The answer Jesus gave to his disciples in response to their request to be taught to pray has typically been used simply as words to be repeated. Is this what Jesus intended? If so, then it seems that prayer should be answered whenever we recite the prayer. Since we know that is not so we must seek an alternative understanding. The following is offered for consideration.
Luke reports that Jesus opened his answer with: "When you pray SAY . . ." The word "say" in Greek is lego, a word that most often, indeed, simply means to "say". However, it also has several other meanings of a related nature but perhaps more profound. Stronger and more likely meanings are "declare" or "claim". So Jesus might well be saying: "When you pray DECLARE". With that in mind let us examine the prayer model as reported by Luke 11:2 (KJV). There are seven declarations:
Our Father who art in heaven:
This is a declaration of an established relationship. It is not crying out "God" or "Lord" but "Father". If we say "Father" there is a claim of who is calling, ie a son (or daughter) (See Gal. 3: 26-27 on becoming sons of God). Obviously, this is an extremely solemn claim and is separated from earthly "fathers" by the addition of "who art in heaven".
Hallowed be thy name:
Hallowed means "to be set apart" (generally for a Holy or Godly purpose). Then what is meant by thy "name" (which is set apart for a Holy or Godly purpose). It is unlikely to be God's name ie Yahweh or Jehovah but more likely the name "Jesus" as this is the name God set apart for the Messiah. In a dream to Joseph God declared: ". . . she will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the NAME Jesus BECAUSE he will SAVE his people from their sins. The name,Jesus, actually means "God saves" or "God is salvation". It is also important to realize that in ancient cultures "name" meant "authority". In Matt. 28: 18 - 20 Jesus declared: "All AUTHORITY in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the NAME of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit . . ." (NIV). Peter, in speaking of Jesus, declared: "SALVATION is found in no one else, for there is no other NAME under heaven given to men by which we must be SAVED" (Acts 4:12 NIV).
Thy kingdom come:
Both John the Baptist and Jesus preached on the "Kingdom of God". What does this mean? It certainly does not mean any of our earthly "kingdoms". In ancient history Israel asked God for a king "like other nations". God warned them of the consequences but they persisted until God gave them what they wanted. History records that things worked out exactly as God had said, much to the detriment of Israel. It seems that the kingdom which we declare to want to come is "different". In fact Jesus told Nicodemus that no one could see it UNLESS HE WAS BORN AGAIN (Jn. 3:3) and could not enter it UNLESS HE WAS BORN OF WATER AND THE SPIRIT
(Jn. 3: 5). Jesus clearly affirmed: "My kingdom is NOT OF THIS WORLD"
(Jn. 18: 36). So difficult was it to perceive that he regularly spoke of it metaphorically (it was LIKE a mustard seed, a yeast, a landowner etc.). He did note that it was NEAR and because of that REPENTANCE was required (Mt. 4: 17). It was also to be given to the poor in spirit (Mt. 5: 3) and those persecuted for righteousness sake (Mt. 5: 10). Before seeking the obvious necessities of life it was to be sought FIRST (Mt. 6: 33). With all the foregoing as background, there are two monumental and consequential understandings that the Lord brings forward in Scripture.
1. (Mt. 12: 28) Jesus said: "If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you". We are told that "the Spirit" is the "Spirit of Truth" (Jn. 14: 17). Conversely, demons are spirits controlled by the "father of lies". When the kingdom of God comes it will be characterized by a gigantic revelation of truth which will cast out lies.
WE MAY HAVE TO REPENT OF MANY OF THE THINGS WE "THINK" ARE TRUE.
2. (Mt. 7: 21) Jesus said: "Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven but only he who does the will of my Father in heaven". There are many who call Jesus Lord who are not entering the kingdom because they are not doing God's will.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven:
Let's deal with the latter portion first. Isaiah prophesied against the king of Babylon, that he had "fallen from heaven" and been "cast down to earth" (Isa. 14: 12). The reason might be summarized BECAUSE OF HIS POMP AND PRIDE (Isa. 14: 4-15). The kingdom he was building WAS OF THIS WORLD. Jesus revealed to the seventy-two (that He had sent out to preach the kingdom) that he had: "seen Satan fall like lightning from heaven" Lk10:18. John, in the Revelation given to him by Jesus, describes the same process in the "spiritual realm": "The great dragon was hurled down - that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled down to earth and his angels with him" (Rev. 12:9). John goes on to describe how ESSENTIAL the casting out of Satan is to the kingdom: "NOW have come the SALVATION and the POWER and the KINGDOM of our God, and the AUTHORITY of His Christ. For the accuser. . . has been hurled down . . . but woe to the earth and the sea because the devil has gone down to you" (Rev. 12: 10-12). We need to see here that the coming of the kingdom is preceded by the casting out of Satan (lies - false doctrines) . . . We need to ask: "Can the type of pomp and pride described above be seen in many ministries today?" Are they building kingdoms that ARE OF THIS WORLD? If so, they cannot possibly carry out God's will. Some must be willing to accept the "blessing" of being persecuted for righteousness sake . . . Some must be willing to be the messengers who WEED OUT OF THE KINGDOM "everything that causes sin and all who do evil" (Mt. 13:41). Let me be blunt:
WE NEED PEOPLE WHO ARE WILLING TO CALL A SPADE A SPADE. ONLY THEN IS IT POSSIBLE TO APPROACH THE SUBJECT OF DOING GOD'S WILL.
Give us this day our daily bread:
This has two meanings. One is the obvious and much less critical "earthly provisions" (food, clothing, shelter etc.). In fact, Jesus told His disciples to "seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these will be given to you as well" (Mt. 6:33). The first disciples had a program of the daily distribution of food. As well, the miraculous provision of manna to Israel was a daily occurrence. So Jesus gave the instruction "do not worry about TOMORROW" (Mt. 6:34). Clearly, there is a much more significant understanding of what we are asking for, or declaring that we need, daily. What we need as disciples is DAILY SPIRITUAL FOOD. Why? So that we can cast out Satan's lies so that the kingdom of God can continue to advance. What is the source of this Spiritual food? From what Counsel does it emanate? Jesus said: "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give THE HOLY SPIRIT to those who ask him" (Lk. 11:13). Without Spiritual insight we can only ever partake in the building of worldly kingdoms. Of great import in relation to prayer and knowing God's will is the truth revealed by Paul that: "the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us . . . in accordance with God's will" (Rom. 8:26-27).
Forgive us our trespasses (sins) as we forgive those who trespass (sin) against us:
There appears to be a clear contingency here: God's forgiveness of us appears contingent on our forgiveness of others. IT IS SO! This agrees exactly with the passage in Mark: ". . . whatever you ask in prayer believe that you have received it, and it shall be yours. AND when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, SO THAT YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN MAY FORGIVE YOUR SINS" (Mk. 11: 24-25). It might be argued, "Why do I have to DO something to receive forgiveness . . . Isn't Christ's sacrifice sufficient?" . . . Of course it is, but note how it must be appropriated (ie. taken hold of). How do we take hold of this forgiveness? . . . On the Day of Pentecost, Peter said: "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the NAME of Jesus Christ FOR the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). To understand Peter's statement, it is necessary, at this point, to deal with the meaning of the word "for". "For" can be used as a preposition or conjunction. No matter which way we use it in Peter's statement the meaning can be seen as the same. Some meanings of "for" as a preposition are: "representing", "in exchange against", "with a view to", and "in order to be" etc. So we might understand that our repentance and baptism are effected "representing", "in exchange against", or "with a view to", the forgiveness of sins and gift of the Holy Spirit or "in order to be" forgiven and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. When "for" is used as a conjunction it is to "introduce a new clause or series of clauses containing PROOF OF or REASON FOR BELIEVING what has been previously stated." We would understand, then, that forgiveness is PROOF OF or our REASON FOR BELIEVING our repentance and baptism (we need to have a true understanding of both repentance and baptism - which might be somewhat surprising to many).
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil:
What are we saying (praying) here? Are we asking God to "not lead us into temptation?" Would God do that . . . lead us into temptation? Not according to James: "When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me'. For God cannot be tempted by evil, NOR DOES HE TEMPT ANYONE
. . ." (Jas. 1: 13). In effect, when we pray according to the historic way, we are ACCUSING God. We accuse Him of being the TEMPTER, a role (title) given to Satan (1 Cor. 7: 5; Mt. 4: 1-3; 1 Thes. 3: 5; Lk. 4: 13). When we accuse, we are doing the work of the ACCUSER, Satan. This is not what we intend but it is still so! . . . Then what shall we do? Let's look at the prayer another way. By the simple insertion of a "period" after "lead us", the prayer can be seen to mean something totally different. Now we pray and mean: ". . . as we forgive those who trespass against us AND LEAD
US." We are asking God to be our leader, our Father. The remainder can be understood to mean: "Not into temptation (like the evil one does) BUT(in fact) deliver us from evil (the evil one)". Doesn't this make a lot more sense? . . . Let's use this as a major lesson . . . IN ALL THINGS BE VERY CAREFUL OF THE SUBTLE CHANGES SATAN MAKES TO PUT US AND KEEP US OFF TRACK.
The historic closing of the Lord's Prayer is not contained in all texts of Scripture but is a reasonable way to summarize: "For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen". . . . AMEN?
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