Why The Lord's Prayer? (Article 18-4)
As believers, we can easily become accustomed to engaging in prayer-related rituals to a point that we forget to understand the intent of the prayer or what we're actually praying to receive. One such occurrence may be when we cite the Lord’s Prayer. Christ instructs us in Matthew 6:5-15 on how to pray and what to ask from our Heavenly Father. Christ states “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses (debts), as we forgive those who trespass against us (forgive our debtors); And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.” The fact that our Lord specifically states what and how to pray warrants pause and the need to take special note of His instruction. In our pause, we should reflect on answering two questions. Why are we to say this specific prayer and what are we actually asking from God?
Why This Prayer?
To better understand the answer to the first question is to know why we were created. The answer is to be one with God, and to turn to Him for all things. As you read the Lord’s Prayer, first note the title: The “Lord’s” Prayer. The Prayer's title tells from the very start that we are praying to our Almighty Father and God – the Lord of the universe and our lives. We should note too that we are petitioning a supreme and all knowing, powerful, and present being. Finally, we should take note that we are communicating to our Creator. Next, the prayer reminds us that we need to show our utmost reverence for God. As such, we need to present ourselves in a sincere way and with a convicted heart. By doing so, we are humbly acknowledging who we are in relation to God and our need for Him in all things. At the end of our total consideration of why we should say this prayer, we should see the Lord's Prayer as the foundation from which all our prayers should be built upon.
What Are We Praying To Receive?
Understanding what we’re praying for when we cite the Lord’s prayer can best be understood by first understanding the intent of prayers. To pray is to send a “petition" to God. Petitioning God means that we are appealing to His supreme authority for a specific purpose, cause, and request. Our petitions are based on the firm belief (by way of faith), that God fulfills His promises. With this belief, we must humbly communicate, worship, and sincerely seek God’s face, presence, power, understanding, and unconditional love. The intent of our prayers should also serve to seek the attributes of His Being. After all, we are made in God's image and according to His likeness and as a result, we should have a natural desire to feel and experience Him in every way possible. We should do so in the same manner we desire to feel and experience our own children. This is what God desires from us and with it, our understanding of why He created us in this way – to have a relationship of "oneness". Finally, our relationship with God is more than just becoming intimate friends. Our sights should be on being “a lover” with Him and all that it entails by way of commitment, sacrifice, and trust. As lovers, our relationship with God is characterized by believing and knowing that He desires intimacy. This is why Christ tells us “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret;” (Matthew 6:6). Our loving Father wants to be alone with us, and we should desire to be alone with Him.
Taking A Closer Look
In considering the above points, let’s take a closer look at what we are “petitioning” when we say the Lord’s Prayer. In the very first verse of the prayer, we are acknowledging that He in fact is our Father, from which the entire prayer is constructed. By acknowledging Him as “Our Father”, we attest to a Father’s love for his child and desire to always teach and protect his child. So, at the very beginning of the prayer, we ask to receive God's love, wisdom, and protection. We then acknowledge His status by stating “Which Art in Heaven”. Here, we petition that our eyes and heart be lifted up to the heavens and be focused on Him with the belief that God sees and knows all things. When we say “Hallowed be Thy name”, we petition that man be reminded of God's glory, holiness, power, love, presence, and knowledge. It represents our desire for all mankind duly honor, fear, and love Him and all that He created - both seen and unseen. In stating “Thy Kingdom Come", we petition for Christ’s second coming without delay. With this, we ask that God's Kingdom of grace come quickly and that all mankind be prepared to receive Him as their true King. We request that our Lord and Savior reveal Himself to the world, putting an end to Satan, thus ending sin and the resulting misery, pain, suffering and death it brings to all. When saying “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” we're requesting that our Heavenly, Holy, and Loving Father reign supreme in the hearts of men and to be one with us, just as it once was in the very beginning before man’s demise. Our petition for God to “Give us this day our daily bread”, we ask that each and everyone of our days be renewed. And with each new day, we are provided an ever-increasing desire to give Him His due right as our God and the glory that is His to claim. It is to acknowledge that He is the Creator and Giver of life, and only by Him can life exist. We also, when saying the Lord's Prayer, request that He gives us the power to forgive (for our own forgiveness is contingent on forgiving others). This is why we say “... forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us”. In the prayer's final petition, we request that God protect us from the “evil one”: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” This verse is our acknowledging that we do not have the power to resist Satan’s lies, deceptions, and accusations, and that it is only by God's power, by way of the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Christ), that such protection can be obtained.
Eight (8) Petitions With Eternal Impacts
In closing, I want to point out that when we cite the Lord's Prayer, we are submitting a total of eight (8) petitions. Each petition in itself represents a different and distinct request. However, it is important to note too that, like all things in scripture, numbers in the Bible have significance. The number eight (8) in scripture represents salvation and regeneration. It also means to “super-abound”, that being, to prevail in great measure or to have access. Scripture clearly supports this point in John 15:7-8 when Christ tells us "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that you may bear much fruit; so shall you be my disciples." This verse tells reminds us of the main intent of the Lord's prayer which is to be one with God, by means of being one with Christ.
Yes, our Lord and Savior instructs us to pray to our Father and when we do so, “pray for these things” (Matthew 6: 9). It is my hope that you may have a deeper and richer understanding of the Lord's Prayer. With this understanding, we should realize that although God is the focus of the prayer, we are the beneficiaries of its words.