“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” (KJV)
These few verses may be the most familiar and most spoken verses in the Bible. There are so many people who know this prayer and can say it without missing a word. Even if they don’t go to church very much and regardless of their beliefs, they know it. It seems to be that perfect prayer to transcend denomination and creed and it always offers a sense of unity in any type of service. However, there is one word that does trip up many people. When we get to verse 12 of Matthew, Chapter 6 there is usually this cautious pause and a thought passes through our mind: is it sins, debts or trespasses? To this question, I have heard it explained:
- The Presbyterians were from Scotland and had a very frugal nature so they were concerned about debts.
- The Episcopalians were the wealthy and landowners so they were concerned about trespasses.
- The Baptists were fearful of the fire of hell and so they were concerned about sin.
I don’t know if there is any meaning to this, but I do know there is a lot of meaning for each of us in this prayer Jesus taught his disciples to say. Much has been written concerning this prayer. It is often compared to the same prayer Luke records which Jesus gave to his disciples at another time and place. However, at its core, this prayer is designed to allow each of us to place before our Heavenly Father those things of which we have need. In so doing, this prayer covers three essential needs of three important spheres of time in our lives.
First, this prayer has us ask for bread. The Greek word connotes all of the loaf not just some. So we ask for all we need: all that which is necessary for maintain our lives. It is a prayer for what we need in the present, even daily. Secondly, this prayer has us ask for forgiveness. Whether we use the word sin, debt or forgiveness we ask for that which is in our past. This prayer brings the former things into the present realm of God’s forgiving grace. And Thirdly, this prayer has us ask for that which lays before us. It commits the temptations of our future into the hands of a loving God.
It is through this simple yet powerful prayer that we are able to present our past-present-future before the goodness, grace and love of our heavenly Father. AMEN