July 16, 2014
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
It is known as The Lord’s Prayer. Two versions of it are found in the gospels – one in Matthew 6:9 through 13 and the other in Luke 11:2 through 4. Here is the one from Matthew:
In this manner, therefore, 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 this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive
our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the
evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever.
By the contexts in Matthew and Luke, it looks like Jesus gave this model prayer on two different occasions: the first within the context of the Sermon on the Mount – Matthew; and the second when His disciples asked Him to teach them to pray – Luke.
The Lord’s Prayer is not actually a prayer recorded in the scriptures that Jesus prayed. It is given to us for a model for our prayers as we seek the ear of the Father. That Jesus gave it as a model is shown by the words with which He introduced it: “In this manner, therefore, pray….” Perhaps it should be called ‘The Disciples’ Prayer,’ for it can only be accurately prayed by true disciples of Jesus Christ. John 17 – its 26 verses recording the prayer Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before He was arrested – is probably more logically a candidate to be called The Lord’s Prayer.
But The Lord’s Prayer is the model for our prayers – given to us by the Master Himself. And in many churches its words are repeated as a regular part of worship. So let’s analyze The Lord’s Prayer, and see if we can improve our own petitions before our God.
• Verse 9 – “Our Father in heaven….” It starts with recognizing the sovereignty and authority of God over all! Paul, in II Corinthians 12:2, called it “…the third heaven.” In Jewish thinking, this was the dwelling place of God, the unassailable throne from where all is under the control of Him who sits thereon. Lucifer tried to assail God’s enthroned position – recorded in Isaiah 14:12 though 15 – and it proved to be his downfall. But, as the devil has found, even he has not been able to defeat God, and Satan can only act within the limits set by the Father (see Job 1:12 and 2:6).
Even Solomon – later in his life when he slid back from his godly start, and when he wrote Ecclesiastes, the point of view of a man disappointed with all the world has to offer – Solomon recognized God’s preeminent place in heaven. He said in Ecclesiastes 5:2 (NIV), “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.”
“Our Father in heaven…” – However many words we might add to our prayers – this is a great place to start!
• Verse 9 – “Hallowed be Your name.” The name in Bible times often was descriptive of the person – as it is with the name Jesus, meaning “Jehovah saves.” The Lord gave a succinct description of why He came in Luke 19:10: “…the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost…” – Jehovah saves!
So the name of God here really refers to the person of God. And God is hallowed or holy. When we come before Him, we must keep in mind His holiness. And not just His holiness, but the fact that He calls us to be holy also if we are His followers.
How holy is God? And how holy does He demand us to be? The answer is in Leviticus 19:2: “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” The idea is expressed another way in Matthew 5:48: “…you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” As perfect as God! As holy as God! How can anyone live up to that requirement? No one can………except Jesus! And He not only took our sins upon Himself, but He makes His own righteousness available to us! We wear it as a robe! And being so clothed, we are totally acceptable unto the Father because we are positionally as holy – as perfect – as Jesus Christ Himself!
Coming to the Father in prayer – if we recognize His sovereignty and authority; if we realize He is totally holy and perfect; if we remember all that He has done for us through His Son Jesus Christ – we will then respond with praise and thanksgiving from our hearts, and we will begin our prayer aright!