A Few, Not New, Words About The Lord’s Prayer
September 19, 2019
The Lord's Prayer (traditional words to the Our Father)
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 trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer, I maintain, is a Divine Gift to us all. The Lord’s Prayer is evidnece mounting to proof that The Lord Jesus spoke it and recommended it as Messiah, as our Saviour.
This claim I make might sound extravagant and over-egged; I guess we are so used to the words of The Prayer that we sometimes miss its exraordinariness.
As a Prayer it’s very difficult to speak about without sounding utterly against the spirit of it in one’s happliy dissection and handling something so marvellous – like as if I’m trying to be smart and lay out things to you that are over-sophisticated. And like me looking at Jesus and giving you my measure of him – as if my opinion matters in this regard!
I do want to try to awaken in anyone who reads this piece who is not convinced already, just how formidible and wonderful Jesus’ Prayer is. I hope I don’t sound too smartarse.
The Lord’s Prayer is plain and simple and it has in it everything for a person to say to and ask of God - daily.
It gives God His due respect, as far as we who use The Prayer can understand that due; and it begins doing Him due honour and by placing Him in a context for us that we can grasp. Father, hallowed. King of The Kingdom.
The first request is really a statement that - Thy Kingdom come - and with it very soon after - Thy will be done – like Jesus in Gethsemane asking a petition from God but accepting that God’s will is ever primary and primal – yet not my will but Yours. The Kingdom will come - in God’s good time.
This is reinfocrced by – In earth as it is in Heaven – God’s will is always done – and this acknowledgement is reiterated toward the close of The Prayer at – Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory. There’s no questionof us getting uppity with God in our approaches to Him. Our faith tells us He absolutely knows best.
The first petition proper of the Prayer is – Give us this day our daily bread – and we are recommended to ask just enough for the day - and not for stocks of food or wealth – and Jesus tells us point blank in several other places that we are not to look for security and resources outside of God; that we are to aim to fulfill His Word and Jesus’s teaching (same thing) and God will provide, just as he provides for the birds - and sets flowers and grasses in the fields.
It’s daily bread also – not caviare or oysters – it’s sufficient but not overplus – and we are to remember we do not live on bread alone but also and primarily on every Word God utters to men and women.
And then we ask for forgiveness – daily – so it is assumed rightly I guess – that we sin daily. And we ask not just forgiveness but also we acknowledge that God makes our forgiveness conditional upon we ourselves forgiving people who have done ill to us – daily again.
So it’s clear there’s no forgiveness for us unless we also forgive others – a bit like the parable of the Steward in debt to a King who forgives him his debt and the Steward goes out straightaway and throws in jail a debtor to himself – he does not practice the love and kindness shown to him by the King. The King reinstates the debt.
The next petition by us is – Lead us not into temptation – and I tend to see this as saying – save us from becoming tempted to do ill – day on day again. God might test us – as John Milton said of the first man, Adam – God has made us – strong enough to stand but free to fall. But we can rememeber also Jesus’s marvellous seventy times seven recommendation to his disciples, that they should forgive persons
The next line – Deliver us from evil – I think this line couples pretty well with – Lead us not into temptation – because we do, we shall, sin daily – and we need deliverance from our own bad behaviours which can only come from God. We also are asking Him for saftey for our bodies and for our life situations - for the day again.
I’ve spoken about – For Thine is the Kingdom etc – and there is only now the final ending: – For ever and ever. Amen. We then are creatures of a day but God is for always – and so be it, let it be – as means: Amen.
We pay our homage and acknowledge our insiginficance and dependence on God – though despite which He condescends to take notice of us and care for us nonetheless.
There is then nothing else we need or ought to ask for or acknowledge of God daily than what is in this The Lord’s Prayer. To ask for more is folly and maybe sin also. To praise Him less is niggardly and also may be a sin.
The praise and the petitons come in their due order of asking – food for the body – love and forgivenes for the mind and soul, protection from doing and suffering bad things, thanks, and a closing acknowldegement of God’s all power and glory - to provide to us – for us to assent to.
The Prayer sounds a little Janet and John to the ear of someone not realy heeding what is going on when it’s said in their hearing. That’s why I’ve tried to enliven that ear.
But – as if my testimony changes anything -The Lord’s Prayer is a masterpeice and could not have been framed – without The Old Testament – without Jesus having been Incarnated as The Son of God, Divine, and at one with The Father.
There’s a couple of lines in Shapespeare’s The Tempest, his farewell play to the stage and this couple of lines closes his last drama. They are:
“As you from crimes would pardoned be
Let your indulgence set me free”
These lines depend wholly on The Lord’s Prayer for their authority – they are saying in their way: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them who trespass against us”
Shakespeare’s lines are by comparison - although brilliant - in the shadow of Our Lord’s words. The word ‘indulgence’ is a great word to have used. Indulgences were supplied by The Roman Church to forgive the sins of those to whom they applied. But an indulgence also means something we allowed ourselves but shouldn’t have allowed ourselves – like an ice cream or a new piece of clothing we fancy when we don’t really need it.
Often we wouldn’t allow our own indulgences to anyone but ourselves.
So these lines from The Tempest are clever and feelingly deep
Jesus’s words in The Lord’s Prayer don’t use plays on words - no fancy footwork – they are straight down the line – no quibbles, no hidden subtleties. And that is Jesus’s way – to be plain to the plainest person and to hold riches too vast and too valuable for everyone, anyone, to get hold of them all, and regardless of how smart or how sophisticated or not a person is.
Shakespeare is excellent in human terms, but Jesus is much superior; the best; in this madly generous straightforward love and care He gives lavishly to us – not least by having provided to us this wonderful prayer: The Lord’s Prayer