How the Lord’s Prayer can become our guide to life.
The Lord’s Prayer
“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 also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
(Matthew 6: 9-13)
Here are five ways whereby the Lord’s Prayer guides us along the pathway that leads to life:
Our lives must reflect God’s holiness
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” means ‘may your name be kept holy’. So at the beginning, the foundational truth is being laid. If we profess to bear God’s name, we must honour His name. That means we must fear God and live righteously.
The sad state of affairs today is that people prefer a God who is kind, loving and merciful but conveniently downplay or ignore that part of Him which is just, righteous and holy. And they look for liberal teachers who tell them comforting half-truths to soothe their itching ears.
To emphasise God’s love alone but not His holiness is tantamount to worshipping a false God. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you” (Psalm 89:14).
God not only loves us but requires us to align our lives with the truth found in scriptures. It is crucial to know that ‘grace and truth’ came through Jesus the Messiah (John 1:14, 17). It is essential, therefore, that we embrace grace with truth rather than grace alone.
Thus, to call upon a holy God is to be identified with His character: Be holy, for I am holy. “Let everyone that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19).
God’s will is more important than personal fulfillment
Notice that “your kingdom come” appears before “give us this day our daily bread”. God’s kingdom is more important than earthly matters, like career and putting food on the table.
While there is nothing wrong with working hard, enjoying the fruits of our labour and attaining personal fulfillment, we must not put the cart before the horse. Doing God’s will and advancing His kingdom should take priority in the believer’s life.
- “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2)
- “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
In contrast, today’s ‘prosperity gospel’ places our blessings, happiness and comfort above kingdom concerns. This man-centered, self-serving gospel uses “faith” as a means of getting what we want in life. In effect, God becomes our servant and “faith” becomes a tool to help us achieve our dreams and desires. And the ‘name it, claim it’ mantra, so central to this false gospel, is used to get what we desire in the name of “faith”.
Our relationship with God the Father is most important
Notice the heart’s cry, Our Father in heaven, in the prayer. Let’s pause and think for a moment. We are calling the almighty God of creation, our heavenly Father. He is so awesome and glorious up there, yet He can be so intimate and personal—if we know Him.
Similarly, the Apostle Paul exhorts believers in Romans 8:15 to address God as ‘Abba’ (Aramaic for ‘Daddy’). It is an endearing word that a child would use to address his or her father
Believers enjoy a most blessed and intimate relationship with God. God is not just a taskmaster with a big stick who beats us into submission but a loving Father, like our earthly father, who cares for us and wants to bless us (Luke 11:11-13).
As God is our Father, He promises to be with us through all the ups and downs of life. If we face any trials in life, we can call upon our Father for wisdom, strength and comfort. If we go astray, we know that the Holy Spirit will convict us of sin and draw us back to our heavenly Father. If we need guidance, we can count on the Spirit—and scriptures—to lead us along the pathway of life.
However, the danger arises when we become complacent and take our relationship with God lightly. We may even say and do all the “correct” things expected of believers but miss out on heaven. The most harrowing experience, after going through the motions, is to hear these words in the afterlife: “I do not know you.”
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ (Matthew 7: 21-23)
All these things—attending church, serving in church, rubbing shoulders with big names in church, working miracles, having impressive theological qualifications—are praiseworthy and positive.
But some questions still remain:
- Do I have a relationship with Him?
- Do I seek His face (seek Him for who He is), not only His hand (what He has to offer)?
- Do I seek to know His will for my life?
- Do I obey Him?
Loving God means loving man as well
The part of the prayer that says “forgive us our sins (debts) as we have forgiven those who sin against us” reminds us that in line with our restored fellowship with God, we have to make peace with others—whether we been hurt or we have hurt others.
We cannot claim we love God but hate our brothers or sisters.
“If someone says, I love God, but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.” (1 John 4:20-21)
Even though we may profess faith in God, any bitterness and unforgiveness on our part show that we are not truly saved.
“If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.”(1 John 3:14-15)
When we harbour grudges and refuse to forgive others, we cannot expect God to forgive us.
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
Christ has paid a heavy price for our sins. He has canceled our debts. Are we like the servant in the parable who, after being forgiven of huge debts, choked a fellow servant who merely owed him a small debt (Matthew 18:28)?
Life is a constant battle against the world, our flesh and the devil
This prayer ends on a sober note. It is a cry to God for help against temptation and deliverance from evil. If we think that the Christian life is likened to a walk in the park, and discount the reality of evil, we are seriously mistaken. There are serious holes in our worldview if we think that we merely live in a material world.
Satan works hand in hand with worldly delights—lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2:15-17)—to tempt us and cause our downfall. Temptation, in itself, is not sin; we sin only when we yield to temptation. If we submit to our fleshly desires, we become slaves to evil and become the devil’s captives.
“Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” (Romans 8:5)
“Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)
And evil is not only a force; it has a face. Satan, evil personified, is variously known as the Father of lies, accuser of the brethren, great deceiver and tempter.
As such, we have to be vigilant as evil is lurking. “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).
Though the Lord’s Prayer is a model prayer, it is also a guide to Christian living:
- Our lives must reflect God’s holiness
- God’s will comes before personal fulfillment
- God the Father loves us but we must not take His love lightly
- Loving God means loving man as well
- Be alert as life is a battle against temptation and the devil.
As we meditate on this prayer and declare it, let it resound in our hearts and minds, reminding us how we should live our transient lives on earth.
Receiving God’s grace is merely the first step in the life of a believer. The difficult part is to continue growing, keeping ourselves under God’s favour and impacting the world.
A clear understanding of the ongoing battle between the “old man” and “new man” is essential before we can walk in victory.
Spiritual backlash when we attempt to serve God and extend His kingdom is a grim reality. But believers must be bold and persevere in spiritual warfare, not easily intimidated by satan’s devices.
Abba Father let me be, yours and yours alone
Note: Dr Lim Poh Ann is a medical practitioner. He was the former editor of Asian Beacon magazine (Dec 2008 – Oct 2011). He can be reached at his Facebook page, www.facebook.com/AskDrLi
SOURCE OF ARTICLE: http://limpohann.blogspot.my/2017/03/a-prayer-guide-to-life.html
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Dr Lim Poh Ann