Only a few sentences, but so much substance!
The Lord’s Prayer is 2,000 years old and is considered the central prayer of all Christians. It has maintained its place in Holy Scripture and in Christian churches around the world to this day. So what does it express?
The New Apostolic sermons in the month of September will revolve around the core statements and petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. The prayer that Jesus taught His disciples is something of a template for all prayers: it contains the proper balance between praise, thanksgiving, petition, and intercession. At the same time, it is a prayer that is firmly anchored in New Apostolic liturgy, and is prayed by the whole congregation to begin the celebration of Holy Communion. Beyond that, every believer can incorporate the Lord’s Prayer into his or her individual prayer life, especially when he or she finds it difficult to formulate a prayer.
Do we truly hallow God’s name?
“Hallowed be Your name”—this statement is found right at the beginning of the prayer, and constitutes both knowledge and intent alike. It is an obligation for all believers to hold the name of God in reverence and to use it wisely. They glorify and praise the name of God—in both word and deed—and thereby bring their intimate relationship with God to expression. When Jesus in His time warned against using too many words when praying, the appeal behind this admonition was to keep the name of God holy—the entire life of the God-fearing encapsulated in only a single sentence!
Is the kingdom of God already present?
The sermon in the second divine service of September focuses on the plea: “Your kingdom come”. This kingdom is not monosyllabic or unicellular—it can be experienced on several levels: we can experience the kingdom of God in every encounter with Jesus Christ. Today we can experience the kingdom of God in the church of Christ—and the culmination of the kingdom of God still lies hidden in the new creation. Experience it now, and prepare for later—these are the two poles of the kingdom of God. It was already that way at the time of Jesus: when He came to earth, the kingdom of God came to mankind with Him. Not many were able to understand this immediately, but He preached of the coming kingdom of God to humanity, and encouraged the church of the Lord to prepare for this event. “My kingdom is not of this world”—and yet the earthly kingdom of God and the eternal kingdom are one in their elementary alignment!
Does God make the decisions?
“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”—this is easy to pray, especially as part of the liturgical cycle. But what is actually expressed by these words? God reigns in heaven and on earth. The plan of salvation unfolds in accordance with His will. And when we commend our will to His control, we bring to expression that His commandments are to define our thoughts and actions. He has the last word. He decides. He expects us to believe in Jesus Christ, to keep the commandments, and to love ourselves and our neighbour. “It’s as simple as that!”
Does God tempt us?
The sermon on the last Sunday of September deals with the famous—or infamous—plea in the prayer of the Lord: “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Many books have been written about this statement. Does God tempt human beings or not? No, God does not tempt us, but He does permit temptation. These occur in the life of the believer one way or another. Jesus already had to endure these, even before He was able to teach and preach. His desert is our desert—even believing Christians must live through temptations—and grow as a result. After all, if God permits a trial of faith, it is never to cause a person to fall, but rather so that faith can prove itself and thus be strengthened.
This request in the Lord’s Prayer is therefore a central and highly significant question of life: we ask God to ensure that the temptations never become too strong for us, and that He may protect us in times of temptation. We are certain of God’s help in danger! As far as God is concerned, trials of faith have nothing but a positive function, which cannot be cancelled out by the negative intentions of the devil.
Photo: Margaret M Stewart - stock.adobe.com