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Practical Application of the Lord’s Prayer: Part 1

February 22nd, 2012 by Oleg Kostyuk

The Lord’s Prayer is one of the most well-known passages of the New Testament. In our last episode of Cross Connection we discussed three religious activities that are shared by the majority of the world’s religions. In Matthew 6:1-18 Jesus speaks about (1) almsgiving; (2) prayer; (3) and fasting.

The Lord’s prayer that Jesus introduces is a model prayer that is full of amazing details that are often overlooked. Let’s examine it more closely.

The New Testament was written in Greek. The word order in English is slightly different from the word order in Greek. In Greek the Lord’s Prayer begins with the word “Father” and not “our”.  It is also known that in the time of Jesus the majority of people spoke Aramaic. It was the language of daily communication. In Aramaic the same prayer would start with the word “abba” (Rom 8:15, Mark 14:36, Gal 4:6). But what Jesus does is revolutionary. The Aramaic-speaking Jews were reciting their prayers in Hebrew, not in Aramaic. In the same manner Muslim worshipers recite their traditional prayers not in the contemporary Arabic, but in the classical Arabic of seventh century Arabia. The same was happening in the medieval ages when Christians were using Latin in order to pray; even the Bibles were only available in Latin.

The use of every day language in prayer and in worship for the Jews of Jesus’ time was absolutely outrageous. Yet this is what Jesus did. For Jesus there is no sacred language, there is no sacred culture. Believers are able to break into God’s presence using the language of the heart.

The Lord’s Prayer presents 6 petitions:

Three petitions about God and His Worship Three petitions for our own needs:
1. Hallowed be Your name 4. Give us this day our daily bread
2. Your Kingdom come 5. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors
3. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven 6. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one

 

1. Hallowed be Your name

This phrase presents a paradox. To pray to God that His name be made holy is a bit like saying, “May the water become wet” or “May the fire become hot.” Everything else may be unclean but the name of God is holy. God’s name is made holy by acting in our lives today.

When we pray “Hallowed be Your name” it means, “O God, we beseech you to make Your own name holy.” When we do so, we allow God to start His act of saving the people of this earth. Through His holy name we are saved. (Exod 3:1-22 Moses and God’s name).

Let me share a short illustration that beautifully describes what it means to  keep God’s name Holy.  Good actions can bring Him great honor.

Jonathan Miles is a Christian who founded the ministry of Shevet Achim in Jerusalem. His team brings Palestinian and Iraqi children to Israeli hospitals for heart surgery. Their work has a powerful impact on the Muslims and Jews who see them regularly risk their lives, in the name of Christ, to serve others. Muslim families are stunned by the compassion Jewish doctors and nurses show toward their children.

Once, Jonathan was at a police station in Gaza when a fearsome-looking Palestinian glared at him from across the room. The hulking man approached him and verbally assaulted him for several minutes, demanding to know why he had come to Gaza. (Jonathan later learned that he was a member of a terrorist organization and was even being recruited to be a suicide bomber). Jonathan explained that he was expecting to meet the family of a Palestinian child needing heart surgery. It was getting late though, and the people hadn’t yet arrived.

His questioner’s hostility deflated like a balloon pricked with a pin! Eager to help, the huge man led Jonathan from house to house through the village, knocking on each door to hunt for the family. The two have since become friends, and the man avidly seeks to know more about Jesus. That is the power of one obedient disciple  that by his example he could reach a would-be murderer and cause him to consider following Christ.[1]

How do you keep God’s name holy? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below. 

And make sure you check back with us tomorrow as we continue our examination of the Lord’s Prayer by taking a closer look at the next two petitions: (2) Your Kingdom Come and (3) Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.



[1] Lois Tverberg, Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewish Words of Jesus Can Change Your Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), p. 87.

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