Our Father: Devotional Commentary for November 15-21
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us Wisdom and Insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
And Jesus continued:
9After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
11Give us this day our daily bread.
12And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
After exhorting us to be diligent in our godly walk and different in our prayers and charitable deeds from the Pharisees, the Scribes, and the hypocrites, Jesus proceeds to teach us with a model invocation how to pray in a godly manner. Here the admonition is not about behaving differently, but praying differently, praying righteously, praying humbly, praying alone with God.
At the very core of the opening phrase of this magnificent prayer, Jesus addresses the almighty and holy God with the very intimate familial term, Father. Addressing the Lord with such a mindset brings us closer into the presence of God in all of his splendor, glory, and holiness that is beyond all imaginations.
Then the prayer continues with a phrase that captures the holiness and majesty of God's Name. The Bible admonishes us to hold God's Name in the highest esteem because God is Holy and so is His Name. We should not use His Name carelessly or in vain. Instead, we acknowledge His Holiness as we offer our praises and supplications to Him.
Having exalted His Holy Name with utmost reverence, we petition for His Kingdom to come to us so that His divine Will would prevail on earth as it is in heaven. We are subjects of God's Kingdom and servants of His divine Will. The kingdoms of this world are filled with injustice, wars, and cruelties beyond measure. We fervently pray for God’s Will to be done on earth amidst the chaos of this fallen world.
Having come by faith into our Father's presence, having exalted His Holy Name, and having petitioned for His Kingdom to come and His Will to prevail on earth, we entreat our Father for things we need. We beseech His Providence, Love, and Grace for our daily sustenance. We make an earnest request for our daily bread. We express our total reliance on our Father for everything.
Following our petition for our daily sustenance, Jesus focuses our attention on our relationship with one another. This is vitally important because our relationship with one another is a reflection of our own individual relationship with God. We pray that God would forgive us so that we might be able to extend the forgiveness we received from our Father to those who offended us.
Unfortunately, routinely offending or aggravating one another is an aspect of our fallen nature. Our relationships are often either tenuous or desperately tense. Therefore, we first pray that God would forgive us so that His forgiveness might be God's Power in us enabling us to extend His gracious pardon to those whom we resent. The Scriptures admonish us to forgive even as we are forgiven.
Jesus then teaches us how to resist the devil and draw nearer to God through prayer. He knows that our enemy the devil roams about God's children seeking whom he might devour. Even though he is a defeated foe, his influences are still sufficiently potent to take advantage of our fallen nature and sow discord among us. We pray that God our Father would keep us from the enemy's evil reach and preserve us in His safekeeping. God is our Protector and Preserver. He is the only One Who enables us to bear the burdens and trials of life on earth.
To God belongs the Kingdom both in heaven and on earth. He absolutely possesses all power. To Him belong all Glory and exaltation. Yet, He is our Father, and as such, we come into His presence and worship Him by hallowing His Name and by acknowledging His sovereignty. So ends our prayer as it began, by uplifting the Holy Name of our Father and by confessing His Lordship, Majesty, and Glory. No rambling. No vain words. No hypocrisy.
In this magnificent passage, Jesus shows us a simple model prayer. We call it the Lord’s Prayer. But this is His Gift to us to show us the way of prayer. A profound expression of a simple faith pervades every phrase of this prayer. This prayer is devoid of hypocrisy and ostentation.
However, like so much of our religious expressions, many of us end up repeating this prayer as a habitual incantation. We say the words without conscious attention, without a consecrated awareness. It turns into a mere liturgical recitation. The words come forth so easily, but our hearts and minds are drawn away from our Father Whom we acknowledge at the beginning of the prayer, our Father, Who art in heaven. Unfortunately, that makes us ramblers of empty words, once again. We slip back into the fallen tendencies of our human nature.
But Jesus lifts us to a higher level of intimacy with His Father, setting us free from such a hypocritical ostentation. He lovingly instructs us to accept God as our Father before we continue with our prayer. Now, we recognize God not only as God but also as our Father Whose Name we hallow, Whose Kingdom we long to see, and Whose Will we accept as our Command.
Jesus also teaches us how to petition to our gracious Father for all of our needs. We recognize that He knows everything we need. But we express our faith by acknowledging His Omniscience and His Providence. We look to God for our sustenance, our pardon, and for our deliverance from evil. He protects and preserves us. He Who gave us the Bread of Life through His Son Jesus Christ, would not fail us in our daily needs.
Our dear heavenly Father: His Holy Name hallowed, His Kingdom flourishing, His Will prevailing, our needs supplied, our debt paid in full, our sins forgiven, our temptations overcome, our enemy crushed; What a prayer! No vanity. No empty repetition. Our Father: Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.