Category — Conversing with God
We now come to our final request in the Lord’s Prayer, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” At first glance, the phrase, “Lead us not into temptation,” seems a bit strange or out of place. The reason for this is that God would never tempt us (James 1:13). Some have a distorted view of God and think that He’s waiting to trip us up or expose us to sin’s lures. But that is not God’s way with us. He may test us through hardship, but he does not tempt us with sin.
In the Lord’s Prayer we are asking Him for strength to resist temptation. The New Living Translation renders it, “And don’t let us yield to temptation.” Another way to put it might be, “Lord, please lead me out of and away from the things that tempt me!” Jesus warned His disciples on the night He was betrayed, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) As we’ve seen elsewhere in this prayer, we are dependent on our heavenly Father and in this case, we’re dependent on His strength to resist temptation. [Read more →]
November 21, 2011 No Comments
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12) By debts, Jesus is not referring to financial indebtedness, but our sins. The New Living Translation renders this verse, “And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” Just prior to modeling this prayer, Jesus reminded His listeners, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:8) If God knows what we need before we ask Him, then why ask? We ask God because it’s fitting to do so.
As we read or pray this prayer, it would be easy for us to see our “daily bread” or the “forgiveness of our debts” as the focal things, but they aren’t. The focal thing in this prayer is God and our relationship with Him. When we express our need to Him for bread and for forgiveness, we interact with Him in a way that cultivates our relationship with Him and acknowledges who He is. God is not merely the “bread-Giver” or “Forgiver,” He is our Father. “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11) [Read more →]
November 16, 2011 No Comments
In the next stanza of the Lord’s Prayer, we find a shift in focus. “Give us today our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11) Up to this point, the Lord’s Prayer has centered on praising and affirming God’s nature, character and kingship in our lives. Based on our relationship to Him, we also look to Him to meet our needs—“our daily bread.”
Asking God to provide for us is not an abdication of our responsibility to work hard for ours and others’ needs. Rather this request simply acknowledges that everything we have and enjoy is a gift from God. We look to Him as our loving, sovereign benefactor. The psalmist expressed to God: “You send rain on the mountains from your heavenly home, and you fill the earth with the fruit of your labor. You cause grass to grow for the livestock and plants for people to use. You allow them to produce food from the earth—wine to make them glad, olive oil to soothe their skin, and bread to give them strength.” (Psalm 104:13-15 NLT) [Read more →]
November 10, 2011 No Comments
The Lord’s Prayer continues, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name….”Our Father in heaven—our God— is holy. He is pure and unblemished. He is not only free from any hint of evil, but He is infinite love, goodness and righteousness through and through. In the heavenly scene in Revelation, the angels cry out before Him, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” (Revelation 4:8)
When we pray to God, “Hallowed be your name,” we both declare that God is holy and that we desire our lives to honor Him as holy. We profane Him when we ascribe attributes or works to Him that are not holy or are inconsistent with His character. Paul warns in this regard, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.” (Romans 1:21-23) [Read more →]
October 30, 2011 No Comments
“Our Father in heaven….” This opening phrase demonstrates the full scope of who God is. He is our Father. He is close to us; personal, present and ready to respond. And, He is also high and lifted up. He is the Exalted One. He is, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.” (Acts 17:24-25) He is “our Father in heaven.”
That our Father is in heaven is not meant to frighten us, but it should awe us with a sense of reverence (godly fear) and wonder! The fact that God is both our very present Father and our exalted God in heaven is also extremely comforting! For He is not like an earthly father who may disappoint, act selfishly, capriciously, or weakly. Listen to His voice as he calls: [Read more →]
October 24, 2011 No Comments
So far, we’ve considered the context for the Lord’s Prayer in both Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts. We see from Matthew’s Gospel most clearly that Jesus’ intention for this prayer is that it serve as a model for prayer. Jesus said, “Pray like this….” Let’s take a closer look then, at each component of this model prayer.
“Our Father in heaven….” We begin by addressing God as “our Father.” He is the Father of us all from the viewpoint that He created us. We are His. (See Acts 17:24-31.) More specifically, God has called us into relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. Through Christ we become His children; His sons and daughters (2 Corinthians 6:18). So we rightly and reverently address God as our Father. We look to Him for everything: love, protection, provision, and deep relationship. [Read more →]
October 17, 2011 No Comments
In the last post, we began looking at the context of the Lord’s Prayer in Luke’s Gospel. We saw how the incident with Mary and Martha sets us up for a right attitude in prayer—to come humbly with the intent to listen to the Lord. Following the Lord’s Prayer, we find two parables. Jesus gave these parables to remind us about God’s character. As we come to him in prayer, we need to think rightly about him.
The first parable is about a man who has an urgent need late at night and who goes to his neighbor for help. But his neighbor refuses to help him with lame excuses. It’s important to realize that in that culture and day, it was unthinkable for this man not to help his friend. Jesus’ point is clear: God is not like this neighbor who feels inconvenienced by his friend. God cares deeply for us and will help us! Jesus assures us further with the words, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10) [Read more →]
October 13, 2011 No Comments
Let’s continue our discussion of the Lord’s Prayer. In a previous blog, we looked at the context of Matthew’s account of this prayer. Now we’ll turn our attention to the context of Luke’s account. The Lord’s Prayer in Luke’s Gospel is flanked on the front end by an incident and on the tail end by two parables. The incident on the front end has to do with two women who had invited Jesus and his disciples to be their guests.
With all these men in the house, Martha was busy and distracted “with much serving.” Mary, however, was captivated by Jesus and the things he was teaching. She sat at Jesus’ feet and listened intently to him. Mary’s sister, Martha became so angry at her sister for not helping her that she scolded Jesus for allowing Mary to sit there, while she (Martha) did all the work. “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:40) Jesus responded to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42) [Read more →]
October 6, 2011 No Comments
In Matthew 6 and Luke 11, we find the “Lord’s Prayer.” These appear to be two separate instances in which Jesus provided a model for prayer, which has come to be called “the Lord’s Prayer.” In the Matthew account, Jesus was teaching a large crowd along with his disciples. This occurrence belongs to what we call the Sermon on the Mount. In Luke’s account, Jesus had spent some time praying. When he finished, his disciples asked him to teach them to pray also. Let’s take a closer look at the context and content of the Lord’s Prayer.
The text of the two prayers is nearly identical. The fact that they are not exactly the same demonstrates that these are two separate incidents, and that Jesus’ intention for this model has more to do with the spirit of prayer than with the repetition of static words. [Read more →]
October 3, 2011 No Comments
Lord Jesus, You are God, the One and Only; the beginning and the end. You were before all things and You created all things; by Your power all things exist. In You, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden. You are all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever-present. You are the King of kings and Lord of lords. We worship You, humble ourselves before You, and give You all glory and honor and praise!
Lord Jesus, at Your appointed time You came to earth, humbling Yourself as Almighty God to become a helpless baby. You were tempted in every way, yet You did not sin. You lived a holy, righteous and blameless life. You accepted mockery, torture and a cruel death for our sakes. You died for us—for me—bearing our sin and shame! How can we thank You for taking our place? We praise You and worship You! [Read more →]
August 16, 2011 No Comments