Matthew 6:9-13

“Pray, then, in this way: Our Father in heaven, may your name be revered as holy. May your kingdom come. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one."


It was another funeral and at the invitation to join in the Lord’s Prayer I noticed, not for the first time, that only a few voices joined in even though the words were printed in the service booklet. Not unusual you might think but it got me thinking about the saying of the Lord’s prayer and what was Jesus hinting at when he tells his disciples to pray thus.

In Matthew, chapter six, Jesus first makes it very clear that any acts of service, of charity, should be done quietly and not with limelight. He moves on to prayer and Jesus lays out what we commonly call the Lord's Prayer, and in it “He provides the greatest Christian teaching of the centuries on spiritual formation” ( David  Timms ).

Many people would say that the Lord’s Prayer carries with it the whole way to live the Christian life, it is the call to Kingdom living. The Lord’s Prayer whilst being well known and often recited, without too much engagement, carries within it, I suggest, some great insights into the truths of God’s Kingdom.

In the Lord’s prayer we find Christ himself laying out the pathway to a full life in Him, to see indeed what living the Kingdom looks like for all who will follow him. Our challenge is to slowly live this prayer and to discover the fundamental features of the deeper Christian life. So we don’t have lengthy pages of complicated lines. Jesus uses just seventy-two words, and in those few words he outlines life-giving attitudes and actions. We also encounter a prayer that does not seek to get God's attention but to give our attention to Him. Barbara Brown Taylor notes:

"Our corporate prayers are punctuated with phrases such as "Hear us, Lord" or "Lord, hear our prayer," as if the burden to listen were on God and not us. We name our concerns, giving God suggestions on what to do about them. What reversal of power might occur if we turned the process around, naming our concerns and asking God to tell us what to do about them? "Speak, Lord, for your servants are listening ."

The Lord's Prayer guides us into a "reversal of power" and turns around the process of both our prayers and our lives. The Prayer functions less as something to simply learn but more as a challenge to action. The words seem deceptively simple. Remembering ten short lines poses little difficulty for most of us. But the depth of those lines hold within them the ability and capacity to change our lives entirely. So familiar are the lines of the Lord’s Prayer that one might be thinking that such statements of change are simply the mind of one overly enthusiastic. However, we can see that this prayer offers us pathways to  authentic spiritual formation. Or to put it another way, “This is what living the Kingdom looks like”- now go and apply it, seems to be the subtext to the great ‘Amen’ at its end.

Our Father

So in Matthew 6:9-13  - What do we note first? We are to pray OUR father. It is clear that our growth is in Christ, our daily lives are not just about us. We do not pray my father (like some of the stories of taking my communion alive in some places) Immediately we are caught up in a greater family, we are called to live as a part of this wider family.

Hallowed be your name

We are called to live a life that makes Holy the name of God, deed and actions and attitudes that reflect God. What might these look like in our own lives?

Your Kingdom come, your will be done

We are then asking that ‘His Kingdom will come’ and that ‘His will be done in us’. By us, with us for this greater family, his world. What might the sign of God’s Kingdom among us look like in your everyday life and situations?

On Earth as in Heaven

We then pray for reflection of the created earth and of the heavenly realms. It is a bit like the reflection we see in a photo taken of a very calm still lake where the sky reflects the calm still lake back to us. What is this heavenly realm like? ’No more crying, no illness, no rejection, no more segregation, no more starvation’   We are anew drawn into the world of the broken, the isolated, the poor and those who are simply different.

Our daily bread

“Give us today our daily bread”. Not just me Lord but us, the people you have created. Sharing our bread with the hungry raises the question of how we are doing our part towards that time when all are fed.

Forgive us

“Forgive us our debts”, our sins, yes we are a bit of a mess, yes we do continue to mess up but as we have a fresh start with God - how do we enable fresh starts for others? I find myself asking “How can we be activists of mercy?”, even when we are deeply wounded by others and when our instinct is to simply walk away or retaliate. What might active mercy look like in that situation?

Lead us not into temptation

“And lead us not into temptation” It is not only about eating too much chocolate or engaging in gossip. It is about how can we live this Kingdom-life resisting the temptation to think we are better at it than God, doing it our way within our understanding. We are needing to be aware that this life we have chosen to live for God will be subject to attacks from those people and things that would have us walk another way and to bring in other kingdoms.  What are the tools that God has given us in order to live the kingdom? Remaining in community with others, keeping our eyes on Him.

The Kingdom, power and glory are yours

In the version often spoken in church today we end with “For the Kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever, Amen” The Lord’s prayer provides the blueprint for Living the Kingdom  - full of challenge, and full of opportunity to pray and partner with God to extend his Kingdom of love ‘on earth as it is in Heaven.’ Living the Kingdom is not done for our own glorification but for Christ’s Kingdom, power and glory. Amen.