When the Lord Christ instructed his disciples to pray in the Sermon on the Mount, he left us an idea of what should matter to the believer in times of prayer each day. Christ declared, “This, then, is how you should pray” and then recited the famous prayer.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Right away, the first words we pray are a request to bring glory to God alone, not to ourselves. The Lord’s prayer is a prayer of humility, a recantation of our selfish pride. When we recite the words “hallowed be your name” we are asking God to make his name holy. It’s a recognition of who God really is and if we pray the words with an understanding and open heart, we are letting God have the glory and asking that he be presented as holy in us and through us.
Here’s a thought to consider for these opening words. When we offer these words to God, that is when we request God to make His name holy. What areas in our lives come to mind where we lack giving glory to God? Are we willing to bring glory to God in these areas? Do we ask God to show us these areas in our lives?
The second line in the prayer, the one about God’s kingdom coming and His will being done on earth like in heaven, points to a deep theme throughout Scripture and the words of Christ throughout the New Testament.
What is God’s kingdom? His dominion and reign.
A kingdom is a physical region that a monarch reigns as supreme authority. If we are taught to ask God to bring His kingdom here on earth, that implies that in some regions, God is not reigning.. After all, one needs to recognize God as King in order to be a part of His Kingdom.
If God is King, we’re not. We are declaring our submission (and our commission) every time we recite this prayer. We come under God’s Lordship as subjects to His will and we do this voluntarily, in response to the salvation offered us by Christ Jesus; and we must look to the will of the Father as demonstrated by Jesus in the gospels to set an example of how we ought to respond to salvation.
The third line invokes to the Lord’s compassion for His children. Jesus tells us to lean on the provision of God by calling out our authentic earthly needs. It’s more than a simple request, but a deep appeal to the heart of God — a reminder of His promise to the needy.
I think, though, we forget what this appeal implies for us, especially in the western “first” world civilisation. We pray the words “give us our daily bread” often without acknowledging the words in John 6:35, where Jesus says, “I am the bread of life..,” stating that He is the sustenance we need. The only sustenance. Of course, in context He meant spiritual sustenance, however it follows that if Christ is our spiritual fulfilment we come to understand that He is both willing and able to provide for our earthly needs as well. He did after all feed 5000 people from just five loaves and two fish. I think we as western Christians have a hard time appealing to the sustaining promise of God because quite often we have not appealed to the spiritual promise of God either. We have lots of stuff that we use to fill ourselves, and these out of our own means. We must allow God to fill us from His.
Of course, these are all things I have struggles with. I am after all still broken, but being restored. It is my continuous expectation and hope to grow in my understanding and acceptance of the calling implied by Christ’s words in this common prayer. I can only hope others will find camaraderie with me as I struggle out of my brokenness to live under the will of God.