“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6: 9-13)
People generally understand the “Lord’s Prayer” as one of petition. As in, perhaps if we repeat this often enough we’ll get these things?
Not me. This disciple sees the prayer as a simple outline of the Gospel—a contract even—to those who would take Jesus on, by faith. In his three year ministry, Jesus presented his Father to the world, revealed the kingdom of heaven and did his Father’s will as he was provided everything he needed. Jesus also forgave, resisted temptation and stayed away from evil.
That’s the prayer.
The pivotal and most demanding part of the prayer is right in the middle. Forgiveness. That was the point of first contact—God’s kindness toward me. But now because Jesus forgave, we’re pressured to forgive others. Cuts right to the heart, doesn’t it? (I think it’s meant to.) But I’ll take it as an object lesson.
Demonstrated in the Gospel, forgiveness isn’t a piecemeal operation—it’s absolute, once and for all. And in the prayer, it’s a bi-lateral agreement. But if God has forgiven me, and I have forgiven others, who is left to judge? Absent of such judgment, all I can have is faith—faith which in this case is an assurance and confidence in God, not in his promises or my expectations (Heb. 11). Jesus set the example of a faith that entrusts judgment of good and evil to “the one who judges justly” (1Pet. 2:23). Outright forgiveness is hard, but this I can do.
So forgiveness is really about who gets to judge. (Wasn’t that what the warning in the Garden was about? – Gen. 3) But having turned over my rights to judgment (“your will be done”), God and I are going to be bonded together (Matt. 11:29). From now on.
Following this section, the prayer then says, “Lead us.” This is a disciple’s response to Jesus’ original request of, “Follow me” (Mark 1:17). Now, where Jesus has gone already (see above), it’s my turn (Rom. 8:29). Understanding doesn’t come all at once, but God doesn’t rebuke (James 1:5). And bonded in this way with him, he explains his business as we go along (John 15:15). One-on-one.