“After this manner therefore pray ye: 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: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”
There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the Lord’s Prayer, or as it is less commonly known, the Disciples’ Prayer is a favourite for millions of people all over the world. Whether it’s a funeral or a wedding, a service of thanksgiving or just a lone sinner in a moment of crisis, the Lord’s Prayer can always be prayed for by those seeking immediate help from the Lord.
But my question remains: is the Lord’s Prayer for the Church?
A friend of our ministry contacted us after listening to my verse-by-verse Bible study on Matthew’s Gospel, requesting I offer a more detailed explanation as to why I approach the Lord’s Prayer in a semi-dispensational way.
As this article unfolds, I hope my stance on not only being a semi-dispensationalist becomes a little clearer, but that I do justice to examining the Lord’s Prayer faithfully, respectfully, and above all, correctly.
So, before I scrub up and attempt to do a methodical and delicate examination on the Lord’s Prayer, I must take a moment or two to give a brief background to Matthew 6:9-13, where we find the Lord Jesus halfway through His Sermon on the Mount speech.
During this section of Holy Writ, we discover the Jewish Messiah speaking to the Jewish people in their Jewish land while still living under the Jewish law, concerning the Jewish Kingdom of Heaven and what God expected from His chosen race the Jews then and during the future Jewish millennial reign. (I intentionally used the term Jewish and Jews repeatedly to underscore this part of Matthew’s gospel as being solely relevant for the Jews. More on this later).
May I say that I believe the Kingdom of Heaven is not necessarily the same as the Kingdom of God. While they appear at times to be the same, one is actually a physical realm (the Kingdom of Heaven when Jesus returns to set up His Jewish Davidic Kingdom at the end of the Great Tribulation) and the other is a spiritual realm (the Kingdom of God for the here and now for those of us saved in the Church Age).
Please allow me to add an important footnote: Jesus came to sharpen the Jewish law by personally demonstrating to His initial audience, and vicariously all of us, just how holy and righteous Jehovah is, while at the same time using the law to show us how sinful and lost man is.
With there being no possible middle ground as far as man is concerned when it comes to reconciling these two facts man is left with one of two options: either he rejects the fact that the law has already judged him and found him guilty and therefore ends up before Jesus at the Great White Throne Judgment, before being cast alive into the lake of fire forever, or he allows the law to crush and convict him, and as such lead Him to Jesus to be fully saved and subsequently reconciled to God through his faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross (1 Tim. 2:5).
With that now being said, please may I invite you to follow along with me, as I further examine Matthew 6:9-13, in verse-by-verse section.
“After this manner therefore pray ye.” The last part of this verse has the words ‘ye.’ Ye is old English for all of you. Its plural use suggests that the Lord wanted His Jewish disciples to pray this prayer together. However this doesn’t negate one praying it on their own, for I have done so myself, but I remain of the belief that this was actually going to be a Jewish corporate prayer for His Jewish disciples and others to pray together during the early days of the Church.
If one looks at the verses prior to this to find out what prompted the disciples to ask Jesus about prayer and praying in the first place, they will see how John’s disciples’ prayed together and therefore Jesus’s disciples also wanted their rabbi to show them how they should pray. So one cannot help but see how this transpired into a Jewish group prayer.
“Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” The term ‘our Father’ is totally Jewish and was only relevant and applicable to the chosen race from the time of Moses to the end of Messiah’s ministry. Paul would later tell us how the Gentiles were lost and alone in the world without God and without hope before God knocked down the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile, and now only has one people, the Church. But historically it would have been totally foreign for any unsaved Gentile to call Jehovah their Father.
“….which art in heaven….” The Triune God, pre the Incarnation was in Heaven, with only a few exceptions of God the Son appearing in the Old Testament (called a Christophany) when He personally appeared in bodily form to commune with Abraham, Moses, Jacob and certain others. So apart from a handful of appearances in Old Testament times, the Trinity has geographically always been in Heaven.
Today when a sinner repents (believes) on the Lord Jesus Christ he/she is not only saved from all past, present and future sins, but they also get to enjoy the presence of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost all residing inside of them forever! This is something only New Testament saints experience. It never happened to Old Testament saints.
The Holy Trinity comes and makes their abode inside the regenerate child of God. Amen. What a wonderful thought indeed!
So the thought of a saved man or woman looking up at the sky and praying to God isn’t really necessary. He is already inside of you, while in Heaven too.
“….Hallowed be thy name.” Few God-fearing Jews would dare utter the sacred name Jehovah in public, let alone in secret, but would call Him the Almighty, Adonai or the Blessed One. In fact, the word ‘God’ is still considered so holy by orthodox Jews that they rarely utter it at all.
Following the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, all those that love Him and have been born again have permanent access to God, and therefore can boldly approach the throne of grace whenever they want to, something which was totally unheard of for the Gentiles in times past, and call the sovereign Lord of the universe, Abba, meaning Father.
In fact, even the Jews in Biblical times were heavily restricted from any personal contact with God, for they were expected to approach Him via the priestly sacrificial temple system, much like Catholics sadly today have to via their priestly man-made mass.
For the true Bible believer, however, Jesus is our Mediator and High Priest and is always ready and willing to intercede for us.
“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” The kingdom spoken of here is a literal Jewish kingdom, with a literal Jewish King, ruling from a literal Jewish location – Jerusalem – the eternal city. Needless to say, Jesus hasn’t yet initiated this literal physical kingdom.
The Jewish disciples prayed for it to come. The Church, in general, can pray for it to come, much like we pray for the Lord’s imminent return; and for those living after the Rapture, during the Great Tribulation, they too will pray for it to come. But the fact remains that its prophetical language demands we interpret and approach this in a futuristic and dispensational way.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” Also during the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke about the love and provision that God has for the saved and unsaved. He has always made it possible for every man, woman and child to survive by preparing food and water for His creation. He does the same for the birds of the air too. But man has to work for this in order to benefit from His universal provision.
One further footnote: with millions of people starving and dying around the world each day, the ignorant critic of the Bible likes to attack God for allowing this to occur. But what such a party fails to understand is that man has a free will and therefore God cannot and will not be held responsible for corrupt and depraved governments, which in many cases would rather let their people starve and die, while enjoying their lavish lifestyles by living in mansions and palaces.
So one today can most assuredly pray to God to provide one’s daily food, but chances are, He already has, you just have to get up and work for it.
This bread also spoken of here has a spiritual application to it when we discover from John 6 how one must eat of His flesh and drink of His blood in order to be saved. Such hyperbole language is given to state the enormity of His soon bloody and public death and how one must totally eat (receive) the true bread from Heaven if they are going to be saved from their sins and forgiven by an all-holy God.
“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” This next part is very interesting, and please permit me the opportunity to also cite the cross-reference to this found in Luke 11:2-4: “And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.” Here the Jews restoration to Jehovah (pre-the cross) and fellowship with Him (during the millennial reign) was partially conditional on first forgiving a wronged third party. But post the cross, Jews and Gentiles are automatically and unconditionally forgiven and reconciled to God without needing to forgive a third party.
Forgiveness is one of the main themes in Scripture. God has already forgiven mankind of all their wicked and vile sins against Him. He did this by entering the human race, after being born of the Virgin Mary, and then dying for our sins. He lived the life that we could never, and fulfilled the law to perfection in ways that we simply could never do. And after three days dead in the tomb, the Triune God resurrected Jesus from the dead, demonstrating acceptance of His one-off payment.
Therefore while God has already reconciled us to Him, in order for us to benefit from this, one must believe in Jesus and trust in Him totally in order to be saved. If a person today receives the Lord’s substitutionary atonement for them and yet fails to forgive a third party, they are still saved but may lose their fellowship with God, especially if that third party is a fellow Bible-believer.
So for a saved party today to recite this part of Matthew 6, which was very much applicable to those living under the law, pre the death of Christ and the commencement of the New Covenant, is not only problematic, to say the least, but is equivalent to a saved Gentile today keeping the Jewish Sabbath, given to the Jews under the Old Covenant, to please the God of the Jews before Jesus arrived.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Ultimately Jesus has already delivered us from evil, that being salvation for our sins by not sending us to everlasting Hell when we die. But of course, the primary meaning of this is obviously daily sin, temptation, subsequent ruin and even premature death.
While the Lord Jesus Christ has already atoned for our sins by giving us the gift of everlasting salvation, we still need to put on each day the full armour of God, walk in the Spirit, and seek His protection from all evil entities. Therefore this part of the Lord’s Prayer is very much applicable to those of us living today, just as it had been during the disciples’ day, and even more so during the coming Tribulation.
“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” This final verse of the Lord’s Prayer is only published in Protestant Bibles, but since the Second Vatican Council, Catholics sometimes recite it too. Although the tenses are in the present, the fact remains that the child of God is still anticipating this literal Davidic Kingdom to come, much as we joyfully await at any moment the Rapture of the Church. Amen!
While it is regrettable that the ecumenical and interfaith movement, along with the freemasons and all one-world/new age religions, have attempted to hijack the Lord’s Prayer to bring in their own vain and man-centred kingdom, the fact remains that only the born again child of God has the full attention of the Lord when he or she prays, and in His time these prayers and supplications are considered by Him and answered, if and when they meet His will for our lives.
So in summing up this extended look at the Lord’s Prayer or the Disciples’ Prayer, may I offer the following: the Kingdom of Heaven is Jewish and relates to Jesus as Israel’s Son of Man. Israel’s Messiah basically, whereas the Kingdom of God relates to Jesus as the Son of God. The Saviour of the Church. And during the Millennial reign, He will be crowned the Son of David! So three titles, one Person. Three Persons, one God.
And should anyone need further evidence as to the exclusive Jewish aspect to the last part of Matthew 6:13, please see 2 Chronicles 7:18, where Jehovah promises and prophecies to one day give His Son the kingdom: “Then will I stablish the throne of thy kingdom, according as I have covenanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel.”
In conclusion therefore as to whether or not the Lord’s Prayer or the Disciples’ Prayer is for the Church today, may I say that any saved person today can most certainly pray this prayer, but one would be wise to know which parts are applicable for now and which are not.
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