Prayer was vital for the believers in the first century. Obviously the believers in the early Church took heed to our Lord’s instructions. In Matthew 6, we read the example Jesus Christ gave of how to pray. This prayer is commonly called the Lord’s Prayer and is probably the most spoken prayer in Christianity.
Unfortunately, far too many have allowed this prayer to become like the vain repetition the heathen spoke in Christ’s time. This great example of prayer is so simple, yet so packed with truth, that no limited viewing will do it justice. The first time you genuinely contemplate this prayer your heart will jump for joy to see its greatness. However, it is so rich with meaning each subsequent meditation upon it may reveal more truth to you.
These comments are intended to provide a mere springboard to get you started on a lifetime journey. The words never change, but we do. Our needs, attitudes, humility, meekness, consideration, maturity, etc. change; therefore, our perception alters when we pray this prayer.
OUR FATHER WHICH ART IN HEAVEN…Matthew 6:9
This first statement of the prayer brings into focus exactly to Whom we are praying and our relationship to Him. The very first consideration to hold always in mind is that God is our Father. The Sermon on the Mount (recorded in Matthew 5-7) is the first recorded teaching of Jesus Christ. For the first time in history, God is doctrinally presented as Father. Seventeen times Jesus refers to Him as Father. When Jesus speaks this prayer, his hearers were not yet children of God but shortly could be. This teaching, as many our Lord spoke, was in preparation for the time in the near future when people would be born again. Jesus had to fulfill his ministry, including his death, resurrection, and ascension before the great and notable day of Pentecost could come. Pentecost was the first time anyone could enter into the relationship of a born-again child of God. With the new birth, people can refer to God as “Father” for indeed He is to those who have within them His incorruptible seed, the holy spirit.
Are you born again? If so, you can pray “our Father” because He is literally your Father. Your prayers are not to some remote, uncaring, and untouchable deity; rather, your prayers are addressed to the ever present, always loving, and approachable Father. Abraham, Moses, David, and all the others before Pentecost could not call God their Father. They were servants; we who are born again are sons.
And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
God is your Father Who is in heaven. The phrase “which art in heaven” brings to mind the utter magnificence and might of the One Who is our Father. Our Father is the Creator of the heavens and earth and everything therein.
Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.
Our Father God is so big the human mind cannot begin to grasp His greatness. We cannot even fathom His creation, let alone Him.
Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?
The mind picture we are given is of a man holding his two hands together to hold water as if to wash his face. God measures in the hollow of His hand all the waters: the oceans, rivers, lakes, ponds, water in the heavens, and beyond, in the deep.
A span is the distance from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the pinky on an outstretched hand. God measures the heaven as His span. How big is God? Read Isaiah 40:12 again. The One to Whom we pray, “our Father,” is this God spoken of in Isaiah and throughout the Bible.
However large we perceive our problems, in God’s reality, in His span, they are less than minuscule. Our prayers are to the all powerful God Who can do so much more than we could ever ask or think.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
God’s perspective is heavenly; whereas ours is earthly. His is unlimited; ours is very limited. He sees yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We often cannot clearly see what is in front of our faces. From His heavenly perspective, He clearly sees all. From our earthly perspective, we do not see clearly. When we pray, we acknowledge He is in heaven, and we are on earth. God is so much more capable of providing for us; therefore, we approach Him with awe and humility.
…HALLOWED BE THY NAME. Matthew 6:9
“Hallowed” is the Greek word hagiazo meaning holy, set apart, sanctified. Our Father inhabits eternity, and His name is Holy.
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place….
His name is holy because He is holy. There is absolutely no defilement, uncleanness, or darkness in Him for He is holy, holy, holy.
…Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
In that the Lord God Almighty, our Father, is holy, holy, holy, we can be fully persuaded that the answer to our prayers will be holy, clean, light, just, and absolutely right.
Considering the prayer’s introductory phrase, we see our responsibility to hold in mind a correct, godly attitude when we pray. With this simple phrase, “our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,” Jesus lifts our minds to embrace an attitude of complete awe and confident expectancy. What a revealing contrast to the usually humdrum, robotic, listless attitude often held when these words are spoken.
This same respectful and believing attitude is demonstrated in many of the prayers recorded in the Bible. The first recorded prayer of the Christian Church after Pentecost begins with this same attitude.
And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:
With this correct attitude in mind, we are ready to examine the next phrase in the Lord’s prayer.
THY KINGDOM COME. THY WILL BE DONE IN EARTH, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN. Matthew 6:10
God promises repeatedly in the Scriptures that a day is coming when His kingdom will come upon this earth. Not only does He promise, but He provides repeated proof and assurance of this coming day.
When His kingdom is come, then His will only shall be done in earth as it is in heaven. Jesus Christ often spoke about the kingdom of God and man’s relationship to it both in the future and right now. The sovereignty of God on the entire earth is not yet fully revealed, but each born-again one can choose to allow God to reign in his heart and life right now. When we choose His will above our will, when we live according to His Word, we allow His kingdom in our lives today.
God’s kingdom on earth is determined by God Himself. Man has nothing to do with it. Thousands of years ago, God already had spoken of this coming day. It is certain, unalterable, and completely in the control of Almighty God. Therefore, this cannot be an exhortation for us to pray for this day to come. We acknowledge its inevitability while praying for the strength to do God’s will now so God can reign within us today. In essence we ask: “God help me to do Your will, not mine. Help me to know and live Your Word for it is Your will.”
GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD. Matthew 6:11
Each day we are to pray this prayer. Luke says “day by day.” This instruction is significant because we are to live each day without being distracted by the past or future. The only day we have is today.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
We are not told to pray for tomorrow’s bread today. “Give us this day our daily bread.” This certainly would include all the necessities in the physical world such as food, clothing, and shelter. Also from the context, we should consider daily bread for spiritual life, whatever is needed to do His will today.
AND FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS, AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS. Matthew 6:12
The word “debts” is equivalent to offenses, trespasses, or transgressions, while “debtor” refers to the one committing said act. At least daily we are told to ask God for His forgiveness in our lives.
To understand this verse, we must remember that this prayer, although spoken to his disciples, is for those who can call God their Father because they are born again of His incorruptible seed. This prayer is not instruction for the unsaved. The unsaved must accept Jesus Christ as Lord and believe God raised him from the dead. Peter’s words on Pentecost are for the unsaved to heed.
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
When the unsaved ones repent and accept Christ as Lord, they receive remission of sins. This means all the sins of their lives before Christ are completely washed away. The saved, however, are told to pray at least daily for God to forgive them because they still sin even after having been saved.
I John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
When the children of God sin, their eternal salvation is not jeopardized, but rather their harmony with God. The issue for the saved is never sonship but fellowship. For us to maintain fellowship with God, we must obey His commandments. One very significant command is to forgive our debtors.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
If we desire to walk in the light, in fellowship with God, we must be forgiving toward others. When we do not forgive, we are sinning and remove ourselves from the realm of God’s forgiveness. Jesus elaborated on this after he concluded the prayer.
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Again, this forgiveness is not referring to remission of sin received by grace with the new birth. This forgiveness relates to broken fellowship the saved one has because of failure to heed God’s command to forgive.
AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION, BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL…. Matthew 6:13
We are in a spiritual battle. We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, spiritual wickedness. We each have a personal adversary in the devil. The assault by the adversary is far more than we can bear ourselves. Daily, we need God’s assistance; so daily we pray not to be led into temptation but to be delivered from evil.
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Satan is the master of disguise and the master of illusion. He can make evil look beautiful and beneficial. His temptations are far too crafty for us to handle on our own. Our Father, Almighty God, is abundantly able to see through Satan’s devices and to deliver His own that call upon Him.
II Peter 2:9
The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations….
If we try to avoid temptation on our own, we will succumb to it. If we try to deliver ourselves from evil, we will drown in it. Pray for the help of God and hold in mind the later part of this verse.