The next section in Scripture is the Lord’s Prayer. “Pray then like this: 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 lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (verses 9-13). Let’s break this down a bit. First, Jesus gives direction towards whom we are praying to. Our Father in heaven. It is a recognition that God is in a sacred place, and hallowed be His name. I love how the first word spoken in the beginning of this section is “Our”. God rules over everyone, and when we come to him, we should recognize that while we may come to him privately, He is God of all. The first part of our prayers should be giving God the glory for who He is and identifying Him as higher than anyone or anything else. It isn’t to be an external and disingenuous process like the Pharisees; it is to respectfully tell God that hallowed be His wondrous name.
The next part of the prayer is one I really enjoy. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Again, it is a recognition that God’s kingdom is in heaven. I frequently hear people talk as though heaven is here on earth, but the reality is that that’s never going to fully happen until Jesus comes again. Sin separates us from God, and in a world with six billion people, we will never achieve total sanctification on earth. That isn’t said as discouragement, but as encouragement, because our hope has never been with this world. God’s will is totally fulfilled in heaven, because in heaven sin doesn’t exist. Jesus is praying that God’s will be carried out on earth as it is in heaven because it is in heaven where God is the sole ruler over people’s hearts. Here on earth, we are controlled by our own idols, with God’s will being pushed off to the side, sometimes unintentionally but frequently intentionally. The scary part about trying to accomplish God’s will on earth is it takes the ball totally out of our own comfortable court. Imagine really meaning it when we prayed for God’s will to be done. It takes our own desires out of the picture and instead inserts an understanding that God is good and perfect and his will corresponds with himself. That is to say, his will is just as perfect as He is. I think Jesus knew that until people really submitted to God fully, the earth would remain as it was, broken and hurt from sin. It may seem frightening to ask God’s will to be done, but it’s actually quite liberating. It certainly isn’t easy, but asking God to simply carry out his will in our lives takes all the pressure off of us and begins to instill in us a desire to be more like Jesus. I don’t know what Jesus prayed about all those times he went off by himself in prayer, but I can’t imagine he asked for much. I have to think he prayed to God that His will be done. To wrap this whole part up, look at the entire verse strung together. It is a plea to God that He come and transform our lives so that we may look more like Him, a petitioned plea that God’s will changes us from sinful creatures to sons of God.
Give us this day our daily bread takes me back to the Old Testament. The Israelites left Egypt and were in the desert, forgetting God’s goodness and complaining that they had no food and would surely be better off as slaves then as dead freedmen. So despite man’s foolishness, God mercifully provided food for them from the heavens. Yet God made this food only last a short while, so anyone who gathered too much food would only see it rot. This food was called manna, and it was a type of bread. So when Jesus says give us this day our daily bread, I take this verse pretty literally: I believe we are to ask God to provide for us just what we need for each day, just as he did for the Israelites. It’s easy to pray about things in the future and totally forget the present. We want a guarantee that God will provide for us on our own terms far into the future, but God’s will may not correspond to that. He doesn’t owe us anything. Instead of always praying towards the future, we should ask God for our daily bread, that is, whatever provision we “need” to get through the day. It’s kind of scary to think about our daily living in this manner. I think God did this intentionally. God wants us to wholeheartedly trust Him. And this means we daily need to recognize his goodness and that He’ll provide for us each day. Just as the Israelites went to God daily for food, we too need to go to Him every day, and thank him every time he gives us our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors is a great practical and spiritual lesson. It reminds me of just how much we owe God that we’ll never be able to pay back. It’s crazy to me. What is the debt someone may owe us compared to what we owe to God? It’s not even close. It’s why Christianity is difficult for me to accept at times. The greatest man who ever walked the earth died just so everyone could have a relationship with Him. It’s a message people hear so much they’re turned off by it, but it’s the greatest message the world ever heard. It’s a slap in the face. My debt is one I could’ve never paid. I was so lost without Jesus. I was a lust driven, sarcastic, selfish person. And I still am, it’s only through grace that God has started to shape me into a different person. I don’t even know how to approach God with “Forgive me of my debt” on my lips. It’s nothing I deserve. I feel so guilty comparing my lifestyle to Jesus’s. I’m so far off where Jesus wants me to be. But the wonderful thing about Jesus is that he was sent to take our debts on himself for us so that God may be glorified as the ultimate Forgiver. Any debt owed to us pales in comparison to the grace God and Jesus have shown to us. We should always forgive people for the wrongs committed by them towards us. It seems hard, and to be honest, whenever someone wrongs me I almost never think of the grace God shows us every day. But I need to start doing that. Because when we look at people the way Jesus does, it shouldn’t matter what they’ve done to us, it should only matter that we strive towards looking to God as our example and choosing to forgive them.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil is tricky, but I’ll try to analyze this the best that I can. I believe there to be a big difference between temptation and testing. I don’t believe God can tempt us, because I believe the source of temptation to be evil, and God isn’t evil. I do believe God tests our faith but I don’t think He ever tries to trick us into committing sin. That isn’t God’s heart. I think when we read this verse as a whole, we see that we are praying that God turn us towards Himself away from evil. Sin can’t be removed from the world, but we should ask God that we are not lead by our own desires towards sin. Asking God to deliver us from evil is again recognition that He is above evil and sin. One way of thinking about this is asking God to save us from ourselves. We are sinful people, and even becoming a Christian and turning to God doesn’t mean we are sinless; we’ll still struggle with sin. So we must ask God to deliver us from our own nature, which is to rebel and fight the Holy Spirit’s conviction. God is our Deliverer, and He will always triumph over evil. We must daily turn towards Him and ask Him to save us from evil.