Friday, August 30, 2013
A Study on The Lord's Prayer
Whenever I feel something on my heart for a few days, I know that's usually what the Lord wants me to blog about. I don't come up with posts on my own, which is why I don't update this blog more often than I do. I wait until I feel the nudge from the Lord telling me He wants me to share.
This time, it was regarding the Lord's Prayer. It can be found in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:1-4. In context, the Apostles wanted to know how to pray to God. This was Yeshua's reply. However rather than a passage of Scripture to religiously recite, Christ intended the Lord's Prayer as a template, a starting point, a springboard for discussion with God.
First, this prayer starts out with "Our Father." I think we gloss over that part a little too quickly. We're too "used" to thinking of God in this way. But imagine the crowd in the first century hearing this prayer for the first time. They knew God was THE Father of creation. As Yeshua was the Son of God, surely God was HIS Father. But quite deliberately, the Lord says "OUR Father." He did not keep it exclusive and say "My Father." He did not keep it impersonal by saying "The Father." No, He went above and beyond, making God a personal Father to one and all. "Our" includes Himself, which levels the playing field between the Son of God and the children of God. The Father in Heaven is OUR Father. Yeshua's and mine.
Christ did this all the time in the Gospels. "...THY Father...will reward you." (Matt. 6:6) Everywhere you look He says "My Father" and "your Father." He is making a point that we are God's FAMILY. Yes, He is the Father of creation, but He is also your Father. A very important distinction. Also, Christ is driving the point home that He Himself is our Brother.
"Which art in Heaven" is the next line. Again, this is something we take for granted. Yes, God is in Heaven, but He can hear you pray on earth. He is omnipresent, and He knows that even now you're reading this blog. He even led you here so you would read it. Since we know that God is "Our Father", we now know where His Throne is located - in Heaven. We know He's in another realm, because He's not among the "heavens" of the stars. And yet, He can still hear this prayer. Amazing.
Reminding us where God is seated naturally gives us a hunger to go there ourselves. God is in Heaven. I love God. Therefore, I want to live in Heaven too. But we also know that if God is in Heaven, He's not within that golden calf. He's not made of wood, sitting upon that altar. Reminding us that God is in Heaven tells us He is NOT a god fashioned by human hands. He is NOT an idol. He is elsewhere. He is in Heaven.
"Hallowed be Thy name" follows, and here, after we've established that God is our personal Father, living in Heaven, we come to the most important attribute about Him -- His name is holy. Every promise in Scripture is made against the worth and merit of God's name - Yahweh. If God promised it for His name's sake, it comes to pass. When God makes a promise and backs it up with His name, He follows through on it. He cannot defile His holy name. His integrity and infallibility are on the line. His majesty and His glory would come into question. It is impossible for God to lie. Everything that makes God GOD is bound within His name. It is impossible for God to turn back on His Word. The Word of the Lord stands forever. And the name of God is the Name above all names.
Authority is connected with a name. If we come in the name of the king, we have the king's authority. The same goes for "name-dropping". When you say you know so-in-so, you're essentially borrowing their glory. People listen to you out of respect for so-in-so's name. You become "somebody" by being associated with so-in-so. Now think about God. He's the highest Authority in the universe. There is none higher. Think of all the authority in THAT Name. There is none like the name of Yahweh. That is why it is holy. That is also why it is so grievous when one takes the Lord's name in vain. This is more than mere cussing, it is claiming to be a believer, yet defiling God's name by refusing to obey His Authority. Remembering the holiness of God's name helps us to believe on His promises and respect His Law. It keeps our fickle hearts in check and reminds us that God is not a man.
In the previous lines, we were just told God reigns in Heaven, yet here, we see "Your Kingdom come". What does that mean, exactly? Most people believe it is referring to Messiah's Kingdom, the Millennium which will happen after the Tribulation. And it is. However, as Scripture has proven to me many times, it is layered, and doesn't always have one specific meaning.
Notice how this text seems to flow as one thought - "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven." God's Kingdom "comes" when His will is done on earth. His will is already done in Heaven, which is obviously His Kingdom, therefore, His spiritual Kingdom on earth is the same idea - doing God's will in the flesh just as they do in the Spirit. This is why Yeshua told us the Kingdom of God was within us (Luke 17:21). We have the choice to obey Him - or not to obey Him. That power of free will is within us. And when we freely do God's will, His Kingdom is come upon us. There are many Scriptures to support this idea: John 15:14, 1 John 2:17, 1 John 5:14.
But this isn't just for God's will to be done on earth in a blanket sense. Because Christ is teaching us to pray, this passage is telling us to PRAY God's will. When we pray God's will, we bring His Kingdom to earth, just as it is in Heaven. Where can you find God's will? In God's Word.
Next, Christ tells us, "Give us this day our daily bread." Again, as with Scripture and it's layers, this passage means both sustenance in the natural and sustenance in the spiritual. We ask God, not only to provide our physical needs, but our spiritual needs as well. We are leaky vessels. What we ask God for today is not sufficient for tomorrow. Therefore, we pray for our bread DAILY. Yeshua called Himself the Bread of Life (John 6:35). Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). Therefore, praying for our daily bread is reminding us that we must pray to God every single day, not just when it suits us. Not just when we have a problem. But every day. We are spiritual beings just as we are physical beings, and as such, our soul hungers daily as well. Do not starve it.
"And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." If we expect God to forgive our sins, we must also forgive the sins committed against us by our fellow man. If you hold grudges, demand revenge, or refuse to give mercy, God is unlikely to forgive you. One cannot profess to believe in Christ, daily made in His image, if we hate someone and do not forgive them. Did Christ ever live like that? No. Forgiveness isn't allowing someone to use you as their doormat, but rather, letting go of the resentment in your heart so that you can move on. You don't have to be their friend or have them in your life, but forgiving them ultimately helps you more than it helps them. Hatred and bitterness only serve to harm yourself. Forgive those who trespass against you, and let vengeance belong to the Lord (Romans 12:19).
"And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil" - The word for "temptation" in this text is also the Greek word for "trial". This is asking the Lord to deliver us from our trials and our temptations -- deliver us from the snares of the evil one. Teach us, Lord, how to do this. How did Christ do it in the wilderness? By quoting Scripture. Truly, Scripture is the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). When we're living in the Kingdom of God by praying and obeying His will, we will not often fall into temptation. But if we ever do, we can pray for God to deliver us from its evil. This passage could also mean, "Don't leave us in our sins, but give us Your salvation." This was done, by Yeshua on Calvary.
And then we come to the crescendo of this little prayer: "For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory, forever and ever." I think we gloss over this line a little too fast as well. Usually, it's recited as the closing of the prayer, kind of like "Sincerely yours" at the bottom of a letter. But let's break it down and examine it.
To God belongs the Kingdom. What Kingdom? Heaven, of course. The spiritual realm. The universe. Earth. Our hearts. His will. God thought of it, God created it, and through Christ's purchase on the cross, legally inherited it. Every kingdom that's ever existed is a sub-kingdom of THE Kingdom, ruled and reigned by God Almighty. This drives home the fact that not only is God our personal Father, He is also the King of kings. How mind-blowing is that?! The One Who breathed the stars into existence also extends to us His mercy and grace. The One Who imagined whales and grass and the color blue wants to be our One True Love.
And not only is He a King, but He has the Power. He is omnipotent, able to do anything by His will alone.
He also has the Glory, as no one is like Him. He is omniscient. He knows it all because He created it all.
The ending of the Lord's Prayer was to remind us of God's magnificence. Too often we belittle God and His wonder. We anthropomorphize Him. We bring Him down to our level. We make Him into our image. This must not be done. In order to have a proper fear of Yahweh, Lord of Hosts, we must bring to remembrance His excellence and remind ourselves how glorious is our God.
Let us recap:
Whose is the Kingdom? God's.
Whose is the Power? God's.
Whose is the Glory? God's.
For how long?