Greetings once again friends! This is Episode Seven of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “The Lord’s Prayer, Part I.” This is the first of a two-part series focusing on the meaning of several key expressions in the prayer Jesus taught his disciples. Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast.
First, a word about the series:
You may have noticed the sub-title on the masthead of the GoodlifeNews! blog website, which reads, “Exploring a Potpourri of Biblical Ideas and Godly Living.” A parallel line on the Podcast home page says, “A Weekly Podcast of Biblical Themes and Abundant Christian Living.”
In one of Jesus’ parables in which he identifies himself as “the Good Shepherd,” he says,
“I have come that they [his “sheep” i.e. his “followers”] may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10 NKJV).
There are very few truly vital components to “abundant” Christian living, but one of these “indispensables” is daily connecting with God in prayer.
A well-known Christian author, writing back in the 19th century, expressed it this way:
“Why should the sons and daughters of God be reluctant to pray, when prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven’s storehouse, where are treasured the boundless resources of Omnipotence?” (Steps to Christ, 94-95, by Ellen G. White).
Think about that phrase: “Unlock heaven’s storehouse!” What an awesome concept is that! It inspires me to believe we could do well to spend some time studying the “Model Prayer” that Jesus taught the disciples. So, this week and next week I’ll be sharing several significant highlights which have blessed my own prayer experience.
I trust these thoughts may also be an encouragement to you.
In Luke’s Gospel, the story is introduced this way:
“Now it came to pass, as [Jesus] was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples’” (Luke 11:1).
In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life and teachings, the model prayer Jesus shared with the people that day is included in a longer passage found within the “Sermon on the Mount,” where he also gave some other rich instructions about prayer practices and attitudes. You can read those in Matthew 6:5-8.
Our study focus for these two weeks will be on Matthew 6, verses 9-13, and—because of the rich traditions and poetic power of these verses in the King James Version—I will be using that version.
Here are those familiar words:
Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.
So, let’s take a closer look at a few of those significant phrases. We begin with . . . .
The Greek expression translated here is pater hemon. Literally, it means “Father of us all.” It is notable that before Jesus told them what the content of their prayers should include, he first directed their focus to the Heavenly Father to whom they should direct their prayers.
The “Father” is the Source of all being, and the Fountain of all existence. He is El Shaddai, the Hebrew term meaning the One from whom comes every good and perfect gift. He is never weary of pouring forth His mercies on His people, and He is more ready to give than they are ready to receive.
The Apostle James (a half-brother of Jesus) writes,
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17).
And, here’s what Dr. Luke recorded from Jesus,
“If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:11-13).
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus concluded his teaching about prayer and trust with these words,
“Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ . . . . Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:31-33).
“Hallowed be Thy Name“
Directly related to Jesus’ injunction that our first spiritual pursuit should be focused on the kingdom of God and his righteousness, is this expression of respect and reverence for our Father-god.
To “hallow” something is to regard it as holy—sacred. The name of God is HOLY, and should be spoken or used only in reverence and respect.
When I was young, the casual, or non-spiritual use of God’s name was considered “out-of-bounds” for general, or just common conversation. Expressions we often hear today such as “OMG!” (verbal shorthand for “Oh, My God!”), or “For God’s sake!” probably are not usually said with a sense of God’s holiness.
Now, I want to be clear. I count myself as no one’s moral judge. Every person’s words and actions are judged by the only One who can look into every mind and heart, and know the spirit behind them. However, as a minister of God’s grace, it is important for me to bring things like this to your attention. I would only encourage you to think carefully and prayerfully about your own daily conversations and conduct.
And, as I constantly say, the choice is yours. As for me, I can honestly tell you that when I invited the Lord into my heart for the first time at age 16, He began the process of cleaning up my language, and for that I am truly grateful. That process has continued throughout my entire life since then—and still continues every day, even now. I can, in all honesty say, I want nothing more than for my life and influence to only count for his kingdom.
There is much yet to be said, but before we go on to the next expression in The Lord’s Prayer, here are a few truths I want to share with you about our Father in Heaven.
- God loves you.
- In Christ, the Father forgives ALL your sins and declares you innocent. (See 1 John 1:9).
- The Father adopts you into his Family and gives you his Name.
- The Father invites you today, “Come home!”
“Thy Kingdom Come“
With those thoughts in mind, lets take a look at the next phrase in the Lord’s Prayer, “thy kingdom come.”
To understand what Jesus was talking about here in this instruction, we need to notice something else he said about the kingdom.
Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21 NIV).
Now, it’s true, the Bible is clear: Jesus’ eternal kingdom (ref. Daniel 2:44) will be established here on earth only after his Second Coming when he returns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. However, the Scripture is also very clear that, in point of fact, his true kingdom—the kingdom of the heart—begins in the here and now.
His kingdom, however, is not the same as the current earthly kingdoms. He told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight . . . . But now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36).
So, what we’re seeing here is that Jesus’ kingdom—the kingdom of God—is of an entirely different nature from the political kingdoms and nations we are all familiar with. Jesus’ kingdom—the one that begins for us now in this life and continues into our eternal experience in the Earth Made New—is not a kingdom established and defended by the force of arms, but instead is a kingdom of agápe love, grace, forgiveness, and joy.
And, Jesus very pointedly instructs his disciples—and we who are also his disciples today—to pray for that kingdom of love and grace to begin even now, before his return in the clouds of heaven. As we hear and respond to his invitation to follow him as our Lord (i.e. “King”) we are to become ambassadors for the kingdom to all who have not yet heard the good news of the Father’s love (the gospel). We, in fact, have a role to play in God’s answer to the prayer, “thy kingdom come.”
John the Revelator declares, “[Jesus] has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:6).
Peter writes, “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
“Thy Will be Done“
Before we go on, let’s do a quick review of the ground we’ve covered here.
- God the Father resides in a place called heaven.
- He is the source of our being, the fountain of our existence.
- His Name is to be reverenced and held in awe—it must never be spoken in vain.
- God loves you and has already forgiven you of ALL your sins.
- He invites you to put your complete trust in Him today.
- The Kingdom of Glory will come when Jesus comes again.
- The Kingdom of Grace has already begun.
- We cannot enter the Kingdom of Glory unless we first live the Kingdom of Grace—i.e. extending grace to others as we ourselves have received grace from God.
Now, let’s look at the last phrase for our study today: “Thy Will be Done.”
How do we know God’s will? There are several ways we see as examples, both from Scripture and from personal experiences.
The most basic way to discover God’s will is to read the Bible.
Sometimes people might believe that what they feel, or a dream they have had, or impressions they receive are valid ways to determine God’s will for their lives. All of those might indeed be valid, but there is one standard by which all of them must be measured. That is simply: Do they conform to the written Word of God?
The only way to know the answer to that question is to read and study the Bible for yourself. This is where learning to use study tools such as Bible dictionaries, commentaries, and multiple translations becomes very valuable. These tools will not tell you WHAT to believe, but they will aid in providing legitimate insight into the background language(s) and expressions used by the Bible writers.
However, it is not enough just to know what the Bible says—or even to believe what it says! As an old saying goes, “Attitude is everything.”
In the Old Testament, King David wrote, “I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8).
God’s law is a transcript of His will. The law is not to be kept as a legalistic requirement, but as the joyful expression of a heart renewed by His grace!
God himself told the Prophet Jeremiah, “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel . . . ,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33).
The Apostle Paul explains how this works: “It is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
To pray “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven” is to ask God to take over your life and live His will both in and through you.
Then, let’s conclude today’s study with this:
May it be our sincere goal to live as we pray, and pray as we live.
Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.
Next week’s episode will be Part 2 of “The Lord’s Prayer.” We’ll be looking at four remaining thoughts Jesus included in his model prayer:
- “Deliver us from evil”
- “Our daily bread”
- “The kingdom, power, and glory”
I hope you can join me for that.