DIVINE INTERSECTIONS: PRAYER OF INTERCESSION and THE LORD’S PRAYER
Ephesians 6:18-24, Matthew 6:5-14
praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. 21 But that you also may know my affairs and how I am doing, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make all things known to you; 22 whom I have sent to you for this very purpose, that you may know our affairs, and that he may comfort your hearts. 23 Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen…
Exhorting and Engaging
Jesus as mother hen overlooking Jerusalem, intercession intersecting, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! (Matthew 23:37-39)
Intercession is petitioning the Lord on behalf of someone else. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word paga’ originally was defined as “to strike upon.” It later came to be associated with the meaning, “to assail anyone with petitions.” When this was done on behalf of another, its sense was “to intercede.” Holy Week began with accolades and praise from people, until the leaders decided to use the crowds from around the world to incite passion against the LORD. Their evil and nefarious intercession would have succeeded had Jesus been any less than God/man.
The Lord’s Prayer, also called the Disciples’ prayer, is the best prayer model anywhere, let alone in Scripture. Yet we the Church, have reduced it to recital at special occasions. However, Jesus used it to teach his disciples how to pray. Luke records that after Jesus finished praying on one occasion, his disciples requested him to teach them to pray, Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples (Luke 11:1). It’s clear to me that the disciples were asking Jesus to teach them how to pray, not asking him to teach them a prayer. In light of the context in Matthew’s Gospel, where the model prayer follows a blast against using vain repetition in prayer, it seems unlikely that this was intended to be a ritual prayer. In Matthew, the Lord’s Prayer is set in the overall context of the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 6 sets it in a triplet of giving, praying and fasting. Jesus implores his disciples not to be like the play actors when they pray (6:5-8). He is not putting down prayer, only the attitude which seeks public recognition by calling attention to the prayer.
Matthew 6:5-14, And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. 14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
In my opinion, the larger context for this prayer is set in the arena of attack and counter attack. To attack Satan means to provoke counter attack. When we begin to comprehend this truth, it provides the proper key to understanding the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13).
THE MODEL OF THE PRAYER
THE ADDRESS: The first thing Jesus does is to address His Father. The prayer begins with the Greek word pater, which in Aramaic is abba. The use of this intimate name was an amazing new thing that Jesus wished to taught his disciples. Church Fathers like Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Tehodoret of Cyrus testify unanimously that ‘abba was the designation of the small child to his father. ‘Abby was an everyday word, a family-word. No Jew would have dared to address God in this way. Jesus spoke with God as a child speaks with his father, simply, intimately, securely. More astonishing than Jesus addressing God as abba is the fact that he invited his disciples to do the same. This certainly opened up a whole new understanding of their relationship with God. The use of this intimate word could mean nothing less than an important new emphasis on closeness to God.
THE PETITIONS: There are five different areas to concentrate on when praying. Each one affords us a place to spend some time with God. They are concerned with the establishment of God’s purposes on a cosmic scale. All five of the petitions are imperatives, which means they are not optional for believers.
The first petition asks that the name of God may be hallowed or kept holy. God’s name in essence, is his reputation among men. In ancient Israel a person’s name was not just a designation of familial relationship, not just a possession, but something distinctly personal. In Semitic culture, names were frequently used to designate a characteristic of the person named. The differing names for God employed in the Old and New Testaments are revelatory prophetic instruments used at specific times in the history of Israel, and reflect God’s self-revelation of who He is. There are three basic names in the Old Testament which are given to God.
The first is the name El. The name seems to suggest power and authority. There are several compounds of this name in the Old Testament.
El Shaddai: This is the name most commonly used for God in the patriarchal period, and probably meant, “God, the one of the mountains.” It is often translated “God Almighty,” and suggests strength, stability and permanence.
El Elyon: This name denotes God as “Most High” (Gen. 14:18; Num. 24:16). He is the highest and therefore the supreme being.
El Olam: This means, “God the everlasting one,” or, “God of eternity.” The name calls attention to God’s eternal duration, his agelessness and his perpetuity amid the changing tides of natural and human events.
Elohim:The name Elohim stresses the fact that God, the Creator, is the absolute Lord over his creation and the sovereign of history.
Next is the name Yahweh (wrongly transliterated Jehovah). This revealed God as an intensely personal God. This is the most common name for God in the Old Testament, appearing some 7,000 times. This name came to have such significance in Israel that the scribes avoided pronunciation of it. There are seven compound names using the name Yahovah. All of these have often been mistaken for names of God in the Old Testament. Some are and some are not.
Yahovah-yireh: This is the name Abraham gave the place on Mount Moriah where God substituted a ram for his son Isaac (Gen. 22:13-14). It means “the Lord has provided.”
Yahovah-nissi: This is a name given the altar erected by Moses to commemorate the defeat of the Amalekites (Ex. 17:8-15). It is usually translated “the Lord is my banner or standard,” and that God was the one who gave them the victory.
Yahovah-shalom: This was the name Gideon gave the altar he constructed in Ophrah to memorialize the visit of the Lord (Judg. 6:24). It is usually translated “the Lord is peace.”
Yahovah-ra’ah: This is certainly the most familiar of the terms. In Psalm 23:1 David calls God his shepherd. This is a metaphorical way of describing some of the characteristics of God and his relationship with his people (sheep). This is the second time that a name refers something ascribed to God.
Yahovah-shammah: This is the name given to the restored city of Jerusalem in the future Kingdom of the Messiah (Ezek. 48:35). It means “the Lord is present there.”
Yahovah-tsidkenu: This name is used only by Jeremiah. It is the name of the future Davidic king who will bring the Kingdom of God to earth (Jer. 23:6). It is translated “the Lord our righteousness.”
Yahovah-rapha: In a word to Moses concerning obedience, God said of himself that he was “the Lord who heals….” In this passage it does signify a name for God (Ex. 15:26).
Third is Adonai. It usually means “the sovereign one” (Ex. 23:17; Isa. 10:16).
Summary: As we can see, these are not all names which are given to God. Only two are real names for God: Yahovah-rapha and Yahovah-ra’ah , while one is the name of the future Davidic king, Yahovah-tsidkenu. The others are all names of places where God interacted with his people in some special way. Therefore, the emphasis that is given in some theologies concerning the importance of these names may be misleading.
The second petition is closely related to the first, Your Kingdom come. The disciples are to pray that God’s Kingdom/Rule would come and be practiced on earth as it is in heaven. Somewhere in the past, satan was cast out of heaven along with a host of beings. The war which arose in heaven had been cast down to earth. This is the background for this petition of Jesus to His Father. He was teaching his disciples and us to ask the Father to expel satan here, just as he had expelled Satan from heaven. He had established his Rule there, and he should continue to bring about that same Rule on earth. Satan had been thrown out, but now he is to be pursued on earth as well. His Rule on earth is coming to an end. His power to rule has been broken. God’s Rule means the end of Satan’s rule. For God’s Kingdom to come is the same as his will to be done.
DAILY FAITH Day-to-day dependence upon God “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Unfortunately, this is an inadequate translation. It should read, “Give us today the bread of tomorrow.” Some people will mock the idea of praying for that which is already promised (Matthew 6:25-34), but the Lord says you do need to ask Him. He wants you to accept a combination of things about His love to intervene:
The smallest needs in your lives are worthy in His sight and He welcomes them. We often act like God has only so much to give and we should reserve our prayers for the “really important” things, and what’s any more trivial than asking for food? It’s good to begin by recognizing that God really does care, and He invites you to pray about the trivial and mundane. Don’t fall into a rote response, which is what happens if you allow yourself to believe that whatever you face, you don’t need a distinct, fresh provision of daily bread for today. Never depend on any experience you’ve had before, irrespective of how positive the lesson learned or how much value was gained through the application of a principle.
Always remember that hunger is a work of satan! When we take satan seriously like Jesus did; when he is understood to be our enemy, as Jesus understood; when we attack, like Jesus attacked; when we resolve that we are at war with satan, just like Jesus, then these requests in the teaching prayer of Jesus make sense. Jesus has requested the Father to bring to his people today some of the abundance of the Rule of God (from tomorrow). Give us today the bread which we shall enjoy in the future in the Kingdom of God.
FAITH for FORGIVENESS “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
This petition for forgiveness has a condition attached to it. Matthew 6:14-15 makes this petition clear. These verses do not mean that our forgiveness of others earns us the right to be forgiven. It means that God forgives only the repentant, and the chief evidence of penitence is a forgiving spirit.
All of us have points at which we stumble. The Lord doesn’t want to bring us under condemnation, but to have us understand that we regularly need forgiveness for us to live out our standing. But then God goes further than this revelation, telling us we are to ask to be forgiven by Him to the exact same degree that we forgive others.
There’s not one of us that shouldn’t be stopped cold in our tracks with that prayer every time we pray it. It asserts something about the heart of God that mandates each of us who would come to know kingdom life—the life that walks with Jesus Christ—must recognize that having been so massively forgiven, I must be equally forgiving in all circumstances.
In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus tells the parable of the unforgiving servant, establishing the principle of “parallel release” from which we should learn to be forever humbled and forever forgiving. At the story’s conclusion, when the unforgiving servant is thrown into debtor’s prison and “delivered to the torturers,” Jesus says, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” The proposition is clear: we don’t have any leg to stand on for the spirit of unforgiveness.
Probably the thing that each of us most needs to ask forgiveness for is our unforgiveness. Being judgmental is lacking forgiveness. It’s not forgiving people because they don’t meet your criteria, standards or expectations. It’s normally directed against people who are socially or ethnically different than you.
In Matthew 5:23-24, during this same sermon on the mount, Jesus says that if we want to bring a sacrifice of worship to the Lord but have something straining the relationship between ourselves and anyone else, don’t bother. It doesn’t count. The Lord won’t let you pick between these two propositions: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart soul, strength and mind”—that’s vertical worship—and “Love your neighbor as yourself”—that’s the horizontal. He says it’s all one package.
Forgiving is the key to learning all of life. You may be perfectly justified, humanly speaking, in feeling someone didn’t have the right to do what he did to you. But in the life of the kingdom, Jesus says, we’re transcending the limits of human thinking. It took more than human thinking for me to be washed of all my sins and forgiven. He says now that we’ve become participants in so great a forgiveness, we must become avenues of it.
The fifth petition reads “…And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” I think a better translation would be: “Do not let us succumb to the attack (of the evil one), but deliver us from the evil one (and his attacks).” This petition plainly asks God that when the counter attack of Satan comes, that we be delivered from that attack.
Jesus is reminding us that we are engaged in a spiritual struggle, and there is a being (“the evil one”) that we are having to deal with relentlessly.
This has to do with tests and trials that are always present, and God’s faithfulness that with the temptation [He]will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13).”
FAITH to TRUST Trusting faith; power through praise “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen”
In these last words, Jesus is saying:
- after you’ve come before the Father and been reminded of the richness of the relationship you’ve been given with Papa in heaven, who loves you with an everlasting love;
- after you’ve come before His throne and bowed in worship so that you can be transformed in your character and behavior;
- after you’ve begun to accept the responsibility of the awesome privilege of invoking heaven’s power on earth into situations that would run rampant because of human confusion or hell’s meanest work, except for someone who will stand in the gap—
- with that, you’ve learned how much the Father cares, and that He’s taught us, through His Son, the way to pray.
Jesus has summoned His disciples to ask for God’s name to be set apart; for his Kingdom and will to be done. He encouraged them to “pray down” the gifts of the Age to Come into their lives here and now. He suggested that forgiveness was something important to pray about. Finally, they should pray that God would not allow them to be attacked by the evil one. All of this was to be prayed in an environment of intimacy with their dad.
Do not let us succumb to the attack of the evil one, We are all in a war whether we like it or not. Jesus has provided a model for us to pray concerning the battles within the war. List them. Employ his help.