How often have you been in a meeting, a service of some kind, even a youth meeting and have heard the Lord's Prayer recited? How often have you recited it as some form of personal devotion or prayer? Have you seen this Prayer recited repeatedly as part of a Christian worship service?
The Lord's Prayer refers to the words of Jesus in Matthew 6. He was teaching the Disciples to pray. Many have since coined the term the Lord's Prayer to describe His words. It is interesting to note that Jesus wasn't actually praying a prayer. It therefore really shouldn't be called the Lord's Prayer.
Many have taken this passage in Matthew and mixed it with the New Covenant. They somehow are under the impression because Jesus gave us a model of prayer it must be for us in the New Covenant. Nothing could be further from the truth. To be frank, the Lord's Prayer is not a New Covenant prayer whatsoever.
Let's look at the "Lord's Prayer";
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. Matthew 6:9-13 NKJV
The first thing I have noticed about this prayer is that Jesus was giving a model to pray, and His point was not to pray in vain repetitions as the heathen do. Yet, that is what so many do today. They turn this passage into a prayer that they just repeat over and over. To understand this passage, look at it in full context, here.
Jesus was simply giving a model of how to pray to the disciples. While we must acknowledge there are some hints of the New Covenant to come we must understand this is still not a New Covenant way to pray. The fact that Jesus refers to God as Father is a radical idea. The Israelites saw God as a harsh taskmaster very often. Jesus was revealing the Father's heart, God gave the Law with its rigid standards to prove to us we can't earn righteousness and that we need a Savior.
So let's break this prayer down to show this is not applicable to us today.
Our Father in Heaven. God is our Father, but He isn't just in Heaven today. By His indwelling Spirit within us, God abides in us. He isn't just afar off somewhere in the distance. So often we see ourselves separated from God. We feel if we sin or miss it He is away from us. That God sits in some swivel chair turning away from us when we miss it.
This is not the picture the New Covenant paints. He is with us and abides within us. We don't have to ask God to come meet with us or plead for an open Heaven. He has already done that. When He died that veil was torn asunder. We have open access to God. He said He would never leave us or forsake us. There is no clause added saying if you sin too much I will not fellowship with you.
Hallowed be your name. This is a universal truth. Before Law, during Law, and under Grace God's name is holy and all-powerful. The good news is He has given us the right to use His name. When we pray in Jesus name it isn't just the way to close the prayer. It is us saying this petition be granted by the authority of Jesus as if He were asking Himself.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. This passage also reveals a universal truth but also an Old Covenant premise. We no longer pray for His kingdom to come. His kingdom has come. His kingdom dwells within all believers. What we pray now is the kingdom to flow out of us to others so we may bless and encourage them.
The universal truth we see is that we pray His will be done on Earth as in Heaven. Note He didn't say He is the God of "Omni-control". He didn't say "I am sovereign, so if you want to receive healing or help just pray and if it is my will I will respond." We know there is no poverty, lack or insufficiency in Heaven. There is no sickness or disease in Heaven. There are no disasters in Heaven. So we pray for healing, wholeness, and protection today. God has always been good.
Give us this day our daily bread. Under the New Covenant, we don't ask God for provision the same way as the Old. Under the Old, they prayed for God to do something. Under the New, God has already done it all. We thank God and simply believe and receive what Grace made available. In the New Covenant, it isn't Faith makes and Faith takes. It is Grace makes and Faith takes.
And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. In the Old Covenant, this was the standard of Law. Forgive so you could be forgiven. Under Law, we weren't forgiven. Our sins were merely covered. Forgive in order to be forgiven is this the standard of the New?
In the New Covenant, Grace instructs us to forgive others because we are already forgiven, here and here. We were forgiven once for all time on the Cross. We aren't forgiven and then Unforgiven based on our ability to forgive. People would say being eternally forgiven is a license to sin. To that I say, We were sinning without one before Christ. People in all denominations are still sinning left and right. Either we are perpetually eternally forgiven or we aren’t. There are no clauses in Grace. We just believe it and receive His Grace.
Also, license really means one believes a person can sin without consequences. Grace doesn't say that. You live in sin and you will reap the rewards of dumb decisions. You could lose a career, a spouse or a family. You won't have peace in your thinking and your spirit and soul and body will be in distress because your spirit is wanting to follow God and reject sin and your body is wanting to follow appetite and your mind will be fighting which way to go. So Grace is not teaching a license to sin. Besides this, Grace gives us the victory over sin. Under Grace sin no longer has dominion over us.
And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. This is also not New Covenant because under the New, the enemy is defeated and He has already delivered us.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. It is a universal truth of the glory and majesty of our great God. This prayer though still isn't New Covenant because a New Covenant prayer is offered in the name of Jesus. Jesus name is the name that is above every name.
In summation, I trust you can readily see how the "Lord's Prayer" isn't a New Covenant based prayer. We can see the universal truths Jesus speaks of but that doesn't mean the prayer model as a whole is a way for New Covenant believers to pray. When these mistaken ideas are cleared up and we relinquish tradition our walk with God is more fruitful, satisfying and fulfilling.
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