In the bible, we learn that God takes great pleasure in pouring out his blessings on those who will dare to radically align their life purposes with His.
This raises one of the most important and ancient questions of the ages:
“What is God’s purpose for the world today—with which we are to be radically aligning our lives and our prayers?”
The Scriptures are very clear regarding God’s purpose for the world, and Jesus gives us a wonderful glimpse into how our prayers are meant to be in alignment with God’s kingdom purposes in the world when he taught his disciples how to pray. (Mat 6:9,10, Luke 11).
The Lord’s Prayer may be one of the best known, least understood and worst applied patterns for prayer ever given. So, to help us learn how to pray and teach others in our church to pray more in line with God’s will, let’s take a brief survey of this pattern for pray given to us by Jesus.
First, let’s observe the overall pattern of this prayer. Jesus divides the prayer into two sections:
The first part of the prayer contains God-ward petitions, prayers that we pray to God primarily using the word “Your” for God: “Hallowed be Your Name, May Your Kingdom come, May Your will be done.”
In the second part of the prayer, we find Man-ward petitions, there is a noticeable shift of the pronouns from “Your” referring to God, to “Us” and “Our” referring to us: “Give us this day Our daily bread, Forgive us Our sins, Lead Us not into temptation, Deliver Us from evil.”
It’s also helpful to see that these petitions in the second section were designed to be prayed with others and not merely by ourselves. It can even be difficult to use these petitions as only personal prayers for ourselves because Jesus teaches to pray “Give Us Our daily bread.” Not “Give Me My daily bread.”
Of course, this does not mean we should avoid praying the Lord’s prayer in private. But, even then, we should pray not merely for ourselves but on behalf of others.
Let’s look next at the first God-ward petitions. Jesus begins saying, “Pray then in this way: Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be your name.”
The Lord’s Prayer may be one of the best known, least understood and worst applied patterns for prayer ever given.
In the Old Testament, God is mostly referred to as Lord and rarely referred to as “Father.” But in the Gospels, the word “Father” is on the lips of Jesus more than 180 times. And every prayer of Jesus addresses God as “Father” except for one prayer. This is a radical new way for the people of God in Jesus’ generation to understand and approach God in prayer. Here, Jesus is authorizing his followers to approach God through him just like he approaches God— as his personal, loving Father. Later Jesus teaches that this new child-like relationship his followers can have with God through him is the only way people can enter God’s Kingdom. Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, unless you become like little children you will in no way enter the Kingdom of God.”
Hallowed be Your Name
Jesus teaches, pray “Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be your name.” Here we learn, from Jesus, that God’s primary purpose in the world today, for which we are to be radically aligning not only our prayers but also our lives, is that His Name would be Hallowed or Glorified. Jesus is echoing the prayer of the Psalmist in Psalm 86:9 who prays, Let…“All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name.”
May Your Kingdom Come
This raises the question, “How are we to glorify the Father’s name?” Jesus answers that question in the next two petitions: “May your Kingdom Come and Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Here we learn that God has chosen to Glorify His Name among all Nations through the Coming of His Kingdom in such a way that it causes His Will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.
This Kingdom Mission involves much more than merely seeing “souls saved” and church buildings filled. It also involves seeing the invisible Kingdom of Christ made visible not only in individual human hearts but also in entire families, cities and nations. And It involves seeing the advance of God’s kingdom into the surrounding culture by not only words of truth but also relentless acts of mercy and justice through which the crookedness in society is made straight.
After these God-ward petitions, Jesus shifts his pronouns to the Man-ward petitions.
- Jesus teaches us to pray to the Father First about 1) His name, 2) His kingdom, and His will.
- Then we are to pray 1) Give Us, forgive Us, lead Us, and deliver Us.
But even these petitions about Us should not be seen as separate from the God-ward petitions. Instead they should be seen as the necessary means of fulfilling the God-ward petitions.
Give Us Our Daily Bread. Why?
For example, why do we need “Daily bread?” The answer is so that we can remain alive to see God’s name hallowed by the coming of his kingdom by his will being done on earth through us as it is in heaven.
Forgive Us Our Debts, Lead Us Not Into Temptation, and Deliver Us From Evil. Why?
And this is also why we need to ask God to forgive us our sins, lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil. This is not merely for our sake that we ask for bread, forgiveness, and deliverance from temptation and evil. But for His Sake, for His name and for His Kingdom and for His will.
By teaching his followers to be praying this pattern prayer, Jesus is assuming that his followers will be praying it. He once said, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not do what I say?” And, Jesus does not mean for us to be merely reciting these words in public worship. He warned us against this by saying “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” Instead, Jesus means for his followers to find joy, purpose and power by daily asking for God’s name to be glorified, for God’s kingdom to come and for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Jesus means for his followers to find joy, purpose, and power by asking for God’s name to be glorified, for God’s kingdom to come, and for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
And he means for God’s name, God’s Kingdom, and God’s will to be the reason we ask for our daily bread, our forgiveness, our not being led into temptation and our being delivered from evil. The Lord’s Prayer may be quickly memorized but it takes a long time to be learned by our hearts. But that is a very worthy goal.
Registration closes September 15