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19 The Prayer of God's Family
The Prayer of God's Family
 
The prayer which Jesus taught His disciples is the prayer of God's family.
 
It is a prayer for one another and with one another. The personal pronouns I, me, or mine are not mentioned a single time. But the plural pronouns, our, us, and we are used nine times in this brief prayer of ten lines.
 
It is a prayer of fellowship, it is an intercessory prayer.
 
God's children on earth pray to their Father in love and concern for each other and in one spirit with each other.
 
I believe in the communion of saints.
 
*
 
In family life here on earth it is often the children who make their will the law in our day. Over father and mother. It becomes this way more and more as we approach the end of time.
 
But it is not so in God's family. Here it is the Father who comes first; then we. It is His name, His kingdom, His will in the three first petitions, then comes the fourth with us, and our.
 
"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you."
 
Our Father—
 
Jesus won our adoption with God, so that we may come to Him as our Father.
 
And a father's concern for all His. He is our Father--who does not forget a single one of His children.
 
He knows it; He knows our need and our conditions better than we do ourselves.
 
Who art in heaven—
 
These words are to remind us that this Father is exalted in love and power over all   fathers on earth. This we learned as children.
 
When Peter and John had spent their first night in prison for Jesus' sake and came to their own the next day and told them about the threats of the high priest and the elders, it helped them all to rest, with greater security in the great and mighty Helper.
 
A God who can do such a work--He is a God who is all-sufficient. And Jesus' friends knew they could trust Him.
 
Such a great God we need also. And we have such a God--and He is our Father.
 
Hallowed by thy name—
 
It is God's honor which is the great thing in the three first petitions.
 
That God's name may be honored: we need to pray for it in a time like ours when His name is dishonored so often by swearing and haughty talk. And in religious confessions without spiritual life.
 
But not only pray. We were instructed as children that God's name is hallowed when the Word of God is rightly taught and when we as the children of God live holy lives in obedience to the Word.
 
A living, experienced testimony of sin and grace, the teaching of the Word and true godliness in everyday life-- that gives glory and honor to God's name wherever we walk.            
 
Let the light shine in holy concern and self-sacrifice for others through a humble life among men, through willing service with the various talents you have received, then will God's name be honored; then will be answered the first petition in the Lord's prayer in the place where you live.
 
Thus God's name is hallowed among us.
 
Thy   Kingdom come—
 
It is subjects of the eternal king who pray here. It is God's family yearning for their Lord's kingdom. For they see the kingdoms on earth overthrown and lands robbed and ravished; they see justice blind and stumbling in the judgment halls of our organized society.
 
The peoples of the world are in turmoil. Millions of men and women and children are in despair under the terrors of war, as blood and tears flow and human bodies are torn asunder.
 
And in the midst of all this, governments of great countries just look at it, issue warnings and mild threats and stand there helpless.
 
Mistrust and mutual dissensions rule the day. It boils and seeths in the depths of humanity; who knows when the holocaust will break forth!
 
There is much talk about peace on earth also in these days.
 
But the Prince of Peace is neglected and ignored. In the meantime the nations augment their armaments to such an astonishing extent which never was imagined in the history of humanity.
 
Darkness covers the earth, the night is at hand. And yet, there are rays of light: there are people in every land, a humble and meek people, who cling fast to the divine Word of the Lord, who kneel and pray: Thy kingdom come!
 
Their prayer shall be answered.
 
The kingdom shall come.
 
"For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry." Heb. 10:37. Then the storm-ridden earth shall have peace, and enjoy a Sabbath year--when Satan shall be bound a thousand years. When the sword shall be beaten into plowshares, and the spears into pruning-hooks. Then there will be peace on earth.
 
The Prince of Peace shall reign; the government is on His shoulder.
 
Kom som paa morgenens vinger,
kjaerlighets rnaegtige tolk!
Deilige dagning som bringer
seier til dit ventende folk.  
 
Thy kingdom come. But this prayer reaches further than to a Sabbath year here on earth. In it we pray for the eternal Sabbath rest which remains for the people of God.
 
En himmel ny saavel som jord,
det er hans ord; da vorder til hans aere.
 
Then God's children have come to their real home for ever and ever. The believers in the Old Testament times looked forward to the fatherland above. They were strangers and pilgrims here on earth. They sighed and yearned and they reached their destination.
 
But you, too, shall reach your destination; you who are a pilgrim today, you who have placed your soul in the Savior's hand.
 
One thing more. In Romans 14:17 we read: "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit."   
 
This kingdom is possessed through a personal experience.
 
This kingdom of the soul transforms the heart and creates a new spirit in the inner man.
 
A kingdom which is not words but power.
 
My reader! Have you entered into this kingdom? Has the kingdom entered into you?
Then the most remarkable and the finest experience in life has become yours.
 
Vidunderligst av alt paa jord er Jesu Kristi rike,
dets herlighet er og saa stor at det har ingen like.
 
Thy kingdom come—the kingdom which transforms a whole community, which renews love in the home and among the brethren. May it come to me and mine, may it come into our congregations and our social systems, to our brethren among other peoples and in other lands.
 
May the kingdom come to the shores of heathen lands and to the isles of the sea-- where faithful and self-sacrificing men and women occupy lonely and difficult outputs and sow the seed of the kingdom! And to lands where oppressed brethren and sisters fight the good fight of faith under persecution and dishonor--may the kingdom come to them with joy and peace and power from on high. Let us pray for the coming of the kingdom.
 
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven—
 
The third petition has been called a difficult prayer. Sometimes it is hard to submit our will under God's will; hard because our own will wants to go its own way.
 
But the salvation of our soul and blessings upon our life depends on such submission.
 
Jesus gave up His will and entered obediently into God's--the whole way. But when in Gethsemane He was to taste death for all of us, according to God's will, then He realized as none other the immensity of God's will, but then, too, obedience won the victory: He prayed Himself into God's will -and that became our salvation.
 
He submitted His human will to God's--and thus He came into possession of the deep peace and the divine power which is the result of being in harmony with God. Then He would say quietly: "Shall I not drink the cup which my Father has given me?"
 
Suffering led to peace and to a deeper devotion.
 
This riches of life He wants to share with His own; therefore He gave us this prayer.
 
We are the subjects; He is the ruler. Jesus knows that God's rule is right and just.
 
It was Jesus' meat to do His Father's will. "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." John 4:34.
 
That gives the soul renewed strength. What a blessing that is! We receive freedom and joy in our spirit when God's will rules our life.
 
God's will rules in heaven. "Bless the Lord, ye His angels, that excels in strength; that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word." Ps.103:20.  
 
They obey. Thus His will is done.
 
It has been said that the angels in heaven do God's will without asking why and without delay.
 
We do not know if Paul and his companions asked why when they were hindered by the Holy Spirit from preaching in Asia. But when the apostle had beheld the vision and had heard the pleading cry from Europe, and they understood that God's way led in that direction, then we know that they soon endeavored to go to Macedonia.
 
Without delay.
 
And so four men sailed to bring the Gospel to Europe. Their obedience was blessed. God's will was done through their service.
 
The Haugean, Lars Kyllingen in Romsdal, Norway, had two Christian tenants, Erik Gjershaugen and Gudbrand Haave. Erik had only one cow, but Gudbrand had two. When Erik lost his, Gudbrand was guided to give him one of his--and he told his wife about it. Marit answered, "If you want to give Erik a cow, then do it at once, while your sympathies are warm; otherwise you will soon feel that you cannot afford it."
 
Then Gudbrand took one of his cows and gave to Erik.
 
At once--without delay.
 
God's angels not only do God's will in ready obedience; they do it with praise. "Bless the Lord, ye his angels."
 
They do not do God's will reluctantly and with a heavy heart; they do it with gladness and gratitude.
 
On earth as in heaven—
 
Paul and Silas sang praise unto God in the prison of Philippi. They obeyed God's will and walked in the ways of the Lord even when it led through scourgings and imprisonment. And they experienced the truth of Job's words that the Lord gives songs of praise in the night.
 
God's will was a blessed will in their lives.
 
Every obedient servant knows that there is happiness in doing God's will.
 
But every now and then there are times when the most honest Christian suffers under the press of what he feels in his heart. There is so much that is contrary to God's will. So much that will walk its own way.
 
Sadness and regret will force a Christian on his knees in a humbled spirit. Then the inner man is renewed, for God gives the humble grace.
 
Give us this day our daily bread—
 
In the fourth petition we come in our need to our Provider. After having placed God first--His name, His kingdom, His will--Jesus teaches us to pray for our physical needs. But even what we call our own, that too belongs to God.
 
For   Jesus entered into a blood-covenant with us, our Big Brother; thus God became our Father. As Father He carries all our wants on His heart. When we bring all our needs and place also our physical needs before Him, then we come to Him with what He already carries on His heart.
 
He is the Provider f or His family and will never shirk His responsibility.
 
But the petition for temporal things is neither the first nor the last.
 
We find it in the middle of the Lord's Prayer.
 
First we pray for what belongs to God--that it may be furthered and prosper; then we come to our own temporal and spiritual concerns.
 
First we pray for what is God's. Then we pray that we may receive the forgiveness of our trespasses, that we may not be led into temptation, that we may be delivered from the evil.
 
But to pray and strive against that which is harmful to us, is really to pray and strive for that which makes for our salvation and our happiness.
 
What concerns our salvation must come first and last in our life.
 
First then will life have a meaning and be abundantly blessed.
 
Today--our daily bread. There is no place here for the one who wants everything. The fourth petition teaches us frugality. It is to live, as it. were, from hand to mouth.
 
But as long as it is God's big hand and our small mouth, so long may we live from hand to mouth in sacred security.
 
It is not easy for many in these days of unemployment, with drought and hard times in general. But when you are pressed and worried with pressing circumstances, do not forget that it is in times of needs that we learn to know God best.
 
As a help in need He has been found very great. We may safely trust Him with our temporal needs.
 
Give us--it is not what we have deserved, it is God's gift we pray for. When Jesus taught us to pray for God's gift, it is an assurance that God is pleased to give--freely, voluntarily.
 
Give us--not only me, but give others who are in need. Though I may have daily bread, others may need it. Dear Lord, remember them too- give us all our daily bread, the whole Christian brotherhood on earth. And when night is approaching where I dwell, it is morning on the other side of the globe-and I like to fold my hands with those who dwell there and pray with and for them: Give us this day our daily bread.
 
Jesus wants to teach us to live a day at a time. That being the case, we are asking for a constantly renewing strength for our body day by day. That is also what we need for our soul-the inner renewing with the grace of God. May we never miss that.
 
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us—
 
This petition begins with "and". Thereby it is linked together with the fourth petition. Daily bread and forgiveness of sin. The two go together. Thus the fifth petition is made a daily prayer. Christian life thrives only in a heart which breaths confession of sin and prayer for God's unmerited grace.
 
Confession of sin and forgiveness of sin go hand in hand in a Christian life-they are joined together, so that where confession of sin obtains, there is also forgiveness.
 
As we forgive those who trespass against us--nothing like that is added to any other petition.
 
What is added to the fifth petition shows us that God's forgiveness can not dwell in a heart in which dwells an unforgiving spirit.
 
One who carries slights and grudges, and bitterness and a hate toward others--closes the door to God's forgiving grace for himself.
 
Do you listen to and read and pray the fifth petition, you who will not forgive others their trespasses?
 
Humble yourself and ask f or forgiveness for your own sins-then God's grace will give you a forgiving spirit in your heart.
 
And lead us not into temptation—
  
First forgiveness for sin, then freedom and protection from it. Therefore the sixth petition is joined with the preceding one with "and".
 
It is the weak one who knows his own incompetence who prays this petition.
 
He has received the forgiveness for his sin--he has experienced such a wonderful grace from God, and now he is so desperately afraid that he may lose it again--in case he should be led into temptation.
 
For the honest Christian can never trust in his own strength. He knows how deceitful his heart is. He knows that the tempter can make what is evil very alluring and bring it close to him. And he knows that is a question concerning our life with God and our eternal salvation.
 
But Jesus taught us to lay our weak, trembling hand in God's hand and to pray for his leading and guiding.
 
And God will hear this prayer, for He knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, writes the apostle Peter.
 
We pray in the sixth petition also for one another; "us-us!" It is a holy concern--that neither I nor anyone of the others may lose the fight and be vanquished by the enemy of our soul.
 
We place ourselves and fellow believers in our heavenly Father's hands and rest as a weak child in His fatherly love and care.
 
But deliver us from evil—
 
There is much evil around us and there is much evil within us. Of all evils sin is the worst. It is the root of all. And it meets us in all sorts of changing shapes and forms and with new assaults upon our soul and our life with God--from without and within. How blessed it is to put our helplessness also here on God!
 
Stood we alone in our own might,
Our striving would be losing;
For us the one true man doth fight,
The man of God's own choosing.
Who is this chosen one?
'Tis Jesus Christ, the Son,
The Lord of hosts, 'tis He
Who wins the victory
In every field of battle.
 
"And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." II Tim. 4:18.
 
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
 
Thus ends the Lord's Prayer.
 
It begins with a prayer--it ends with praise.
 
When the kingdom and the power are His, then should our faith be firm, for then there is light and hope ahead.
 
Glory be to God in the highest!
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