In my opinion, this is not really the “Lord’s Prayer” (that one is found in John 17). This would better be titled “The Disciples’ Prayer”, as it was designed by Jesus for his disciples. An almost identical version is found in Matthew 6:9-13, as part of the Sermon on the Mount. Personally, I don’t think that it was intended to be prayed verbatim but was more of a ‘template’ for their prayer lives – a series of ‘bullet-points’ or headings that gave the disciples a framework for intentional praying. (There’s obviously nothing wrong with praying it all through in one go, though.) Let’s look at each stanza…
“Father…” (Or “Our Father in Heaven”): Prayer starts with relationship. Being close to God, enjoying his Fatherly presence and his expressed love, should be the beginning of our time with him. Have we even considered that He desires and needs these times of closeness as much as we do!!! On some occasions we will not need to move away from this first line of the prayer – it will take up our entire ‘session’, and rightly so. O for a closer walk with God! If we get this right in our lives, most other things should fall into place, and we will have all the motivation we require to serve him faithfully.
“Hallowed be your Name”: The ‘name’ of a person is a biblical description of their character; God is therefore known as holy because He is holy. After coming close to our Father and our Friend, we then realise that He is also our God – omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, eternal, and unique. We are filled with a sense of awe in his presence. We meditate on it, celebrate it, and share it with others.
“Your Kingdom come” (and “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”): The Kingdom of God means the complete rule of God – and so our prayer is for the same perfect will of God to be obeyed on earth as it already is in heaven. The phrase in parentheses above is from Mathew’s version and in true Hebrew poetic style, it is a parallel meaning to the first phrase. When we pray this through, in our own words, we are truly saying that we want our own lives firstly to be in obedience to Christ, and then the lives of those around us (notice the order!). Every time we obey him, the Kingdom has indeed advanced a little further into the earthly sphere. We exist to bring heaven to earth!
“Give us each day our daily bread”: Bread, the basic foodstuff of life, here represents all our earthly needs (but not always our wants). We are encouraged to come to Him for our food, our health, our relationships, our finances, and even for that impossible-to-find parking space! (I ask all the time!) He really does want us to ‘bother’ him day and night with our tiny requests. But let us not diminish him by restricting ourselves to these; he is also the God who is able to give us ‘more than all we can ask or imagine’ – and maybe we need to have our imaginations upgraded! Also, let us remember that if we seek first his Kingdom, then a lot of the smaller stuff will be answered along with that. But do keep asking.
“Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us”: Those who get their entire doctrine of forgiveness from the Book of Romans sometimes overlook the ‘reciprocal’ nature of this prayer. It does appear that only ‘Forgivers’ get to be forgiven (see Matthew 6:14-15)! But, then again, looking back to Luke 7 at the story of the woman of ‘ill repute’ who wept over and anointed Jesus, those who are forgiven by God are also changed in their hearts to love a lot, which must include forgiving others. So, it works both ways.
“And lead us not into temptation” (…”But deliver us from the Evil One”): The thought here is probably that God will not take us through such severe trials of our faith that we are tempted to abandon it or to be unfaithful to him. God has promised that he will only allow us to be tempted up to the limit that we can endure (see 1 Corinthians 10:13). He will, on demand, also protect us from the Devil and his armies (see Luke 10:19). But we should still pray these promises into life and fulfilment.
One day, the King will return to earth, bringing all of Heaven with him, along with all those who have died as Christ’s. The earth will be filled the knowledge and glory of God as the waters cover the sea. And then our prayer will only need to contain the first two lines of the above!
Luke 11:12 encourages us to ask for the Holy Spirit and his power – as often and as confidently as a child would ask their father for food. So daily, then! He will supply.
In verses 14-36, Jesus warns his opponents not to cynically ascribe his power to something demonic. He was systematically ‘driving out the so-called strong man’ as he went around Israel doing miracles, healings and evicting demons. There is a sharp warning to those who have been delivered that they need to be filled with the Holy Spirit – or else even stronger demonic forces will come into the person to fill the power vacuum!
“Your eye is the lamp of your body…” (vv34-36) is a significant allegory that, I think, relates to what you choose to focus on in your life, and where you choose to put your trust. Matthew 6:22-23 places this same passage in the middle of a longer discourse about money and mankind’s reliance upon it. Do we trust and serve money, or trust and serve the Lord!
Finally, in verses 37-54, there is a long passage where Jesus denounces the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and experts in the Law, giving many real-life examples and strong warnings of the judgement to come. God really hates hypocrisy!