It is surprising how quickly we read through or recite the “Lord’s Prayer” without thinking about the meaning of the words or the sentiments that are expressed in it. It is as though there is some miraculous value in the act of reciting it, and not necessarily in the activity of prayer which is supposed to engage in communion and fellowship with God. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he gave them a model to follow, a template around which to build their own prayers, rather than a liturgical rite to be followed. And yet that is exactly how the Lord’s Prayer is used! We should stop and think about what it means to pray the elements of the Lord’s Prayer, more especially so if we are going to be held accountable before God for our follow-through or lack thereof!

In this instance we are going to focus on the first half of the prayer, from the opening words, “Our Father…” to the words, “…as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9-10). First, let’s talk a bit about the background to the prayer in Matthew. Our writer presents this prayer as a counterbalance to the hypocritical praying of the religious leaders who offer prayers as a means of displaying their piety and religious superiority, in order to be admired by men (Matt. 6:5). They do it primarily in public, and sometime in very public places. In contrast Jesus told his followers that they should shut themselves in in a private place, and pray where only God hears, so that the only recognition they will get is his (Matt. 6:6)! So first of all we need to recognize that this prayer is not intended, as we often use it, to be a public expression of prayer, and certainly not a ritualistic one. This is how the disciples of Christ pray to God in private communion. This is a prayer from the heart of the believer, intended to be heard by no one but God himself. So when we pray, “Let your kingdom come, let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” this is not empty rhetoric, but an entreaty to God for him to make it so in us first of all. No matter what else happens, the will of God and the kingdom of God are to be first established in us, as we surrender to God. In this extremely private moment, our first recourse is to acknowledge the utter sovereignty and holiness of God, and then to humbly bow before him in complete surrender to his rule and his will. So if we are talking about prayerfully valuing Christ’s kingdom, this is the place it starts, in private, between us and God alone – it starts with acknowledgement, humility and surrender to God.

About the Author

Paul and Loala pastor the Wilmington First Pentecostal Holiness Church, where they have served for almost 20 year. They have two children who work and serve in the church worship department, along with their son-in-law. Paul is a graduate of Holmes Bible College (Greenville, SC), with a BA in English Bible and New Testament Greek, and of Global University (Springfield, MO) with an MA in Biblical Studies (New Testament Concentration).

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