Showing posts with label The Lord's Prayer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Lord's Prayer. Show all posts

Sunday, June 7, 2020

A Meditative Riff on the Lord’s Prayer

Father of us all, 
Who is over all things,
Let the beauty of Your name,
The glory of Your goodness,
The faithfulness of Your love,
The brilliance of Your light,
The vibrancy of Your life
Be seen and adored and embraced
Throughout the whole world.

And so, Your kingdom come,
Your will being done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us that bread today.

And so, forgive us, O Lord,
As we forgive everyone everything.
Do not let us be caught in the snare
But deliver us from evil—
From doing evil to others,
And from evil done to us.

For this is Your kingdom,
And this is Your power,
And this is Your glory
Now and forever.
Truly, it is so.

The image above is of a Russian icon from about 1800. It is a visual presentation of the Lord’s Prayer. “The prayer ‘Our Father’ rendered allegorically over two register and five scenes each one illustrating a verse; beginning from the central scene at the top frieze, God Father encircled by archangels in a double glory standing for: Our Father, who art in heaven. The lower scenes symbolising the verses: Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil (Adam and Eve in the Paradies).” This description is from “Paradies” is a variation of “Paradise.”

Monday, March 16, 2015

Prove Your Name Holy

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. (Matthew 6:9)
Israel had profaned the name of the LORD by breaking covenant with him, turning from his ways and worshiping false gods. The northern kingdom, Israel, ended up in Assyrian captivity and its tribes scattered or assimilated into the nations. The southern kingdom, Judah, was led off into Babylonian exile, which it endured for seventy years until many were allowed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and the walls. Yet many others remained in exile and dispersed among the nations, although they retained their identity as Jews. However, even those who returned to Judea remained in a sort of exile, being ruled over by other nations and not by their own true king.

By the time Jesus came and began his ministry, Judea had long been under Roman rule and the Jews were waiting for the kingdom of God to come, although various groups had different ideas of how it would arrive and what it would look like. After his baptism and the temptation in the world, Jesus came preaching the gospel: “Repent for the kingdom of God has come near” (Matthew 4:17). That is what his “Sermon on the Mount” is about, to show what the kingdom of God looks like. Within that sermon, he teaches his people how to pray what is traditionally known as “the Lord’s Prayer.” It begins, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” — a very important petition.

The Greek word for “hallowed” means to render or acknowledge something as holy, to venerate it. To be hallowed, then, is to be acknowledged as holy. This first request is for God to cause his name to be recognized and honored as holy once again. It is a kingdom prayer, for it is exactly what God promised his people he would one day do when he set things right in the world. He spoke to them in their exile about the restoration he would bring. In Ezekiel 36, he spoke particularly about making his name holy before the nations.
Therefore say to the Israelites, “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes. (Ezekiel 36:22-23)
What God was going to do for them, he would do because of his name, not because of anything they had done to deserve it. For they had been faithless, yet God remains faithful. They had failed to keep his ways but God would do a new thing for the sake of his holy name, and it would make all the difference for his people as well:
For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. (Ezekiel 36:24-28)
The prayer for God’s name to be hallowed, then, is very rich and deep. It is no less than the kingdom of God being revealed, transforming his people and putting the world right. It is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah,
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:6-11)

Friday, February 6, 2015

But Deliver Us from the Evil One

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:13*)
Yesterday we saw that Jesus knows how to deal with temptation. Today we will see that he knows how to deliver us from the evil one. This is not about future promise but about present reality — a prayer that has been answered by the victory of the cross and the establishment of God’s kingdom in the world:

Jesus has bound the evil one and plundered his house. “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house” (Matthew 12:28-29; see also Mark 3:23-27 and Luke 11:20-22).

The evil one has been driven out of the world. Jesus said, “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out” (John 12:31). The devil can no longer reign from within the world — all authority in heaven and on earth has now been given to King Jesus (Matthew 28:18) — he can only work his deceits from without. God has “rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (Colossians 1:13).

Jesus has disarmed the “principalities and powers” of the evil one, the demonic influences behind evil rulers and ungodly cultural attitudes and practices. “Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15). Those evil powers cannot stand up to kingdom of God.

Jesus has broken the power of the evil one. “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14).

Jesus has destroyed the works of the evil one. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8).

*All Scriptures in this post are taken from the New International Version.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:13*)
There are two halves to this petition in the Lord’s Prayer: “Lead us not into temptation,” and “deliver us from the evil one.” King Jesus has answered both.

Let’s understand this about temptation: Jesus knows how to deal with it. Immediately after he was baptized (Matthew 3), he was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be temped by the devil (Matthew 4). After forty days and nights of fasting, which was followed by three defining rounds with the devil, he emerged victoriously and began his ministry of preaching the good news that the kingdom of God had arrived.

Jesus dealt with temptation in his own life and prevailed, and he is well able to help you and me as well. The author of Hebrews says: “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted … For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 2:18, 4:15).

The promise we have in him is this: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). That is a comforting assurance, but more wonderful still is what Second Peter tells us:
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (2 Peter 1:3-4)
Everything we need for a godly life has already been given to us, that we may know the one who has called us by his glory and goodness. In Jesus the Messiah we participate in the divine nature. In him we have escaped the corruption in the world that is caused by evil desires. Paul put it this way:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
The life of Jesus the Messiah is now our life — he live in us! It is a life we live by his faithfulness. Let me say it again because it is very important that we understand this: We do not live this life by our own faithfulness but by his. In every trial and every temptation, his life and his faithfulness are always present and at work in us. “In all these things, we are more than conquerors, through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). And the way we overcome  is through faith in him.

Tomorrow we will look at how Jesus delivers us from the evil one.

*All Scriptures in this post, except where noted, are taken from the New International Version.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Bread of That Day

Give us this day our daily bread. (Matthew 6:11)
This, of course, is from the prayer Jesus taught his disciples and in the “Sermon on the Mount” (which I call the “Sermon of Heaven on Earth”). In Luke’s Gospel, where the disciples ask Jesus, “Teach us to pray,” it reads, “Give us day by day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3).

The Greek word for “daily” is only found in these two places. Origen thought it might have been a termed coined by Matthew and Luke to translate the words of Jesus, which were probably Aramaic.

This word is epiousios and likely comes from epiousa, which concerns time and what is to come. Epiousa is found only five times in the New Testament, all in the book of Acts, where four times it refers to the following day and once to the following night (see Acts 7:26, 16:11, 20:15, 21:18, 23:11). There is another word used for “daily” that refers to the day that is already present. It is the word ephemeros, from which we get our English word “ephemeral,” a word that is about what is fleeting. It is used in James 2:15 — but not here in the Lord’s Prayer.

“Daily bread,” then, is about the bread of the day to come. But which day would that be? To answer that, consider the nature of the Lord’s Prayer and of the sermon in which it is found. It is about the kingdom of God, or as it is rendered in Matthew, the kingdom of heaven. At the end of Matthew 4, we see Jesus announcing the good news that the kingdom of God has come. Then in chapters 5-7, we see him preaching the Sermon, which is, from beginning to end, all about the kingdom of God.

Likewise, the prayer Jesus gave them to pray is about the kingdom of God. Immediately before the bit about “daily bread,” the petition is, “Your kingdom, come; Your will, be done on earth as it is in heaven.” And then the request for the bread of the coming day. It is an eschatological request — that is, concerning the “last things,” when everything in God’s plan has been fulfilled and the world has been set right. In other words, the day to come is about the fullness of God’s kingdom age.

So, this is not a prayer that God would give us today the bread that is for today but, rather, give us today that bread that is about that day: Feed us today with the bread of the age to come, the day when all is fulfilled. For the good news announcement is that the kingdom of God has already begun, with Jesus as God’s Anointed King, and will be fully realized on the day King Jesus comes again.

The bread of that day is, in a word, supernatural provision. It may show up in unexpected ways, ways we cannot explain. After all, Jesus knows how to turn water to wine and multiply bread and fish for the multitudes. Shortly after teaching the Lord’s Prayer, and still preaching the Sermon, he said,
Therefore do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow. (Matthew 6:31-34)
Many people seek hard after their provision, and in ways that have no regard for the kingdom of God — ways that often dishonor his kingdom. But if we are seeking the kingdom of God and his way of living in the world, all of our daily needs will be taken care of. There will be no need to worry about tomorrow, for God will always take care of us with the supernatural provision of his kingdom.

The way I pray this, then, is “Give us this day the bread of that day.”

Monday, February 17, 2014

As We Have Forgiven Our Debtors?

Here are a few thoughts I had from a recent discussion I was in concerning the petition for forgiveness in the Lord’s Prayer: “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthews 6:12).

Some have proposed that the Lord’s Prayer — the prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray — is for those who are under the law and does not apply to those who are not. Some even suggest that is it not for Christians today but for some future tribulation period. However, that raises a few questions:
  • First, where do we find anything in the Law to the effect of what Matthew 6:12 says? This petition does not seem to me to be specific to the Law, or even about the Law in a general way.
  • Second, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus also spoke about murder and adultery, and seems to “raise the bar” in regard to the way many thought about them in those days (and still often do today). Does that mean that what He said about those things are not pertinent for us today? Hardly.
  • Third, as I consider the other petitions in that prayer, none of them appear to be about the Law. So why should we suppose that the petition about forgiveness should be understood as being about the Law, when the others are not?
  • Fourth, where do we find any hint that this is only for saints enduring the tribulation period? I don’t see that anywhere in the rest of the Sermon on the Mount, or even in the larger context.
One of the significant things I have found as I have searched the Law of Moses is that it does not appear to address the issue of us forgiving others for their sins against us, much less relating our forgiveness of others with God’s forgiveness of us. On the other hand, as I consider the Gospels, I find quite a bit of Jesus’ teaching is about forgiving others. And I think that tells us something important about the kingdom of God.

The Lord’s Prayer is a kingdom prayer: “Thy kingdom come ... Thine is the kingdom,” it says. It is not only about being forgiven ourselves, it is also about us forgiving each other. This forgiveness is about fellowship, not just our fellowship with God but also our fellowship with each other. This is about the kingdom of God, and that kingdom has already begun through Jesus, God's Messiah King.

The Lord’s Prayer does not allow us to think merely individualistically about our relationship with God and whatever He is doing. Rather, it teaches us how we are to live together as the community of God’s people. We do not address, “My Father,” but “Our Father.” It is not merely, “Give me this day my daily bread,” but “Give us this day our daily bread.” And the petition for forgiveness is not simply, “Forgive me my debts,” but “Forgive us our debts.” It is quite appropriate, then, that Jesus adds these words: “as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

Monday, May 2, 2011

Creation and the Lord’s Prayer

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28)
God created humankind to be His image and be like Him, to represent Him on the earth, to fill the earth with the image of God, to have dominion over the earth and subdue it. To have dominion means to rule over the earth, to exercise authority over it. To subdue the earth means to subordinate it, that is, bring it into order.

God created a garden on the earth for the man and woman to dwell. The whole earth was not a garden, though, only a portion of it. The man and the woman were to take care of the garden, to watch over and protect it. God blessed them and gave them charge over the garden, but also over the whole earth. The work of creation was now done, but the work of subduing and reigning over it was just beginning.

Man is the dust of the ground and the breath of God, created and authorized to represent heaven on earth. The garden God made was perfect and complete, the design of heaven on earth. Man’s role, then, was to bring the rest of the earth into divine order, into proper alignment with the garden God made.

Of course, man rebelled against God, and the earth itself came under a curse because of it. Even so, God had a plan to restore everything into proper relationship between man and God, between man and creation, between man and himself. The good news of the Gospel is that this plan of redemption and restoration is fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah.

Now, let’s jump from the first book of the Old Testament to the first book of the New, to the sermon Jesus preached on the mount (I call it the Sermon of Heaven on Earth). In the middle of His preaching, Jesus taught His disciples how to pray. We call this the Lord’s Prayer, and it is powerful. In it, Jesus gives us authority to subdue the earth and bring it into line with the design of heaven. He teaches us to pray to our Father in heaven: “Your kingdom, come! Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

The dominion over the earth that was corrupted by Adam through rebellion has been restored in the dominion of King Jesus and He has privileged us to share it with Him. Through this prayer, we exercise His dominion. By this prayer, we subdue the earth. Wherever we find anything out of alignment with the order of heaven, we can pray, “Kingdom of God, come to this place; will of God, be done here as it is in heaven,” and expect that it will be so. Through our prayer and worship, King Jesus changes the world and fulfills the charge God gave the first man and woman.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Lord’s Prayer and Postmillennialism

In a recent chat online, I posted that I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Eschatology is the doctrine of “last things,” i.e., what happens at the end of things. Postmillennialism is basically the view that when Jesus returns, the Church will have been successful in the mission He gave to disciple all nations, teaching and baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:18-20). Someone asked me if this has led me to pray the Lord’s prayer less than Christians did a millennium or two ago. Here is how I answered:
I pray the Lord’s prayer more now that I ever have in my life, and I pray it more aggressively. Wherever I see something out of alignment with heaven, I pray, “Kingdom of God, come! Will of God be done here as in heaven!”

When I pray over someone who is sick, it is, “Kingdom of God, come into this body! Will of God, be done in this body as it is being done in heaven” (because there ain’t no sickness in heaven).

When I hear about the troubles in the world, say in Libya, I pray, “Kingdom of God, come into Libya! Will of God, be done in Libya as it is in heaven.”

My conviction is that the kingdom of God is forcefully advancing in the world, ever since the days of John the Baptist, and forceful men lay hold of it (see A Kingdom Forcefully Advancing). And my confidence is that the kingdom of God will increasingly saturate the earth and the will of God will increasingly be done on earth as it is in heaven. And I am convinced that when we pray the way Jesus taught us to pray, God hears and answers.

I am postmillennial because I believe God intends to answer the Lord’s Prayer. And because I believe that the Great Commission, to make disciples of all nations (not just in all nations) will be fulfilled, because all authority has been given to Jesus in heaven and on earth. That does not cause me to slack off but to move forward with greater passion and assurance.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Make Your Name Famous

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
(Matthew 6:9)
Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.” But what is it that we are really asking? To hallow something means to consecrate it, sanctify it, set it apart from all others, to make it holy. Or to put it another way, to make His name famous. “Your name, be made famous.” Grammatically, this is in the imperative mood. Conceptually, it is a divine passive. That is, we are calling for God to make His name holy — on earth as it is in heaven.

The Message Bible puts it this way: “Reveal who You are.” This brings out an important aspect: We are asking for a manifestation of who God is, for God to reveal Himself in the world, and thus cause His name to be recognized as holy. This is not a new idea Jesus is introducing but one that is rooted prophetically in the Old Testament. What is new, though, is the timing. Jesus brings it at the kairos moment, the point where everything was coming together in a way that would change the world forever.

Remember, Jesus began His ministry preaching, “The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15). In Luke 4, He lays out the charter of the kingdom in terms of Isaiah 61, and declares, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” The Sermon on the Mount, which is where we find the Lord’s Prayer and “hallowed be Your name,” functions in much the same way.

Now, let’s look at what the hallowing of God’s name means prophetically, first in Ezekiel, then in Isaiah:
For on My holy mountain, on the mountain height of Israel,” says the Lord GOD, “there all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, shall serve Me; there I will accept them, and there I will require your offerings and the firstfruits of your sacrifices, together with all your holy things. I will accept you as a sweet aroma when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered; and I will be hallowed in you before the Gentiles. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for which I raised My hand in an oath to give to your fathers. (Ezekiel 20:40-42)

Thus says the Lord GOD: “When I have gathered the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and am hallowed in them in the sight of the Gentiles, then they will dwell in their own land which I gave to My servant Jacob. And they will dwell safely there, build houses, and plant vineyards; yes, they will dwell securely, when I execute judgments on all those around them who despise them. Then they shall know that I am the LORD their God.” (Ezekiel 28:25-26)

Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Now I will bring back the captives of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name — after they have borne their shame, and all their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, when they dwelt safely in their own land and no one made them afraid. When I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and I am hallowed in them in the sight of many nations, then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer. And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,” says the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 39:25-29)
Israel was held captive in foreign lands because of her unfaithfulness to God’s covenant in going after other gods and committing spiritual adultery. Even so, God promised that He would one day finally bring her home from exile. She would be accepted by God forever and He would fulfill the covenant He made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. No more would He hide His face, but He would pour out His Spirit on her. By this great act of deliverance, God would hallow His name and cause all the nations to know that He is God and there is none like Him. Isaiah likewise picks up this theme.
Therefore thus says the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob:

“Jacob shall not now be ashamed,
Nor shall his face now grow pale;
But when he sees his children,
The work of My hands, in his midst,
They will hallow My name,
And hallow the Holy One of Jacob,
And fear the God of Israel.
These also who erred in spirit will come to understanding,
And those who complained will learn doctrine.”
(Isaiah 29:22-24)

Surely the coastlands shall wait for Me;
And the ships of Tarshish will come first,
To bring your sons from afar,
Their silver and their gold with them,
To the name of the LORD your God,
And to the Holy One of Israel,
Because He has glorified you.
(Isaiah 60:9)
This redemption would also cause Israel herself to recognize the holiness of His name. The nations would not only bring her sons home but would also bring tribute to the name of her God, Yahweh (which is the name that the word, “LORD” in all caps, signifies). They would all honor Him as the Holy One because of the glory with which He would adorn Israel. Even the psalm writers note how great a cause for praise this would be.
Save us, O LORD our God,
And gather us from among the Gentiles,
To give thanks to Your holy name,
To triumph in Your praise.
(Psalm 106:47)

He has sent redemption to His people;
He has commanded His covenant forever:
Holy and awesome is His name.
(Psalm 111:9)
All this began to be fulfilled when King Jesus the Messiah came and proclaimed the kingdom of God was at hand. We see it in His reading of Isaiah 61 in the synagogue:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
(Luke 43:18-19)
This is the good news Israel had been waiting for. Healing for the broken in heart, freedom for the captives, recovery of sight, liberty for the oppressed. With the words, “Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing,” Jesus was proclaiming that the “acceptable year of the LORD,” the time of God’s favor, had come. It came in the person of Israel’s Messiah King, Jesus. Through His death, burial and resurrection, He brought deliverance and forgiveness. Through the pouring out of His Spirit upon all who believed the good news, He fulfilled His promise to Israel and extended it to the nations.

When we pray, as Jesus taught us, “Our Father in heaven, make Your name holy and reveal who You are,” we are hastening the completion of what He has already begun. We are in a new time, a kingdom time when the God of Israel, His kingdom and Messiah is being proclaimed to all the world. He will continue to make His name known until His will is completely done on earth as it is in heaven.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pressing for the Kingdom

Kingdom of God, come! Will of God, be done one earth as it is in heaven! (Matthew 6:10, my paraphrase)
This is how Jesus taught His disciples to pray. The mood is imperative, “Your kingdom, come! Your will, be done on earth as it is in heaven!”

This is not a one-off prayer. It is not plaintive and passive. It is active and authoritative. It is not a “wait and see” prayer, the kind many people pray. It is a prayer that fully expects God’s kingdom to enter in to any given situation, and the will of God to be done in that situation just as it is being done in heaven. It is not, “Your kingdom, come — if it be Thy will,” or, “Your kingdom, come — whatever will be will be,” or “We’ll see.”

The kingdom of God is His rule and reign, His will being done on earth exactly as it is in heaven. Jesus teaches us to press for it to come — and to keep coming — into the world. Wherever we find anything out of joint with the will of heaven, we press for it to line up — and keep lining up — until it is perfectly aligned with God.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Authentic Prayer Requires a Forgiving Heart

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15)
The prayer model Jesus gave His disciples said, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Now He gives the matter special attention. I believe this is because unwillingness to forgive is one of the most powerful hindrances to prayer. Eugene Peterson, in The Message, gives his commentary on this passage: “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others.”

Jesus also addresses unforgiveness in another place, in the same context where He teaches the disciples about mountain-moving prayer and faith:
Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. (Mark 11:22-25)
As powerful and effective prayer and faith are, even to the moving of mountains, if we do not forgive others, we are not in a position for God to hear us. When we do not forgive others, we are still in unrepentance and not yet ready to receive forgiveness. But when we do forgive others, we are better able to hear the Father’s heart and pray in agreement with it. For His desire is to forgive, and when we pray in agreement with His will, we can know that He hears us, and knowing that He hears us, we can know that we will receive whatever we ask (1 John 5:14-15).

Authentic prayer requires a forgiving heart.

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth
Keys to the Kingdom of God
in the Gospel of Matthew

by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Prayer of Heaven on Earth

In this manner, therefore, pray:

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 forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
(Matthew 6:9-13)
Jesus teaches us to pray, not to be seen of men, as the hypocrites do, nor with magic and manipulation, like the heathen, but simply, directly, secretly and from the heart. This is the kind of prayer that honors God and opens heaven. It is the kind that the Father regards and rewards.

“In this manner, therefore, pray.” Jesus gives us a model prayer. It is not to be prayed merely by rote, but with understanding and faith. It is a way of praying that checks our motives and calibrates our hearts, lining us up with the heart of God. The lines are simple, yet profound, and serve as a springboard for meditation and a profitable devotional life. As one spiritual director told his charge, when asked how to pray, “Pray the Lord’s Prayer, but take an hour to do it.”

This way is generally known as “The Lord’s Prayer,” but is sometimes regarded as “The Disciples’ Prayer” because it is how Jesus taught His disciples to pray. But I call it “The Prayer of Heaven on Earth” because it is about the kingdom of heaven being manifested in the here and now.
  • Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. This kind of prayer seeks, not our own glory, but that of our heavenly Father. It is about His unique greatness and goodness being made known, God revealing Himself on earth.
  • Your kingdom come; Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The kingdom of God is the kingdom of heaven. It is His rule and reign, His will being done on earth as it is in heaven.
  • Give us this day our daily bread. “Daily bread” is literally the “bread of the coming day,” the bread of tomorrow. In the context of the coming kingdom, it is speaking of the provision of that day when God’s reign is fully revealed on earth. In the meantime, we can receive that provision as we need it.
  • And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. This is a revealer of hearts, both that of God as well as our own. We are forgiven by our Father in heaven, but He also requires us to forgive our brother on earth. This may well be our hardest task, and Jesus will have more to say about it.
  • And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Jesus came to destroy the devil and all his works (Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8). “Temptation” is a test or trial. God promises that there is no temptation or trial that will be too great for us, but that He will always gives us a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). This prayer lays hold of that escape, and the victory Jesus has won for us over the evil one.
  • For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. Here again, it is God’s kingdom, God’s power and God’s glory in view, on earth as it is in heaven.
Jesus straightens out our priorities and motivations by teaching us how to pray for the kingdom of heaven to manifest on earth.

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth
Keys to the Kingdom of God
in the Gospel of Matthew

by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Life is God's Dream

A man in my Tuesday morning Bible study group told how, when he was little, his father went out and carved these words on a tree: Life is a dream. “And you know what?” my friend said, “Life really is a dream. It's God's dream.”

I agree.

I remember reading a book, a few years back, that was called Between the Dreaming and the Coming True: The Road Home to God by Robert Benson. God has a dream, and we are living in the time between when He first dreamed it and when it fully comes to pass.

Since God is sovereign, another word for “dream” in this context is “will.” That is, God's dream is God's will; God's will is God's dream. It is His desire, His plan, His passion.

The amazing thing is that you and I get to be a part of that dream. That's why Jesus came to bring us back to the Father, so we could share the dream with Him. Jesus' preaching was all about God's dream — He called it the “kingdom of heaven.” It is God's kingdom, God's dream.

Not only do we get to be a part of God's dream, we also get to be part of bringing it into manifestation. In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom, come. Your will, be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We may just as well say, “Your dream come true on earth as it is in heaven.” God's dream has been fulfilled in heaven, and His plan is for it to be revealed on earth in the same way.

God has a dream for you and me. It is not a nightmare, but a manifestation of heaven on earth. We enter into that dream by receiving the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Monday, July 31, 2006

World-Changing Prayer

Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)
These sentences from the prayer Jesus taught us to pray are cast in the imperative mood. The primary use of an imperative is as command:
Kingdom of God, come! Will of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Some have noted that the imperative mood can have a secondary function as an “imperative entreaty,” that is, for example, as a request one makes of deity. But either way you wish to understand it — command or request — the real point to be understand is that it is an active sense of prayer, not a passive one.
  • It is a prayer you pray with full expectation of it being fulfilled, because it is manifestly the will of God for His kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
  • It is not a prayer you pray and then give up on when it does not seem to be coming to pass, saying, “Oh well, I guess it just wasn’t God’s will.”
  • It is a prayer you keep pressing until it does come to pass.
  • It is not a prayer you wish God would fulfill, or hope God will fulfill; it is a prayer that you expect God to fulfill because He has already expressed His will about it.
  • Jesus specifically taught us to pray in this way, so we should have every expectation that when we do, it will come to pass.
  • It is not a prayer that ignores the will of God, or tries to overcome the will of God; it is a prayer that enforces the will of God, pressing for it to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
  • It is not a sweet little prayer of acquiescence; it is a powerful, dynamic, life-changing, world-changing prayer by which we cooperate with God to see His will being done on earth as it is in heaven.
In this prayer, I do not acquiesce to the will of God — rather, I am counting on the will of God. I expect it to be done fully and completely — and today will not be too soon. In this prayer, I engage with the will of God, and where I see things out of alignment with it, I call for the will of God to be done in those things just as it is being done in heaven. I am full of joy that the will of God will indeed be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The Lord’s prayer is about much more than changing our little minds and adjusting our little attitudes and believing God for our own little needs. It is about more than what God wants to do in us; it is about what God wants to do in the world. As long as we limit this prayer to what God wants to do in us, we are hindering what He wants to do in the world through us. The Lord’s prayer is a mighty big prayer, but so many Christians pray it in such an awfully small way.

Get into alignment with the purposes of God in this world, then step into partnership with Him by calling for His kingdom to come everywhere it does not yet appear. Wherever you see things out of whack with His plan, call for His will to be done there just as it is in heaven. For this is a prayer by which we change the world. We are to pray it until Jesus returns — and expect to see it all happen.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

On Earth as it is in Heaven

Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)
Speaking of this verse, someone asked, “Is there sin in heaven? There is here.” Yes, there is sin here. And sickness. And demonic oppression. And strongholds. And enmity. And unforgiveness. And death. But there are none of those things in heaven.

And that is why Jesus taught us to pray, “Kingdom of God, come! Will of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven!” (the Greek has it in the imperative mood).

If the will of God were already being done on earth as it is in heaven, we would not need to be calling for it. But it is not fully being done yet on earth, and so we call it forth.

The kingdom reign of the Lord Jesus Christ has already begun, and His kingdom has been breaking into the world ever since He came. But it has not yet arrived in all its fullness. We are now living in the in-between time, in between the inauguration and the consummation. Some theologians call this "already/not yet." That is it has already begun, but it is not yet completed.

Our job is to keep calling for the kingdom of God to come and keep coming, and to call for the will of God to be done and keep being done on earth exactly as it in heaven.
  • When we see sickness, we have the authority of the Lord's Prayer to call for the will of God to be done in that sick body just as it is being done in heaven.
  • When we see demonic oppression, we have the authority of the Lord's Prayer to call for the will of God to be done in that person or place just as it is being done in heaven.
  • When we see death, even then we have the authority of the Lord's Prayer to call for the will of God to be done in that body as it is in heaven.
  • Where there is sin, we have the authority to call for the name of God to be hallowed (that, too, is in the imperative mood), for the kingdom of God to come, and for the will of God to be done on earth as it is in heaven. And we have the further authority to preach the good news of Jesus Christ, who came to destroy the works of the devil, take away the sins of the world and reconcile us to the Father.
Church history is full of people being healed and demons being exorcised. There have also been many people raised from the dead in the name of Jesus. These have all been increasing in these latter days.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we have the privilege to pray the prayer the Lord Jesus taught His disciples, and it is a very powerful, world-changing prayer. It does not happen by a passive and rote recital of the words (that would be treating the Lord's Prayer as nothing more than magic), but by an active exercise of the authority we have been given therein.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Kingdom, Power and Glory

Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (Matthew 6:13)
This is, of course, the closing doxology of what we have come to know as the Lord’s Prayer. The two main features of a doxology are the ascription of glory (the Greek word is doxa) and the declaration of eternality. Not only does all glory and praise rightly and fully belong to God, but it belongs to Him forever and ever.

This part of the Lord’s Prayer tunes us up to the fact that the kingdom, the power and the glory all belong to God. It is all about Him. And yet …

… and yet, He has graciously chosen to make them about us, too.

The kingdom. Jesus tells us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all other things will be added to us. God’s righteousness is His rightness, or as the Amplified Bible puts is, His way of doing and being right (Matthew 6:33). In the kingdom of God, all things are set right—that’s why we pray for it to come, so that the perfect will of God will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).

Paul said, “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).
  • The righteousness of God comes and sets things right on our behalf.
  • The peace of God (no doubt, Paul, being Jewish, would have had the Hebrew shalom in mind) is wholeness, completeness, oneness. As others have said, it means that nothing is missing, nothing is broken. God’s peace comes to make us completely whole in the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Joy is the delight we have in Him and in His presence, for in His presence is fullness of joy, and at His right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).
The power. The kingdom belongs to God, and so does the power. This is the same dunamis power of God by which Jesus performed all His miracles, healings and deliverance. For as Peter preached to Cornelius, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power [dunamis], who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38). These works of power were a demonstration of the kingdom of God in their midst.

This kingdom power comes not only to bring healing to us, but God’s plan is for us to bring salvation and healing to others by this same power. Jesus said, “But you shall receive power [dunamis] when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). We are to do with this power the same thing Jesus did with it: preach the Gospel, heal sickness and disease, and expel demons. For this power is a demonstration that the kingdom of God is in our midst. It is this same power that Paul spoke of in one of his doxologies:
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power [dunamis] that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
The glory. Not only the kingdom and the power, but the glory belongs to God as well. But God invites us to enjoy this glory with Him.
For the LORD God is a sun and a shield;
The LORD will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
(Psalm 84:11)
The upright are those who walk by faith. For Abraham “believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to Him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). Paul said, “For [God] made [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

God gives His people grace and glory, or as the NIV puts it, “favor and honor.” Glory is the manifestation of God’s greatness and goodness, and He does not withhold any good thing from those who have been made righteous in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The glory God has for us is the exact same glory He has given to the Lord Jesus Christ. For on the night before He was crucified, Jesus prayed this prayer at Gethsemane:
I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that thy also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me; and have loved them as You have loved Me. (John 17:20-23)
The kingdom, the power and the glory all belong to God, but out of His great favor and honor, He has blessed us to enjoy the benefits of them with Him.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Painting the Target

Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)
Many modern weapons use laser-guidance technology. A laser is used to “paint” the target, and the laser-guided weapon locks on to this signal with pinpoint accuracy. It’s quite effective.

Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Notice that this is in the imperative mood. It is not a polite request, but a powerful command: Kingdom of God, come! Will of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven!

This is a most potent weapon in our spiritual arsenal as we do battle against the evil one, enforcing the victory of Jesus over all his works. Think of it as painting the target.

Wherever we see the works of poverty, sickness, demonic bondage — anything that does not line up with the kingdom of God and His rightness — we can shine this laser beam on it and give the order, “Kingdom of God, come right here!” Wherever we see things that are out of order with the will of God, we can paint the target and call for the will of God to be done there on earth exactly as it is being done in heaven.

As long as we are in this life, until Jesus comes, we are in spiritual warfare. But Paul gives us this wonderful assurance:
Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every though into captivity to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
In the Lord’s Prayer, the Lord Jesus has given us a very powerful weapon for this warfare.

Know your weapon. Lock and load. Paint your target with the laser light of prayer.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Pleasure of God on Earth

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)
This line is, of course, from the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer Jesus authorized us to pray. It is in the imperative mood; that is, it is a command: Will of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The Greek word for “will” has a semantic range which includes these meanings: determination, choice, purpose, inclination, decree, pleasure, desire, will.

So we might also pray this way:
  • Determination of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven.
  • Choice of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven.
  • Purpose of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven.
  • Inclination of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven.
  • Decree of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven.
  • Pleasure of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven.
  • Desire of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven.
We are authorized to announce God’s determinations and choices, to articulate His purposes, manifest His inclinations, and declare His decrees. To us is given the joy of calling for His pleasure and desire to be fulfilled on earth as they are in heaven.

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Established in Heaven and Earth

Forever, O LORD,
Your Word is settled in heaven.
Your faithfulness endures to all generations;
You established the earth, and it abides.
(Psalm 119:89-90)
Whatever God settles in heaven is established on the earth. Everything — everything — is established by the Word of God. Whatever God says endures, it abides forever. It is what His faithfulness is about. God means everything He says; He believes it and fully expects it to be completely fulfilled.
By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11:3)
The worlds were framed by the Word of God. The word for “world” literally means “ages,” but by implication refers to everything that exists. The word for “framed” means to be perfectly joined together, thoroughly completed and brought into order. In other words, everything that exists was perfectly joined together, thoroughly completed and brought into order by the Word of God.

God’s Word embodies His thoughts and His ways.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways my ways,” says the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain comes down,
And the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater;
So shall My Word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
(Isaiah 55:8-11)
Whatever God says in heaven shall be accomplished, completely fulfilled on the earth.

Everyone who has received the Lord Jesus Christ and become His disciple has the authority to speak the Word of God on earth and expect to see it come to pass.
Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:18-20)
In the Greek text, the grammatical sense of “will be bound” and “will be loosed” is that whatever we bind or loose on earth will have already been bound or loosed in heaven. This is about the Word of God, for nothing can be established in heaven contrary to the will of God, and the will of God is expressed by the Word of God.

We bind and loose things on earth by speaking the truth of the Word of God. When we agree together on earth, we must be in agreement with the Word of God, and then it will be done for us by our Father in heaven. Our authority is the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the perfect expression of the will and Word of God. When we gather in His name — that is, for His purposes, to act as He would act and ask as He would ask — we have His authority to bring earth into line with heaven.

Remember also that Jesus taught His disciples to pray “Our Father … Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Whatever the Word of God has established in heaven, we can call for it to be established on the earth.

As you read and feed on the Word of God, pay close attention to how it expresses His will in heaven. For as a believer in Jesus Christ, you have every right to call for and expect to see His will done on earth in the same way. Let the Word fill your hearing and your heart (that is how faith comes, Romans 10:17), then begin to pray as Jesus taught. Don’t be afraid to get specific, but target every need you see with what God has said about it in His Word. For His Word, even in your mouth, will fully accomplish His will.

Friday, November 4, 2005

Being Remarkable

Been thinking about what it means to be remarkable. This was spurred on by a couple of books by Seth Godin: The Purple Cow: Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable, and The Big Moo: Stop Trying to Be Perfect and Start Being Remarkable.

It has occurred to me that being remarkable is what holiness is about (see Being Holy). To be holy means to be set apart. In the context of Scripture, it means to be set apart for God’s special purposes. The Bible teaches us that God is holy. That means that He is uniquely and completely set apart. There is nothing else in the universe like Him. He is infinite in all His attributes. He is altogether remarkable.

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “Hallowed be Thy name.” To hallowed means to be recognized as holy. The Message Bible translates this as “Reveal who You are” (see Father, Reveal Who You Are). If holiness is remarkableness, then we can say it this way: “Show how remarkable You are.”

Yes, Lord, show the world how totally unique and remarkable you are!

The Bible says that Jesus came to sanctify us (Hebrews 10:10), that is, to make us holy — set apart for God alone. In other words, He came to make us remarkable.

For years now, my father has operated a nursery for tropical foliage plants, selling them primarily to flower shops. He calls his business Old Weird Harold’s. This name is a play on three things—my father’s given name (Harold), the name of a character developed by Bill Cosby and, more importantly, a verse in Scripture which says, “Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14 KJV — the NKJV says, “His own special people”).

Jesus has redeemed us from all iniquity. He has purified as to be His own special people who have a zeal for good works. Remarkable!

When my father ran a flower shop, he had his sales receipts printed to read, “Old Weird Harold’s Nursery and Emporium — a wholly owned subsidiary of Jesus Christ.”

All those who know the Lord Jesus Christ are holy — wholly owned subsidiaries of Jesus Christ. We belong to God alone — the remarkable people of a remarkable God, called to be remarkably zealous for good works. This is what changes the world.