The Lord’s Prayer, Continued
Yesterday, we took up the first half of the Lord’s Prayer, which is all about the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and His kingdom. We must learn to pray this way, that is, about the things of God. Indeed, we are only allowed to pray the way Scripture directs. That does not mean that we mindlessly repeat it; it does mean that when Jesus taught us to pray, this is the way he said to do it – and that should mean something to us.
The second part of the Lord’s Prayer is taken up with our needs – and spoken in such a simple way. Indeed, it’s the very simplicity and unassuming way the prayer unfolds that strikes me. The prayer is eloquent in its wording, but even more so in its exactitude, modesty, and unpretentiousness – which is the best kind of eloquence.
So the first petition is for daily bread. Here in the “first world,” most of us have enough food in our cupboards for a couple of weeks. That’s not anything to be ashamed of, but we need to understand that it is God who makes us to prosper. Indeed, the very wording itself is redundant: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Most grammar teachers would dock you for that. It reminds us of the Children of Israel who fed on daily manna as they wandered forty years. This is also the petition for other needs as well. The second petition, “and forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors,” reminds us that God forgives us that we may become forgivers. Indeed, 6:14-15 carry a dire warning: If we expect to be forgiven by God, then we must forgive others – must. We are reminded that sin is a debt, that is, something we owe because we have offended a holy God. It was this debt that Christ paid for us; it is these debts we must remit for others. And then, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Of course, God never tempts us to evil (James 1:13-15). Instead, we are tempted when we are led away by our own desire. However, God may test us, as He did Job and many others. He tests us for our good, that we may grow from the struggle (1 Thessalonians 2:4). If we fail the test and sin, that is our fault. But realizing our weakness, we pray that God would not test us, but instead deliver us from evil, or the evil one, the devil. So let us approach God in humility, confessing that we need Him every moment. Finally, some early manuscripts do not have, “For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” Whether it was from our Lord’s lips or not, it still expresses a fitting doxology to the model prayer. His is the kingdom, power, and glory – and to think He will share it with us one day in heaven!