Many Christians are familiar with the Lord’s Prayer and we can recite it from memory without thinking too hard. In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus instructs us:
Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day 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 evil.”
It is great to have this portion of scripture memorized, but this familiarity can also cause us to gloss over its significance. The Lord’s Prayer is often learned by children in Sunday school as a formative teaching given by Jesus and there is much we can learn from it. The petitions of the prayer provide valuable guidance for how we live our lives within our families.
Jesus taught his disciples to revere God's name and reputation, to honor it and keep it holy. "Hallowed be thy name" reminds us to whom we are talking and encourages a posture of humility. Our homes benefit from modeling a reverence to God. Decide to require your household to show respect for God’s name and refrain from using it in a derogatory way.
"Your Kingdom come" is a prayer for God's will to be established on this earth--for things to flourish as God designed them to in creation. As we use God's gifts as he intended, we work to live out God's reign in our homes and communities. Every act of grace is an establishment of God’s kingdom purposes here on earth. We should seek God's kingdom in all areas of life rather than just following our own desires or keeping God in a Sunday morning box.
When we say “Your will be done,” we in humility acknowledge that God has a better plan. Life's surprises can feel overwhelming when we think we are in control. We want life to go our way and for things to fit into our plans. Jesus instructs us instead to be praying for God's will to be done on earth. Life goes much better when we give God control.
We may dislike having to trust God daily for the things we need. Asking God "give us this day our daily bread" is an exercise in trusting in God's regular provision. We would feel better to have a stockpile we control and a glimpse at the long term plan, but God is more interested in having us develop trust in him for what we need each day.
The Lord’s prayer guides us to ask for forgiveness and to forgive others as we have been forgiven. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Jesus taught us to pray to the Father asking him to forgive us our sinfulness because he desires that we be made whole. If we recognize our own need for forgiveness, it is easier for us to forgive those who have sinned against us. Forgiveness is an essential building block of healthy relationships. We will all fail each other at times and we need to have grace for finding healing through the power of forgiveness.
Everyone struggles with the temptation to sin. "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" is an acknowledgement of our human weakness. We need God to equip us for battle and give us protection from falling into the trap of following our sinful desires.
All of these petitions from the Lord’s Prayer have the opportunity to bless our families if we incorporate them into our daily life. Consider studying the Lord’s prayer together as a family and praying it over your home:
"Our Father in heaven, holy be your name within our home. Make your kingdom present in our family. Let your will be done in our lives, on earth as it is in heaven. Provide for our daily needs, and equip us to forgive, as we also have forgiven. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver our family from evil. In Jesus name, Amen”
Rev. Joel Vande Werken
Rev. Joel Vande Werken