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The Lord's Prayer

INTRODUCTION: The model prayer given by our Lord to his disciples, and to us through the gospel accounts of Matthew and Luke, is the subject of the MPN this time. It is a concise and practical prayer template, provided by the Lord himself that we should "pray in this manner." It can be used day by day in variation, as we read other scripture or as blessings from God enter our thoughts. There are other forms of prayer throughout scripture, but this one has that special quality of being provided directly by our Lord. Based on the Scripture, which precedes and follows this prayer, it seems that Jesus gave this prayer at least two separate times. The doxology which is not found in the Luke version is also not found in Matthew in the older manuscripts, and therefore I chose not to include it in my study.

This prayer has been memorized and sung, by men, women, and children over many years. I remember hearing it spoken and sung, from my childhood, long before I came to the LORD as an adult. As with all scripture, we should first consider the meaning within our hearts, then handle the words carefully. In Matthew, four verses preceding the five-verse prayer text, and then two verses following, are very useful in considering what Jesus was giving us in his model prayer, so they will be part of the study. In Luke, Jesus gives the prayer in response to the request from his disciples "teach us to pray as John taught his disciples". So now, as I examine this prayer, I ask the Lord to teach me to pray, through the study of his words.

NOTE: The KJV was used for verses in the comments sections.

A - Matthew 6:5-8 in paraphrase

5 And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, enter into your secluded room and having shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret shall reward you. 7 But when you pray, do not babble your words, as those who are of the nations: for they think they shall be heard through their much speaking. 8 Do not be therefore like them, for your Father knows of what things you have need before you ask anything of him.

COMMENTS: May the preparation of my heart before I pray, be formed in the knowledge of the firm promise of your reward, which is imperishable and comes from a holy God, which is far superior to any benefit I might receive from men hearing me pray. So then, my prayers shall be in conversation with you in personal communication, whether individually and privately, or as part of a group of believers in a suitable meeting place. And may you guard my thoughts and my lips, so the motive of my heart is pure, and that you are praised. Keep clear in my thoughts Lord, that my prayer is to a personal God who has no desire for repetitive babbling, because you not only hear, but you already know all needs before they are expressed. I desire your righteousness, rather than religious piety, and I want my prayers to evidence my faith in the only true and living God. Thank you for the blessing of group prayer: as you taught your disciples as a group, and you opened the model prayer with "our Father".
NOTE: The Greek term in verse 7 which is often translated as "vain repetition" appears only once in all of the New Testament, and it has the most likely meaning of stammering or babbling in a chaotic manner.

B - Matthew 6:9-10 in paraphrase

9 Therefore, you pray in this manner: Our Father who is in heaven, sanctified be your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

COMMENTS: It is sometimes regarded that those believers of the New Testament era have more knowledge of God as revealed through additional Scripture, but as I read the Psalms, I feel woefully inadequate to even possess equality, with the believers who praised and extolled more clearly the awesome nature of our God, and his unfailing love for his chosen nation Israel, as well as for individual believers. The Psalms provide thought provoking expressions related to the first two verses of the model prayer of our Lord for his disciples, especially in terms of hallowing, or sanctifying, the name of the Lord. Without first glorifying the LORD with his name which is above all names, his will cannot be done on earth as it is in heaven; and how much should all believers long for that time when the earth will have the fullness of our LORD, as does heaven.

I list below, but a few of the 45 verses from Psalms, I found in regard to the name of the LORD.
Psalms 9 "10 And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee."
Psalms 79 "9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name's sake."
Psalms 115 "1 Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake.
Psalms 145 "1 [David's Psalm of praise.] I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever."

C - Matthew 6:11 in paraphrase

11 Give us this day our bread sufficient for the day.

COMMENTS: Give us this day, or as Luke has it, day by day, our daily bread. Jesus says elsewhere, take no thought for what you will eat, or drink, or put on. So, we should not allow the cares of the world, which choke the good seed of God's word, to command our lives. Since he cares for us far more than sparrows or beautiful flowers, we should use this request for daily bread to be an acknowledgement each day that our daily sustenance is from the LORD, just as much as was the supply of manna for Israel in the wilderness, and that supply could not be stored up for future days, save before each Sabbath. We may think that we have provision for tomorrow and the next day, but this New Testament letter gives us this truth:
James says we do not know what shall be tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away (James 4:14 paraphrased). Our reliance for our very lives is on our God every day; and we should acknowledge this before him every day, with praise and thanksgiving.

D - Matthew 6:12, 14, 15 in paraphrase

12 And forgive us our debts of various offenses, as we also forgive those who owe something to us. {skip 13}
14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, unkindly or grievous words or actions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if you forgive not men their wrongful deeds and trespasses, neither will your Father forgive yours.
{Verse 13 is dealt with in the next section}.

COMMENTS: We are familiar with the concept of confessing our sins to God (1John 1:9), with the result that God will cleanse us from all unrighteousness, but Jesus also tells us that we must forgive in order to be forgiven. Jesus summed up all commandments by telling us to first love the LORD our God, and then our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus makes these two commands inseparably linked as an outworking of faith in the life of a believer, and love motivates to forgiveness, from God and from man, while covering a multitude of sins. And how great is the forgiveness of our sin, which had disqualified us from eternity with a holy God, compared with the debts we struggle to forgive of our brothers!

Matthew 5 "23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."
Matthew 18 "21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven."

In Matthew a man was forgiven a huge debt, but he then was then viciously unforgiving to another who owed him.
Matthew 18 "34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses."
Matthew 22 "37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

Mark 11 "25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses."
1John 4 "20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?"

E - Matthew 6:13 in paraphrase

13 And lead us not into temptation or testing, but preserve and deliver us from evil.

COMMENTS: The Greek term can be translated "lead" or "bring", and temptation could also be trial or test. Our own conduct then, could have bearing on whether our Lord needs to bring our faith to a test to draw us back from our drifting, whether that drifting is by our own clear choice or from an unchecked inclination that we have toward sin. But if we seek after Godliness and contentment, we are better prepared to ask him not to test us, but to keep us from evil, which then in turn reduces the need for a faith test. While we are in this world, our flesh, the world system, and the devil provide an ample supply of avenues for evil. And Jesus prayed for us that the Father not take us out of the world, but keep us from evil.

So, as long as he has reason to leave us in the world, we have reason to pray that we be kept from evil as the primary choice, and have less need of testing. Even though I separated verse 13 from the previous group, our attitude toward others in the world is perhaps our most frequent and challenging routine of life. If testing does come from the Lord, however, we also have confidence that he will bring us through the test, to the end of being more like Christ. So with two seemingly opposite prospects, but both with beneficial result, this would be stated in today's jargon, as a "win/win" situation. Truly, truly, the Lord knows how to make all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose!
NOTE: in Matthew 6:13, Strong's #1533 is translated as lead, and #3986 is temptation.

1Timothy 6 "6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition."
Matthew 26 "41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
1Corinthians 10 "13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
Galatians 4 "14 And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus."

James 1 "2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
James 1 "12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
2Peter 2 "9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:"

NOTE: in Matthew 6:13, Strong's #4190 is translated as evil

Matthew 5 "11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake."
Matthew 18 "32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?"

John 17 "15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil."
Romans 12 "9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil ; cleave to that which is good."

1Thessalonians 5 "22 Abstain from all appearance of evil."
2Thessalonians 3 "3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil."

--- Reflections in prayer ---

My Father, you are the God of heaven and earth, and you are bringing on a time when all things will be in complete subjection to Christ. Come quickly, Lord Jesus! Give me today my needed physical sustenance, and that portion from the bread of life. Forgive me Lord for my trespasses and grant me your grace to forgive others because of your great love. Bring me not to testing of my faith, but rather deliver me from the evil within myself and all around me in this present world. Amen.

Published 1 June 2004, first issued 15 November 2001