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19. The Beatitudes – The Lord’s Prayer

Before we enjoy the messages of Jesus on prayer, I would like to leave the following insightful thoughts with you

Matthew 6:7  And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 

The heathen looked upon their prayers as having in themselves merit to atone for sin. Hence the longer the prayer the greater the merit. If they could become holy by their own efforts, they would have something in themselves in which to rejoice, some ground for boasting.

This idea of prayer is an outworking of the principle of self-atonement which lies at the foundation of all systems of false religion. The Pharisees had adopted this pagan idea of prayer, and it is by no means extinct in our day, even among those who profess to be Christians.

The repetition of set, customary phrases, when the heart feels no need of God, is of the same character as the “vain repetitions” of the heathen.

Prayer is not an expiation, atonement, for sin; it has no virtue or merit of itself. All the flowery words at our command are not equivalent to one holy desire. The most eloquent prayers are but idle words if they do not express the true sentiments of the heart.

But the prayer that comes from an earnest heart, when the simple wants of the soul are expressed, as we would ask an earthly friend for a favour, expecting it to be granted—this is the prayer of faith. God does not desire our ceremonial compliments, but the unspoken cry of the heart broken and subdued with a sense of its sin and utter weakness finds its way to the Father of all mercy.

Matthew 6:9  In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

Matthew 6:10  Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6:11  Give us this day our daily bread.

Matthew 6:12  And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.

Matthew 6:13  And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Matthew 6:14  “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

Matthew 6:15  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Just a few words, but it speaks volumes of deep theology. Let’s start with the following verse:

Matthew 6:9  In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

After this manner. That is, after this pattern—not necessarily after these identical words—a pattern in content but not necessarily in form.

The context indicates that this prayer is set forth as a model in contrast with the “vain repetitions” and “much speaking” of heathen prayers, characteristics that had been adopted by the Pharisees (see on v. 7). Citizens of Christ’s kingdom were told,

Matthew 6:8  “Therefore do not be like them, but “In this manner, therefore, pray:

It is interesting to note that the various thoughts expressed in the Lord’s Prayer, and often the words themselves in which the thoughts are expressed, may be found in either the OT or in Jewish ritual prayers known as Ha–Kaddish.

Inasmuch as the thoughts expressed in the Lord’s Prayer were already current in Jewish prayers in the time of Christ, we may explain the parallel on the basis that everything good in Judaism, including the sentiments expressed in its prayers, originally came from Christ (see PP 366, 367; DA 52).

All that He had given His people was good, and He acknowledged it (ch. 5:17, 18); but around these revelations of divine truth had sprung up a dense growth of human tradition and formal worship that well-nigh obscured that which was essential to salvation (see on ch. 5:17, 19, 22). This was strikingly true of the prayers the rabbis chant and taught the people to repeat.

Prayer had become lengthy and repetitious, and its sincerity of thought and expression obscured by an impersonal literary form, beautiful in phraseology but too often lacking in sincerity of spirit (see on vs. 7, 8).

In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus rescued from the mass of literary verbiage, overabundance of words, that which was essential and restored it to a simple and compact form whose meaning could be comprehended by the most simple soul.

Thus, while reflecting to a certain extent the prayers of Judaism, the form of the Lord’s Prayer is nevertheless an inspired and original prayer. Its originality inherent in its selection of petitions and in its arrangement.

Its universal acceptance reflects the fact that it expresses more perfectly than any other prayer the fundamental needs of the human heart.

Matthew 6:9  In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

First in every prayer should be a recognition of our sonship to the heavenly Father. We may be unworthy to address Him as “Father,” but whenever we do so in sincerity, He receives us with rejoicing (see Luke 15:21–24) and acknowledges us as His sons indeed.

The fact that He is our Father binds us together as Christians in the great, universal fellowship of faith with all men who in sincerity and truth recognize the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our Father in heaven. Despite the close, personal relationship between their “Father” in heaven and themselves, His earthborn sons will nevertheless always be aware of His infinite majesty and greatness (see Isa. 57:15) and of their own utter insignificance (see Matt. 6:5).

The consciousness that “God is in heaven, and thou upon earth” (Eccl. 5:2) brings to the contrite heart the spirit of reverence and humility that is the first condition of salvation.

Matthew 6:9  In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

Hallowed. Gr. hagiazō, “to regard [or “treat”] as holy,” related to the adjective hagios, “holy.” The name of God is honoured in two ways: (1) by divine acts that lead men to acknowledge and reverence Jehovah as God (see Ex. 15:14, 15; Joshua 2:9–11; 5:1; Ps. 145:4, 6, 12), and (2) by men honouring Him as God and according Him the worship and obedience that are His due (see Isa. 58:13; Matt. 7:21–23; Acts 10:35; etc.).

Hallowed be Your name.  In modern usage a name is little more than a tag by which a person may be identified. In Bible times, however, a person’s name was more intimately associated with him as an individual.

Often it “stood for traits of character that the parent desired to see developed in the child” (PK 481). God’s name stands for His character (see Ex. 34:5–7).

The significance the Jews attached to the divine name is reflected in the reverence with which they uttered it, or, more commonly, left it unarticulated or used a circumlocution, indirect way of speaking.

The name of God is holy, or “hallowed,” because God Himself is holy. We hallow His name by acknowledging His holiness of character and by permitting Him to reproduce that character in us.

The tense of the Greek word shows that the request is anticipatory, looking forward to the time when God’s holy name will be universally hallowed (cf. on v. 10).

Matthew 6:10  your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 

As to the nature of the “kingdom of heaven” and its central position in the teaching of Jesus see on ch. 4:17. As to the “kingdom of heaven” in the Sermon on the Mount see on ch. 5:2, 3.

Christ here speaks, not so much of the kingdom of grace, as of the kingdom of His glory (MB 108), for which the kingdom of grace prepares the way and in which it culminates (see ch. 25:31). Such an interpretation is supported by the tense of the Greek verb. See on ch. 6:13.

The kingdom of God’s grace is now being established, as day by day hearts that have been full of sin and rebellion yield to the sovereignty of His love. But the full establishment of the kingdom of His glory will not take place until the second coming of Christ to this world.

“The kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven,” is to be given to “the people of the saints of the Most High.” Daniel 7:27. They shall inherit the kingdom prepared for them “from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 25:34. And Christ will take to Himself His great power and will reign.

The heavenly gates are again to be lifted up, and with ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of holy ones, our Saviour will come forth as King of kings and Lord of lords. Jehovah Immanuel “shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one.”

“The tabernacle of God” shall be with men, “and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.” Zechariah 14:9; Revelation 21:3.

But before that coming, Jesus said, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations.” Matthew 24:14. His kingdom will not come until the good tidings of His grace  have been carried to all the earth. Hence, as we give ourselves to God, and win other souls to Him, we hasten the coming of His kingdom.

Only those who devote themselves to His service, saying, “Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8), to open blind eyes, to turn men “from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them which are sanctified” (Acts 26:18)—they alone pray in sincerity, “Thy kingdom come.”

Throughout the ages the promise that the kingdoms of this world would eventually become the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rev. 11:15) has spurred the citizens of the kingdom of grace to holy living (1 John 3:2, 3) and to self-sacrifice in the proclamation of the good news of the kingdom (see Acts 20:24; 2 Tim. 4:6–8).

In the minds and hearts of true Christians in all ages “that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13) has ever been uppermost and has inspired them to holier living.

Matthew 6:10  your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 

Christ now turns to the will of God, particularly as it affects this earth. When human hearts yield to the jurisdiction of the kingdom of divine grace, the will of God for them is accomplished. The tense of the Greek verb shows that this petition is also anticipatory.

The request is for an end to the reign of sin and for the arrival of that moment when the will of God will be as universally accomplished upon this earth as it is throughout the other dominions of God’s creation.

Matthew 6:11  Give us today our daily bread.

In the first part of the Lord’s Prayer (vs. 9, 10) attention is directed to the Fatherhood, character, kingdom, and will of God. In the second part of the prayer (vs. 11–13) petition is made for the temporal and spiritual needs of man.

It was the “common people” who heard Christ gladly (Mark 12:37). For the most part these were humble fishermen, farmers, and workmen. Such was the company that now listened to Him on the hillside overlooking the Plain of Gennesaret and the Lake of Galilee (MB 39; DA 299).

Employment was uncertain for many of them, living conditions were precarious, and there were perhaps few who had not known actual hunger and want at one time or another, owing to drought, oppressive taxation, and other hardships.

As is usually the case, those who have but little of this world’s goods are more keenly aware of their dependence upon God for the necessities of life than are those who have enough and to spare.

Today Gr. epiousios, a word that appears in the NT only here and in Luke 11:3. Its exact meaning is uncertain. The single occurrence of the word in secular Greek literature throws little light on its meaning.

Among the meanings suggested are the following: (1) necessary for existence, (2) for the present day, (3) for the coming day. The words of Matt. 6:34 tend to confirm the idea of a daily supply sufficient for life. See p. 106.

Bread. Even those who have an abundance of “bread,” and of this world’s goods, do well to remember that it is God who gives “power to get wealth” (Deut. 8:18), a lesson Jesus graphically portrayed in the parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:16–21).

Everything that we have comes from God, and in our hearts there should ever be gratitude for His goodness. Our “daily bread” includes both physical and spiritual provisions.

Matthew 6:12  And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 

Forgive. Gr. aphiēmi, a common word in the NT, frequently meaning “to send away,” or “to dismiss,” “to leave” (see Matt. 4:11; Mark 4:36; etc.). The meaning “to forgive” is probably based on the idea that the repentant petitioning soul is sent away in peace.

Debts. Gr. opheilema

As we forgive. That is, as it is our habit to forgive.

Our debtors. That is, those who have wronged us.

Mat 6:13  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

 Temptation. Gr. peirasmos,  “trial,” or “test,” as in 1 Peter 4:12. The verb form, peirazō, is translated “prove” (John 6:6), “assayed” (Acts 16:7), “examine” (2 Cor. 13:5), and “try,” or “tried” (Heb. 11:17; Rev. 2:2, 10; Rev. 3:10).

Even when the English word “temptation” is used to render peirasmos it is sometimes clear from the context that it means “test,” or “trial” (Acts 20:19; James 1:2; cf. 1 Peter 4:12). The Scriptures make it clear that God “tests,” or “proves,” men (see Gen. 22:1; Ex. 20:20; etc.) but never tempts them to sin (James 1:13).

The petition should perhaps be understood as a request, “Do not permit us to enter into temptation” (see 1 Cor. 10:13; see on Ps. 141:4).

This part of the Lord’s Prayer is sometimes understood as a plea to God to remove all temptation from us.

But God’s promise is not that we shall be protected from temptation, but that we shall be protected from falling (John 17:15).

 Too often we willfully place ourselves in the way of temptation (see on Prov. 7:9). Truly to pray “lead us not into temptation” is to renounce the ways of our own choosing and to submit to the ways of God’s choosing.

Evil. Gr. ponēros. In the form here used, ponēros may refer to either an evil thing or an evil person (see on ch. 5:39

Thine is the kingdom. This clause introduces the doxology to the Lord’s Prayer. Important textual evidence may be cited (cf. p. 146) for the omission of this doxology. It is not in Luke’s version of the prayer (Luke 11:4). However, the sentiment it expresses is certainly scriptural, and closely parallels 1 Chron. 29:11–13. A shorter doxology occurs in 2 Tim. 4:18.

The “kingdom,” “power,” and “glory” here ascribed to the Father certainly include the present kingdom of divine grace in the hearts of men, but look forward primarily to the glorious kingdom to be ushered in with the return of Christ to this earth to reign in power and glory (see on v. 10).

Updated on 16th Nov 2022

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