The "Lord's Prayer" is probably the deepest prayer contained in the Word of God. The Lord God himself was teaching us how to pray and what to pray for. It is something that should be studied in its entire depth. The following words will only skim the surface in understanding the prayer. Since it was spoken by God on this earth, in the form of Jesus Christ, it can only be an eternal Word of God, it's expression continuing to unfold forever.
THE LORD'S PRAYER IN CONTEXT
We must first see that the title "The Lord's Prayer" is actually a misnomer. In the context in which it was spoken, Jesus was teaching his audience how they (not He) should pray. In one case (Matthew 6) he was speaking to the multitudes in His Sermon on the Mount. In the other instance, (Luke 11), He was speaking only to His disciples, in response to their inquiry "Lord, teach us to pray". So technically, the prayer may properly be called the "disciples prayer" or even the "multitudes prayer". No matter what we call it, let's first examine the context, the background in which it was spoken.
The prayer is spoken only twice in the Gospels, in Luke 11:2-4 and in Matthew 6:9-13. In Matthew, the Lord was speaking to the multitudes, which included a mix of people including some believers, some undecided, some who were there for the curiosity. The entire Chapter of Luke 11 is based on the topic that true believers should not be hypocrites, as the leaders of Judaism the Pharisees and the Sadducees, were. He told them that the Pharisees did "good deeds" in order to be seen by man and gain the favor and respect of men. He instructed them not to pray as the Pharisees did, with vain repetitions and long prayers, thinking they would be heard for their many words. By praying in public, on street corners and in synagogues they were again seeking the favor from men, not from God. Jesus told the crowd to do good deeds in secret, and to pray in secret and that the Father would then reward them openly. And as they were praying to the Father in secret, in v.9-13, he told them what to pray in secret, and that was Lord's prayer.
In Luke 11, Jesus spoke the words of the "Lord's prayer" in a different context. There he was speaking only to His disciples. He spoke in response to their inquiry of "Lord teach us to pray.." So the Lord began to answer them. He said "This is how you are to pray" and and began to speak the Words of the prayer.
In this case, however, He gave the disciples additional guidelines in how to pray, guidelines He did not give the multitudes (Luke 11:5-13). First, he gave a parable. There was once a man who went to his friend at midnight, asking for a loaf of bread. At first, the friend refused (it's late, my family and I are in bed). However, after the man's persistence in not taking no for an answer, the friend eventually rose and gave the man all he wanted.
Jesus was teaching them the principle of persistence in their prayer. He showed the disciples that even if God is your friend, that fact alone does not give any special inside track on getting prayers answered. He pointed out that real persistence means asking God and seeking God (the Greek words are "ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking" (see New American Standard Version of Luke 11). The point he was making was that, knowing man as He did, that too many will give up if the answer does not come quick enough for them. They will wonder why God didn't answer their request.
Jesus goes on to note that you must go to God in prayer with a faith that He will give you what you are praying for. Their faith was to be that, just as a human Father will not give his son a stone when he asks for a fish, then "how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask (and who keep on asking). The answer will come even if it's in a form that you not agree with, or worse will not perceive as the answer at all (eyes to see, ears to hear). Therefore, in Luke 11, The Lord has given the disciples a complete response to their inquiry. Of course, the same principles apply to us as well, 2000 years later.
ANALYZING THE PRAYER ITSELF
Volumes could be written and myriad words could be spoken about the "Lord's Prayer".
It is presented as the prayer that God really will answer. This is because when praying this prayer you are seeking "His Will", not your own. To often we pray for personal blessings or other things that God may not be concerned with at all. He is concerned only with His own will, which in the long run will benefit us more than our whim of the moment. Let's examine the prayer, one line at a time, and see how far we get (scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, 1995 revision).
1. Hallowed Be Thy Name
First, (v.9) starts with "Our Father who is in heaven Hallowed be Your name". This verse teaches us how to approach God in prayer. We must approach Him with worship and reverence. Words synonymous with "Hallowed are (from the Oxford Concise Thesaurus): worshiped, honored, Holy, sacred, consecrated,sanctified, blessed, revered. We approach Him in worship, in a recognition of who He is, how glorious He is, that He is the all in all, the Holy Father who created the heavens, the earth and us. In approaching Him thus, we are recognizing that He as God, can do anything, including answering our prayer. In a word we Glorify the Father before asking anything.
In Verse 10 Jesus says: "..Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven". What an audacious request! As you look around you in the Earth, is God's will being done? The world is under darkness and futility, cursed from the time of Adam and Eve (see Genesis 3; Romans 8: 20-21). How then is it possible that God's will is to be done on a corrupted Earth, as perfect as is is done in heaven? The answer is that only God can do it. That's why we are praying that his will be done on Earth, rather than just doing it in our own futile efforts. No man/women or multitude could possibly accomplish this, only the unlimited God.
As Paul puts it (Galatians 5:29-21)the deeds of the flesh (done on Earth) by the corrupted human nature are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, and carousing. Contrast this with the deeds done in Heaven, in the Spirit realm, where God lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Quite a gap I'd say! We should see that the deeds currently done on Earth are closer to the deeds of the flesh than the deeds done in the Spirit realm (heaven). We thus have a big job ahead of us to pray that God change this present world (or replace it), Christ through us. All we can really do is to pray for it, as the Lord has told us to do.
2. Thy Kingdom Come
Verse 10 begins with ..."thy Kingdom come..." Therein, God reveals His entire purpose as to what He wants accomplished in the Earth. It is only in the Kingdom (the Kingdom of God) that "His will" will be done on earth. And He does not want us to wait until we "die and go to heaven" - He wants His Kingdom to BE ON EARTH, just like it is in heaven. What is the Kingdom? As stated above it contains only joy, blessing and all the other attributes or fruits of the Spirit. An eternity of blessing which exists both on Earth and in Heaven. Jesus did it in heaven by, after resurrection, obtaining authority over the Earth and all of creation. It is up to us, His elect, to manifest on earth what He has already accomplished, in the Spirit realm, where He and the Father reside as one.
With this article, we can catch a glimpse of the depth of this one prayer. We have only covered 2 verses in this first of a series. We will go on to the other verses in subsequent writings. Stay tuned.