Prescott AZ Notes
Grace & Truth Ministries / Prescott AZ Conference 2019
April 5 - April 7. 2019
Man is dear to God because he is like Him. As awesome as the Sun is, it cannot intelligently sympathize with God’s purposes. Without man the whole material universe is dark and mechanical. Matter is the stage for man. Creation was not done until man’s creation; therefore, man is incommensurable with the universe.
Man ate of the forbidden tree and was moved from innocence to moral manhood. Self-determination and obedience were now required, and there were choices.
The savage is innocent of the vices of the city and the child is innocent of the vices of adulthood.
Cain and Abel reveal immediately that there were choices.
God makes a covenant with Adam which is sealed in blood. The promise was that the seed of the woman would crush the serpent. Revelation over time would tell more and more of the identity of the Savior.
God could send no mere creature to save mankind. God the Son would take on flesh and His blood would seal the covenant.
History is a seemingly endless amount of time and energy. The history of man is comprised of millions of events of wonder and tragedy. The whole of history is crowned with the incarnation. It is an end worthy of all that is contained in the physical history of the world.
Abraham’s family would become Israel, elected by God, given the Law and the writings, from whom would come the Savior, God the Son.
Through Abraham, God called out a family that would become a nation to whom He would give His Law and from whom would come the Messiah, the Savior of the world, who is God blessed forever.
ROM 9:3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,
ROM 9:4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises,
ROM 9:5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.
The Savior is God the Word, the Creator.
JOH 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
JOH 1:2 He was in the beginning with God.
JOH 1:3 All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
JOH 1:4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
JOH 1:5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
Redemption would be messy and violent because of the darkness that hated the light. Darkness would nail the life and light to the cross in a violent and ugly manner.
The Word became flesh.
JOH 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
He is before all things. The head of the church. The reconciler of all things.
COL 1:15 And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.
COL 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created by Him and for Him.
Col1:17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
Col1:18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.
COL 1:19 For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him,
COL 1:20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
REV 22:13 "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."
REV 1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
REV 1:17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as a dead man. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,
REV 1:18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.
What is the human race and human history without this story of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Son of Man, the beginning and the end?
The Incarnation alone justifies the age of man. Remove the incarnation and history is only dark and unintelligible without a destiny or a meaning.
Yet, God saw sufficient object in the life of man (He did not give help to the angels), enough to justify millions of years of preparation leading up to the right time of Christ’s coming.
In the beginning of the Bible we find immediately the opening of the conflict. We find Cain murder his brother. We find Eve have another son through whom the promised line would come. We see the whole world become corrupted by evil except for one man and his family. Through Noah the world would be preserved, and through the flood the earth would be cleansed. We find the world again turn against God and seek to reach heaven on their own power through the Tower of Babel. God again acts, confusing their language and dispersing them throughout the world. We find God call out one man named Abram. God would tell this man to go out from his home in Ur and go to a land that God would show him. And by faith, faith that the One he heard as the One, true, living God, Abram left his home and went forth, taking the first steps towards the establishment of the elect nation of Israel.
The New Testament opens up with the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. The revelation of the New Testament, the gospel, would begin with Jesus’ genealogical link to Abraham.
God became a Man, born of a virgin, born at the proper time, in the line of Abraham, in the line of David, who would pay the debt to God that all men possessed through His own death on the cross.
In Him was life, and the life became the light of men. That light shined in the darkness, but the darkness did not comprehend it. Darkness hates light because it becomes exposed. But some men did believe in Him so as to be saved from death, transferred from the domain of darkness and into the kingdom of God.
During the incarnation, the believers we know the most about are the disciples of Christ; the twelve as they came to be known, who would later include the Apostle Paul. These men soon came to find what a disciple of Christ would be.
The disciple would need a new birth. He would have to be born again through faith in Christ as His Savior. This faith would allow the justice of God, propitiated by the blood of Christ, to impute him with God’s very righteousness, justifying him, imputing him with eternal life. He would have the status of a son of God, and that could never change, not by sin, not by anything.
The disciple would need established and unchanging confidence in his relationship to God the Father as His son - justified, cleansed and forgiven from all sin.
The life that is Christ is holy and blameless, what we have been elected to.
EPH 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
EPH 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love
EPH 1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
EPH 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
EPH 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace,
EPH 1:8 which He lavished upon us.
The disciple of Christ would have to know unequivocally that he was a son of God forever. He would then also have to know that the son of God is called to act like God.
The sons of God, called to be disciples are to live like Christ in His love, His peace, His joy, His virtue, His excellent, extraordinary character.
We can all imagine the angst that would enter the hearts of the disciples when they heard the Sermon on the Mount, hearing what was supposed to be the description of them, Jesus’ disciples. We can imagine the dread in them because we all find the same dread in us when we learn of it. Yet, we are already established sons when we hear of it. We have already entered into salvation when the character of a disciple becomes known. Our dread is calmed by knowing that our performance will not destroy our position as sons, but still, the performance is required.
The New Testament is written in order to show us how, give us the confidence that we do this with God and not independent of Him, that God is in us, and if we obey by faith then He will see us through. Still, the New Testament doesn’t say it’s going to be easy, and all Christians who have pressed on to do it will agree. There is tons of temptation to sin, obstacles that bid us to lay down our weapons and give up the fight, suffering and tribulation are promised as well as active, contentious warfare by Satan and his minions.
Yet, we are given another battery of promises revealing that if we fight the good fight, having faith in God to will and work, we will overcome; we will win the prize of becoming Christlike.
We must be determined to fight every day. Days that we waste can easily become months and years. We could find ourselves looking back over years, tens of years, discovering that we set God aside for the pursuit of sin, but then again, maybe it wasn’t obvious sin, maybe we set God and His service aside in order to put our energy into building a marriage, raising a family, establishing a career or financial stability. We must be determined to fight every day.
How do we protect ourselves against falling asleep in the plan that worships and serves God and living a worldly dream world? We must consistently learn and study God’s word. We must consistently learn wisdom and understanding by living God’s word. And, we must consistently, daily pray. We must pray as the Lord has shown us to pray. It must not be some vain search for current personal desire. It must be done as the Lord told us to, and that, every day.
C.S. Lewis: “The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.”
The Lord’s prayer has the power to, in minutes, push back all of that natural wind and set you to listening to the voice of God.
Perhaps the disciples realized this when they asked Jesus to pray. Knowing their history, I think not. They were not as of yet ready to understand. They knew that John the Baptist had taught his disciples how to pray and they saw the Lord pray, and it is likely that they were curious. So be it. The Lord instructs us before we are ready to use His instruction wisely.
He instructed them in the way of prayer to be followed day in and day out; first thing in the morning and throughout the day as necessary. The prayer gives plenty of room for expansion, but not outside its simple and obviously stated boundaries.
The Lord’s Prayer
The prayer is short and to the point. There is no vain or heathenish babbling, as if the length of our prayer were to measure the value of its answer.
1CO 14:19 in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind, that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.
There isn’t any repetition or lengthy explanations as if God did not know what we really thought. At a glance the simplicity and purity of the prayer is discernible.
MAT 6:9 "Pray, then, in this way: 'Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.
MAT 6:10 'Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
MAT 6:11 'Give us this day our daily bread.
MAT 6:12 'And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
MAT 6:13 'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
[“For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”] Is not in the original manuscript.
Who could say they don’t have enough time or enough mental ability or enough spiritual growth? All of us are to pray in this way.
The Lord gives us a prayer with the barest possible clothing of words. Elaborate language, then, is not essential of pray; nor yet ingenious thought, nor deep penetrating insight as to why things happen the way they do. We are often lacking in our prayer lives, not because it is too difficult, but because it is too simple. We often make more of it than what it is. It is unlike any other requesting or receiving in the world.
LUK 11:1 And it came about that while He was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.”
LUK 11:2 And He said to them, “When you pray, say:”
“say” - lego = He tells us to say these words, but not parroting them without knowing and contemplating their meaning, all of which are deep and significant.
We are to use His very words, but obviously not simply in parroting them over and over. We are to know what the words mean. There is no getting past the evident precept here delivered, that we ought habitually to use these words. And as we use them again and again, learning their more deeper meaning as the years go by, we shall find that though we learnt them like a child at his mother’s knee, it takes a lifetime to fill their meaning, and all eternity to given them their full answer.
Using these very words we are confronted with our own desire for them. Do we really desire “Our Father”? Do we really desire that His name be sanctified in our hearts? Do we really desire His kingdom to be established in our hearts along with His will?
If they are not our desire then we will not desire to pray them and then our prayers, whatever they are, will not be led in the best direction. To learn what these petitions really mean, we have to desire them more than our very lives.
Every day we pray we are reminded that we are headed exactly there. You will become a prophet of your own life.
To not use this prayer is to be cruel to our own souls. They reveal our certain future, not the events, but the reality that our Father will be sanctified in our hearts and His will accomplished in our lives. We can all imagine being such a person.
There is unity. As the entire church prays the same words we are desiring the same things.
It begins with “Our Father” and not “My Father.” In this is His love to every one of us. What did it take for Him to become our Father? He sent His Son to die for us. He loved you every bit as much as He loved me, and so He is our Father.
The Trinity is also unified in the prayer. We pray to the Father, in the name of the Son, and through the power of the Holy Spirit. But also, in the prayer’s words we find the Father in the first petition, the Son in the second and third as our Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit in final three as our empowerer and our guide.
We all pray to desire His sanctification in our own lives. We all pray for His kingdom to be established in our own heart and to do His heavenly will. We all desire this before we say one word about ourselves.
So when Christ said,
JOH 14:13 "And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
JOH 14:14 "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
JOH 14:15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
JOH 16:23 Truly, truly, I say to you, if you shall ask the Father for anything, He will give it to you in My name.
JOH 16:24 "Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full.
Asking in Christ’s name must be asking in His given words and not our own. Could I come to the Father in the Son’s name with my own, independent desires?
Ask for anything, yet pray in this way! Ask for anything within these six petitions. When the petitions are understood, there are a lot of things to ask for.
It takes faith for both.
It takes faith to believe in the fulfillment of the petitions, and it takes faith to remain within the boundaries of the petitions.
A faith that makes no sacrifices exhibits no power, either in the world or in the church.
The prayer has 2 parts:
3 petitions concerning the Father’s purpose
3 petitions concerning our needs.
Simply, and we should always be simple when classifying or dividing, the prayer has two parts. In the first the object of worship fastens our thoughts to the Father and the Son and their great purposes. These are first uttered, as if to enforce, “Your purpose first Father and then mine within it.”
The second part of the prayer turns to our own condition and wants.
All the petitions are inseparable.
The petitions from the first part are inseparable from one another; each includes the one that follows: the name of God must be recognized and hallowed before His kingdom can be established, and only when His kingdom is established can His will be done.
The Father is in heaven. This acknowledgment already makes Him sanctified, for only holiness dwells there.
If His will is to be done in my life, it cannot be irrespective of my condition. I am a sinner and so something has to be done about my sin if He is to be my Father, be holy in my heart, have His kingdom and His will established there. That is no small requirement. I can know all of this but not desire it and so let sin rule my life. I cannot serve two masters.
Yet, in the first part, the focus is on the Father and the Son and not on ourselves. We need not question our loyalty or our determination. All we need to know is if we do actually desire these words, and in private prayer we can be very open and honest with our Father to answer that question. All of us need more faith, meaning faith more often, and more diligence, and when we petition God for His name to be holy, we can join our Father in discovering the reason why we sometimes don’t actually want it.
First, can we say “Our Father” with as much meaning in our hearts as the Lord had when He said them. He would have said them in ancient Jewish-Aramaic, but the language doesn’t matter.
So, right at the beginning, the salutation has us way over our heads. When we address Him as our Father we will find that we never really fill those words to their fullness., and that they rather still extend beyond our actual feelings, and show us that there is more to be striven after. We actually tremble before the Almighty, all knowing, all powerful God that has accomplished the means by which we can call Him Father. We begin to see why we are not to just repeat these words. We are to seek their fulfillment in our hearts.
These words are new. Before Christ, no Jew ever called God his individual Father.
Another thing to understand is that these words are new. When Christ said them, the disciples all must have been a bit uncomfortable to hear that they were to pray “Our Father.” Jesus was the first Man, first Jew to ever address and speak of Yavah in such a familiar and endearing word. God called Himself the Father of Israel, and He only did so on eight occasions in the entire OT, but never did He call Himself this of an individual, and never is it used in the form of an address. One exception is PSA 89:26 in reference to David, but the Psalm is prophetic of David and also of Christ and likely vs. 26 refers more so to Christ than to David, calling Him the first-born king in vs. 27.
“Our Father” stated by a common Jew to Yavah Elohim was courting blasphemy, but it would soon be known that Christians of the church would all address the Father, each one of them individually and to do so just as our Lord did.
ROM 8:15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!"
Something new had come. The church, Jew and Gentile, were going to be one new man in Christ and under the New Covenant in His blood.
JOH 1:9 There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.
1JO 2:8 I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.
The promise has been fulfilled. And for the nation of Israel, it will be fulfilled at the second coming of Christ.
And I said, 'You shall call Me, My Father,
And not turn away from following Me.'
This prophecy, and the few others like it where God promises Israel they will call Him Father were enshrouded in dimness, which the birth and crucifixion of Immanuel scatters away.
The Son came to earth calling God His Father and then He placed us in union with Himself, entered us into His kingdom, went to heaven to prepare a place for us, and told us to be sure to call God Father just as He did.
Father and son also enforce upon our hearts an indissoluble bond.
There is a recognition, distinct and necessary, of the Son of God and His work, and through Him we aspire to an intimacy which the Creator doesn’t have with any mere creature. He is our Creator, but He is now something much more. In the reality of having God as our Father we have, over and above, the assurance that our connection with Him is one of love and of lasting relationship; that we shall not be suffered to go adrift, but shall be brought up into His likeness, and shall live with Him; and that the ground on which this relationship is established is one of unutterable dignity, the Son of God having become our Brother, our nature being now worn by the same person as wears the nature of God.
Hence, the prayer, our prayer, has to always begin with “Our Father,” and with all of what that means. Every time we utter it, we should pause and consider it so that our prayers will never become profane, vague, or heathenish.
We must know the Father. There is no room for the fancy that since He is our Father that we can manipulate Him as some children do their own fathers. The Father is not mocked.
1PE 1:16 "You shall be holy, for I am holy."
1PE 1:17 And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth;
1PE 1:18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,
1PE 1:19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
It is not on account of what we receive from God that we are to think of Him with filial gratitude, and count Him a Father; but because He is in very truth our Father, we shall receive all things at His hand.
The relationship is to be first in our minds, deeper also in our affections; and, this being so, hope will be easy and humility natural.
No matter what comes of this relationship, it will not change. We are His sons and daughters and He is our Father. Whatever comes from the Father, the relationship is satisfying to our hearts.
Our very natures are bound to God through the person of Christ. No other relationship in life is like it. Other relationships may help us understand it; but while it is only considered under earthly figures, we are in danger of forgetting that underneath there lies the substantial reality of our sonship to God.
It is the sort of Fatherhood that a man finds and ceases to be homeless and a wanderer, a fugitive, a vagabond upon the face of the earth - ceases to be a mere withered leaf borne helpless on the wind, who origin none cares to trace, and whose destiny none turns to see. The son who prays “Our Father” has found his place in the universe, a place designed just for him, he has found a hold and a hope; and however in himself unstable, weak, and incapable, he rests enduringly in the unchangeable Father. He has been outside, thinking the world a strange, cold, barren, friendless, and unsatisfying place; he has wondered about, not seeing through the thick cloud, and still less dreaming that One was seeing and caring for him; and now he finds he has a Father - One to love, One to serve, One to glorify, One to worship.
ISA 44:21 O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me.
ISA 44:22 "I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud, And your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you."
PSA 142:1 Maskil of David, when he was in the cave. A Prayer.
PSA 142:3 When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, Thou didst know my path. In the way where I walk They have hidden a trap for me.
PSA 142:4 Look to the right and see; For there is no one who regards me; There is no escape for me; No one cares for my soul.
PSA 142:5 I cried out to Thee, O Lord; I said, "Thou art my refuge, My portion in the land of the living.
Every day we are to begin on this path. “Our Father”. Speak to Him before you speak to anyone else. Use the words that your Lord gave you and know them, search for their depth throughout every day for your entire journey on this earth.
Father must not be seen as figurative. This isn’t the reality. He actually is my Father in every good and personal sense.
We might say, “He has treated me like a Father and have given to me as a Father.” No. This doesn’t go far enough. It brings us no closer to Him. This only misleads us. Christ is the door of the sheepfold and I have walked through that door by faith. Only thieves and robbers try to find another entrance. The Shepherd of my soul has made His Father my Father. He is my Father.
JOH 20:17 Jesus said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren, and say to them, 'I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'"
All are to use this prayer. The only qualifications are being human and believing in Christ. It is not for a special group.
Come to Him as you are. He is always your Father regardless of your current condition.
I also, and please wait to hear what I mean, do not have to be currently pure in mind and heart. The sinner comes to the throne of God and says “Our Father,” though he is currently struggling mightily. It goes without saying that he would be confessing the sin before His Father. He couldn’t get to “hallowed be Your name” while he had no opinion or care about his sin, unless he is just repeating the words for the sake of only saying them. When we say, “sanctified by Your name,” we cannot be harboring sin in the same heart that we desire Him to be set apart in. In fact, approaching the word “sanctified” we deal with sin in our lives, and that by grace before the One who has forgiven and cleansed us in Christ. We could never call Him Father if that were not true.
The entitlement to use this prayer is not in the petitioner but in Christ.
The rich, the poor, the spiritual, the sinner, the famous, the unknown are all to use it. One who is comfortable and safe and one that is wrecked and lost are to use it.
The words may be abused, but we only deceive ourselves. We must be most careful not to deceive ourselves by plainly knowing the word of God. As children of God we are to be like Him. That must always be remembered, and if it is, it will steer us away from self-deception.
MAT 5:44 "But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you
MAT 5:45 in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Calling Him Father is the first step. When a child learning language says “daddy” for the first time, the father reacts with joy and love and that word spoken strengthens their bond. When confidently say, “Abba, Father,” because we know that we are His adopted sons, God the Father must have a similar reaction in His mysterious, divine way. The earthly father cares little for the correct pronunciation from his baby. He cares only that his baby knows and it gives him great pleasure. But it doesn’t end there. As the child matures the good father wants to see his characteristics in his child. The child still calls him father, but the child is now challenged with good and evil. But what if that child thinks his old man is a crackpot and doesn’t consent to agree with his father’s good? That breaks every father’s heart. We are commanded not to grieve the Holy Spirit. “Sanctified by Your name,” is the child’s agreement. The path of holiness has begun.
“Our Father who is in heaven.”
We understand God as in heaven and that our prayers reach Him. He is holy and all powerful. We also acknowledge that earth is not enough for us. We don’t hate the earth. It is God’s creation, but we see anything good on earth as a gift from heaven. Nothing is intrinsically good. One God is good, and what he gives us is good.
JOH 3:27 "A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven.”
JAM 1:17 Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.
We look to heaven as the only source of power and goodness.
God puts Himself in heaven and so our minds can focus. None of us can focus on omnipresence.
Such a characteristic has not point but includes all points. But God has given us a place to turn our mind’s eye towards and know that Father is there. A place of holiness, goodness, and power.
We also know that Jesus sits at the Father’s right hand as our Mediator and intercedes for us.
There was a moment when your voice was first heard in heaven, in the halls of the kingdom of God, when as a new child of God you said, “Our Father who is in heaven.”
From the darkness of earth in its confusion, its perplexity, and its suffering, we pray to Him who sits above, seeing to the end, and ordering all things; from the trouble and weakness of earth we cry up to the “blessed and only Sovereign, God over all, blessed forever.”
1TI 6:13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate,
1TI 6:14 that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
1TI 6:15 which He will bring about at the proper time — He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords;
1TI 6:16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.
It is good for us to remember as we begin our prayer that there is a heaven and an earth. That there is a place where God’s rule is seen and obeyed, and all is harmonious, well-ordered, steady, peaceful, and separated from us by an enormous blue vault.
It is our comfort, that while we are involved in this world we can appeal to the one above it, and uncontrolled by it. We did not try to bring God down to earth and bind Him with our own petty laws, nor change Him into something He’s not. We went right to heaven petitioned Him there, very high above us indeed.
When the utmost skill and strength of the child have failed, he runs to his father, never doubting that with him is more skill and sufficient strength. We must not lower the Father to our level. We must seek His level, the words and lovely ways of heaven itself. If we cannot see a solution, we must never think that God sees none either. He sees as we cannot and nothing will be impossible with Him. Pray to “Our Father in heaven” and know that He sees clearly the solutions to all problems, the small and the great.
It is amusing to think that when our human skill is fruitlessly spent, there is no more that God can do; that, when everything goes wrong with us, there is no help for us in God. Too often we pray to a God whom we do not set in the heavens, to whom we do not in fact ascribe as much wisdom and power as we do to men, whose help we do not as fully trust in as we should in the combined help of some on earth we know of, whom we scarcely trust in much more than in ourselves, else we should be found despairing when we see no remedy for our ills, and when our own strength is exhausted.
This invocation sets before us a God of heavenly holiness as well as of heavenly power. It is of His nature to help us in grace and mercy. It is His nature to bless to the utmost. He is also free from all suspicion. He knows our frame, that we are but dust.
PSA 103:6 The Lord performs righteous deeds, And judgments for all who are oppressed.
PSA 103:7 He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.
PSA 103:8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
PSA 103:9 He will not always strive with us; Nor will He keep His anger forever.
PSA 103:10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
PSA 103:11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
PSA 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
PSA 103:13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
PSA 103:14 For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.
He appreciates the feeblest beginnings good in us, cherishes and fosters into life what man would count dead and lost, knows nothing of grudging, or the malice , of the faultfinders; but watches how He may encourage us in the slightest efforts towards righteousness, watches how He may insinuate His help, and in proportion to His own freedom from all taint or shadow of evil, deals delicately with the sinner in all His way, until our eyes begin to open to the perfect rectitude, simplicity, and loveliness of His character; and we see that in Him there is help for us in all good, and deliverance from evil. And when we see something of the holiness of God, we shall be careful to restrain such desires as are inconsistent with His purposes, but shall very boldly expect that He will straighten that which is crooked.
The word “Our” by no means prohibits the individual and private use of prayer. Our Lord, viewing the need of the entire body.
Viewing the needs of the entire body, Jesus gives one prayer for all, for we all need the same thing, a relationship with a holy Father and the kingdom of God firmly rooted in our hearts. How God transforms our thinking and faith will be unique for each individual, but when we each pray to “Our Father” for the same purpose, it is obvious that we are united in purpose.
PHI 2:1 If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,
PHI 2:2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
We ascend to the heights of heaven with a common voice. Around this prayer the desires of all the faithful cluster, and here we enjoy the communion of the saints. We know that our brothers and sisters all over the world, in different languages, are all heard along with us in a common purpose brought to heaven, to which God always says “Yes.”
We all begin with “Our Father in heaven” and during this utterance we must look past our immediate circumstances, our sorrows, our anxieties, our sins, all of which are incident to our common humanity, and we seek only our Father in heaven in all His holiness. We lay aside one master, the flesh/world, and sit at the feet of the other, our only Master, our Father.
This prayer leads us away from prayers that center on the particular benefits which touch only what is peculiar to our present case. It expands our view to larger blessings from heaven that overflow our current particulars like a tidal wave.
To the holy Father we ascend, but we cannot do so while harboring sin, evil, or earthly desires. These opening words force us to lay them all aside.
Thus, our Lord’s prayer is fitting and full, though brief and simple.
We begin confidently and lovingly, He is our Father. We begin humbly because we call the Almighty, Father because of the humiliation of God the Son. We begin carefully because He is holy. We approach Him thankfully because we could have never dreamed of such a relationship and such an access.
If we are approaching prayer recklessly because the set time for prayer has come upon us and we are busy or occupied with other things, “Our Father in heaven” brings to mind the toil of Christ that gave us a Father in heaven. His incarnation, His passion, His victory in resurrection all slow our minds down and bring us to a longing and hungering for prayer. What is the business we are occupied when juxtaposed with Him and His work? Are we not also reminded that our desire for blessing in life; joy, hope, fulfillment, cannot come at a distance from God the Father? It must come, and can only come in close connection with Him in a near and friendly relationship that is enduring and growing nearer and more familiar. This relationship is the foundation and beginning of all hope and blessing.
Prayer is more than a posture. It is more than an exercise. It is at its heart a transaction of time and blessing with a personal, present, living God who dwells in the holiness of heaven. No matter who we are, where we are, and what is currently happening or bothering us in life, this introduction fills each of our souls with suitable and appropriate thoughts which attract us and encourage us to pray properly and rewardingly.
Let us, then, use this common prayer with intelligence, striving always to fill it more fully with meaning and desire. Let us wait for no other introduction than the one our Lord gave to us. Let us see that it is no stranger that asks for our worship, but our Father, and let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace and expect help and mercy. Let us know that no other knows our heart like He does and that there is no one nearer, more intelligent of our condition, more considerate, and more painstaking about us. Let our desire to worship be relieved.
PSA 90:1 Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
Hallowed by Your name.
It is proper that we first contemplate and seek God’s holiness before we tell the wants that are gnawing our spirits with very sensible agony.
There is time to get to our personal desire, but a clear drawing forth of His holiness to our minds will always alter towards the way of God what we seek for in our personal desire.
We would not say that we should give into a habit of putting first in our petitions which ranks last in our desire. If our greatest desire is our own immediate one and our least desire is God’s holiness set apart in our hearts, then the first three petitions will only be posturing on our headlong rush to the words “give us.”
This condition is addressed in our prayer. “Our Father in heaven, sanctified be Your name,” must be spoken and handled sincerely. If we feel the pull to leave them as quickly as possible, we must remain here and ponder as well as ask our Father why His glory is less important to us than our own desires, and when we find the answer, which we will if we are listening, then our view of our desire will transform as we look at it through the lens of God’s holiness.
Of course, we must allow for the situations in which our personal deliverance is so pressing that we could not possibly think of anything else before that deliverance is secured in our minds. These are not the most frequent prayers by any means. They are rare and infrequent, whereas praying with an unperturbed mind is by far the more common prayer. Though our minds may want immediate deliverance, our prayer forces us to seek God’s glory first. When the blessing of sanctifying our Father in our hearts is secured, all else will go well.
Remember, you pray with your mind and by means of the Holy Spirit. Seeking God’s will in the first three petitions will be found as the Holy Spirit guides us in prayer. You will hear without hearing and see without seeing.
God’s glory and our good are so connected that we cannot desire the one without the other.
The holiness of God is not something separate from our own good. Yet we do not desire it for the reason it contains our good only, but because of all the good it contains.
If our Father in all His holiness does not sit on the throne of our souls with His kingdom firmly established around Him, then nothing good can come to us or from us. In Him is all hope, love, security, confidence, and power.
“Sanctified be Your name,” cannot be removed from the invocation, “Our Father in heaven.”
The gods that we, mankind, have made for ourselves, our pagan gods so to speak, are distant, unmoveable, sympathising, grudging; inhabiting another world but never making themselves a part of our own, separate from, and even ignorant of, all influences which move us; having a will to humble and tyrannize over and baffle us. To such a god we would say holy, but never would we call him Father. Our God, our Father, is holy, and He came into our world, became one of us, clothed Himself with our nature, sympathizes with our weaknesses, seeking our good, and loving us like no other could.
Christ tells us to call upon our Father, and to make Him holy in our own hearts. We have misunderstood God, but Christ who revealed Him, set us straight. The veil has been lifted, or torn if you rather that, and the holy place has been laid open to our eyes to the vision of eternal and unalterable love that moves us to humility and wondering devotion.
He shows us that while we were not thinking about Him, He was thinking about us. While any thought about Him was filled with suspicion and aversion, His thoughts towards us were precious, fraught with ineffable compassion, forbearance such as the patience of God could alone exhibit, and a marvelous goodness which has taken up every feature of our necessity, and being still unexhausted by our draught upon it, has liberally and rejoicingly showered upon us lavish and unthought of blessings. While we were running from Him, He was chasing us. While the one sheep went astray, He left the ninety-nine behind and came and found us and saved us, and He asked for nothing in return except that we should worship Him in Spirit and in truth.
What is more important to your Father than you? Our good is His greatest interest.
He brought many sons to glory. He gave us Himself; Father, Son (brother), and Spirit (Helper). He came to seek and to save those who were lost, to set the captives free, no material or historical thing is more important to Him than you are. Sanctify Him in your hearts.
HEB 2:9 But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.
HEB 2:10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
There is one family in heaven and on earth called by the name of the Son of God who came down from heaven and made His Father our Father. When we survey and understand what we can of this stupendous act of mercy, we will burst with feeling saying, “sanctified by Your name.”
We have His name. Our Father calls us His children and has given us the name Christ or Christian. What could be more honorable to us in life than to possess the name of our Father.
REV 3:12 'He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.
REV 3:13 'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'
God’s name is not God Himself, neither is it our idea of God; but it is that expressed idea of Him which He Himself would have us to possess, and which may be gathered from His own revelation.
We have all been guilty in the past of entertaining the idea of God’s name which was not entirely correct. His name is the idea of Him that He wants planted in our souls. It remains shallow to sanctify His name if our idea of it is wrong or only superficial. We all start off shallow, but we must go deeper. “Father, sanctify Your name. What is Your name?”
The name of God is not the nature of God, nor His relationship to us; but if the conception which God would have us to cherish of Him can be summed up in one word, then that word is the name of God.
GEN 4:25 And Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, she said, "God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel; for Cain killed him."
GEN 4:26 And to Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.
Those who know His name, the name that God warrants by His dealings and revealed scripture, will trust in Him.
PSA 9:10 And those who know Thy name will put their trust in Thee; For Thou, O Lord, hast not forsaken those who seek Thee.
God’s dealings and teachings are not themselves His name, but rather the utterance of the name. The idea in our minds of all that God has said and done, combined with the full revelation of His character is His name. We can say God is _____. And though He reveals several hundred different names for Himself, we can still say God is ______ , and know in our hearts that we have it just right. “Sanctified be Your name.”
In the OT, many names were given, but they were shadows of the real name, the full name. But when the Son came, He showed us the Father and the revelation of the name was completed. Nothing now can be added to the name; in it all that God is has been summed up.
We are the beneficiaries of His fullness.
EXO 6:2 God spoke further to Moses and said to him, "I am the Lord;
EXO 6:3 and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, Lord, I did not make Myself known to them.
It was obvious that to Moses He was going to reveal more of His character.
When He gave this name, He was about to bring out of an idolatrous country, and plant in the midst of an idolatrous world, a people in whom the knowledge of the on God was to be maintained for all generations. Yavah distinguished Him from all other usurpant gods.
In Exo 3, Moses asked for His name in order to validate his God given role as liberator and leader and God simply answered him, “ehyeh asher ehyeh” or I am that I am, to which He added, “The God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.”
The imperfect ehyeh means that He keeps on being in the past, now, and onward that which I keep on being. It is pure eternal existence but also pure eternal purpose. God’s essence is purpose. In this name He claims for Himself exclusive proprietorship of life and a name above every name. Jews scattered all over the world would still call upon it and still do. Who is calling on Zeus or Jupiter or Baal anymore?
The I am has no revolution of years nor succession and lapse of times. If He “is” now all that He ever has been, all that He ever shall become; if all time as well as all place is embraced in His existence; if by the name He has given us of Himself He has taught our faculties to strive to annihilate time and its changes and rise to His eternity, to resist our sinkings and waverings of faith and our varying moods, and to live now in all the peace and joy of a life that we have in the eternal. Rest is not here or there or then or now, but only in Him.
Almighty came to include Yavah, I am that I am, and Yavah included Father when the full name was revealed in Christ. Almighty, all powerful, eternally existent, eternally purposed, sovereign of all life, and Father.
It was this name that the hearts of God’s people were unconsciously yearning after through all other names that were given, until the Son came forth, for whom all revelation of God’s nature and relation to us was preparing, and in whom all revelation is summed up. Jesus is the eternal Word and He has magnified His Word above His very own name.
It is this name that we are to sanctify. It is a name that shows His relation to us but also reveals His nature fully as all powerful, eternal, all knowing, and also all loving and merciful, fully manifested at the cross of Christ.
Worship Him, or sanctify His name, as your Father.
God would have us, first of all, to worship Him not as the Ruler of all worlds, but as bound to this world; not as attending to all parts of an infinite universe, but as regarding us; not, in short, as the Head of all things that are, but mainly and in the first instance as “Our Father”. He confines our view that we may see more distinctly. His name confines our view to only that which is between ourselves and Him. His name delivers us from being distracted and lead us straight to only that which we can know and should be concerned with.
We spend our entire lives learning the depth of this name, which is unfathomable. Learning what God is, we ask that that name be sacred in our hearts, regarded by all as a true and holy thing that is at any cost to be maintained in esteem, even under all temptation.
May the idea of God, which He would have us to possess, be held as the choice possession of our spirits, the treasure on which our hearts rest, and to which they ever return. May the name never be clouded by adversity, temptation, carelessness, or falsehood. May His name be always holy and revered in our hearts. If this is true, everything else will go well. All things work together for good to those who love His name. We find our lives when we lose the old ones for His name’s sake.
He is absolutely good. He never does to us what needs to be undone. He does not change toward us based on new fashions or ideas. He came to earth in the Son of God and left to return to heaven so that He might prepare a place for us.
When prayer becomes laborious, mundane, or a distraction, God’s name has not been sanctified by you. Something else is fighting for your allegiance and winning.
We will find it easy to worship Him at times. He will seem near and living, as a friend at your side, patient, holy, loving, and all so keenly evident that you will experience an impossible levity and rapture that all other objects fade away and you will worship Him with reverence. Yet, then another time, looking for the same experience you will find the same prayer laborious and hard task. For whatever reason; fatigue, busy duties, distraction with people or entertainment, sin; the name of God has not now been hallowed by you. Something else is fighting for your allegiance and winning.
The race of the world has hurried you past the voice of God and the restraining sense of His holy presence has been supplanted by indifference and forgetfulness. I decided to fight my own battle, even a small one, and I wiped the name of my Father from my heart.
Yet, I am forgiven and cleansed from all sin and I need just repeat the opening words of prayer and ask Him again why other things are more hallowed to me than His name. I consider why He is my Father and I think of the cross of my Lord and my busy, fleeing mind begins to slow and to be restrained by heaven itself.
Our idea of the name of God will distinctly affect our living.
If I imagine a god imperfect in holiness then my efforts at living holy will not be many nor severe. If I imagine a god pleased with ceremonies then I will become a formalist. If I think god can be paid by service, then I will become a hypocrite. If I think He is a hard master, reaping where he has not sown, and gathering where he has not sown, I will shrink away from every duty and tremble through a life of slavery. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. We must not have any false images of the name of God.
Because of God’s grace, men who have mourned over their shortcomings because they hallow His name, have been preserved and have continued to hope and endure because the holy One is their Father, and their Father has forgiven them. Having such a holy Father stimulates duty within us and causes us to cherish the opportunity. Failure leads to turning again to our rightful object the attention and homage of our souls. Our Father ran to the prodigal and He will never bid us to every stop calling to Him these petitions.
God’s name smashed the hardest heart in Saul of Tarsus and God’s name changed him to life of service and devotion. We are each the temple of the living God. Let His name be sanctified within us. Weakness and failure are no longer barriers. Christ has torn them all down. Pick yourself up, confess what you must in the hope of overcoming, and sanctify the name of your Father in heaven.
We need not ever wonder who will show us truth or who will show us any good. Our Father will show us.
2TH 2:16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace,
2TH 2:17 comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.
When a marriage, a family, a church, and maybe even a community sanctify the proper name of God much good will be done; much fruit will be born. Jesus will make this the truth of a nation when He returns to earth, in the nation of Israel, as He promised Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David.
Every one of us will find ourselves contemplating and seeing more of the depth of the holiness of our Father, and the meaning of His name, as we continually use our Lord’s instructed words, and humble ourselves before them. Every day I will ponder the reason I can call Him Father, the idea of His revealed name in my heart, and the sanctity of that name in heaven, holy and just.
JER 9:23 Thus says the Lord, "Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches;
JER 9:24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things, "declares the Lord.
What would add to this understanding and what would detract from it? These things pray for so that when you say, “sanctified by Your name,” it is a hope quickly becoming a reality.
Thy kingdom come.
The kingdom of God is the only true kingdom.
“The Lord is King, not borrowing this title from the kings of the earth, but having lent His own title to them; and not the name only, but having so ordered, that all true rule and government upon earth, with its righteous laws, its stable ordinances, its punishment and grace, its majesty and its terror, should tell of Him and of His kingdom which ruleth over all - so that ‘kingdom of God’ is not in fact a figurative expression, but most literal: it is rather the earthly kingdoms and the earthly kings that are figures and shadows of the true.” [Dean Trench, Notes on the Parables]
Because this is true, people have been able to survive on this planet. If it were not true, Cain and his descendants would have killed everyone and then themselves long ago. Everyone born into this world has the advantages of the external and temporal kingdom that has feebly attempted to copy the kingdom of God, and as far from that kingdom as the kingdoms of men are, they have been enough to keep the human race alive, and in some cases that come closer to the true kingdom than others, have even strived.
It should be stated that there are five facets of the kingdom of God. There are the universal kingdom in which God is always in control of history; the spiritual kingdom made up of all believers since Adam to the last one, the theocratic kingdom which is Israel, the Millennial kingdom which is the literal, earthly thousand year reign of Christ, and the mystery kingdom which is the one facet that was not revealed in the OT but was introduced by Jesus in Mat 13 just after He was rejected by Israel.
The focus of this prayer is the spiritual kingdom in our hearts.
But then, born-again, born of the Spirit of God, we are introduced to the eternal and peculiar privileges of Christ’s kingdom. And we come to find out that this kingdom is not to be material, is not to have visible boundaries on earth, but that it is within us.
Replacement theology states that the kingdom in our hearts replaces the promised material kingdom promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but that is not true. Our kingdom was a mystery, not prophesied or before known. Jew and Gentile would be one new man in Christ who would enjoy the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant, but not the material. In vein we seek for a visible Christ sitting on a throne in Israel during our age. But He is within us, our hope of glory, and His kingdom is within us. And He will come again to establish His spiritual and material kingdom in which He will reign for one-thousand years.
The kingdom of God is a concept that includes three things: the right to rule, a realm in which ruling authority is exercised, and the reality of that authority actually being exercised.
The realm in our age is only the hearts of believers. The realm in the Millennium will be in the hearts of believers and also within the land boundaries of the Palestinian Covenant.
Only one King fulfills David’s idea of a king.
2SA 23:1 Now these are the last words of David.
David the son of Jesse declares,
And the man who was raised on high declares,
The anointed of the God of Jacob,
And the sweet psalmist of Israel,
2SA 23:2 ‘The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me,
And His word was on my tongue.
2SA 23:3 "The God of Israel said,
The Rock of Israel spoke to me,
'He who rules over men righteously,
Who rules in the fear of God,
2SA 23:4 Is as the light of the morning when the sun rises,
A morning without clouds,
When the tender grass springs out of the earth,
Through sunshine after rain.'
He is a poet and a warrior. He is meek and righteous and also terrifying.
PSA 45:1 My heart overflows with a good theme;
I address my verses to the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
PSA 45:2 Thou art fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Thy lips;
Therefore God has blessed Thee forever.
PSA 45:3 Gird Thy sword on
Thy thigh, O Mighty One, In Thy splendor and Thy majesty!
PSA 45:4 And in Thy majesty ride on victoriously,
For the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
Let Thy right hand teach Thee awesome things.
PSA 45:5 Thine arrows are sharp;
The peoples fall under Thee;
Thine arrows are in the heart of the King's enemies.
Who doesn’t long for such a leader or a kingdom where only righteousness dwells? As our own nation is precipitously declining, we must remember that the kingdom of God is in our hearts.
God’s kingdom differs from all others in that its King is the Most High God and that its subjects are all men who are willing to become its subjects, and all who desire to obey the will of God rather than any other. No man is subject of this kingdom by birth. All men who are of the second birth are its subjects.
JOH 3:3 "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
JOH 3:4 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?"
JOH 3:5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Any person born with natural privileges, no matter how great they are, is not born in this privilege. We are all born into this world with the king and queen of sin and death ruling over us, independent of material wealth and influence.
ROM 5:21 sin reigned in death
ROM 5:19 For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.
ROM 5:20 And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
ROM 5:21 that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The kingdom of God is not founded upon the material things of earthly kingdoms who seek protection and sustenance. The kingdom of God is within us.
ROM 14:13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this — not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way.
ROM 14:14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
ROM 14:15 For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.
ROM 14:16 Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil;
ROM 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
We did not enter this kingdom by some fortunate circumstance, but by faith in Christ as our Savior.
We are praying that this kingdom be established in our hearts, for though we are members of it forever, we may not yield our will to our King.
The power to yield our will to Him comes in the first petition, “sanctified be Your name.”
He is our Father and He has transferred us from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son. We are born again, new creatures, imputed with righteousness and all through the Son of God, the image of the invisible God, creator of all things, first-born from the dead, and preeminent in everything, who reconciled us in His blood. If after knowing all that, with faith, if you still do not desire to submit all things to His will, I would think you are lying about knowing it.
When we believed in Christ as our Savior, we became something that we were not before.
The kingdom demands that we abide by all its laws - the law of Christ.
Christ fulfilled the Mosaic Law. The kingdom within us takes possession of every department of activity of every region of actual life. We live as if we are walking in the physical kingdom in heaven. With opposition from sin, the evil of the world, and the fiery attacks from the kingdom of darkness, we must pray again and again, “Your kingdom come -” be established and built up in my heart.
PHI 3:9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,
PHI 3:10 that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
PHI 3:11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
The kingdom of God will find expression from within us. That expression will go forth from within us like rivers of living water and influence the “kingdoms” (souls) around us.
The kingdom of God must influence other kingdoms around it, and in this age, by that we mean other souls around it. A lamp is not lit and put under a basket. If it is lit it will light up the house. The kingdom of God will dispel darkness, and some, wishing to remain in darkness will run from it, and others will be transformed by it.
The seat of the kingdom of God is Christ.
There is no greater blessing in life than having Him at home in our hearts. But perhaps it is an even greater blessing for the light of His kingdom to shine forth upon another kingdom/soul and transform it from the domain of darkness and into His glorious light.
We must understand that we are not praying for His kingdom to be on earth. That will come, but not in this age. It is the spiritual kingdom that we desire. It is in us, but we desire its effective rule over our hearts, which is our obedience in all things to the King. And in our age, the understanding of this kingdom is no longer a shadow as it was in the previous age. It is now revealed fully in Christ and we are in it, it belongs to us and the King belongs to us.
No doubt, when our resurrected eyes set upon the literal earthly kingdom of Christ, the Messianic or Millennial kingdom, it will surpass anything we ever imagined, but now, in our hearts, the spiritual kingdom is beyond anything we have ever imagined that could rule us in righteousness, grace, truth, and goodness.
We do not have to wait for death to experience this kingdom. The Holy Spirit has made us new and transferred us into it. And in it, we are conscious that we must always be subject to our King. All parts of our lives must be brought into subjection unto Him.
We also pray that our brethren have the kingdom ruling in their hearts as well - “on earth as it is in heaven.”
We desire it to be in all hearts and so we also pray for the eyes of the unbeliever to be opened. Governments don’t have to be changed, though we might wish that they were, but the hearts of individuals must be changed.
The desirableness of this kingdom is obvious. The appearance of the King Himself among us, and His manner of founding the kingdom, the blessings it yields to its subjects, and the final glory of which it is destined, all teach us to pray for its coming.
When the kingdom was made full, when the Son defeated the serpent of old, it is not without significance that this was done within the most powerful earthly kingdom the world had known to that time, and one that was seen as the epitome of human government. The glory of Rome was on full display when a humble carpenter defeated His enemy and forever took hold of His eternal kingdom. He came to Israel meek and humble and proclaimed that the kingdom of God was at hand. He was not anxious about its establishment nor concerned with all that might go wrong. He calmly proclaimed it as if it were a simple matter. When He fed the 5,000 Israel sat up and noticed and thought, maybe He could actually do it, and they wanted the kingdom of God, more than anything, and they thought for a time that they wanted Jesus, but when He clearly communicated how the kingdom was to come and how it had to be established in men’s hearts before it could be established on the earth, which was clearly at odds with the leadership at the time, they rejected Him. They wanted the kingdom but they didn’t want Him ruling it.
Everyone wants peace and hope and love, but not everyone wants Jesus Christ as God and King.
PSA 45:1 My heart overflows with a good theme;
I address my verses to the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
PSA 45:2 Thou art fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Thy lips;
Therefore God has blessed Thee forever.
PSA 45:3 Gird Thy sword on
Thy thigh, O Mighty One, In Thy splendor and Thy majesty!
PSA 45:4 And in Thy majesty ride on victoriously,
For the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
Let Thy right hand teach Thee awesome things.
PSA 45:5 Thine arrows are sharp;
The peoples fall under Thee;
Thine arrows are in the heart of the King's enemies.
No other conqueror has been like this. He does not seek His own glory. He only seeks to raise us to His life, His kingdom, and His glory that He inherently possesses. He accepts all who believer, the weak, the simple, the poor, as well as the powerful, noble, and wise who understand that they are nothing before Him and need Him. He determined through His own humiliation to exalt us.
He became one of us, that He might be our King; He clothed Himself in our dust, that we might wear His royal robe; He lay in our grave, that we might sit on His throne; He founded our joy in the deep bitterness of His own soul, our kingdom in HIs own obedience and subjection. Has He not claim to reign over us?
In history, many kings of high quality have founded a kingdom under the most adverse circumstances, but it was always done with violence and always there was faction, plus, it was always short-lived.
The King took the most rebellious against righteousness and He made them a people so submissive that they might be called “living sacrifices.”
ROM 12:1 I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
ROM 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
He took men who scorned Him and made them a people who freely loved Him, more than their own lives.
He took men who envied and hated one another and He made them into brethren who formed a community in which all possessions were thought as common property, even their own lives.
He made men, that when He left them, they were tempted on all sides by the enemy, threatened, allured, bribed, beaten, and some even killed, and they remained faithful and confident as if the King had never left them.
1PE 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
1PE 2:10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
They are a peculiar people of God.
Men begin life wicked, selfish, profligate, with a strong revulsion of soul from all good, and a headlong proclivity to whatever is sinful, their spirits all in disorder, and seeking no higher condition; they acknowledge Christ as King, and His laws bring harmony and orderly purpose into their lives; in the strength of loyal love to Him, they make successful war upon their own fatal desires, and have often so well understood what is due to Him, that they have spent their substance and their lives in toilsome and bloody service.
It is no small thing that He can actually leave the administration of this kingdom in the hands of the converted and return to His throne in heaven, sure that the first generation would nurture faithful subject in the second generation, the second in the third, and here we are in roughly the twentieth generation heralding Him and His kingdom to the twenty-first. Does this show how good the subjects are or how sufficient is the King?
The King is unseen and His kingdom is not of this world, but it is so very real.
The kingdom allows any man regardless of genetics or environment.
Several times in history, one kingdom has attempted bind their world in a universal kingdom. Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, European Empires, USSR have all tried and all failed. They all find that they must kill all dissenters to have any period of success at all. The beast will also attempt the same thing on the grandest scale yet attempted, and three kings will rebel against him, and even after they are put down, he will constantly see war. The problem is that the bond was still outside of them and they were not unified within. In the body of Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave or free, barbarian or Scythian, but Christ is all and in all.
“Your kingdom come” is not only a petition for the spiritual kingdom to rule in my heart, it is also a petition for unity in the body of Christ.
We stand on common ground in a kingdom that excludes no one. In it we learn the deepest affinity for our Lord and our brethren. In it, strangers are lifelong friends. In it, we have thousands of brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and children. We are united in the things that are of the deepest parts of life, making superficial unions, like dress, appearance, speech, and manner as silly and even laughable. If we are united in faith, love, mind, and purpose, we actually look very much alike on life’s deepest level, what need is there to look the same and talk the same as well? The kingdom’s unity is based on the foundations of life and not the superficial parts.
EPH 4:1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,
EPH 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love,
EPH 4:3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
EPH 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;
EPH 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
EPH 4:6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
EPH 4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.
All possess loyalty to their King, which lies at the core of them, above loyalty to even family and royal family.
Shall we not pray then, that this kingdom come, obliterating all hostile distinctions, using all diversity of gifts for one common Lord, and putting one phrase in the hearts of all:
1CO 3:23 and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.
We will never know true security until we know the security of trusting our King and His government.
HAB 3:17 Though the fig tree should not blossom,
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail,
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold,
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
HAB 3:18 Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
HAB 3:19 The Lord God is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds' feet,
And makes me walk on my high places.
No one in the kingdom is less loved or poorer or less blessed, as in other kingdoms. Some use and adore their blessings more than others, but all have equal privilege and equal opportunity. All are free from the curse of sin and death, all are loved with a love that casts out fear, and all are given a peace that surpasses understanding. Every need of every member is supplied, which provides enlightenment of mind, renewal of heart, comfort, strength, and every grace needed to bring us to the measure of the stature of the perfect man, in the full knowledge of Christ.
Some earthly kingdoms are so much better than others that people dream of immigrating to them. But all the earthly kingdoms must fade. The kingdom of God has been since before the world and will continue unstained long after this world has expired, and so it is the most desired by far. “Your kingdom come.” All other kingdoms, no matter how good they may be compared to others, once seen in their imperfections, will only make us hope for the real kingdom.
Do we need to pray that this kingdom be established in our hearts or not? Are we sufficient for our own need, for our own future, or are we not? Do we need someone to rule us, to help us against our enemies, to help us against ourselves, or do we not? Have not our eyes opened to the fact that thick between us and God there stand those that bar the way, sins and hindrances of all kinds, that must be swept away or overcome? Have we not tried to do this for ourselves, and found again and again that when the shout of victory may have been on our lips, we were prostrated in the dust of shameful defeat? Have we all not longed for someone stronger and more righteous than us to rule us?
something greater than Solomon is here.
What we daily find our need of is a ruler, and a ruler loving enough to give us all confidence in Him; firm enough to support us when we are weary, and compel us to the right path when we waver, powerful enough to do what man cannot do, to change our hearts and deliver us from evil.
We choose this Ruler when we pray, “Your kingdom come.”
Prayer alone is not the only means of establishing the kingdom of God in our hearts, or rather, establishing the unchallenged authority of Christ in our hearts. Mountains of study and striving to live the truth are needed, but as prayer always reveals, desire is also needed. We don’t petition properly when we don’t desire God’s will. Without the consistent prayer for it, a kingdom whose depth we could never fully reach, what does this say about our desire for it. Do we desire it, but not yet? Do we desire to fully obey, but not just at this time? And how about our desire for the establishment of this kingdom in others? Do we constantly pray for our brethren, for our unbelieving friends and family, for the Christ’s gospel through the church to the world?
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
First petition: sanctified be Your name
Second petition: Your kingdom come
By praying for these we have already desired the things that make for the third. We cannot desire God’s name to be holy and His kingdom to be established in our hearts and the hearts of others if we and they are not willing to obey Him. We cannot desire Jesus to be King of our souls if we do not desire to obey Him, to have His will done within us.
Can we say that we honor Him as our King if we don’t set His will above our own and every other?
However, to add this petition is not to repeat, though it necessarily follows the preceding two.
The three petitions are to one another as root, stem, and fruit; beginning, middle, and end.
In the sanctifying of God’s name, the foundation is laid for the establishment of His kingdom; it is the first opening of the human eye to the majesty of God. Then the kingdom is established, the heart of man prostrates itself before its King, forgetting and canceling its old laws, and rejoicing in its new allegiance. But it is not enough to stop there.
If God is sanctified and if His kingdom is established in my heart, its boundaries are enlarged, and its glory delighted in; there has to be an end or a purpose for all of this to be, and that is that the will of the Ruler must be done. We desire the dominion of Christ over all of our lives and the lives of others, to their good and ours.
God has a name. That name worked in order to deliver the world from its judgment and make it His kingdom. From that work God fulfilled His will. All things will be submitted to Him in the end. We of His kingdom desire that His will be the only will in us before the end.
We have to learn to look upon the kingdom of God as an absolute monarchy, wherein one will is supreme, and beyond which is the outer darkness, where all is confusion and dismay.
It is easily concluded that all of us struggle to obey all His will. Our flesh desires something else, or at least a compromise, but there is no compromise. This is an absolute monarchy and not a democracy. All believers struggle with their self-will and find themselves diverging their attention to their own evil desires, murmuring, complaining, and finding only pain in the end of it.
PHI 2:12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;
PHI 2:13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
PHI 2:14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing;
PHI 2:15 that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,
PHI 2:16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may have cause to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.
ROM 6:16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?
God in patience allows this struggle. It is a shame that there are those out there, claiming to be in the kingdom of God, who tell other members who are struggling with obedience that they don’t belong in the kingdom. There are periods in our lives where we struggle greatly, though we acknowledge Christ as our King. More accurately, the struggle reveals your membership. What unbeliever struggles with obedience to Christ? Their disobedience doesn’t bother them at all.
ROM 1:28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,
ROM 1:29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,
ROM 1:30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,
ROM 1:31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;
ROM 1:32 and, although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
Every believer struggles with disobedience. Anyone can obey here and there, a few moments in a day, but the obedience we pray for all of today, tomorrow, and forever. Maybe we set our will towards His for today and we do well, and then tomorrow and we do well, will the sin nature sit back and say, “I guess I’m out of the picture. I will no longer temp him.” No, but in fact, the sinful nature will fight harder. As I am obedient day after day, I soon want a vacation of sorts. But the fact is that you can never leave His kingdom. All acts of unrighteousness are done by believers as they are in His kingdom. And this opens our eyes to the fact that sin and evil being done in us is like playing in mud in the most pristine home of which you are a guest. We are comfortable playing in the mud if we and everything around us is covered in mud. As sinners we were comfortable with sin. But we are no longer.
We know all the reasons we should obey. Yet temptation yields more and more of its strength as we resist it. Is it easier to resist strong temptation for a minute or an hour? Does it get easier with time? Actually, the answer to that is yes and no. No, it does not get easier in the short run, meaning in the hours of days of its attack. Yes, it does get easier in the long run, when I have learned to resist in the power of God’s word and Spirit over many temptations. It’s sort of like studying for a final exam over the length of the course, which makes the entire course harder and the exam much easier; and doing no study and cramming for that same exam the night before, which makes the course easier and the exam much harder. It’s the exam that gives us the grade. In the same way we could comfortably say that God isn’t keeping a scorecard on our sins and good works, making jots in each column. God is looking for people of a certain type or character. Am I an obedient subject or not? That cannot be determined by a few actions.
Despite the struggle, every believer comes to know that he only has one King and one kingdom and so he must submit all things to the will of God. Our own will will only have strength when we will the same things as God.
It is not “let go and let God,” at all. We don’t give up our will, we adjust and align our will. And so, every day, and I advise, many times a day, these three petitions are repeated with desire and knowledge, “Our Father in heaven, sanctified by Your name, Your kingdom come in my heart, Your will be done in my heart.” The prayer reminds us and feeds our desire.
Certainly, one of the main problems with obedience is getting into a situation while having forgotten who you are in Christ.
That hour deceives us because we walked into it deceived. We thought we were the same old people that we were before God did His work on us. We carried ourselves under the old form of the old man, and when we met the situation we acted accordingly. Sin resulted that likely led to other sins, possibly many sins, which always hurt us and others. Repeat the prayer several times a day and you won’t forget: you have a holy Father in heaven, thanks to the blood of Christ you are in His kingdom, and you must do His will. If you remember this day after day, it will become second nature and you will no longer think of yourself in any other way.
This also begs us to question if we know all His will, and that question drives us to consistent Bible study.
And also, we do not petition God in this prayer only as a reminder to ourselves. When we ask, He said He would do it. He will give us all His aid. In His infinite and supernatural way, God is answering this prayer in your life. He will sanctify Himself in you, He will make His kingdom inside you your only desire, and He will accomplish His will in you. He will do so in His own way and in His own time. We have to patient. We could never know what all it takes to fulfill these petitions in us, but He does. It cannot be done without our consent and our own will changing into conformity with His. We are not to live someone else’s life. We are to live our own life and that life follows all His will.
His will is as loving as it is powerful.
Shall we be found dropping this petition from careless lips, as if the accomplishment of God’s will had little to do with us or the world we are in? Do I not have a part in His will? And if so, is it great and rewarding, and if so, should I know it fully and submit all my life to it?
PSA 139:16 Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Thy book they were all written,
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
PSA 139:17 How precious also are Thy thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If we will a thing, we don’t just conceive of it and then wait for it to be done. We get on with it.
So, the will of God is not a thing to be spoken of, contemplated, waited for, but a thing to be done, and it is to be done by us, a right thing in a right way. Of course, it is His power and His wisdom that is working through us, so in the end, He alone has done all the good in this world, but when He does so through us, we have to be the ones doing it out of our own choice.
Another thing to understand about God’s will is that we don’t have to know all of it.
Meaning, in the grand scheme of God, it is not necessary that we know what all the scheme actually is.
We are to know our part in it, much as the disciples knew they were to stay in Jerusalem after our Lord’s ascension and receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them, but they did not at that time know about the age of the church, God’s grand scheme. We only need to know the commands of God. We follow the King and let Him lead us where He desires. As He told us, be concerned for today only. The variances in our own live prove this. We all have the same commands but not the same circumstances. We are all told to be content, but all with different things. Some of us get 5 minas, others 2, others one. Some complain about having one and so wish to be excused, others complain about their five. Some complain that they worked in the field all day and another fellow only worked an hour and received the same pay. All complaining is unfounded and vain because these three things, God’s commandment, our circumstances, and God’s eternal purpose, all spring from one source, the will of God, and so all three harmonise in every life. Let no one say, “I could do God’s will better somewhere else or if I was someone else.” Anyone who says that is speaking of something that doesn’t exist. Isn’t it God’s will that you are who you are and remain where you do? To say that you could do God’s will “somewhere else” is to completely step out of it. Jesus said what the Father told Him to say, did what the Father told Him to do, and went where the Father told Him to go. Be who you are and remain where you are and submit to God’s will in all things and you will find with clarity who God actually willed you to be in His eternal plan. In essence, only in this way can anyone discover their real selves, and God doesn’t make unremarkable things.
1CO 12:4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.
1CO 12:7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
When we pray, “Your will be done,” we pray that God may so rule in our own hearts and in the hearts of others whom we pray for. We pray that we may be gifted with wisdom, courage, and self-command so that we may effectually follow the design of God with the conduct of His nature. Praying in this way, we are ready and strengthened for all duty, whether overt and active, or unseen and passive.
This brings us great joy. We know it will be done. We know it will come to pass and we know that the path that the Lord is leading us on will lead us to the most remarkable places. No longer are there ordinary days, but extraordinary ones walking in the courtyards of the kingdom of God and obeying the greatest of wills.
I must come to discover, that as His child, I cannot come thus before God without some strengthening sense of the dignity and responsibility of a life connected with God, and fulfilling His will. I come to Him as my Father and my King, as if bringing my life in my hand, desiring that He would take it, and give it back to me molded to His design.
I stand alone with Him. Jesus told us to go into our room and shut the door and speak with our Father in secret.
I stand alone with Him, not confused by what other men are doing, not hidden from God’s will regarding me by the practice of the world; I know that here must be something which God has for me to do, else I would not have life to do it; and can I go straightway and forget that it is not my own will and the world’s work I have to do, but these only in so far as they are God’s will and God’s work?
When I begin my day with “Your will be done” I must begin with a desire to know and execute God’s commands; I am under orders, I have a purpose to live for, am no longer open to every influence that may blow upon me, nor can I any more count this life mere vanity. What higher purpose can I have? This day must be a significant and great one.
Plus, we have a day of strength. Who can stop God’s will? If I am about it today, what can stop me when I have correctly discerned it? We carry with us from God’s presence the authority to carry out His will. We are like messengers with letters and orders from the King. This turns your world into the material of God’s work. You bring His will to your world and the gates of hell can’t come against it. On the other hand, if we said our three petitions in pretense without care or desire to do His will, then we are only offensive to the King and have mocked Him and we bring nothing but hypocrisy to our world. Jesus told a simple parable about two sons who were told by their father to go and work in fields. One said he would go and didn’t. The other said he wouldn’t go, but then thought better of it and did. He asked them, “Which one did the will of his father?”
“Your will be done … on earth as it is in heaven” There is no delusion that His will is done now, not only when I get to heaven.
We might get the delusion that God’s will will only be done in heaven and that holiness is an impossibility for us now. We must not skip over these two little words nor forget their significance when we pray them. We cannot say that because we are on earth, a cursed place filled with a lot of bad stuff and a lot of bad people, that we couldn’t possibly be held to the level of holiness that exists in heaven. That conclusion would be a terrible mistake and a delusion.
Certainly, holiness will be easier in heaven, but I suspect we won’t have to be praying for it when we’re there. It is here, “on earth” that this prayer counts, and we pray it knowing that God must perform it is us as we reach for it.
EPH 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.
EPH 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;
EPH 5:2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
EPH 5:15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise,
EPH 5:16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
1PE 1:14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance,
1PE 1:15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;
1PE 1:16 because it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."
We are not to live as a subject more bound in heaven than on earth.
Are we praying that His will be done, sometimes? Have we come to a strong sense of our responsibility to our Lord, to His law, to our neighbor, ourselves? Here on earth we each have something to accomplish, and that for God, under His will. Is the manner of life I’m choosing the best for accomplishing that? If not, pray and change. I suspect, that if a believer’s prayers are only for show, even for himself, for pretense, then he won’t be praying daily for very long. Am I wrestling with God’s will in the hope of changing it into more conformity with my own. Only we need to repent. God never does. Don’t try to bring heaven down to you. Our part is not to give up because we cannot attain perfection, but to strive all the harder that we may come as near it as possible. It is one thing to attain perfection, it is another to desire it. It is vain to tell us we are too weak, to sinful, to reach perfection in life; such thoughts only incite us to put forth more earnest desire in prayer, study, diligent action. We live in the kingdom of the one and only King.
HEB 12:3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.
HEB 12:4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;
Though none of us will ever become consistently perfect in performing God’s will, and for that we have to wait until heaven, it must not escape our notice that there are some parts of the will of God that can only performed on earth.
JOH 20:29 Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”
With that wisdom, and knowing that God has a will for my every day, we throw our whole energies into this present life, living out its duties with our might, empowered by the Lord, lifting us out of our attitude of doing the least necessary, to the attitude of making the most of our time in this day and to fulfill its purpose. Doing God’s will is not always easy. We could not expect it to be so.
This prayer becomes the spirit of heavenly service, though we be on earth.
Animated by the Holy Spirit, who is in us to will and to work to His good pleasure, our souls extend the light years to heaven’s way of working and we perform that work on earth, and in this way, the light of heaven shines through us. We also are praying for God’s heavenly will to be done in others on the earth, even for our enemies. We do not pray for their judgment, nor for God to overturn their personal will, but for their eyes to open to God’s will in faith in Christ, or if believers, to their inheritance in Christ, and be convicted and converted.
It should never be that the result of our being gifted with will and intelligence is that we rebel against God and revolt against His will.
The stars, the sun, the moon, the laws of nature all obey Him, and the elect angels all obey Him, yet we have a will in which we can willingly obey.
PSA 103:19 The Lord has established His throne in the heavens;
And His sovereignty rules over all.
PSA 103:20 Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Mighty in strength, who perform His word,
Obeying the voice of His word!
PSA 103:21 Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You who serve Him, doing His will.
PSA 103:22 Bless the Lord, all you works of His,
In all places of His dominion;
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Jesus prays this same petition.
"Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done."
Our minds need to be transformed. As we pray for His will we are praying also for the word to change our thinking and morph us more and more into Christ’s image.
ROM 12:1 I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
ROM 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Christ doesn’t bid us to pray for this and that good thing. He bids us to pray these three petitions first and foremost. If we sanctify the Father’s name, if we submit to the kingdom of God and its laws, and if we perform His will, submitting to the King, then whether we possess this or that good thing will matter little to us. Our joy will be made full, because before the one and only great King and the one and only great kingdom, we are in perfect harmony, which leads us to our next petition and the first one for ourselves, and it is the basest material blessing - bread.
Give us this day our daily bread - “Give me enough to live so that I may do Your will.”
Simple as bread is, we need it to live. Our bodies process sugar, whether it comes from carbs, proteins, or fats. So, is this a petition for God to keep us physically alive? Hardly. We must be careful to keep all six petitions together and not separate them.
Sanctified name of our Father, His kingdom established in our hearts, and His will done in our lives connect seamlessly to “give us our bread today.”
JOH 4:31 In the meanwhile the disciples were requesting Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat."
JOH 4:32 But He said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about."
JOH 4:33 The disciples therefore were saying to one another, "No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?"
JOH 4:34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.
JOH 4:35 "Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.
JOH 4:36 "Already he who reaps is receiving wages, and is gathering fruit for life eternal; that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.
JOH 4:37 "For in this case the saying is true, 'One sows, and another reaps.'
JOH 4:38 "I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor."
Do I seek to do the will of God for grand earthly rewards? Gold, silver, precious stones, fame, prestige, etc.? The harvest Jesus told them to look to was the dozens of Samaritans coming down the hill towards them, whom the woman at the well had told that the Christ was there. “My food is to accomplish the work of God, serving these people right here, right now.” Should I put them on hold until I have finished my lunch?
Do I choose a life that best serves myself and then hope for some opportunities to serve God, or do I choose a life that serves God according to His will and His path given to me, and then know that all I need (bread) will be given to me?
PHI 4:11 Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
PHI 4:12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
PHI 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
1TI 6:6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment.
1TI 6:7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.
1TI 6:8 And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.
1TI 6:9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.
1TI 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang.
After leaving Canaan because of famine, going to Egypt and failing miserably, he returns.
Abraham goes back to Canaan, returning to the altar he built to God in Bethel. It would seem that Abraham understood that he never should have left and that his visit to Egypt had been a mistake. His mistake was to depend upon himself, lie and scheme to get the supplies he and his family needed, yet if he had remained in Bethel, though things may have gotten hard, he would have been provided for by God. God always gives us enough to fulfill our needs. We never have to leave His will in the hunt for sustenance.
If ever we leave God’s way and entered into some other way that diminishes our divine love towards others and leads us into injustice, unforgiveness, impatience, and disunity, our only hope lies in a candid and straight-forward repentance or turning back to the way of God and the pattern of divine love. We have to acknowledge the sin in order to turn from it as Abraham did and returned to Bethel, literally meaning the house of God.
The subjects of the kingdom desire God’s will over all things and desires to be supported in this life by God only for that reason. What do I need to do the will of God? Bread will suffice.
Can we see how this petition connected seamlessly with the first three completely annihilates any monetary lust?
I have seen Christians who claim to know the dangers of monetary of material lust, but who threw their lot into it nonetheless.
Some Christians think happiness is still in earthly treasure, and they are fooled into thinking that if the treasure comes from God, then it is a legitimate form of happiness. This is not true. The only form of God’s joy is found in doing His will alone. Bread is sufficient for this.
JOH 15:8 "By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.
JOH 15:9 "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.
JOH 15:10 "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love.
JOH 15:11 "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
This petition, “give us this day our daily bread” is a petition to keep us alive so that we may do Your will today. True, He keeps billions of people alive that don’t pray this, but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be prayed by every one of God’s human creation. This petition sets my soul aright for dealing with all materialism today. It is an honest plea to God to give me only what I need and reveals that this mindset, which belongs to God, also belongs to me. “No matter what may come, give me my bread so that I can serve You in all of it.”
The accomplishment of God’s will is a lifelong prospect.
Sometimes our future seems quite gloomy and a mist hangs over it so that we cannot see its outcome. Some of our plans take years to accomplish and we are unsure whether success or failure awaits. Some of our plans are exciting and joyous and others are burdensome and difficult. Our prayer settles our minds to consider only today. God will supply our needs today and we will do His will for today and all things will work together for good, no matter how the plans turn out. Good is not always our good, meaning, what we wanted or expected. Good is always God’s good, which in the end is always our best good as well. When our faith and knowledge has that thought nailed down, we will have the will of God always as our main purpose, and the outcomes of our plans and future, though we still desire them to evolve a certain way, always as a secondary purpose.
Asceticism wants things to always turn out bad, Christianity always wants things to turn out good, but the result is always secondary to the will of God.
This petition views our meat, drink, and raiment from the heavenly side. From that side they cannot become a source of joy or addiction. Not that I don’t enjoy them, but that they are not the source of my joy. Not that I don’t need them, but that I am not addicted to them. Too many people look at these earthly things and the spiritual things as a child might and think it has to be either one or the other, which leads to self-righteous ascetic prigs who believe nothing earthly can be enjoyed. As C.S. Lewis says, “if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them.”
Therefore, this petition is not as easy as it first seems, in fact, it is one of the most difficult to pray. It is the petition that least of all can be prayed from an earthly mind, for it comes from the directly opposite quarter to all earthly desires, and meets them on that very ground to which they most tenaciously hold.
This is the petition of those who seek first the kingdom of God and know that all things, all needs, will be added to them.
MAT 6:33 "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
MAT 6:34 "Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
This petition is against selfishness and materialism. It is against the passions and desires of the flesh. It is against shutting up the flesh or quieting its nagging and bothering by feeding it what it wants. “All I need is bread Lord, it is Your will that is my true food, and Your will invades every moment of today.”
Let us not fear to pray it. And though we sin against it, let us remember that we are forgiven and cleansed and loved by our Father, and so let us embrace it though we have broken it.
And let us have faith that as we pray it day after day that God will fulfill it.
LUK 11:1 And it came about that while He was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples."
LUK 11:2 And He said to them, "When you pray, say:
'Father, hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
LUK 11:3 'Give us each day our daily bread.
LUK 11:4 'And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.' "
LUK 11:5 And He said to them, "Suppose one of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves;
LUK 11:6 for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him';
LUK 11:7 and from inside he shall answer and say,' Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.'
LUK 11:8 "I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
LUK 11:9 "And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.
LUK 11:10 "For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened.
LUK 11:11 "Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?
LUK 11:12 "Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he?
LUK 11:13 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"
In this petition, it is the first time we come upon the word, “give,” which is the key to the treasury of God’s riches.
It is a word that opens over us the windows of heaven, that wakes the omnipotence of God, and causes the fullness of His resources to flow forth; a word which is as a rod of power in a man’s hand, if he knows to direct it to the great Giver, to Him from whom all things have come, who has given all out of Himself, and who continues to give not grudgingly, nor of necessity, but freely and liberally, because it is of His nature to do so; a word that we must use, because we are poor, but which is put into our mouths because we are intended to be rich; a word which, however often and greedily we use it, will still find it echoing “receive” in God.
God says yes to every “give” uttered by His children, but He will fulfill it in His way and in His time.
There is not a limit to how many “gives” we can cry in our lifetime. God does not tire of giving more because He has already given so much, but by the further and more bountiful outpouring of His gifts satisfies that confidence in Him which His former gifts have inspired. It is simple, straightforward, childlike, and bold. “Give” is the wide opening mouths of the young birds hungering around the parent.
Yet, what is so remarkable about its use here, is that it is a petition that asks God for something which, of all things, we are most inclined to think may be got by our own exertions.
We find it unremarkable that we should ask God for superior strength or courage or a great amount of money that we think is needed, but of bread we want to say, “No need to bother with that Father, I can at least take care of that myself.”
There are many things in this life that we know we are helpless to do and so we ask God and we are thrilled to share with our fellow brothers and sisters how God bestowed upon us such wonderful gifts. When have we thrillingly shared that God kept us alive today? This is the petition. It is an admission of total bankruptcy. I can’t even get bread without You Lord.
PSA 104:25 Animals both small and great.
PSA 104:26 There the ships move along,
And Leviathan, which Thou hast formed to sport in it.
PSA 104:27 They all wait for Thee,
To give them their food in due season.
MAT 6:26 "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”
We live in a society where food is cheap and easily found. This may lead us to think that we are less dependent upon God than people from other places or times who had to find today’s food today or else they might go hungry. Our society is only a testimony to the bounty of God’s providence and grace. He has allowed us to have an abundance like the world has never seen until now, but in this He has also allowed us to see how miserable and searching we are despite having it. Surrounded by a banquet, the child of the kingdom of God must say that the smallest crumb of bread is a gracious gift from the Lord, and thank the Lord for it, so that he is alive today to do God’s will. The bountiful society actually finds itself more dependent on God than the society in suffering. More people in the suffering societies are already depending on God.
Though we work throughout the day, according to His will, performing the tasks of the day, we are not making the corn, barley, or wheat grow. We are not commanding the sun or the soil or the water, and we are not creating the chemical bonds that make for the complex sugars being produced. If the earth and the sun were unwilling, what could we do? It is after our work, when we rest and break bread, that we come face to face with what God alone could provide. Must not the proudest and best skilled among us, after doing his utmost, just simply wait on God for His bread?
Unfortunately, only those who have recently experienced famine seem to learn this lesson, and even they often forget it after years of plenty return. The earth provides for nearly eight-billion people, after it has already provided for billions. So many things could happen that would send billions to the grave, but God sustains them. Almost all of them take it for granted. God has also made it so that all food goes bad. We cannot keep it forever like stones or coal. The earth must continue to provide it year after year or we are all doomed. That which will sustain us years from now does not yet exist. God must provide it. All of us are dependent upon it. Still we take it for granted, and some of us eat plenty while we watch others go without, and without a care, and all the while God is no idle spector, for He sustains us all. We are sustained, not by bread, but by the faithfulness of God. The future is blank to us except in so far as God fill sit with His goodness.
1SA 2:2 "There is no one holy like the Lord,
Indeed, there is no one besides Thee,
Nor is there any rock like our God.
1SA 2:3 "Boast no more so very proudly,
Do not let arrogance come out of your mouth;
For the Lord is a God of knowledge,
And with Him actions are weighed.
1SA 2:4 "The bows of the mighty are shattered,
But the feeble gird on strength.
1SA 2:5 "Those who were full hire themselves out for bread,
But those who were hungry cease to hunger.
Even the barren gives birth to seven,
But she who has many children languishes.
1SA 2:6 "The Lord kills and makes alive;
He brings down to Sheol and raises up.
1SA 2:7 "The Lord makes poor and rich;
He brings low, He also exalts.
Everything we have is a gift from the Lord. He is the source of all things, for all has been created in Him, and by Him, and for Him. This petition is not asking only for bread or for poverty, but it is asking for what we need and can only have from God so that we can do what is most important to us - His will.
“Our bread” (genitive first person plural pronoun hemon = our)
What we ask for must be ours and not another’s.
That is, we must ask for what is ours, what God may give us without detriment to another. We are not to take what God meant for another or to impede upon what they have worked or done and God has meant for them.
2TH 3:10 For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone will not work, neither let him eat.
2TH 3:11 For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies.
2TH 3:12 Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread.
2TH 3:13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.
We must be careful not to desire another person’s prosperity. Bread will suffice for us. Coveting has always been a dangerous and often violent sin.
We are not to push our interests regardless of the interests of others. The petition, “our bread” therefore saves us from dishonesty and cruelty and coveting. We only desire God’s gift of honest bread, and not the bread of idleness, deceit, or extortion. We do not expect that God will lift us out of poverty or make our lives any less toilsome, but that we only know that we will receive enough so that we can get on with the real life in the kingdom of God, His will.
DEU 8:3 And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.
MAT 4:3 And the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread."
MAT 4:4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'"
The hardships of poverty can be sympathized by anyone, not that they do sympathize. Our petition will not often relieve any of that hardship, but if that is our condition, is it not the will of God? We must remember that Jesus who taught us to pray, Himself did not know where His next meal was coming from, or the money to pay His taxes, who did not have a home, a place to lay His head, and nor did He have a tomb set aside for His death. Let us take courage in Him. Some childlike minds think the life of Jesus condones a life of idleness. He was far from idle. He lived in the will of the Father. All of us are to work hard in all God gives us to do, including our secular duties, but we know and pray, bread is sufficient.
It is obvious that this also leads to great charity. If all I need is bread, and I see my brother in need, I will provide his need.
In fact, the Lord loves a cheerful giver, because that is exactly what He is.
This little word “our” (hemon) teaches us to be laborious, contented, and charitable; to work with our will and strength, doing our best in our place; to wait on God for fruit of our work and returns for our labor, and, receiving these, to be satisfied, if they be small, and will that other should share with us, if they be large.
By teaching us to ask for bread, our Lord indicates that our desires for worldly good should not be passionate, but moderate; restricted to the supply of the natural wants of our condition. This doesn’t mean that we can’t be passionate about things, but that our passions do not turn into idols. All things are subject to our King. Clement of Alexandria cleverly compares a man’s possessions to a shoe. They must fit him, being cumbersome and uncomfortable if too large, as well as painful if pinched.
At our core, we only want enough to be able to do His will. Do we fervently seek extra and comfort rather than fervently seeking God’s will?
This petition does not bid us to be lazy, but to actually work very hard as whatever we have to do to make money to make ends meet. Yet, in this petition we keep repeating to ourselves the reiterated warnings of God’s word concerning the entangling power of wealth. Let us have as our chief end in seeking gain be to do God’s will on earth. We must always know that the trappings of working for other reasons always lurk in the shadows and that the kingdom of darkness is always waiting for an opportune time. And so we pray daily, several times a day if necessary, as it so often is, “give us today our daily bread.” Be on the alert, the devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.
The answer to this petition will make us thankful for every little thing in life. Today’s supply did not come by chance. It came by God’s faithfulness and as His priests, let us offer up thanksgiving. Thankfulness for every little thing also breeds joy in every little thing. So many wait for joy in coming circumstances or changing circumstances. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have Christ’s joy in everything you do?
This petition is for this day only. We have no anxiety for tomorrow.
We live one day at a time. If tomorrow comes, we know that we shall be as dependent on Him then as now. No planning or storing with anxiety is necessary or needed. We do not have more in our barns or banks than are in the resources of God. There is a great difference between faithless, anxious imagining and scheming, and godly prudence. The latter sleeps much sounder than the former. Whatever I store or whatever I plan, let them all depend on God and be to His glory. The only line or rule is in our own conscience. God does not tell us how much to store or how much to plan, but from His words we can all establish a sound and proper line in our own conscience.
The answer, therefore, to this petition will be, that our spirits will be cleansed from worldliness, covetousness, and hardness of heart; from high-mindedness, self-confidence, and dishonesty; from discontent, envy, and indolence; and that we shall be enabled, without repining at what is past, or fretting ourselves with thoughts of the future (though repenting of some of our past and preparing for the future), to summon all the powers given us to this day’s duty.
Remember, Jesus has been tempted in all things, and He knows our frame, that we are dust, and He sympathizes with our weakness. We are praying to our Father in the name of the One who understands human necessities. He hungered. He was poor. He suffered for doing good.
So much to do and to be. We’re going to need forgiveness.
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
“Debts” - opheilema = that which is owed, that which is legally due.
Give us our bread and forgive us our debts. To ask for more puts us in mind of what we have already received. And if our conduct towards anyone has been unworthy, it is all the more painful when we realize we are dependent upon the one we wronged. Nothing but sheer necessity would bring us back to them, to seek their aid and good-will. We have abused their past favors and yet we are back asking for more because we have no one else. This would demand of us some level of humility if not humiliation. Our pride must be set aside when our need is so vital.
God gave us our bread yesterday. He kept us alive so that we could do His will. Did we do it? Did we sin against Him? Did we do all that we should have? Did we omit from yesterday any work that He willed us to do? Who among us could look at yesterday and confidently assert that we did everything God desired and did not do anything that was sinful? No one could say it, and yet, here we are the next day, asking for our daily bread.
And, if I’m sure I didn’t do God’s will yesterday, then why should He provide for me to keep me alive today?
Why me? Am I so useful to Him, am I always grateful, am I so considerate of His will?
Or maybe I shouldn’t entertain any of these questions. After all, He promised to provide for me and promised to forgive me. Why shouldn’t I boldly expect my portion every day no matter what I do or how I conduct myself. Logistical grace is always bestowed, and that is true. There are almost 8 billion people alive on this planet and are sustained. Certainly, God will bestow His grace.
So then, is God indifferent to the state of our minds when we approach Him. Is He like the person who sets up the automatic cat feeder and then goes on vacation for a time? Is that logistical grace?
“Forgive us our debt.”
How could any of us approach today, when God’s will is required of me, without knowing that in some way I misspent yesterday’s bread and that I must be forgiven? We did not render all service to God and likely sinned against Him in ways we didn’t recognize. Today, I couldn’t even remotely approach the task of His will without forgiveness.
We are forgiven of all sin by the blood of Christ. We may approach and petition the forgiveness of our debts.
We are cleansed from all iniquity. That must be a foundational doctrine in our hearts, but we must never forget that today we are forgiven and be so thankful for it, that our hearts are humbled and contrite.
It is pride that would pound the table, demand the daily bread from the host that we have wronged and abused every day before.
PSA 51:14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
Thou God of my salvation;
Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Thy righteousness.
PSA 51:15 O Lord, open my lips,
That my mouth may declare Thy praise.
PSA 51:16 For Thou dost not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; Thou art not pleased with burnt offering.
PSA 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.
God will continue to give us all that we need. He will continue to reveal to us that we are cleansed by the blood of Christ and that He has taken our debt away. No matter how many times we don’t please Him, fail to bear fruit, sin against Him, grieve Him, quench Him, doubt Him, misrepresent Him; He will always provide for us in love. Is it not this faithful love that breaks your pride to little pieces?
PSA 130:1 Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord.
PSA 130:2 Lord, hear my voice!
Let Thine ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.
PSA 130:3 If Thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
PSA 130:4 But there is forgiveness with Thee,
That Thou mayest be feared.
ISA 30:18 Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you,
And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
How blessed are all those who long for Him.
ROM 2:4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
He overcomes our evil with His good, and never more forcibly reminds us of our ungracious past than when the present shines with His grace.
Forgiveness is as much needed to live in God’s plan as the bread that keeps us alive.
As surely as we faint and die without bread, so surely do we faint and doe from all godly life, and for all godly purposes, if we have not forgiveness. Bread supplies the outward man with energy and forgiveness supplies the inward man with the ability to please God in every good work.
To serve God from any other motive than love has been repeatedly proved impossible. How could we love God if we were hopelessly in His debt? Why is it that so many church going people do not care to serve God in every part of every day? They are told that they are working to get themselves out from under God’s debt and that weight is too large for them. They are sure, the right they are, that they could never get to the end of it; they will never be able to make the last payment. But when the believer understands that His debt has been paid by Christ, the love of God will cause Him to begin every day, though knowingly in debt from yesterday, forgiven and cleansed and ready to serve.
Abraham is a wonderful example here:
Abraham entered Canaan, the place that God had called him to, for the first time. Yet soon after there was a famine. He left Canaan and headed south to Egypt. Knowing that the Egyptians would take notice of his extremely beautiful wife, he bids her to lie and pretend that she is his sister. She is taken into Pharaoh’s harem.
Abraham has strengths, his faith in leaving his home, his courage to go to Egypt and not return home, but he also has defects. His journey doesn’t begin when his defects are overcome. It is the journey that will teach him to overcome the defects.
We might imagine him traveling into Egypt confidently. Knowing he would be subject to scrutiny as a foreigner, having a very beautiful wife of a different race, coping with Pharaoh, priests, magicians, guards, judges, warriors; finding his way through, obtaining the proper supplies for his people. But he left Egypt very differently, but in a much healthier state of mind. He was unable to supply for himself the happiness that comes from the purposes of God. Egypt was almost a disaster. He almost lost the mother of the promised seed as well as the ability to return to the promised land. It was definitely an embarrassment. He was shamed by Pharaoh. Even his own household slaves knew that he lied and was rebuked for it. Sarah is handed back to him, painted and dressed as a harem slave. He was embarrassed before her. Yet, God delivered him. It is clear to him that he didn’t have to lie. His own folly and sin are also clear to him. So often, we have to be broken and beaten by the world in order to see that God has overcome the world.
Don’t get the idea that we have to sin in order to learn of God’s faithfulness and sufficiency. We don’t. The reality is that we will sin and because of our sin, the world will judge and rebuke us, and our embarrassment and shame, all of which we have been delivered from in Christ, will return and plague our hearts. If we hold on to our faith and keep going on the journey, we will overcome because we will have learned to depend upon Christ alone, telling the truth, living the truth, and following His commands. We will learn to stand in humility and obedience and self-sacrifice no matter what the consequences.
As we all have done, Abraham got himself entangled in a net, hopeless to be free of it, and God untangled him.
Abraham has begun to learn that God was not depending upon him, but he was depending upon God. He has begun to see that the future of the world does not lay with Abraham but with God.
Never once has this discovery been unwelcome to the soul that sees it. Few things give us the same sense of God’s nearness, sovereignty, and love. Few things give us the same sense of the dignity and importance of our own salvation and career.
This is God’s affair; a matter in which are involved not merely our personal interests, but God’s responsibility and purposes.
Whenever we go to Egypt, when we diverge from the path that leads to the promised land (maturity), when worldly matters tempts us to turn our backs on God’s worship, when we seek relief in life by our own arrangements and devices, when we renounce our oaths made to Him in silence, even then He follows us and watches over us and lays His hand upon our back, bidding us to return, even using shame and pain to do it.
There is the confident determination of the faithful believer who hopes in tomorrow. There is also the failed determination that results in heartache and shame that recognizes its lack of power and steadfastness. The later may be a stronger bond to hold you to Him at all times in the future because God conquered your sorrow and fear and restored you. The waywardness, he foolishness, the obstinate depravity that cause you to despair, God will conquer. With untiring patience, with all-foreseeing love, He stands by you and will bring you through. His gifts and calling are irrevocable.
Do I begin each day with a spirit free, unburdened, and lively, running in the way of God’s commandments, as the healthy body delights not in sluggish sauntering, but in vigorous and difficult exercise?
Do I simply take for granted that forgiveness and bread are mind today, as they were yesterday, without any gratitude or relief, and their resultant vigor? Is my soul filled every morning with knowing and humble acceptance of the stupendous price paid that gives me a contrite and humble and free mind?
Every act against God’s will is a sin, whether it is a violation of a “thou shall” or “thou shall not.” Christ, in the prayer He gives us, views our sins as debts. To get at the full iniquity of sin, we need to consider it in various lights; and so in Scripture we find it designated by a variety of names, each of which suggests some peculiar quality of sin. It springs into life from such opposite parts of our nature, and gathers strength from so many different motives; its heinousness is darkened by so many aggravations, and it consequences run out in so many directions, that it is impossible to gather up all its evil and express it in a single word. We read of sin, transgression, trespass, wickedness, departing from the straight path, rebellion, falling from grace, fleshly, carnal, asleep, not sober, weakness, folly, deception. Christ views them all in the prayer He gives us as debts.
Using the word “debts” leads us to consider, not so much the evil dispositions from which our sins proceeded, as the relation to God in which they have left us. When we approach God in light of His forgiveness, we approach Him as His debtors.
It leads my mind to realize that I am connected with God, and that connection is debt. The word doesn’t bring into focus the moral evil of sin, which it has, as much as the position of the sinner.
It is not introspection or self-loathing which it most directly induces. It shows us that our sins have to do with more than ourselves and even others that sin hurts. It exhibits the relation that I have to God.
The Bible tells us that when we sin, though we sin against ourselves and others, ultimately, we sin against God. We might be a pitiable case that we hope would evoke God’s compassion, but compassion doesn’t pay off the debt. We have sinned, ruined ourselves, and have most grievously wronged and defrauded God.
At great cost, God has furnished us with aids and instruments, wherewith to further His purposes; and these I have abused, squandered, or destroyed. Yet, again and again, every morning, He has renewed my equipment as His servant, never casting me off as hopeless, but carefully adjusting my circumstances, so as to make opportunities of good easy; and what have I rendered Him again? All my life I have been receiving at His hand.
1CO 4:7 For who regards you as superior? And what do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
What would I have right now if He should suddenly withdraw all support? Where would I be if He withdrew all power? If I could possibly count all I have received from Him, what could I give in return?
We have never so much as known how much we owe Him: have seldom so much as tried to form a careful, true, and honest estimate of what is due Him; have seldom set myself against the known deceitfulness of sin, and determined that, at least, I should have a clear, definite understanding of what I owe to God.
Debt also calls to mind a large class of sins that most don’t think of: the sins of omission.
Overt sins of lust and passion or hatred or anger are easily seen and remembered. Yet, not doing what I ought to have done often eludes the conscience. When I approach God in prayer every morning and throughout the day I know that there are these omissions that I owe Him. Have any of us done all that we could to look Christlike in every moment? Have we done all for others that we could have? Have we used all our words for good and encouragement? Have we had peace and joy within in every moment? Call it all debt and the matter is brought to a simple issue.
If I had a friend like Christ who continued to do all for me despite myself, who spent every effort on me and gave his life for me, who preferred pain and disgrace in serving me than pleasure and profit for himself, and who never asked me for any gift, would it not be the most unaccountable ingratitude if he did not become my firmest friend and my dearest love? And this being done with Christ, and by Christ for me, I can’t even fathom the cost since I don’t know what it was like or what it cost Him to go into the darkness of being forsaken by His Father and being judged for the sins of the world. Nor can I fathom the reward to myself because I cannot fathom what it will be like in heaven, a million years from now, nor can I fathom the happiness and strength that I may have tomorrow with Him. Can any of us be blind to our debt to Him?
“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” is the humble and contrite heart before the One who took my debt on His shoulders and to whom I owe everything. “Today I need Your forgiveness Father so that I may serve You.”
Of course, our debt isn’t paid off like debts in the world.
Jesus Christ paid it. We accept its remission through faith in Him.
And to keep our heads on straight, in service of God’s will, as good servants in His kingdom, we never forget to acknowledge the debt. Though it is paid, I never forget the debt. Not to dwell on sin, that only leads to macabre moods and self-deception. You don’t even know all the sins anyway. We never forget the debt. We confess sins, not for forgiveness, for we are forgiven, but to overcome through the kindness of God. “Forgive us our debts” opens our hearts to genuine humility.
Only the proud imagine themselves to be innocent.
This is the way of an adulterous woman:
She eats and wipes her mouth,
And says, "I have done no wrong."
We never forget we are sinners, but sinners saved, sinners at peace with God, sinners forgiven and whose debt is paid.
We cannot hide from our Creditor.
AMO 9:2 "Though they dig into Sheol,
From there shall My hand take them;
And though they ascend to heaven,
From there will I bring them down.
AMO 9:3 "And though they hide on the summit of Carmel,
I will search them out and take them from there;
And though they conceal themselves from My sight on the floor of the sea,
From there I will command the serpent and it will bite them.
AMO 9:4 "And though they go into captivity before their enemies,
From there I will command the sword that it slay them,
And I will set My eyes against them for evil and not for good."
And the words are simple. No excuses or explanations are demanded.
Aphes hemin (Greek) is all it is. “Forgive us.” All believers are forgiven of all sin. With these words you are entering into that forgiveness so that you may freely and happily serve the King.
We also enter into the forgiveness of others, which we can only do effectively and comprehensively (70x7) when we understand the weight of the debt that Christ took from us.
We may also look at this another way. If we being evil can forgive others, how full, consistent, and thorough is God’s forgiveness of us.
MAT 7:7 "Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.
MAT 7:8 "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened.
MAT 7:9 "Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone?
MAT 7:10 "Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! 12 "Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
We are to be like Christ, like God, and we are to be as loving and forgiving as He is. When we understand something of the magnitude of what we owe God, and yet seeing how He faithfully supplies us with His good every day, we deal with every man in mercy. I don’t owe any less than any other man, and in fact, as God’s child growing in grace and knowledge, I know this fact more than most men. Hence, others should be startled with our grace and mercy.
It is very fitting that before we approach God, we should distinctly understand how forgiveness has been prepared for us, and should, by the contemplation of the infinite merit and inexhaustible efficacy of the blood of Christ, encourage ourselves to draw near to Him by whose judgment we stand or fall. We draw near knowing that we have sinned in some way, knowingly and unknowingly, and we have failed to do all that we ought to have done.
The Pharisees had been mocking Jesus’ teaching and He responded to them with the story of Lazarus and the rich man.
LUK 17:1 And He said to His disciples, "It is inevitable that stumbling blocks should come, but woe to him through whom they come!
LUK 17:2 "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble.
LUK 17:3 "Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.
LUK 17:4 "And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' forgive him."
LUK 17:5 And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!"
LUK 17:6 And the Lord said, "If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and be planted in the sea'; and it would obey you.
LUK 17:7 "But which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come immediately and sit down to eat'?
LUK 17:8 "But will he not say to him, 'Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me until I have eaten and drunk; and afterward you will eat and drink'?
LUK 17:9 "He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he?
LUK 17:10 "So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.'"
We draw near knowing that we are unworthy slaves, but we draw near knowing that our debt has been paid, yet never forgetting the debt. We find forgiveness, pardon, and encouragement. With that in mind, the commandment to love one another does not seem at all displeasing. In our prayer, we recall it and enter into it. Do you delight in forgiveness? Then do so unto others.
Is there one man who is not made sick when hearing the prayers of an unforgiving man?
LUK 18:9 And He also told this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt:
LUK 18:10 "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-gatherer.
LUK 18:11 "The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, 'God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer.
LUK 18:12 'I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.'
LUK 18:13 "But the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!'
LUK 18:14 "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted."
Prayer must not be a procedure or an observance. Prayer must be sincere. We must know what we are praying and why.
We must understand every word of the prayer Christ gave us, and then when we expound upon the truths within it in search of their greater clarification and fulfillment, we do not go outside the bounds of it. Sincerity is a real desire for the sanctification of the name of God, to know our Father, to know our salvation, to have our King and His kingdom firmly established in our hearts and a real desire to obey all His will.
If the words are only spoken without understanding and without love, it becomes only a delusion. If the desires of my heart become earthly and material, can I say with confidence that my prayers will be answered. People have misunderstood the instruction:
MAR 11:22 And Jesus answered saying to them, "Have faith in God.
MAR 11:23 "Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted him.
MAR 11:24 "Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you.
And so, the “name it and claim it” became a movement. If you believe hard enough you will get whatever you ask. What they fail to see is that Jesus told us what to ask for and the Scripture has told us what God guarantees and what He doesn’t. The church is not promised material blessings or blessings of health or wellness. The church is promised every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies.
So, when someone prays for health or promotion or wealth they have gone outside of the plan of God. That’s not to say that they can’t pray for it, only that we are not instructed to pray for it. God certainly hears the prayer, and I believe He answers every prayer, but He will answer the desire for which you think the health, money, or promotion will give you.
If our desires are not what God wills for us, they are fictitious.
We can have no confidence that God will give them and so they can’t actually be asked for in faith. And forgiveness fits this same pattern.
If I pray to enter into God’s forgiveness, but simultaneously refuse to forgive my neighbor, then I don’t desire forgiveness. Again, every believer is forgiven of all things, but if he doesn’t desire forgiveness then he will not enter into the joy of forgiveness.
MAT 6:14 "For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
MAT 6:15 But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”
If we desire God’s favor for ourselves and not for another, then we don’t desire favor, for that is not God’s favor. God makes war with the arrogant. Understanding our need of forgiveness every day is to be humble every day, and with that there is encouragement of being free before God. Those who prize God’s favor one day and forget it the next, who have a merely occasional and passing impression of their need for forgiveness, will not find that encouragement.
All of us bear the scars of a deeply cut consciousness of our immeasurable debt to God. The prayer is not for us to simply say. It is for us to sincerely know how we are connected with each line.
We are to every day enter into our deep need for forgiveness and then love our neighbor. And everyone who knows how apt we are to become either hypocrites or careless formalists in prayer, will recognize the suitableness of the installed check that is here put by Christ by instructing us to seek forgiveness for our debt. It brings the cost of it all before our eyes, the price that Christ paid, a far greater expense than any of us can implore. If I got to this point in the prayer and realized I was only speaking or only being hypocritical or reciting formally or have been only focused on desires not promised by God, then I may return to the beginning and address my Father again, speaking with Him, imploring Him to set the ways of my heart aright.
We should not pray as one person and live as another.
If I’m asking God to cancel all of my debts against Him how can I hold back forgiveness to the man who owes me a pittance compared to it? When I have been forgiven the debt of ten-thousand talents do I throw into prison the man who owes me a hundred denarii? (Mat 18).
Looked upon the wrong way it would seem that I have to do something to be forgiven by God, which is forgive someone else, but that is too childlike a look at it.
If you seek forgiveness in God you have to forgive your neighbor. If you don’t, you seek something else from God than His forgiveness. You want His favoritism.
You want Him to overlook your sin and hold another accountable? You want something that God cannot give. If you seek to enter into His forgiveness, you have to forgive others, if you cannot, you are not standing in the sphere of God’s loving forgiveness and therefore you need to pray and study and pray and study until God sets your heart right.
One honest look at your own debt to God will make any sin against you look small. It is not that our forgiveness of spirit wins the forgiveness of God, but that our unforgiveness cannot accept the forgiveness of God.
So, we see yet again, that in instructing us to pray, our Lord is a few steps ahead of us, knowing what we need, and not leaving it up to us who could never in a million years figure it out. When we seek God’s forgiveness, we have to know what we’re asking for. Knowing it, we can only come to Him in this spirit, enshrouded in His forgiveness and offering our own to all. We come approving the law of forgiveness through the blood of Christ. We approach God knowing the vastness of His gift and are ready to claim it.
If we find it difficult to forgive our neighbor, it is not to him that we look, attempting to find some greater affection or compassion or love. We look to ourselves and to our debt to God and seeing His marvelous love, which gives ground of hope even to those who are in debt to us, and our hearts drink in a humaility, a peace and a joy with with hardness towards our fellow-men cannot dwell. Unless we are desiring full and total forgiveness from God and not asking less, we will not be gracious and lending and knowing how much more blessed it is to give than it is to receive. If there is too vivid a consciousness of our claims upon others, there is too low an estimate of God’s claims upon us.
In a way, Jesus is giving us a test here. Not a test of our performance, but a test of our willingness to enter into all of what God’s love in Christ has afforded us in removing all of our debt. Will we enter into God’s complete forgiveness of us? If we are willing, there is not one sin against us that we would not forgive.
MAT 6:13 'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Provided for and forgiven, we still have to traverse through the rest of our lives in a dangerous world. It is like trying to convey ourselves safely through a land infested with enemies, undermined with pitfalls, or reeking of malaria. We could wish not to go through and just stand still, but we know that we must go. We could fear every step, wincing as we go, but that is to go without confidence, peace, or joy, and we know that is not an option either.
The world will not change to suit our new condition in Christ. There are our former companions in worldly life who are waiting for us to join them again. Familiar jaunts, familiar ways, old paths cross our own very consistently and tell us things are ready for us, even more ready than before. The same business awaits us, the same times of leisure, the same familiar ways of spending time. Shouldn’t we just do as we did before?
EPH 5:5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
EPH 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
EPH 5:7 Therefore do not be partakers with them;
EPH 5:8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light
EPH 5:9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth),
EPH 5:10 trying to learn [proving] what is pleasing to the Lord.
EPH 5:11 And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;
EPH 5:12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.
EPH 5:13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.
EPH 5:14 For this reason it says, "Awake, sleeper, And rise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you."
EPH 5:15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise,
EPH 5:16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
EPH 5:17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
EPH 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,
EPH 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;
EPH 5:20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;
EPH 5:21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
Regenerated children of God, all in the world around us remains the same, ready as ever to make our old course easy, but with no sympathy for our new position and condition, no rejoicing with us over our new-found treasure, no friendly desire to enter into and prosper our new views. All the world remains as it was, and what disappoints us more than all, there is still in us too much that remains as it was. The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak as ever. It is still flesh. It is still adapted to what the world offers that it clamors to be satisfied in the world’s way, hints that we wrong ourselves and undergo unnecessary hardships in striving to subdue it, and that it cannot be very criminal to do what our nature demands, and what our circumstances not only permit, but induce and almost drive us to.
Those who have nothing to lose are little disturbed by the presence of thieves. Those whose hopes are small have few fears.
The fear of defilement found no place in our souls until the Holy Spirit made us new men. Before we experienced the grace of God, temptation seemed like a small risk.
But now that we have tasted God’s favor, experienced the joy and goodwill of God, and prize God’s pleasure, it seems a hazardous thing to venture into the sea of temptations, one or other of which will almost inevitably sweep over our soul, and leave it grieving the Spirit and reaping corruption.
If I do not propose to sin, if I am set against it, does that secure me from it? I have sinned deliberately, in ignorance, through weakness, through surprise, and through habit. Shall I continue in it because I am under grace? May it never be, says Paul.
Rather pray every day, “Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.” Temptation and evil are married. They are always connected.
Temptation is the beginning and when united with choice, evil is the end. Can I say, however, that I will always make the right choice, so come whatever temptation may?
If my first desire is God’s pleasure, then I would prefer no temptation, i.e. no starting line of which evil may come.
I would like to know where every landmine is, where every quicksand waits, and every malaria swamp festers so I can avoid them all.
If is a desire, though it cannot always be fulfilled. But the desire should be there nonetheless.
And remember, evil consists of all sin, what you don’t do that you should, and what you do that you shouldn’t.
Christ is challenging our devotion and opening our eyes to its reality. We must not lie to ourselves, and we can do this without condemnation, because we are forgiven. Would I accept anything that would keep me from temptation, or are discomfort, losing material, losing companionship, or any other loss acceptable even if they bring temptation with them? Again, the world, the flesh, and sadly, many Christians, will say, “Oh come on, don’t be so serious or strict,” but would your Lord have that same reaction, and if not, why do you value their voice above His?
We have to also be careful. We could go full monk with this and say, “Well, I’ll cut myself off from everything in the world and everyone.” But if your actions make for another sin, it is the wrong solution. You are to be a light to the world and not hidden in a basement. You are not to divorce or separate from friends that God has sent you to witness Christ to. We have to be in the world. Not all situations are the temptations that Christ is referring. This prayer, like the Bible, is for grown-ups, and it should be considered by grown-ups.
Yet, left to their own, temptation and lust conceive, resulting in sin, which brings forth death. Let it continue to have its way and death will grow up all around you.
JAM 1:12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
JAM 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.
JAM 1:14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.
JAM 1:15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.
This petition is probably the most questioned because God cannot tempt anyone.
JAM 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.
First off, in the petition God is leading and not tempting. Secondly, there are two Greek words for tempting. One we know, dokimazo, which refers to testing for the purpose of approval. The other is peirazo which is testing in the hope of failure. The second one is used much more often of Satan’s temptations which the first is used of God’s opportunities for us to overcome obstacles and prove the power and worth of His righteousness. Peirazo is used here.
Two Greek words for trial - peirazo (used here) Satan’s, hoping you fail; dokimazo - God’s, giving you opportunity to shine.
Is it so odd that Christ would give us the negative equivalent of leading us in righteousness?
PSA 5:8 O Lord, lead me in Thy righteousness because of my foes; Make Thy way straight before me.
PSA 25:4 Lead me in Thy truth and teach me, For Thou art the God of my salvation; For Thee I wait all the day.
There are eight more in the Psalms that request God to “lead me” in His way.
As we grow up in the spiritual life, we eventually find that there are some temptations that are very powerful against us and will likely lead to sin. There are persons or environments that always seem to betray us into slandering, or scoffing, or bitter envy, or hypocrisy, or some evil passion; there are places where we cannot maintain, or have a least never yet maintained, even our usual regard for the will of God, and from which we may return less disposed than we ought to remember Christ, or engage in His work; there are things we watch or read, trains of thought we entertain, which lower our tone and unhinge the mind that was earlier devoted to Christ.
A great application of this prayer is our waiting for God’s deliverance while we resist temptation.
When we are tempted by Satan, he desires that we grab the bait now and not wait. This would be a failure and so it qualifies as a peirazo type test. However, when we are resolved to wait on God, this is another type of test, one that we succeed in and shine forth our strength garnered from God’s strength in us, and it becomes a dokimazo type of test. In essence, this this situation we would be praying for God to take us past the peirazo test and onto the dokimazo test.
The sin nature would reply, “Relax. Don’t take this so seriously. You’re a sinner anyway. Don’t worry about it. You are forgiven.” To listen to that voice and skip this petition would be the same as affirming that the life of Christ ought not to be taken seriously.
Habits are formed by voluntarily and repeatedly exposing ourselves to the same influences. So agreeable and fascinating have this situations or employments which tempt us become, that is it beyond our strength to give them up. Surely in this case we may ask God so to order our circumstances that these things may have less power of appeal than formerly. How God may answer the prayer, we do not know. But how the solution comes is not for us to decide. For some the solution may be found in a much shorter period of time than another. God doesn’t treat each of our lives on the same timetable because no two of them are the same.
And remember, you’re asking your Father to help you not go there. Praying the words doesn’t guarantee success. Maybe you are saying the right words but secretly don’t want God to stop you from entering the influence that will lead to sin. Maybe, when God takes away the usual avenue that leads to the influence that your desire will arise and you will push through another way. This petition is an honest and genuine desire not to be found surrounded by the influences that has helped you create your unrighteous habit. The habits that Satan uses for his peirazo testing, while twisting his mustache and laughing while waiting to watch you crash. We are asking God to help us break the habits of unrighteousness that we have formed by starving them today, and tomorrow, and the next day.
We cannot say how our Father will set to it. He may remove something. He may add something. He doesn’t ask us to do anything other than have the desire to be like Him, and kicking these habits are large strides in that direction.
So, in this petition, like the previous two, we come face to face with our total helplessness and total dependence upon God. In each of us, our pride would like to show God how we can kick the habit without His help, or with only some of His help mingled with our own efforts. We are so hopeless that we have to ask God to lead us and not to the place of unrighteous influence, because we really can’t see where we’re going. We have no steering mechanism.
There are not only the influences that we may voluntarily walk into by thinking we are stronger than we are, there are also the influences that emerge unexpectedly.
That we pray this does not so much guarantee that we will not come into or fall into the sphere of unrighteous influence, but it does reveal a desire to turn any peirazo temptations (from Satan in the hope of failure) to dokimazo type temptations where God leads us so that we may reveal His strength and show ourselves pure. This statement seems to hold water in light of scripture, but we must be careful as it bridges on conjecture. Jesus doesn’t add, “and lead us to testing or trial.” However, He does add, “and deliver us from evil.”
We are praying directly that God would consider our frailty, our weakness, and so order our life today so that we may be as little exposed to Satan’s peirazo traps and only exposed to the Father’s dokimazo successes.
And this opens our eyes to the second part of the petition, “deliver us from evil.” Evil set the traps that we have a greater chance of falling into. Satan’s not stupid. He’s not going to test you in your strength. The Father’s dokimazo trials are for His children who are strong enough to bear them.
We’ve fallen into many of Satan’s traps before. Some of our more memorable sins, which were really groups of sins that resulted in great damage to ourselves and to others, are easily traced back to a series of steps in the wrong direction. How often have we wondered, “If I had only gone left instead of right, I might not have been led down a road were eventually I would inflict great harm.” But how many of us, during those times when we were doing great damage, were sincerely praying daily, “Father, lead us not into temptation.”? The influence of the prayer on the petitioner enables him to react quite differently than he otherwise would have done and avoided more and deeper temptations that branch off from the first. It is a very different war we wage when we have prayed against it, from that we wage when we have carelessly exposed ourselves.
This petition is a sincere desire for God to show you the right turns today. Remember also, this is just for today. Tomorrow we will ask the same thing.
There is here an acknowledgment of weakness and fear of sin and we appeal to God for help and compassion every morning and several times throughout the day. He promises to give it.
Now, if we have prayed for God to keep us from temptation and we still meet it, meaning we can’t go through life without facing Satan’s fiery missiles, we know that God has ordered it and we mustn’t be surprised.
1PE 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;
1PE 4:13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.
But we know, just as we have prayed, evil will not come from it, but rejoicing and glory. Passing through the refiner’s fire, we are purified.
We must avoid looking at God’s plan for our life as something that we can organize into water-tight compartments. There are some fiery ordeals that we must avoid at all costs for we will fall headlong into sin and the resulting pain. But there are some fiery ordeals that we must face, just like Christ did.
Take for instance the similar temptations of David and Joseph. David was tempted with a beautiful married woman bathing on a distant roof. Joseph was tempted with a beautiful married woman in his master’s house. One turned out very different than the others. Would David have later said, “I should have gone out to battle with the army. I shouldn’t have gone up on the roof that night. I should have listened to my conscience.” Joseph had no regret over his decision to flee the adulteress, though he undeservedly ended up in prison. The same type of temptation but one man went in carelessly and exposed while the other man went in ready and aware.
Only God knows which are the right ones and we are praying that He show them to us and so be delivered from evil. If we have not asked for His guidance, we have charged ahead on our own and will eventually find ourselves in deep water. And the love of God will answer the prayer of the Christian who is up to his chin unrighteous quicksand, and will rescue him, though the man still has reaped what he sowed, and if he had not come to his senses and changed his way, even if pain was the sole motivator, he would have sown more woe upon himself and others.
It is God’s prerogative to lead us where He might. It is up to us to be alert and follow.
The alert pray consistently because they know their weakness and they fear sin. The devil prowls about seeking someone to desire.
And if anyone thinks that by using this petition, he resists the providence of God, let him ask himself the simple question, “Do I desire to be tempted?” If not, then let me pray God to preserve me from temptation. And if, after committing myself to God’s care in this matter, I do meet temptations, I shall at least know by whose permission they come, and whose discipline they bring. To view severe temptation as a possible thing, and as a very dangerous thing, and seeking God’s help and guidance, this is the best preparation against it.
I think it is safe to say that most Christians intentionally put themselves in dangerous circumstances far more often than they intentionally sin. There is pleasure in letting the thoughts dwell on forbidden objects, which provokes us to tamper with sin, and possibly lead us down a dangerous road that leads to evils. Praying, being alert, praying again, and constant study will open the eyes of a Christian before he heads down the road, when he sees his mind begin to dwell on the forbidden and will tell his mind to stop. This is the self-control, not of the willful man, but of the Holy Spirit indwelling the devout man.
This prayer asks that we see temptation at its beginning. It puts us on our guard against the earliest movements of sinful inclination, and prompts sus to deal vigorously with its faintest symptoms.
All evil is easiest checked in its rise, with less pain to ourselves. To have parlayed with temptation is to have lost strength already. Go a mile with a tempter, and changes are that he will persuade you to go two. He will first tell you that you are not going out of your way at all, and forthwith he will tell you that you have gone too far to go back.
The prayer is not, “Let me go so far into temptation and no farther,” but “Lead me not into it.”
He who cannot comprehend how this should be the one prayer given to us concerning the special advancement of our own souls towards completion or maturity to the nature of the stature of the maturity of Christ, and has not prayed it as he ought; is yet, under God’s word, hiding his own desires. This petition goes to the very core of our conscience, the place in our hearts that set degree to what we honor and love. It reveals whether we should like a daily life of being sinlessly obeying our Father, our King, the laws of the kingdom, or whether we want something less. We are fully aware that none of us will be constantly sinless. But do we still harbor enough of a love of sin that we want a portion of it in our lives? Do we want to be far away from everything which will nourish evil within us and close to only such things that will mature a Christian to the quality of Christ? Do I want anything that will loosen my will to obey my Lord or do I only want to obey still more than I do. The sincerity of this petition will reveal our hearts.
The final petition often calls us to give up prospects of great attraction.
The flesh will lie to us and tell us we should fear it and that it will be averse to our spiritual growth. When we see the beauty of a prospect, do we honestly desire to see whether the flowers wave and rustle with the healthy breath of heaven or with the subtle windings of the serpent? This petition asks God to show us His beauty and to help us choose only that. If the serpent lurks in the flower bed, we’re asking God not to lead us there.
The evil we chiefly aim at being delivered from, is that which comes of temptation yielded to, and that is sin. In Christ’s own petition He said:
JOH 17:15 “I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.”
The fulfillment of this petition does not relieve us of disappointment, sicknesses, distresses or loss, for that to be true, we would have to be removed from this world and from these bodies. We can be delivered from evil, from sin, without being delivered from this world.
In every generation, the world has had an inkling that there is something wrong with it, that its condition is not altogether satisfying, and that something needs to be done. They set to work to deliver themselves, to fix it, by setting to work at the outmost branches instead of the root. They provide against loss, guard against disease and war, while they ought to be asking God to deliver them from the evil within them, which if the branches were grafted to the vine that is Christ, then new, healthy branches would spring forth.
If God suddenly fixed all the outmost problems of the world and made it pristine, ordered, and blessed, and left man in it as he is, he would spoil that world just as he has spoiled this one. We yielded to temptation and we became connected with evil of every kind. It is through the heart of man that evil did steal its way into this world. Until it is expelled from the heart, it will find its way into all we are connected with. Unless it is expelled from our souls, we will turn the happiest and most faultless inheritance into sorrow and confusion.