Luke 11:1 - One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of His disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught His disciples.”
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, He gave them The Lord’s Prayer – a prayer that has been passed down from generation to generation. This prayer has been the basis of my conversion from a luke warm Christian to a faithful Believer. In fact, my narrative goes back 5 years ago when I was evangelized by a stranger (who’s my mentor today), with the Our Father.
Today, through this article I would like to share the Our Father as I’ve come to know, through the power of the Holy Spirit, through understanding from my mentors and through personal study of our faith. I have learnt to trust and surrender to our Lord Jesus Christ, by reciting the Our Father with a newfound understanding, albeit, my level of dedication resembles a graph with more lows than highs.
However, the Lord never fails, and he makes a way, through all of our perceived impossibilities, provided you’re dedicated and faithful. As Hebrews 12:10-11 says, discipline can be difficult, but produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
The Lord’s Prayer is truly a summary of the entire gospel. It's a prayer to Abba Father which is taught and given to us by our Lord Jesus, in the words that Abba Father gave Him. The Lord’s Prayer is much more than a handy guide on what to pray when no other words come to mind.
Most Christians (I count myself here) have recited this prayer hundreds or even thousands of times through their lives, from memory at various Sunday services, family & personal prayers; however, how many of us have actually sat down to understand what is being recited?
In effect, what the majority does is a type of “lip service”; empty words with no understanding and no reverence. It’s important to remind ourselves to stop and reflect on the words we recite & speak. Jesus has not given us a formula to repeat mechanically.
The Lord's prayer is a spiritual prayer that is said by the spirit given to each one of us by God, and through spirit we communicate to God; who is Spirit.
Our Father is inserted as a bridge into the divine mission. This prayer has the power to change our heart, make us obedient to Abba Father, to purify our spirits, to make us humble & to have reverence towards our Almighty God. It is supposed to be a perfect prayer coming from the heart of God’s children. Through this divine connection the Lord’s Prayer reveals us unto ourselves and at the same time the Father is revealed to us. The catch here is on how faithfully one prays!
So what exactly do we say when we recite this powerful prayer? Let me break it down for you, the Our Father is divided into 2 key parts:
1. Placing ourselves in the presence of God our Father, to adore, to love & to glorify him.
2. The Seven Petitions, which are further broken down into 2 parts;
a. First 3 petitions to draw us to the glory of the Father
b. Last 4 petitions offering our expectations & wants to the Father
~ PART 1 : Placing ourselves in the presence of God
When we begin our solemn cry with "Our Father", we acknowledge our relationship with God, our father as a loving, good & kind father, who is our God. Through this faithful cry we fulfill the first commandment that says "I am the Lord your God and you shall have no other Gods before me".
This acceptance of our holy relationship is the purely gratuitous gift of belonging to each other, through which we are to respond in “grace and truth” given to us in Jesus Christ with love and faithfulness.
Who Art in Heaven,
This biblical expression does not mean a place (“space”), but a way of being; it does not mean that God is distant, but majestic. Our Father is not “elsewhere”: He transcends everything we can ever conceive of His Holiness. It is the fortune of a humble & contrite heart to be filled with grace that elevates their relationship with Jesus.
When the Church prays “Our Father who art in Heaven”, we are professing that we are the People of God, already seated “with him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus” and “hidden with Christ in God”.
~ PART 2 : The Seven Petitions
Hallowed be Thy Name,
We acknowledge His holiness and speak in reverence of God. (1 Samuel 2:2). Through this phrase we put into effect the next commandment "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain". We’re asking that His name be recognized by everyone throughout the world as being the ultimate holy power.
Furthermore, we enter in to God’s plan, by the sanctification of His name – revealed first to Moses and then in Jesus – by us and in us, in every nation and in each man/woman. The sanctification of His name depends inseparably on our life & our prayer; our relationship with God, through His Son & the Holy Spirit.
Thy Kingdom Come,
Primarily, “thy kingdom come” refers to the final coming of the reign of God through Christ’s return. When Jesus asks us to pray “thy kingdom come” he is simply saying that God’s will be in control forever or until the end of time.
This petition has a twofold meaning;
a. We pray for the Kingdom of God to surround us here on Earth, so that we can live in a world characterized by faith, hope, and love
b. We pray that the promise of a “new heaven and a new earth” be fulfilled. When that promise is fulfilled, the faithful will live with God in His Kingdom eternally as members of a Holy City in which there is no death, crying, or pain (Rev. 21:1-4)
Thy Will be Done on Earth as it is in Heaven,
We allow our Lord to work in our lives so that we do what God wants; that is what is right for us according to His will. According to our human desires, we may want many things that are not necessarily for our good, as we are definitely not omniscient beings. Thus we pray these words asking for God’s grace to move us to do His will throughout our life, and that means doing all the things that will please our Father—even the difficult things.
By prayer we can discern “what the will of God” is in our lives and obtain the endurance to do it. Through the Gospels we see Jesus teaching us that one enters the kingdom of heaven not by speaking words, but by doing “the will of my Father in heaven”.
Give us this day our daily bread,
Just as good food nourishes the body, the Good News nourishes the soul. We ask for all that is necessary each day for our soul and our body. Here we’re recognizing that all things we need come to us from God.
Let’s break the phrase down further and understand the meaning behind each word;
By crying out the words “Give Us” we express a basic human desire of want, much like little children imploring their parents. The trust of children who look to their Father for everything. This petition is both materialistic and spiritual, as is evident with our human existence.
Is also an expression of trust taught to us by the Lord, which we would never have presumed as important; these two words represent blind faith for our needs, knowing that it is only through Jesus’ fullness that we have received favor upon favor, everyday.
'Our Daily Bread'
Bread is a powerful symbol of God’s provision, it is a symbol for the Bible, which is our spiritual food, the Word of God & the Body of Christ (through communion).
The reference here is to earthly & spiritual nourishment necessary to everyone for subsistence, and also to the Bread of Life.
a. Bread represents God's Word as in John 6:35
b. Bread represents the necessities of life as in Proverbs 14:23
c. Bread represents God's family and fellowship as in 1 Corinthians 10:16
d. Bread represents salvation as in Matthew 26:26–29
This petition of the Lord’s Prayer, then, teaches us to come to God in a spirit of humble dependence, asking Him to provide what we need and to sustain us from day to day. We are not given a license to ask for great riches, but we are encouraged to make our needs known to Him, trusting that He will provide.
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,
This petition is your biblical “catch-22” situation! It is very clear through this simple yet profound petition that our prayer will not be heard unless we have met a first strict requirement.
Forgiving someone is often easier said than done. However, Christian prayer extends to the forgiveness of enemies; a high-point of Christian prayer. The outpouring of mercy cannot penetrate our hearts as long as we have not forgiven those who have trespassed against us.
God isn’t being difficult, rather He’s teaching us that when there is bitterness and anger in our hearts, there’s no room for His love to fill our hearts.
And lead us not into temptation,
This petition goes to the root of the preceding one, for our sins result from our consenting to temptation or trespasses. God cannot be tempted by evil and He himself tempts no one, on the contrary he wants to set us free from evil. God is faithful and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, so that you may be able to endure it.
We are engaged in a battle “between the flesh & the spirit” and this petition implores the Spirit of discernment and strength, through the Holy Spirit. Such a battle and such a victory becomes possible only through prayer. As much as this petition implores the Spirit of discernment and strength, it also requests the grace of vigilance over our hearts and of final perseverance, from the snares of the enemy.
But deliver us from evil,
In this final petition, evil is not an abstraction, but refers to a person, Satan, the Evil One, the angel who opposes God. The devil is the one who throws himself across God’s plan and his works of salvation accomplished through Christ.
When we ask to be delivered from the Evil one we pray as well to be freed from all evils in the past, present and the future, of which he is the author and instigator. The devil has no power over God and when we pray to God for protection against all that is evil, He will shield us— always.
For thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, forever,
Through this line of the prayer, we acknowledge that we will not forget that everything belongs to Him. He is in control of Heaven and Earth, He has the power to have mercy on us or punish us, and He deserves all of the praise or recognition.
This line is not not a petition but a summation of the first three petitions to Our Father: the glorification of his name, the coming of his reign and the power of his saving will. This line is raised in prayer as proclamation through adoration and thanksgiving.
In simple terms “So be it” thus ratifying our agreement concerning the seven petitions explained above, by understanding what God has taught us, through prayer.
Praying the Our father should develop in us the will to become like him and foster in us a humble and trusting heart for, if we pray the Our Father sincerely, we leave individualism behind, because the love that we receive frees us from it.
The value of prayer does not lie in the quantity of words and the mere repetition of formulas as if accomplishing a task. The value of prayer lies chiefly in our inner attitude of Faith and Love of God. To pray is not to talk too much, but to surrender our lives into God’s loving hands.
I hope this insightful explanation on the most perfect prayer given to us by Jesus, and my humble efforts to expound each phrase has left you with a better understanding and an eagerness to recite the Lord’s prayer in true devotion.
Written By Franzita Fernandes
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