well, there was the night I was driving home in that terrible snow storm. I thought we were going to get blown off the road or I would wipe out. I remember praying, “Oh God, just let us make it home safe and I’ll never skip prayer again.” GOD: I protected you, but you didn’t keep your promise, did you?
I’m sorry, Lord, I really am. Up until now I thought that if I just prayed the Lord’s Prayer every day, then I could do what I liked. I didn’t expect anything to happen like it did. GOD: I think if you could honestly ask me not to lead you into temptation, then maybe that means your half-way resolved to avoid it yourself.
You got me again. It seems as though, every time I open my mouth, there’s something else you want me to change. GOD: Come on, time for the big finish.
“For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.” GOD: Michael, do you know what would really bring me glory?
Actually, I’m kind of afraid to ask. I want to please you, and it would be great to really follow you, but . . . GOD: Michael, you just answered the question. Just keep talking with me everyday, okay?
Yea, I guess I could do that, I’d like that. GOD: Great, Amen.