The Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew Chapter 6 is one of the most recognized prayers in the world. Some people recite it every day while others recite it during every church service. There are some people who use it as a serenity prayer.
Unfortunately, because this prayer is so well-known, it can become too familiar and lose its meaning or value. It’s easy to just say the words but not really mean them or understand them.
However, a proper interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer can unlock secrets to the Kingdom of God in our lives.
Teach Us to Pray
In Biblical times, rabbis (or teachers) were expected to teach their followers how to pray. In Luke it says, “Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’”
The Lord’s Prayer reads like this in The New Living Translation version of the Bible:
“Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”*
* Some versions leave out this last line.
When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He gave them a specific example to follow. But He didn’t mean for us to say these exact words over and over again. He was demonstrating what we should pray for and what was important.
Declare Who God Is
“Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.”
First, notice to whom we are to pray: God the Father. We are not to pray to another human (including Mary), “saints,” or angels. We should pray only to the Father.
Next, we need to declare who God is. We give Him praise and bless Him for His holiness. There is no one who is holy like God; no one else compares to Him. His holiness sets Him apart from all other beings, and because of it, He deserves the greatest of reverence, adoration and devotion.
God’s name encompasses all that He is, His character. Throughout the Old Testament, God revealed Himself to His people at different times with different names. When they needed provision, He was Jehovah Jireh, the “Lord, my provider.” When they needed healing, He showed Himself to be Jehovah Rapha, the “Lord, my healer.”
Because of God’s unmatched holiness, and because His name is directly connected to His character and His Presence, we need to keep His name holy and not treat it in a disrespectful or flippant way. For example, we should only use His name when talking to Him or about Him; we must never use God’s or Jesus’s name as a curse word.
His Kingdom Come, His Will Be Done
“May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
As believers, it’s our responsibility to declare the Kingdom of God here on earth. But what is the Kingdom of God? The Jewish people believed that the coming Messiah would establish the Kingdom of God on the earth.
Jesus is the Jewish Messiah who brought the Kingdom of God to earth, but the Jews were looking for a physical kingdom, not a spiritual one. Luke says, “Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God.”
In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus inaugurated the Kingdom of God when He declared a passage from the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Jesus stood in the synagogue and boldly proclaimed this familiar passage from Isaiah, but they were amazed when he followed it by saying, “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” Jesus was declaring that the Kingdom of God that they had been waiting hundreds of years for had now arrived!
Jesus told His disciples, “Heal the sick, and tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God is near you now.’” What did Jesus’s ministry consist of? Healing the sick, delivering the demonized, freeing the captives, and bringing hope and peace. Clearly, the Kingdom of God is directly related to healing and deliverance from oppression as demonstrated by Jesus’s ministry.
God’s will is that “as it is in Heaven,” so it is on earth. In Heaven there is freedom, healing, life, peace, joy and hope. Jesus came to bring Heaven to earth. Jesus’s ministry was marked by bringing healing, deliverance, and hope to God’s people.
“Give us today the food we need.”
God doesn’t want us to worry about what we need, rather He wants us to ask Him for what we need.
Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. … Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
Worrying tells God that we don’t trust Him to take care of us. Instead of seeking our own needs and trying to take care of ourselves, we are to seek His Kingdom first:
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
According to this scripture, Jesus considers those who chase after worldly things rather than the things of God to be worldly. Pursuing the Kingdom of God and prioritizing what’s important to God demonstrates that we truly are God’s children, not pagans or unbelievers.
Jesus promised that if we seek Him and what’s important to Him first, He would take care of all of our needs. Prioritizing the Kingdom of God has its rewards: when we take care of our Father’s business, He takes care of ours.
“Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.”
Jesus taught: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
According to this scripture, we cannot expect God to forgive us if we are unwilling to forgive those who sin against us. Holding on to unforgiveness is a form of pride, but God wants us to be like Him: forgiving.
Of course, forgiving is sometimes easier said than done. But when we truly understand who God is and what He’s done for us, it’s much easier to forgive others. Romans 5:8 reminds us, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
Instead of dwelling on all the wrongs we have suffered, we must remember that we too have failed God and other people countless times and that we need forgiveness. Colossians instructs us, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”
We are all human, and we must remember that humans make mistakes. Sometimes we ourselves will make mistakes which hurt others, and sometimes we are the ones who are wounded because of what others have done. Sometimes the wound is intentional; sometimes it’s accidental. Nonetheless, God commands us to forgive so that we can receive His forgiveness.
God understands how unforgiveness imprisons us; that’s why He commands us to forgive. Bitterness and resentment often develop because we hold on to unforgiveness, and we can even physically become sick because we refuse to forgive.
God wants us to enjoy complete freedom from all bondage, and unforgiveness is a prison that only we can free ourselves from. Forgiveness is a choice, but just because we forgive someone doesn’t mean that what they did was okay. Ephesians 4:32 teaches, “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
Strength to Stand Strong
“And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.”
Understand that temptation itself is not a sin or wrong. Even Jesus was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1-11), but He fought back using the Word of God as a weapon against Satan’s schemes.
There are many worldly enticements including power, fame, money, and selfish ambition, just to name a few. Anything that becomes more important than God or our faith can derail us and get us spiritually off track. Then we become the enemy’s target. We must be on guard because “… [our] great enemy, the devil … prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
How can we partner with God to resist temptation? James 4:7 gives us a formula for success: “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Humbling ourselves before God acknowledges that we need His strength and power to stand against temptation. When we try to resist in our own strength we are prideful, and we set ourselves up for failure.
We must do our part if we want God to do His. First, we must completely submit ourselves to God. What He says, we do. What he wants, He gets. His will is our will. We do things His way, not ours. Then we need to resist the devil. In the face of temptation, resisting the devil can be turning the channel, avoiding a tempting place, not listening to certain music, or even running the other direction.
When we ask humbly, God will help us to not give in to temptation and to give us the strength to resist them. Additionally, we can be thankful that God is powerful enough to rescue us from the evil one and keep us safe from the enemy’s attacks. Psalm 37:39 promises, “The Lord rescues the godly; he is their fortress in times of trouble.”
All Power and Glory Belong to God
“For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
We assert that God is the supreme ruler of the universe, the only One worth receiving glory, and the One with all the power. We declare that He is the King of His Kingdom, and that it will never end. The kingdom of darkness will never overcome God’s Kingdom of light, and He reigns forever!
Notice how the Lord’s Prayer begins with exalting God and declaring His greatness and it ends the same way. When we pray, we too should “sandwich” our petitions and needs between proclaiming God’s majesty. There are 3 reasons why this is a good strategy:
1) we remind God that we remember who He is
2) we remind ourselves that God is greater than any need or problem we are facing – this in turn increases our faith
3) and we remind the evil principalities that they are no match for God’s power and glory.
When we petition the Lord with prayer that follows this pattern, the Lord’s Prayer takes on a whole new meaning not only for us, but also for our children as we teach them. By understanding how Jesus taught His disciples to pray, we can participate in His Kingdom, declaring God’s holiness and greatness, proclaiming good news, hope and healing to people, and freely forgiving.
~ Written by Jennell Houts