Lenten Midweek Four
March 10, 2021
The Lord's Prayer
The Lord’s Prayer – this gift from our Savior is a perfect prayer. Though it’s not the only prayer we should offer, the Lord’s Prayer puts every aspect of our lives into God’s hands. It calls upon the Lord to deliver what He has promised.
Jesus addresses God as “our Father.” Our Lord teaches us that the prayer is a special gift for us specifically as God’s children. The Ten Commandments teach that we have broken God’s Law through sin and deserve death and hell. The Creed teaches that Jesus shed His holy precious blood to redeem us from sin, death, and hell, through which we receive forgiveness. So now, the Lord’s Prayer is for God’s children who have been adopted into His family by Jesus.
Jesus’ Father desires that you call on Him as your Father. For He loves and provides for you. He isn’t ashamed to call you His children, despite human sinfulness. He doesn’t hold your sin against you, because your Brother Jesus washed it away. As a child should be able to call on an earthly father boldly and confidently, so you may surely call upon your loving Father in heaven, who promises to sustain and defend you.
As God’s children, we pray “Hallowed be your name.” We ask God to make His name holy, but it’s holy in and of itself! So, we more specifically ask God to keep His name holy among us by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in us to sanctify or make us holy.
God’s name is kept holy by what you say and what you do. Whenever God’s Word is used to teach falsely or teach incompletely, God’s people are then misled and God’s name is tarnished. Yet, when you know God’s Word, it may be kept holy in what you say and you may be kept from being led astray when others speak falsely in God’s name.
Unfortunately, many people teach God’s Word falsely or carelessly. Even so, we confidently shout our message from the roof-top because the confessional Lutheran Church does teach God’s Word rightly. Now, of course, that sounds about as arrogant as it can get to a world that doesn’t like anyone declaring absolute truth. The world is much more comfortable declaring that the Bible can be interpreted any number of ways. Husbands, just try that on your wives. Wives, try that on your husbands. When my wife lovingly asks me to take out the garbage, there’s only one truth in what she says. Any other way that I decide to interpret that very well may leave me in the doghouse for the rest of the night. There’s no Lutheran truth, Catholic truth, Baptist truth, Methodist truth, and so on. There’s only one truth – God’s Word. Otherwise, we’re wasting time.
God’s name is also kept holy by what you do. You can proclaim it and hear it correctly all you want, but if you don’t have a desire and striving to live by it, cherish it, and “be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” well, then you just practice hypocrisy. James says, “Faith without works is dead.” In other words, you can’t truly believe at the same time you purposefully live the opposite of God’s Word. That would be to reject God as Father, Jesus as Savior, and the Holy Spirit as Sanctifier. We ask that God’s name kept holy in our daily living.
As God’s children, we pray, “Your kingdom come.” Like the holiness of God’s name, God’s kingdom does come of itself. Our request is that as it comes, it comes to us too.
This concept is hard for us to understand. When I talk about a kingdom, your mind pictures a geographic place. However, the biblical writers use “kingdom” differently. Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is drawing near.” That Kingdom is best described as the reign of God. After all, a king reigns wherever he is, and so we ask that God bring His reign among us.
God’s rule and reign comes among us, when we receive the Holy Spirit through God’s Word and Baptism, and we continue – throughout our lives – to receive His good gifts in the Gospel and Holy Communion. For the Holy Spirit brings God’s reign among us, and more than that – in us. You are a temple of the Holy Spirit within you! Through God’s Word He strengthens and nourishes your faith, He strengthens and nourishes holy living. So as we ask for God’s kingdom to come, the Lord answers this prayer through the Holy Spirit and His gifts.
In the context of our worship services, God comes among you, speaks to you, admonishes you, forgives you, rebukes you, comforts you, and gives you peace the world can’t give. Historically, Lutheran worship centers on God’s presence – not in a mystical, feel good way, but in a very real way – in Word and Sacrament, exactly as He promised.
As God’s children, we pray, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” As with God’s name, as with God’s kingdom, so God’s will is done, with or without our prayer. We ask that God’s will may be done on earth among us too. We ask for the Lord to include our well-being in His will. We want His blessing, protection, and deliverance in trouble.
God’s Law to love Him with all our heart and our neighbors as ourselves is God’s perfect, holy, and righteous will. Yet, the devil, the world, and our own sinful natures seek to interfere with His will. Their evil plan and purpose is to profane God’s name and prevent the coming of His reign. They desire to lead you into disbelief and rebellion against God’s will.
God breaks and hinders their goal in two ways. The Lord rules the world, directing the course of events to a final fulfillment. The Lord rules His Church – His body – by Word and Sacrament. The Gospel and Sacraments “strengthen and keep us firm in His Word and faith until we die.” Even if we don’t see with our eyes that the devil, the world, and our sinful selves are hindered completely, we can be sure that the Lord hasn’t neglected us. He strengthens us people to endure. The Spirit hinders every arrow aimed against us by strengthening our shield – faith in Christ.
As God’s children, we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Generally speaking, without us praying for it, God provides daily bread to everyone. Even evil people eat daily bread. But notice something. When we pray for daily bread, we must recognize the source – God. He cares for all our needs. We then ought to offer thanks and praise for all that He gives.
Daily bread means more than a loaf from a grocery store. Bread nourishes the body. Thus, “daily bread” means everything that supports the body. The Lord provides so very much for us in every facet of our lives. I’ll use just one example. Think of all the processes and means used for you to put supper on the table. Without God’s gracious giving, you’d go hungry.
As God’s children, we pray for the same forgiveness with which we forgive others. Many words have been used interchangeably in this petition. Matthew’s Gospel says, “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Luke’s Gospel says, “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” We usually say, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Sins, debts, and trespasses all speak of the same thing from various perspectives. The heart of the matter is we have wronged God and others have wronged us. If we refuse to forgive others, we shouldn’t expect God to forgive us. Yet, our ability to show mercy to others comes from God. For “we love because He first loved us.” We forgive because He first forgave us. Those willing to forgive others rightly understand the impact of sin and trust in the Lord’s forgiveness toward them. Those who refuse to forgive don’t believe in any forgiveness at all.
On account of sin, you aren’t worthy of anything you request, but God is gracious and merciful toward you. You are forgiven. And now you may extend forgiveness to others.
As God’s children, we pray “lead us not into temptation.” This petition has confused many. Martin Luther bluntly explains, “God tempts no one.” A tempter wants the tempted to fail. God doesn’t do that, the devil does. He wants you to lose your faith in God, putting your fear, love, and trust elsewhere. Rather, God tests His people. He wants you to pass the test, which means He leads you to fix your eyes on Jesus and grow in fear, love, and trust of God above all.
We don’t want Satan to triumph when he tempts us, but we ask the Lord to deliver us in the day of trouble so that we are victorious over the assaults of the evil one. Satan sought to destroy Job’s faith, but through His trials, God led him to a strong confession of faith. As we’ll sing in a few weeks, Job says, “I know that my Redeemer lives.”
As God’s children, we pray, “But deliver us from evil (or the evil one).” This petition summarizes the entire prayer. We ask God to deliver us from all evil, especially the deceiver – the devil. Notice, this petition assumes bad things will happen to you and me. Let me say that again. This petition assumes bad things will happen to you and me. For we live in the valley of the shadow of death. Therefore, we hold God to keep His promise and deliver us from all evil. And He will do it. When your race on earth is done, He will give you the crown of life.
The Lord’s prayer originally ended in a simple way – amen. “Amen” means confident trust that God will hear our prayer because He has promised to do so. The closing praise, “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever,” isn’t part of the prayer as Jesus taught it. Rather, it’s a later pious addition that has been used through the centuries.
Because we pray “our Father,” wherever and whenever the Lord’s Prayer is prayed you are being prayed for by your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. When you pray it, you are praying for them too. That’s such a wonderful comfort for all God’s people to cherish. Amen.