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The Lord's Prayer

Our Father in heaven, 

hallowed be your name. 

Your kingdom come. 

Your will be done 

on earth as it is in heaven. 

Give us this day our daily bread. 

And forgive us our debts, 

as we also have forgiven our debtors. 

And do not bring us to the time of trial, 

but rescue us from the evil one. Matthew 6:9-13 (NRSV)


We may recite this prayer as part of our daily spiritual practice. We may offer it as a collective at our worship service. We may have it memorized, read it from a book of worship, or even sing it from a hymnal. But what does it mean? 


Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 


We acknowledge God's intimacy with us by recognizing God as Our Father. For those who have had good and caring fathers, this intimacy is more profound than any you have ever experienced. He is a Father who knows your every need before you ask. Many may not have had a father in the picture or a father who was not involved, caring, or abusive. But God, our Father, is not that, but one of compassion that desires only the best for you and wants to demonstrate a kind of love that has been missing. Through Jesus Christ, we become heirs to the Father. 


We are to have no other gods beside him, and Holy is his name. He is pure, perfect, and worthy of our praise.


Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 


Many folks during Jesus' time were waiting for the Messiah to create an earthly kingdom. They rejected him when it became apparent that Jesus wasn't an earthly king like King David. After the transfiguration, the early church thought that Jesus' return was imminent. While it hasn't happened yet, it will happen; Jesus will return. In the meantime, as his disciples, we are to do our best to make the world in which we live His kingdom, treating each other as if God's new kingdom has come today.


We pray that God's will–not our own–be done. We come before God humbly, setting aside our agendas and seeking His will. Understanding we are not number one–God holds that position securely, but discerning what He would have us do and being obedient is the joy and sacrificial part of being a Christian.


God is sovereign of the skies above, outer space which he created, and the spiritual realm we cannot see. God is omnipresent (everywhere at the same time), omnipotent (all-powerful), and omniscient (all-knowing). Though God exists in a realm, we cannot see or fathom, we experience him with us through the Holy Spirit. 


Give us this day our daily bread. 


In the United States, we have a "more is good" attitude. We desire more than just our daily bread–we can use bread as a metaphor for other possessions; we want to stockpile all the bread we can. The more we accumulate, the bigger our appetite is to be sated. Instead of trusting that God will provide our needs, we have become driven to satisfy all our whims and wants.


And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 


First, we are to be mindful of our sins. We don't like to sin. We try not to sin. Yet, we still do. Paul sums it up well in Romans 7:19-20, "For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now, if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me." It is only by God's grace that we are more than sinners.


Secondly, we are all in the same boat. We are all sinners. My sin is no less than yours, and yours is no less than mine. But thanks to Jesus, we are sinners in recovery.


Thirdly is God's grace of forgiveness. Yes, we err and do what we do not want, but when we earnestly confess our imperfections and impurities–to God, He grants us pardon. The perfect and pure Jesus has paid the price of our sins upon the cross. The only cost to us is humbling ourselves and admitting our guilt.


Finally–and this is the most challenging part for us to appreciate and understand–the pardon we are guaranteed is conditional! Yes, God will forgive us, but first, we must forgive that person who has done us wrong. There is no room for revenge or grudging forgiveness in God's kingdom.


And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.


At first, this verse is confusing. Is it saying God is bringing us "to the time of trial?" Of course not; God never leads us into temptation. Instead, the prayer is a plea that God will deliver us from the temptations of evil.


Let's pray the Lord's prayer again, and this time, pause after each sentence to reflect on its meaning. 


Thanks be to God for his grace and mercy. Amen.


Blessings, 

Pastor Tim




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