“Now it came to pass, as He 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 NKJV
Centuries of church history will tell you that The Lord’s Prayer is held as one of the most sacred texts that could pass through the lips of a believer. Many of us pray it every Sunday. While there is nothing wrong with reciting the prayer, there is much to be gained from slowing down and realizing this:
Jesus handed us a comprehensive framework for our approach to God in prayer.
Remember, Jesus comes to show us the Father (John 14:9) and then reconciles us to Him through His shed blood on the cross (Romans 5:1). He makes peaceful and profitable exchange between us and God possible again. The enormity of this act will only be realized in heaven, but we must remember the privilege we have to address God the Father because of Christ.
Let’s take a short look at what Jesus teaches the disciples about prayer. This framework and model prayer will become the walls of our house. It is the structure which holds everything else in.
All the truth contained in this model prayer must be present for all other effective prayer. Prayer should not deviate from these boundaries. Do we know better than Jesus how to pray? No. But we have been given the roadmap for effective prayer. Pay close attention.
“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 forever. Amen.”Matthew 6:9-13 NKJV
Our. He is of many. He is a Father over all, and a superior Father to our own fathers. He is the Father of spirits (Hebrews 12:9). He holds the highest authority in all of creation. He is singular and above all, and therefore gives all that is given. By His very existence He lays claim to all things.
He is the beginning and the essence of familial relationships, of structure and order, of both headship and help. He is central and original, foundational, and singular. Everything emanates from Him, and everything will answer to Him. He is the source of all and without Him, nothing is anything.
Our allegiance to Him is imperative, implicit, and required. To utter this first statement “our Father,” is to immediately humble ourselves and bring ourselves into submission to His unsearchable greatness and infinite power.
He both exists and dwells. He is in heaven, separate from us. He is not on earth nor made of dust as we are. He is above, not below. If heaven is His dwelling, then we know there is a specific part of creation that we do not currently have access to (the bible calls this the “third heaven” in 1 Corinthians 12:2). The only way we will get there is by passing through death and being covered by the blood of Jesus, who reconciled us to Father through His death on the cross.
Hallowed Be Your Name
God is holy. He is distinctly and eternally set apart from everything that exists. His name is actively acknowledged in its interminable purity by those who speak it to petition in prayer. As we speak His name, we acknowledge that His name is to be revered as the only name which we call upon that carries His specific character and nature. It belongs to no other.
Further, if He is named, He is knowable. He is not simply a benevolent force, but specifically identified by His own creation as having personhood and is addressed as such through prayer.
Your Kingdom Come
This holy, personal God, who is central and sovereign over all of creation, governs all that is.
While there is yet another government at work in the earth today (John 16:11), the ultimate resolution of everything will be His coming kingdom. His kingdom will come with the fullness of his righteousness and His governmental rule over all that He has made. It is this kingdom and government by the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17) that we are taught to seek first (Matthew 6:33).
We pray for His ways to be manifested in the earth through us, now. This is not just a future hope, but a present reality we lay claim to through prayer.
Your Will Be Done
There is necessary action in order to establish the kingdom of God in the earth. This action requires surrender to the Father’s will rather than our own. This is not just wishful thinking, or even strong desire, but the manifestation of a spiritual reality in a physical realm. As Jesus demonstrated, it requires great humility.
On Earth As It Is In Heaven
The kingdom of God that we pray for is to be a representation on earth of what is occurring in heaven. Let that sink in. The laws that govern heaven itself should be the laws that govern the kingdom of God in the earth. And we are the ones through whom this government is embodied.
This is the kingdom that Jesus preached was “at hand.“ This is the kingdom that we are called to carry, even before the return of Christ. And we will see the fullness of this promise in the new heavens and the new earth (Revelation 21:1).
Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
We tend to view this as a simple petition that our needs be met, but it is much more.
The Father is a giver (John 3:16). He gladly gives to those who ask (Matthew 7:11). This prayer is for today, not tomorrow. It puts us in a place of dependence whereby we acknowledge that we cannot live in either the past or the future, but only the present.
Jesus himself said he was the bread of life (John 6:35), so we are praying for more than our physical and natural needs. We also seek after spiritual sustenance. Jesus himself is our portion, and the relationship we have with Him as brother and co-heir is what we seek in this phrase. We are seeking communion with our creator.
And Forgive Us Our Debts
After clearly establishing our focus on the Lord, the giver of life, we acknowledge our fault, our moral debt. To ask forgiveness is to make a withdrawal on the blood of Jesus because we know it is the only way we are forgiven and reconciled to the Father. Without the blood, we are humiliated by our sin and have no righteousness to stand on. Here, in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer, is the gospel in five words.
As We Forgive Our Debtors
Encountering God’s forgiveness, we are compelled toward one response: to extend that forgiveness to all who have hurt us. It is to become like Him, and to fully embrace His nature as our own. It is a requirement of effective and unhindered prayer that we release our own bitterness, else God cannot forgive us. This idea even gets two extra verses of emphasis right after the Lord’s Prayer is recorded in Matthew 6.
14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV
Forgiveness is the rule in the kingdom of God because that kingdom is established in heaven through Jesus Christ who was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. By His death, He Himself purchased the forgiveness of our sins through the cross. We, therefore, must walk in it if we are to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints (Colossians 1:12-14).
12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.Colossians 1:12-14 NKJV
And Do Not Lead Us Into Temptation
Being established in Christ’s forgiveness, we then acknowledge the thing which originally sabotaged our relationship with God the Father and still threatens to undo us – the kingdom of darkness. Those spiritual forces of wickedness (Ephesians 6:12) whom we, as the children of disobedience, once served (Ephesians 2:2) are the originators of our temptation to sin. But we have now been called out of darkness and into his marvelous light. We do not want to again be lead there, but to maintain our course as servants of the kingdom of God.
But Deliver Us From the Evil One
Not only do we need the blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, but we need deliverance from the clutches of the enemy. We are not praying for deliverance from bad circumstances, but from a person, the “evil one,” whose kingdom seeks to destroy the very kingdom we are petitioning that God establish through us. In order for us to be delivered, there must be a deliverer. Clearly, in this context, the Father has sent such a one.
For Yours Is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory Forever. Amen.
This is a final declaration of the rule and government we are submitted to and establishing. We are still addressing the Father and we declare His rulership, universal authority, power, and glory. We proclaim it all to be His now and forever to exclude all other claims to this kingdom, power, and glory from any creature in all of eternity.
The Kingdom and the Gospel
What a fascinating prayer! God the Father is clearly defined by Jesus teaching this prayer. Jesus knows the Father, and it is clear what position Jesus gives Him here. Jesus did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped (Philippians 2:6), and He thrusts us into that humility through this prayer. This is how we are to approach God the Father in prayer.
There is no mistaking the Father’s kingdom as the central theme here and our place inside (and outside) of it through the gospel. The only way to be who we are in the kingdom is to align with its government and rule through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Through the Lord’s Prayer, we see there is only one supreme and personal being, there is one Savior who will make right what is wrong, and there is one enemy we must be concerned about.
What About the Holy Spirit?
Finally, the Holy Spirit is not absent from this prayer. He is certainly implied. He is one with the Creator at the beginning (Genesis 1:2). He is the enforcer of the heavenly government, the one who rests upon Jesus’ shoulder (Isaiah 9:6, Mark 1:10, Romans 14:17) He is the Spirit of Christ who teaches us and who reveals the Bread of Life (John 14:26) that we just prayed to receive. He is the one stronger than the strongman who delivers us with His power (Luke 11:20-22; Matthew 12:28-29).
How This Framework Becomes Part of the Construction of Our House
The gospel draws us to the Godhead. Rather than simply reciting this prayer, we need to recognize its power to laser-focus our attention on what matters most to God. If we would take time to meditate on and come into full agreement with this prayer, we would see a significant shift in our prayer time.
I recently began my prayer time with “our Father, who art in heaven,” and never got past that as I began to think about and recount all the attributes of who I knew God to be from the scriptures and what these opening phrases revealed about Him. Focusing my gaze upon Him first made everything else I was burdened with come into its right perspective before I even began to address my worldly concerns.
Your Prayer Life Matters
Prayer should be more than an activity we engage in as Christians. It should be the air we breathe. Paul said we should pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). If you want to live a life of prayer, but have had a hard time establishing one, then grab my free eBook below to discover what is keeping you stuck. There is more! So let’s discover it together!