The Lord's Prayer
By Mary Kroeger
Jesus was very aware of the popular ideas about prayer that were being promoted at that time. The Pharisees demonstrated them as they stood on the street corners and prayed their long prayers. Their prayers awakened questions in the disciples. Do long prayers please God? Are they necessary? What kind of prayers does God take note of? The disciples wanted some illumination on how to pray. Jesus respected the disciples’ desire to learn. So He gave them certain principles they were to follow.
We find them in Matthew 6:6-8. “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
Before they begin their prayer, they are to go into their inner room. What? Not like the Pharisees who first went on the street corners? No, into your inner room! Where is our inner room? Is it not our thought life that has its source in the mind of Christ?
Then they were to close the door. Why? In order to keep out the carnal thinking that breeds unbelief into our prayer life! That thinking is always against the Spirit! In prayer we want to have fellowship with our Father, and that occurs in the spiritual realm!
Pray in the knowledge that our Father knows our needs before we voice them. He sees what is done in secret, and that He will reward us. Why is this important? Because God does not listen to prayers that are focused on people receiving glory and praise from people. Jesus demonstrated this principle, for He did not accept any praise from people. He only wanted the Father’s “Well done!” This is also to be our desire! We are to pray in the confidence that our Father will reward us for the things we did, even when no one else knows what we did. What is His reward? A greater revelation of His love, grace and ability! A deeper intimacy and stronger faith develops! This brings glory to God!
“Do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.” Our Father is not impressed with many words, but with faith. His ears are always open to our cry. He knows who we are and what we need! We cannot hide from Him in an avalanche of words meant to deceive. He is pleased when He sees faith and trust in Him!
In Matt. 6:9-13 Jesus gave the disciples a pattern prayer. In this prayer we find 7 petitions – 7 symbolizing perfection. Jesus taught by using natural situations to symbolize spiritual truth. So in this prayer we find both the natural and the spiritual.
He said, “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is 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 also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’" (NASB)
When the Spirit begins to reveal the spiritual truth Christ is conveying, we recognize that this is not a prayer of ritualism but of spiritual principles. First of all we need to know to whom we are praying. Christ begins with, “Our Father”. We are praying to a God who is related to us! “Our Father”. We have the same Father that Christ has! His Father, the Creator and Ruler of the universe, is also our Father! A father cares for his family, and supplies what is needed for the health and development of his children. We are one family, having the same DNA Christ has! God is spirit, so we, His children, too are spiritual beings. We have been born of His Spirit! This awesome truth was beyond the disciples’ understanding at that time. But after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, they would understand.
Addressing someone as father implies relationship. Prayer provides a time of sharing our heart with our Father, and listening to His heart. It is a time of fellowship with the One who completely understands us in our uniqueness. In prayer we hear His words of love, direction and encouragement!
We are to keep in mind that our Father has all power and authority to do His will! He has all wisdom, and the outworking of His plan is always guaranteed! He is worthy of our trust! What a great and wonderful Father we have!
“Hallowed be Your name.” Symbolically, “name” represents the very essence of His being. Since God is spirit and always IS, He is not a person; He is spirit! He does not have personality; He IS. When we think of who He was in the past, He was IS at that time, and He always IS. Praying in the name of Jesus means praying in accord with the very essence of His being. He is love and grace and has all power! No wonder that His name is holy! Holy means “set apart”. Our Father is holy and we honor Him by living a life that is in oneness with His being!
"Your kingdom come.” God’s kingdom is a spiritual kingdom! Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21) Some translations read, “in the midst of you.” His kingdom is in the unseen realm. Since God is spirit, His kingdom has to be a spiritual kingdom. His kingdom came when He came in the Spirit at Pentecost. In 2 Cor. 3:17 it says, “The Lord is the Spirit.” No longer is He the Man who walked the streets of Galilee. In 2 Cor. 5:16 it says that we no longer see Jesus after the flesh. The limitations of flesh are now gone! He is spirit and fills all things! He is omnipresent! So how does He come to us? He comes to us again and again with words of encouragement, direction, correction, and revelation!
The rule in the kingdom of God is the will of God! Those who do the will of God form the kingdom of God! His kingdom is within us. It is not an earthly kingdom with an earthly Jerusalem as its capital. God’s kingdom does not keep its children in the bondage, slavery and death of the law covenant. (Gal. 4) His kingdom has a new law – the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus! (Rom. 8:2) This kingdom is in Christ, and there is no condemnation in Him! (Rom. 8:1) Christ (not heaven) is our hope of glory. (Col. 1:27)
“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Here is a comparison. The rule in God’s kingdom is His will! It says that His will is done in heaven. Where is heaven? Up in a planet somewhere? We point up and the Chinese in China point up – two different directions. Jesus said, “Heaven is the throne of God.” (Matt. 5:34; Is. 66:1) The throne represents the rule and authority of the kingdom. “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 14:17) So heaven is wherever the will of God is the authority and is being obeyed.
How can His will be done on earth? How can earth dwellers do the will of God, even as it is done in heaven? This is difficult, for we have to learn to let go of everything that would hinder His will from being accomplished in our lives. These hindrances can be our own ideas, desires of the flesh, and philosophies. We no longer listen to other voices, namely, the desires of the flesh, the desires of others, to our entrenched traditions, and our preconceived ideas. We only listen to the voice of our shepherd! This is exemplified in Peter, for he too had to let go of his former teachings in order to go see Cornelius, a Gentile. God's will is done on earth when each person is in complete submission to God!
Those who live in submission to God’s will, are called overcomers. They are living in the heavenly realm. They realize that God’s words are spirit and are life, so they have to be obeyed even when the instructions do not look right to them. They have learned to accept God’s will as their will. Those who live in the earthly realm will choose to obey what looks good to them, and fit in with the doctrines of their organization. In Christ, we see that only a complete submission to God’s will can produce perfect obedience. “Not My will but Yours be done.” Thus we see the importance of this prayer, not only for ourselves, but also for all the earth dwellers. This includes those who are still totally deaf to God's words! They are still living in the realm of making their own choices. We need to realize that in choice there are options; in obedience there are no options.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” As usual, there is a natural and spiritual understanding of this request. The natural mind wants the physical food, and it craves more than just bread. We are well acquainted with the hunger for physical food. But spiritual food is much more wonderful! Jesus said that we are to eat His flesh (His body of truth)! He is our manna from heaven! He is the way, the truth and the life! We need truth to recognize the lie we thought was truth. Studying the lie will not bring us into truth. Truth reveals the lie! As we eat of Him (truth) daily, the lies we thought were truth, will be uncovered. They can then be eliminated. As we grow in truth, we grow into His image!
“And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” This sounds as though we are asking God to forgive us our sins according to the way we forgive those who sin against us. As we look at this request and compare it with other scripture verses we feel that we are getting a mixed message. So let’s first look at Matt. 6: 14-15, and then at Eph. 4:32, and find a solution for the apparent contradiction.
In Matt. 6 Jesus said, “If you forgive others for their transgressions your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive you your transgressions.” In these verses God’s forgiveness depends on our forgiveness. Then in Ephesians 4 it says, “Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other just as God in Christ Jesus also has forgiven you.” So how do we explain the difference?
At the time Jesus did His teaching, the Old Covenant was still in effect. He came to introduce the New Covenant – a covenant that was completely separate from the old. The Old Covenant was a law covenant, and self-effort was needed to keep all the laws. This covenant did not have power to help them keep the laws. Jesus came to usher in a New Covenant of grace and mercy! It was based on the redemption Christ achieved for us by taking the old humanity with Him in His death. His glorious resurrection proved that He had won the victory over death! The pouring out of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost now gives us the power to help us in time of need! Our new birth in Christ makes us a new creation. Paul talks about this in Gal. 2:20. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” But at the time Jesus taught, He could only introduce the New Covenant to them by using the natural to symbolize spiritual truth.
In Col. 3:13 Paul again mentions our need to forgive others. “Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” We are so thankful that we can now joyfully proclaim that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself! His forgiveness is so complete that He does not count our trespasses against us! How do we respond toward those who sin against us? In the legalism of the law? The carnal mind wants forgiveness for itself and retribution for those who sin against us. The legalism in us fights forgiveness. However, we have the mind of Christ, and His mind wants forgiveness for all! In the love and power that is ours in the Holy Spirit, we can forgive, even as He has forgiven us!
To do this we need to know the quality of His forgiveness. In Hebrews we see that in the old covenant there was a continual reminder of sins. (Heb.10:1-3) This is contrasted with the new covenant. The writer explains that the forgiveness that is ours in Christ doesn't just cover our sins, but it also sanctifies us and makes us perfect. God then writes His laws on the new heart and mind He has given us. He does not remember our sins and there is no more offering for it - no penance, no beating up on ourselves. We are to draw near to God with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience. (10:14-22)
God’s forgiveness is complete including even the removal of the memory of the sin from His mind. We need to receive this in faith so we can enter into the "rest of faith".
Our forgiveness towards others has to be of the same quality and substance as God's towards us. This too, will bring us peace and deep rest. This is a fantastic truth to embrace! God has poured His Spirit into our hearts, and He has the power to enable us to do His will! In Him we have His righteousness! He enables us to do His will! This does away with our former thinking that self-effort could achieve a righteousness that could satisfy God!
God always knows what is best for us! In the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matt. 18:21-35), Jesus lists the order of forgiveness. Because we have been forgiven an enormous debt that we could never repay, we are to forgive the little debt others owe us. Those who do not forgive will be handed over to the torturers – to the angry, bitter and hurtful thoughts that will rob them of their peace. In this prayer we are recognizing the importance of continually forgiving the wrongs others do to us! If we do not forgive, we will not live in the peace and joy of God’s forgiveness!
"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Does our Father God ever lead us into temptation? Is it not the love of the world, namely, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the boastful pride of life that leads us into temptation? (1 John 2:16) There is a difference between being led to face a temptation and yielding to temptation. After Jesus was filled with the Spirit, He was led by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil. (Matt. 4:1) Jesus was first empowered by the Spirit to overcome every temptation the devil could dream up, before He was led to be tempted. Overcoming the temptations proved the power that was His in His obedience to the Spirit’s leading! In Christ we have His resurrection power to empower us! We need challenges and difficult situations to grow strong spiritually. With every challenge comes a temptation to rely on our own ability, instead of listening to the voice of the Spirit. Listening implies obedience! Without obedience we have only received the word as a statement of truth – a philosophy. This has no keeping power. Peter received the revelation that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God as a statement of truth, for it did not keep him in the hour of trial. After he was filled with the Holy Spirit, he was a changed man, and willing to die for his faith in Christ!
We want God to deliver us from evil! What is evil? The natural mind sees everything that subtracts from our happiness- like hurts, illness, financial problems, accidents, failures, etc. – as evil. This is not God’s definition of evil. According to God, all disobedience, even when it is dressed in beautiful designer clothes, is evil. Disobedience is sin, and it brings death! All self-effort to obtain righteousness is evil. It too is rooted in disobedience!
When difficulties come our way, and thoughts of unbelief present themselves, we can either enter into a conversation with these thoughts, or turn them away by believing that God is who He says He is! Eve entered into a conversation with the serpent. This gave the serpent the opportunity to persuade her that he was right. So she yielded to the temptation. Jesus did not do that. Instead, He quoted scripture that revealed the lie! He did not enter into the temptation! His obedience overcame every temptation to focus on things that looked advantageous to the self-life!
Why are these directives so important? It’s because they come from Him who has all power and all authority and all wisdom! “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” God’s kingdom is an everlasting kingdom! The rule that goes forth from His throne is one of grace and truth! It is a kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit! (Rom. 14:17) It is ruled by Him who is love, and who has all authority now and always! He has the power to do His will, and He only wills to do what is right! He is completely trustworthy, and worthy of all glory and honor both now and forever! Amen.
Prayer is not a list of petitions and advice for our God. In prayer we receive instruction. In prayer we have relationship and the recognition of His awesome greatness! In the realization of His wonderful love, we receive faith to believe that our wonderful Father will direct us into His love, and give us the grace to overcome every obstacle that rears its ugly head against Him! In prayer we overcome our self-will! In prayer we worship Him whose thoughts for us are filled with His love! Worthy, worthy, is the Lamb who was slain for us, to receive honor and glory forevermore!