THE PATTERN FOR PRAYER – THE LORD’S PRAYER
- GIVE US TODAY OUR DAILY BREAD
Let your word feed and nourish me every day.
Again we have to read this in the whole context of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5-7. Prayer is not about needs, so what is this request all about?
The Hebrew mind would automatically connect with the concept of bread in the Torah. There were two kinds of bread in the experience of the Israelites as they went through the desert into the Promised Land. “Daily bread” would refer to the manna which they gathered in the wilderness daily, while the second kind of bread was the “showbread” which was placed on the table in the Holy Place in the tabernacle and was eaten weekly by the priests.
The manna which they gathered daily except on the Sabbath, had to be processed before they could eat it. It appeared on the ground as hard seed which had to be pounded or ground into flour before they could cook it. Grinding it would release both its palatability and its nourishment.
“…that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Deuteronomy 8 (NIV).
God’s word is like manna. Its value is locked within the seed and needs to be worked before it releases it flavour and nourishment. Jesus is God’s word made flesh.
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us…”John 1:14 (NIV).
He is our nourishment.
What are we praying when we ask for daily bread? We are asking for revelation truth about Jesus, whom the Holy Spirit will reveal to us as we open our heart to Him.
Only the Holy Spirit can give us accurate understanding of God’s truth.
“But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.” John 16:13a (NIV).
Question: Why do we need the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth about Jesus to us?
The Holy Spirit is the author of the Word and we need His help to understand it. If we trust our own understanding, we will be open to error and deception because the devil trades on our ignorance.
“…..The mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasure of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2b-3.
God’s word is the manna which we have to process through prayer and meditation until the Holy Spirit unlocks its truths to our hearts and gives us insight into God’s heart for us and for the world over which we have an influence for the kingdom of God.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practise (If you work these words into your lives – The Message), is like a wise man who built his house on a rock.” Matthew 7:24 (NIV).
“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home, when you walk along th road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (NIV).
Question: Can we be part of God’s kingdom on earth if we neglect the study of God’s word and prayer?
Since these are our tools for governing on earth, without them we are useless and of no value in placing His kingdom over the kingdoms of this world.
- FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS
Cancel the debt of sin I owe you in exactly the same way as I cancel the debts of those who have sinned against me.
This is the only part of the prayer which Jesus comments on. Apart from blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, unforgiveness is the only sin for which a believer will be sent to hell. This is very serious.
Matthew 18 expands on this issue of forgiveness. Any sin, whether against God or another person, which is ultimately against God (Psalm 51:4), incurs a debt which demands payment to be made by the debtor. Once payment is made the debt is written off and no-one can demand payment a second time.
Since Jesus paid the debt for all sin for all time, when we demand payment for the debt someone owes us, we are going against God’s justice and incurring a debt of our own.
- Refusal to forgive places me above my debtor in an attitude of arrogance because I consider myself above God who has freely forgiven my sin because of Jesus. I make myself my own idol because I think I know better than God.
- Refusal to forgive is a misunderstanding of God’s grace.
- It sabotages ECHAD because it breaks unity, disrupts fellowship and fosters an attitude of bitterness.
- Refusal to forgive is a reversal of all the characteristics of God’s name which are the characteristics of kingdom citizens, humility, generosity and mercy.
This prayer invites God to treat us in exactly the same as we treat others.
Question: Has Jesus forgiven all sin, even the sin of those who do not believe in Him
His does paid for all sin for all people for all time. Those who do not believe have not received His gift of forgiveness and have not experienced it in their lives.
- AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION BUT DELIVER US FROM THE EVIL ONE
Save me from myself.
Jesus ends this pattern prayer with the indication that He is aware of our biggest problem – not the Evil One but the evil eye – the “Yetzer Harah”. It is the inborn greed, selfishness, self-absorption and wickedness in our hearts, more than the devil, that is the cause of the mess man has created on earth. The devil plays on these things to lure us away from God’s best way to live.
If our biggest problem were the devil, we would be victims and God could not hold us responsible for our behaviour. However, together with God’s gift to us of free will comes the responsibility to choose His way and the consequences of the choices we make.
It is not in the devil’s power to make us do anything, but his capacity to deceive us is where we fall into His trap. As believers, God has given us His own nature and His indwelling presence to deliver us from the evil eye, but we are subject to deception when we do not know the truth.
Hence the prayer “Give us today our daily bread.” Without the diligent study of God’s word to reinforce our souls with God’s truth, we will be easily caught up in Satan’s deception and the bondage to our old nature which comes with it.
And so we ask God to save us from ourselves because our selfishness and greed makes us easy prey for the devil’s deception.
Question: Where does the greatest battle against the devil take place?
In our own hearts because we still have the old nature against which we contend. Our real enemy is ourselves upon which the devil preys through his lies. We will be easy picking for him if we are not fortified by the truth.
SUMMARY – YOURS IS THE KINGDOM, THE POWER AND THE GLORY
Although this is not part of the original text, it summarises and takes us back to the first thought in this prayer. Prayer is much more about God than about us. It must be a focus on Him, on the awareness of who He is and what His will is for us within the bigger picture of His kingdom and His will for the earth.
It’s all about awareness of and dependence on Him first. He will take care of our needs as we place our attention on what He cares about and values first of all – the display of His splendour to the world that does not know Him so that His rule can be extended across the whole earth for the sake of His name and for the good of His creation.
Our study of the Lord’s pattern prayer leads us to the conclusion that our concept of prayer and Jesus’ understanding of prayer are poles apart.
- God, His name, His kingdom and His will should be the focus of our prayers, not ourselves and our needs.
- God is as near to us as our breath. We do not need to attract His attention or try to gain His interest. He is our Father – our life source and supply.
- Prayer is not getting God to meet our needs – He told us that generosity towards others creates a current that comes back to us. That’s how the kingdom of God works.
- Prayer is acknowledging that we need God’s grace to treat others the way He treats us – generously letting go of their debts as God has let go of ours.
- Prayer is acknowledging our weak spot – the evil eye – where Satan can get in and trip us up and asking for God’s help to lean on Him.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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