The Lord’s Prayer, Part 1
Topic: Grace Pulpit Passage: Luke 11:2-3
The Lord’s Prayer (Part 1)
March 15, 2020
We are back to our study of Luke’s Gospel, so we want to ask you to turn to that section on the Lord’s Prayer that’s found in Luke 11:1-4. We’ve been taking our time to understand the privilege that we have of coming to God in prayer, and we have spent a good portion of time to clarify the greatness of the one whom we call “Father,” the one whose name we are to hallow. So we want to understand what is this name all about, and what is it to call him “Father.” So we tried to clarify that. And in light of his greatness, in light of his holy name, we have pondered this right of access that we now have as his children. We can come to God, and we can call him “Father,” the one we call “Father,” the one to whom we belong, the one to whom we are related because we have been joined in spiritual union by the Holy Spirit to his beloved son, Jesus Christ.
Our Father is sovereign over the coronavirus. He is sovereign over every other health scare as well—every outbreak, every epidemic, every pandemic. He controls viruses, bacteria, microbes, cells, atoms, sub-atomic particles, protons, neutrons, and electrons. And he has ordained that in Christ all those particles hold together. The energy that holds the atom together is God. Our Father is sovereign over the planets of the heavens, including the weather on the earth. David considered God’s heavens the “work of his fingers”—the moon and the stars which God ordained. Our Father is sovereign over them all. That means he is sovereign over the climate. He is sovereign over the oceans, the ecosystems, the rain forests. He controls the present health and the future viability of this planet, including every other planet and solar system and galaxy in the entire universe. Our Father is sovereign over all the nations, over all the governments that vie for control, and the powers that wrestle and strive back and forth on the earth—all democracies and dictatorships and monarchies and socialists governments and any other form of tribal government or rule or power. He is sovereign over all. He’s sovereign over all their armies and weapons of war. Weapons of mass destruction are under his control, including more precise weapons—all of it—all their means of projecting power, God is sovereign over it all. Our Father owns it all. He’s sovereign over all the world’s resources, and all the corporations that make use out of the Father’s resources. They that seem so mighty and influential—God is ruler over all. His power and his wisdom make use of whatever resources that he pleases and whenever he pleases. There are no EPA regulations that hinder his plans and purposes. He does what he wants. And his resources, his treasury, is the universe and all it contains, as well as unseen, immaterial resources that also do his bidding, that also come to his command and do whatever he wants. All things are his servants, including mighty angels and small human beings. Our Father’s economy is stable and unchanging, built on sounder principles than the American stock market or the Tokyo Exchange or whatever other financial market in the world. His economy is never shaken by turbulent times. He always gets full return on his investments, too. His will is eternal, perfect, unchanging, and permanent, and the unfolding of his righteous plan is unstoppable. And we know—without any doubt whatsoever—because his Word has told us so, and his word is perfect—that our Father’s heart is kind and good, and his character is righteous, and his power is able to bring justice and mercy to his perfect ends. He has established the earth, and by his appointment it stands fast, and his faithfulness endures to all generations. All things exist and remain according to his good pleasure, to perform his bidding; for all things are his servants, and he does whatever he pleases.
So if you’re here today, and you are one of those who is accepted in the Beloved by the will of the Father—by the regenerating, saving work of the Spirit of God—then the God that I just described from Scripture is your God, and you’re to call him “Father.” If you don’t know this God as your Father by faith, if you don’t know Jesus Christ, his Son, as your Savior and Lord—oh, my friend, what are you waiting for? Do you not want to be rightly related to the Lord of all? If you have received the privilege of calling God “Father,” if you are Christian, you can come to him in prayer. You can seek his help. You can find his comfort. You can receive his power and his grace, and as we learned last time, we have immense privileges as God’s children. Since God is our we benefit from his lovingkindness; we benefit from his infinite provision. We’re under his strong protection, and we grow under his loving disciple and care. God has lovingly surrounded us with every reason for confidence and assurance and trust. He’s sent us his one and only Son, Jesus Christ, who is telling us, here, “Come and pray. Ask and seek and knock.” He commands us for our good to pray, to come near that we might draw near to the Father in close communion with him in prayer.
It’s been a couple of weeks, so let’s start by reading the text again before we look more closely at some of the individual petitions. Luke 11:1-4:
*Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.’”*
As we’ve said before, the first two petitions in verse 2 are about God’s interests; the final three petitions in verses 3-4 are about our interests. And the logic is plain: Jesus wants us to align our interests with God’s interests first, and in that frame of mind we come with the rest of our petitions. That’s a wise plan. It is a good pattern for all of our thinking—not just our praying, but all of our thinking. Align our minds—our perspective—with God’s first, and then bring all of our petitions because they make sense in the light of who God is. So five petitions, here, give us five points to cover. I’m going to list them for you now. You can write them down if you like. Then we’ll walk through them this week and next.
Five petitions: We pray for God’s exaltation, his dominion, his provision, his absolution—which is forgiveness—and his protection. We’ll cover the first three of those today, and then the final two next week. Here’s the first: We pray for God’s exaltation. Jesus said, “When you pray, say, ‘Father, hallowed be your name.’” “Hallowed.” It’s not a word we use often anymore. We hear it every year, though, when we talk about “Halloween,” right? So we think about the word “hallowed” in terms of strange costumes and kids getting candy, but that’s not how we’re supposed to think of the word “hallowed.” “Hallowed” is the word “holy.” “May your name be regarded as holy.” That’s what we’re praying. The word “hallowed” is “hagiozo,” and in context it means “to sanctify,” “to set apart as holy.” And the way this petition is stated—“Let your name be sanctified”—we’re asking God to do what God fully intends to do, namely, to allow his name to be venerated, to let his name be treated as holy, to let it be exalted and lifted up, glorified. Now is there any doubt about that whatsoever? Do we think that God will not cause his name somehow to be exalted, and thus we need to pray? Do we think that we need to pray so that his name will be treated with reverence, to be regarded as holy? Do we believe that he might possibly fail in his attempts to sanctify his own name, and that is why we must pray this? Well, absolutely not. Of course not. If we had any doubts about that, we need only to read the same petition made by our Lord and hear the Father’s reply to Jesus’ prayer. Later in our Lord’s ministry—John 12:28—Jesus prayed, “Father, glorify your name.” That’s what he taught us to pray. “Let your name be glorified.” Jesus prayed this same prayer in a little bit of a different verb tense, but in reply, the Father’s voice thundered out of heaven, saying, “I have glorified it. I will glorify it again.”
So God is not wringing his almighty hands, hanging on, looking for someone to take up his cause that brings honor and glory to his name. He will take care of that just fine. Jesus told those who heard and did not understand that that voice that came from heaven, “This voice has come for sake, not mine.” We’re not praying “Hallowed be your name” as if we have any doubt. God will accomplish that. We have God’s own testimony that he’s not only glorified his name, but that he will glorify his name, he will perfect his own glory. There is no doubt about that whatsoever. The Lord is fully capable of handling the promotion and propagation of his own glory. He’s been doing that ever since the creation of the world, and he’s been doing it all along in everything he has done. In fact, he is the only one who is capable of such a task. That’s why we pray. That’s why we ask him, “Let your name be glorified.” We appeal to him to do what only he can do, and what he has every intention of doing.
When Habakkuk worried over the Babylonian invasion, God told him—Habakkuk 2:14—“The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” Look—it’s not the power or might or the glory of Babylon that will prevail. It’s not any earthly empire. The Lord will be glorified. Yahweh will be renowned, and he himself will do it. Turn over to Isaiah’s prophecy—chapter 59—where Isaiah paints a picture that has sadly become all too familiar to us in our own time. He’s talking about sinful Judah, and we can read along with Isaiah indicting his own time, his own culture, his own generation, and we sadly must fall under the same indictment. He begins the chapter with the hopeless condition of the sinful world that he sees around him as the glory of the Lord seems to be completely obscured by the dark shadow of iniquity and injustice in the land. We’ll pick it up at Isaiah 59:9:
*Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope for the wall like the blind; we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men. We all growl like bears; we moan and moan like doves; we hope for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities: transgressing, and denying the Lord, and turning back from following our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words. Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.*
That is, he becomes food for the predator around him because he stands for righteousness; he stands for truth. And when he stands that way, he makes himself a target for all the unrighteous. Wow! When we look at our own country, when we look across the land, when we see the media, when we see the government and the in-fighting of political parties—does this not ring true? Is that not the scene that’s set before us in our own land? Oh, we long for glory, don’t we? We moan for righteousness and justice to prevail. We look for salvation, but it’s as if we have “Ichabod”—“no glory”—written over our land. It’s really what we deserve, isn’t it? We have in our country sown to the wind, and we have been reaping the whirlwind.
All is not lost, though. There is still hope to be found because God is God, and God is by nature a Savior. Look at the end of verse 15:
*The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man [no man to accomplish his will], and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak. According to their deeds, so will he repay, wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies; to the coastlands he will render repayment. So they shall fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the Lord drives. “And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord.*
Isn’t that what we long to see? Fellow believer—Christian—isn’t this what we long to see? We want to see the fear of the Lord grip all the people around us. We want to see the glory of the Lord prevail, to wash over us like floodwaters covering the land, covering over all of our jagged terrain features, atoning for all of our sins and our iniquities, our injustices. We want to see the glory of the Lord and the holy name of God high and lifted up, and everybody fearing him, turning to him for salvation, listening to his word, worshiping and praising him because he is most glorious. Listen, that will happen. It will happen. Every knee will bow, every tongue will confess. We do not pray in any doubt whatsoever. We pray in faith. We pray in great confidence, knowing that our Father is the biggest and toughest “dad” on the block [laughter]. We pray as God’s beloved children, boasting in the name of the Lord.
So what about us personally—you and me? How do we personally as God’s people hallow his name? I mean, if we’re praying, “Hallowed be thy name,” ought we not to live that out? Should we not live consistently with how we’re praying? Absolutely. That’s what we long to do. Let me give you just a few thoughts on that—just a rapid-fire succession. First, we glorify God’s name—we hallow his name—when we profess his name—and when we profess his name openly, loudly, proudly, without being ashamed of the name. We stand as Christians and we say, “God is our God because he is worthy to be everyone’s God. And by his grace we belong to him.” So our boast is not in ourselves; our boast is in him. So we confess his name; we proclaim his name. We even boast in his name and call others to do the same thing—to join us in praising and worshiping him.
Second, we glorify God’s name when we listen to him. We glorify God’s name when we read and memorize and study and meditate on his Word. For as David wrote—Psalm 138:2—“You have exalted above all things your name and your word.” His name and his word are on the same level of concern for God. If we are going to glorify God and hallow his name, we’re going to hallow his Word. And where does that start? It starts with us. It starts with our minds, with what we think about, with what we ponder.
Third—this follows—we glorify God’s name when we obey his Word. We don’t just listen and disregard. We listen with a view to obedience. We listen and hear with a view to doing what he says. We’re hearers and obeyers of his Word. To do what God says is to demonstrate our loyalty, our trust, our fidelity, our love for him. And that brings glory to his name—when people see the wisdom of God worked out in our lives, and they say, “Where did you get such wisdom? Why do you make such decisions? Why are your priorities thus and such and not like the rest of the world?” Because we glorify his name.
Fourth, we glorify God’s name when we sing praises to his name, like we did this morning. What a contradictory thing—a wholly dishonoring thing—to confess God as great, as the majestic King, and then to mumble through his praises—to stifle our singing, as if we’re embarrassed of our own voice being heard. Didn’t God make your mouth? Yes, he did. What did he make it for? To bring praise and glory to his name. Did he give you the ability to project? He did. Notice how I’m answering all the questions for you? I don’t want any argument, here. [Laughter] Doctor Merry, when we sing, should we sing loudly? Should we sing vibrantly? Absolutely. That’s been his proclamation to us ever since he came to this church. We’re so grateful for that ministry. We sing—we sing joyfully, we sing vibrantly, we sing powerfully. Men—use your manly voice! Do not limp through singing—and don’t let me catch any of you walking out to the back and using singing time as a bathroom break! [Laughter] Is God not a great God? Let’s sing with great enthusiasm—unbridled joy—because he is worthy.
Fifth, we glorify God’s name when we tell others what he thinks about things—what he thinks about everything. We don’t just narrow it down to a few words of Gospel truth to try to get them saved, to “close the deal.” No. We tell them what he thinks about everything, particularly matters of sin and righteousness and judgment. We follow the example of John the Baptist, who looked at Herod and said, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” We speak with a prophetic voice. We don’t speak with proud arrogance; we speak with humble boldness to the world around us. Why? Because they need to hear what God thinks about things. You think they’re hearing it in their schools? You think they’re hearing at their workplaces? No. God has been pushed out of the marketplace, pushed out of the public square, pushed out of the classroom. It’s our job to stand up and tell the truth. The church exists in part to be a protest, a protest against the world and its sin. So we glorify God’s name when we stop fearing man and we start fearing God. “The fear of man lays a snare”—Proverbs 29:25—“but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” People need to hear the judgments of God. They need to hear the penalty for sin if they are ever to look to the Christ of God for salvation from their sin.
And so a sixth point—we glorify God’s name when we speak much of Christ—God’s Beloved, God’s one and only Son. We glorify God’s name when we speak much of his saving Gospel, when we talk about his wisdom and righteousness and mercy. When we speak about the grace and what he accomplished on that Cross, bringing justice and mercy together perfectly in one act in one man. God did that in Christ. John 5:23—“Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” Oh, we’d better honor the Son. That’s what we long to do anyway. We glorify God’s name by loving what God loves—by loving his beloved Son.
So if we’re to act in accord with our most earnest prayer—“Hallowed be your name”—how could we grow in this desire to see God’s name exalted? Very simple: We study God. We study the greatness of his name, and we do that for the purpose of love and for worship. And for that I just need to point you to a single text. It’s all the way back in Moses. He said to Israel, “Hear, O Israel!” And today we might just repeat the same refrain: “Here, O church! Listen closely, all you who claim the name, all you who pray ‘Hallowed be your name.’ You’d better know the name, understand the power of that name. The Lord—Yahweh—our God, the Lord, Yahweh, is one. And you shall love the Lord your God. Love him…with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”
The next petition Jesus tells us to pray has to do with the main way that God glorifies his own name—namely, by the extension of his Kingdom on the earth. So the first point is to pray for God’s exaltation—God’s glory, the hallowing of God’s name. The second point, here, is to pray for God’s dominion. Pray for his dominion. Jesus said, “When you pray, say, ‘Father, your kingdom come.’” “Your kingdom come.” And just like the previous petition, we’re not making this petition because there is any doubt whatsoever that God’s will will be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” Or that his Kingdom will reign forever. It will—because God is God. That is abundantly clear throughout Scripture, but especially when God says through Isaiah in Isaiah 46. See this written on the pages of Scripture for yourself. You need to get familiar with these passages. So Isaiah 46:9-10. This whole section of Isaiah is filled with this kind of language. It’s so glorious if you want to understand the name, the will of God, his intention to accomplish all of his good pleasure, his purpose, to extend his Kingdom and his dominion over all the earth. Isaiah 46:9: “Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other. I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.’” Through Malachi, God says the same thing: “‘I am a great king,’ says the Lord of Hosts, ‘and my name will be feared among the nations.’”
Just to reinforce this point, go ahead and turn back to the book of Psalms. We just read for our Scripture reading this morning Psalm 46. I want you to look at Psalm 47. Actually, we’ll look at Psalm 47 and 48—just a couple of texts, here, to fix this firmly in our minds. Both of these are psalms of Korah, and they call everyone to praise God as the great King, the King of Kings. Look at Psalm 47:1: “Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!” Listen—If you have any doubt about how loud to sing, try shouting it, okay? That’s what it says right there. Let an usher come and tell you, “Hey, brother, that’s a little too loud.” [Laughter] Let an usher tell you that. But you just let it belt out, okay?
*For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth. He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet. He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves. God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne. The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted!*
We pray, “Thy kingdom come,” don’t we? That’s consistent with this psalm—but keep reading! Because the theme continues into Psalm 48:
*Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King. Within her citadels God has made himself known as a fortress. For behold, the kings assembled; they came on together. As soon as they saw it, they were astounded; they were in panic; they took to flight. Trembling took hold of them there, anguish as of a woman in labor. By the east wind you shattered the ships of Tarshish. As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God, which God will establish forever.*
And so it goes. God is a great King. It says there, “The king of all the earth” in 47:4. Exalted above all kings. His kingdom is a universal kingdom since he reigns over the nations—verse 8—sitting on his holy throne. He’s exalted, he’s mighty, he’s majestic. His Kingdom is so vast and dominating that he astounds all the kingdoms of the earth. He causes them all to take flight, to panic in fear and trembling. And yet we pray, don’t we? You can go back to Luke 11:2. We pray, “Your kingdom come.” “Your kingdom come.” Why? Here’s the bottom line: Because God has chosen to mediate his Kingdom glory through his one and only Son, through the chosen Messiah. And we are his heralds. We are his ambassadors on the earth, to proclaim his Kingdom, to tell everybody to look to the Son, like Psalm 2 says: “Kiss the son, lest he be angry with you.” This chosen Messiah “was descended from David according to the flesh.” All the promises made about David and to David fulfilled in Christ, and he “was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord”—that’s Romans 1[:2-4].
Currently, this doesn’t seem to be what we see as we look around us. The earth has been subjected to corruption and decay and sin. There are these interloping, intruding powers, invited in through the sin of our father Adam, and it’s not the men themselves—it’s the heart that drives them. Ever since Adam’s fall in Genesis 3, we’ve been living under the unrelenting dominion of sin. We all feel it. We’re all stricken by the same illness from birth, from conception. And by extension, we’re under the unrelenting of Satan and his demons. We are—like all the children of wrath—Ephesians chapter 2—under the power of his persuasion—“the spirit of the power of the air that works in the sons of disobedience”—that is working in us as well as unbelievers. We suffer the effects of the Fall. We suffer the effects of the curse that covers the earth. We’re subject to the power of evil—cruel oppression from Satan and his demonic hosts. For some unbelievers, they’re actually possessed by demons. But all unbelievers are oppressed by demons; blindness is over their eyes, callousness over their hearts as they pursue sin. We’re subject as fallen creatures to sickness, disease, plague, death—the fear, the anxiety that attends all those things hover over our heads like the sword of Damocles. We’re subject to the turmoil that’s on the earth and its structures—its unpredictable droughts and blights, famines, earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, hurricanes. We’re subject to the cruelties and the injustices of men themselves—powerful men, who subdue others by might, some of them who enslave others by their wealth or ensnare others by their cunning. Paul said—Romans 8:22—“The whole creation has been groaning together”—groaning—“in the pains of childbirth until now.”
The earth is groaning because the sovereign God planned for it to groan. “He subjected creation to futility”—Romans 8:20-21—because he intended on purpose to channel all hope to be fulfilled in his Son—and in his Son alone. The hope of release from bondage—found in Christ. The hope of rescue from the power of sin—found in Christ. The hope of rescue from Satan’s dominion—found in Christ. The hope of deliverance from the curse—found in Christ. And most importantly, the hope of experiencing the full penalty of divine wrath for our sins taken away from us—found in Christ and in Christ alone. God chose to “set us free from the bondage to corruption [so we might] obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God, and all of his promises are “Yes” and “Amen” in Christ. They’re fulfilled in him. They’re fulfilled in Christ alone. There is no other Savior. There is no other ruler. There is no other Messiah. There is no other Kingdom. It’s his Kingdom, and the anointed King ushers in the Kingdom of God.
And that’s why, as we have been going through our study of the Gospel of Luke, ever since the beginning of his Gospel, Jesus has had a lot to say about the Kingdom of God. He’s going to continue on from Luke 11 all the way to the end of the Gospel of Luke, teaching on the Kingdom of God. It’s the main subject of his teaching ministry because it exalts his favorite subject—his favorite Person—God the Father. At the very start of his ministry—Luke 4:43—Jesus said that the proclamation of the Kingdom of God was why he was sent into the world—to proclaim that message, to proclaim that Kingdom. He went everywhere throughout Galilee and Judea, even to adjacent lands, spreading that message. He’s the King, but he’s coming as his own herald. What king runs in front of himself to proclaim his own kingdom? He sends heralds to do that; he sends slaves to do that work. He showed us how to do it. He told us the message to preach, and then he invited us to join him in that work, to herald his Kingdom. He went all throughout Galilee and Judea spreading that message. He sent his twelve Apostles. It says he went through cities and villages, proclaiming, bringing the good news of the Kingdom—Luke 8:1. Chapter 9—he sent his twelve Apostles to do that work. Chapter 10—he sent the 72 also to do that work—same message, same herald proclamation: the Kingdom of God. The theme of all the Gospels is that Jesus has come—God in the flesh, God’s appointed Messiah. We look back at 2 Samuel 7; we look to Psalm 2; we look to Daniel chapter 7—all those proclaiming the promise of the Kingdom to him. He’s the King of King and Lord of Lords. He’s come to bring the Kingdom of God with him. It’s exactly what Gabriel told Mary before his birth, even before his conception, saying this: “He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” [Luke 1:33].
So when he came, he proclaimed the Kingdom of God with authority. His message, as we know and have been studying, was validated by supernatural works of power—miracles, healings, casting out demons. He calmed a storm at sea. He commanded the wind and the waves—inanimate, not living, breathing things—he commanded the forces of the world, the natural forces of the world, and they obeyed him—immediately. He entered into the region of the Decapolis, and he cast out a legion of demons. He demonstrated his power over supernatural forces as well, over Satan and his demons. His healing ministry demonstrated power over the curse, his ability to deliver us from disease—coronavirus—and death. He doesn’t just heal the surface wounds. He doesn’t just deal with ourselves. He doesn’t just deal with viruses and bacteria and different things that plague our condition. He doesn’t just banish disease and illness. He goes down to the root cause of it all. He gets to the heart of the matter. He destroys the very reason for the curse itself in dying for sins—because God sent him to do the greatest saving, healing work: to overturn the curse, nullify the power of sin, pay for the penalty of sin, and deliver us forever from the presence of sin.
That’s what his Kingdom is about. It’s about something far deeper than just surface rule and influence and authority—though he has that, too. Jesus came to die for sins. He came to pay the penalty, to satisfy the wrath of God in order to reign over the hearts of his people. He starts with the heart, and then he moves outward. In death, he defeated death, being buried in the tomb, being raised to life three days later. He appeared to his people bodily. He walked around; he ate and drank with them. He ascended bodily to the right hand of the Father, and he now rules and reigns from the Father’s right hand. Right now he does that. He intercedes for his people. He shepherds this church and every other faithful church. He waits for the Father to send him back to gather his people and then to come to judge the quick and the dead. Until that time, Jesus tells us to pray to the Father, “Your kingdom come.”
What is that prayer doing for us? Even as we utter it—if we utter it thoughtfully, if we pray meaningfully, if we meditate on that prayer—it is a prayer that gives us an eternal, Kingdom perspective, doesn’t it? It sets all our troubles and worries and concerns and fears in a proper perspective. It makes them vanish as we think that God’s Kingdom is on the march. It fills us with hope. It’s a prayer that fills us with confidence. It grants us full assurance. It reminds us that we belong to a God whose will cannot be stopped. His Kingdom continues to advance. Even when we can’t see it, it advances. “Your kingdom come” is a prayer that encourages us to keep holding on, to remain “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord Jesus Christ our labor is not in vain” [1 Corinthians 15:58]. It encourages us to never “grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we will reap if we do not faint” (Galatians 6:9). Already, the Lord Jesus Christ rules as King in our hearts, so our prayer is that rule extends to cover every heart, to reign in every place without any hindrance, without any opposition, without any resistance, without any hesitation. We don’t want to see one rogue soul resisting his perfect will—his wise reign, his blessed governance. “Your kingdom come” means “Maranatha!” It means, “Our Lord, come!” He promises us, he promises his people—Revelation 22:20—“Surely, I am coming soon.” Do you believe that? We respond in faith—“Amen and amen! I believe! Come, Lord Jesus!”
So how do we personally live for the coming Kingdom of God—just a couple of thoughts. First, we live for God’s coming Kingdom by not worrying, by never being anxious about anything—that includes these pesky little viruses. It includes our concern about food or clean water or toilet paper—hand sanitizer—60% alcohol and above, right? [Laughter]—bleach—all the rest of the things that the unbelieving world is panicking about right now. We do not panic. We do not worry. We are not anxious. We will not be afraid. We don’t worry because worry is a sin. It’s not only a sin; it’s a grave sin—a horrible testimony for those profess faith in the God as the great and mighty King—and then to worry that this universe is not under his control. What does it say when the citizens of the Kingdom of God are in a state of unrest, when they’re worried about food, when we act like we’re ready to stone our leaders and go back to Egypt because things were better back there. It’s ludicrous. So we live for God’s Kingdom by not worrying, by walking through this life with no worry.
Second, we live for God’s Kingdom by…living for God’s Kingdom. We actually live that way. We start by meditating on his wise and glorious laws—the laws of the Kingdom, the rules of the Kingdom, his judgments, his commandments, his precepts, his testimonies. We speak about them. We boast about them and about the glory of our King because he’s so wise, because he’s all-powerful. We boast and speak about the eternal co-regency of Father and Son, reigning on the throne—the perfect wisdom being revealed in the eternal plan of divine redemption. And what do we do, then? We set Kingdom priorities for our lives that reflect all the truth that we profess. We live consistently with what we really believe to be true—that God is good, that he is wise, that is all-powerful. And that under his dominion, we are safe. When we set Kingdom priorities, we realize that we are servants of the Kingdom. We’re citizens who have a stewardship to perform; we have an accountability to give to our King.
Just to illustrate that, turn a page over in Luke’s Gospel to chapter 12. I want you to hear from the King himself the kind of priority and thinking that you have to have. This is what it means to pray, “Your kingdom come.” This is such an important, comprehensively encouraging portion of Scripture. Look at Luke 12, starting in verse 22:
*And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?*
Can I tell you that in the age of the coronavirus and COVID-19—whatever you want to call it—you will not live or die one second shorter or longer than what God has ordained. So don’t fret. You can’t add a single hour to your span of life. Verse 26:
*“If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”*
Beloved, where is your treasure? Is it in good health? Is it in the stock market? I mean, I’m no financial analyst, but may I recommend a more secure market to invest in—one with an eternal reward for all your investments of time and money and labor and concern—and suffering? Where is your treasure? Where is your confidence? Is it in the public health system? Is it in modern medicine? Is it in the soundness of our hospitals? Is it in the response of our governments to keep us safe and sound and protected and provided for? Let me recommend that you entrust your life and well-being to the only one who can hold you fast, the only one who has the power—by the way, and the will, the desire—to guard your precious life. He actually counts you as more precious than the birds, and you know what? The birds never sinned against him. We have. He’s made provision by forgiving our sin and making us precious to him because we’re in Christ. We are his—the “little flock.”
Well, as we said, Jesus has given us these first two petitions. He’s given these petitions, these prayers, to believing, trusting hearts. We focus our interest and our concern on God and his interests. He is orienting us toward heavenly concerns. He’s provoking within us Kingdom impulses, and when our perspective is shaped by the interests of God’s eternal dominion, when God is at the center of our hearts and minds, well, then, now we’re ready to make petitions that have to do with our lives, our concerns, our day-to-day.
So let’s look ahead at the second set of petitions—verses 3-4. “Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” Those are categories of daily concern: physical life—and the fourth and the fifth petitions, our spiritual concerns. Physical concerns, material concerns, and then immaterial, spiritual concerns in the fourth and fifth. This is our daily life. It’s where we live. It’s where we walk around. It’s what preoccupies us all the time. And our Father cares about these things, too, and lovingly he bids us to come. Not until we’ve thought about him, his Kingdom, the hallowing of his name—he wants that to set our perspective, first, and then he says, “Okay, now come on and think about the rest.”
So here’s the third point—just one more for today. We’ll just save the other two for next time. This is the third point about our provision. So number three: Pray for God’s provision. “When you pray, say, ‘Father’”—and this in verse 3—“‘give us each day our daily bread.’” You notice the repetition of the word “day”—“day” and “daily”? It’s an emphasis, there. “Bread” is being used as a metaphor to represent all of our needs. It stands for all of our sustenance. You could fill in whatever you want to there—bread, meat, drink, shelter, clothing—whatever. “Bread” stands for all of that. I’m going to give you a rather awkward rendering of the verse, and I’m going to do that on purpose. You don’t want to usually give awkward things that sound unclear, but I want to show you the emphasis of this—the sense that Jesus gives us and the flow, here, and how we need to think about this petition about bread. So here’s the sense, and notice again it’s a repetition of that “day” and “daily” idea. “The bread of us”—This is like a literal translation—“that which is for today, give to us according to the day.” [Repeats] So the petition he wants us to pray is “The bread we need each day—that bread—give us that every day—daily.”
That petition, focusing on the day and not the morrow, assumes trust—that I’ll be fine with whatever you grant me today, and tomorrow—pray the same prayer and know that you will provide. It assumes trust. There’s an attitude, here, of peaceful contentment, isn’t there? This isn’t wringing our hands about next month’s bills. It’s confidence that God attends to us at all times and cares for us at all times—and we just need to think about the day. That petition can only be made sincerely when it’s accompanied by an attitude of trust, of rest, of full confidence in the kindness and care and perfect provision of our Father who is in heaven—who sees it all, who knows it all. We believe he’s good. We believe he wants to provide for us. We believe that he is wise, and so he will provide for us according to his will. And so we pray in an attitude of trust and contentedness. We can only do that if we adopt that attitude we just read about in Luke 12:32—“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you”—not just bread for today, but—“the kingdom”—the whole thing! So don’t worry about your daily food. Sell your possessions and give to the needy. That is to say, don’t hoard toilet paper! [Laughter] Don’t fret! Don’t scramble! Don’t tussle! Don’t find for stuff! Don’t stockpile in fear about tomorrow! Why? Because “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” You find yourself preoccupied about all that stuff?
Josh was telling me about a video he watched on the Internet of two ladies—one with her cart stacked with toilet paper to the ceiling, and the other saying, “Oh, no! That’s too much for you! I’m going to grab one of those!” And they got into a fight! Where’s her treasure? Toilet paper?? And the other one—the “have” and the “have not”—both of them—their treasure was in toilet paper! It’s going to get flushed! [Laughter] I’m not trying to crude. I’m not actually trying to be funny. I’m just saying, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Don’t flush your heart! [Laughter] When your treasure is protected by your Father, your heart is at rest, and you can trust him to distribute your bread to you every day, as you have need, according to his perfect will, according to his perfect timing.
So why don’t we pray something like this: “Give us this day, Father, the bread we need for the rest of our lives. And we can be done with this”? Why not ask for a windfall and just be done with it? “Don’t even have to ask anymore. Don’t need to trouble you—just ask one time—you dump it all, I’ll be good.” Two reasons: First, because of our tendency to sin, to drift away from God; and second, because God is teaching us. He’s discipling us. He’s training us. He’s growing us in humble trust and quiet dependency, and he does that on a day-by-day basis.
So first, we have a tendency toward sin, don’t we?—to drift away from God. And if we prayed for a windfall, and God dumped it all on us right now, our relationship with God would be in the rear-view mirror, wouldn’t it? In Proverbs 30:7-9, the wise sage named Agur sensed the danger of over-provision when he wrote this:
*Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; [and then this] give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.*
What is Agur well-acquainted with? The sinful tendencies of his own heart. “Too much—I deny the Lord. Too little—I become a thief. I’ve got sin in my heart. Just give me my daily bread.” It’s just an Old Testament way of saying, “Give us each day our daily bread—not too much, not too little. Please, Father, take care of my daily needs because I trust you.” If we received a windfall of provision from God, getting our life’s provision in one lump sum, might there be a danger that we’d treat our heavenly Father like the prodigal treated his father? “Give me the cash, Dad—now. Give me the cash.” He’s basically saying to his father, “Your only value to me is the money that you’re going to give me when you’re dead, so let’s get it over with. Cash the check out; cash my inheritance out—die already and give me my inheritance so I can go out and have fun with my friends.” What an ugly, ugly, ugly attitude!
How many of us have been just like that? God wants us to come daily for our provision—not because he’s stingy, not because he wants us to grovel—but because he loves us. He wants us to rejoice in a growing relationship of intimacy as we come to him day by day, praying to our Father. The Puritan pastor William Gurnall provided an apt illustration to help us think about the Father’s intent, here. He said, “Which think you speaks more love and condescension—for a prince to give a pension to a favorite on which he may live by his own care, or for this prince to take the chief care upon himself and come day by day to this man’s house, and to look into his cupboard and see what provision he hath and what expense he is at, and so constantly to provide for the man from time to time? Possibly some proud spirit that likes to be his own man or loves his means better than his prince would prefer the former. But one that is ambitious to have the heart and the love of his prince would be ravished with the latter.” What a beautiful picture, isn’t it?—of intimate concern of God for his children, that he bids us to come day by day, that he might, as it were, look into our cupboards and see how we’re provisioned, see what we need, take an interest in our daily life. And we open it up to him, and he says, “Here you go. Let me stock that for you.”
He wants us to come to him not just for bread, not for just for the stuff of daily needs, but for the sake of daily communion. If it’s not about bread per se—if it was ever just about bread—it’s about relationship. Listen to Gurnall again: “This is how God deals with his saints. The great God comes and looks into their cupboard, and he sees how they are laid in, and he sends in accordingly as he finds them. Your heavenly Father knows that you have need of these things, and you shall have them. He knows you need strength to pray, to hear, to suffer for him, and in the very hour, it will be given.” Isn’t that precious? That is why we are to pray, “Give us each day our daily bread.”
But there’s another lesson, here. Again, think beyond bread because bread stands for what sustains us. So we have to ask the question: What really sustains our lives? Is it bread, or is it something else? What really sustains our lives? Is it our fast and effective response to a pandemic—preventing the spread of a deadly virus? Is that what sustains our lives? What really sustains our lives? Is it hard work, proper planning, wise investment, up in the morning to do all the hard work of the day and then invest it and then keep track of all of our finances, keep track of where the stocks are going, and all the rest—is that what sustains our lives? Listen—sometimes—we’re seeing this now, aren’t we?—God removes from us all the wrong things that we put our trust in. He takes away all those false supports that we lean on. All the things the world has trusted in, and all the things the world tells us to trust in—he takes them all away, grabs our attention, and teaches us what truly sustains our lives. And beloved, it is not bread.
Turn to Deuteronomy chapter 8—we’ll close with this. I’m going to start reading in verse 2, but you just catch up with me when you get there. Moses told Israel—they’re about to go into the Promised Land, and it’s the children of the people who came out of Egypt who are going into the Promised Land—not the parents. All the parents—the people who originally came out of Egypt, who saw God’s wonders, God’s miracles, God’s amazing provision for forty years while they wandered in the wilderness—they died in the wilderness because they did not trust God, because they didn’t believe in him, because what he provided they complained against. “All we have is this manna! Where’s the water? We want the leeks and the onions and all the free fish we got in Egypt!” God was angry with that generation, and he strewed their bodies all through the wilderness, and he said, “Your children, whom you think are going to be a prey to the Canaanites—those weak ones, those little ones, the little flock—they’re going to prevail. I’m going to do my work through them.” So Moses is there to instruct this young generation of Israel and to say, “Don’t be like your parents. Don’t be like your faithless, unbelieving parents.” Look at verse 2:
*“And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know.”*
Now remember the manna. Did they go out and gather it in a hoard and store it up for the next month? Did they put it in silos? Did they silo the manna and start selling it off to the Canaanites, like—“Nice wafers; here’s some honey wafers, two for a dollar”? No. Every day, right? Every day. Every day they went out and gathered. “He who gathered little didn’t have too little; he that gathered much didn’t have too much.” Each day—the daily provision. Verse 3:
*“He fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone [What sustains your lives? Not bread alone], but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”*
Let’s keep reading:
*“Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.”*
What’s our lesson? Our lesson is to look ahead—not to now, but to then. We’re not to look for gratification in the moment, fixing it all now. God always points us to the future, to the fulfillment of his Kingdom, just as he’s doing with them. Look at verse 11:
*“Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied”*
Oh, America, please listen! The only remaining superpower, please listen! Take care lest you forget the Lord your God because when all this abundance and prosperity has happened to you—verse 14—
*“then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end.”*
Beloved, God is unchanging, and our Lord Jesus Christ—who is the Rock who followed them, who gave them the water in the desert, who fed them the manna—he is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
What about you, Christian? What about you, American Christian? Knowing that your life does not consist of bread, that you’re not ultimately sustained by bread or good health or sound financial investments or very a prosperous and powerful and influential government—do you understand that you live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord? Beloved, let us together, as a church, pray in faith, in an attitude of humble faith, with a corporate concern that shows a quiet contentment in our God and a love for our neighbor, and express joy and gratitude for God’s care for us all. Let us pray, “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread.”
Father, we do pray that. That is our constant, daily prayer. And even more so, now, as we see the days that we’re in, it’s become so clear to us. So help us, Father, to rise up as a strong church that trusts you, that sees your goodness and provision, and sees your will prevailing. Let us be a source of comfort and joy to those around us, and all of us together pointing them to you and to the salvation of your Christ. It’s in his name we pray. Amen.