The importance of prayer can not be overestimated. The saying, “More things are accomplished by prayer than this world dreams of,” while not found in the Bible, is certainly true. Jesus did not say to His disciples, “If you pray.” Rather He said, “When you pray.” So it is taken for granted that Christians will pray. Not only did Jesus instruct His disciples to pray, but the fact is: Prayer is an absolute necessity. However, many Christians have no idea how to pray. Many believe that repeating “The Lord’s Prayer” is all that is necessary.
Some think that Eastern forms of prayer are the way one can “truly find God.” A woman pastor of the Unity of the Valley Church, a new thought church based in Eugene, Oregon, relates that after a devastating divorce, she turned to the teachings of Buddha and chanted Hindu prayers at retreats. Meditating on her own, the woman practiced “passage meditation” which teaches memorizing an inspirational passage from any sacred text. She said that by going through the words of the passage in one’s mind as slowly as one can, each word is dropped singly into the consciousness. Repetitions drive the words deeper and deeper into the consciousness so that they eventually become an integral part of the person. The secret of meditation is that one becomes what one mediates on (The Register Guard, June 5, 2004, p. F4). How contrary to Jesus’ instruction. He said: “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking” (Matt. 6:7). While Christians are instructed to pray, they need to know how to pray.
Prayer Is Necessary and Has a Purpose
Lack of understanding the purpose and necessity of prayer is not new. Job referred to those who said: “What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?” (Job 21:15) Such people see no purpose or reason to pray. They fail to realize, human nature being what it is, that it is impossible to please God without faith. Jesus warned His disciples about the weakness of the flesh: ” . . . Pray that ye enter not into temptation” (Luke 22:40). Also He told them ” . . . the spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh weak (Matt. 26:41). Prayer can be instrumental in overcoming temptation and strengthening the will power.
Prayer can be beneficial to help us with many of our problems. For example: “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray . . . ” (Jas. 5:13). The healing of King Hezekiah is a splendid example of what prayer can do.
In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, saying, “I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore” (2 Kings 20:1-3).
What was the result of this prayer?
And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying, Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years . . . . (2 Kings 20:4-6)
Manasseh was the most wicked king that ever reigned over the people of Israel. One should read 2 Kings 21 to see the scope of his evil. As a result of his sins he was taken captive by the Assyrians and held in prison. After some years he was released and returned home to rule again. Why did this happen? “And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God” (2 Chron. 33:12-13).
Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer unto his God, and the words of the seers that spake to him in the name of the LORD God of Israel, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel. His prayer also, and how God was intreated of him, and all his sin, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves and graven images, before he was humbled: behold, they are written among the sayings of the seers. (2 Chron. 33:18-19)
Many Bible passages demonstrate God’s gracious help for those who pray. “He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer” (Ps. 102:17). King David was delivered from his enemies more than once. He prayed, “Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy” (Ps. 64:1). New Testament examples show how God answered the prayers of a Gentile officer in the Roman army. “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway” (Acts 10:1-2). When the Apostle Peter was sent to him, Cornelius told him: “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God” (Acts 10:30-31). The Apostle Peter was chosen to present the gospel to the Gentiles, and Cornelius was the man chosen to receive it. Later, when Peter was put in prison by Herod, ” . . . prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him” (Acts 12:5). Peter was miraculously delivered. The Apostle Paul admonished Christians to pray for one another: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Eph. 6:18). ” . . . The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (Jas. 5:16).
How to Pray
Jesus’ disciples needed to learn how to pray. “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1). Jesus gave them the needed instruction: “After this manner therefore pray ye . . . ” (Matt. 6:9). He gave the Lord’s Prayer as an example, but it was not intended as a ritual prayer. This prayer is a sample prayer, an outline about what should be said during prayer.
Let us examine the outline Jesus gave in Matthew 6:9-13. Step by step these Scriptures show us how to pray.
Our Father Which Art in Heaven
God the Father, through Jesus Christ, is the Father of all Creation. “Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee” (Jer. 32:17). “But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” (Isa. 64:8). Also God is the Father of all true Christians. Christians should give ” . . . thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son . . . . “For by him [the Son] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” (Col. 1:12-13, 16). “Thou art worthy, O Lord [Jesus Christ], to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11). Jesus instructed His disciples: “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven” (Matt. 23:9).
When we begin the Lord’s Prayer with “Our Father which art in heaven,” we acknowledge the complete power and sovereignty of God. The Bible states: ” . . . O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?” (2 Chron. 20:6) At this present time God is allowing men to rule themselves, to come to see how utterly incapable they are of achieving peace and happiness on the earth. The time is coming when they will come to know, and in His set time God alone will bring peace to this earth. “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isa. 2:4). At the present God rules behind the scenes, but eventually men will come to realize, as Nebuchadezzar did, ” . . . that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will” (Dan. 5:21). How great is His power? “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Dan. 4:35). It is fitting, therefore, that when praying the first thing to do is to acknowledge God as the Father and Ruler of the entire universe. This makes one realize how much he truly must depend on God for all things.
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Since God’s power and glory are beyond human comprehension, His name must be revered. The word “hallow” means to regard as venerated, holy, pure. God’s Name means God Himself as revealed and manifested, therefore any reference to God means His Name is holy. Jesus illustrated this in John 17:6 when praying to the Father: “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.” For the first time God the Father, in all His holiness, had been revealed to mankind.
Man was made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), and is unique in all of God’s Creation. Only man has the faculty to think in the abstract and to grasp the significance of concepts. Therefore man is able to comprehend the spiritual realm, and to appreciate what and who God is. This is the reason Jesus said, “hallowed be thy Name.” Yet, man has a nature that allows him to be arrogant and to think he knows more than God. Shortly before Christ returns, men are prophesied to be unholy, proud, and highminded, yet at the same time appear to be religious (2 Tim. 3:1-5). In today’s world there is no fear of God before their eyes (Rom. 3:18), but they will come to fear and respect Him when Christ returns.
Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low . . . . And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. And the idols he shall utterly abolish. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. (Isa. 2:10-12, 17-21)
The fact is: Man is the creation of God. Man did not evolve from slime. “But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” (Isa. 64:8). “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?” (Isa. 45:9) “Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?” (Isa. 29:16) “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” (Rom. 9:20) So by means of Creation God is the Father of man (Luke 3:38). He is to be respected and reverenced above all. This is what Jesus meant when He said, “Hallowed be thy name.”
Thy Kingdom Come
The gospel that Jesus brought was not a message about His Person. It was about the coming Kingdom of God. “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15). Jesus did not say that the Kingdom of God was in the hearts of men, nor did He say it is some present worldly kingdom, nor did He say it would be in heaven. He spoke of a future time when God would set up a literal kingdom on this earth-a time yet ahead.
This coming kingdom is described many times in the Bible. Consider the words of the prophet Daniel. He spoke of four world-ruling kingdoms on this earth. At the return of Christ the last of these ruling kingdoms will be completely overthrown. “But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever” (Dan. 7:18). This last world-ruling kingdom will be allowed to continue “Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom” (v. 22). “But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him” (vv. 26-27).
But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it. (Micah 4:1-4)
Jesus will return as Conquering King to take control of the world. This is the kingdom Jesus referred to in the Lord’s Prayer. This is the kingdom we should pray for. Most people presently have no concept of the power and glory that shall be made manifest at that time.
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (Rev. 19:11-16)
When we beseech God for this coming kingdom, we will be praying for the evil, sorrow, and turmoil to end on this earth. We will be praying for world peace, happiness, and joy that the leaders of this world are utterly incapable of bringing about. We will be showing to God that we understand His plan and purpose and that it is our desire to join in this glorious event. What is God’s promise to the saints? “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father” (Rev. 2:26-27). “And hast made us [the saints] unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10). “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?” (1 Cor. 6:2-3) The desire to benefit others, and to help man find rest from sin is a marvelous goal. It is well worth seeking, and those who understand God’s purpose for man will be praying and longing for that kingdom.
Thy Will Be Done
Since God has all power, His will and purpose will be achieved on this earth. What He brings to pass does not of itself depend upon man. So why in giving the Lord’s Prayer did Jesus include, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven”? Must we fulfill this request as a condition that must be met before God’s will can be attained? Remember that Jesus’ disciples asked Him how to pray. Jesus already knew what He had to do in order to accomplish God’s will, so the instruction Jesus gave was for the benefit of the disciples, not for Him. What Jesus was telling His disciples is that they must regularly pray for God’s will to be done in their lives-that they may base their actions and motivations on the will of God, not on their own human will.
The reason is obvious. It is easy to profess Christianity but not live up to what is required. True disciples must live by every Word of God (Matt. 4:4). This is why Jesus said: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). One called to a knowledge of the Truth has much to overcome. The “old man” must die and be replaced by the “new man” (Rom. 6:3-6, Eph. 4:24). An entire change in attitude and orientation must take place. Man must repent of past sins and be converted. In the same manner that Jesus suffered and gave His life for mankind, the converted Christian must suffer by giving up what is important to him in this life as well.
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you. (1 Pet. 4:1-4)
It takes much prayer and contact with God to accomplish this. Obedience to the will of God must be from the heart (Eph. 6:6). Many of our unrighteous desires and worldly interests must be forsaken. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2). “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Col. 3:23). “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Rom. 6:17).
As we see by the above examples, early New Testament Christians were admonished to do the will of God, as we are to do today. Christians can accomplish the same. But the help of God is required, and this is why Jesus instructed His disciples to pray that “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
One of the necessities of life is food. Without it life cannot be sustained. Daily sustenance is a concern for all human beings, and this is why Jesus included it in the Lord’s Prayer. One of God’s promises is that He will provide for the righteous. King David wrote: “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Ps. 37:25). All men are recipients of God’s gracious kindness in what He provides. Paul told the Athenian philosophers about God when he said: “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring” (Acts 17:28).
There are times, however, when food becomes scarce. David again acknowledged dependence upon God when he said: “O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing” (Ps. 34:9-10). During such times how should we feel? The Apostle Paul admonished: “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Tim. 6:8). “Let your [manner of life] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5).
Trusting God for our needs requires faith. Jesus admonished:
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matt. 6:24-34)
While the physical bread of life is important, in the long run the spiritual bread of life is even more important. The Israelites were given manna in the wilderness for 40 years. But this is what Jesus said. ” . . . It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). ” . . . Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven” (John 6:32). “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (v. 27). “This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever” (v. 58). “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world” (v. 33).
To gain eternal life man must have spiritual nourishment. Physical nourishment is not enough. “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). This is why Job could say: “Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12). The man who receives the Word of God is cleansed spiritually. Jesus told His disciples: “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3). The New Testament Church-the figurative woman-is spoken of as being pure and receiving white robes. White robes symbolize righteousness. “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Rev. 19:7-8). Righteousness is the result of obeying God’s Word. “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (Rom. 6:16-18). Imbibing in the spiritual bread of life is absolutely necessary in order to gain salvation. When Jesus said, “Give us this day our daily bread,” He intended for Christians to rely on God for physical bread, but at the same time seek the most important thing- the spiritual bread of life.
And Forgive Us Our Debts
As We Forgive Our Debtors
Next, we come to the matter of forgiveness. The inability to forgive but instead to hold a grudge is a severe problem for many. So important is the danger of this human flaw that it is included in the Lord’s Prayer. Why is the inability to forgive so dangerous? Because it is often the source of hatred. Hatred results from the inability to forgive. How does the Bible view hatred? “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now . . . . But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:9, 11). “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John 4:20) “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15).
When it comes to asking forgiveness for sin, God’s gracious kindness cannot be surpassed. Those who truly repent and come to God will not be turned away. “But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be [reverenced]” (Ps. 130:4). Jesus gave this example of the prodigal son. In the story, the son represents the sinner, the father represents God.
And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. (Luke 15:11-24)
The older son was not as forgiving as the father. He felt the attention given to this reprobate brother was not deserving. After the father assured him that he, the older son, was the real inheritor, he said: “It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:32). Jesus said: “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” (v. 10). All human beings have sinned (Rom. 3:23), and need forgiveness. At the same time all need to forgive others. Jesus stated: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14-15).
The following parable illustrates this principle.
Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. (Matt. 18:23-35)
Christians especially need to take seriously what is written above. Paul wrote to the Colossians: “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Col. 3:12-13). And to the Ephesians he said: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:31-32). Jesus would not have included the need to ask God for forgiveness and to be willing to forgive others unless this is a major hurdle that must be overcome. One of the works of the flesh is being unmerciful (Rom. 1:31).
And Lead Us Not Into Temptation
But deliver Us From Evil
A more accurate translation of the above subtitle would be, “And do not bring us into temptation.” The New Revised Standard Version states: “And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.” The emphasis is for God to help us to avoid “sore trial” brought on by evil or the evil one. A Greek variation of “lead us not into temptation” is “do not allow us to be led into temptation.” Such a trial could cause one to fall away. Remember how Jesus admonished His disciples, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41).
Few men today truly fully grasp the power of Satan. He is the invisible god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4). During the ministry of Jesus, Satan tried to destroy God’s purpose for Peter. Jesus told Peter: ” . . . Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31-32). In the parable of the sower Jesus said: “The sower soweth the word. And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts” (Mark 4:14-15). These were people whose calling was thwarted by Satan. They were not given enough time to come to understand the Truth. Paul spoke of how on occasion Satan hindered him. “Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us” (1 Thess. 2:18). Again Paul wrote: “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure” (2 Cor. 12:7). The fact is: Satan is alive and well on this planet.
All human beings face temptation, but there is tremendous danger spiritually if one faces sore trial brought on by Satan. We all know what happened to Job. Most of the temptations we face in life are brought on by our own natures. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (Jas. 1:13-15). But God is there to help. Paul wrote: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also [present the outcome] that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). The Authorized Version is unclear when it says a way of escape will enable one to bear it. As many saints have experienced, God does not always make a way of escape. If He did how would that enable them to bear it? If he took them out of it, they would not need to bear it. What this text really says is that when temptation strikes God will give us the foresight to see the reward ahead if we endure to the end.
When incited by Satan God promises to help those in sore trial. Jesus prayed to the Father, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them [the disciples] out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (John 17:15). Bible authorities generally agree that in this context “the evil” refers to “the Evil One.” John wrote of the fulfillment of this promise. “We know that whosoever is [begotten] of God [does not practice sin]; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not” (1 John 5:18). So powerful is Satan that the wicked are ensnared by the devil. Paul wrote Timothy: “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him [into] his will” (2 Tim. 2:24-26). Jesus made His disciples very much aware that they must have God’s help in overcoming the devil. This is why He included this request to the Father in the Lord’s Prayer.
For Thine Is the Kingdom and
the Power and the Glory Forever
The closing of the Lord’s Prayer should end with what was declared at the beginning-acknowledging and extolling God’s magnificence. Except for being created in God’s image and being given superiority over animals, there is no comparison between God and man. “Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing” (Isa. 40:13-15). God is all power, and men need to realize that their very lives and well-being depend on Him. The Psalmist wrote: “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD” (Ps. 106:48). The author of these words understood the meaning of Jesus’ words given above. God is the same forever, and His power is the same as always. “For I am the LORD, I change not . . . (Mal. 3:6). He is not the “professor emeritus” who has gone off someplace. At the present He is allowing men to learn the consequences of rebellion against His great spiritual law-the Ten Commandments. But those who seek to truly obey Him can and will receive the help they need in time of trouble. “But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble” (Ps. 37:39). “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel for ever and ever . . . (1 Chr. 16:36).
Job understood the benefits that come from God, and that God does answer prayers. He said: “I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee” (Job 42:2). Indeed, as Jesus Himself stated: ” . . . With God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). “Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory . . . ” (Ps. 72:18-19). “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36). ‘To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever” (Jude 25).
When we come to God in faith through Christ, acknowledging our complete trust and dependence upon Him, realizing how great, powerful and glorifious He truly is, by following the outline prayer given as the Lord’s Prayer, we can receive answers to our prayers. Let us all take to heart the instruction Jesus gave in Matthew 6:9-13 and learn to pray in an effective manner.