Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Lord's Prayer - Matthew 6:9-13

Why do so many sincere believers repeat over and over again prayers that have been prepared for them to recite?

Undoubtedly the greatest number of all make it a practice to recite The Lord’s Prayer. I think they must have overlooked that He said, "Pray then like this." (Matt 6:9), not "recite this prayer."

The reason for this seems obvious; there is no one prayer that fits every occasion.

Not only that, The Lord’s Prayer fit perfectly into the circumstances then, but imperfectly fits ours today. One example of this is at the close of His earthly ministry our Lord gave His disciples further instruction about prayer.

Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf" (Jn 16:24-26).

After the Lord’s ascension into heaven the disciples were to make their requests to the Father in Christ's name. This in itself would have excluded their (and our) reciting The Lord's Prayer

Another example of how circumstances have changed from the time of the Lord's Prayer to now can be clearly seen in verses 12, 14 and 15 of Matthew 6:

and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors (Matt 6:12).

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matt 6:14-15).

But look at what Paul says about forgiveness AFTER Christ's death and resurrection:

Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive (Col 3:13).

Why the difference?  Because when Jesus Christ walked the earth, people were still under the Law.  In fact, our Lord ramped up the Law, as my Pastor so well explains.  While the Law said "You shall not murder" Jesus said "You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire" (Matt 5:21-22).   

Of course we now know that the Law was given to show us our need for a Savior:  

Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin (Rom 3:18-20).

We also know that we are not under the Law today:  

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith (Rom 3:21-25; cf Rom 7:4-6; Eph 2:14-16).

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace (Rom 6:14).

So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian (Gal 3:24-25).

Yet both Protestants and Catholics still make much of repeating The Lord's Prayer, saying it in unison in sickness and death, in drought and storm, in peace and war, etc... with almost no regard to its contents.

What a difference there is between praying and "saying prayers."