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Praying the Lord’s Prayer

By James K. Bridges

Matthew 6:9-13 offers some of the best-known words in Christianity — Jesus’ model prayer. The Christmas season is a wonderful time to contemplate the life-giving relationship with our Heavenly Father made possible by the gift of His Son and outlined in the Son’s prayer. If you have a Bible, why not look at this prayer with me? (I’m using the New American Standard Bible.)

“Our Father”

Notice, Jesus said, “Our Father.” We approach God not just as individuals, but in relationship with Jesus and with others in the family of God. Ephesians 3:14,15 tells us the whole church family in heaven and earth is named after the Father.

God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ through whom He becomes our Father. As Galatians 4:3-6 tells us, Christ’s redemption brings to us adoption as sons and heirs with Christ. Through Christ, we are able to say “Abba, Father.” We are able to approach Him as our dear Father.

“Who art in heaven”

Our Heavenly Father is in heaven as well as on earth. His divine plan, as described in Revelation, is to bring heaven and earth together.

God made heaven and earth and all things in them. He did this through Christ: “[Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created by Him and for Him”(Colossians 1:15-17).

“Hallowed be Thy name”

We are to hallow, or recognize as holy, the precious name of the Father, as well as the Son and Holy Spirit.

Holiness is a primary attribute of the Father. The Father expects us to reflect His holiness (1 Peter 1:15,16). This can only be done through the Lord Jesus Christ: “You are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).

“Thy kingdom come”

The kingdom of God (or of heaven) comes when the King comes. In His first coming, the kingdom of God came in grace: “The grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all men” (Titus 2:11).  We need to be praying for the kingdom of grace to come to all men that they might be saved through Christ.

The kingdom of God will come in glory in Christ’s second coming: “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (2:13). In preparation for that coming, we “deny ungodliness and worldly desires and … live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (2:12).

“Thy will be done”

As Jesus gives His disciples these words, He is fully aware that one day He will be saying them in the Garden of Gethsemane: “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Thy will be done” (Matthew 26:42).

Hebrews 10:5-7, quoting Psalm 40:6-8, gives us a conversation between the Son and His Father as He prepares to enter our world and take upon himself our humanity: “A body Thou hast prepared for me. ... Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come … to do Thy will, O God.’”

What greater example could we find for our lives than that of the submitted Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ?

“On earth as it is in heaven” 

Earth is out of harmony with the will of God. But one day, God’s will will be complete on earth. O the joy when earth becomes like heaven: no more sin, sickness, disease, pain or death. Today, may we fully pursue the will of God on earth.

“Give us this day our daily bread”

The Lord’s daily provision is for body, soul and spirit. He is concerned about our physical, spiritual and emotional health. Because He desires “that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2), we should look to Christ’s atonement for all of our needs — body, soul and spirit. There is nothing about our lives — our work, our home, our family — that we should not seek the canopy of His grace and blessing to cover.

“And forgive us our debts”

True repentance and confession of sins has the promise of forgiveness and cleansing from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). But then we are to “walk in the light as He Himself [Jesus] is in the light” which brings fellowship with other believers and the assurance that “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

“As we also have forgiven our debtors”

Nothing shows we are truly forgiven as does our attitude and relationship with others. Jesus gave a parable of a man who was forgiven a great debt but went out and refused to forgive one in debt to him. For this unforgiving attitude he lost his forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35). We must keep in mind that our relationship to others greatly affects our relationship with God. 

“Do not lead us into temptation”

“The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation” (2 Peter 2:9), so we need not live in fear. But Jesus addresses our own heart attitude and tells us to wisely seek the Father that we not be led into temptation. Let us so heed our Master’s admonition.

“But deliver us from evil [the evil one]”

We know that behind what is evil is the evil one, Satan. So we must pray often to be delivered from the schemes and plans of the devil himself who desires to hurt Christ by hurting Christ’s people.

We must keep in mind that “greater is He who is in [us] than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). We must also keep the words of James in our minds: “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

“For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen!”

God’s kingdom of light has come to defeat the kingdom of darkness (John 1:5). It is the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Colossians 1:13) versus the kingdom of the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). It is a kingdom of “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). It is an eternal kingdom that will never end (Revelation 22:5). Praise God! Amen!

JAMES K. BRIDGES served as general treasurer of the Assemblies of God from 1993 to 2008.

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