This talk should be done over 2 weeks as it's quite long - unless you're doing a more in-depth session. You may want to use with older teens and even students rather than the younger years.
The Lord's Prayer - Matthew 6.9-13
In Matthew 6.9-13, Jesus was talking to his disciples about prayer. He gave them an example prayer to pray. Although it's good to learn this, it doesn't mean we have to pray this prayer - it's like a model - an inspiration - a way of helping us pray. So we'll look at this prayer and what it means.
(Jesus said) "Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.
The Lord's Prayer
The Lord's Prayer gives us a model of prayer but it isn't a rule that we should go round repeating over and over until it loses its meaning. Instead as we pray it's good to think about what we're saying and apply each bit to our lives and situations around us. So let's go through some of the elements of the Lord's Prayer and see what we can learn!
It’s a place where we see God as our perfect father, our “Abba”. No matter who or how your father was – God is the perfect father and the Father of everyone. The lie of the enemy that people are buying into is that God is a control freak and that they need to break free in order to live life. But we see that people end up worshiping a lie.
On one episode of Bear Grylls he went into the wilderness with a celebrity who admitted she’d done all she wanted to and was searching for meaning, wondering what life was all about. Life is about finding our Father in heaven. When Jesus said (John 14.6) that he was the way the truth and the life, he also said there was an end point. The destination is the Father. That’s true for us and it’s true for Jesus, as the Bible tells us...
1 Corinthians 15.24 – “Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father..."
In Heaven - where and who God is
When we pray this prayer, we also recognise that God is over all and is the great “I Am”. We know who he is, where he is and live our lives in the light of that!
In the Old Testament, God appeared in the desert to his people as a pillar of cloud and fire. But we also see how God had to veil (cover) his presence over the people for their protection because God is so holy and so powerful that without this protection, we would die. Without the protection of our atmosphere and ozone layer, the power of the sun would literally fry us and the earth. Now think of God - he made the sun and the whole universe. And he's also totally pure!
Sometimes in the Bible, we see that God is very powerful and not to be messed with. In 2 Samuel 6, a man called Uzzah touched the ark of the covenant trying to stop it from falling (they hadn't taken the right procedures that God had told them to!) and the Bible says the Lord killed him. God didn’t strike him down like some angry spoilt brat who someone had disobeyed! No, there was a power in the ark that meant the people needed to deal with it as God said. It was like touching a power line – a power line is good but you don’t want to touch it!
Jesus also unveiled his power – for example in John 18 when he was arrested, we read that Jesus said, “I am he,” ... When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. Later we see how Jesus could walk through walls (John 20.26). And we see the power of Jesus when he died.
Matthew 27.51-53 – “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.”
And if we look into the book of Revelation, you will find that Jesus will return in power to judge everyone. He is pictured as riding a white horse with a sword coming out of his mouth (see Revelation 19). God is powerful - that power is limited for our good many times while Jesus is in heaven. But let's remember who God is and that Jesus will return one day as King!
Holy is Your name
The Lord's prayer is also a place of worship in light of knowing who God is – “Holy is your name.”
Matt Lynch, who is the Dean at Westminster Theological Centre describes God as “brilliant and dangerous; concealed and mysterious; contagious; unspeakably holy; enthroned but not contained.”
Throughout the Bible we catch glimpses of the power of God. Isaiah glimpsed the power of God and felt like he was ruined because he was overcome with the power of God (Isaiah 6.5). Ezekiel saw God and wasn’t even able to describe it directly – Ezekiel 1.28 – “…This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell face-down, and I heard the voice of one speaking.” Moses asked to see God’s glory and yet he had to be hidden by God for his own protection!
The holiness element of God is often forgotten – don’t forget we don’t have the spirit of God in us – the Bible calls him the Holy Spirit. For us this means working with God to allow him to change us. We also have to work to get rid of bad behaviours, habits, words and actions that don't bring glory to God. God will help us and sometimes changes us without us realising! One day we're struggling with something and a while later we suddenly realise we're not any more. Other times it's a struggle that we need God's help with all our life. But the Bible tells us that God changes us from 'glory to glory' (so this means that over time we should become more and more like Jesus). We can't help it - it's in our new God nature.
Your Kingdom come, Your will be done
The kingdom is where God’s people line themselves up with God’s purposes. “Your kingdom come, your will be done.” This is a place of saying to God, "your will is always best, so I want your will, even above what I think I need or want." God knows you better than you do and knows what you need. And he is incredibly generous - always willing to give (he's given us everything through Jesus anyway!) So God's way is always best - seek God's kingdom first and he'll add everything else you need (Matthew 6.33).
Other religions emphasise domination and even death - but we are called to be living sacrifices (Romans 12.1-2).
In the Greek, the word “come” is imperative which means it can be said like giving an order – so you could translate it “Kingdom come!” as in a command.
The word for “let come” can also mean “to come from one place into another.” In this way, we see how God’s kingdom is supposed to show itself on earth – God’s kingdom rule, reign, power all should be demonstrated on earth.
The phrase can also mean that the kingdom “will come” (future). So in this way we see the kingdom comes both through God’s people and the end-times final establishment of God’s kingdom on earth with Jesus ruling.
Another of the ways of understanding the Greek word for God’s kingdom to “let come” is “to come into being, arise, come forth, show itself, find place or influence.” So this is what we need to do - rise up and let God's light shine through us.
Like Isaiah 60.1 says, "‘Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you."
God’s kingdom is practical and tangible. We are asking God to build his kingdom here and now on earth in the same way that it is in heaven. God is practical and real. Jesus also paid the full price for us – let’s not live in anything less than his fullness.
When we look into the meaning of the word “kingdom” here, we see all kinds of elements that are relevant for us today. A kingdom is a realm where the king sovereignly rules – the king is King Jesus. This especially means the rule of Jesus in the hearts and lives of believers. So in a sense we’re asking God for more of him in and through us. This is no ordinary power – this is the royal kingship, power and dominion of God in us. Just as land that belongs to the Queen is hers, so we are temples of the Holy Spirit who belong to God. We are also partakers of the growth of the kingdom, its fortunes, its conditions and its blessings and benefits, present and future.
What is God’s kingdom like? It’s seen in the life of Jesus...
Acts 10.38 - “…How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with great power; and He went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with Him.”
Jesus was anointed by God with the Holy Spirit – so are we (the same power that raised Jesus lives in us). The Holy Spirit is a ‘great power’ (another Bible under-statement!) Jesus went around – he got involved. He went around doing good – that’s God-good not world-good but again it’s tangible as well as prayer. Jesus healed all – so that’s all. No-one went without their healing or their touch from God, salvation, miracles except those that resisted him. And we know that this all happened because God was with him. Jesus only did what he saw his father do (John 5.19) so we know what God’s will and kingdom looks like – Jesus!
Let’s also be clear about the root of sickness and evil - satan. There is no sickness, disease, death or evil in heaven and there wasn't any in the Garden of Eden until mankind chose to reject God's will.
The kingdom is also shown through God’s provision for us. On the cross, Jesus paid the complete price for sin and also ‘purchased’ many other things for us. One of those things was God’s provision.
2 Corinthians 8.9 says, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich."
2 Corinthians 9.8 says "And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work) both let us know this."
Then in the Psalms we also read this truth - “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.” (Psalm 23.1).
In Deuteronomy 28.48 (hunger, thirst, nakedness, dire poverty). This shows us what real lack and poverty looks like. The famous Bible teacher called Derek Prince pointed out that Jesus paid the price for all of these individually on the cross. On the cross, Jesus was hungry, thirsty, naked and in dire poverty - even his clothes were sold and gambled for by the soldiers.
Many people twist prosperity to mean financial riches and this can be true for God’s people – but to be truly rich is to have more than enough. Jesus never lacked – he fed 5000 men from fish and loaves (Matt 14.15-21). The disciples were sent out taking nothing but returned saying they lacked nothing (Luke 22.35). The key is that God’s provision and grace is day by day – just as it was for the Israelites in the desert with God providing manna for each day (except Sabbath which saw double the day before). The key point is that God’s provision is for us and to have abundance for every good work.
One thing that God makes clear is that our life is found in him – his provision is more than just the basics of food we need. Jesus repeated Deuteronomy 8.3 when he said that man doesn’t live by bread alone but on every word that God speaks (Matthew 4.4).
When we say yes to Jesus, we become made right with God in our spirits. 2 Corinthians 5.21 tells us that we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus – so we’re made right with God through Jesus. When God looks at us he sees Jesus. However, this doesn’t mean we’re pure all of a sudden. It’s a process – we gradually get changed by God. The Bible says that we shine increasingly brightly(Proverbs 4.18).
Paul tells us not to let sin be in charge of our bodies – but to offer ourselves to God and glorify God.
Romans 6.11-14 - 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
What this means is that we need forgiveness from God and need to be kept pure before him.
If I have a cup and it’s dirty, the water I pour into it will be dirty. Now the cup will still take water and I can still pour the water out. It may be drinkable even. It will refresh you. But it’s not as good as clean water from a clean cup – it’s more pure, it tastes better and there will be more of it. Our lives are a bit like that. When we sin it doesn’t help us or the kingdom of God. People in the world look on at the excesses of the church and the things that happen that are bad and it puts God in a bad light. Then people can turn away from God through nothing that he’s done!
In the same way, forgive other people. At a conference I was at, a woman responded to something said and came to the front, letting go and forgiving something that had happened 13 years before. The woman was prayed for, fell to the ground and got up completely healed. Unforgiveness and bitterness hurts you and hurts others. Nor does it help build the Kingdom of God. So we’re best off without it! Plus the Bible says to confess our sins so that we may be healed (James 5.16). Maybe this is something you need to do today - forgive, forget, let go and move forward.
In the same way we pray against and resist temptation. The fact that we need to pray to God to deliver us shows that we need God’s protection (Psalm 91). As we walk in God’s light and according to God's will, this actually protects us. If we obey God and the Bible, it will keep us out of a whole heap of trouble! We need God's protection!
We also know that God won’t allow us to be tempted beyond what we can cope with and that he will be there to help us through. It also shows that evil is not from God. When we pray, 'lead us not into temptation', this isn't because God leads us into temptation. James 1.13 says that God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. Instead, we're asking God to protect us from temptation and to keep us strong. The fact that God gets us to pray means we need to and that we should!!
When you see all the benefits that God has given us through the Lord's Prayer, why would you not pray it!