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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, July 27 2023

The Lord's Prayer - Some insights

In Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, right after instructing people not to use vain repetition in prayer (Matthew 6:7), He gave a model prayer now referred to as the Lord's Prayer — or "Our Father" for its first words (Matthew 6:9-13).

When Jesus taught that we pray “in this manner” (Matthew 6:9) or said, “When you pray, say …” (Luke 11:2), He did not mean that we repeat verbatim His words that followed. Rather, he gave an example of the kind of things to say or an outline of categories to cover.

Looking at the structure, we see that He opens and closes with praise to God and places requests in between. Let’s note the progression:

"Our Father in heaven."

We are to be mindful of whom we are addressing, the great God of heaven, and that we are privileged to come before Him in a close relationship as His children. The "our" focus here is an outward one of including others.

"Hallowed be your name."

We express a desire that God's name and all that it stands for be treated as holy—praised, honored and respected—by all, and especially by us as we express praise and thanks to Him.

"Your kingdom come."

We express eager support for God's plan, pleading that His rule over the world come swiftly to set things right—mindful of what is currently wrong in the world. And we personally desire that God would reign in our own lives now. (Note that all the requests of this prayer will find ultimate fulfillment when God's Kingdom comes.)

"Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

We ask that all would perfectly obey God just as the angels of heaven do—and that we would seek and obey God's will in our lives.

"Give us this day our daily bread."

We ask that God provide for our immediate needs—both physical and spiritual. We should ask for others too and not just ourselves. And we should express thanks for what God has already blessed us with. The phrase hearkens back to the "daily bread," or manna, by which God sustained the ancient Israelites in their 40 years of wandering in the desert wilderness to teach them that they were ultimately reliant completely on Him—a vital lesson for us as well.

"And forgive us our sins [or debts] as we forgive those who sin against us [or who are indebted to us]"

The debt aspect here concerning paying the consequences we deserve. With a repentant attitude, we ask that God forgive us where we've done wrong, thankful for His great mercy and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and recognizing that we must have a forgiving attitude toward others who've wronged us in some way (Matthew 6:14-15).

"And lead us not into temptation [or severe trial]."

We ask that God would help us to learn lessons quickly and do right immediately rather than having to go through chastising hardship and tribulation to get our act together.

"But deliver us from the evil."

We ask for protection—from harm or calamity as well as malevolence directed against us. We seek deliverance from the evil one—Satan the devil—and His demonic accomplices along with the society they have influenced. And we seek rescue from our own corrupt selves with our selfish nature.

"For Yours is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever."

We end our prayers as we began, with praising God. This is a condensed form of David's praise in 1 Chronicles 29:11 (see also Psalm 145:10-13).


This concluding affirmation means "truly" or "so be it." And in line with Jesus' instruction that we pray to the Father in His name (John 16:24; John 16:26), it is fitting to include before the final amen the phrase "in Jesus' name" or the equivalent.

Again, we should think of the above parts of the prayer not as exact words to say but as examples of what to say—or even as category headings of subjects to elaborate on. Consider that the incense of God's tabernacle and temple service in the Old Testament was to figuratively represent the prayers of God's people (Psalm 141:2; Revelation 5:8; Revelation 8:3-4). And this incense was to be "beaten fine" (Leviticus 16:12). This seems to symbolize the importance of expressing fine detail in our prayers.

Of course, some prayers will be shorter and others longer—it depends on the circumstances. In any case, we must make time to pray.

Never think that you don't have anything to pray about. Jesus gave a whole list of subjects here. Also, the Bible contains other prayers providing further examples—including the psalms. And as you consider these passages, you can always pray that God will help you to pray. The words will come.