March 8 – Lord’s Prayer Week 2
As we keep moving through the Lord’s Prayer, encourage folks to memorize it if they haven’t already, or make a practice of reciting it regularly if they have. Also, if you’re wondering where the ‘for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory’ part went, check out this post: What happened to the end of the Lord’s Prayer?
You can break the Lord’s Prayer down in different ways, but many people recognize seven parts to the prayer. It starts with an address, “Our Father in heaven,” followed by three petitions of worship and then three petitions of need. Those three petitions of worship are 1. May your name be hallowed, 2. May your kingdom come, and 3. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. This week we’ll be looking at the second and third petitions, found together in verse 10.
Notice how these petitions are staged. They take the form of requests that are hoped for and that will be generally carried out in the world. We’re inclined to skip ahead and make them personal, “May I revere your name, may I advance your kingdom, may I do your will,” but in Jesus’ prayer they are presented as a desire of the believer for the world around them, even before that believer starts asking for specific things in verses 11-13. R.T. France puts it this way in his commentary on Matthew: “The first three clauses are cast in the form of wishes … they are in effect a doxology, an act of worship, associating the praying community with God’s purpose on earth.”
You’ve maybe already heard about the A.C.T.S. structure for prayer, a structure we’re following day-to-day in the Lent Study Guide. The acronym is Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication; we start by adoring God and worshiping him, then we confess our sin to him, we thank him for his grace and provision, and finally we ask for his provision in specific areas (we had to go with supplication instead of asking, ACTA just didn’t work). The Lord’s Prayer doesn’t contain all these pieces, but it does position itself similarly. Before we get to any sort of requests for provision, as pressing as they may be, we want to first worship God and associate ourselves not with our purposes but with his. Our prayer, and by extension our whole lives, are meant to revolve around God’s desires, not our own. That’s not meant to silence our needs, desires, and fears, but when we think about who it is we’re praying to they shouldn’t be the first thing on our lips.
“Your will be done” is one countercultural aspect of verse 10 for us. We live most of our lives doing our own will. We live in a culture that lauds the person who accomplishes great things, i.e. their own will. We live in a country with laws protecting, to some degree, the pursuit of happiness, the desire of our own will. And when we pray, if we pray, we typically ask God to do what we ask: our own will. The Lord’s Prayer would have us subvert the cultural mandate of, and our own sinful bent towards, our own will, putting us in orbit around God’s purposed rather than our own. As this slides into reality in our lives, as our own little realms start to look more like God’s realm, that will produce massive changes in the way we live and interact with the world, and subsequently change what we ask for when we pray.
Questions for Discussion
• Can someone read Matthew 6:9-13 for us?
• What stands out to you about verse 10?
• What does it mean for God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done?
• What does it mean for God’s will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven”?
• How do you think this part of the prayer is meant to shape our lives?
• We typically ask God to do things we want done. What does it mean to pray “your will be done”?
• How has God positioned you in the world to be part of his coming Kingdom?
• Let’s finish our time by reading The Lord’s Prayer out loud together.