PRAYER IS one of the seven steps in the consecrated Christian’s walk, the other six being world and self denial, study, spread and practice of God’s Word, watchfulness and patient endurance as to the trials, sufferings and persecutions incidental to the faithful carrying out of one’s consecration. Prayer has been referred to as the life breath of the Christian, for it is as essential to our spiritual life as air is to our human life. Prayer is the privilege of the consecrated and the children of the consecrated, until they attain the age of discretion. It is true that we could never have dedicated our lives to the Lord without prayer, but before consecration, the privilege of prayer was mainly for the purpose of leading us on to consecration. Though the unconsecrated may offer prayer, they are unable to enjoy its full privileges until their wills become one with God’s will.
During our Lord’s earthly ministry His disciples observed His practice of prayer, until one asked Him to teach them to pray (Luke 11: 1), an opportunity that He was undoubtedly waiting for. Being fully consecrated to God, we must not get the thought that they did not pray to God, but they noted that Jesus’ prayers were different – they were deeper, more spiritual and filial, a practice they desired to emulate. Jesus then provided them with what we know as the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6: 9-13) (Luke 11: 2-4). Let us consider each part of this model prayer, referring to the Matthew account:
“Our Father which art in heaven”
Note the unselfish nature of this prayer. We do not see the words “I,” “me” or “my,” but “our,” “us” and “we.” How well that expresses the close association that the Lord’s people share with one another as a spiritual family. To approach God properly implies: (1) that we exercise faith in Him; (2) that we realize our utter dependence upon Him; (3) that we accept by faith that a way of reconciliation with Him has been effected through Christ; (4) that we possess an earnest desire to perform God’s will in out lives; and (5) that we realize that God no longer condemns, but accepts us.
“Hallowed be thy name”
The more we learn to appreciate the privilege of prayer, the more we will desire to express adoration, appreciation and reverence for God’s goodness and greatness. It is the attitude that considers first and foremost the will and honor of God as superior to one’s own and every other interest.
“Thy kingdom come”
In this part of the prayer we acknowledge the present condition of sin in the world and we manifest faith in God and in His promise to overthrow Satan’s empire and to establish His Kingdom in the earth. It also means that we are in sympathy with God and His righteousness and out of sympathy with Satan, sin, error, selfishness and worldliness.
“Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven”
This is an expression of confidence that God’s Kingdom will gradually bring about the full restoration of the entire earth to the condition of the Garden of Eden, and that will bring the human family up to human perfection – in the image and likeness of his Creator. But not until all the wicked are destroyed and the above conditions prevail, following the Millennium and its Little Season, will it be possible for God’s will to be done perfectly on earth as it is done in heaven. Mankind’s joy will then be full, just as the angels’ joy is now full.
To offer the above petition from the heart implies full consecration to God, and that His will is ruling in our own heart. An older Christian man once asked a young lady, “Do you belong to the Lord?” She answered in the affirmative, to which he asked, “Have you consecrated your life to Him?” When she answered in the negative, he replied, “How can you belong to the Lord if you have not given Him your heart?” (Proverbs 23: 26). The above petition furthermore implies an earnest longing on our part for God’s Kingdom which will bless the human race, and for our future privilege to help bless mankind in that Kingdom, so long as we prove faithful in this life.
“Give us this day our daily bread”
This is an expression of trust in the Lord and confidence that He will provide all things needful for us, both temporal and spiritual (Isaiah 33: 16). Of course, this is not a request for a certain type of food or for luxuries, but an acknowledgment of confidence that the Lord will provide those things that are necessary for ourselves and for our dependents; and one that is willing to leave the results in the Lord’s hands, whether that means plenty or few (1 Thessalonians 4: 11).
Our Lord said that His disciples are not to be like the heathen who seek mainly what they shall eat and drink and how they shall be clothed (Matthew 6: 31-33), but they should seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 8: 3, saying that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4: 4). He also indicated that the Heavenly Father earnestly desires to give the holy spirit to those who ask (Luke 11: 13).
“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”
Jesus is not here referring to original sin, but to the non-willful sins that we commit following our consecration to God. God could have arranged to automatically forgive our sins without our asking, but He recognizes several advantages to us by requiring our asking for forgiveness: (1) it causes us to keep track of our sins so that we may fight against them and thus grow stronger in our resistance to them; (2) it makes us more dependent upon our beloved Savior; and (3) it enables us to become more merciful toward our debtors.
As to point (3) above, the Lord surely desires to assist us in developing those qualities of character which He can be approve, and which can be used in blessing others, both in this Age and in that which is to come. We cannot expect mercy from God if we are unwilling to extend it to others, as our Lord stated in Matthew 6: 14, 15: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
“And lead us not into temptation”
This request has confused many because James 1: 13 says: “God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” We know that trials, tests and temptations are necessary for our development, so it would not be appropriate to pray that God would spare us from them. The thought seems to be: “Bring us not into temptation [testing] that would be too severe for us.” Benjamin Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott renders it: “Abandon us not to trial,” which seems more accurate. God has promised that He “will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10: 13). That way of escape could come in one of two ways: (1) He will either deliver us from the trial that is more than we can bear, or (2) He will grant us the grace necessary for us to withstand the trial. It seems as if He usually works along the latter way.
“but deliver us from evil”
Some translations render this petition, “Deliver us from the evil one.” This rendering seems more accurate, for it recognizes Satan as our great adversary, whom we are to be on the alert to resist. We must, however, realize our need of Divine aid, for Satan is far too much of a match for us without His assisting grace. May we learn the lesson as stated in Romans 8: 31: “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
The final part of the Lord’s Prayer reads: “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” The oldest manuscripts do not contain this passage, which means that it is spurious. It also gives a wrong thought, for the Lord has not set up His earthly Kingdom yet, despite the claims of some to the contrary.
The Lord’s Prayer includes everything that we as His people need. May it prove to be an aid to our prayer life, to the end that we may be found faithful to our consecration vow, and thus be granted an abundant entrance into His coming Kingdom, which will bless all the families of the earth.