This morning we are going to be looking at the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6:9-13. I’m reminded of a story about a business man who told his friend that he had become a Sunday School teacher at his church. Never having mentioned church or God or anything, the friend was shocked at the businessman’s announcement, and he quickly replied, “I bet you don’t even know the Lord’s Prayer.” “Why everybody knows that,” the businessman answered. “It’s, Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” His friend was astonished! He said, “You win! I didn’t know you knew so much about the Bible.”
We make it a practice during the season of Lent to recite the Lord’s Prayer together because I want to make sure as a church we know exactly what Jesus said about this way of relating to our Father, and unlike the “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer which deals with eternity, the Lord’s Prayer deals with our daily lives.
Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV) 9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
Let’s walk through the Lord’s Prayer together and discern how it can become a pattern for our daily life.
RELATIONSHIP-“Our Father in Heaven”
Jesus highlighted that He had come to usher in a new way of relating with the Father. The Jews weren’t used to hearing God addressed as Father. That was radical to them. The word “Father” was used to describe God in the OT only seven times and it wasn’t a personal reference. God was addressed as the Father of a nation or people, but no individual called Him “Father.” We see God referred to as “Father,” however 70 times in the Gospels, and in each case it is a personal relationship that is being expressed. Jesus wasn’t just teaching His disciples a new prayer, but He was modeling a new way of relating with God.
What does this relationship look like? Revelation 3:20 is a place to start. Revelation 3:20 “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”
Back before the days of caller ID did you ever had the experience where someone called you and before they told you who they were, you knew who they were because you recognized their voice? You were so familiar with them that you knew who was calling. We can learn to recognize God’s voice. He wants to speak into our lives. He wants us to be so familiar with Him that we know when He is speaking.
There is a vulnerability to this relationship then as Rev. 3:20 says we can open the door for the relationship to go deeper. There has to be a willingness on our part, however, for God to come in and be the kind of Father in our lives He longs to be. He wants to have a one-on-one conversation with us. He wants to come into our lives and fellowship with us.
God isn’t shy. He has reached out to us through the person of Jesus Christ. While we were still sinners, He sent Christ to die in our place to pay the price for our sin (Romans 5:8). He has made the first move! Have you responded to accept His invitation to relationship?
Is your relationship with God a two-way street? God doesn’t want a one-sided relationship with His children. I believe it is entirely possible that you can come to church, sit here, listen to the singing, listen to the praying, listen to the message and never engaged in relationship with God.
Someone is called out of the congregation and is asked to come and stand with their back towards me.
Me as God:
(Knocking on the door) I’m so glad to see you today. Good morning and welcome.
(Knocking on the door) I wanted you to know I have been thinking about you and praying for your need.
(Knocking on the door) I am so sorry for the pain you are experiencing right now.
(Knocking on the door) I am here to support you and give you strength.
(Knocking on the door) I would like to send people your way to help you.
(Knocking on the door) I see a way out of this situation if you’d like to hear about it.
(Knocking on the door) I know I have solutions that would work. I would love to sit down and talk with you.
(Knocking on the door) OK. I love you and will be here if you need me.
How often does this scenario play out, even in the life of Christian people? Jesus didn’t come just to save us from sin and Hell, but to unite us to God in relationship. What a privilege we have to know the heartbeat of our Creator for our lives through this relationship. Check yours. Is it one-sided?
REPUTATION-“Hallowed be Thy Name.”
The second aspect of the Lord’s Prayer deals with the Name of the Lord, and His reputation for the quality of relationship He wants with His people. Once God has revealed Himself by His many attributes or His many names, you will have a desire to praise and reverence His name. As you walk with God you realize that He manifests His love, kindness, peace, forgiveness, healing, strength, and grace through the various ways His names say He does. He lives up to His name. He lives up to His reputation. This love, this kindness, peace, and forgiveness, these special healings, infusions of strength and blanketing forgiveness episodes in our lives comes to us as a supernatural realities. They are the gifts of God that flow from reverencing His name in our lives.
Psalm 148:13 “Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.” We could rightly pray, Lord, exalt YOUR name in this situation I am going through. That is a wonderful way to hallow the Lord’s name.
Let’s look at some OT names for God and see how through the relationship we established in line one of this prayer, God carries out His faithfulness to us through His name.
Jehovah-Jireh – Gen. 22:14 – The Lord will see to it, or the Lord will provide.
Why would we want the Lord to provide rather than try to provide for ourselves? Because He can do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” Eph. 3:20. Of course we want His provision over our own! When you hallow God’s name in a prayer like this you are celebrating God as your Provider!
Jehovah-Nissi – Ex. 17:15 – The Lord is our banner, or our victory.
The thing about the God being our victory is that it is a sure thing. He never fails (Is. 55:11) When you hallow the name of our God in this prayer, you are highlighting the fact that God will give you the victory!
Jehovah-Tsebaoth – Isa. 37:16 – “The Lord of hosts or the Lord of battles.”
Why do we want God leading the charge in our battles? Because He will protect us as we stay behind Him. When you hallow God’s name in this prayer, you are letting Him know that you are counting on Him to protect you in the midst of life’s difficulties.
Jehovah-Shalom – Jud. 6:24 – The Lord is our peace.
Why is God’s peace special? I mean, doesn’t a bag of Fritos and a “chick flick” provide peace? For ninety minutes, maybe. Jesus said the peace He had to offer wasn’t like the peace the world could give. It runs deep. It is like a fortress around our heart and mind (Phil. 4). When you hallow God’s name in prayer, you are telling Him in a symbolic way that you trust Him and because you trust Him, you will rest in Him and not worry or be afraid.
Jehovah-Tsidkenu – Jer. 23:6 – The Lord Who is our righteousness.
God shares His reputation with us when He allows us to wear the righteousness of Christ. Who does that? Who says, “I’ll let you share my reputation” which means you won’t be viewed as you really are, but as I am . . . as holy, righteous, faultless. When you hallow God’s name in prayer, you are respecting and cherishing that you are in a right relationship with God only because Jesus took your place on the cross.
Jehovah-Rohi – Psa. 23:1 – The Lord my Shepherd.
Getting through life successfully means following someone smarter than we are. God knows how to lead us through deep waters, troubled waters, and beside still waters when we need a break. You will never find a more faithful Guide than God. When you hallow God’s name in prayer, you are affirming again that it is your desire for Him to show you the way to go in whatever situation you are bringing to Him.
Jehovah-Rapha-Ex. 15:26-The Lord our healer.
God will always have the final say about your health. It won’t be a doctor or a medication that does. It will always be God. Our strength for daily life is in His hands. If we receive a physical healing it is because He has provided it. He is sympathetic and compassionate towards us. He has healing power to dispense. When we hallow His name in prayer over our physical need we are telling God we trust Him to bring the healing we need.
Jehovah-Shammah-Eze. 48:35-The Lord is there.
When you hallow God’s name when you pray, you are reminding yourself it is God Almighty who cares for you, who is there for you, and who will never forsake you. Hallowing God’s name helps us see Jesus in the midst of our circumstances while we are walking around in the fire. It helps us see God is there with us, and He is at work to be for us and care for us until we make it out of the fire. Like an EMT who is working on someone in the midst of crisis who offers those reassuring words, “You’re going to be alright, we are here with you. We will get you to the hospital. We will get you to a place of help. We are going to get you stabilized.” God is there to make sure you are sustained. He is not a “Help is on its way” kind of God, but He is a “Help is here!” kind of God.
When you pray with reverence for God’s name, you are embracing what He wants to do for you. You are identifying with His power and character. You are saying, “I welcome YOU to bring YOUR provision into my lack. I welcome YOU to have the glory in any victory in my life. I want YOU to take the lead in all of my battles. It’s YOUR peace that I want because I know it is perfect. I want to stay hidden in YOUR righteousness in this situation. I desire YOU to shepherd me through this crisis. YOUR healing in YOUR time is what I want. When you “hallow His name” you are opening the door for Him to come closer to your situation and to meet your need.
RECOGNITION-Thy Kingdom Come. Thy will be done. This line in the Lord’s Prayer helps us recognize God IS the reigning authority. His way is higher than ours or anyone else’s. He is the reigning King. His Kingdom has no end. We are His subjects. We do His bidding. We carry out His orders. His will is supreme. It is what matters. It is what we submit to.
Maybe in our earthly relationships we would say we live to make others happy. That’s a great goal. I am concerned with my husband’s happiness. I want him to be content. I want him to be fulfilled and happy in life. I want to add to his quality of life.
In our spiritual life we don’t live to make God happy, but rather we live to do God’s will. He is delighted in our obedience, but it doesn’t flow from our desire to add to God’s quality of life. He is already quite complete and quite satisfied. Rather we see ourselves as servants of His whose life mission is to carry out His will on earth the way it is in heaven.
In heaven there is no more suffering. Whatever we can do to alleviate suffering, it should be one of our top priorities.
In heaven there is constant worship. However we can order our lives so that we are preoccupied with praising and thanking God for who He is and help others to see Him that way for themselves, it should be one of our top priorities.
In heaven there is no division or conflict. There is only peace. Becoming peacemakers should be one of our top priorities.
I’m reminded of the Prayer of Frances of Assisi.
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
There is blazing light in heaven. We are to be the light on the earth (Matt. 5:14) How committed are you to seeing God’s Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven? How does your life back up your desire or reveal it hasn’t been on your agenda for a while?
The next section of the Lord’s Prayer is a gift to us. It deals with:
REQUESTS-“Give us this day our daily bread.”
God knows we have needs. Some relationships are so heavy and oppressive people aren’t even permitted to speak to express a need, a thought, a feeling. God says, “Come and talk to me freely. Ask for what you need.” Remember, He is a loving Heavenly Father, and His resources are endless. He is liberal when He meets needs (Phil. 4:19). Jesus wanted the disciples to see that the relationship they could have with God was one in which they could depend on Him to be their supply. When we hallow God’s name and live under His authority, He promises to provide what we need!
When we pray this way we affirm we understand how the relationship works. It’s not an equal partnership. It’s not a give-and-take relationship. God does all of the giving. We do all of the obeying, but God does all of the giving. We don’t take care of God, but He is in charge of taking care of us. This prayer reminds us we are limited, but God is limitless. It helps us keep in perspective Who is really in charge. We are not self-made people. Whatever we are and whatever we have, we have by the grace of God. The Apostle Paul said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am!” (I Cor. 15:10)
James 4:2 says, You have not because you ask not. That is definitely a true statement. An additionally true statement could be concluded from the Lord’s Prayer: “You have not because you admit not.” God will answer the prayers of those who are depending on Him and not self. We need to admit we need Him to supply us each day with everything we need to sustain us and help us succeed.
We also see this Lord’s Prayer as a prayer of:
RESTORATION-“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
There is nothing God is more concerned about than your status with Him. Nothing. He knows sin separates us from Him. He tells us that truth in His Word. Asking for forgiveness should be a daily experience, just like asking for daily bread. It doesn’t matter how well fed and how well taken care of we are physically if spiritually we are separated from God.
God desires we be right with Him and also right with others. Since we were made for a relationship with God and other people, the very reason we exist gets disrupted when we sin and harbor bitterness and anger towards other people.
Life is too hard to be dislocated from God, and life is too short to be dislocated from other people.
Just pray for forgiveness and forgive those who have wronged you.
RESCUE-“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
We pray for forgiveness after we sin, but we pray for rescue in order that we might not sin. The Bible says Satan is clever in enticing us to sin. We need to be clever in escaping from sin. Obviously God won’t lead us into temptation. That’s not really what this phrase in the prayer means. It means, don’t allow us to be put into a trial which will present a stronger temptation than we can resist with YOUR power. The focus is on God’s ability to deliver us.
Temptation isn’t a sin. Once, two monks were journeying along a path, when they came to a crossing. There, attempting to cross the same river was a young woman. She was frightened and unable to make the crossing. One of the monks picked her up, carried her across the stream and sat her down on the other side, and the two monks continued on their journey. After some time, the other monk turned to the first monk and said, “My brother, I am troubled by something. As you know, our order prohibits us from even looking upon a woman, much less touching one. Yet, you picked that woman up and carried her across that stream and you do not seem to be bothered by your transgression.” The second monk merely smiled and said, “My brother, I put that woman down back by the river’s bank, but you still carry her in your heart.” (http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_journal_individual.asp?blog_id=5592037)
You see when we sin in our hearts, we crowd God out. We open the door to sin, and we escort God out of the situation. No way will we escape sin’s clutches without Him, and yet we find ourselves disconnected from Him because of the guilt, shame, and condemnation sin brings. Just as we have to admit we need God to sustain us with daily bread, we have to admit our sinful conditions if we have any hope of restoration.
Remember, there is no sin in heaven, and we are to be people who are committed to seeing God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
If you are reading from the KJV or NKJV the prayer closes with this phrase: “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. The prayer opens with relationship and ends with a reminder. It’s all about Him. In no other relationship could we be the beneficiaries of a relationship where it is all about someone else, but that is exactly the backwards nature of this Divine and Human experience. We seek God’s glory and to live under His Lordship and we are the ones who get elevated, blessed, and empowered to live our best possible life. Truly the Lord’s Prayer is a prayer to live by.