What Did Christ Mean?
By His Recital of a Prayer for
Jesus the Christ (Gk. Christos: the Anointed One, the Messiah), the Son of God (i.e., God manifested in the flesh), made a number of exceedingly significant statements during His ministry prior to being crucified on Calvary.
While He was seated on a mountain teaching His disciples, a discourse often referred to as “The Sermon on the Mount,” which is a lengthy dissertation that deals with entrance into or exclusion from the “kingdom of the heavens” (Matthew 5-7), Christ formulated and recited a prayer for His disciples to follow. What prompted His “model” prayer was His evaluation of various religious leaders whom He had observed performing “charitable deeds” and praying in a manner that reflected their true motive for such activity.
(The “kingdom of the heavens” is the heavenly portion of Christ’s 1,000 year reign over the earth, i.e., His Millennial Kingdom, which will be established after the seven-year tribulation period upon the earth — a relatively brief period of time that is preceded by “The Rapture” [Christ’s return in earth’s atmosphere to retrieve the living and the dead who have believed in Him, an event that takes place at the end of the present dispensation of grace (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17)].
Additionally, during the time between “The Rapture” and the establishment of Christ’s kingdom, each raptured Christian will face a record of his life as a Christian before Jesus Christ at His Judgment Seat. At this time a judgment and determination will be made either authorizing or disqualifying the Christian for participation within Christ’s kingdom for one thousand years — a time when, if disqualified, the Christian will in “outer darkness” [lit. “outside of the light”] experience great reflection and sorrow over a life lived in violation of God’s Word.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men . . . . [2 Corinthians 5:10, 11a]
But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. [Romans 14:10; cf. Colossians 3:25; Hebrews 10:30])
It is during this period of instruction on the mountain that Jesus warns his disciples against allowing hypocrisy to characterize their spiritual lives as to their charitable deeds (Matthew 6:1-4), their prayers (Matthew 6:5-15), and their fasting (Matthew 6:16-18) — all activities of a Christian’s life before God performed either publicly or privately.
As to prayer, Jesus first stated the following in verses five through eight of chapter six:
And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
Here Christ confirms that prayer should be a private communication, an expression of one’s praise and needs before God, which should never be expressed (flaunted) before others in order to acquire their attention and admiration. And this malady of prayer-hypocrisy is as evident today, as it was then. One need only attend almost any local Christian church to witness members who routinely make it a practice to pray loud and long at various times during the service. Additionally, one can always find emotional displays by participants in various religious services, which are considered expressions of worship and/or prayer.
And should this not be sufficient, then there is always a “prayer meeting,” where one may suitably exercise his/her flair and stamina in conversing with God. Unfortunately, such presentations may only be for the recognition and approval of other members within the congregation; and, therefore, may be quite worthless to the originator of the supplication.
As to this manner of “public prayer,” Jesus assures His disciples that the only “reward” one who prays in this manner will receive is recognition from man, not God. On the other hand, should a Christian ensure his prayer is conducted secretly before his Father (God), then his Father (God) will reward him openly (lit. publicly).
Christ also confirms that the use of “vain repetitions” during prayer, which only serve to extend the length of prayer for the endorsement of others is erroneous and unnecessary, since God “knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”
It is then in verses 9 through 13 of Matthew chapter 6 that Christ instructs His disciples to pray in the following manner:
In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
And although this prayer is repeated from memory and in unison by participants in various religious meetings, or by individuals within one’s prayer regiment, the elements should not be considered “vain repetitions” as mentioned in verse seven; that is, as long as the one praying consciously understands the meaning of each element and purposely recites it.
This is a companion passage to Luke 11:2-4, in which is Christ’s answer to the disciple’s request, “Lord, teach us to pray . . . .” It is the only time where Jesus personally outlines specific elements of prayer. Each element is quite specific and indicates a facet of one’s spiritual life that every Christian should recognize and address when talking with God.
Each will be considered, as follows:
In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed [Gk. hagiazo, to venerate, to make holy; i.e., to recognize and admit to God’s holiness] be Your name.
Prayer is to be addressed primarily to God the Father, ascribing holiness only to Him. Although there may be no harm in addressing a prayer to Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit, this would be outside the pattern set by Christ in His “model prayer.” The use of the word “Father” denotes a relationship, which is the permanent bond between God and man that exists once a person is “born again” (i.e., spiritually, “from above”) by faith alone in Christ alone.
From the “birth from above” experience onward, an eternal, personal and loving relationship exists between the believer and God. From that point on he may and should call God his Father, recognizing that God is indeed his spiritual Relation, the Almighty and Holy One who is sovereign over the universe.
The believer’s prayer should begin with worship, ascribing praise and honor to his Heavenly Father.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
The believer should specifically pray for the return of Jesus Christ to earth to establish His Millennial (1,000 years) Kingdom, just as the apostle John prayed, “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” in Revelation 22:20. The fulfillment of this prophetic promise is what all believers should daily look forward to in eager anticipation (1 Corinthians 1:7; Philippians 3:20). In fact, the thought of Christ’s return should be a modifier of every Christian’s actions throughout his life.
Give us this day our daily bread.
After putting God first in prayer, the believer is to acknowledge his dependence upon God for his daily needs, both physical and spiritual. Just as the “children of Israel” in the wilderness looked to God for daily manna from heaven, the child of God during his sojourn on earth is to look to his Father for all temporal and eternal needs. Just as a person by faith placed his trust in Christ for his eternal salvation, he is subsequently to place his faith in Him for his needs in his temporal life, trusting Him for sustenance in both his physical and spiritual growth (Matthew 4:4; John 6:33, 35, 48).
As [by faith] you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so [in like manner] walk [by faith] in Him, (7) rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6, 7; cf. Hebrews 12:2)
The undergirding reality of the Christian life is the fact that Jesus Christ is personally the “Bread” that alone will supply spiritual strength and well-being for the Christian during his temporal tenure, if he will only avail himself of this marvelous Manna from heaven.
For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. . . . (35) And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. (John 6:33, 35)
This truth is underscored by Christ Himself in His prayer to God the Father in the 17th chapter of the book of John.
Sanctify [set apart spiritually] them [Christians] by Your truth. Your Word [Jesus Christ, John 1:1, 14, the Living Word, who is revealed in the written Word] is truth.
And forgive us our debts [Gk. opheilema, morally a fault, i.e., trespass, sin], as we forgive our debtors [those who trespass, sin against us].
This does not refer to “judicial forgiveness” from the penalty of sin, which was permanently obtained by faith in Jesus Christ and based solely upon Christ’s substitutional sacrifice on the cross of Calvary. It refers to “parental forgiveness,” which is necessary for continued fellowship with God the Father.
The person who makes the decision to accept Christ by faith alone is born again [from above]; and, at that moment is baptized into the body of Christ (Romans 6:3; 1 Corinthians 12:13, 27), is indwelt by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19) and is eternally sealed by/with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, 14; 4:30). At the point of one’s decision of faith in Christ, his eternal salvation is secured and is non-retractable by man or God.
But the believer, who still has the “sin nature” within, can make wrong decisions by giving in to the old nature rather than submitting to the voice of the Spirit, thereby “quenching” the Holy Spirit and hindering his fellowship with God (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
To restore this fellowship and the ability for control by the Spirit, the believer is to confess (acknowledge, own up to) known sin in his life. Upon doing this, the promise of God is that instantly the sin is forgiven (1 John 1:9) — resulting in the reestablishment of control by the Spirit in the believer and the restoration of his fellowship with God.
But there is also a principle expressed in this element of “The Lord’s Prayer” that is further explained by Christ in verses 14 and 15, which is that Christians should forgive others their trespasses. Indeed, Christ makes this quite clear in a parable to the apostle Peter in the 18th chapter (vss. 21-35) of the book of Matthew, which is that God expects His children to forgive others who seek their forgiveness as He has forgiven them. If the believer is unwilling to forgive others of their trespasses, then the Heavenly Father will be unable to forgive the believer his trespasses.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. . . .
A believer is not wrong to ask of his Heavenly Father for “smooth sailing.” This is only natural and is to be expected. Even Christ was troubled when the time came for Him to face the cross. Although God will not personally tempt anyone (James 1:13), He will allow Satan to test His children, to undergo trials, adversity and affliction from time-to-time in order to refine them, to encourage them and to strengthen their faith in Him. God has promised that He will not allow His children to be tested beyond what they can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13).
This last phrase of The Model Prayer is omitted in the Roman Catholic and many Protestant Bibles since it is not in many manuscripts; however, it is in the majority of ancient manuscripts and it is totally consistent with all other Bible doctrine. This doxology is a perfect ending to the prayer, and the believer should always express his recognition and worship of God Almighty as the Originator of all that is holy and eternal.