When the disciples ask Jesus in Luke 11:1 to teach them to pray, Jesus tells them, “When you pray, say . . .” and then He goes on to pray the most widely known prayer of all times, the one called the “Lord’s Prayer.” But what exactly was Jesus saying? Did He mean for us to memorize this prayer and then, in mindless repetition, mumble it over and over again? Certainly not! In reality Jesus was laying out a pattern for all our prayers as well as conveying deep spiritual truths.
First, Jesus opens the prayer with “Our Father.” That right there is a stunner! Jesus had often told His disciples and the crowd that God was His father, but now He was saying that God, the very Creator of the Universe, was our Father, too! And that comes with all that’s implied in a father: loving parent, caring, strong, kind, protective, interested in us, etc. Now that’s jaw dropping! Then Jesus goes on to add to the picture of “Father.” In addition to being the Father described above He’s also the Father who is in heaven, and who is holy (hollowed be thy name). In the Old Testament a name often described that person’s character and nature. Here we see that the very nature of our God, our Father, is holiness. Thus, while we approach our loving Father with a tender intimacy we also need to approach Him with reverence and respect and humility, not as though He’s our pool room buddy, “Yo, Lord, I got this problem that needs fixing!” which is so fashionable in the movies nowadays. And because God is holy, He wants us to be holy, too.
The next thing Jesus says is “thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” A kingdom implies that God is king, and a king is an absolute ruler. And if God’s will is to be done on earth that means it must be done in our life as well. It literally means that as King, God is absolute ruler over our life, and we are praying for His absolute will to be manifested in us. Whew! That’s a tough one!
Jesus goes on to say, “give us this day our daily bread,” implying that God is our source. And we need to rely on Him. Of course we need to do our part such as hold a job and do our best at it, etc., but we need to know that God is our provider. It is He that opens the doors of opportunity for us, the One interested in every aspect of our lives. That’s easy to forget when things are going well.
Then follows: “and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us.” It’s really clear here. We cannot expect God to forgive us if we don’t forgive those who have hurt us, or insulted us, or misused us. It just ain’t going to happen. I know some Christians who actually say they don’t have to forgive someone who has really hurt and abused them because God understands what a terrible thing that other person has done. But scripture doesn’t support this. In fact it says just the opposite. One good example is Mark 11:26 where Jesus says, “if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” So, we cannot expect God to forgive us if we don’t forgive others. It’s that simple. We need to walk in an attitude of instant forgiveness and ask God to help us not be easily offended. I don’t think that’s possible without the Holy Spirit. But with Him all things are possible. Praise God for that!
Jesus finally ends His prayer with these words: “And lead us not into temptation but deliver (rescue) us from evil.” The implication here is that there is evil in the world. We know him as the devil and his minions. And yes, he’s real. Just ask anyone who has come out of the occult! And in order to overcome evil and all the temptations this world has to offer, we need God’s help. Again, this points us to the Holy Spirit. We simply cannot live the Christian life on our own. God know this. That’s why He sent His Spirit. And with His Spirit we can be overcomers, we can live the life God desires for us, a life rich in love, and joy and peace.
What a wonderful prayer! What a wonderful God!
Until next time,