Welcome back to our study of the Lord’s Prayer! Did you pray it, meditate on it, or take time to talk about its meaning with someone last month? If it impacted you in any way and you’d like to share the ways God is working in your life, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last month we studied the first half of the prayer which deals with our vertical relationship with God. Today we’ll look at the second half of the prayer which addresses our horizontal relationship with others. (Thanks again to Joe Boyd with RightNow Media for thoughts on the Lord’s Prayer!)
(Read chapter six of Matthew for full context.)
“Pray then like this:
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.'”
Give us this day our daily bread
Although it could be hard for us in a different culture to understand, this phrase was probably meant literally. Jesus was not wealthy and the class of citizens He was a part of likely didn’t know where they would get their next meals or how much they would be able to feed their children. Jesus was teaching His disciples that the Father who loves you will feed you if you ask Him.
One of the ways God feeds His children is through other believers. As the kingdom of God grows, Christians give and take care of the others in the body of Christ. If you don’t need to pray for food, answer that prayer for someone else. If you have food, water, a place to stay, friends, family, or an education, you can become part of the solution for someone else who doesn’t! When you pray this phrase, ask God to show you who needs bread and strengthen you to provide it. 1 John 3:17-18 says, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (ESV).
And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors
It’s easy to jump to the hurt and forgiveness application of this phrase. And that’s definitely a crucial interpretation of it– God our Father has loved us, fed us, and forgiven us; therefore, we can love, feed, serve, and forgive others to show them that love too. It’s important when we pray this phrase to think through who has harmed us and how we can forgive them while recognizing our need of forgiveness from the Father.
Another interpretation, however, is more literal. Early Christians became known as financial debt forgivers. In doing this they created a very real sense of the forgiveness of God for those who owed them money. It’s good to look at the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 to see the power of forgiving a debt.
The teachings of Jesus are deeply rooted in grace and forgiveness. When you pray this phrase, ask God who you can forgive, whether that debt be emotional or financial. He will begin to open your eyes to new opportunities to show others the grace He has shown you.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
In prayer, it’s easy to pray about a couple of things we know we struggle with. The real temptation with this prayer, however, could be to forget what we just prayed and live like we don’t believe it. When you pray this phrase, think back through the whole prayer and ask God to deliver you from the temptations to:
· Live a me-centered life
· Believe that God doesn’t care, isn’t present, or isn’t powerful enough
· Have a pessimistic attitude, believe that God isn’t constantly working to bring His kingdom to earth, or place selfish desires over His desires
· Be complacent while people are needy
· Be blind to our own shortcomings in the eyes of God
…and any others that God places on your heart.
If you make a habit of praying this ancient Lord’s Prayer, Christ will begin to speak to your mind and rearrange your thoughts in ways that honor Him. Psalm 119:11 reads, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (ESV). If you store up Christ’s words in your heart, He will refresh you and send you out with a new, kingdom-centered mindset.
This may be a big challenge, but you’re up for it! Pray the Lord’s Prayer every morning this month. Take at least five minutes every time and focus deeply on each phrase and what it’s saying about your relationship with God and others. Ask God to change you through the prayer. It takes about 21 days to make a habit – you can do this!
Tips for Success:
Use a prayer journal to write down each phrase and what God’s saying to you about it that day. Talk to two people this week about this prayer and what you’re learning. We’re praying for you as you continue this journey!