14. Addendum

Short Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer: 14. Addendum 

Mt 6:13   for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever. Amen.

And: If you note carefully in you Bible you will see a footnote letter at the end of verse thirteen and the footnote at the bottom of the page indicates that “some late manuscripts“ add the above verse, the implication being that it was not originally inspired by God, declared by Jesus. Nevertheless it is often prayed out in public. It is interesting that it is manuscripts in the plural and we are left wondering, but in so doing we may miss the wonder of these words, so I felt that before we finished we should include them here.

Four great truths:

“Yours is the kingdom”. Yes, that comes earlier but as perhaps a summary it declares, you are the sovereign ruler over all things. When Jesus returns we see in Revelation, On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords.” (Rev 19:16) i.e. king above all other rulers.

“Yours is… the power”. The One who is Creator of all things (Rev 4:11) is all-powerful. That is one reason why He is king above all kings, sovereign ruler.

“Yours is… the glory”. We cannot see it and scripture tells us Jesus put off his glory to come in human form, but again and again the splendor and the wonder of the Being that is God is revealed (check Isa 6, Ezek 1, Rev 4,5).

“for ever.” This is not a transient thing, not something seen in Bible times but no longer true, this is true for all time and into eternity.

Consequence: As we come to pray, addressing God (for that is what prayer is) we need to be reminded of the uniqueness, the wonder of the One we address. This is why idols and ‘gods’ of other religions are so inadequate, the imaginations of the minds of men, so inferior, so useless except as a superstitious backstop to a fearful life. This God revealed in the Bible is like no other being in existence, for He is existence, He is the reason for existence, He is the reason existence continues. And our response? If it is not to bow in worship we just have not seen it.

And Yet: As we might quiver in fear and trepidation before such a God, as we see heavenly visions that blow our mind, we suddenly see, “a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the centre of the throne.” (Rev 5:6) At the centre, at the heart of this picture of the rule, the power and the glory, stands a lamb, a picture of utter weakness and humility, and this is how this Mighty God has come to us, as a Son in human form to bridge the gap. Yes, bow and worship and wonder.

13. And So?

Short Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer: 13. And So?

Mt 6:5,6,7   And (but) when you pray

Recap: So as we conclude this mini-series, let’s quickly recap what we’ve seen through each verse:

“Our Father in heaven” – it is all about the relationship of child to Father. Everything else stems from this.

“hallowed be your name” – we are always to remember His greatness. This maintains the balance of being able to call Him daddy.

your kingdom come” – His goal is to re-establish His benign reign, which He gave up at the Fall but seeks to reform in those who will turn to Him.

“your will be done” – it is about letting His wisdom and His power prevail in our lives, contrary to the self-driven lives of ‘the world’.

on earth as it is in heaven” – it is to increasingly be practically worked out here on earth in day to day living.

 “Give us today our daily bread” – we are to realise and declare our reliance upon the sovereign provision of God in the material world.

 “And forgive us our debts” – we are to remember we are fallen beings needing His salvation on a daily basis.

 “as we also have forgiven our debtors” – the outworking of His salvation is that we become peacemakers in respect of all with whom we have dealings – family, friends and enemies!

And lead us not into temptation” – we are to recognize and acknowledge our moral and spiritual frailty and our need of His protection.

“but deliver us from the evil one” – within this we are to hold a healthy respect for the enemy which should only reinforce our determination to be and remain God’s people with God’s protection and God’s resources.

And So: So as we come to the end of these verses that constitute this prayer blueprint given us by Jesus we should note various things:

  1. It declares Jesus’ expectation that we will be people of prayer.
  2. This ‘blueprint’ is not for merely chanting on formal occasions, but it is to lay out the perspective of the Christian life.
  3. It does that by first of all reminding us who God is in our lives.
  4. Second, it does that by reminding us of our need to rely upon Him for all our needs – material, spiritual, relational and protective.

If not chanted, then what? Chanting may be all one can do in a congregational context, but personally, on our own, may I suggest a better use: We pray the half verse and then expand it, for example, “Our Father in heaven. Father thank you that you have drawn me into this wonderful relationship and that you are here for me as a loving provider, protector.”  And so on. Go for it. Develop your prayer life!

12. Deliverance Praying

Short Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer: 12. Deliverance Praying

Mt 6:13b   but deliver us from the evil one

I suspect that for many Christians talk about Satan or ‘the evil one’ and, even worse, ‘powers and principalities’, has a quaint outdated feel to it, but that is simply a lack of teaching in the days in which we live. The truth is that Satan plays a large part in the overall Bible narrative and we should be clear about this.

Activities: He is the one who tempted Eve and Adam and helped bring about the Fall (Gen 3) and he appears as the tempter with Jesus (see Mt 4:3) and he appears as an agent of upset and accusation (see Job 1:6, Zech 3:1, 2 Cor 11:14, Rev 12:10), Jesus described him as a murderer and liar (Jn 8:44), he comes as a dragon (Rev 12:9) or lion (1 Pet 5:8) to attack and intimidate, and he is seen as one to whom God has given authority (Eph 2:2, Jn 14:30, 16:11, 1 Jn 5:19)

God’s Instrument: As an angelic or spirit being, he is unseen and yet the Bible and Jesus treat him as a very real created being, fallen yes, beautiful probably, yet used by God to reveal men’s hearts (see 1 Chron 21:1), to being judgment on unbelievers (Rev 9:11), to bring discipline to believers (1 Cor 5:5), to dominate unbelievers (1 Jn 5:19),  to maintain humility in our lives (2 Cor 12:7), and to teach us resistance to evil (1 Pet 5:8,9).

Limitations: The story of Job teaches us that as an instrument in the hand of God he is sometimes allowed free reign to work the above things in us, but always it is a case of ‘thus far and no further’, i.e. he is limited in his activity and the end of his rebellion is decreed (Rev 20:10)

How does God “deliver us from the evil one”? First of all He teaches us about him. As we’ve seen above, His word is quite specific. There is no need to be ignorant of his ways and his activities. Second, the Lord teaches us who we are – His children, His sons – and teaches us of the resources that we have in Christ, resources that enable us to stand and hold (Eph 6:11,13,14) the ground, hold our position in Christ, resist his activities and overcome his wiles. Third, He allows us to stand in the midst of this fallen world, surrounded by the activities of the enemy and the people submitted to him in their rebellion against God, so that we will be able to resist and stand and show the power and wisdom of God in and through us (see Eph 3:10).

But why pray? If all these things are true – and they are – why pray this prayer? Answer: to declare our reliance on the Lord, recognizing that in ourselves we have no strength, it is all His, we have no wisdom, it is all His, and thus we need His guidance, we need His protection, we need to ensure He is sovereign Lord of our lives.

11. Protective Praying

Short Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer: 11. Protective Praying

Mt 6:13a   And lead us not into temptation

I suggested in the previous study that sometimes verses catch us unawares; they look so simple but seem to explode with truth under our feet. I think this part of a verse is like that. How often it must have been uttered in formal services, uttered but with little thought.

The ’And’ indicates the start of a new request. Verse 11 faced our physical needs, and verse 12 our spiritual-relational needs. This verse takes us into the need for security, to keep up from going wrong.

The Message version puts it, Keep us safe from ourselves.”  Temptation is simply an attraction to do wrong. James said, each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed” (Jas 1:14) So we have wrong desires but who does the enticing? It is not God: “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) The second half of today’s verse implies it is Satan, but we’ll come to that in the next study.

So why should we pray and ask God not to lead us into temptation when we are told by James that God doesn’t tempt anyone? There are several aspects to be considered.

First, consider Jesus ‘leading’ us. The picture of the Good Shepherd comes to mind (Jn 10:11) and the shepherd leading his sheep. In the Shepherd Psalm the shepherd leads me beside quiet waters,” and “guides me along the right paths.” (Psa 23:2,3) They are beautiful pictures of the way he looks after us. Now there is an implication here that we can miss: to find quiet waters and right paths means that we have to follow him. This verse in the prayer reminds us first of all that we are followers of the Good Shepherd, that we go where he leads us.

Second, “don’t lead us” means we recognize that there are certain things in life that are out of bounds for us. Sin is not to have a place in our lives, and if temptation is the open door that leads us to sin if we give way to it, or go through the door of opportunity, then it is a doorway we need to steer away from. We need to understand that No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Cor 10:13) However enticing the door (of the temptation) appears you never have to go through it. God’s grace is always there to enable you to back away and turn from it. So what are we praying? “Lord, I recognize there are opportunities to do wrong along the way. Keep me from these by your grace. Keep me following your lead for I know that will always be to good places.”

10. Mindful Praying

Short Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer: 10. Mindful Praying

Mt 6:12b   as we also have forgiven our debtors.

I sometimes think these words are sneaky; they creep up on us and drop a bombshell in our laps. The first part of the verse was like that: when we start praying ‘forgive us’ we suddenly are reminded of our plight, of our need, that He has met. So now comes these few words tacked on, it seems, to the bigger issue of His forgiveness, but then suddenly it explodes and we find ourselves with an equally big issue – the way we view others.

I have sometimes testified how, one day I was reading about transgressing American TV evangelists and without thinking about it, I found myself thinking, “Lord, how could you have used such people?” and then quick as a shot came back the answer from heaven, “Son, the same reason I use you.” Suddenly He was putting me on the same level as these ‘failures’! Then He explained, “Son, I use you, not because you are right but because you are available.” Ooops! Yes, none of us are exactly right, we all have this tendency to getting it wrong and so none of us can claim the high ground. We’re all at the same level – all sinners together, redeemed the same way, not through anything good about us, but about Him.

The trouble is that we look at others – especially those who have offended us and maybe harmed us, and yes, we want them to repent and say sorry. And that is right because we are told to forgive as He forgave us, but He never brings the fruit of forgiveness to us until we have repented. Yes, He’s always looking and waiting for it, looking with a heart yearning for us to come to our senses and repent, but He still has good intentions towards us (even if our wayward stubbornness refuses to repent and so we face the eternal consequences) and is there for the moment we do turn, we do repent.

And that’s how it is to be with us. The extreme is that we’re told to love our enemies and pray for those who are against us (Mt 5:44), which may well include those who have hurt us, but if God looks for their good, their redemption, so must we. We may have to ‘watch from afar’ if they are still hostile but that shouldn’t stop us praying for them and being there for them with forgiveness the moment they come back to us seeking it. This is the attitude of the believer; it reveals the true believer and if it is absent, then…..

God forgives us when we ask and we can do no less when others ask for it from us. In the meantime, just like God out looking for the wayward prodigal son (Lk 15) with a good, yearning heart, that is to be how we are also, revealing ourselves as His children, looking for the return of other wayward children. Amen? Amen!

9. Needy Praying

Short Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer: 9. Needy Praying

Mt 6:12a  And forgive us our debts,

The word ‘debts’ here raises questions. Old versions used to use ‘trespasses’ meaning the times we have strayed from the right path. The Living Bible uses the word ‘sins’. The JBP version puts it, “Forgive us what we owe you.”  The Message puts it simply and all-embracingly, “Keep us forgiven with you.” However, as I ponder on this, I quite like the use of ‘debts’, which comes from two angles.

The first angle is my debt to the courts of heaven: I owe justice, I need to pay for my sins. You may get caught on speeding camera; you owe the courts a fine. That is the debt you owe justice. But there’s another way. If you ever see a film or soap opera and someone does a big favour for someone else, you may have heard more than once, the rejoinder, “You owe me big time!” Yes, that is the truth, I owe God big time!

Whether we use the word ‘trespass’ or the even more blunt word, ‘sin’ we face the terrible truth that our lives fall seriously short of God’s design for humanity, hence, all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23) God’s creation – including the original Adam and Eve – is glorious, it shows forth His splendor, but the lives we had before we came to Christ didn’t do that. Having turned away from Him, the glory went. And then He sent Jesus. I like the Message version’s way of putting those famous verses, Jn 3:16,17 This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son… Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it.” (read the whole section) Wow! Yes, I owe Him big time!

These few words, “and forgive us our debts” are so profound. They go to the heart of the human predicament (lost!). They also go to the heart of God’s love (salvation provided through the death of His Son). They also challenge us where we are today. Do we each one recognize our plight? Have we called on Him to save us? Do we live in the light of the wonder of the salvation we have received from Him? If not, these words will be meaningless. It may be we pray them meaningfully for the very first time, and if we do, we will find they are the doorway to the greatest adventure our time on this earth can bring. If we prayed them meaningfully many years ago, then when we utter them today, they come just as a reminder of what happened back then, but also of the ’state of play’ today – I am still reliant on the blood of Jesus shed on the Cross for me. I am what I am, I remain what I am, I will always continue to be what I am, because the debt has been paid to cover my debt, my trespasses, my sins, my guilt, my punishment. Hallelujah!

8. Reliant Praying

Short Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer: 8. Reliant Praying

Mt 6:11  Give us today our daily bread.

So far in this prayer everything has been God-focused. That is how it always should be, but this is not a far-off God, this is a God who has drawn near and made us part of His family, a God who, within this family, goes by the title, Father, or daddy. Historically of the human family we have always said the father was ‘the bread-winner’, the provider for the family, the one who went out to work to earn money to keep the family while the wife raised the family.

But it is Jesus, acting out his Father’s will, who has earned us a place in this family so that we too can be called children of God (1 Jn 3:1,2), sons (Eph 1:5, Gal 4:6, Rom 8:15) and so we might say it is the Godhead that is our bread-winner, has earned us the right to grow up in this family while they provide for us.

And so this prayer now pivots from the emphasis of the greatness of God and His will being worked out, to our reliance upon Him and, as we shall see there is both a physical and spiritual reliance. First there is no indication that we should spiritualize this verse, so let’s take it at face value first of all, that it means grant us or give us all we need to be physically sustained in this particular day. It is an uncertain word in the original but, as one commentator translates it, “for the coming day.”

When God provided ‘bread’ in the wilderness, the miraculous manna, it was always just ‘for the day’ except on Friday there was double the amount to cater for the Sabbath where there would be none, so they could rest.  But mostly the lesson is simply look to the provision for today. The lessons of the back half of the chapter are that we are not to worry about tomorrow but trust God for it.

This does not mean that we don’t need to work for our provision (Prov 12:11,14, 14:23, 1 Thess 4:11, 2 Thess 3:6-10) for the Bible is quite clear about that. No, the message has got to be that we look to the Lord a) to provide the work we need to earn money and b) for Him to bless our work to make us good workers, prosperous and fruitful in all our activities.

This prayer may, in the physical realm, be extended to include blessing on harvests and blessing on all aspects of our food provision that we so often take for granted in supermarkets today. But also as blessing on our personal ‘economy’, our personal finances and the way they are sustained under His watchful eyes, which reminds us to use them wisely and for the blessing of others as well as for ourselves. When these things occur then we find the non-physical things come as well, peace, a sense of wellbeing, and so on, and these things too are part of His provision ‘for the coming day’. Amen.

7. Expansive Praying

Short Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer: 7. Expansive Praying

Mt 6:10b,c  your will be done on earth as it is in heaven

As this verse opens up so it focuses the thoughts of yesterday about God’s kingdom and our praying for it to come and be seen. It’s not a case of His kingdom come in some galaxy six universes away, but here, right now, on this earth where we live. There is nothing purely philosophical about this, it’s not just about ideas, it is about practical living, working out daily life, here on earth, here when I live, here in my sphere, my vicinity, my community, my people, my country. God’s desire, expressed in this prayer, is that His will can be seen in practical outworking in the here and now.

If we try and spiritualize everything we miss the point: God made this world, this planet and everything we know about existence. Because of Sin that came through man’s wrong use of his free-will, it is a fallen world, a dysfunctional world, and we the people who live on it live dysfunctional lives. But God understood that even before He first brought it into being, that these things would follow and it was necessary for man to be man to allow these things to follow, but that doesn’t mean He was happy that it would follow, only that it was necessary if we were truly to be the people with amazing potential who lived by free will. His will, His desire in the midst of our folly was expressed through Isaiah: Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you.” (Isa 30:18) This is His will, for His rule to be allowed by our free-will submitting to Him, so that He may be gracious to us.

How is He gracious to us? By sharing His will with us, convicting us, bringing us to repentance so we bow before Him and receive His forgiveness, His cleansing, His empowering, His transforming, which is seen in the way we think, the way we talk, the way we act. Yes, all of these things are to be seen in the here-and-now, on earth.

But there is a model – “as it is in heaven”. Now that is a bit tricky because this is a word distinguished from ‘heavens’ which is used to describe the sky, the sun, moon and stars. Heaven is mentioned many times in Scripture (e.g. Gen 14:19,22, 21:17, 22:11,15, 24:3,7, 28:17 etc. etc.) but we’re not told much about it. We see it is the dwelling place of God and with all we know of Him we must assume in the face of His greatness and power, it is a place of utter peace and order where the glory of God is openly seen (Jn 17:5) and the love that emanates from the Trinity (Jn 17:24, 1 Jn 4:8,16) is known fully, and all the characteristics of God are seen, expressed and experienced.

That is the model for the kingdom of God on earth that we pray for, that God will be revealed and allowed to fully express Himself in all of His love and goodness, of which we are the receivers. Hallelujah!

6. Submissive Praying

Short Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer: 6. Submissive Praying

Mt 6:10a,b  your kingdom come, your will be done

We have already spoken of God’s will in the context of the coming of the kingdom but these four little words are what separates the world: “Your will be done.”  When we first turn to Christ, we look over our shoulders at a past that has been dominated by ‘self’, a life lived on the basis of what I wanted. It was all ‘me’. But then, as He shone his light on me, I realized more and more how much that life of ‘me’ had been a mess, at the very least how much it had fallen short of what could have been. It was a life to be left behind, a new life when we turned to Him and bowed before Him and submitted to Him.

We talk about Jesus being both Savior and Lord. The Savior aspect is about him rescuing me, the Lord aspect is about him leading me from now on. Every now and then (perhaps most of the time initially) we hold on to the idea that we still know how to run our lives, or bits of it anyway, perhaps large parts of it. We do our own thing without reference to him, and so often it doesn’t work out too well, and we end up crying to him to forgive us and come and help us. (Sometimes even that cry takes a long time to come!) Learning that he really and truly does know best about my life and what it means to call him Lord, takes a long time, years and years, if not decades and decades, and perhaps the truth is that we will still be learning it on our deathbeds.

We can come to crisis moments, perhaps times of high emotion at the end of a sermon, times of rededication, times of recommitment, this is all the language of the Christian world, but all such times just go to emphasize that we are indeed just like sheep (Psa 23) who stray, who wander away, who forget that that safest place is close to the shepherd, the place of provision is close to the shepherd, the way to go in behind the shepherd. Yes, such times do all that while at the same time reinforcing the understanding that our Lord is one of immense grace and mercy, tolerance and understanding, as he keeps on with us, time and time again having to reach out with the crook (his word) to draw us back to himself away from danger.

When we pray, “your will be done,” we are not only making a declaration of intent but we are declaring afresh the heart of this discipling business, this Christian life stuff. It is a reminder that his will is our goal that we have to take hold of today, put our heart and lives into, rejecting the subtle whispers from the enemy, “Did he really say..”   Not the world’s way, not their perception of what is right and proper, not my bright ideas of how I might make it through, but a recognition that HIS will is the right way, that it always has been and always will be and I must do all I can to submit to it.

5. Honoring Praying

Short Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer: 5. Honoring Praying

Mt 6:9c,10a  hallowed be your name, your kingdom come

So we considered “Hallowed be your name”, respecting and honoring God but now we come to not only a request but a reason for honoring God – He is Ruler over all things. We may think this world just ticks on second by second on its own but this God not only created it (Gen 14:19,22) but He sustains it, upholds it, keeps it going. But is it more than that for He is the Redeemer of the world, He is working to bring people back to Himself and through them restore the order that was there before the Fall and bring fresh hope to the world – and this is where the talk about his ‘kingdom’ comes in.

His kingdom is His rule, re-establishing His goodness to this fallen world. We see the expression of ‘the kingdom’, this expression of the will of God being worked out, when Jesus healed people, when he delivered people, when he raised people from the dead, when he taught people so that they too could live the life of a relationship with God, this is what kingdom is all about.

Church is not supposed to be the goal in itself, but it is to be the vehicle that Jesus uses, his ongoing ‘body’, that he empowers, he guides, he directs (where we will let him do that) to continue to do the things he said. Hence his instructions to all his followers (Matt 28:20, Jn 14:12) to continue doing what he had been doing. Hence the descriptions of what he had been doing (Lk 4:18,19, Mt 11:5), hence the wonderful descriptions of how this body works (1 Cor 12:27, Eph 4:11-16, 5:23, Col 3:15), all so that the kingdom may still be expressed on the earth.

What is the purpose behind Jesus’ activity? We see it in Paul’s words: “the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” (1 Cor 15:24,25) No doubt that refers to his Second Coming, but in the meantime, through his body, the church, he seeks to work to destroy all wrong, all evil, all impurity, everything contrary to the perfect will of God, all the things that came into the world through human activity contrary to the will of God that followed the Fall.

Thus when we pray these words (if we use this as a form of standard prayer), for it to be meaningful we must be praying, “Lord, please continue to work in and through the church, in and through me, to bring about your restorative will on the earth. Fill me with your love and your goodness through the active presence of your Holy Spirit in me, that unrighteousness will have no place in my life. Lead me, guide me to be transforming salt and light in your world, for your glory.”