The Lord’s prayer, commonly known and widely used in worship, is said often and many a times by rote. It is ironic that Jesus gave us these words to teach us how to pray so that prayer would not be reduced to a ritualistic recital of certain choice words and yet these words are often recited without much thought.
I grew up frequently reciting the Lord’s prayer and must admit that when I was young, have done so without giving it too much of thought. Later on, as I grew in my spiritual journey, I paused and looked hard at those words and thought to myself; what does it really mean? and I saw it through a different lens and drew new meaning from it.
In my bible study group, we are currently digging deep into prayer. This week we have to read up on “The Lord’s Prayer” from Mathew 6:9-13. Although these verses are familiar and I have looked at it quite a few times, I always enjoy going over it again to allow the Lord to teach me something new and also to bring to mind something that I should probably focus on again because I must admit, it is good to be reminded, to go back and look at the guidelines that Jesus gave us on how to pray.
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“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,[a]
but deliver us from the evil one.
John Piper says, “Prayer is a wartime walkie talkie for spiritual warfare, not a domestic intercom to increase the comfort of the saints.”
Jesus did not emphasize ‘say these exact words only’. He gives us an example and a glimpse into where our mind and heart should be at while we pray. So, when we pray, we begin with our heavenly Father. Our Lord teaches us right away, whom we should pray to and how should we address Him.
“Our father in Heaven” We pray to our God who is in Heaven, evoking a reminder of His omnipotence, His Holiness, His greatness, His magnificence and His glory. Even though he is a mighty and a magnificent God, he is our Father, who loves us, provides for us and sent His only Son to die on the cross for us. Let the personalisation of the relationship we have with Him wash over us and the privilege to approach the Sovereign Lord never be underestimated.
And we say our God not my God, a laying aside of self-focus and remembering a unity and purpose in being brothers and sisters in Christ.
The Lord’s prayer holds six petitions or requests, the first three relate to God and the latter three to us.
“Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come and your will be done.”
The repetition of the word your three times takes the focus away from we or our desires and our plans, it starts with God, His kingdom, His purposes and His Glory.
- Let the Lord’s name be honoured, may people come to know Him as God.
- May they submit to His reign, the prayer is longing for Christ’s return and for His kingdom to be established.
- And for God’s will to be done.
When we pray, “Your kingdom come and Your will be done,” there is an openness to His will. To have a hunger for His word and His will and be obedient to accomplish His will. We are asking God to manifest the power and glory of his kingdom in us, and throughout our world. We are praying that Christ might reign over all and to hasten the return of Jesus Christ to this earth. Amen!
How should these requests affect our living? Something to consider for all of us. We are to live
- Honouring God
- Submitting to Him
- Obeying Him and
- Seeking His will
These words are of worship and surrender. Living with an eternal perspective, with our hearts and our will aligned to the things of God. And we can do none of this without Him in us.
The prayer then shifts its focus to us; our needs.
- May the Lord provide for us – Spiritual, physical and emotional needs are only met with the Lord. He is the source of it all.
- May He forgive us- asking for His forgiveness reminds us of the work on the cross and the resurrection, the gift of grace we received. We are all sinners and are made worthy only because of Christ. Let us never forget that. And we cannot fail to recognise that we still struggle with sin and need His forgiveness not for a re-justification but as an application of what Christ has done for us and for sin to not hinder us in our spiritual growth.
May he protect us – Jesus faced off Satan on the mountain on His own when he was tempted, but we cannot do that. We need God’s strength and power behind us because we do not battle with things of this world. (Ephesians 6: 12; For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.)
This is a simple prayer that the Lord teaches us, simple yes, but profound. Let us never take these words without it filling our thoughts and meditating on it. The Lord teaches us to lay aside our selfish plans, to look to God and seek His plans, surrender to His will and to further His kingdom purposes.
A prayer reminding us that we are dependent only on God to provide, protect and forgive. And to live forgiven is to be able to extend love and forgiveness to others. A prayer that reminds us who our King and our father is, that all glory, all holiness and power rightly belong to Him.
May this prayer be always said reverently, thoughtfully and be used to guide and enrich us all in our personal prayers. And when we say them, may they be more than just words and surface anew within us a deeper meaning rather than just being a prayer we were taught as children and verbalising it out of habit.