ASK Newsletter 1st Quarter 1997


John H. Stoll, Ph.D.
Executive Director, ASK, Inc.

Just like we have done in the past, so shall we continue to do in the year ahead, that is, repeat many times the Lord's prayer in our churches. Do we really know what it means, and do we say it with conviction, or is it mouthed by rote? Let us look at what Jesus taught us to pray.

In Matthew 6:9-13, He taught His Disciples what is commonly referred to as "The Lord's Prayer", which really isn't, but is a prayer that He taught us to pray. The real pray of our Lord is found in John 17, when He prayed to His Father in Heaven.

When Christ told His Disciples to address, "Our Father, who art in Heaven", He presupposed their personal relationship with the Father. When we pray this prayer, it is incumbent upon each person to also have a relationship with God, through the Lord Jesus Christ in personal faith. Else one's prayer is not countenanced or accepted by God (see John 9:31). Therefore, to pray this prayer in public or private without a personal commitment to Jesus Christ, is just mouthing meaningless words to that individual.

When Christ used the word "Hallowed", He was referring to the sanctity or absolute Holiness of God, who is totally apart from sin. He is perfect and the use of His name implies that. When we pray we are to recognize His Holiness.

A person saying, "Thy kingdom come" refers to God's ultimate rule over all the earth, to which end all of God's children long for, and which God has promised to those who are in His family through faith. Though today it seems as if "Right is on the scaffold, and wrong is on the throne", it won't always be that way, as someday, God's will, "will be done on earth as it is in Heaven" (Habakkuk 2:14; Zechariah 6:12,13; 14:9). God will reign supreme, and rectify all the wrongs that wickedness has produced in this world.

God has promised to supply the needs of His children (Philippians 4:19), and we have the privilege of asking Him, as the prayer says, "Give us this day our daily bread" (Philippians 4:6,7), but we need to be mindful of asking within His will, not out of selfishness (James 1:5-7).

Depending upon the group praying, some use the word, "Debts", and others the word "Trespasses". Regardless, the original language refers to our selfish desire to sin, and in praying we should be mindful that we really are

admitting our wrong behaviors, according to God's principles and confessing them (Note: I John 1:9). In addition, we are to be forgiving of others, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven us.

"Lead us not into temptation" has a dual implication. The word itself refers either to falling into sin, or trial by testing for refinement and maturation. In the context of this prayer it refers to asking God to keep us from sinning. God never leads anyone to enter into sin (James 1:13). But, He can and does deliver His children from sin and its consequences, if we confess our sins (I John 1;9).

"For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever", is God's promise that someday He will reign supreme over all the earth (Habakkuk 2:20; Revelation 19:16; 22:5), that the kingdoms of this world will submit to God's rule (Revelation 11:15), and those who are His children will live and reign with Him, for ever.

In the days ahead, as we along with others recite the prayer that Christ taught His Disciples to pray, may we be reminded that it has deep meaning for each of us: past, in what God has done for us through Christ's sacrifice in our behalf; presently, how we are to respond to Him and others; and in the future, the hope of eternity with Him, and the perfectness of God's eternal Holiness, for ever.

As we look forward to the year ahead, what a wonderful contemplation for every child of God.