A little girl was walking through the grocery store after school one evening with her mother. As they approached the bakery section, the mother decided to quiz her daughter about prayer. She knew that the Sunday school teacher at church had taught the class about praying each day and asking God for the things they needed. The mom said, “Elaine, can you tell me why we should pray for our daily bread?” The little girl paused for a moment, put her hand to her chin, turned her head slightly, and responded, “If we don’t keep getting new bread, then it will get stale.” Kids say some great things, don’t they? Yet, in all seriousness, we may ask ourselves about the staleness in our own lives. Is it because we have not asked our Father in prayer for the things we need?
Today’s Scripture text is about prayer. Last week we saw how the hypocrites and heathen pray. We also saw a glimpse of how the holy pray. This week we will fill in our understanding a little more as we study the famous text of what is called the Lord’s Prayer. It is not literally a prayer of the Lord, but a teaching moment for the disciples. The Lord Jesus wanted to teach His followers about prayer, so He gave them a model to go by. We can learn a lot from this passage if we open the eyes and ears of our spirits this day.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.
We are a body of believers, and no one is on their own. Even when we pray individually and privately, we still pray in conjunction with the church. He is "our" Father. He is not just my God and not just your God, but He is "our" Father. Fathers will answer questions and petitions from their children that they would not accept from anyone else in the world. God is our Father. We have a nearness with Him, but that closeness is balanced with His place. He is in heaven. It is important to know where God is when we pray. If He were anywhere else, there would be no use in praying to Him, but He is high and lifted up. He is omniscient, omnipotent, all-resourceful in His heavenly dwelling. He is sovereignly ruling all things. His name was revealed as Yahweh and then completed in the revelation of Jesus, "Yahweh saves." We want His name to be famous, so we pray to that end.
Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Notice that adoration and submission come prior to confession and supplication. We want God's will to be done as it is in heaven. And how is it done in heaven? It is done perfectly. How radical of a change would it be if God's will was completely and thoroughly done in all the world? One day that will come to pass. The kingdom originates in heaven, but is coming down among us.
Give us this day our daily bread
Notice the corporate nature of this line as well. Bread refers here to anything that we may need. Any notion that Christians are promised riches and treasures in this life is done away with in this phrase. Christians are those who must call out to God each day for help. "Give me what I need today, Father." In that ancient society, men were paid daily for their work. They would then go and by bread for that day. For the average person there was no storing up of either money or food. If one did not work, one did not eat. So you can see why one would pray for bread on a daily basis.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Let me first say that this does not mean that we can earn our forgiveness by forgiving others as if we can box God into a corner and force Him to do anything. What it does reveal is that God will only forgive the sorrowful. True penitence is a forgiving spirit. I think that our society proves that forgiveness is an uncharacteristic human act. It is not normal for people to forgive one another. Even Christians are guilty on this subject. We are good about praying for forgiveness privately for ourselves, but when it comes to forgiving someone else or asking for forgiveness for something we have done we have a very tough time. Yet, this is what we are called to do. We are to be ministers of reconciliation, even in our prayer lives.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Temptation = Trial = Corrective Discipline
This could mean generically that we are asking God to not abandon us during temptation so that it would overwhelm us or it could mean deliver us from the sin of not forgiving. It is obvious to me that verses twelve through fifteen all concern forgiveness. You see, the Lord wants forgiveness to be at the core of what we do and who we are as Christians.