The Lord’s Prayer is found in the gospel of Matthew and Luke only. The one in Luke is given by Jesus as an answer to a question from one of his disciples. One of his disciples asked him to teach them how to pray.
Luke 11:1-4 (ESVST)
1 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “ Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 And he said to them, “ When you pray, say:
“ Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread, 4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”
It is not clear why Luke placed this prayer here when Matthew placed it as part of the Sermon at the Mount. Another thing to note is that Luke’s prayer is shorter than the one in Matthew. Luke omitted certain parts of the prayer. For this reason we will use Matthews prayer for this message. Another difference to note is that in Matthew, no question was asked. The Lord’s prayer was given as part of the sermon. Also Luke states that Jesus said “When you pray, say”, while Matthew states that Jesus said “Pray then like this”. In Luke, the words may imply that Jesus is teaching us a prayer, whereas in Matthew, the words may imply that Jesus is teaching us how to pray and not a prayer.
Most people have accepted the Lord’s Prayer as a prayer and they recite it as it is given all the time. However, I beleive that Jesus was actually teaching us how to pray and not a prayer. I am sure you might disagree but it seems more logical that Jesus would give us a format of how to pray and not just a once off prayer that must be recited all the time. Our message will follow on this basis that Jesus was actually giving us a format of how we should pray. In this format, Jesus gave us certain elements that must be in our prayer each time we pray. The elements are:
1) Praise and Worship vs 9
2) Submission vs 10
3) Requests vs 11
4) Forgiveness vs 12 and
5) Protection vs 13
We will deal with these as we go through the prayer.
Matthew 6:9-13 (ESVST)
Pray then like this: “ Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
The Greek word used for hallowed also means “to make holy”. The NLT or the New Living Translation, translates this verse as
Matthew 6:9 (NLTse)
Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.
Here Jesus wants us to praise God and worship him as being holy and the holy one. Jesus wants us to acknowledge the holiness of God. So, when we pray, one element of our prayer should be to praise and worship God’s holiness. This can be by mentionining God’s love, mercy, grace, righteousness, caring nature, helping nature, etc. Mentioning anyone of God’s attributes, illustrates his holiness. Another important thing to note here is that Jesus wants us to refer to God as our Father. This illustrates the closeness that we as believers are to God that we can even call him our Father.
Romans 8:15-17 (ESVST)
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “ Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
As God’s children we need to wish that his kingdom come and submit to God’s will, whatever that will is. This is very important as when our will and God’s will differ, God’s will should take priority. Our will must be aligned to God’s will and not vice versa. Example, it might be your will that you want to be rich and educated and married and all the nice things but, all these might not be God’s will for you. God’s will might be that you be a nobody and poor so that out of that, he can use you to be an example of his power and glory. God is our creator and he has created us for a purpose and according to his will. Although God gave us free will, we are here primarily to do his will. This is what Jesus wants us to acknowledge in our prayer that God’s will takes priority. As you pray, bear that in mind that God’s will takes priority. Even Jesus himself when he was praying in the garden, ended his prayer by saying that
Luke 22:42 (ESVST)
saying, “ Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
So, when you pray, submit to God’s will.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
Another element is to ask God for our daily physical needs. I think bread is used here to represent the bread that God provided the Jews when they were in the desert daily. So likewise, we may ask God as our Father who is in heaven, to provide for us our daily needs. Jesus did say that we should not worry for our Father knows what we need and we should ask anything in his name and he will provide it to us. So, when we pray, we can ask God to provide us our daily physical needs.
12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
This is one of those verses in the bible that are most controversial. You might ask why. The answer is that this verse might imply that God, only forgives us when we also forgive. This implication will not be in line with Jeremiah 31:34.
Jeremiah 31:34 (NLTse)
And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the L ord. ’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the L ord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”
You see, Jeremiah 31:31-34 is the new covenant that God was making with himself. This covenant was the replacement of the mosaic covenant. The difference between the two covenants is that, in the mosaic covenant, the Jews were required to do something in order for God to do something in return. Whereas in the new covenant, the Jews are required to do nothing. Without needing to do anything, God decided in the new covenant that he will forgive their sins and remember them no more. So, based on this, since we are also beneficiaries of this new covenant through Jesus, God has already forgiven us our sins.
Now, how come we need now to forgive others for God to forgive us? Does this means salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus plus forgiveness of others? I ask this question because, if God does not forgive us, then we cannot enter heaven. Therefore we cannot be saved. How do I know I have forgiven everyone? What if I forgot to forgive someone, does it mean I am not saved?
What we know is that Jesus here is giving a sermon at the mount. If one looks at this sermon, from chapter 5 to 7, Jesus is systematically crushing the false belief that the Jews had in their laws and to show them that on their own, they can never attain God’s standard of righteousness. Clearly, on our own, there is not a single law of God that we can keep 100%. Even this one of forgiveness. I beleive that we will never be able to keep the law of forgiveness as it is stated here, and that is the point. We live by God’s mercy and grace because without that, we are doomed. We are too weak to acquire God’s righteousness on our won. It is only through faith in Jesus that we acquire this grace. So, we know for a fact that salvation is by grace through faith plus nothing. All we can do, is to try and keep on trying to comply to God’s law and the rest, live it up to God to decide. Forgiveness should manifest as the fruits of our salvation.
Coming back to the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus wants us to forgive others as God has forgiven us and he wants us to tell our Father through prayer that we have forgiven others as we ourselves have been forgiven. What does it means to forgive, it means to forgive just as God has forgiven you. How did God forgive you? He forgave you and remembered your sins no more. So, you must also forgive others and remember their sins no more. How many times can I forgive someone, as many times as he/ she asks for forgiveness.
Luke 17:3-4 (NLTse)
So watch yourselves!
“If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive. 4 Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.”
So, Jesus takes forgiveness very serious. Salvation is by grace through faith plus nothing and the fruits of that salvation must be forgiveness of others unconditionally.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Another one of those controversial verses. In James 1:13-14, James tells us that God does not tempt.
James 1:13-14 (NLTse)
And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.
We know that this is true. Why then does Jesus say we must ask God not to lead us into temptations? We know that God will never allow us to be tempted more than we can handle.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLTse)
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
It therefore makes sense to understand this verse to mean that God must not allow us to be tempted more than we can handle. In other words, God must protect us from temptation and in turn deliver us form the devil. This is also how NLT or the New Loving Translation translates this verse:
Matthew 6:13 (NLTse)
And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.
So when we pray we must ask God to protect us from the devil and to ensure that all the temptations from the devil are not more than we can handle. This is certainly in line with scripture:
1 John 5:18 (ESVST)
We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.
So when we pray we must have these five elements as part of our prayer. We must worship or praise God, we must submit to his will, we must ask for our daily physical needs, we must forgive others as we have been forgiven and lastly we must ask for protection against the devil from God. I beleive this is what Jesus intended for us to know.
[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]
These words above are sometimes added to the Lord’s Prayer. These words are not found in the early manuscripts. These seems to have been added later on and accepted by the church. Most bible translations except the King James Version, do not include these words.