The Lord's Prayer
Prayer Wars Page IX
Prayer Manual For
The International Prayer Network
The Prayer Arm of
Bread Upon The Waters Ministry
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The Lord's Prayer is at least one of the best known and most repeated written prayers that has ever been known. It is recited millions of times a day by people all over the world. It is repeated, usually in a mindless fashion, even by people who are not Christian at all and who don't really believe the Bible, but who think they will somehow obtain God's blessings by repeating it. If these people understood and believed the implications of the words they are praying, and the Scriptural consequences of mindlessly praying it, most of them would shut up quick. The Lord's Prayer is not a mantra. It is not magic words. The truth is, it is not something that Jesus meant for us to make a habit of reciting at all. Rather, it is a set of guidelines, a framework for us to build our own prayers on. Just before He gave the Prayer, Jesus told us not to "use vain repetitions as the heathen do" (Matthew 6:7). It is ironic that this Prayer has been used so much in doing exactly what He told us not to do.
But understand this: What comes out of your mouth counts for good or bad to you with God! This truth should not be taken lightly. As Jesus said in Matthew 12:36 & 37;
"But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak,
they will give account of it on the day of judgment.
For by your words you will be justified,
and by your words you will be condemned."
Solomon discussed this issue in regard to prayer in Ecclesiastes 5:1-2...
Guard your steps (or as we would put it, "Watch your step!) when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.
Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.
Be careful with your words when you pray!
As part of our teaching on prayer, we will take a look at this framework, and try to understand what Jesus was telling us about how to pray in the Lord's Prayer. First, open your Bible to Matthew 6:9-13, and take a look at the entire Prayer and you will see that it is a list of petitions. This significant truth is something to which many who teach on prayer seem to be totally blind. This writer has heard teaching on the Lord's Prayer that totally denied the petitioning substance of this prayer. Such teaching is an example of the false teaching about prayer that is being circulated in the Church these days. Most of this kind of teaching ignores or belittles the obvious straightforward meanings of this and other Scriptures (See "Is The Book of Revelation Symbolic?"), in pursuit of "deeper meanings". Although many of the deeper meanings are valid, this is no excuse for ignoring straightforward meanings. To do so is both taking away from and adding to the Word. For the consequences of that, see Revelation 22:18 & 19.
Again, this is a list of petitions. Jesus lists, as shown in the "What Is Prayer?" page, four different kinds of petitions. Each kind addresses a request for a particular kind of thing. But you will notice that there is not even a hint of praise or thanksgiving in the Prayer! This is the greatest of all affirmations of the doctrine that Scriptural prayer is making petitions to God, of course, expecting to receive what you ask.
We will define each of the four principle Greek words that are used in connection with prayer in the New Testament, and show how we should apply them to our prayer lives. We will take each of the four words and show how they are used in other passages related to prayer.
"Our Father Who Art In Heaven..."
First though, remember that the Prayer starts with the words, "Our Father who art in Heaven ...". Jesus was reminding us that we are not talking to another human being. We are addressing our petitions to the Creator of the Universe, and we must come to Him with genuine fear and reverence. If we lack this reverence, not only will we not get our prayers answered, we may actually bring God's chastening on ourselves by taking too casual an attitude toward prayer.
"Hallowed Be Thy Name..."
Proseukos: The Principle Word For Prayer
The section of the Lord's Prayer is an example of the type of petitions referred to with the Greek word "proseukos". In the literal definition, it means any prayer addressed to a god. In Biblical context, it refers to petitions having to do with God's name, His will, and His kingdom. Note that in the actual petitions based on these words, the words themselves do not necessarily have to be used.
For example, when in Colossians 1:9, when St. Paul says, "...do not cease to pray for you...", he uses the word "proseukos". But look at what he prays: "...that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will...", so you can see the tie in. In praying for the Christians of the church at Colosse, he was praying for God's kingdom.
Luke uses the word "proseukos" of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, in Luke 22:41. The focus of His prayers was the famous phrase "Not my will, but thine be done".
Be careful how you use the phrase "Thy will be done." Too often, it is used by both Christians, and by religious but not really Christian people, as a fatalistic expression that really indicates lack of faith. If you catch yourself doing that, you should really ask for forgiveness! Really!
When Jesus used that phrase in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was not expressing a lack of faith. He was affirming His commitment to absolute obedience. This is the attitude expressed prophetically in Psalm 6-8, and restated in Hebrew 10:5-9: "Behold I come...to do your will, O God". And implicit to this statement is, "and nothing but your will, regardless of the cost".
You should pray with the intent that His name be hallowed, that His kingdom would come, and that His will would be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. And mean for this to be fulfilled in two ways: In the long run, in the Second Coming of Christ. But of more immediate importance, in you own life! If you want to be ready for the Second Coming, that's what has to happen! Don't pray this prayer unless that is what you really mean and want. If you don't, and you mindlessly recite that prayer, your are condemning yourself with your own idle words. You are pronouncing what you should want, and to do that without wanting it is hypocrisy.
And of course, you should want this prayer to be fulfilled in the lives of everyone for whom you pray.
"Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread..."
De'esis; the word usually translated "supplication".
This is a prayer that can be taken as a literal prayer for food, or metaphorically as a request for spiritual feeding. Either way, in praying prayers of this kind we acknowledge our dependence on God. As the Apostle Peter told us,
"...casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you."
I Peter 5:7
There is no concern of ours so lowly, so mundane, that we should not bring it to the Lord in prayer. On the contrary, it is a sin of omission not to do so. If we fail to do this, we are very likely drifting into the error that Moses warned Israel about in Deuteronomy 8:11-19; taking credit for ourselves for the blessings we receive.
Bring every concern of yours to the Lord in petition for His help and providence. And bring every good thing you receive to the Lord in the sacrifice of thanksgiving!
Two of this writer's most favorite Scripture passages in relation to what the Lord has done, and is doing, for him are found in Psalm 23:6 and James 1:17:
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life..."
"Every good and every perfect gift is from above,
and comes down from the Father of lights..."
And these relate to Romans 8:28;
"And we know that all things work together for good
to those who love the Lord,
who are called according to His purpose."
Ever hear the old saying "Count your blessings"? One of the best things about being blessed to just be aware that that is what is happening. And when you know you are being blessed, to give thanks.
Note: Here's a spiritual tip: Keep a written record of the times that God has blessed you. If you are going through a difficult time, read it.
You'll be more conscious of being blessed when it happens if you make it your habit, nay, your discipline, to bring all your needs and concerns to the Lord in prayer. But in keeping with what has been taught in these pages, don't be self-centered with your petitions.
"Forgive Our Trespasses..."
Enteuxis; The word usually translated "intercession"
What most Christians have never heard is that the word "intercession", in the original Greek, doesn't necessarily mean prayer for other people. The original meaning of the noun is a meeting with a person in authority for the purpose of presenting a petition (another affirmation of the "prayer is petition" doctrine). However, by the context of its use in the New Testament, it primarily refers to prayers for spiritual needs. The #1 spiritual need of any human being is forgiveness of sin.
1. "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened
that it cannot save,
nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear,
2. "But your iniquities have separated
between you and your God,
and your sins have hid his face from you,
that he will not hear."
(Isaiah 59:1 & 2 KJV)
"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man unto whom
the Lord imputeth not iniquity."
(Ps 32:1 & 2, KJV )
The forgiving and forgiveness of sin must be at the absolute top of our prayer priorities as far as both ourselves and others are concerned. At the human level, everything else is secondary.
The word "enteuxis" gets the meaning of "prayer for the needs of others" from the fact that much of the prayer for spiritual needs mentioned and/or quoted in the New Testament is prayer for other people, and wherever the Greek word for that kind of petition is used in such passages, it is "enteuxis".
It is noteworthy that this is the only petition in the prayer with a qualification, that is, a justification for making it is given. That qualification is, of course, that we forgive those who trespass against us. And it is also the only petition that Jesus made further comment on at the end of the prayer. This is a reference to two ideas expressed elsewhere in these pages:
- We must forgive, automatically, from the heart, anyone who wrongs us in any way (Matthew 18:34 & 25). See "Obstacles To Prayer".
- When we pray for anyone else, we should always pray for the Lord to forgive that person's sins (John 20:23 & James 5:14 & 15). See "How Should We Pray?".
"Lead Us Not Into Temptation..."
Hikateria, A word also translated "supplication".
There are many things that we might be led to include in our petitions that are not essentials of salvation. Yet at the same time, they can be things that will definitely help us in our Christian walk and witness. Of course, we should pray for things like this, both for ourselves and others. In fact, the prayer by St. Paul in Ephesians 3:14-19 could be said to be a prayer of this type.
14. "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ....
16. "...That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
17. "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18. "May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19. "And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God."
These are examples of the kinds of things you can pray for yourself and others, rephrasing them to make them your own prayers. They are also good topics for study, to the purpose that you yourself really know what you are praying for.
But the greatest example of a "hikateria" prayer in the New Testament is the one prayed by our Lord Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before He was crucified. It was the prayer He prayed, to the effect that,
"O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me:
nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."
(Matt 26:39 KJV)
The last prayer that will ever be prayed by Christians in this age will be the prayer they will pray in absolute, desperate unity toward the end of the Tribulation. It is the prayer we find in Revelation 22:20:
" ...come, Lord Jesus."
And like all other prayers prayed by God's people, in faith believing and in accordance with His will, their prayers will be answered.
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Contact Author, William D. Brehm