Prayer might be the only thing many believers can do; and prayer might be the only thing on which many believers across the denominational streams agree. Therefore, even here, the enemy comes in to bring inaction or disunity!
Let’s pray now together the prayer, commonly known as the “Lord’s Prayer”, but which is better described as the prayer pattern which Jesus taught His disciples and brothers to pray. Yeshua’s prayer in John 17 is definitely the Lord’s prayer! (Even now He intercedes for us!)
Mt 6:9-13 . . . Our Father, who is in Heaven, hallowed be Your name, (10) Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. (11) Give us this day our daily bread; (12) and forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors. (13) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil. For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
Prayer is the life-breath of a believer in the living God. It is natural communication with God, our Father in Heaven. Prayer indicates a close, personal, loving, free relationship and fellowship between Him and the believer in Him through our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. In the short epistle of Jude, it is written that we should pray in the Holy Spirit (Jude 20). And this is in the context of the end-times. All of the prayers that we have in the Scriptures are prayers in the Holy Spirit: they are according to the mind and heart of YHVH God, according to the circumstances and covenantal responsibilities and expectations. (Heb 12:22-24) So surely the manner of prayer which the Lord Yeshua teaches His disciples is one in the Holy Spirit. Praying in the Holy Spirit does not only mean to pray in tongues, but is for every believer.
Mt 6:5-15 And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward. (6) But you, when you pray, enter into your room. And shutting your door, pray to your Father in secret; and your Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly. (7) But when you pray, do not use vain repetitions, as the Gentiles. For they think that in their many words they shall be heard. (8) Therefore do not be like them, for your Father knows what things you have need of, before you ask Him. (9) Therefore pray in this way: Our Father, who is in Heaven, hallowed be Your name. (10) Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. (11) Give us this day our daily bread; (12) and forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors. (13) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil. For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. (14) For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; (15) but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Yeshua begins by telling us how not to pray! First of all, He says not to be like hypocrites who only want to impress others with their public prayers; but their private prayer life may be non-existent; or else, they want to impress people with their religious piety. God is not impressed in any positive way by this! Most of our prayer life will be in secret. After all, the apostle Paul writes that we should pray at all times. There is a place and time for corporate prayer, and we have examples of that, too, in the Bible. Both are appropriate; but mostly we need to develop our communication with God our Father in our private time and place, and this will rightly influence our public prayers, as well.
Yeshua also tells us not to simply repeat the same prayers or words over-and-over again, like some mantra or magic, as if this will cause God to answer us like we want. Every human wants basic necessities, such as food and clothing. Our Father in Heaven knows that also includes us! If we seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, we will not be worrying about our basic needs like unbelievers do; and the Lord tells us that our Father will provide these things to us as we seek first His interests and His ways. (Mt 6:31-34;cp Gen 28:20-21) We are to pray with faith, and with understanding of God’s will.
We are praying to a personal God (Hos 2:16), who is living and hears our prayers, and loves and cares about us as a Father. Through the gospel, God has become our Father in a personal way. In Judaism, they acknowledge God is a Father to Israel, and we see this through the Old Testament (e.g. Ex 4:22; Dt 32:6; Jer 31:9; Jn 8:41-42). Through the gospel and the New Testament, each believer has received the spirit of adoption to call God, “Abba, Father”. (Rom 8:14-17) The veil has been rent through Yeshua’s sacrificial death, and we have direct and open access to the Throne of God, Maker of Heaven and Earth!
In this prayer for disciples and God’s family, the Lord teaches us to focus on our Father and His interests. As children of God, we are to honor Him, and to desire that His will be done, not what seems necessarily right to us. We humble ourselves before Him, being under His authority. It is an occasion of self-judgment, acknowledging our need for forgiveness of our own sins, and our obligation to be merciful and forgive others who have sinned against us.
In other religions, their gods can be anything and anywhere. The God of Israel is in Heaven! In other religions, even those who claim to worship a god in Heaven, they do not relate to Him as to a Father: there is no personal relationship, no knowledge of a Person – whether unto God, or whether Him unto us/me. Jesus teaches us to pray to our Father in Heaven. Even Messiah prayed to God His Father n Heaven, and not to Himself, although He is God in the flesh, and the fullness of the Godhead was in Him. Also notice, we come to God our Father as part of a larger family: we pray to our Father, recognizing that we are not alone to know Him as the Father, and we seek His interests and our needs collectively, and not selfishly. Our Father in Heaven loves each and all of us, and we are to love one another with His love.
The very first matter of prayerful priority is that our Father’s name be sanctified. As His children, our lifestyle and choices should demonstrate that it matters to us how we conduct our lives, how we dress and speak and eat, how others would think of our Father’s good name by the way they perceive us. We should take an active interest in His business. (Lk 2:49; Jn 5:16-19; Jn 6:29) This is one way we show that this element of Holy Spirit prayer matters to us as far as I have a part in it. We are not to carry His name in vain.
Another way that our Father’s name is sanctified we learn from the Scriptures by what He Himself has told us:
Eze 36:17-28 Son of man, when the house of Israel lived in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings, even as the defilement of woman’s impurity, their way was before Me. (18) So I poured My fury on them, because of the blood that they had shed on the land, and for their idols by which they defiled it. (19) And I scattered them among the nations, and they were scattered through the lands. I judged them according to their way and according to their doings. (20) And when they entered the nations where they went, they even profaned My holy name by saying to them, These are the people of Yehovah, and they are gone out of His land. (21) But I had pity for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations where they went. (22) Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord Yehovah: I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. (23) And I will sanctify My great name, which was profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. And the nations shall know that I am Yehovah, says the Lord Yehovah, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. (24) For I will take you from among the nations and gather you out of all lands, and will gather you into your own land. (25) And I will sprinkle clean waters on you, and you shall be clean. I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from your idols. (26) And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. (27) And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My judgments and do them. (28) And you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers. And you shall be My people, and I will be your God.
Eze 38:14-17 So, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog, Thus says the Lord Yehovah: In that day when My people of Israel dwells securely, shall you not know it? (15) And you shall come from your place out of the recesses of the north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great company and a mighty army. (16) And you shall come up on My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land. It shall be in the last days, and I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me when I shall be sanctified in you, O Gog, before their eyes. (17) Thus says the Lord Yehovah: Are you he of whom I have spoken in former days, by the hand of My servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied in those days and years that I would bring you against them?
Eze 38:23 So I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself. And I will be known in the eyes of many nations,and they shall know that I am Yehovah.
Eze 39:6-8 And I will send a fire on Magog, and on the secure inhabitants of the coasts. And they shall know that I am Yehovah. (7) And I will make My holy name known in the midst of My people Israel. And I will not let them profane My holy name any more. And the nations shall know that I am Yehovah, the Holy One in Israel. (8) Behold, it is coming, and it will be done, says the Lord Yehovah. This is the day of which I have spoken.
Eze 39:25-29 Therefore thus says the Lord Yehovah: And I will return the captivity of Jacob, and will have mercy on the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for My holy name; (26) after they have borne their shame and all their sins by which they have sinned against Me, when they dwell securely in their land and no one terrifies; (27) when I have brought them again from the peoples, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; (28) then they shall know that I am Yehovah their God who exiled them among the nations, but I have gathered them to their own land, and have not left any of them there. (29) Nor will I hide My face from them any more, for I have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel, says the Lord Yehovah.
Yehovah God has told us that His name will be hallowed/sanctified when His people Israel is saved and no longer profaning His Holy name, and they are dwelling safely and permanently in the Land of Israel, which He promised to give them, and when their enemies are defeated who had thought that He is less than the God Most High that He is, and YHVH is still the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob! This is written in the context of the last days. The sanctification of God our Father’s name is of the highest priority with Jesus. Is it with us? Do we know and understand the will and the plan of our God? (I thank Keith Parker for this insight.)
Yeshua goes on to teach us to pray for the Father’s kingdom to come, and for His will to be done on Earth as in Heaven. This is connected with the sanctification of His name, when He finally restores the Kingdom to Israel and over all the nations. The whole creation is waiting for this! (Acts 1:6-8; Rom 8:19-23; Rev 11:15) Although we have tasted of the Kingdom of God when we are born-again and baptized with the Holy Spirit, and we are being sanctified through our faith in Yeshua, the Church is not the Kingdom of God, and we know that God’s will is not being done even within ourselves as it ought, nor is our Father’s and His Son’s name being hallowed as He deserves and requires. The reality of the Kingdom awaits the return of the Lord to establish it — what is called the Millennial Kingdom — and His kingdom will never pass away.
The Lord then, after setting the highest priority, teaches us that we can ask our Father for our daily bread – physical and spiritual. Again, it is a request with the interest of our other brothers and sisters in mind, as well as our own need. So, too, is the request for forgiveness: most of us need to be forgiven, and we are to care for one another’s peace and blessing from our heavenly Father.
But, now, there is a condition placed on this request for forgiveness: it is dependent on our forgiving others, whether financial debts or any other form of offense. This is the righteousness of God, and a condition for our fellowship with Him to be full. It is also identifying with Jesus in His sufferings for our redemption and salvation, who asked His Father to forgive us for all of our iniquity and transgressions and sin against Him. Although I do not believe this is an issue of salvation for the believer, nonetheless our fellowship with the Father and with the Son, and with one another, will not be healthy, nor will it contribute to the honor and holiness of our Father’s name. This is a great challenge for us, and also a cause of stumbling to others – even for unbelievers — when we do not forgive. It is a condition on the unconditional grace which we have received for the price paid for our adoption. It should of great concern to any child of God, and our own spiritual fruitfulness is dependent upon it. (Mt 18:21-35)
Next, Jesus would have us know that there is danger in the world, and that we are able to get into trouble, and to become captive to evil, including to the evil one, the devil and the antichrist. By asking our Father not to lead us into temptation, we acknowledge that there is danger, and we want Him to protect us from deception; yet we bear a personal responsibility, as well, to keep ourselves from evil in the fear of the Lord.
Lastly, the Lord closes with a ‘statement of faith’ for us to proclaim: the kingdom is not the evil one’s, but our Father’s and of His Son! And to Him is the power and the glory forever! While we are praying for His Kingdom to come, we also declare now by faith that it is already in His hands, despite what we see or feel or need now.
Let us pray again this form of prayer which our Lord has taught us, and being more mindful of the content and the intent of what we pray: our focus in the Holy Spirit is God-centered, on our Father’s holy name which is currently being profaned by His own people – both Jews and Christians – and by the Gentiles and His enemies; our vision is to be the coming again of Jesus to establish God’s kingdom back to Israel and over all the Earth; God is our primary Provider, being our Father; the absolute necessity to forgive others; protection from being led astray by deceitful temptations; the proclamation and praise of the truth that our God reigns! HalleluYah!
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, May 21, 2016, and reposted with permission.