Most would agree that what is called the Lord’s prayer, John 3:16 and the Twenty-third Psalm are probably the most known of all the passages of scripture in the Bible. Many that know little else can quote all three of those passages. Yet, as familiar as they are, often times people are blind to some very important points that ought to be quite visible to them. For instance when listening to, reading or quoting the Twenty-third Psalm, we can picture in our mind all those blessings listed therein. However, often we fail to make application to the fact that all of this is predicated upon the first words, “The Lord is my shepherd”. Unless the Lord is actually one’s shepherd, all those blessing belong to someone other than him. An often overlooked and even often misquoted word in John 3:16 is the little word “should”. It is often quoted, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life”. In fact, the verse reads, “For God so loved the word that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”. There is a difference between shall and should. Yet, it is the third of these well known passages that we wish to give consideration to in the article, that which is commonly called, “The Lord’s Prayer”.
That which is called the Lord’s prayer is found in two locations, Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4. The first thing we need to take notice of is that this is not an example of the Lord praying, but is instead a model prayer, or in other words the Lord teaching His apostles to pray. Notice in Luke’s account that His disciples came to where He was praying and “said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1). Jesus said unto them, “When ye pray, say, …” (Luke 11:2). He was doing that which they ask for, teaching them to pray. The account is just a portion of teaching that Jesus was doing on the subject of prayer. He told them, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye… (Matt. 6:7-9). Again, it is easy to see that they did not come and find Him praying this prayer, but were instead being taught to pray, thus we can best describe this as a model prayer. All this being true does not mean that there is no value to be found in the prayer, for much is revealed here that it would seem far too many have overlooked or ignored. Jesus begins this model prayer with the words, “Our Father which art in heaven” (Matt. 6:9). As we noted concerning the Twenty-third Psalm, all that followed was predicated upon the Lord being their shepherd; so everything involved in this prayer is predicated upon God actually being the Father of the one praying. There are a couple of reasons that one should not just recite the example of prayer that Jesus provided His disciples. First, He had just warned them about using vain repetitions (Matt. 6:7) and secondly one aspect of that model prayer has been fulfilled and thus no longer to be prayed for. He prayed, “Thy kingdom come…” (Matt. 6:10) and since His kingdom has already been established, it is no longer proper to pray for it to come. As for those who teach that the kingdom has not yet been established and that the Lord will establish it when He comes, the Bible teaches that Jesus is reigning now as “King of kings, and Lord of lords” (I Tim. 6:15). The apostle Paul stated to the Colossians, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13). It was never the Lord’s intention to set up an earthly kingdom. He told Pilate when asked about being a king, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36). He had previously told the Pharisees that His kingdom was not with observation…that the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:20-21). Consider just one last point concerning the kingdom and the Lord’s return. Paul wrote, “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom of God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet” (I Cor. 15:24-25). Thus, the Lord is not coming to establish His kingdom but is presently reigning over His kingdom and when He comes and the judgment takes place, He will deliver up the kingdom to the Father and lay down all reign. We simply do not need to be praying for a kingdom that has already been established to be established.
As we bring this article to a close, do know that the Bible does record a true “Lord’s prayer”. In other words an actual prayer of the Lord to His Father in heaven. It is recorded in Acts 17:1-26. In this prayer he prays for self, for his apostles and then for all those who have become believers by way of the word. We would be amiss if we did not call for recognition of one major point of that prayer. Jesus prayed that all believers be one as He and the Father are one.
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