We are all familiar with the Lord’s Prayer. When I was in the military it was used a great deal in the chapel services. Part of the reason, no doubt, is that some of the soldiers and family members came from more liturgical church backgrounds than people like myself. They were very comfortable reciting it.
But no matter what our background is, I think it is safe to say that there is a danger that we are so familiar with it that we recite it without really thinking about the words.
Recently, I took a closer look at the prayer and what exactly we are praying when we recite it. There were a couple of things that stood out.
First of all, it is not really the Lord’s Prayer. As many have pointed out, this is a prayer that the Lord said WE should pray. I doubt very seriously if He meant we are simply to repeat the words. But in this prayer we are told the things we should ask for.
He had just told the disciples how they should NOT pray. They should not pray in order to be seen by men. They should not pray simply by going through the motions by repeating many words (Matt 6:5-7). Instead, as Christians we should pray with an attitude that we are speaking to our Father. He wants to give us what we need (6:8). The Prayer starts with the acknowledgement that God is our Father (6:9). As our Father in heaven, He is all-powerful, and can give us what we need.
And what do we need? First of all, we need a life that is focused on Him. We should desire that God’s name be made holy. One way that is done is when we as His children live holy lives. But there is another way as well. It will be done when God’s kingdom has come (6:10). We should ask that that Kingdom come. On that day, God’s name will be holy throughout the whole world. His will will be done on earth like it is in heaven.
It is interesting that this is the way the Prayer ends as well—“For Thine is the Kingdom…..” It is the focus of the prayer. This focus is that His children should long for the coming Kingdom of God, when righteousness will dwell in our world.
The Prayer then deals with how believers should live in light of that coming Kingdom. It is a life of faith that is lived in dependence upon God as we rely on Him to meet our daily needs—our daily bread. It is a life of love and mercy towards others as we forgive those who have sinned against us. It is a life that abhors evil as we ask our Father to deliver us from the temptations the Evil One brings.
And, as we look at little closer, it is a life lived in assurance that as believers we have eternal life. How could someone ask for the Kingdom of God to come unless he was sure he would be part of that Kingdom?