EXPLORING THE WORD
The Lord's PrayerDenise M. Kohlmeyer
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To Acknowledge God's Sovereign Reign and Will — Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven;
This portion of the prayer is evangelistic in nature. "Your kingdom come, Your will be done" is really a prayer of invitation, of inviting God to extend and enlarge His kingly reign and will (thelema, "wishes, desires") to this earth.
And what is His will, His one wish and desire? It's very simple. "...not wishing (thelema, again) that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).
This should be our own desire as well. We should be praying that unbelievers worldwide (including our enemies) would bow in humble surrender to God, that their hearts would be quickened and convicted by the Holy Spirit with regard to their sin, that they would then appropriate the free gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ and the death He died on their behalf (Ephesians 2:8-9). And then that they would live out the rest of their lives in grateful obedience to and loving adoration of God.
After all, this is just what every soul, angel and elder is doing "in heaven" right now.
Similar ways we can acknowledge God's will:
To Acknowledge God's Provision — Give us this day our daily bread;
At first glance, this stanza seems to start off with a demanding tone: "Give us." Can you hear the echoes of a million Israelite voices whining in the wilderness, "Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full" (Exodus 16:3)? It was then that God graciously gave them manna from heaven to sustain His people. Every. Single. Day. For 40 years!
The Greek meaning of "give" (dosis) is "the act of giving; a gift." This again refers to God's nature as a benevolent and loving Father who gives "good gifts." Everything God gives us — whether material (food, clothing, shelter) or spiritual (love, mercy, forgiveness) — is a gift from His holy hand and heart.
And, again, we have only to ask. But not in a demanding, whiney tone. Our requests should be made in a spirit of humility, dependence and gratitude.
Similar ways of acknowledging God's provision:
Gracious God, please give me...; Father, I'm asking for...; Today, Lord, I need help with...
To Acknowledge God's Mercy — Grace — And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors;
"Debt" typically refers to owing money to the one who lent it. However, in this verse it's used metaphorically to mean our sins. Our sins are a debt, a debt we can never repay, and one that deserves God's just retribution.
However, out of His goodness and loving kindness (Titus 3:4), God paid that debt. Paid with the precious life of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, Whom He sacrificed on a cross. And whoever accepts that payment by faith, has their sin-debt forgiven (aphesis), "dismissed, released, sent away, let go, pardoned." "As far as the east is from the west" (Psalm 103:12).
Completely. Totally. Erased.
And by His example, we also are to extend this same totality of forgiveness to those who've hurt us (even if they don't ask for it). As hard as it is at times, we're to dismiss/release/pardon the debt our offenders owe us.
For we cannot withhold forgiveness from those who've hurt us when we ourselves have been forgiven so, so much!
Similar ways of acknowledging God's mercy and grace:
How grateful I am for the forgiveness you so freely give; Lord, forgive me for...(be honest and specific); God, give me the courage and strength to genuinely and completely forgive ________ (name of someone who's hurt you)
To Acknowledge God's Deliverance — And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
The words that seem to trip most people up in this verse are "lead" and "temptation." Does God really intentionally lead His children into situations that could have devastating consequences? No, He does not! Nor does He Himself tempt us (James 1:13). It is not His nature as our Father.
Clarification comes when we define the word "temptation." Peirasmos. "Testing, being tried, calamity, affliction." Every day is fraught with temptations, tests and trials. God does not necessarily spare us from experiencing them, but sovereignly allows them to happen. And usually with a purpose in mind:
• To prove the genuineness of our faith (1 Peter 1:7)
• To refine any unChristlike characteristics (Zechariah 13:9)
• To see if our minds and our hearts are truly His (Psalm 26:2)
• To determine our wholehearted obedience (Hebrews 11:17-19)
Our petition then is two-fold: 1) that God would, in His mercy, keep us from succumbing to the sinful responses of anger, bitterness, resentment, doubt and unbelief while in the trial; and 2) that He would deliver us safely through trial
Perhaps our Lord had His own wilderness testing in mind when He included this last petition, knowing firsthand what it was like "to be tempted by the devil" and then to be sweetly and safely delivered from evil (Matthew 4:1-11).
Similar ways to acknowledge God's deliverance:
Blessed Lord, give me courage and strength in this trial, guard my mind and my heart against any sin; Lord God, I'm asking for deliverance from this affliction; Lord, I'm clinging to Your truth and promises in this trial.
I hope that this article has brought new insight and clarity to your understanding of this precious prayer as it did for me. Be blessed, my friends!
Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures; untitled; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | God-Father | Jesus-Christ
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