ANOTHER LOOK, TO REMIND ALL OF US THAT THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL PRAYERS
In our previous essays on the Lord’s Prayer, we noted several important things. I want to briefly summarize these before going further, for I feel they are so important that we need to pay special attention to them. Remember, this is a model of how we should pray, and it applies every time we pray, and on every occasion of prayer. This is the design given by none other than the Son of God, and therefore it is the will of God that we are reading here, and we dare not ignore it.
First, Jesus uses the term “Our Father”. With these words He emphasizes that we are all the children of God and are created for His purposes.
He follows this with, “who art in Heaven”. This locates God as not being limited in this dimension of space and time in which we live. Instead, He is in a dimension without such limitations, and, as a result, He is everywhere and always present. So He hears our prayers, if we recognize His presence and have faith in His loving attention.
Next, Jesus voices the absolute essential for every prayer we offer. Saying “Hallowed be Thy name” indicates the spirit of worship and adoration with which every prayer must be given if we expect to be heard by the King. We cannot simply rush into a couple of “thank you’s” and a series of “this is what we want and need”, when we pray. Prayer is worship, or it is no prayer at all and cannot be expected to be heard.
The Lord then expresses what ought to be the heartfelt desire of every child of the King. He prays that more people become a part of the Father’s Kingdom by striving to let His will be done in their life on earth as it is in the perfect dimension of Heaven where God dwells. That is what the Kingdom of Heaven is…where the will of God, which is His spiritual image, is imitated by all who dwell there. When we strive to make the image of God the pattern of our life on earth, then we are a part of the Kingdom of Heaven. The Bible sadly says, “Many are called, but few are chosen”. Many accept the call and come into the visible church, but do not strive to make their lives a constant imitation of the Father. When this is true they are in the visible church but far from being in the Eternal Kingdom of Heaven.
Here the Lord gives a minimal note of concern for our physical needs before launching into the most demanding scripture in the entire Bible. He asks the Father to help us get our basic human needs, and then He prays for the ultimate need that we all have…to be forgiven. However, He gives the conditions which Our Father in Heaven demands before He will extend to us the forgiveness that He lovingly wants to give. Jesus says, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us”!!
One of the seven fundamental principles of Christianity, listed in the Beatitudes, is, “Blessed are the merciful, for THEY shall obtain mercy”.
Throughout the Bible the condition of our receiving the love and mercy of God is ALWAYS based on our loving behavior to our fellow man. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is a principle which is constantly present in the Biblical text. We will develop it further in the next essay.