Previously in my December post, I discussed with you how the Lord's Prayer appears to be a modified version of the eighteen Benedictions of Blessings the Jews recited three times a day. Within their busy work schedules, abbreviated prayers became acceptable as demonstrated by Jesus' example in the Lord's Prayer..
To review, the first verse of the Lord's Prayer which appears in Matthew 6:9, begins with "Our Father Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name," which we found to translate as "May Your name be sanctified." Sanctify means to make clean, holy, purify, or separated unto Him. Therefore, because we are in covenant with Him, whenever we obey His commandments we are sanctifying His name.
The phrase "Thy kingdom come" found in verse ten was common in Jewish prayers. It referred not only to the future Messianic Age, but also to our present needs here on earth, depicting the kingdom of heaven is at hand. They were also accustomed to praying, "Let Him cause His kingdom to reign and His redemption to flourish." We see that "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," is very similar to the 3rd benediction found in the Amidah which states: "We will sanctify Your name in the world even as they sanctify it in the highest heavens." Therefore, as a result of our prayers and obedience we see that we have an important part in our relationship with the Lord to sanctify His name on earth as it is in heaven.
Now I pray with greater understanding knowing the deeper meaning of this beautiful prayer. In summarizing, let's look at the following:
1. Our Father whose name is to be hallowed will be sanctified.
2. Since we are in covenant with Him and choose to obey His will, we purify or sanctify His name.
3. In our covenant union, the two become one. Names are not only exchanged, but the characteristics representing the meaning behind each name is also exchanged or sanctified.
4. Since His will is already done in heaven, it is now duplicated here on earth as we follow His instructions.
5. His kingdom not only represents what will take place in the future age or in heaven, but is also applicable to our current needs here on earth at this time.
Israel knew that their hope for redemption was related to their obedience to the commandments of God. In praying the Lord's Prayer I have learned it is not simply a prayer of words for the Lord to hear or answer, but it implies a a responsibility on my part. If I want the Lord's name to be sanctified on earth, I must choose to keep His commandments, which in turn will expand His kingdom.
I will continue to discuss some of the benefits of walking in His covenant of love, expressed in the Lord's Prayer next time.