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THE LORD'S PRAYER
Matthew 6:5-15, Luke 11:1-4 Part One

February 2016

First things first: We must consider the condition of our heart and mind (John 15:6-14, James 4:3). With the right frame of heart and mind we can ask anything and it will be given to us (John 14:13, 16:23). Because without the right motives we pray in vain!

The opening verses found in Matthew chapter six give us a couple of don'ts that we should take note of when we pray. Let us quickly look at them. Matthew 6:5-6; It says, "DON'T BE A HYPOCRITE." Prayer is primarily a private matter between you and God. It is not to be held up as a trophy for all to see, or to be used as an instrument to gain prestige or glory for yourself. If it is held up for all to see, your reward will be hindered or lost altogether. And the second one can be found contained in Matthew 6:7; "DON'T USE VAIN REPETITIONS." The key to this verse is NOT in the word "Repetitions" but in the word "VAIN." Jesus prayed the same prayer three times (Mark 14:32-42, 39).

The Greek word for "VAIN" is "Matane," which means to babble. Words that are empty and phrases that contain no point, meaning or purpose. They are folly, tentative, manipulative, without respect or reverence to God. Remember, THE MERIT OF PRAYER IS NOT IN THE QUANTITY OF WORDS, BUT IN THE QUALITY OF THE HEART.

First: we must realize that the Lord's Prayer is a pattern the Lord gave us to follow. It is not a prayer to recite, like a magical formula to get God's ear. If it were a prayer to pray word for word ,why then would the Holy Spirit record the prayer differently in Matthew 6, and Luke 11? Therefore; the prayer was NOT meant as a word for word formula to pray by, but as a pattern. A pattern that will help us to understand why we should pray, and how we should approach God for the answers, we need. Therefore; it is vitally important that every word be examined carefully. Because each word depends on, and is linked to the word before and after it. Every step of the pattern should be followed without interruption and should be followed until it is completed.

Now let's look at the pattern God has set before us.

OUR FATHER: This brings out four important biblical points.

1.      Whom we ought to pray to. We must pray to God. Whom Jesus called His father, the only true God.

2.      He is the Father of all colors, all races, all creation (Micah  2:10, Acts 2:10). He is OUR Father. Jesus said this while speaking to a vast amount of different people.

3.      Christ's humanity. He was the one that prayed OUR father. The "OUR" includes Jesus and all mankind. Jesus using the "Our" shows us that He considers Himself as part of the human race.

4.      How He is to be thought of. He is to be thought of, not as a buddy, or a pal, but a "Father," one who is deserving of respect and reverence. A Father whom we can approach with boldness (Matthew 7:11, Hebrews 4: 14-16), because of the personal position He has placed Himself in. In all the prayers recorded in scripture, not one of them has even a hint of insincerity or foolishness. They are only filled with respect and reverence for whom God truly is (Ecclesiastics 5:2).

WHO ART IN HEAVEN: Eyeing Him as our Father in Heaven shows us His power. He is well able to transverse the vastness of all heaven to hear us, and help us. Heaven is where He establishes His throne and from there He rules over all His creation (Psalm 103:19). We know that even the heavens cannot contain Him (1st Kings 8:27). From heaven He beholds the children of men (Psalm 33:13-14). Therefore, we must, in prayer, realize that His eyes are upon us. 2nd Chronicles 16:9 says; "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him . . . " And from that vantage point He is not only able to see us, but also help us in our times of need (Hebrews 4:16).

Following this declaration, “WHO ART IN HEAVEN," there are seven PETITIONS. The first three "Deal Exclusively with God." They relate to Him and the Honor that is to be given to Him.

They are:

1 . Thy name be Hollowed.
2. Thy kingdom come.
3. Thy will be done.

These petitions appear in DESCENDING order.

1. God Himself.
2. God's Kingdom.
3. God's will on earth.

The last four (4) petitions "DEAL EXCLUSIVELY WITH US." They relate to our needs, spiritually and physically, and emotionally. They are:

1. Give us bread.
2. Forgive our sins.
3. Lead us not into temptation.
4. Deliver us from evil.

These petitions appear in ASCENDING order.

1. Physical needs.
2. Spiritual needs.
3. Eternal needs

What the beginning words of the Lord's Prayer reveal is where we must start and proceed from when we pray. If we do not start at the place of recognizing whom God is, who we are not, and what position God takes concerning us, no further venturing is necessary. Our prayers would all be in vain!

HOLLOWED BE THY NAME: Hollowed is correctly translated "Sanctified or Set apart," but for traditions sake, Hollowed is kept as part of the text. "Hollowed" or "Sanctified" means to set apart by keeping it in high esteem, Holy or in reverence above all other things. By sanctifying His name, we:

Give glory and honor to God. We do not ask as a PETITION, for His name to be hollowed, but by ACTION, giving Him glory and honor. We must approach Him with all respect, and adoration, not allowing anything to interfere with us spending valuable time with Him.

1.      Looking to the result of our prayer, which is for God to be glorified, honored, and set apart as special.

2.      Give honor for whom God is, all God has, is, and will do (1st Peter 3:15).

By the Lord placing this praise at the beginning of His pattern for prayer, we see that our prayers MUST begin with praise. It's also fitting that God should be first served, and honored before we can expect to receive any grace at all.

THY KINGDOM COME: The kingdom of God is not a fleshly one, but a spiritual and moral one (Luke 17:20-21, John 3:3-7, Romans 14:17). Romans 14:17 says: "for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Jesus' death laid the foundation, His ascension, and the Holy Spirit's descent set it in operation for mankind who is now experiencing it. His second coming will culminate this present kingdom and will usher in a new and everlasting one.

            What is the kingdom of God?

1.      The sphere of God's rule (Psalm 22:28; Luke 1:52; Romans 13:1-2).

2.      The sphere in which at all times, His rule and His will are acknowledged, and accomplished.

The fundamental principle of the kingdom is declared in the words of the Lord spoken to a company of Pharisees, "the kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Luke 17:21). That is, where the king is, there is the kingdom. Entrance into the kingdom is only by the new birth (Matthew 18:3, John 3:5). For nothing that a man may be by nature, or can attain to by any form of self-culture, avails in the spiritual realm (Ephesians 2:8-9). Man receives a new nature by the new birth. This new nature is made evident by obedience. It is further said that only those who do the will of God will enter His kingdom (Matthew 7:21).

The kingdom of God falls into two classes. The first class is viewed as present and involving death to our own will, and suffering in this present life, so that His will, will be accomplished (2nd Thessalonians 1:5). The second is in which it is viewed as future and is associated with reward (Matthew 25:34), and glory (Matthew 13:43).

John the Baptist and Jesus Himself began their earthly ministries with the same message (Matthew 3:1-2, 4:17), "Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand." Jesus knew the message of the kingdom was of such importance that He said; "I MUST" preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also because FOR THIS PURPOSE I HAVE BEEN SENT” (John 4:42).  Both men then proceeded to go about pursuing the accomplishing of bringing forth the kingdom of God on the earth: Shouldn't we?

THY WILL BE DONE: Luke, puts it like this (Luke 11:2 KJV): "As in heaven so upon earth." We should pray and desire that the perfect, pure, non-varying will of God be done. Our total heart's desire should be for the entire world to conform to His will just as heaven itself is. These words ask not if ever, or whenever; they only declare loudly, clearly, and wholeheartedly with conviction; "thy will be done."

This wholehearted declaration of the heart "thy will be done" shows three desires:

1.      A wholehearted desire that God's kingdom be set up in this world and all men even the pray-er himself becomes Holy.

2.      A wholehearted desire on the part of the pray-er himself, that he does all that he can to bring about and establish the kingdom.

3.      A wholehearted desire on the part of the pray-er himself to resist everything inconsistent with the coming of that kingdom.

In other words; "the man who prays this prayer, must live as he prays." To do any less would amount to hypocrisy at its worst.

GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD: Every word in this line carries a very important message and should be examined closely so we can learn from them!

We ask for God to GIVE. This teaches us humility. Not by the works of man's hands can we receive but only by the mercy and grace of a gracious loving father is the supply given. We come with open hands, hearts, and minds asking God for provision . We come NOT as a stranger or even a beggar but as an adopted heir of the king, a beloved child. This helps us recognize that without God we can do nothing of ourselves.

We ask God to give US. This teaches us compassion. It teaches us that we are not alone in this world. That our thoughts, actions, and our prayers should, first and foremost, extend beyond the boundaries of self, and transcend into the vastness of the entire body of Christ, and the world itself. Both of which are in desperate need of forgiveness.

Remember, the greatest in the kingdom of God is the servant of others (Matthew 23:11, Mark 9:35). Jesus did not come to be served, but to be a servant. His entire life was given in the service of mankind (Matthew 20:28). Please notice that the words "I" or "ME" do not appear anywhere in this prayer.

We pray give us "THIS DAY." This shows us our humanity and what our perspectives should be. The Lord said: "Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit, whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:13-14).

It is impossible for a finite being to look beyond a moment by moment, day to day dependence on an infinite God for spiritual and physical renewal. To do so would be the utmost in arrogance, presumption, pride and a devilish sense of godhood. Our days are given to us by God, one day at a time and with no promise of tomorrow (Luke 12: 16-21).

To put it plainly this part of the prayer implies a condition of the heart that leans upon God for everything. Even the most minute things that can affect our lives at all.

We ask for OUR bread. This teaches us honesty and to be industrious.

What is rightly ours, what we have earned honestly not what is gained through deceit or given because of idleness or begging. "For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat" (2nd Thessalonians 3:10).

We ask for our DAILY bread. This teaches us dependence. Just as the Israelites had to go out every day to gather Manna, and no extra Manna could be stored, so we also must ask for our DAILY supply. It is easily seen that what we have stored up can, and does, become the object of our dependence. This causes us to take our eyes off the supplier, who is God Himself. Read again Luke 12: 16-21, with special attention to verses 19-21.

We ask for BREAD. This teaches us sobriety and temperance. We ask for bread not steak. Another words; simple needs not wanton desires!

This line of the Lord's prayer brings us right back to the point in which we started this study. If our hearts and minds are not in line with the will of God, in obedience to Him, we ask in vain! Read again James 4: 3 that says: "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures."

This lesson will continue next month.  Until next month may "The Lord bless you and keep you; (25) the Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; (26) The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace"   (Numbers 6:24-26).

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