Prayer and Praise, Part 3
In our previous article in this series, we covered a number of things related to prayer. One of the things I wanted to cover, but wasn’t able to do so because of space was the “Lord’s Prayer.” Here is the text from Matthew 6:9-13 NASB.
9 ‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]
The last sentence is in brackets because it does not appear in some of the oldest manuscripts. Nonetheless, let’s take a look at it, verse by verse or phrase by phrase.
Jesus is speaking to the crowds here in Matthew 6. He tells them a number of things and it all relates to how to be a “good” Jew, someone who was to take seriously the Mosaic Law and wanted to obey from the heart.
It is sad that the generation Jesus was speaking to had so little teaching or understanding in that regard. This is why Jesus often berated and even condemned at times, the religious leaders. They were so intent on the legalities of the Law that they had transformed it into something it was never meant to be.
The emphasis had gone from obeying the LORD from the heart to simply obeying rules and regulations while the heart was far from God. This then gave rise to a form of legalism that the Pharisees seemed to have perfected over the years up to the time of Jesus.
In fact, the very first verse of Matthew 6 speaks out against the Pharisees. Jesus states without equivocation, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”
This is a firm slam against the Pharisaic practices of the day because these men loved to walk through the crowds and watch the people move aside to let them pass. They were “awed” by the average Jewish person and great (undeserved) respect was often heaped upon them. Please understand that the Pharisees grew out of a desire to teach the Israelites the Law and to teach them to obey it. Unfortunately, it became merely another man-made institution that tended to serve those involved in it rather than God.
Jesus continues deriding the cockiness, arrogance, and hubris of the Pharisees and other religious leaders in verses 2 through 6. He is speaking here about prayer and how to correctly do it.
Isn’t that sad that people have to actually be instructed in how to pray to God? It was sad then and it is most certainly sad today.
One of the things I listen for when someone prays publicly is how often they insert “God,” “Father,” “Lord,” or what have you while they pray. Very few people talk the way they pray. Here’s an example and I would ask you to read it aloud to yourself and pay attention to how it sounds.
Lord God, I thank you, God, that you are above all things. Father, you have saved me, Lord God, from the pit. God, Father, you, O Lord, have rescued me, God, from hell and I am forever thankful, God, my Lord.
I pray God, that you, Lord, would be with me, Father God, as I seek your face, and your will, Father, that you, Lord, would keep me from sin, O God.
I pray these things, Lord God, in your holy Name, Father, Amen.
I’m not trying to make fun of anyone and in fact, I have prayed words similar to that. What might be wrong with it? Before I answer that, let me give you another example and this time, I’ll insert the name of my wife, Silvia.
Hi Silvia. Did you have a good day, Silvia? I hope that you did, Silvia, and that you’re willing to tell me about it, Silvia.
What, O Silvia, did you do today, Hon? Were you – honey bunches – able to do everything that you wanted to do, Silvia, today? I’m hoping Silvia, that you were able to check a lot of things, O Silvia, off your list.
Silvia, let me know, hon, if there’s anything I can do, Silvia, to help you!
Who talks like that? Who repeats either a person’s name or references them as a pronoun like that? No one does, in fact. You wouldn’t do that when speaking with another person at all, except when you first meet them. You might say their name several times in order for it to sink in. Apart from that, if you are talking WITH a person and they know that they are in conversation with you, there is absolutely no need to constantly repeat their name or a pronoun.
When we speak with God, as Jesus shows, we should have a sense of reverent formality, but in the end, we are still talking with a Person. It can actually be distracting to the entire conversation to constantly repeat a person’s name or pronoun referencing them. It tends to make us focus on the actual words we are using, rather than simply talking with someone.
Notice in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus opens with “Our Father,” and then does not state any reference to Him again except for the use of the word “your.” He didn’t feel the need to insert the Father’s name or reference at the beginning or end of each statement. In fact, we know that God sees the depth of our own thoughts even though we may not actually know how to pray, (cf. Job 31:4; Jeremiah 23:24; Romans 8:26). God knows us! We need to drop the pretense, adopt reverence, and approach Him with awe and praise, understanding who He is, at least as He has chosen to reveal Himself to us in His Word.
Jesus also begins by opening His prayer with praise or an affirmation that all praise should go only to the Father. He as well as His Name is to be hallowed. This word literally means to be sanctified, consecrated, or highly venerated.
That should be our overall approach to God, not only in our words, but in our attitude and deeds. We need to take a few moments to settle ourselves into the appropriate awareness.
Note that once Jesus opens His prayer to God the Father with the acknowledgement that God is to be highly venerated, He then states that He wants God’s Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. This is such an important concept for us to grasp (and no, I’m not there yet either!).
The truth is that God’s Kingdom is coming to this earth, in spite of what Satan or any other fallen being may work or wish for. His Kingdom cannot be stopped. Jesus told us that in Matthew 16:18.
“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”
Please understand that Jesus’ Church is being built and there is no power that will keep that from happening. His Church is part of His Kingdom. In essence, His Kingdom is His will and it is moving to fruition. Nothing will keep that from happening. The sooner we Christians realize this, the better we’ll be at fulfilling the Great Commission and not being sidetracked by other things like politics and social justice causes. This does not mean we cannot do what we can in the political or social realms, but that should never take precedence over the Great Commission. Never.
Once Jesus affirms that He wants God’s Kingdom and will to be fulfilled perfectly on earth as it is currently perfectly fulfilled in heaven, He then begins making temporal requests known. These temporal requests include daily food. For most people, that means that a job is needed in order to be able to purchase foods.
But maybe your in a difficult situation, between jobs, as it were? In that case, unemployment or even temporary Welfare might be needed. God has promised that He will never leave or forsake us (Romans 8) and that means that He will provide the basic necessities of life. He did it for Jesus. He will do it for us.
Following this request, Jesus asks that God will forgive our sins just as we forgive those who sin against us. The reality here is that many to most of us tend to harbor grudges of some kind against other people. We do a wonderful job of explaining those grudges away though, don’t we? The truth is that if we are unwilling to fully forgive others, then how can we even ask or expect God to forgive us? In truth, receiving forgiveness should cause us to want to forgive others quickly because of our understanding of just how much God has forgiven us.
The second to last phrase helps us understand that God does not lead us into temptation at all and is more than willing to deliver us from all the evil that comes our way. The trouble is that too many of us “tempt” ourselves with our favorite sins, don’t we? Then we get upset with God because He didn’t “keep” us from them. He will not lead us into temptation and will deliver us from evil, but only if we want that as well.
The last line – whether it was part of the oldest manuscripts or not – is worthy of note. “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
God is God. There is no other. There is no one who can stand in His presence unless He gives leave to do so. There is no one who can “make himself like the Most High.” It is impossible. All glory, honor, and power belong to God.
We would do well to recognize and understand that premise because it undergirds everything in Creation. We’ll be back with more next time!
Entry filed under: christianity, israel, Judaism, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: lord's prayer, praise, prayer.