Almost every church-going Christian can recite the prayer in Matthew 6 from memory. In case you are unfamiliar with, or have forgotten, this prayer, it reads:
“9 Our Father who is in the heavens, Your name be sanctified;
10 Your kingdom come; Your will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
Growing up, my dad took me to a Methodist church and we read it at the end of every service, but I had no idea what it meant. It was just the signal that church was almost over and I could go home and change into soccer shorts and a t-shirt. So when I saw that my morning devotional for this week focuses on this prayer I had some mixed feelings. One reaction was to groan and sigh. “Ugh. This again. I already know this.” But I was also curious. “Maybe there’s something here that I’ve never seen before. Some kind of deeper significance that I never understood.”
Luckily, I went with the second reaction and read it even though I wasn’t too excited about it. My devotional splits the prayer in to two parts for study, and that’s what I’m going to do here. The first part is verses 9-10.
“You then pray in this way: Our Father who is in the heavens, Your name be sanctified; Your kingdom come; Your will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth.”
My devotional points out that first of all, the ones praying have to be children of God. Otherwise, how could they say “Father”? And as children of God the ones praying this prayer have the authority, the right, to call God their Father. Isn’t this wonderful? We have the right and the authority to call the God of the universe our Father!
I also appreciate this translation’s use of the word “sanctified” in verse 9 instead of the word “hallowed” that I grew up with. The devotional points out that “To be sanctified means to be separated and distinct from all that is common. On the fallen earth there are many false gods. The worldly people consider our God as being in common with those gods. If we pray for our Father’s name to be sanctified, we should not just utter this with our words. For His name to be sanctified, we should express Him in our living. We must live a sanctified life, a daily life separated from being common.”
I had never considered how the Father’s name would be sanctified or hallowed. I guess I just thought if I said the words, it would somehow happen, almost in a superstitious way. But the devotional points out that as a child of God, I bear the name of my Father. Therefore, in my daily living I have a responsibility to sanctify His name and make sure it is separated from all other “gods” and anything else that is common. The Lord’s name is cursed and spoken evilly of throughout the whole earth. He needs some who would sanctify His name and make it holy. Lord, make me this kind of person! I don’t just want to say these words! I want to live this prayer!
And lastly, the devotional talks about verse 10. “Today the world is not God’s kingdom but His enemy’s kingdom. This is why the Bible says that Satan is the ruler of today’s world (John 12:31). In Satan’s kingdom, the world, there is no righteousness, no peace, and no joy. Romans 14:17 tells us that the reality of the kingdom life is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. In Satan’s kingdom today, there is no joy, because there is no peace.”
Wow. This really opened my eyes to see the real situation on the earth today. I knew that when the Lord comes back He will establish His kingdom, but I guess I didn’t think of it as pushing out or defeating Satan’s kingdom. “We need to pray for the Father’s divine will to be done on earth as in the heavens. This is to bring the heavenly ruling, the kingdom of the heavens, to this earth. Then the Father’s will surely will be done on the earth.”
After reading this devotional my view of this prayer has done a complete 180. It’s not just something to repeat verbatim in a church service. Its more of a blueprint for how to live the Christian life and a skeleton model of what to pray for. I’ve realized that I can take any one of the verses and expand it to apply to the world situation to today and to my daily living. What a wonderful pattern of prayer the Lord gave us!