Is this simply a prayer recited by many, under varying circumstances or might there be more to these words then fits our eye? We find this prayer in Matthew 6 and again in Luke 11. The disciples were being instructed by Jesus. We have in these two book and chapters a record of Jesus’ lesson(s)… and more. There is so much in this discussion with Jesus’ disciples many simply overlook or don’t take for the same value as the Lord’s Prayer which itself is within the same chapter(s).
The lessons and advice is very pointed but we seldom get beyond the Lord’s Prayer. Why? It is too obvious. We want what fits our lives but not what goes against our preferred lifestyle, attitudes and way of worship; or secular lives. We repeat the prayer out of habit or in our form of worship but seldom listen to what is being recited. Words, words and words, but meaning? Content? Context?
Before going on, this author must put out front that this article applies first to him, then to his potential readers.
The circumstances (Luke 11): Jesus had just finished praying and “one of his disciples said to him. ‘Lord, teach us to pray’” (ESV; 11:1). This is a chapter break in Luke, but in Matthew the same request does not come until after a brief explanation of when, how and what to pray.
Jesus also gives a comparison with how NOT to pray. In Matthew 6:5 Jesus tells his disciple(s) that hypocrites pray for the purpose of being observed and/or heard by others. This verse ends with (ESV) “Truly I say to you, they have received their reward.” What reward? Not an answered prayer but being observed by others as pious and some sort of wonder for the loud and open prayer (in the church or on the street corner).
In Matthew a couple of verses prior to the Lord’s Prayer, there is a lesson that serves well with which to connect. Verse one states, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will *have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. *Echō ou misthos (Greek) loosely translated means: God will not be beholding to give a pat on the back for his or her praying yet alone listen to or answer their prayer.
JIV NOTE: To avoid writing a sermon instead of an article as intended, I will return to my original purpose for writing today; the opening title “Our Father who is in heaven.” The word “our.”
John 4:24 states: (ESV) “God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit….” When one understands this verse in John, it might make one look differently at the opening two words of the Lord’s Prayer, “Our father” Let me explain. God the Father is a spirit. He created us and blew breath and spirit into our being. All creation is from him so regardless of one’s denomination or seminary, if any, he fathered all spirits too.
God created man in his own image. In God’s image he created him; male and female he created them… Yahweh God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 1:1-3, 1:26-27 & 2:7 (WEB). I like how Ian Johnsons connects breath and spirit:
Although the Hebrew (here) rendered “breath” is a different word from that rendered “spirit” in (Genesis) 1:2, both have similar underlying meanings, and in Psalm 104:29-30 the same word rendered “spirit” in Genesis 1:2 is translated both “breath” and “Spirit” in the same context: “when you take away their breath (rûwach), they die and return to the dust. When you send your Spirit (rûwach), they are created…” firstname.lastname@example.org
This means God is the father of every spirit he creates, “created in his image,” a spirit included. Right? Where is this logic wrong; if wrong? By accepting the body, mind, soul, and spirit as all-inclusive, “for by none other is anything created that is created” we are like God in image even when not of or following God. My proof is not my education and knowledge twisted into theological theories, but is based upon scripture. (Colossians 1:16)
(NIV) “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.”
This is tough to swallow if denominationally or as a seminarian indoctrinated to separate these created parts; a soul/spirit of a believer and the soul/spirit of a nonbeliever. We are all created by him and the soul he puts into us with our first breathe (or at conception?). The only difference is the destination of the soul; eternity with God or without God. This being so, then the Lord’s Prayer or “Our Father…” is universal. He is the father to all souls and spirits.
Now before my evangelical brothers erect a 4th cross with me on it, stop and reason as Isaiah instructs us in Isaiah 1:18, “Come, let us reason together…” (KJV). There are but two destinations in the eternity all will experience; i.e. one with God and one without God. There is no neutral third option. The Lord’s Prayer is inclusive of all created humans (OUR FATHER), so where in the prayer is there any differentiation? We know God is Holy and Holy is his name (just like Jim is my name). “His kingdom is coming” first for a 1,000 year reign with Christ on the throne in Jerusalem and king of all nations, then in 1 Corinthians 15:24 Jesus hands the Kingdom over to the Father.
His ‘will’ is currently being done in heaven. At the time Jesus hands the Kingdom over to God the Father, his ‘will’ is being done on earth as it is in heaven but only “…after he (King Jesus) has destroyed all dominion, authority and power” (1 Corinthians 15:24b.) Now we get to the differentiation of saved and lost; born again and not; eternal life with Jesus or with Lucifer.
(JIV NOTE): Some denominations try hard to claim that the kingdom is not Christ’s rule but that of God the Father alone. Taking 1 Corinthians 15:24 for its word, it is only after all dominion and authority and power is destroyed. If this is gospel (pun intended) then we must remember that Lucifer is yet to be released at the end of the millennial reign “but for a short time” (Revelation 20:7). This means all dominion, authority and power (competition to God) has not yet been destroyed. Christ is on the throne for 1,000 years ruling with an iron scepter (Revelation 2:27; 12:5; 19:15; Psalm 2:9). For additional millennial information read the article “What Life Is Like During the Millennium.”
Yes, Jesus is talking to his disciples, at least the one who called the question of “teach us to pray.” However, one must also realize God does hear the prayers of the sinner seeking forgiveness. Dig a sentence deeper into the Lord’s Prayer… “Forgive us our sins (depts; trespasses) as we forgive those who have sinned against us.” Oh, oh! Is this not the sinner’s prayer too? Forgive us (me) our (my) sins…? It sure is!!! How did the Lord Jesus Christ begin this prayer lessen; by saying, “OUR FATHER.”
The Father is spirit and we must pray to him in spirit. He is the father of all creation. “All things were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made.” Now the clincher that certainly includes this writer: “forgive us as we forgive those who have sinned against us.”
How do you forgive; with reservations included; a grudge; giving the silent treatment; getting historical instead of shouting with exclamations? I know all too well how many times I have heard and was once captive to the statement, “Yah, but you don’t understand what s/he did, said to or about me.” Yes, I went to that school too. But then, I didn’t write the Word of God. Since this forgiveness fact within the Lord’s Prayer is so clearly stated, how can we claim dominion over sin if we harbor a sin against another? How can we expect God’s forgiveness?
Might this be from the religious school of modern day thought in America; “if it fits, keep it; if it doesn’t try to make it politically correct.” As Detective Kenda puts it in his TV series Homicide Hunter, “MY, my, my… now you have my attention.”