The Lord’s Prayer
Part 1 of 2
Scripture: – “Matthew 6:9-13”
The Lord’s Prayer, which these verses in Matthews Gospel is so commonly called is perhaps the most well-known of all the prayers of the Word of God, and also perhaps due to this, the prayer that means the least, not due to any degree of unfamiliarity particularly in the areas of School life where it is so often quoted in a Parrot like fashion and where the familiarity has bred the inevitable contempt.
I want us in this new Bible Study together to afresh at this Prayer of the Lord Jesus and I trust discover not some aspects of its truth and meaning for the first time but re-discover some of the old meanings that it once had also.
The Prayer is found only in two Gospels one as already enumerated and the second instance in “Luke 11:2-4”, and it is really better entitled the Disciples Prayer, for it was given not to be a set piece, and to be chanted as it so often is, without recognition of its meaning, but to be a pattern of what the people of God when they set themselves to pray, should recognise. It has fallen into disuse unfortunately and as a result Jesus would for the most part say that it falls into the category of “Vain Repetition”, which Jesus very firmly condemns in “Matthew 6:7.” The whole aim of Jesus was that we only learn from it, and not that it should be treated as some magical formula.
In the prayer there are seven voices which we detect and recognise, not that in saying that should there are seven persons speaking, but there are in fact seven attitudes to consider.
Let me simply enumerate them for you at this point.
|1||The Voice of the Son||Our Father which is in Heaven|
|2||The Voice of the Saint||Hallowed be your name|
|3||The Voice of the Subject||Your Kingdom come|
|4||The Voice of the Servant||Your will be done|
|5||The Voice of the Suppliant||Give us our daily bread|
|6||The Voice of the Sinner||Forgive us our debts|
|7||The Voice of the Sojourner||Lead us etc.|
every time we pray this prayer with any degree of urgency and meaning, we will undoubtedly fall into one of these seven categories of Christian Living.
Now I wonder if we have ever stopped to consider why as I mentioned earlier the Lord Jesus warned about “Vain Repetition”, let me give to you a little background knowledge and a glimpse into why.
In the East in the time of Jesus it had become the custom amongst faithful Jews to recite set prayers, and there were eighteen of them, which they for the most part learned of by heart, and it got to be such a tradition that if they were hindered for any reason by family commitments or unexpected visitors or due to business commitments then a summary of them had to be recited, and added to these prayers the Rabbles of the day added yet more, and thus when Jesus speaking to His Disciples regarding this prayer, used the term “Vain Repetition”, they instantly understood what He was getting at. However, it does appear that the disciples did not regard this injunction as highly as it should have been because in the book “Teachings of the twelve Apostles” written in the 1st Century A.D. it speaks of the Lord’s Prayer being recited three times as a badge of discipleship.
The Prayer is also divided into three distinct sections, the 1st is “Verses 9-10” which relate directly to God, the 2nd is “Verses 11-13a” which relate directly to us, and the 3rd is “Verse 13b” which brings the first two parts together as a form of doxology in Worship and Praise.
So then with this brief background knowledge behind us let’s take a look at what the prayer is saying and trying to teach…
- THE PRAYER DEFINES A RELATIONSHIP FOR US
One of the most precious aspects of the atoning work of Christ is that in our communion with God Almighty we are able to use terms of endearment such as “Abba Father”, without any fear of disrespect or lack of reverence. He is The Almighty God, the Creator, the Maker of the Rolling Spheres and the one who maintains all things by His Power, and yet not only do we in Christ have a Divine Right to call Him Father but also it thrills His heart to know that we are His Children, as it should ours when we contemplate it, but how can we be really sure that we are not being presumptuous in doing so, well there are two basic ways and reasons which provide us with the legitimacy of our claim to His parenthood.
1a. God is our Father, through the act of Creation
We read in “Isaiah 64:8” these words “We are all the work of His Hands” or as the Living Bible puts it, “0h Lord you are our Father. We are the Clay you are the Potter. We are all formed by your hand.” The truth of that last statement is also borne out for us in “Genesis 2:7” where it says, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground”, the original meaning of these words also indicate for us the picture of a modeller with clay forming by the manipulation of his fingers the figurine called Man. In “Ephesians 4:6” we are also reminded again of Gods Fatherhood in the words, “One God and Father of us all.”
In light of all the this however there are two further items that should be observed, firstly that Darwin’s theories of Evolution are incompatible with the revelation of Gods Fatherhood and Creation of us, and secondarily that the idea of God as Father is to be understood in only very general terms. He is as far as the Unregenerate World is concerned only the Father by Creation, which brings us to our second reason.
1b. God is our Father, through the Act of Conversion
It is with this particular point that we really start to get to grass roots, read with me what we find in “Romans 8:15” it says there “For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba Father.”
Now what does this really mean and indicate for us, in a general sense it is obvious what the word Adoption conveys but let’s take a closer look at it. The word Adoption that is used in Scripture does not denote the same meaning as we would normally understand. In the natural realm we would attend an Orphanage or Adoption Society, see a Child we like and select that one, it would not be Fostered or be placed in a position where the Mother and Father could take it back like an unwanted toy. No, it would be a Legally Binding situation for the Childs entire life. The previous Parents would have absolutely no claim on their off-spring at all. There would be one difference however, and it would be that where the original Parents had other Children they would come first and at the head of the queue in the inheritance stakes and this would be the case because “flesh and blood” take precedence.
Not only that an Adopted Child will if the Parents are honest with it will always be inwardly aware that they are once removed from them. In Christ however the Bible says…“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” – “Ephesians 2:13.” Also in the natural sense and under normal circumstances it would be reasonable to assume that the natural tie of “flesh and blood” would cause Adopting Parents to love in a different way from the Natural Parents, but again this is not so with our Heavenly Father, the Bible says…“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the children of God.” When we relate all this to the family aspect, note that the prayer indicates that it is “OUR” Father, which indicates and equality amongst all Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
The way in which our Adoption differs is in the fact that we are not placed behind the Lord Jesus and take second place, we are not merely adopted in the natural sense, but by the Mystical work of Christs Atoning Sacrifice, we share the same “flesh and blood rights” as He has with His Father, hence the Bible declares… “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…” We are JOINT HEIRS with Christ” – “Romans 8:17” and “Galatians 4:7”
We might be tempted to muse upon a couple of things when we go through times of – strife, difficulties and even dark periods of the soul – however if we ask the question – “How accepted are we by God today?” Then we need to “look at Jesus” and we will see how accepted we are. In seeing Him we recognise that is how accepted we are! Again, if we ask the question Christ “What is the favour we have with God?” then we need to “look at Jesus.” Jesus, is seated at the Father’s right hand and we enjoy that same favour and the Scripture wonderfully says in “Ephesians 2:6”– “And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One)” Amplified Bible.
- The Greek word for joint heirs is same word as heirs above but with ‘syn’ in front ‘klēronomeō’ which adds to the meaning ‘joint’ or ‘co-receivers’ of an inheritance, a joint or co-beneficiary.
You and me we enjoy that same favour today because whatever Christ enjoys, you and I enjoy!
2. THE PRAYER DEFINES OUR RICHES FOR US
We have already considered about being “Joint Heirs” with Christ, but do we really understand the implications of that standing we have. I doubt if any of us really do, for it indicates that in every realm, Spiritually, Materially, Emotionally and Physically we are all fabulously wealthy, we may for the most part feel totally the opposite to this, but that is not God’s fault, the blame lies with us in that we have not gotten close enough or allowed the Spirit of God to work in our lives to reveal it to our spirits.
The Bible tells us very clearly in “Ephesians 1:3” – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings” notice that it does not say, some or a few, but ALL, it’s not a case of the windows of Heaven being open, in reality there is nothing more that God can give, because He has given us everything He has already.
2a. An inheritance has no value unless it is known
Charles Spurgeon told a story of a poor women whom he visited in her run-down home. While in her home, Spurgeon noticed a framed letter on the wall. Looking at the document, he asked the woman if he could look at it and have it examined. It turned out that the letter was a legal document written in the handwriting of the woman’s now deceased employer. This employer was a woman of means. She left behind provision for this woman who worked as a servant in her home. The terms of provision included that this woman would be taken care of for the rest of her life. A home was part of the arrangement yet, this poor woman was living in a run-down shack. This woman’s needs were to be met yet, she was living hungry and in abject want. Why did she live this way? All because she had an inheritance, she knew nothing about.
What Exactly Do We Inherit with Christ? Primarily, what we inherit is the Kingdom of God.
“Matthew 25:34” says – “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” NKJV
So, knowing and studying the kingdom of God is knowing and studying your inheritance.
The words “Our Father” also define something further for us also, which brings us to our 2nd heading.
2b. The Word of God is our Direct Link to our Inheritance
We read in “Acts 20:32” – “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” NKJV
What is it that the Word of God enables for us? There are four things – Build, Enablement, Announcement and Provision.
- The Word of God build us up to carry and live in our inheritance.
- The Word of God enables our reception of our inheritance in Christ.
- The Word of God announces all the information of what our inheritance contains.
- The Word of God provides the ability to receive the faith we need to embrace our inheritance.
I’m sure that when we get up in the morning that we don’t always feel tremendously blessed, but it is a fact that we are, again the Bible declares in no uncertain terms “Morning by morning, He loads us with blessing” – “Psalm 68:19” God is saying that you and me are blessed in our everyday life.
Whether we believe it is very important. You see the truth is that “Blessed are we when we come in and blessed are, we when we go out” – “Deuteronomy 28:6” the main problem is that we are invariably spiritually too lacking an understanding to recognise it. Of course, we cannot make blessings happen. But if we will get into “studying, reading and meditating” upon the Word of God our direct link to our inheritance will become plain and we will partake of it. Believe me God wants to bless us more than we want to be blessed!
In the natural we have perhaps both a Current and a Deposit account at the Bank, well it is no different in the Spiritual, we have the Current Account expressed in the Bible by the words… “My God shall supply all your needs” – “Philippians 4:19”, this relating to our lives down here, but in “1 Peter 1:4” it says…“To an inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in Heaven for you” this relating to our Deposit Account in Heaven.
3. THE PRAYER DEFINES OUR RESPONSABILITIES FOR US
We are Children of the King, and described as Kings and Priests unto our God, and as royalty, there a four areas of responsibility which we face in regard to the context of the Lord’s Prayer. They are areas which we cannot escape, and which have a bearing on every other aspect of our lives, both Spiritually and Naturally.
They are: –
- The Responsibility of Obedience
- The Responsibility to Trust
- The Responsibility of Gods Glory
- The Responsibility to Others
Let’s take a look at them together.
3a. The Responsibility of Obedience
We have sometimes said I’m sure “Children obey your Parents”, and as the Children of God the Holy Spirit says the same to us, in “John 5:3” it says…“For this is the Love of God, that we keep His commandments”, and Jesus our fellow family member has given to all of us the example to follow, and the testimony He had was that He always did those things that pleased His Father.
3b. The Responsibility to Trust
In any relationship for it to amount to anything there has to be areas of trust, and it is no different with the relationship we have with the Heavenly Father, He trusts us to do those things that are best for us, and we are expected to trust in His Wisdom and Guidance in all things, Job declared…“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” We sing at times “Trust and Obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey”, and it’s absolutely true for all of us.
3c. The Responsibility of Gods Glory
“Let you light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven” is the exhortation of “Matthew 5:16” Scripture and the prime objective of every one of God’s Children. It is paramount that in all things He is Glorified and Magnified in the eyes of the World, for in this way He will through Jesus draw all men unto Himself.
3d. The Responsibility to Others
In “Galatians 6:1” we read…“As we have therefore opportunity let us do good to all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” Interestingly, as the old adage states “Charity begins at home” it is scripturally borne out. It makes us aware that whilst there are phenomenal needs presented all around us in the pagan world in which we live – our first priority is to the household of faith.
In the natural realm sin makes all Men and Women to have a selfish streak, which none of us can avoid, this however should not master us after we come into the family of God. Why? Because He gives to us a new nature. We have a responsibility towards others, which if not fulfilled negates the fullness of God’s blessing and help in our own lives.
The underlying principle of the Word of God is always and always will be “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” – “Luke 6:31” and “Matthew 7:12”; it is commonly referred to as the “Golden Rule” and “As you sow, so shall you reap” – “Galatians 6:7” It is always a giving and receiving If we do good towards others, even if it doesn’t yield proper result immediately; it does not mean it has gone in vain; we can certainly expect goodness out of it in the future.
If we find in our experience that life is always hard, it seems impossible to make ends meet, there are always problems, then perhaps it’s time to take stock and to take a look at our lives, and to consider how much we give, and weigh this against how much you take from those who give, and it may be that we will find ourselves to be wanting in areas.
The words “OUR FATHER” provide for us our Relationship, and our Riches and also our Responsibilities, lets live up to these three areas in our walk before Him, and as we do so may the words really penetrate and thrill our spirits.