Today in Sunday School we talked about the Lord’s Prayer and various ways to read it. Apart from my frustration that the coming kingdom of God element was not given the proper weight of discussion, it was overall a fine class. Here are some of my initial thoughts based on the discussions:
1- Matt. 6:7 has Jesus warning his disciples not to pray with “meaningless repetition,” which, sadly, most Christians do when they think of/pray this prayer.
2- Jesus commands believers to pray to the Father, not to himself. Jesus is never prayed to in the Bible, despite the mistranslation of Acts 7:59 in the NIV and NRSV.
3- I think that the book of John shows how early Christians were reading this prayer. John 17 is a place where Jesus gives an entire chapter to a prayer which upon careful examination, actually fits the model of the Lord’s Prayer. Consider the following:
‘Our Father who are in heaven’ – ‘Father’ opens the prayer in John 17.1 cf. vv. 5, 11, 21, 24, 25. Jesus looks up into heaven in v. 1.
‘Hallowed be thy name’ – Cf. the mention of ‘name’ in vv. 6, 11, 12, and 26. Also the use of “glory” language in vv. 1, 4-5, 10, 22, 24 along with the use of “holy” language in vv. 11, 17, and 19.
‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ – Jesus has accepted the work the Father gave him (v. 4) and work=the will of God (cf. John 5:30; 6:38-40); and Jesus glorified God on earth (v. 4).
the petition for bread – Jesus speaks of eternal life (vv. 2-3), which is earlier identified with Jesus and the bread of life (6:32-58); and note that 6:34 (‘Lord, give us this bread always’) might show John’s familiarity with the Lord’s Prayer.
the petition for forgiveness – the sanctification of believers (vv. 17-19) is their purification (cf. 15:3).
the petition for deliverance – v. 15 ‘I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one’