When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray he gave them a short, concise prayer that really went to the heart of an authentic conversation with their Heavenly Father. For no reason I can explain, I woke up the other day with a desire to meditate on this prayer and now I would like to share it with you. Be blessed, not because of my thoughts but because God has given us such a beautiful pattern to follow!
Your brother in Christ;
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
Matthew 6:9-13 NIV
Is there anything that can be more beautiful than to be able to claim the Creator of the Universe as our Father? What a privilege! It is beyond our limited capacity to comprehend. Meditate on this relationship you have with the perfect, loving, all-powerful God. You are not just his creation but you are born into his family and given the right to call him your Father. Is there any good thing your perfect Heavenly Father would withhold from you?
He is also “our Father” meaning you have a family. You are not alone but have brothers and sisters who join you in this beautiful family of God. Jesus the Son of God – the God-man who existed for all eternity with the Father is now inviting you into His family to join him as a child of his Father. This is a great mystery and we cannot come close to fully understanding it but what a wonderful contemplation. You will forever have a family that is perfect love, perfect harmony, and perfect truth. This is your identity – receive it.
Heaven is a real place – even more real than the place you are at this moment. All that you see about you will someday be destroyed but heaven will remain. This is because heaven is the dwelling place of God and He is eternal. Places are important to God. Jesus has made it clear that he is preparing a place for us to be with him. So let your heart long for that place. Set your imagination free to explore its beauty. There is no way we can fully comprehend it but when we stop and contemplate our true home it causes our spirits to be lifted up and hope to rise in our souls. So give yourself over to meditating on that beautiful place that God has prepared for you. He knows you perfectly and has created it with you in mind. It will be perfect.
“Hollowed be your name”
Holy is a concept that we don’t use very often. It means “set apart”, “not common or ordinary” This is a great mystery, that we can at once be so intimate with the Creator of all things and yet he is infinitely unlike us. Steach your soul on this thought; the one who holds a billion, billion stars in place, and holds together every atom of your body, is the one to whom you are addressing. You are speaking to him and he is listening. This thought is humbling - it is good to be humbled when we come into the presence of the God of glory. Let yourself feel the power of Almighty God – give yourself over to the awe of this encounter.
Even the name of God, the word we use to represent Him is holy. It should be set apart for worship and adoration. It should never come flippantly from our mouths or carelessly tossed about in meaningless phrases or derogatory associations. Yes, Jesus taught us that the name, the words we use to describe Almighty God, are to be kept sacred. We live in a culture where nothing, absolutely nothing is sacred, so this concept is very difficult to articulate. But it is a necessary component of a right relationship with God. When faced with the majesty of our God our proper reaction is like Isaiah.
O Merciful Father, forgive me for making your name commonplace. Forgive me for associating your name with anything that depreciates your great worth. I truly am a person of unclean lips. Touch my lips with the holy fire from the altar and may I honor your holy name always.
“Your kingdom come”
The closer you are to God the more disconnected you become to the world and all its priorities and desires. This is because we are truly citizens of another kingdom and our purpose on earth changes from one set of purposes to a completely different set. As Jesus said …
When we pray we are implicitly acknowledging and submitting to another King and the priorities of another kingdom. So why are we so often praying for the priorities of this earthly kingdom? Why are we praying for health, wealth and prosperity when the heavenly kingdom priorities are often exactly the opposite? If we are unsure of the purposes of our true heavenly kingdom we need to look no further than to the example of our King – Jesus.
We have entered into this kingdom through the new birth and are set to the task of representing our King to a world refuses to acknowledge him and openly rebels from his authority. We must realign our prayer life after the desires of our King. “How do you do that?” you may ask. There is only one way – to deepen your knowledge and love for your King. This is done by a transformation of our hearts through the Spirit of Christ. This is the only way, for apart from this transformation we will never know our true purpose and calling much less be able to pray for kingdom priorities.
O Heavenly Father I confess that I am so often seeking the priorities of this earthly kingdom rather than your priorities. I confess I often pray for comfort rather than endurance, wealth rather than wisdom, happiness rather than humility, popularity rather than bearing the shame of rejection that you bore for me. I often want to be first in this world and am ashamed to admit that it has made me last in your kingdom. I beg you to transform my heart and increase my love and devotion to you. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and let me love what you love, seek what you seek, crave righteousness, seek your justice and walk humbly in the way of my Master, my Lord, and my King.
“Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”
Be assured that the rebellion will not be tolerated forever. Man’s shaking his fist at God’s authority will cease – the true King of Kings and Lord of Lords will be revealed and peace will be restored to the universe. This is a reality beyond realities! When we acknowledge this fact we are putting ourselves on the winning side. It’s like when Théoden the king of Rohan acknowledged Aragorn the true king of Gondor. There was still a desperate battle to be fought and evil to be conquered but the true king would come into his own and claim his rightful place on his throne. Tolkien knew that all great literature was based on the reality that good would eventually win out and evil would be ultimately defeated. So it is with us, we live in the middle of the greatest story where evil seems unassailable and the truth is twisted. Still, there is hope, for God has risen up those who will not bow the knee to the golden statue of King Nebuchadnezzar or shirk their calling to the true King even if it means death. Our confidence does not lie in our own abilities, or strengths. We are supremely confident because God has already written the last chapter of man’s sojourn on earth. The King is coming and this time it will not be as a helpless baby in a manger. He is coming in glory and power to judge the living and the dead. So when we declare our submission to his will to we are simply stating a historical fact.
Lord help me to live in this reality. I confess that the pressures of life and the intoxicating lies of this present world too often lead me from the truth. You are my King, my Lord, and my Life. I desire everything I do, say, think and feel to be in total alignment with your will. All will someday kneel before you and proclaim you as King but I desire to do that here and now, laying all that I am before your feet in praise and worship. You are not only King of Kings and Lord of Lords but I proclaim here and now that you are my King of Kings and my Lord of Lords.
Give us today our daily bread
So much of our lives seem to be spent just trying to live. We spend so much time trying to accumulate stuff and then the rest of the time trying to preserve what we have accumulated.
O Lord I confess I am often anxious and fearful about the future as I become preoccupied with the “necessities” of this life. This is how faithless I am. But you are faithful and true. You are gracious and never withhold a single thing that is good and profitable – because you are good all the time.
Father, all I am is yours and all I need comes from your gracious hand. Nothing that I will ever need is neglected and in fact those things that I don’t even know I need you give out of your abundance. I am above all blessed. So I acknowledge you as the giver of all good gifts. You are the sustainer of my life. The air that I breathe and the bread that I eat are all provided by you. My heart is at peace because you are my source for life and I will rest in your loving sufficiency.
And forgive us our debts
Is it possible for us to completely comprehend the enormous distance between us and a holy and righteous God? No. Any comparison would be wholly inadequate. For example, could we say the distance is similar to an ant and a human? Most would say that’s quite a gap. But understand this, both you and the ant are infinitely more alike than you and God. Both of you are creatures made up of matter and bound by time and space. Both have bodies limited by natural forces and both will die. It is a matter of degree that we are different not a matter of essence. For both are made up of atoms and chemicals. But any comparison with God is completely absurd. He is beyond our knowledge and beyond our comparisons. He has no beginning and no end, no limitations, no needs, no requirements for existence. There is nothing he cannot do nor is there anything he does not know – intimately. So when we depart from his will we are not merely choosing another path we are rebelling against the super-reality of the universe – that being God. This puts us at odds with God and creates a list of offenses that put us in a deeper deficit than can ever be repaid. In short, he can never allow this active state of rebellion to exist in his universe because it is at odds with the essence of who he is. There is only one solution – forgiveness. God must forgive us and make us capable of living in his presence. The miracle of miracles is he grants us the freedom to accept or reject this forgiveness. When we accept his forgiveness, he gives us a new spirit, one that is eternal and alive to God. This is what happens when we call out to God in repentance. He doesn’t just wipe away our sin but he makes us new creatures that are now capable of living in harmony with him.
O Father, thank you for your forgiveness of all my debts. I receive your forgiveness and I accept your Spirit to wash and regenerate me so I can be alive to your will and ways. I could never repay the debt I amassed. But through your Son’s atoning death and resurrection, I now have a new life that makes me dead to the rebellion of this world and alive to eternal life in you.
… as we also have forgiven our debtors.
God calls us to live out in our horizontal relationships what we experience in our vertical one. We are not only to receive his love, forgiveness, mercy, kindness, and goodness but to be a conduit of those same graces to others. In fact, it is evidence of an authentic relationship with God that we treat others as God has treated us.
The fruit of an authentic relationship with God is to be like God in all that we do.
Peter and John were ordinary men with no special abilities or intellect. However, when filled with the Spirit they took on the characteristics of Jesus which was unnerving to the powerful people in Jerusalem. Clearly, they had been with Jesus and now in this moment when we are with Jesus, we can fully expect that there will be a change in us. Those that are with Jesus will always be different.
O Lord I come into your presence no only to seek your comfort and encouragement but also to be transformed into your image. I want all my interactions in this world to be empowered and motivated by your purpose and priorities. Give me your heart for all I encounter, grant me your wisdom to speak eternal truth, fill me with hope that is anchored in the certainty of your promises. May others see me and be drawn to you. And yes, I am also willing to bear the rejection that comes with my identification with you for if they hated you then they will also hate those who are like you. O Lord make me more like you.
And lead us not into temptation
It is good to be humble, but it’s not easy. To admit to our weakness’ and how easily we fall into temptation is the first step toward maturity. We need to recognize how weak we are in order for us to receive God’s strength, for God’s strength in us is perfected in our weakness.
God’s grace flows into a life that looks to him for strength rather than relying on our own abilities, talents, intellect or skills. Why is this? Because when we rely on our own strength we cause two things to happen.
- We fail to utilize the incredible power of God which is far beyond our own meager abilities. This is like having a billion dollars in the bank and choosing to live homeless on the streets. It makes no sense!
- We fail to experience our true purpose which is to bring glory to God. Who gets the glory when we perform in our own strength? We do! But when we are tapping into the infinite power of God and all our activities are infused with his strength then we give him the praise. And he deserves it!
My Lord, I confess that I too often live life in my own strength, relying on my limited understanding, my limited capacity for doing good and my minuscule ability to love. Because of this, I have sought glory for myself and failed miserably to bring you the glory that you deserve. I am weak and I admit it. O Lord be my strength. Fill me with your Holy Spirit so that I can resist the temptation of relying on myself. May your power rest upon me so that you receive all the praise and glory.
but deliver us from the evil one.
We have an adversary. He goes by many names.
- Father of lies
- The Devil
Jesus called him “the evil one” for truly he is. He is more powerful than you or I can imagine and capable of performing wonders that impersonate God. He is not a trifle and ignoring him will not make him go away. In fact, one of his greatest strategies is to hide his works so that none see “behind the curtain” and instead are distracted by the façade.
Jesus ends his prayer with a warning that we need deliverance from the evil one. He should know for he had a face to face encounter with him and would deal with him many times before he finished his work on earth.
The Apostle Paul also recognized that his true enemies were not the those who were threatening his life and standing in opposition to his ministry. Those were only the puppets of the true adversary.
If we fail to recognize where our true battle lies we do so at great risk. We need to be delivered from the evil one – and our deliverance is awesome!
We have the very power of God living in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Our ability to overcome the evil one is solely in the utilization of this power. Our foe is a defeated adversary, but his power is in deception and lies. As we proclaim the truth that is revealed through the Holy Spirit, (“… he will guide you into all truth” John 16:23) we will be able to not only stand against the devil but thwart his purposes and bring freedom to those who are held captive by his lies. God has defeated our adversary in the empty tomb. In this confidence, and through this power we shall stand.
O Lord I confess that I have often been deceived by the evil one, believing that the enemy was a person, circumstance or even something internal in me. I have tried to fix myself and those around me with no success. So now I come before you and recognize that my true enemy is, “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Help me to recognize his strategies and to be aware of his deceptive schemes. O Lord I now go forth boldly with the confidence that your Holy Spirit abides in me and your power rests upon me to accomplish whatever you call me to do.