The so-called “Lord’s Prayer” isn’t actually Jesus’ prayer. It’s a prayer outline He taught his disciples to use when they pray. I’m not starting a one-man crusade to stop calling it the Lord’s Prayer, but I just want to set the record straight. It’s a prayer Jesus was using to teach his followers—that’s you, that’s me—about how to pray effectively.
And Jesus never intended it to be used as a prayer in and of itself; rather, it’s an outline for prayer Jesus taught us to use. He never meant for people just to say it over and over and over as a rote, memorized prayer, most of the time not even thinking about the meaning of the words they are praying. With that in mind, I’m going to be sharing with you how one man used the prayer as an outline. The man was Oral Roberts, a famed “healing evangelist” of the past century. I’ll be using some of what Oral Roberts taught, adding some thoughts of my own and paraphrasing some of his thoughts to make them more clear and meaningful.
One thing that really caught the attention of those first followers of Jesus was that He prayed . . . a lot, and very effectively. When He prayed, things happened! After observing Jesus pray time and time again, the disciples finally asked Him to teach them how to pray. Jesus began by saying, “Pray in this manner.” Jesus was not indicating that this was to be their sole prayer . . . or that those were the only words they should use when they prayed. He meant they were to use this prayer as a model for prayer.
Our Father . . .
Jesus began the prayer He taught the disciples with “Our Father . . . “ The word “Father” as it applies to God was not new. It was used a number of times in the Old Testament before Jesus. It’s just that it wasn’t used very much in a personal and intimate way when people in the Old Testament prayed to God. It was first used in a very personal way by Jesus.
The word Father signified the closeness Jesus and his Father enjoyed and experienced. It meant that Jesus and the Father were intimately and personally related as Father and Son. This intimate relationship with the Father was the new dimension Jesus brought out of the Old Testament into the New Testament and into the NOW of peoples’ lives.
Father Abraham Lincoln
There’s an old story about President Abraham Lincoln and his son, Tad. One day Tad was outside playing on the White House lawn while his father was busy inside with the affairs of the presidency. Tad apparently got into a fight with another boy and came out the loser. He ran into the White House with his lip cut, his nose bleeding, and his clothes torn. When he got to his father’s outer office, there sat several members of the President’s cabinet waiting to see the President. Sobbing, Tad cried out, “I want to see my father!’
In sort of a playful spirit, the Secretary of the Treasury said, “Oh, you wish to see the President of the United States.” Tad yelled, “I want to see my FATHER!” “Well, the Secretary said, “I will take you in to personally see the Chief Executive of the United States.” Tad yelled again, “I want to see my FATHER!” Abraham Lincoln was President, He was the Chief Executive, He was the Commander-in-Chief, He was a great statesman . . . but he was Tad’s father, and Tad wanted to see his father! To Jesus, his Father God stood for affection . . . for confidence . . . for protection . . . for love . . . for intimacy. Jesus was teaching his followers about God being that type of God: Daddy . . . Papa.
God’s Other Names and Titles
Most humans go by a number of names and titles. For example, my real name is William, but I’m most often called Bill. I’m also a son, a husband, a father, a brother, and a grandfather. Different names and titles, but the same person. It’s the same with God; He has different names and titles which disclose various characteristics of who He is and what He’s really like. Here are some of those names and titles with references where they’re found in the Bible:
- Jahweh (fromYAH orJHWH) is God’s covenantal Name—The I Am, The Wholly Self-Existent One (Isaiah 12:2)
- Adonai is another Name used in place of Jahweh.
- El; Elohim (2 Kings 19:15) is God’s transcendant Name—He is the One, True and Living God, the Supreme, Powerful God. The God who alone creates.
- Jahweh-Tsidkenu: God my righteousness (Jer 23:6)
- Jahweh-M’Kadosh: God who cleanses me (Lev 19:2)
- Jahweh-Shalom: God my peace (Judges 6:24)
- Jahweh-Shammah: God is always a Living Presence in my life (Ezek 48:35)
- Jahweh-Rapha: God who heals me (Ex 15:26)
- Jahweh-Jireh: God provides for me (Gen 22:14)
- Jahweh-Nissi: God under whose banner I serve (Ex 17:15)
- Jahweh-Ra’ah: God my Shepherd (Psalm 23)
- Jahweh-Saboath: God, my Commander-In-Chief (1 Sam 17:45)
- El Shaddai: My All-Sufficient One (Psalm 91:1)
- El Olam: The One who is Self-existent and Eternal (Deut 33:27)
- El-Elyon: The Most High God (Genesis 14: 18; Acts 7:48)
- El Roi: The God Who sees me (Genesis 16:13)
- Immanuel: The God who is eternally, fully present in me (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23)
God reveals Himself throughout the Bible with other names and titles, but these few give you a good idea of Who He really is. Taken together, all those names and titles give us a clear picture of Who God is and what He does. When praying to our heavenly Father, I encourage you to invoke the specific name, attribute, or title of God appropriate for the people or situation for which you are praying. or example, if you’re praying for God to meet someone’s overwhelming needs, consider addressing God as Jahweh-Jireh, God our Provider.
Who Is . . .
God is. Jesus said when you pray, pray to Someone who is . . . who never changes. The weather changes. People change. Circumstances change. But God never changes. He is eternally in the NOW of each of our lives—in our total lives, in our “whole person” lives . . . NOW! We have seven-day-a-week lives . . . seven-day-a-week needs . . . and we have a seven-day-a-week God. God is. God is with you every moment, every day, everywhere. GOD IS! NOW! I encourage you to learn to pray to God as Jahweh-Shammah, God who is always a Living Presence in your life, God who declared He never changes, God who proclaimed He will never leave us nor forsake us.
In Heaven . . .
Jesus was not trying to reveal God’s geographical location in some far-off heaven beyond the universe. He was using this term to express the ability and power of God to take care of us and meet our needs here on earth just as He meets all needs in heaven. On another occasion Jesus said: “I have come to give people abundant lives!” When Jesus spoke those words, the world was filled with impossibilities. All around Him, Jesus saw people hemmed in by circumstances, by disease and illness, discrimination, poverty, fear, and failure.
And He knew that IN HEAVEN there were resources for all our needs: living water for our thirst, spiritual food for our hunger, strength for our weaknesses, provision for our poverty, joy for our sorrow, hope in our misery, and love for our loneliness. So Jesus reached up and brought heaven down to earth and gave it to all humanity. He came with outstretched hands filled with the Father’s blessings, with an open heaven to back Him up. Jesus came into the lives of people at their points of need, performing miracles and setting them free.
So Jesus tells us that when we pray, remember that God is our Father in Heaven. And in Heaven there is no shortage of any good thing. God’s provisions to meet your needs are laid end-to-end across heaven waiting to be given to you . . . if you will ask the Father. True prayer for others is often to ask God to take from his abundant, inexhaustible, unlimited resources “in heaven” to meet the overwhelming needs of those on earth for whom you pray. It means to ask God to “open the windows of heaven” and pour blessings into the lives of those for whom you are praying.
We Hallow (Honor) Your Name . . .
Jesus had deep feelings about his Father’s Name. He never used it irreverently . . . or in vain . . . or as an obscenity. He reverenced his Father with great love. And He is saying to you and me, “When you pray, be sure you have reverence for and honor God’s Name.” Lenin was the man who brought Communism to Russia almost a century ago. He is entombed in Red Square in Moscow in a glass “coffin” where people can see him and “honor” him. Each day people walk by either side of his coffin to see his body. Soldiers stand guard. No one is allowed to stop; the lines of visitors keep moving.
Interestingly, not far away is the house where Lenin died. In the room where he spent his last moments, everything has been left untouched. It’s exactly like it was when Lenin died. On a table in the room is a book Lenin was reading before he died. You will be surprised to know it is a book about Jesus—whom Lenin said he did not believe in. The book is open, just lying there. It is written in English, so as Russian people file by the room, they look at the book, smile, and pass on.
Most people don’t know it is a book about Jesus. Lenin died with his fist clenched in hatred. Jesus died with his hands open in love and healing for every human being. When we pray, let us reverence and honor God’s Name and the Name of his Son, Jesus.
Your Kingdom Come . . .
In his teaching and ministering, Jesus seemed very concerned about the nations and kingdoms of this earth. He was even more concerned about another Kingdom . . . a higher Kingdom, a Kingdom not on this earth at the time. We all live in an earthly “kingdom” of one type or another, no matter what it’s really called or what type of government it has. These kingdoms are all limited to time and space on this planet.
For example, Jesus lived in the Roman Empire, a kingdom that had spread over the then-known world. It had conquered many nations and controlled the people who lived in those nations. But Jesus said human kingdoms are not going to fully conquer everybody. Earthly kingdoms can get only so big. But God’s Kingdom is bigger than any earthly kingdoms. And there will come a time when all earthly kingdoms will bow and swear allegiance to God’s Kingdom.
God’s Kingdom is spread on the earth through the Church.
To be continued next month
“Our Father in heaven, reveal who you really are. Set the world right; Do what’s best—as above in heaven, so below here on earth. Give us day by day what we truly need. We are freely and totally forgiven by You. Because of your forgiveness, we forgive others in the same manner. Keep us safe from temptation, from ourselves, and from the devil. You’re in charge above and here below! You can do anything you choose to do!”
–paraphrased from Matthew 6 in the Bible
To Think About This Month
“Look at the free, unfettered, birds in the care of God; I count far more to Him than birds. Look at beautiful flowers which never primp and shop. If God ‘clothes’ them like that, think of what He does for me!”
Life Enrichment Services, Inc
Revised and Updated December 2020