Text: Romans 5:1-11
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The Lord’s Prayer is the third in our Lenten Series on the six chief parts of Luther’s Small Catechism. This follows the Ten Commandments – God’s Law and the Apostles Creed – the Good News of who God is and what he has done for us and leads us in prayer and communication with God.
Missionary E. Stanley Jones once wrote:
Prayer is surrender--surrender to the will of God and cooperation with that will. If I throw out a boathook from the boat and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore to me, or do I pull myself to the shore? Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to the will of God.
E. Stanley Jones, Liberating Ministry From The Success Syndrome, K Hughes, Tyndale, 1988, p. 73.
Our Father who art in heaven
The Lord’s Prayer begins with those simple words. By faith we know God and acknowledge him by calling him Our Father. As our father we have a relationship with him and as a result we can call on him and dialogue with him. It is first interesting to note who initiates prayer.
As Luther writes:
With these words God tenderly invites us to believe that he is our true father and that we are his true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask him as dear children ask a dear father.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise. Psalm 51:15
In prayer by faith we acknowledge who God is, not dragging him down to where we are but drawing ourselves and our needs to him; conforming our desires to his will. Not my will … but thy will be done.
Hallowed be thy name
We might remember that in the Second Commandment we learned not to misuse the name of the Lord your God. Here again we recognize God’s name and that it is holy. Not as Luther says because we make it holy because it is holy (set apart) in of itself because it is God’s name; but that we pray that it might be holy among us also.
So how do we keep holy God’s name among us? We keep it holy by not using it in a cavalier way either crassly using God’s name (cursing and swearing) or using it with little or no respect. We rightly use it by calling upon him in, prayer, giving praise and thanksgiving for all he has done for us. We honor his name when his gospel is preached and we believe and trust him to meet are every need and live daily in the blessed hope and trust in this revealed God whom we call Our Father.
Thy kingdom come
The kingdom as Luther says comes without our prayer but we pray in this petition that it come among us also. It comes to us when we daily are reminded by God’s indwelling Spirit that we are indeed his children. As such we joy in the blessing God has given us – knowing that everything that we need God has and will provide.
The kingdom comes as we stay in communion with our loving father. Here he calls us to hear his word, giving us his wisdom, mercy, and blessing out of divine fatherly goodness - and we pray that in this relationship we too might live daily in his grace that his kingdom comes to us in the place we are in this world for our well being.
Thy will be done
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Luke 22:42
As Jesus pondered the cross and his crucifixion and impending death he called upon the father in prayer to remove what he had come to do. In his humanity death was real and the prospect of it brought him in prayer to ask the Father to remove it. But … he concluded his prayer in this way - not my will but yours be done. It is in this conforming our will to God’s that we truly rely on him.
It is not that God’s will relies on us to get it done because God’s will is always done because his judgments are always just and right.
It is like the little girl preparing to jump into her dad’s arm as he stands in the pool ready to catch her saying, “Don’t drop me dad!” To which dad replies, “I won’t!”
Or the little boy riding the bike while dad run along holding on to the seat saying, “Don’t let go dad!” Only to realize that dad had let go awhile ago and he had been riding on his own. At times God catches us and at time he lets us go but it is always in conformity to his will so that we might make his will ours.
Give us this day our daily bread
Dr. F.W. Boreham tells about his stay in a quaint old cottage in England occupied by a minister's widow.
She had given him her bedroom to use and in the morning when he pulled up the blind, he saw that into the glass of the windowpane had been cut the words: "This is the day!" He asked the elderly lady about it at breakfast. She explained that she had had a lot of trouble in her time and was always afraid of what was going to happen tomorrow. One day she read the words of the above text. It occurred to her that it meant any day, this day. "Why should I be afraid of the days if He makes them all?" She said. So the widow scratched the words in the windowpane, so that every time she drew her blind in the morning she was reminded that "This is the day!" Realizing the Lord made it, she was no longer afraid.
Dr. F. W. Boreham.
It is our heavenly Father that provides for our daily needs and for even the needs of those that don’t know him or trust him but Luther reminds us that we might lead a thankful life in remembrance of all that God gives and provides so that we might thank and praise him for his goodness.
Forgive us our trespasses
Being people born in sin and bound to sin we daily need the comforting balm of God’s forgiveness. Yes, as God’s forgiven children we need to have a life of faith connected to God and be in relationship with him. And we need to remember, as dear children ask their dear father … that we need to ask as we would a loving parent for forgiveness. I’m sorry father … please forgive me is real repentance and we know that in Christ God our loving Father forgives us. But it is much more. In this petition we are too reminded that as God has forgiven us so we too need to forgive one another.
I wrote this letter a year ago:
I wanted to send you a letter to see if all is well with you? You haven’t been in worship since before Christmas and I’m a bit concerned as you’ve always been regular in attendance. After calling you, another three Sunday’s have passed without seeing you in worship. If something is troubling you I would hope to help if I could, if you are attending another church, please let me know, if I have offended you in some way I apologize. Whatever the circumstance, it is my hope that our Lord continue to bless and keep you in his arms and faith. Feel free to call if you need to talk.
Asking forgiveness and being willing to forgive is a two way street. Our forgiveness is base on our willingness to forgive. Don’t let pride keep you from that.
Lead us not into temptation
This was big news recently when Pope Francis said we need to change the prayer saying,
"lead us not into temptation" is not a good translation because God does not lead humans to sin,” saying a better translation would be, "Do not let me fall into temptation because it is I who fall, it is not God who throws me into temptation and then sees how I fell,"
Of course had the Pope read Luther’s Small Catechism he would see in the explanation where Luther makes clear,
What does this mean? God tempts no one. We pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Although we are attacked by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory.
Bear in mind that God allows us to remain in this broken world where evil and temptation is part of our everyday lives, but he also promises to never leave us nor forsake us. Even our Lord Jesus after his baptism by John in Mark chapter 1 it reads:
12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
Who drove him out into the wilderness? God the Holy Spirit did. He did not temp him and Christ by the power of the Spirit prevailed. God can and does use all things for his good purpose.
But deliver us from evil
In Christ God does deliver us all from every evil and bring us to our eternal home by faith. He tells us in the commandments what he expects, he tells us in the creed who he is, and he tells us in the Lord’s Prayer how we can commune with him and rely on him. In prayer he lets us call on him for every need promising to be our God and to answer our prayers in his time and in his way. May your prayer life be bless by god as you call on him in time of need knowing that he is your heavenly Father who loves you.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!