The Lord’s Prayer
This prayer given to us by Jesus contains some of the most beautiful, inspiring, and helpful ideas that we could possibly need. The prayer reminds us of some great truths about ourselves and our relationship with God. It reminds us of the tremendous, unlimited potential that is within us that we have not as yet come to recognize. Contemplating these ideas will help us to grow in our spiritual awareness of them so that God can do more through us.
The words “Our Father” represent the creative capacity of God that is within every individual. These words remind us of the close, intimate relationship that is possible with God, a relationship in which we depend upon God totally for all that we need. God is our Creator, our Source of happiness, joy, health, supply, security, or whatever is needed. Many times we turn to the outer world seeking someone or some-thing to fulfill some need in our lives. But there is nothing in this outer world that can make us happy. No person can make us happy and no set of circumstances can make us happy or successful. When we make the inner contact we will find outer fulfillment and we may think the outer is the cause but it is the inner relationship with God that is the Real Cause. God in us is the Source of all the energy and creative capacity that we will ever express. Our present human awareness may be limited but this inner Source is never limited. When we affirm “Our Father” we are acknowledging our oneness with this creative Source and this is something that we must do constantly, every day, and in meeting every experience in life.
“Who art in heaven.” These words remind many or at least stimulate them to think of heaven as a place up in the sky. Many are looking forward to going to some “place” that they believe to be somewhere in this universe where things will be peaceful and blissful. But heaven is not a place; it is a state of consciousness, a condition of the soul. When we are in tune with God and are in harmony with universal law we are in heaven, we are in a peaceful state of consciousness, a powerful and masterful state of consciousness and experience. When we are out of tune, when we violate spiritual principle, then we experience what has been termed “hell.” We experience guilt feelings, frustration, and other negative emotions and feelings. We should remember that God is omnipresent. As for our contact with God we have this contact in us and we might therefore think of God dwelling in the heaven within us.
“Hallowed be Thy name.” This means to consciously acknowledge and accept and believe that God is all-powerful. There are times when we are confronted with problems and challenges and it seems that even God is powerless to do anything about them. But this is not the case. God is all-powerful. He only needs more of us to believe this so that He can express His greater good through us. We may not always be in tune to the degree necessary for a greater expression of God-power but we can stand firm in our faith and know that God is all-powerful and that one day when we are properly prepared in consciousness we will see and experience the manifestation of this power. We are in the process of growing and developing and we may need to practice and prepare ourselves. The personal ego wants to do everything immediately and it also wants to avoid all strenuous effort to achieve something good. But things do not happen that way as a general rule. The miracle comes when the consciousness is developed. It will take willingness on our part to practice daily the art of true prayer. It will take patience on our part to let ourselves grow instead of running to and fro grasping after metaphysical straws. So we affirm “All-powerful is Thy nature” in the face of the most trying circumstances and we learn to stand firm and face what needs to be faced instead of running from it.
“Thy kingdom come.” At the time of Jesus many believed that God would soon come and set up a kingdom on earth by eliminating all the evil people and evil nations. Many Christians still expect that this may happen sometime soon. They have not realized that the kingdom that is to come is not an outer kingdom. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” The coming of the kingdom is the dawning in consciousness of the inner Presence of God. When the perfect realization comes it is usually very staggering. It is more than an intellectual experience. Some of the Old Testament prophets tried to get this inner message across to the people but they interpreted their words literally and missed the spiritual message.
For example, read and think on these words of Haggai 2:6 6k 7, “Thus saith the Lord of Hosts: Yet once a little while and I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all nations ...” This is the great shake up of human consciousness that takes place within the individual who has a true, genuine spiritual realization of the inner Presence of God. When truth is realized it shakes up the personal ego and begins the breaking up of negative states of consciousness. Malachi describes the coming of the realization of God’s Presence in this way. “The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple.” (3:1) There is no temple in Jerusalem today. There is a mosque on the site where the Jewish temple once sat. What is the temple that the Lord is coming to? The truth is the Lord is already in His temple. You are His temple and I am His temple. Everyone is the temple and the Lord God dwells in His temple. The realization of this great truth may come suddenly. You will recall that Jesus said we should watch and pray, for we would not know at which moment the Lord would come. It is a joyous occasion when we have this experience but it is also a sad occasion for the personal ego.
Malachi further describes this challenging part of the experience saying, “But who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire.” (3:2) Some are not ready for the experience. They could not stand it, for it would be too shattering for them both intellectually and emotionally. But the day will come when they will be prepared. When the occasion happens it will be like a refiner’s fire, a purifying process that will take place in the soul. Old beliefs will have to be released. We can no longer think the many negative things that we have been thinking about ourselves. We will have to begin to think the truth that we are sons of God with unlimited potential. We will have to let go of old traditions that may be limiting. The same applies to habits that are restricting and hampering our spiritual growth. We will have to be purified in consciousness.
Isaiah says that when this happens the eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Those reading and hearing his words were not blind or deaf physically. He was speaking of the inner blindness. The inner eyes will be opened to the great truths about God and about life. You and I will see and hear and understand and experience a new relationship with our indwelling Lord. We will learn to listen to the still small voice within us instead of paying too much attention to the many voices of the outer world. Isaiah further tells us of the great blessings that will begin to happen in our lives. He says, “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight and the rough places plain.” (40:4) Every condition of lack and limitation will be filled; every problem that looks like a mountain will be made level, meaning it will be overcome. Our lives will be straightened out in truth. He also says, “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together . . . (40:5) When the real kingdom in consciousness is revealed it will be a glorious and powerful experience. Our human minds right now are incapable of realizing how glorious it will be. All human bondage and captivity will be ended. There will be no sickness or any other negative experiences for the one who has this experience.
“Thy will be done.” We should never be reluctant to affirm this portion of the prayer for God’s will for us is good, only good, and nothing but the good. This doesn’t mean that we try to make sense out of tragedies that we may bring into our lives due to lack of understanding or ignorance or even willfulness. God does not cause tragedies. If we are to experience the good will of God we must be willing to put aside our personal will, ambitions, goals or whatever and let ourselves be totally open and receptive to God’s guidance. Personal goals are always limited and we should be willing to give them up for God’s spiritual goals for our lives. When we say as Jesus said, “Not my will, but thine be done,” we will have unlimited goals and opportunities to express in life, goals and opportunities that we could never dream up with the human use of the imagination. God will always help us grow beyond our human limitations. Therefore we should affirm with this portion of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy good be done.”
“In earth as it is in heaven.” This means that we want all outer manifestations to be in harmony with principle, with God’s good will. We only want to meet all problems and challenges in principle. The ego often wants to meet them in a personal way through hate, resentment, or by fighting. But we must learn to let love through as forgiveness and overcoming evil with good as Jesus suggested.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” I don’t believe Jesus was referring simply to food and other physical needs. According to Jesus God is more willing to give than we are prepared to receive. So in truth there is no need to even ask. Certainly there is no need to beg and plead. Jesus said, “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” He also told the stories about how God made the flowers of the field more beautiful than Solomon and how he provides for the needs of even the sparrow. He then reminded us that we were of more value than these. Our daily bread is the daily inspiration we receive in our time of meditation. Our daily bread is spiritual ideas, guidance, and wisdom that we receive directly from Him who dwells within us. If we give expression to the inner guidance, the outer provisions will always be there when they are needed. This portion of the prayer is encouraging us to move from the begging and pleading consciousness to the consciousness of faith and expectation.
“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” This is a great challenge that Jesus is giving us. When we say this we are saying in so many words that we want God to forgive us in the same way that we may or may not forgive others who have offended us. We are asking that God express the same intensity of love or hate toward us that we may express toward someone else. We do not have to be concerned that God would hate us or be reluctant to forgive us for He always does that. Jesus is just reminding us that forgiveness is important to spiritual growth.
“And lead us not into temptation.” The Greek word translated as temptation could also be translated as trial or test or persecution. It was believed by many at the time of Jesus that before the kingdom of God came on earth there would be a great trial and it was known as the temptation. Many who were not strong in their faith would give in to the so-called evil one. This is no doubt more of an expression of some human personality than it is of Jesus. God would not lead us into temptation. God does not send trials or tests to us. God knows us. He knows where we are in consciousness and what experiences we need to grow. God only leads us further into the light.
“But deliver us from evil.” If God is the only Presence and Power there can be no evil power. There can only be human willfulness in using or expressing God power in negative ways. We do want to be delivered in consciousness from the misuse of the God power that we are. We want to be delivered from doubt and ignorance. We are asking therefore for God’s help in realizing that there is an answer to every problem we are faced with and that we should never doubt that, even if we do not have an immediate realization or answer. If we will stand firm in the face of any challenge, we will get the answer. If we give up, there will be no answer for the time being.
“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, Amen.” This portion of the prayer is a later addition. The prayer was no doubt used in religious services as we use it today. Additions and changes over the years became accepted. If you are interested to see in the Bible that this is true, compare the two versions of the Lord’s Prayer. One version, probably the older version, is in the eleventh chapter of Luke. The later version, according Biblical scholars, is the one in the sixth chapter of Matthew. This portion of the prayer adds a beautiful conclusion. It is the supreme acknowledgment of God’s power. When the individual is ready, the kingdom will come personally. It will be a glorious experience. Many have known this glory. All their problems may not have been instantly or fully worked out but they know they are moving in the right direction. That right direction is the inner direction, moving to a closer relationship with God.
© 1985, Jim Lewis
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.