I was in a Chat Room, the other day, and we were discussing various forms of prayers used around the world. During the course of this sharing, I was asked what I thought about ďThe Lordís PrayerĒ. Which, of course, brought on a whole new element of discussion. At any rate, I was told/asked to put my thoughts on the matter on the website, soÖÖ here it is, remember, this is only my own personal perception. It is not meant to be judgmental towards the way or ways others see The Lordís Prayer, nor is it meant to imply that I believe all people should pray like this. These are simply my thoughts on the subject at hand.
"The Lord's Prayer" as it has become traditionally known to this day is a misnomer at the least. I am not sure at exactly what year or era this model of prayer given to us by Christ Jesus came into vogue, being known by this title but I do know that it was certainly after the Age of the Apostles. Certainly this is so, because were it to be known as such, somewhere in the rest of the Holy Spirit inspired Bible would be references to this by more than just one of the writers of the New Testament.Instead, it is related as an event that occurred, a teaching, if you will.
How can it be but a model of prayer? Well, for one thing, except for minor word changes, i.e., debts to trespasses and back and forth again as each particular "church" decreed, etc. - it is in clearly an outline, a group of headings if you will with the areas beneath each, left empty. And this outline becomes when used solely by itself becomes repetitious and such is clearly admonished against by the Giver Himself in the verse preceding the model prayer.
The Lord's Prayer is found in Chapter 6 of Matthew. The chapter opens with the mode and examples of alms giving. At the end of these examples and directions, Christ goes into the disciplines of prayer.
I begin with verse 7: "But when ye pray, USE NOT VAIN REPETITIONS, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking."
Every 'church' I have ever been in, with regard to Christianity, has said "The Lord's Prayer". And, with the minor exceptions I spoke of, each and every time - each and every pastor and member spoke the exact same words. Repetition. So much so, I can not remember a time when I heard anyone in a church speak with this prayer WITH FEELING. In a nutshell, this very beautiful model of prayer has become a non-thinking, let's hurry up and get out of here benediction that I am sure pleases God - NOT.
The biggest problem with these types of repetition "prayer" modes is that they completely cancel out thinking. Once you get started you can think about anything and everything you feel like doing and most usually it has nothing to do with your speaking to God. It is attempting to speak to God by rote. Your mind can go on a hiatus while your tongue and lips just keep mouthing mumbo-jumbo, and outsiders can look at your very correct posture and deem you a "holy man".
Christ goes on to say in verse 8: "Be not ye therefore like them: for YOUR FATHER knows what things ye have need of BEFORE ye ask them."
This is true, yet The Word counsels the reborn to come to God in prayer. And this is because will to action on their part must be evidenced for God to grant or take action on His Own Part. It is the same dynamic in that one MUST come to Christ, Christ will not FORCE Himself on anyone. God is not some deaf parent whose child must yell at them like a stuck record, screaming"money-money-money- money-money-money- money-money- money-money-money-money-money-money-money-ad infinitum, until the exasperated parent gives in and pays the kid off, just to get him or her out of the parent's hair. I say this, despite the analogy given regarding the woman and the official related in the New Testament.
And verse 9 is the key to the fact that this is a model of prayer, and, albeit a glorious one, and not THE PRAYER.
Verse 9: "AFTER THIS MANNER, therefore, pray you:........"
I interrupt verse 9 here to further point out the definitive statement here. Christ says, "After this manner......" He does not say "Pray this prayer." It is an OUTLINE. Christ could have just as easily said "After this example..."
"Our Father...." this is the designated to WHOM the prayer is directed. It is a statement of fact to the cosmos that you know exactly Who you are praying to.
Of course, you are not forbidden to say "Our Father", but instead of saying this all the time, the next time you pray, try letting what this phrase "Our Father" really means to you as an individu≠al, in your heart, and saying to Him what your heart says.
"which art in heaven..." this is the address where your prayer is being directed or sent to. You are not praying to some undefin≠able, whimsical, To Whom It May Concern entity here. If you are in a position to know God the Father, through Christ the Son - you not only have the right to pray directly to God, as it were, but are directed to do so by God the Son, Himself. Do we know exactly where Heaven is? No, not in the true strict sense, but we do know that God is in His Heaven, that The Son IS BEFORE the Father and that The Holy Spirit indwells the person who has accepted Christ. Therefore, in knowing these three things, by acknowledging them the reborn can be assured that whether they like the answer or not, their prayers reach the ears of ďOur FatherĒ.
"....Hallowed be Thy Name...." - Hallow His Name, hallow it in the manner your entire being wishes to speak out to Him, He knows He is Holy, He doesn't NEED for you to tell Him this, BUT the reborn NEEDS to tell Him. I hope you understand the difference, it is a great difference I assure you. And if you get to the point where you clearly understand what I mean, it will bring a great release to you that is exactly the opposite of that indefinable feeling that one experience's in the mode of despondency without knowing the reason or the so-called anxiety attack.
"....Thy Kingdom Come...." Listen, standing alone like this, this really makes no sense. You see, this is a model, not the prayer. These words here are speaking of the Kingdom of God that Christ will establish upon His Second Coming. It is, in effect, an asking of God to tarry not longer and bring His Kingdom to earth, an earth that sorely needs it and the King that will establish it.
"Thy Will be done in earth...." - And when Christ does come through God the Father's Direction and Will; and establishes God's Kingdom on earth, indeed and verily so - God's Will will be done in, upon, around and through the earth.
"....As it is in heaven...." - When Christ comes, the harmony between God's Heaven and God's Kingdom will be complete. In both the primary concern, aim, goal, love and wish is that God's Will be done. There will be no more rebellious men and/or angels, perhaps other entities by whatever names - there will be but one common goal, God's Will. Well, there is a bit of an exception here; however, this is not the time nor place to go into it. If you wish, on your own to explore it, you will find the exception arriving just after a thousand years have passed, in The Book of Revelation.
Now, don't be goofy and start thinking that this means that we will become non-thinking robots without any type of free will where we have to all think in the exact same linear pattern, and walking in exactly the same gait, or speaks in the exact same verbal cadence and thought. It does not mean this at all. It means simply and most gloriously that one and all will not be at odds with one another, that it is not our own selfish desires and goals that we aspire toward but what God has for us to do, to seek, to explore, to accomplish, to endeavor toward, to enjoy, and on-and-on way past whatever imagination a man has. It will be indeed free will, for striving towards His Will, in turn, will be what we wish for most of all.
"Give us this day...." - This is acknowledgement to God that each day of life is given, not earned, through the merciful grace of God and done so in accordance to His Will. These words, of course are tied into the ones that follow and together they form a thought. But separated they also form whole thoughts. We look toward God and as we mature in His Word we begin to realize that each breath that we continue to take is in obeisance to His Word.
In Revelation there is at the beginning, the word picture of lamps being trimmed, and some being removed by Christ. While this picture in Revelation pertains in the main to the fact that when reborn Christians (it has absolutely nothing to do with non-believers) do not grow in The Lord, but instead remain complacent with the knowledge of being saved, not putting forth the effort to even attempt to accomplish that which God has for a person to do, or even consider what that might be in the first place - there reaches a point where although one's salvation, if truly come to Christ, is not lost, their availability to work and walk in fellowship with Him is taken away as unproductive vines that do not bear some sort of fruit.
Also when Christ cursed the fig tree and the tree died, it was because it did not bear fruit, and in essence the same applies to those who steadfastly seem to remain adamant that they will go as far as salvation, but no further - indeed, the chance remains that they could go so far as to recant that which they vowed to Him; I say this because of Christ's admonition in Revelation to "...hold on to what you (do) have...".
So the reborn ask God to give them each day in order that regard≠less of how teeny-tiny it may seem - they progress toward Christ in one manner or another; they keep their arms extended toward Him, their eyes toward Him - for each day gives them another chance to bring Glory to God, to mature in Him and, yes - to even lay up treasure for themselves in Heaven for that day when they leave all else behind to disappear into nothingness here on earth. The very same treasure Christ tells the reborn to strive toward: non-perishable treasures that will await us in the Treasure House of Heaven.
"....our daily bread" - this is of course, the latter half of the whole sentence. These words, when coupled with the first is the acknowledgement the reborn needs to make toward God that they not only depend on Him to provide them with their daily needs, but that His Own Words has spoke it to be truth and fact that He will do this for His Own.
The words speak of daily bread, and this to be sure means - basically - ensure that the reborns are fed. But while it certainly can be said that it, in fact, means every aspect of our lives that are neces≠sary to survive on this earth in our physical and spiritual being Ė it is primarily speaking and pointing toward The Word, that is to say, The Bread of Life.
Yes, sometimes this seems to be not so, but when a Christian finds himself in this predicament, they need to go to the Father and find out (if they do not already know) how they strayed off the path of fellowship with Him - find this out, confess it, repent of it - that is, turn away from it, and be re≠stored into the glory of being in fellowship with God.
"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." - This is where one of the minor changes I spoke of earlier occurs. I, myself, prefer "trespasses". It really does not make much a difference, regardless. They both mean "sins", no matter how you look at it. And this is Christ telling the reborn in this model of prayer that one cannot expect forgiveness from God, now through Christ's Righteousness, if the reborn can not forgive those whose know≠ingly or unknowingly sin against us. And the words "debts/trespasses" are collective words. They bundle up the sum. This shows that it is a model prayer for when the reborn comes to convers≠ate with God and to ask forgiveness, they are to be specific. In all that the reborn does, they should be as specific with God as they can learn to be. It is only as the reborn gets specific that the reborn begins to realize to what extent God blesses them each and every day, and to what extent all mankind including the reborn sin against Him and our fellow brethren, and even to the world at large.
It is a simple yet, extremely hard thing, for the reborn to do, both at the same time. This is because the new, born-again spiritual nature must contend with the remaining physical earthly "old man". The old man wants nothing better than to get revenge in some manner whether it be a punch in the mouth or, worse many times - a sharp tongue and wit that leaves the other crying crystal tears of despair deep within their soul.
Yet, the reborn spirit in Christ not only instinctively speaks that this is wrong, but the Holy Spirit that dwells within the reborn tells and teaches at the very same moment that this is not the way to go. If the reborn would but listen, they would know that just because they forgive the other, does not essentially mean that the person will go "unpunished".
One way or another, nothing and no one gets away with hurting one of God's Kids nor sinning against God - which is exactly what one does when they come against His Children. "Vengeance is Mine, saith The Lord.", and He means exactly that.
It might come upon that other in the next moment, next hour, next day, next week, next month, next year, ten - twenty years from then, or the most worse, it may abide until the person stands before the Great White Throne of the Judgment of the Lost and Christ tells the soul - "Depart from Me, I never knew you." The fact is, Christ tells the reborn that this is not theirs to worry about, that they are to tend to His Business that He has set aside for them; which during this Age of Grace, is to spread and make available His Word (Not Convert!!!) while the earth yet remains in a condition to receive it. All else is His Business to accomplish and He is quite more than able to do just that.
"And lead us not into temptation...." - This more accurately and literal should read "...LEAVE us not in temptation". God may test us but God does not lead His Children into temptation - that Satan's bailiwick. Sad to say, and most horribly I might add, far and away too many secular and Christians alike blame God for their defeats, failings, and temptations. It just isn't so. So we pray to the Father that when we find ourselves within the boundaries of temptation and realize such - to get us out of temptation, post haste!
"...but deliver us from evil..." - One could place "the evil one" here and not be wrong in any way, for it is that very evil one that combines his wiles with our natural proclivity for that which is wrong which in turn, leads us into the temptation to begin with.
So we pray to the Father to not only remove us from the tempta≠tion, or the temptation away from us, but also to bring His Power and Authority against Satan and make him back off from the Child in Christ.
"For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory for ever. Amen." This is acknowledgment of all that has preceded and more. Basically, it is an answer to an unspoken question, and that being: The world system and its inhabitants look at the believer; and being ignorant and unknowing of God ask, Why can we ask God for this, or how can we, or how are we able to. And the answer is basically:
** My understanding is weak and meager, Father. I know this. But since You have extended unmerited mercy and grace to me in the Form of Your Son, Who died on the cross for the sins of the world and is My Salvation provided and ensured by His Bodily Resurrection, I have come to at least know and understand that regard≠less the furthest point in creation, if there is such - there is Your Kingdom and in Your Kingdom, it is You that is the Power that made it and the Power that holds it together while the same Power makes it all run; and all of this according to Your Will. For all of this and more that man will never likely know - to You belongs The Glory and this Glory for ever.
"Amen." - Simply stated, this is a word of ancient times which literally means: "I believe."
So, you see, this isn't The Lord's Prayer, but the disciple's prayer or the believer's prayer. It can not be The Lord's Prayer because He tells us that He and the Father are One, that a one who knows The Son, knows The Father. This being the case, if it were the Lord's Prayer, in essence Christ would be praying to Himself, asking Himself to give to Himself that which He already has, in a manner of speaking.
Also, God the Father is Father to God the Son. This is a unique and sole relationship. This is strictly speaking, Father to Son and Son to Father. This IS NOT the same relationship that the reborn has with God the Father.
In the rebornís case, God is Our Father THROUGH Christ The Son and this is the ONLY way any of mankind can obtain this relationship. Indeed, adopted into Sonship to the Father is very possibly the best way to describe it. There is a natural son and an adopted son here on earth, and regardless of the love in both cases, or the lack of it in either direction, bottom line is that they are not one and the same.
There≠fore, when Christ says "Our Father" He is giving us example. When Christ prayed to His Father, He never said "Our", it was always in a direct singleton manner. God the Son has a SPECIAL relationship with God the Father which although the reborn may SHARE with and through Christ, the reborn will never have the same FULLNESS that the Supernatural Son has with the Supernatural Father.
To assume that the reborn has the SAME relationship is tantamount to proclaiming that reborn is EQUAL with Christ. To say this then, is tantamount to saying that the reborn is EQUAL to God the Father. And to say that is putting reborns in the very same danger that threw Satan out of his position as the Covering Angel of God; which eventually cast him down to earth; and ultimately into The Lake of Fire.
It is a wonderful model of prayer, a marvelous model of prayer,