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Monday, March 31, 2014

The Lord's Prayer

Two places in the New Testament record Jesus' Disciples asking him to teach them how to pray. In both instances it is closely related to a teaching he was presenting at the time. In Matthew it comes in the Sermon on the Mount.(Matthew 6:9:13.) In Luke it comes after Jesus has been praying alone and one of the Disciples said to him, "Lord teach us to pray."(Luke 11:1-4)

The prayers are very similar. Luke 11:2-4: He said to them, When you pray, say:
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
    for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.(NIV)

The more commonly used version in Matthew 6:2-13

 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.’(NIV)
Verse 13:"For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen" is a benediction that seems to have been added at a later time. It appears in later manuscripts.

This prayer can be used as a corporate prayer or as a personal prayer in private devotions. It refers to common needs and universal concerns. God is addressed as "our Father." This recognizes his position as our source and our comfort. In the sense of a corporate prayer, it also recognizes our universal brotherhood. In the beginning it recognizes the person of God to be holy and establishes his presence in Heaven and even the holiness his name.

Be sure that you understand the meaning of praying for God's kingdom to come on the earth so that his will is accomplished in earthly realities as it already is in heavenly places. This is not a ritual to be observed without consequences. Praying in this manner will change this world and bring God's reign to our lives.

We are to pray for daily bread, that is, daily needs. We are not trying to fill a warehouse, but only what will suffice for a day. In the Wilderness Wandering of the Children of Israel they could only collect enough manna for one household for a day. Every day was dependent on God's provision. Maybe we should remember this lesson in other areas of our lives.

Jesus limits our forgiveness. The measure of forgiveness we receive is dependent on how we forgive others. In this statement Jesus assumes we have sins and need of forgiveness, and God's forgiveness is limited by how we forgive others. If we are generous and loving toward others, even in their sin, God is generous and liberal toward us.

The final petition is that God would not put temptation in our way or that when we are tempted by life's circumstances,he would provide us an escape, and that he would deliver us from the snares of Satan. 

 The simplicity of this prayer goes to the heart of our needs and releases us from the wordy, endless formalism the Pharisees practiced. God is not impressed by our words or rhetoric, but by the sincerity of our hearts.