From the Devotional Bible Study
The Yoke of Yeshua
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at your local bookstore.
The Pater Noster Church on the Mount of Olives displays
the Lord's Prayer in many languages.
70. Our Father
into His family.
Matt. 6:9; Luke 11:2.
After Jesus had described the wrong way
to pray, He showed them the right way. He taught them to address God as
Father. This was one of several names used in the Old Testament for God
(Deut. 32:6; Is. 64:8; Mal. 2:10). David said: “As a father has
compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear
him.” (Psalm 103:13, NIV). When the Son of God was completing salvation
for sinners so that they could become children
of God (John 1:12), He said that the most appropriate Name to call God
henceforth would be Father. In order to
pray wholeheartedly, we have to know who He is and who we are.
When we call God our Father, we are
saying that we believe we are His children. He gave us eternal life, He
cares for us and we thank and trust Him, He loves us and we love Him back,
He educates us and we respect His values. We became His children by
adoption and rebirth (John 1:12, 3:3). By His Spirit, the Father has drawn
us to Him through the Mediator He provided (John 6:37, 44; 1 Tim. 2:5).
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we
should be called children of God.” (1 John 3:1). We sit as children at
the table of the King of kings.
When we have become children of God by
this very personal experience of His love and mercy, then we are members
of His big family. We have to accept each other as brothers and sisters in
God’s family. It’s part of the deal. I can’t have Him exclusively as
MY Father. I have to accept Him inclusively as OUR Father, and that means
accepting my fellow Christians as His children too. The first person
singular (“my”) is not in the Lord’s Prayer, but it is included in
the first person plural (“our”). Prayer should not be self-centered
but focused on the Father and all His children.
The first two words of the Lord’s
Prayer already include the whole Apostles’ Creed: the basic truths about
the one true God who revealed Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as
well as the basic truths about salvation and Christian fellowship. Before
saying the Lord’s Prayer, we should become silent. Every word of it is
saturated with divine meaning. But we should say this prayer even though
we may not understand it fully yet, for it is the prayer the Lord taught
Lord, let me experience the true meaning of “Our Father”.
Do I show my gratitude for being adopted into God’s family?
Who Is In Heaven
us the Father.
Matt. 6:9; Luke 11:2.
“Our Father” is called He “who is
in heaven”. Many people who have had a bad relationship with their
earthly father(s) transfer these feelings onto the heavenly Father. They
expect Him to be as abusive, or controlling, or distant, or absent, as
their earthly father-figures have been. They feel they cannot pray to One
they hate and blame. This is a major obstacle for some people.
Jesus understood this problem, and He
made it possible to get around this obstacle. We talk to our Father who
is in heaven. His fatherly qualities are not dependent on the
qualities of earthly fathers; on the contrary, He is the original and
ideal Father, and earthly fathers should try to resemble Him. Of course,
they will never be able to do it perfectly. When they fail, it is their
problem and their guilt. God continues to be the perfect Father.
Because humans have been falling into
sin since Adam, they have lost contact with the Father. They don’t know
Him anymore. They need to be introduced to Him by someone who knows Him
well. Philip expressed this universal need when he said to Jesus: “Lord,
show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” And Jesus responded by
saying: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:8-9). The
Father is like Jesus. “No one knows the Father except the Son and those
to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matt. 11:27). Those who have had
nasty experiences with bad father-figures can pray to Jesus, the
friend-figure (Matt. 11:10, John 15:15).
We can only glorify the Name of the
Father when we get rid of our false ideas about the Father. When we
realize the deceiver has planted wrong ideas into our minds to keep us
away from the Father, then we can discover the true nature of our heavenly
Father as revealed in Jesus His Son.
Although Jesus did not include His own
Name in this prayer, it cannot be truly prayed without the person and work
of the mediating Son of God. Without Him, we can’t know the heavenly
Father, who is totally different and above any earthly father or
father-concept. When we have been reconciled with the Father through His
Son, we can truly say, “Our
Father who is in heaven”.
Our Father, help us to know, trust and love You better.
Do I have problems with God as the perfect Father?
Hallowed Be Your Name
to God in the highest.
Matt. 6:9; Luke 11:2.
The Lord’s Prayer demands both
self-crucifixion and self-fulfillment. In the world these two concepts are
exclusive opposites. For the Christian they are two sides of the same
coin, two essential aspects of the Christian life, overcoming the negative
and developing the positive.
After one has received justification by the
redemptive work of Christ, one has to proceed with sanctification
by the indwelling work
of the Spirit. The latter consists of
the overcoming of our sinful nature, and the development of the
reborn spirit. We achieve the best self-actualization when we overcome the
negative and develop the positive in ourselves and in our environment.
The first three requests in the
Lord’s Prayer are about God,
about His Name, His kingdom, His will. It is a prayer against the name,
kingdom, and will of our sinful nature. The second three requests are
temptation. It is a prayer against the selfishness of the our sinful
Praying that the Name of the Father
will be hallowed, made holy, is a confession that His Name has been
desecrated by the human race. It is a cry to God that He will be
recognized by all for who He is: the holy Creator and Sustainer of the
universe. Those who have been reconciled with Him can put in this request
When we pray, “Hallowed be Your
Name”, we are confessing that so many times we have done or said things
that dishonored His Name. When we have been forgiven, then we can pray
that His Name will be glorified in our senses (what we take in), in our
minds, feelings and will (what we process), and in our actions and
attitudes (what we give out). This we pray for all our Christian brothers
and sisters too, that all of us may carry this life-style into the world.
The Name of God should be glorified in and through His children.
However, again we have to be humble: in
reality, it is God Himself who glorifies His Name (John 12:28) in His
children and in creation - in ordinary folks who honor Him with their
faith and lives; in creatures in far-off jungles and deserts; even in the
crystals of unknown caves, and in the stars of unknown galaxies. He also
glorifies His name where we will never set foot.
Our Father, hallowed be Your Name.
Do I glorify
humans or God for my privileges?
Your Kingdom Come
kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed.
Matthew 6:10; Luke 11:2.
basic reason for man’s fall into sin was the desire to be like God: to
be smart and to be rulers of their own kingdom (Gen. 3:5-6). Since then,
the world has seen no end to the obsession to rule: in families, in
companies, in countries, and in the world. Many kinds of tyrants have
enslaved people, not only despotic rulers but also tyrants like power,
money, honor, drugs, lust, violence, and belief-systems.
Jesus taught His disciples to pray that
the original order will be restored: that God will be voluntarily accepted
by all as the perfect Ruler who does not enslave His people but treats
them as His family. He wants His children to respond in the same way: to
love Him as their Father, and to obey His rules voluntarily, knowing that
His rules are for their own good.
The whole universe has always been
God’s kingdom, but this fact has not been recognized by all. Therefore,
God’s kingdom IS already, but in a way it is also COMING. The lost
ground that has to be reclaimed is in the hearts of people. When people
become children of the heavenly Father and come to know, trust, love and
serve Him, then the kingdom of heaven has come into their hearts and
lives. By the power of the Spirit and the Word, in and through the Church,
the kingdom of heaven is expanded. In this way the chaos created by the
devil is replaced by the order of God’s kingdom, in individuals, in
families, and in societies.
This expansion of God’s kingdom in
the hearts of people is at first hidden from the eyes of the world - like
the mustard seed in the soil, or the leaven in the dough. For the world,
it does not look as if God is ruling. The results of the mustard seed and
the leaven eventually become visible, and people start to enjoy the
benefits (Matthew 13:31-33).
By praying for the coming of God’s
kingdom, we step down from our dear little thrones and make our
“kingdoms” subordinate to His kingdom. Thus this prayer too brings
crucifixion of the sinful nature, and development of the reborn nature. It
is a prayer for the end of all ungodly powers and for the establishment of
the kingdom of God. This prayer looks forward to the day when God’s Son
will be King of kings, and Lord of lords (Rev 19:11-16). Before Jesus,
every knee will eventually bow, to the honor of the Father (Phil. 2:9-11).
Our Father, let Your kingdom come!
How can I participate in the expansion of God’s kingdom?
Your Will Be Done
food is to do the will of God.
Matthew 6:10; Luke 11:2,
22:42; John 4:34.
Because God is the eternal and perfect
Father, His children want His Name to be glorified, His kingdom to come,
and His will to be done. Those who are not yet His children are focused on
their own honor, on their own kingdom, and on their own will. Again this
prayer demands crucifixion of the old self and the development of the new
Unconverted people who value their
“freedom” dearly see surrendering oneself to the will of the almighty
God as slavery and fatalism. As usual this view on Christianity from the
outside is based on a flagrant misunderstanding. God does not want forced
obedience from us as if we were slaves, but voluntary cooperation from His
children. Therefore, Jesus added this line to “Your will be done”: on
earth as it is in heaven. The angels and the triumphant Church in
heaven do His will eagerly and joyfully. To do this on earth is only
possible when the Spirit has changed one’s heart, so that one can
discover the true nature of the heavenly Father and so that one can
embrace Him with all one’s heart.
Like the prodigal son (Luke 15),
unconverted people think they have to go far away from the Father to have
real fun and true freedom. However, in the far-off land they become
enslaved to their sinful life-style and its consequences. They end up with
deep spiritual hunger amongst the “pigs”. When they come home to their
waiting Father, they discover what true joy and freedom is.
To do the will of the Father was like
food to Jesus. It was as satisfying as eating is for the hungry person.
Obeying the law of hunger and of breathing is not enslaving but natural
and good. This is how we should experience the will of the caring Father -
knowing He wills the best for us.
But what about suffering, injustice and
disasters that come over Christians too? Should they rejoice in that? No,
because that is not how God made the world. That is how man made the
world. We don’t have to love our misfortunes when we embrace the will of
God. It should make us look up to heaven where His will is done, including
the end of all suffering and tears (Rev. 21:1-8). In the meantime we can
replace the self-torturing WHY, with its focus on the past, with the
constructive WHAT and HOW of living in the present.
Our Father, Your will be done.
Do I see the will of God as awesome or as awful?
Our Daily Bread
gathered the manna every morning.
Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:3.
are in the middle of a Bible school Jesus held for His disciples, and we
are in the middle of a prayer He taught them on that occasion. The prayer
started in heaven with our Father, and has come down to earth where His
Name should be glorified, His kingdom should come, and His will should be
Jesus placed the second part of His
prayer right in the center of our human needs, namely our hunger, debt and
temptation. He could understand these needs, because in human form He
suffered these needs with us. He felt hunger and thirst (Mat. 4, John 19),
exhaustion and sadness (John 4, 11), anger and temptation (Mark 3, Luke
4). He then took our debts on Himself and paid the price in full. We have
a High Priest who understands our weaknesses.
When Israel wandered in the wilderness,
God sustained them with bread from heaven, called manna. Every morning
they had to pick up enough for one day only. Hoarding was not allowed. In
this way, God taught them that man should not live by bread alone but by
every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord (Deut. 8:3). As the
manna fed them physically, so the Word of God should feed them
spiritually. As they picked up the manna for each day, so we can nourish
ourselves daily by God’s Word. In Psalm 119:105, God says that His Word
is a lamp to our feet. As a lantern lights up only a few yards at a
specific point, so God leads us step by step.
said the manna also pointed to Him. Those who ate the manna in the desert
died, but whoever takes in the Son of God will have eternal life (John
6:31-35, 51). Therefore, “give us today our daily bread” also means,
“Let Jesus be our nourishment for today.” As our daily bread Jesus
provides for all our physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs.
Yes, trust Him for every detail in all sectors of your life, while you
apply His principles to all those sectors.
Some say “bread” represents our
physical needs, and “debts” our spiritual needs. In the light of the
meaning of bread in the Bible, “our daily bread” covers body, soul,
spirit and relationships. Yes, relationships too. Please note: not MY
bread, but OUR bread. Even when stilling our hunger, we should not be
selfish but sharing.
Our Father, let Your bread give us complete nourishment.
Do I gather my daily bread eagerly every morning?
Give Us This Day
or fighting for bread?
Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:3.
The word “give” can be said in a
demanding or in a humble way. The latter is the difficult way, especially
for those who are self-righteous and think they are self-sufficient. When
voters say “give” to governments, and employees to companies, they
demand what they think they deserve. They don’t plead for what they
In the West, people look down on
dependence and co-dependence so much that they think they can escape
inter-dependence too. When stock markets tumble, or when trade wars erupt,
or when natural disasters strike, we realize how inter-dependent the
economies of the world have become. Likewise, we need each other in our
families, neighborhoods, workplaces, schools and churches. When we lose
our social support system, we are very lonely – an experience immigrants
know all too well.
This connection with our fellow
Christians and fellow human beings is stressed twice in this request:
“give us”… “our”. Employers and employees should include each
other in their prayers for daily bread. Please, give us our bread, for we
are dependent on each other, and on many weather and economical factors
that we can’t control. Though we put our trust on our health, our job,
our income, our pension, our insurance, and our inheritance, all of these
can so easily slip through our fingers. “Our Father, please bless our
efforts and give us today, and every day, our daily bread.”
Give us THIS DAY. We can get so
preoccupied with the good or bad of the past or future that we spoil our
opportunities of today. And yet, today is the only part of time that we
can really do something about. “Give us today” is a prayer for
practical solutions in the present. Not WHY about the past, not WHEN about
the future, but WHAT and HOW about the here and now.
Give us BREAD. The bare minimum if
needs be. Not riches, or honor, or power, or pleasures. When it comes to
survival, the most basic will be a blessing. Whenever people have to flee
for their lives, they discover this truth. This line in the Lord’s
Prayer helps us to be humble, dependent and grateful towards Him, and
inter-dependent, sharing and helpful towards others.
Our Father, please give Your bread to all of us just for today.
Do I share God’s bread with others?
failure and neglect.
Matthew 6:12; Luke 11:4.
To apologize is hard for many people;
to ask forgiveness is even harder. We have come to realize that the
Lord’s Prayer is a humbling prayer. When the Spirit enables us to pray
it with a genuine heart, we crucify the negative in us and develop the
positive. Pleading for God’s forgiveness accomplishes that in us.
Forgiveness of what? Luke uses a Greek
word that means “missing the mark”, or “failing to do the right
thing”. Matthew uses a word that means: “to be in debt”, or
“having done the wrong thing”. In this way, they point out two kinds
of sin: the sin of doing the wrong, and the sin of neglecting the good.
Mankind has developed a string of
defense mechanisms in an attempt to escape guilt feelings with regard to
both kinds of sin. Denial, repression, excuses, minimizing, projection,
blaming, people pleasing, helplessness, and daydreaming are common ways to
get out of a tight corner. Unfortunately, these defenses do nothing about
the real problem. Therefore, they don’t satisfy our heavenly Father,
and, in the long run, they don’t satisfy us.
Like the rich young ruler (Mark
10:17-22), many Christians think they are not trespassing the Ten
Commandments and thus are not guilty of sins of wrongdoing. They forget
that each commandment has a negative and a positive side: “You shall not
steal” also implies “You shall respect and protect the property of
others.” We avoid the wrong, but neglect the good. When Jesus described
the Last Judgment (Mat. 25), He stressed the sins of neglect: “You did
not give Me food, water, clothing, shelter or visits.”
prayer for our daily bread is followed by the prayer for forgiveness that
we have not shared our bread with others as we should have. Like the
prayer for bread, this prayer also stresses the social side: “forgive
us…our”. The sins of deed and neglect are personal as well as
collective sins. We confess our solidarity with our community when we pray
that our Father forgives all of us. Together we could have done so much
better and so much more. Just think of all the hungry, the sick, the
oppressed, and the poor. Those who have are reluctant to share their
surplus food, medicine, knowledge and machines with those in other parts
of the world who have not. Much of the usable stuff of the privileged can
be recycled to the less privileged.
Our Father, please forgive us our sins of deed and neglect.
Where am I doing the wrong or neglecting the good?
As We Forgive
Matthew 6:12, 14-15; Luke
Now the prayer is becoming even more
humbling. Forgive us…as we forgive? Maybe we actually want to say,
“No, Father, please do not forgive me as halfheartedly as I forgive
others!! Allow me, Father, to change the prayer to this: forgive us…as
we should forgive others.” But that is not how Jesus said it. To
avoid any misunderstanding He returned to this part of the prayer
afterwards, saying, “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither
will your Father forgive your trespasses.” In Matthew 18:21-35, He
emphasized the same truth with the parable of the unmerciful servant.
This is very much against human nature
which is more inclined to avenge than to forgive. Whenever a disaster
takes place, people first look for someone to blame. They defend this
attitude under the flag of accountability. Good citizens and leaders are
often destroyed by people obsessed by the drive to expose the wrong.
Sometimes these self-righteous persecutors try to hide their own mistakes
by putting the spotlight on others. Wars and nasty competition are
justified by magnifying the guilt of the opponent, and by minimizing their
own. God also holds people accountable but He does not withhold
forgiveness from the repentant sinner.
Yesterday we saw that
self-justification through defense mechanisms does not eliminate real
guilt. Neither do self-punishment and self-hate. Sometimes people try to
atone for their own guilt by repeated confession and self-punishment.
Sometimes the victims of injustice demand it from the perpetrators.
Although there is a rightful place for restitution, forgiveness cannot be
bought or demanded, only asked and given. The blaming and the blamed must
both learn to pray, “Forgive us…as we forgive each other.”
Truly, the sinful nature has to be
crucified and the newborn spirit needs to be resurrected to enable us to
pray this prayer in truth. That does not imply that we should avoid this
prayer until we are perfect. On the contrary: it will help us to overcome
the negative and to develop the positive. We can start praying, “Father,
help us to forgive others as mercifully as You forgive us. Help us to see
the potential of others, as You see our potential through all our
Our Father, help me to forgive as You do.
Am I objective or brainwashed by family, friends or media?
Lead Us, Deliver Us
will fear no evil, for You are with me.
Matthew 6:13; Luke 11:4.
In the prayer for our daily bread,
Jesus covered our needs of the present. In the prayer for the forgiveness
of our sins, He covered our needs of the past. Then He addressed our needs
of the future: the attacks of the devil ahead of us. James (1:12) saw the
triumph over temptation as a blessing.
The request, lead us not into
temptation, does not suggest that God brings temptations to us. James
(1:13) stated clearly that God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He
Himself tempt anyone. He added that each one is tempted when he is drawn
away by his own desires. He used the picture of a fish that took the bait
and is then reeled in by the angler.
The plea against temptation therefore
implies: “Lead us, and teach us, how to prevent temptation for
ourselves. Help us not to lead ourselves into temptation. Show us how to
direct our senses, mind, feelings, will, and actions, so that we do not
expose ourselves to the arrows of the devil. Help us to put on the full
armor of God so that we can triumph over all the attacks of the devil”
The essence of all temptations is what
Adam and Eve experienced. It is the urge to doubt God and to believe the
devil. In our time, people openly reject parts of Scripture that does not
fit in with current scientific data or with current views and fashions.
For many, the Bible is politically incorrect and thus unacceptable.
Unfortunately, in their arrogance, thinking they know better than God,
they have created terrible value and behavior problems in society.
Temptations come not only with regard
to that which is clearly forbidden by God’s Word. Good things and
activities can also become temptations when they become so important to us
that they get all our time, money, efforts, dedication, and attention -
with no or little place left for God.
The fine line between virtue and vice
is also easily stepped over: then stability is distorted to obstinacy,
flexibility to people pleasing, thrift to stinginess, generosity to
over-spending, and devotion to hypocrisy.
Jesus conquered all evil powers. To
overcome our temptations, we must not focus on our temptations - we must
focus on Him who delivered us from evil (Heb. 12:1-3; Rom. 12:21).
Our Father, lead us to victory over the devil by fixing our
eyes on Jesus.
Do I lead myself into temptation by fooling around with evil?
Kingdom, Power, Glory
Him, through Him, and to Him are all things.
Matthew 6:13; Romans
The Lord’s Prayer started with the Father
in heaven and came down to the devil in hell. Though some manuscripts end
it there, it is doubtful if Jesus did. He knew where His redemptive work
would go - to the right hand of the Father. Therefore, He would draw the
line back to Him. The perfect prayer would not be perfect if it was only
an asking prayer. (We will get to Luke 11:1-4 later). Prayer should
include thanks and praise: “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and
the glory forever!”
The believer stands up from prayer with
the eyes NOT on the devil, but on the Father, who is the eternal sovereign
King of all creation, the
Almighty who has ultimate power,
the Most High who is enveloped in awesome glory.
Because He is who He is, worshippers may have confidence that their
prayers will be heard. The doxology of the Lord’s Prayer is the ground
on which we base our requests for His Name, Kingdom and will, and for our
bread, sins and temptations. True prayer is true contact with God, and it
necessarily ends in praise.
Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is not
visible now, though it is within and amongst His followers (Luke 17:21).
This kingdom is where the King is accepted. It is like the stained glass
windows of a Church in the daytime: we can only see its beauty when we get
on the inside. From inside the kingdom, we can see it (John 3:3).
we really believe that our Father is in charge, we will praise His glory.
Paul and Silas believed that when they sang hymns to God in prison, after
they had been physically assaulted (Acts 16). And God showed His sovereign
power and glory to them soon afterwards. However, they did more than
trusting God: they also obeyed Him. The Great Commandment of love inspired
them to bring the gospel to Europe. The Lord’s Prayer resounds with love
for God and for others. After praying it, we have to practice it.
is not just a way to say, “My prayer ends here.” It is an expression
of faith that means: it is sure and solid, like a foundation well laid.
That certainty is not based on any merit on our side, but on the love of
our Father in heaven.
Father, Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever.
How much thanksgiving is there in my prayers?