Category Archives: The Lord’s Prayer

If you think you really know The Lord’s Prayer, think again!

If you think you really know The Lord’s Prayer, think again!

I was getting closer to it when God opened my eyes to it being Hebrew poetry, a royal psalm. But God has opened my eyes even more through a dry, technical book by a German academic, Joachim Jeremias, who really puts it in context.

  • It is radical, urgent and immediate.
  • A prayer for revival and for the end times.
  • A prayer for the hallowing of God’s name where it is defiled.
  • A prayer not to fall from belief in the great apostasy that will precede Jesus’ return.
  • A prayer linked to communion, to Jesus our spiritual food.
  • A prayer for the New Covenant.
  • A prayer recognising God’s kingdom is here, now, and seeking its complete fulfilment and consummation on earth.
  • It is both a prayer to be spoken and used at regular times of the day, and before communion, and a prayer outline.

If you think you know The Lord’s Prayer, think again!!!

The Lord’s Prayer #9 – Holy Father.

‘Our Father in heaven,
     hallowed be your name.’ (Matthew 6:9 NRSV)

This is the first of the four parts of The Lord’s Prayer that we shall be looking at.  This prayer is also known as the Paternoster (from the Latin) and its English equivalent the ‘Our Father’ by Roman Catholics.

In this section we are looking at the fact that God is our Holy Father and how we should respond to that.

If you are a Roman Catholic reading this, then you will be saying but that is the Pope’s title.  I would challenge that!  That title should belong to God alone.

Jesus said, ‘call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father – the one in heaven.’ (Matthew 23:9 NRSV). And elsewhere we read that God is ‘Holy, holy, holy’ (Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8 NRSV), we see this here by two things that ‘Our Father’ is ‘in heaven’, and that our response is to hallow his name, that is to treat it as holy.

Let’s unpack this section in a bit more detail.

The first thing that we should notice is that we pray in , the prayer starts with ‘Our Father’, not ‘My Father’.  Even when we pray alone we always pray as part of the Body of Christ.  In fact we never can pray alone! Jesus could, but when we pray all the Trinity is involved, we pray to the Father, through the Holy Spirit and in the name and power of Jesus.

So we pray in community, but we are also praying as part of the family, this is unique to Christianity.  Under the Old Covenant Abraham was a friend of God, and John was the last and greatest prophet under that Old Covenant, but Jesus said that, ‘the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he’ (Matthew 11:11 NRSV).  There are two reasons for this, firstly because John was not filled with the Holy Spirit, and secondly because under the New Covenant we are children of God which John was not under the Old Covenant.

We are praying to ‘Our Father’ who is ‘in heaven’.  Scripturally there are three heavens. The physical heavens, the spiritual realm, and heaven where God dwells (I shall look at this in another post).  It is the third of those that is being referred to here, where God dwells.  Here there is nothing unholy, because God is absolutely HOLY.

This is why our response must be, ‘hallowed be your name’.  Our response to God’s holiness must be to recognise that holiness, and ask him to help us to live all of our lives in the light of that.  God’s heart is that everything will be ‘Holy to the LORD’ (Zechariah 14:20 NRSV) from horse bells to common cooking pots.  It is not about retreating from the world, but being so filled with God that all we do is touched by God and can be used to glorify him alone.

Holy Father, help me to live my life in light of who you are.  To worship you alone, and to live my whole life dedicated only to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer and Isaiah 9:6 #8

We most often hear Isaiah 9:6 read at Christmastime as it is about the coming Messiah, but what you may well ask has it got to do with The Lord’s Prayer?

‘For a child has been born to us,
     a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
     and he is named
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
     Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’  (Isaiah 9:6 NRSV)

When we look deeper into The Lord’s Prayer, I will be looking at in four sections (excluding the doxology), which is how it splits up if you take into consideration that it is Hebrew poetry.

In this post we shall be looking at Jesus in The Lord’s Prayer!  This splits it up into the same four sections, so it introduces the rest of the studies really well, and it also reveals another facet of this great prayer.

Before that we need to note that ‘authority rests upon his shoulders’.  Jesus has authority, more than that he said after his resurrection in the introduction to the Great Commission, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me’ (Matthew 28:18 NRSV).  Jesus has all authority!  But how do we access this authority?  Through prayer (and fasting) alone, that is how Jesus accessed his Father’s authority before he was crucified, he had all authority then but choose not to use it, he chose only to act with his Father’s authority!  But after Jesus resurrection and before his Ascension he now has ‘all authority’, and when we pray his way we are standing in his authority, this is also why we pray for things ‘in Jesus’ name’, and can pray expecting to see things happen!

In a very real sense The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer about Jesus, as each of the characteristics of the Messiah from Isaiah 9:6 is mirrored by a section in the prayer.  Here’s what I mean:

‘Everlasting Father’ mirrors
‘Our Father in heaven,
     hallowed be your name.’

Jesus is co-eternal with the Father, he is not a created being.  Father in Isaiah refers to  how a king is father to their nation.

‘Mighty God’ mirrors
‘Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
     on earth as it is in heaven.’

 Jesus is the Mighty God, he is able to do on earth what he has already purposed in heaven.

‘Prince of Peace’ mirrors
‘Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
     as we have forgiven our debtors.’

Jesus is our peace because in him we have all the physical and spiritual provision we need.

‘Wonderful Counsellor’ mirrors
‘And do not bring us to the time of trial,
     but rescue us from the evil one.’

Counsellor here refers to someone who gives advice in a council of war these days we wold call him a general, and Jesus is the most wonderful and amazing general there is.

Aspects of God in The Lord’s Prayer.

In the following studies I will look at how The Lord’s Prayer focuses on four aspects of the character of God, as you will see they are very close to the four kingly titles of Jesus from Isaiah 9:6.  Here are the four aspects of who God is: Holy Father, Sovereign King, Daily Provider and Mighty Warrior.  Here is the overall plan of The Lord’s Prayer that I have developed.

God and Us in Prayer.
     Holy Father.
     Sovereign King.
Us and God in Prayer.
     Daily Provider.
     Mighty Warrior.
Later Doxology.

Why is The Lord’s Prayer so powerful? 

It is because the whole of the prayer is based on who God is and how interacts with his people and with the world in which we live.

Have you thought of The Lord’s Prayer as being based on God’s character or has it always just been a list of things to ask for?  Does this idea revolutionise your view of this prayer?

The Lord’s Prayer #7 – A Later Doxology

‘For the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours forever.  Amen.’ (Matthew 6:13 NRSV marginal note).

In some translations this is given with the main text, in others it is a marginal reading.  The reason for this is that it is thought that this doxology (a short hymn of praise often added to the end of psalms etc) was added to the text later date.  The thing is this doxology may have been added to the text at a later date but may well have been used to finish off the prayer from much earlier.

Regardless of that, it actually sums up the prayer perfectly by bringing the focus back onto who God is.  This is an essential part of how we should pray, both individually and corporately.  What better way is there  to end a time of prayer than to focus again on God.  It is God’s kingdom that we are praying to see on this earth.  It is by his power that we see answers to prayer, and he alone is glorious and eternal.

Amen! Or as it means, ‘So be it’.  What better way to end the prayer than with this powerful word of agreement!

Heavenly Father, help us always to focus back on you at the close of any prayer time, as you are the reason we pray and you alone have the power to fulfill and surpass what we ask for.  ‘For the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours forever. Amen.’

The Lord’s Prayer #6 – … Then God Will Meet Our Needs

We will now look at the second part of The Lord’s Prayer, the first half starting with ‘Our Father’ focused squarely on God, the second half focuses on our needs.

Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
     as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial [us into temptation],
     but rescue us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:11-13 NRSV [Marginal reading]).

We started by focusing on God and on his desires for this world, the world he created.  Only now do we, his creatures, focus on our needs and wants.

But do you really pray like this?  Let’s be honest do you really?

That is a challenge to all of us!  It is not because our needs are of no importance to God that they come in the second half of The Lord’s Prayer, it is just that he knows that we need to keep them in perspective.  If we do not then they take over, and we can see no further than our naval and would miss his Kingdom completely!

Yet even this part of the prayer still keeps its focus squarely on God if we view it correctly.  Why?  Because it is God who is provides for us, forgives us and enables us to forgive others.  He alone who leads me from temptations, and protects me from all workings of the evil one.

Heavenly Father, help us to realise that the more we pray for your great Kingdom, the more we will see your care and provision in our own lives.  Since when we do, we can see things from your heavenly perspective.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer #5 – Seeking God and his Kingdom First.

We are now going to start looking at The Lord’s Prayer in greater detail. Initially we are going to look at it in two halves, as the focus of each half is obvious.

Our Father in heaven,
     hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
     on earth as it is in heaven. 
(Matthew 6:9-10 NRSV)

Who is the focus of this half of The Lord’s Prayer?

It should be obvious, but here are a few clues.  We read ‘our’ only once, but ‘your’ three times, and in fact these are all referring to the same person, to God, as God is ‘Our Father’.  It is God who is ‘in heaven’, and it is his ‘kingdom’ and ‘will’ that we want to see ‘on earth as it is in heaven’.

Now this is how Jesus structured his prayers, yet this is the antithesis of so much prayer that takes place today.  Jesus had got his priorities right, it was about his Father first of all.  Elsewhere Jesus says ‘Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.’ (John 5:19 NRSV).  This shows that he taught others how he prayed himself.

Jesus prayed for and sought what his Father wanted before what he wanted.  The ultimate expression of this is when he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives on the night he was betrayed.  Here Jesus prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.’ (Luke 22:42 NRSV).  This was no nice prayer, it was so deep and painful a prayer that, ‘In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground.’ (Luke 22:44 NRSV).  This prayer cost Jesus everything, because he wanted his Father’s will before his own, and if we really grasp this then we will realise that he is asking nothing less of us!

If we, like Jesus, get our priorities right then we will have our prayer revolutionised!  When we start seeing that God’s needs (God is sovereign and could easily work without us; but he chooses to work in, with and through us so needs us to work with him) come first, then we change how we pray, and that in turn changes us.

This is one of the reasons why Jesus had so much power, that he sought to do his Father’s will not his own, the second was that he was filled with the Holy Spirit and did all things through his anointing.  If we want to truly walk as Jesus walked then we need to start getting things in the right order.  It is not that our needs are unimportant, but Jesus says we should ‘strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’ (Matthew 6:33 NRSV).

Who comes first in your prayers, is it God or you?  Are you really prepared to follow Jesus example and pay the price in prayer?  Do you want to see God working in mighty ways?  Do you want it badly enough to ‘strive’ for it?  What do you think?

The Lord’s Prayer #4 – The Greatest Psalm

What is The Lord’s Prayer?

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 have also forgiven our debtors. 
And do not bring us to the time of trial [into temptation],
     but rescue us from the evil one. 
[For the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours for ever.  Amen.]  (Matthew 6:9-13 NRSV [marginal readings in square brackets] )

I have already said that it is a prayer outline, but is there more to it?  From the title you can guess what I am going to say now.  It is Hebrew poetry.  Now there is Hebrew poetry in the psalms and elsewhere, in this case I would class this as both Hebrew poetry and a psalm, and in Aramaic it even rhymes!  (See for more on this.)

What do I mean by saying that The Lord’s Prayer is Hebrew poetry.  It struck me one day when I had been looking at The Lord’s Prayer and then read Psalm 1.  In Psalm 1 we see parallelism, an idea stated and then either expanded or otherwise developed.

We see this in The Lord’s Prayer also.

  • If God is our Heavenly Father then how should we respond?
  • God’s kingdom and will are inseparable, you are saying the same thing in two different ways, and we want to see both on earth as they are already are in heaven.
  • God provides for us both physical provision (food) and spiritual provision (forgiveness), our response should be to extend it to others.
  • God id our protector, what does this mean for us.
  • It is also finished off with a great doxology, which whether Jesus stated it with the prayer outline or not draws the whole prayer together, and back to praise to his Father, and finishes with a resounding Amen’, ‘So be it’.

The book of Psalms in the Old Testament is often referred to as ‘The Prayer Book of The Bible’, there are psalms of praise, of prayer, of lament, of longing.  More than that there are psalms elsewhere in the Old Testament, Moses’ and Miriam’s songs of praise to God in Exodus 15:1-21, and Deborah’s song in Judges 5 are a few examples.  For me The Lord’s Prayer is the ultimate psalm of prayer and praise, as we shall see as we examine it in greater detail.

Jesus made The Lord’s Prayer easy to remember for his first century audience.  How easy do you find it to remember?  Why do you think this is the case?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.