It stands the test of time and truth. What some learned as a simple fundamental prayer is indeed sage advice, though some want to dispute its origins.
We’ll discuss that and the importance of the Lord’s Prayer now on this edition of “Becoming Today”.
Less than 50 words that have a lasting impact which can fill volumes.
The Lord’s Prayer as I first learned it was a direct teaching given by Jesus Christ. As I mentioned some now want to dispute that, which we’ll touch upon, but first let’s explore the simplicity and deep meaning of this instrument of connection with God.
As I first learned the words, they were:
Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us.
AS a child the words from the King James Version of the BIble can be confusing but it was drilled into us through forced recitation that these are the words and they must be said that way. So as a child I did so, simply to avoid punishment and really never connected with the importance.
Back then the memorization was necessary to not be chastised by instructors, thumped by parents and to avoid being punished by God- as I was told would happen if I didn’t learn it.
None of those are reasons I am endorsing.
In fact, as I have unlearned so many things from my formative years, this methodology couldn’t be further from the truth.
I did at an early age like this idea that I could be forgiven. As I was mistaught and had daily reinforcement that I was not worthy of forgiveness as well as that I was a horrible person, worthless and would never amount to anything, none of which I believed, this idea that God would forgive me seemed very appealing.
At the time it was a loophole, I can get out of all these other things I’m being falsely accused of and then I’ll show them all.
Of course it was a wrong motivation, but at the time it served me well to want to learn there was not only a better way but also a path out.
By my teenage years I learned there was more to it, as I came to read the Lord’s Prayer with more words…. I knew they were hiding something from me! (LOL).
Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, As me to believe at the time.it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, The power, and the glory, For ever and ever. Amen.
So not only could I be forgiven, but it was also possible to be kept away from temptations, do good things and receive, or be rewarded too?
This was revolutionary and hard for me to believe at the time. However today I can testify without a doubt it is true and life altering.
At that time my exposure to the BIble was limited and I was told not to worry about it because it didn’t apply to me nor would I be able to understand it. IN fact in those years, the Bible was literally used as a weapon against. When it left the hands of a priest and hit me upside the head,. Literally he launched it at me like a missile, because I had a question about what he was saying.
Years later I learned I was right and the false doctrine is not in the BIble. No wonder no one wanted me to have my own copy. I would have kept questioning them.
When I did finally get one at a garage sale for 25 cents, all kinds of doors opened for me.
The Lord’s Prayer is recorded in two of the four Gospels. It appears with slight differences in Luke 11: 2-4 and in Matthew 6:9-13.
First here’s how it appears in Luke in the NIV Version:
He said to them, “When you pray, say: “ ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’ ”
The “He” referred to is Jesus. So this prayer as written above are the words of Christ as he instructs His Disciples.
When He taught them to pray unlike the authority figures of my early days, he did not intend it to be a rote incantation. Rather it was to be used as a model of prayer. One that embodies praise, worship, petition, supplications, intercessions, thanksgiving and having a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father.
An aside here, you may have noticed when referring to my own life, I never use the word childhood. I never had the opportunity for what is commonly understood as being a child. When someone asks, when you were a “kid”? I stop them and say “I never was”. Rather I reply “ I was short for a while and then grew out of it”.
That is just the way it was. I was expected to be a small adult and perform that role quietly with no training or even a list of expectations. I had to fight my way through it and take the punches (literally) as they came.
I share this not for pity. That is something I do not embrace and will not accept.
I simply am telling this part of my story for those out there who need to hear it. There is a way out. You will survive and things do get better.
Learning that I could talk to God about anything and receive inspiration, protection and knowledge to survive and thrive was indeed life changing, and these words in the Lord’s Prayer helped me see that there were options available.
In teaching His Disciples this model of prayer they and now we can see and choose to accept that if we will obediently and humbly submit ourselves to the authority of Our Father who art in heaven that we can ‘Always Be Becoming”.
The second reference to the Lord’s Prayer in the Scriptures is in the Gospel of Matthew. As it is written in Matthew 6:9-13 NIV:
This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one”.
Just slight differences in the word choice, but obviously both men shared the same message, with the same intentions.
I imagine if you had the opportunity to meet one of Jesus’ Disciples, you met exactly one of them.
Just like us today, no two people are exactly alike nor do we say things exactly the same. Even talking with family members in your own native tongue, there will be different accents, dialects and selections of words and yet the message gets across.
And I pray that it is here too.
Earlier in our discussion I alluded to some scholars and theologians over the past few decades wanting to dispute the accuracy of the reporting of Luke and Matthew. Not quite taking it to the level of a “Fake News” accusation, they are trying to claim that Jesus never gave the instruction.
In the late 1980’s at an event called the “Jesus Seminar”, biblical scholars met to debate the idea. Of the two dozen or so gathered together the Los Angeles Times reported,
“Seminar members voted this way on the Lord’s Prayer as a whole: Three said it came from Jesus, six said it probably came from him, 10 said it probably did not and five said it did not.”
Those 15 convinced the prayer was not taught by Jesus believe it was created
After Christ’s crucifixion as an early church organization needed a way of bringing people under their order. As one of those at the meeting said in an interview, he believed the Lord’s Prayer “was the kind of prayer that would have been needed in a community which had a formal liturgy, a formal worship.”
That individual who then was a professor of religious studies at South West Missouri State University (now known as MIssouri State University), Charles Hedrick, told reporters, the closing line “lead us not into temptation,”but deliver us from evil,” was thought by scholars to have been created by the early church.
If it had been, you know, I’m not all that concerned about it.
While I certainly do not consider myself or attempt to infer that I am a biblical scholar, it seems debating this minutia is divisive. It doesn’t bring us together, nor unite us in the strengths of faith. It distracts and draws attention away from the pure intentions of the prayer.
While I choose to believe the words were directly inspired by and related to the Disciples by Jesus himself, I do not feel a need to break down every possible syllable nor the punctuation.
I choose to believe.
I testify that this simple prayer, designed as a model to help us build a personal, one on one relationship with God, just as it did that for me. Plus I know it can for you.
Take some time to reflect upon these words and they develop your own phrasings, so that you are comfortable in communicating your need and gratitude with God who is ordering our steps along this shared path we call “Becoming Today”.