Lord’s Prayer – Part 5

Read Matthew 6:9b-13

As we continue our indepth look at the prayer which has become known as the Lord’s Prayer, we look at a phrase which is connected to the one from yesterday. Yesterday we examined the phrase, ” thy will be done.” Jesus continues that thought by adding “on earth as it is in heaven.” Here Jesus is providing a comparison of the spiritual realm and the earthly realm. (For a discussion regarding heaven and earth, review the devotion from June 23, 2021.) Specifically in regard to how God’s will is fulfilled is lifted up here.

First we are confronted with the reality that we are dealing with two different sets of actors in these realms. In the heavenly realm, the ones fulfilling God’s will are spiritual beings such as angels and redeemed souls. We get an image of this in John’s vision recorded in the Book of Revelation. The actors in the earthly realm are humans and creation as a whole. Each set of players have different abilities and limitations.

From Jesus’s inclusion of this phrase, we see his perception that while in the spiritual realm God’s will is consistently followed, the same is not true in the earthly realm. This is a fact highlighted in yesterday’s devotion. This phrase also directs us to Jesus’s desire that there be a more consistent following of God’s will by humans and creation. God desires all of humanity and creation to exist in harmony with one another as was intended when God first created all.

Jesus reminds us in this prayer that we have been given an example to follow and a goal to obtain. Understanding how the spiritual beings as described in Scripture respond to God’s will, we have examples set before us. The redeemed souls of individuals who have gone before us also provide a set of examples as we look at how they fulfilled God’s will in their lives. Having these examples to follow, our goal then is to do God’s will in our own lives.

Lord’s Prayer – Part 4

Read Matthew 6:9b-13

This is the fourth devotional in a series focused on the Lord’s Prayer. Each day we look at a phrase from the prayer Jesus shared with his disciples. Today’s phrase is the start of the second sentence in the prayer,” Thy will be done…” This is the second petition of the prayer.

Jesus communicates here the importance of placing the will of God at the front of all things. He will go on to live this out when he prays to God on the night of his arrest. While in the olive grove, he requests that he does not have to endure all the events of the next thirty-six hours but states, “may your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42). Placing the desire that God’s will be done in the forefront of our minds impacts all of which follows. The fulfillment of this request must begin with us personally.

A couple of challenges present themselves when we pray this petition. The first challenge is in answering the question of what is God’s will. Prior to Jesus, the prophet Micah tried to provide an answer when he stated, “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8b) Jesus attempted to not only tell us what God’s will is in his teaching but to also demonstrate it through his actions while living among us.

The second challenge our petition creates is when our will is not in sync with God’s will. We act in ways which appear to rebel against, or at least compete with, God’s will. The Apostle Paul speaks of this challenge by saying, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do…” (Romans 7:9a) This on-going struggle within ourselves stands in contrast with what we say in this prayer. The petition becomes a personal request as well as one for all people on earth.

Jesus’s placement of this petition in the prayer shows us where God’s will belongs in our lives and in the midst of our requests to God.  It also challenges us to work toward the fulfillment of the petition in our personal lives as well as in the lives of others. 

Lord’s Prayer – Part 3

“‘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.’

Matthew 6:9b-13 (NIV)

As we continue to look for insights from the words Jesus included in the Lord’s Prayer, our next phrase is “hallowed be thy name.” The first word in this phrase is no longer commonly used. There is even a Family Circus cartoon which has Billy mistakenly thinking the phrase is “Harold be thy name.” The definition of this word is holy, consecrated, greatly revered, or honored. Clearly Jesus is indicating that the name of God should not be considered as just an ordinary name.

We are then prompted to consider what is so important about a name. A name is the first and chief identifier of a person. In the culture of the Hebrew people, a name represents the core of the person. By letting someone know your name, you were giving them power over you. You were allowing intimacy into your relationship. This is why the Jews were never allowed to speak the name of God aloud because it indicated an intimacy which they felt they were unworthy to have with God. This is similar to the custom once observed when children always referred to teachers and adults outside of their family by Mr., Ms., or Mrs. (last name).

The message Jesus provided in this phrase is the concept that God’s name should not be casually used. Instead, God’s name is to be used in a manner which is neither casual or profane. The use of God’s name should display the intimacy and reverence which we have with and toward God. A hearty amount of respect should be demonstrated in regard to the name of God. 

To read Part 1, click here.

To read Part 2, click here.

Lord’s Prayer – Part 2

Over the next few days, the devotions will be focused on a common and frequently utilized prayer within the Christian community, the Lord’s Prayer. By examining the words found in this prayer, the opportunity to obtain a deeper understanding may be possible. This will enrich those times when we share in the prayer either as a community of faith or individually.

The most common source of words used in the Lord’s Prayer is found in Matthew 6:9b-13. A shorter version of these words are located in Luke 11:2-4.

“‘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.’

Matthew 6:9b-13 (NIV)

The next phrase which occurs in the prayer is “who art in heaven.” This phrase calls to mind the spiritual existence of God. Heaven is a spiritual realm. There are no boundaries or limits to this realm. It cannot be seen by the human eye and the only descriptions of it are found in apocalyptic and visionary writings. Jesus places God in such a setting in the prayer so we understand that God is not confined by the aspects of the physical world of which we are a part.

The concept of heaven has been a bit troublesome over time. In ancient civilizations, the idea of heaven was associated with space and the sky. These areas were unattainable physically by people prior to the onset of the scientific and industrial ages. So the people became accustomed to viewing heaven as above them. Since we have a different understanding of sky and space, our understanding of heaven shifts. As mentioned above, our understanding no longer is a place which we can point to but instead we know heaven as a spiritual realm which is not physically obtainable.

In today’s phrase from the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us that God is a spiritual being who exists in a spiritual realm.

To read Part 1 – Click here

Lord’s Prayer – Part 1

Over the next few days, the devotions will be focused on a common and frequently utilized prayer within the Christian community, the Lord’s Prayer. By examining the words found in this prayer, the opportunity to obtain a deeper understanding may be possible. This will enrich those times when we share in the prayer either as a community of faith or individually.

The most common source of words used in the Lord’s Prayer is found in Matthew 6:9b-13. A shorter version of these words are located in Luke 11:2-4.

“‘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.’

Matthew 6:9b-13 (NIV)

Today’s focus phrase is: “Our Father.” In two short words, Jesus communicates much about the prayer he is teaching the disciples. Jesus’s use of the ward “our” communicates that this is intended to be a prayer of the community. This can mean that Jesus was sharing these words to be utilized as part of the community worship settings. Another possibility may be Jesus is communicating an aspect of God’s nature, God is God not of individuals but of a community of believers.

The second word, “Father,” places before us an insight into God’s nature. Referring to God as Father can be troublesome for individuals who have experienced pain associated with earthly father figures. The word here is used to encapsulate the characteristics of protection, providing, strength, guidance, teaching and support. Imagining these characteristics should evoke feelings of safety and security.

Starting the prayer with these words clearly places God in the center of the prayer and the community of faith’s life. It demonstrates a belief that God is the one who can, and does, provide for all our needs and security. The words remind us that we are part of a much larger entity than ourselves. As the two words are said, we declare that God is god of a multitude, not our own personal god.