Scott Hovater, PhD, grew up in the Pacific Northwest and spent 16 years as a college professor in Taiwan before becoming the manager of online faculty for the College of Theology. He has a degree in TESOL, an MA in intercultural studies, an MA in educational psychology and a PhD in educational studies. He and his wife, Jenny, have 2 children.
How many of you can recite the Lord’s Prayer from memory? Hopefully many of you can. As a child I often visited a friend’s house and it was their family custom to say the Lord’s Prayer before every meal. My friend’s mom was a great cook so naturally I visited often and eventually committed the Lord’s Prayer to memory. Still to this day whenever I hear the Lord’s Prayer I get hunger pangs!
The Lord’s Prayer falls right in the middle of what is commonly known as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). It reads, “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” (Matthew 6:9-13).
This short, simple prayer provides us with some practical reminders on how Christians should live their lives each and every day. Let’s discuss a few of these. First, we are to show deep respect, honor and reverence to our Heavenly Father. In terms of all of our relationships, God should come first. When we begin to place our family, our friends or, heaven forbid, ourselves as priority number one then our lives will be out of focus. Placing God first in our lives will help us to build strong relationships with others. So we should be consistently asking ourselves, is God the center of my being? If not, we need to put our focus back on our Heavenly Father.
Second, we are asked to pray for God’s kingdom to come and for God’s will to be done. These two phrases are basically synonymous. It is helpful to think of the Kingdom of God as a time when “God reigns” supreme. And of course where God reigns, God’s will is always done. It is also important to remind ourselves that the Bible speaks of the Kingdom of God as existing now, but not yet fully complete. In other words, as Christians, we are living in the Kingdom of God thanks to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but we can also look forward to a future day when Jesus returns and the Kingdom of God is made complete. So how can we live in God’s kingdom each and every day? Well we need to remind ourselves that God reigns. He is king and, therefore, he calls the shots. We need to be obedient to His commands and seek to follow His will for our lives.
Third, we are reminded that God is our provider. God provides our basic necessities. Living in God’s kingdom means trusting that God will provide, being thankful when he does provide, and being satisfied with those provisions. God’s offering of our daily needs is not the “wealth and prosperity gospel” that some preach today. Instead it is the promise to meet our basic needs for God loves us way more than the birds of the air and the lilies in the field and He even provides for them (Matthew 6:25-32).
Fourth, we are to pray for forgiveness and are commanded to forgive those who hurt us. Praying for forgiveness often comes easy to us, but forgiving those who have sinned against us is not as easy. Earlier within the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). He also says that instead of seeking revenge on those who have committed evil against us that we should instead turn the other cheek and walk the extra mile (Matthew 5:38-42). Learning to forgive others, even when they have done us wrong, reflects God’s kingdom values to those who do not yet know Jesus.
Finally, we should pray not to be lead into temptation and to flee from evil. While we are all tempted (even Jesus was tempted) and there is evil all around us, we can improve our odds of avoiding temptation and evil if we (1) place God first in our relationships, (2) remember to obey the commands of our king, (3) be satisfied with God’s provisions, and (4) seek and give forgiveness. Daily praying for and living out these simple reminders will help us to live in God’s kingdom.
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