What is the purpose of the Lord’s Prayer? Should it be a part of our worship services?

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What is the purpose of the Lord’s Prayer?  Should it be a part of our worship services? Empty What is the purpose of the Lord’s Prayer? Should it be a part of our worship services?

Post by Admin on Tue Jan 26, 2016 1:48 am

The Lord’s Prayer was originally given in answer to the disciples. They had noticed in living with Christ that prayer was a fundamental part of the relationship with God that He was both modeling and teaching. So, [o]ne day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples”—Luke 11:1. The Prayer is also shared as part of the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus teaches in Matthew 5-7. From either source, Christ gave us the Prayer as a model, a “how-to” for our relationship with God. While there is nothing wrong with praying it, God in His desire for personal relationship seeks our original words, reflecting our individual hearts. That’s why, in the original Greek, Jesus says to pray “like this,” not “pray this.” It is not a liturgical approach to prayer but rather modeling prayer. And, in the in the context in which it is given in the Sermon on the Mount, there is a warning: Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them—Jesus Christ, the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:1a. In other words, don’t advertise. In the context of prayer, don’t babble or be long-winded—more words don’t declare more meaning. Righteousness to be “performed” is all about the performer. What the Lord’s Prayer does is emphatically switch the focus from us to God. Its words show us a better way—better because in focusing on God it pleases him. That all being said, the Prayer consists of the following:
(1) Our Father: “Father” refers to relationship, without which no prayer will be answered—or even listened to. The first prayer of the unbeliever that God hears is to become a believer; therefore, this phrase implies a prayer to be used only for believers—otherwise it becomes a meaningless thing to say. It is a prayer for believers only. This phrase also declares that, while God is a God of majesty and holiness, he is also a God who is personal and loving. Because of the intimacy of that relationship highlighted in this single word, we can understand and experience what the writer of Hebrews expressed: Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need—Hebrews 4:16. This is also a statement that acknowledges the body of Christ, in that we all have the same Father, so the use of “our” (and the accompanying pronoun “us” found throughout the prayer) also notes the fact that, while this is a personal prayer, it is also seen by Christ as a community prayer, a fellowship prayer—a prayer of the body of believers, and therefore completely appropriate to be seen and used as meaningful to the body. Also, the word “our” refers not to possession (that would imply something we own) but rather the consequence of claim; we have accepted a gift and, therefore, it has become ours. Christians have been offered a gift and have claimed that offer. Therefore, God is “our father. A great Scripture that amplifies this idea is this: [T]hose who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ—Paul, Romans 8:14-17a. “Our Father” is incredibly important because everything that follows in this prayer is going to flow from this one fundamental truth: God is our Father. Everything mentioned after this reflects gifts given from that Father.
(2) Which art in heaven: God’s dwelling place and reflection of his rule. In my Father’s house are many rooms (mansions, dwelling places); if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am—Jesus Christ, John 14:2-3
(3) Hallowed be thy name: HAGIAZO (hag-ee-ad^-zo)—to regard and honor as holy. The name of God, in all its forms, reflects all that God is—his character and his attributes. Using the name of God is never intended to be a casual thing, like any other word; it should always communicate a specific idea of reverence and honor. The idea of “hallowed” is to view as holy; in other words, every time we use it should inspire us to think about who we’re talking about.
(4) Thy kingdom come: None of the gospel writers used the phrase “the kingdom of God” more than Matthew did. This is easy to explain: Matthew was writing his gospel to Jewish audience. The “kingdom of God” was a phrasing that would resonate with them with their history of David and Solomon; Matthew is trying to get them to understand that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah; he is the one who is the fulfillment of all God’s prophecies of his kingdom coming—first a spiritual kingdom, then a physical one where Jesus will physically use on earth. That being said, this is not simply an acknowledgement of God’s rule but of the reality of his rule in his kingdom, which in this phrase is pointing to two things: (1) The reality of his rule in a believer’s heart and, by extension, in the visible church (the worldwide body of believers as well as in the local gathering of the body); and (2) The ultimate rule of God in the new heaven and new earth, and our passion that his eternal kingdom come.
(5) Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven: This prayer, like all prayers, reflects our submission to all of God’s purposes, plans and glory. It also defines the believer’s perspective of God’s will being the focus of their lives, being as surely and fully accomplished on earth as it is in heaven.
(6) Give us this day our daily bread: This is not simply a phrase to have God set our tables and fill our cupboards. It goes far beyond that. Maybe the key thought is actually found immediately before the Lord’s Prayer: [Y]our Father knows what you need before you ask him—Jesus speaking, the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:8b. That makes “daily bread” a reference to all our needs—every one in every area of our lives. This phrase acknowledges a couple of things: (1) It acknowledges that God is the unending source of everything we need: [M]y God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus—Paul, Philippians 4:19; and (2) Because of who is meeting our needs, we can trust that all our needs will be met. Later on in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus will talk about how God so completely meets nature’s needs, talking about the birds of the air and the grass of the field. He concludes that section with this question: “Are you not worth more than they?” In other words, if I provide for nature, won’t I much more provide for you? Giving us our daily bread gives us a great picture of the trust we can claim in knowing how completely God will meet our needs based on how God meets the needs of everything around us—in provision we can see every day. If he does all that for nature, he will do all necessary for us. A word of warning: It doesn’t declare how those needs will be met; it simply states that they will be met. Nor does it have anything to do with wants; it is all about needs. God may not see the needs in our lives the way we see them. That is the other trust in this statement: God will meet our needs as he sees as being best for us, and most glorifying to him.
(7) And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us: With the connective word “and,” this ties in to the previous phrase, and becomes an additional petition for God’s provision in our lives. While “give us this day our daily bread” refers to our physical lives, this one directly impacts our spiritual lives: (1) This is not a “sinner’s prayer;” this is not a prayer for justification. Rather, this is a phrase pointing to the fact that, this side of heaven, we all sin, which means that we all do things that hamper our relationship with God (call them bumps in the road). It is those things to which this phrase refers. (2) The defining question, which directly impacts the next part of this phrase, is this: How does God forgive us? By gracing us with three awesome picture of his work on our behalf—two of which directly involve limiting himself with regard to our sins: (a) [A]s far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions (sins) from us—David, Psalm 103:12. This is saying that God so completely removes our sins from us that it is as infinitely separated from us as east is from west. (b) First, God, who in his omnipresence sees all things, who knows the beginning from the end—and everything in between—separates our sins from his sight. This idea is shared in the book of Isaiah: In your love . . . you have put all my sins behind your back—King Hezekiah, Isaiah 38:17b. Our sins are literally moved from “before his sight” to “behind his back.” (c) Second, God speaks further of his limiting himself in both Isaiah and Jeremiah, Jeremiah sharing it this way from God: I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more”—God speaking, Jeremiah 31:34b. God, who remembers all things—from beginning to end—who remembers all his promises, promises to limit himself by remembering our sins no more. (As an aside, how many of us haven’t had the experience from something from our past that comes back to our minds, seeming to remind us of what a worthless, sinful creature we are? It’s a lie, and these verses tell why: If God has removed our sins from us, if he remembers our sins no more, why should we?) Jesus did the work that made this all possible. In other words, our sins are gone. These last two illustrate God actually limiting his immeasurable power and abilities in his reaction to our sins—and in his forgiveness of those sins. Now connect what God does in forgiving us to how we are to forgive others. How do we know that connection is here in the text? Because of what Christ says immediately following this prayer (an instance of Christ repeating himself): [I]f you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins—Jesus Christ speaking, the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:14-15. This is the one point in the prayer that Christ repeats and even expands on; it’s that important. What is the prayer saying at this point? Essentially, we are inviting God to forgive us, to respond to our sins, in the same manner as we respond with forgiveness to others. It’s a bold statement; that’s why it is so important that we see God’s forgiveness as the model of how we are to forgive. How God forgives us will be a reflection of how we forgive others. This is a part of the prayer that is a legitimate expression of modeling: Christ is basically saying to us: Treat others as God has treated you. What does this kind of forgiveness look like? Both the Old and New Testaments give us a picture: (1) If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness—Psalm 130:3-4a. If God would forgive us that completely, then how can we do anything less with those who have wronged us? (2) [Love] keeps no record of wrongs—Paul, I Corinthians 13:5b. Forgiveness erases the wrong. Again, that’s how God does it. How do we do it?
(Cool And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: God does not tempt, but he will allow Satan’s attacks on us in order to test us. “Lead us not” refers to a believer’s desire to avoid any sin altogether, and is basically saying, “Please, Lord, when temptation comes, don’t leave me . . . and may I not leave you.” God is faithful to deliver us from evil by knowing what we need and how much in terms of Satan’s attacks we can stand. It is essentially saying that, after having said, “Lord, don’t leave me,” we now say, “Please Lord, bring me through this.”
(9) For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever: A benediction that states that it is all about God, and always will be. It is a statement of both acknowledgement and worship. It acknowledges that the kingdom—our hearts and the church—belong to him. All power to work in our lives, the church and the world comes from him. And, all those things being said, it is all about his honor and his glory. This is a benediction that reflects a Scripture the disciples would have been familiar with: “Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name—David, I Chronicles 29:10b-13
(10) Amen: This is often viewed as kind of a “throw away” word, as something that accomplishes nothing more than basically saying “the end.” Let’s take a moment to look at what it is saying: (1) Coming originally from the Old Testament, it is in and of itself a statement declaring “may it be so.” It comes from a root meaning to confirm, to support, to be faithful; (2) It reflects a perspective of prayer as being a declaration of constancy and reliability. In other words, we can trust in the one to whom we are directing this prayer; and (3) It is also in and of itself a word reflecting praise and worship. Since God is to be the object of all prayer, since he is faithful, because we can trust him, that makes perfect sense. Therefore, it becomes, even as a single word, a reflection of our relationship with him. In saying “amen,” it acknowledges who we are praying to, whose will be done, whose power be displayed, and whose glory be realized. The prayer thus ends as it reflects throughout the entire prayer: It’s all about “our Father.”


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