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2005-02-28_0857-25

This sentence in the Lord’s Prayer is the one that I understand the least: “Lead us not into temptation.” Why is this difficult to understand? James 1:13 tells us that God tempts no one. We should be happy about that. God tempting us would give us the idea that He is tempting us with something evil. Since He is not evil, He can’t do that. One of the meanings of the Greek word that is translated here “temptation”, “peirasmos,” is also translated test or trial. Therefore, it would read, “Lead us not into trial or testing.” Since the Lord doesn’t tempt anyone, I’m going to lean toward this meaning—but I’m not a Greek scholar by any stretch of the imagination. All I do is use the resources that I have.

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2005-02-28_0857-25Our study of the Lord’s Prayer takes us to this request: “Give us today our daily bread.”

What does that mean? On the face of it, it is simple. “Lord, please supply the food we need today.” That prayer doesn’t have much meaning for most of us today, since we usually have enough food for several days in our cupboards and refrigerators. It would obviously become a desperate prayer if we were living in the conditions that some of our brothers and sisters around the world are. When I pray this, I know there is a bowl of cereal, milk, and a piece of bread somewhere in the near future.

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2005-02-28_0857-25

In this, the fourth installment of our study of the Lord’s Prayer, we’re going to look at the statement, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Before we have arrived at this place of prayer, we have already addressed God as our Father, confessed that He is sovereign and reigns over everyone and everything, and that He is perfectly holy. We have told Him that we want His kingdom to come spiritually in our lives, which means that we want Him to be the King and that we will be His servants. We have also prayed that His kingdom will come in reality, that He will truly reign over all, for all time, regardless of the cost. Therefore, it’s not a divergent thought to express our desire that His will be done in our lives, not ours. Although we may long for His will, we continually find that, all too often, we don’t want His will at all. Therefore, as we express our desire that His will be done, we also pray that He will help “make Your will my desire,” as they song, Purify Me, says.

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2005-02-28_0857-25

The second sentence in the Lord’s Prayer is, “Your kingdom come.” In the last post, we looked at what it meant to ask that His kingdom come spiritually in our lives. This is an important investigation. After all, Jesus came proclaiming the kingdom of God, and it’s clear that that coming was initiated when He was on the earth (Mark 1:14–15). The kingdom of God exists in the tension of the “now and not yet.” It’s already here. Jesus brought it when He came. But it’s also not here in its fullness.

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2005-02-28_0857-25

The next section of the Lord’s Prayer we’ll be looking at is, “Your kingdom come.”

Years ago, we used to sing, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Hallelu, hallelu, hallelujah.” Nothing wrong with the song. It’s based on Matthew 6:33. But I’m pretty sure I had only a vague notion of what seeking God’s kingdom first meant. It was something like, “Make it your priority to seek everything that has to do with God.” Not a bad idea, certainly, but that nebulous thought leaves a lot of helpful biblical truth lingering neglected in the shadows. Unfortunately, it wasn’t too long ago that I began to ask, “Do I really know what the kingdom of God is?” To my shame—it seems like I’ve been admitting this a lot lately—I never did any significant New Testament study on the topic.

So, what is the kingdom of God and what is it like?

And why should I pray that it would come?

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2005-02-28_0857-25

It was only a few years ago, if I remember accurately, that I began to incorporate the Lord’s Prayer into my daily prayer life. I think the reason that I hadn’t done it was—I admit this to my shame—that the prayer had been mostly meaningless to me. And the reason for that meaninglessness was that, for most of my Christian life, the prayer was no more than a chant. You know what I mean, right? People in trouble repeat it as if it was some kind of—I don’t know—religious I-hope-this-works kind of thing. Or at a Christian gathering to add some kind of spiritual imprimatur on the event. We all joined in, mindlessly. Well, I did.

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