In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus gives us a guideline as to how to pray.
Now, you can just repeat the words and you know we pray the prayer at the beginning of the service. That’s good! It’s done to remind us of what God has taught us to pray.
However, the words are, in one sense, a pattern prayer. They tell us how to approach God and what’s needful when we pray.
They can also become ‘vain repetition’, and you know what I mean by that. Some people just pray the prayer over and over again, and it doesn’t really mean anything.
I remember my little sister was sent by my parents to a Catholic school for some reason (I’m not quite sure why) since we attended the Church of England regularly (that’s another story).
She went to the Catholic school and, every day, at the beginning of the assembly, they prayed the Lord’s prayer. They prayed it in the old-fashioned version:
‘Our father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name etc.’
One day she came home and said mummy, I know who Father John in and Father Philip and Father Patrick are but who is ‘Father which art’? Because, every day, we say ‘Father which art in heaven’.
I guess it’s just words which you don’t understand and sometimes people do pray those sorts of prayers, they don’t understand what they’re saying. They’re just words.
But God wants us to understand.
Just briefly, let us go through the Lord’s prayer and see what it’s telling us, what it is saying to us.
‘Our Father in heaven’
This tells us about the nature of God: that we do have a Father in heaven who loves us, who is the maker of all things, the creator of all things, who knows all things. And He is in heaven, and we’re on earth. He exists in a certain place which we can’t physically get to but we can call upon through prayer.
God exists. Therefore, obviously, if you pray, you are believing that God exists, and you’re believing also that God is there, in heaven, and that He cares for you, and He loves you, and He knows you.
The Bible also tells us that He is separate from sinners. Therefore, Jesus Christ is separate from sinners. But He has made a way in which He can come into a relationship with us through the Gospel.
‘Hallowed be your name’
A hallowed means a name set apart or holy. Jesus’ name is holy, God’s name is holy, we should never use His name as a swear word. His name is a holy word.
The name Yeshua / Jesus means ‘Salvation’ so, when we call upon the name of God for salvation, we’re calling upon the name of Yeshua for our salvation through faith in Jesus the Messiah.
And God is holy, and we are giving him the praise and the honour that due to His name. This speaks about praise, giving thanks to God for who He is, praising His name, worshiping Him through faith in Jesus.
‘Your kingdom come’
How does God’s Kingdom come? In speaking to Nicodemus in John chapter 3, Jesus said:
Therefore, when you pray ‘Your kingdom come’, one thing you’re praying for is to receive the Kingdom of God through faith in Jesus, to be born again of the Holy Spirit.
And when you’re born again, you want to grow in the knowledge of Jesus, so you want the Holy Spirit to be in you, to cause you to grow, and to dwell in you so that He may change you into the person He wants you to be.
We should pray to God for the Kingdom of God to come within us as we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. We should pray for the Holy Spirit to sanctify us, to change us, and to be that we may become indeed that new person in Jesus Christ.
There are three stages in the life of a believer:
- The first stage is Regeneration which happens when you’re born again.
- The third stage is Glorification which is what happens when you get to heaven.
- The second stage, which is the important one we’re in now is Sanctification.
We’re now on the road between being born again and being glorified in heaven. And as we’re on that road, we pray that God may sanctify us, make us holy, make us the kind of person who God wants us to be.
Therefore, when you pray ‘Your kingdom come’, first of all, you’re praying for yourself that the Kingdom of God may come within you, that you may see His work within you, to sanctify you, to make you the person God wants you to be.
‘Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’
Clearly, what is happening on the earth today is not what God’s will is.
We see so many examples all around us, in every society including our, own, of people going right against the will of God, against what God wants us to be, the kind of people God wants us to be, and, in one sense, you could say that ‘Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ is an intercession, praying for people to repent of their sins, to believe, to stop doing wrong things and start doing right things.
It is an intercession for our nation, for our government, for people around the world who are suffering because of evil governments and pray that they may be set free from this. It’s a prayer to restrain evil and to promote good, that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
We know that, ultimately, the time when the will of God is going to be done on earth and when the Kingdom will come is when Jesus returns. So, in one sense you’re also praying for the Second Coming of Jesus, because, when Jesus returns, He’s going to put right all the evil that is happening at this time on the earth and to establish His Kingdom that we might know His presence with us.
‘Give us this day our daily bread’
In the meantime, while we’re on earth, we have the essentials of life, and we can bring before the Lord our basic needs.
God knows that we have need of food, we have need of shelter, we have need of the essentials of physical life, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t ask God to give us those things, and to give thanks to God when He does give us these things.
I’ll give thanks to God for the food we have, give thanks for the God that for the homes we have, and pray for those who don’t have those things, giving thanks to God for our daily needs.
It is legitimate to come to God and ask Him to give to us what we need to live on.
Don’t ask Him for a big mansion and millions of Pounds because that’s not what He wants. But ask Him for what we need and He’s quite open to hear our prayers on those subjects and to give us a heart also to share what we have with those who don’t have them, that they may have something with which to live on.
Also, the word ‘bread’ does speak of the Word of God. Jesus said, ‘I’m the bread of life’, He said ‘to feed on Him’, so, we must pray that we may receive the ‘daily bread’, the ‘bread of life’ through faith in Jesus
‘Forgive us our debts (sins) as we forgive those who trespass against us’
Obviously, our most basic need when we come to faith, when we approach God, is that we are sinners and therefore need someone to forgive our sins.
We know that there’s One way in which our sins can be forgiven. That’s through faith in Jesus Christ who died for us, shed His blood in order to redeem us.
So, we ask God to forgive us for our sins, and, as we forgive those who sin against us, we don’t hold grudges and don’t seek revenge against people who’ve done us harm, we pray for them to be saved, pray for those who’ve done us harm that they may turn to God through faith in Jesus.
There is a bit of a question mark sometimes about forgiveness, about forgiving people who’ve done awful things.
Sometimes, when there’s been terrorist attacks, Christians come up and say I forgive the person who’s done the terrorism.
I have a bit of a problem about that because unless the person repents, they can’t be forgiven by God.
You cannot hold them in judgment, but we must commit them to the Lord that they might repent and believe.
If they’ve blown themselves up as terrorists, then they won’t be able to do that anyway, but we must remember that, ultimately, forgiveness only comes when we personally repent of our sins and believe in Jesus.
It’s interesting that Jesus prayed on the cross ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do’.
That didn’t make them forgiven.
A little bit later, when Peter is preaching, He says:
So, when you say someone is forgiven, bear in mind that they’re not forgiven by God unless they repent and believe.
Therefore, we may not hold them grudges against them and seek revenge, but we must also commit them to the Lord and pray that they might repent and believe in order that they may receive forgiveness.
Forgiveness only comes to the person who repents and believes the Gospel.
‘Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil’
Satan exists. Just as we believe that God exists, we also believe that there is a Devil who exists and ‘walks about’, according to Peter,
One whom we must resist, steadfast in the name of Jesus.
We do have an enemy out there, Satan. He even tempted Jesus, but Jesus didn’t fall for his temptation, unlike us.
But he says, ‘lead us not into temptation’. Ask God not to lead us into the way of temptation.
Now, we have a duty ourselves to make sure that we don’t lead ourselves into the way of temptation. We have to duty to make right choices, know that there are all kinds of evil influences around us, especially on the media, on the TV, on the internet.
We have unsaved friends and families who want to lead us away from the Lord, tell us that ‘we don’t want to follow Jesus’ and ‘you don’t want to go to church’, ‘you don’t have do all these things’.
There are people going to be out there who are going to try to trip you up and stop you from following Jesus. And we must know that these things are coming.
Don’t go into the way of temptation. So, we could say ‘Lead us not into temptation’, but we have a responsibility ourselves not to put ourselves in the place where we’re going to be tempted.
Don’t watch pornographic movies or anything like that. Don’t watch things which are going to incite you to violence. Don’t listen to people who are going to push you into drugs or to anything which is harmful to you.
We know that there are people out there who want to trip you up, who want to do you harm and that, behind them, there is one, supremely, who does want to do you harm: that Satan.
He exists, he’s not a figment of the imagination.
As I said, he goes around ‘like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour’, and he’s stronger than we are.
But we have One who’s stronger than he is on our side, praise God!
When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, He defeated the powers of darkness, He overcame Satan, and, through faith in Jesus, we too can overcome Satan.
We can overcome his evil activity and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
He concludes the prayer with the words:
‘Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever.’
This les us know that, ultimately, the victory is with Jesus.
If you’re on the side of Jesus, you’re on the side of the ones who have the victory.
That Jesus has overcome, that He is glorified in heaven, and that He is eternally in control.
He is eternally the victor.
If we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, we’re on the victory side, we’ve turned away from the one who is defeated at the cross and we turn to the One who is victorious.
In Jesus we have the victory.
Therefore, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ! If you’re a born-again believer in Jesus, you have a living faith in Jesus Christ. You’re assured of the ultimate victory in your life in Jesus.
The ultimate victory is that we’re going to be with Him forever, and He’s going to take us, change this ‘vile body’ as Paul describes it in one place to be likened unto His glorious body. He’s going to take us out of this realm to be taken into His realm where we’ll be forever in His presence in glory.
And we will have an eternity to praise God and to praise our Lord who is King of kings and Lord of lords, who has won the ultimate victory and who is ever reigning in heaven, making intercession for us and coming again soon, I believe, in power and glory to establish His Kingdom on earth prior to the eternal state in which we’ll be with Him forever in the new heavens and new earth.
Therefore, we have the ultimate victory. And, as we pray to the Lord and we believe in the Lord Jesus, we can have strength to continue even in the world today as it goes further and further away from God and as we see so many things happening around us which, in the natural, will drag us down.
Be lifted up by faith in Jesus and trust in Him for His eternal victory!