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The Lord's Prayer

James Grayston

Words change their meaning through time and sometimes this can be confusing when we are trying to understand what the Bible is saying. The word ‘fool’ is a good example of this. The Bible uses this word many times in both the Old Testament and the New Testament but it does not mean what it means in everyday language in the 21st century. We use the word ‘fool’ to mean an imbecile or an idiot. The Bible uses the same word to mean someone who has failed to appreciate the implications of their conduct. We speak of foolhardy behaviour and that is similar in meaning to what Bible usage. A motorbike driver who is travelling at 80 mph without wearing a crash helmet would be taking unnecessary risks and would be described as a foolhardy person – this is nearer the meaning of the way the Bible speaks of a fool. Psalm 14:1 says: The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

In this blog, I want to discuss a less well known word which has got different meanings and we need to clarify the meaning to understand what the Bible is saying. If you look up a dictionary for the word ‘glorify’ the most typical meaning is likely to be ‘to cause to be or treat as being more splendid, excellent etc., than would normally be considered.’ For example, we might talk about ‘glorifying gun violence’ which would suggest that we treat shooting with a gun as something good and exciting when in reality it is horrible and devastating in its consequences.  However, the dictionaries have also the meaning which is used in the Bible – ‘to worship, exalt or adore.’  Here is a definition from a Bible dictionary.

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

1. (v. t.) To make glorious by bestowing glory upon; to confer honour and distinction upon; to elevate to power or happiness, or to celestial glory.

2. (v. t.) To make glorious in thought or with the heart, by ascribing glory to; to acknowledge the excellence of; to render homage to; to magnify in worship; to adore.

I want to get this sorted out in our minds before we have a brief look at what   the real Lord’s prayer.  My generation were taught to recite the Lord’s prayer at school and it began with the words ‘Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name, Thy kingdom come etc.’ This is usually what we call the Lord’s prayer but Jesus introduced this prayer with the words, ‘When you pray, say ….. [Luke 11;3] so it should perhaps be called the Disciples’ Prayer.

Can I introduce you to another prayer which is recorded in the 17th chapter of John’s Gospel and this is the Lord’s prayer? We have an insight into Jesus praying to his Father in heaven and he uses the word glorify (in different forms) repeatedly in this prayer. It is a beautiful prayer and it shows the closeness and intimacy of relationship between the Father and the Son. There is not the scope in this blog to go into all the details of this prayer but I would like to focus our attention on some verses where the Lord Jesus uses the word ‘glorify.’

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. (John 17:1-5 ESV)

The Lord Jesus is praying that He will bring glory and honour to His Father and that His Father will bring glory and honour to Him. The prayer makes it clear that Jesus existed before the world was created and that in eternity the Father was in the presence of the Father and they shared glory. This is so hard for us to grasp but it is wonderful and amazing. Jesus left this realm of glory in order to come down to this world of sin and sorrow and sadness and to be born in unhygienic, uncongenial circumstances in Bethlehem and to live in poverty as a member of a peasant family in Nazareth.

He is now approaching the greatest event in His life and indeed the history of the world. He is ready to die a violent death on a Roman cross – He speaks of this event as ‘the hour has come.’ The crucifixion was no accident – it was part of God’s plan and Jesus had come to earth, not only to live a sinless life and not only to accomplish so many miracles but He had come in order to die a violent death in order to save the world from sin. He speaks of the gift of eternal life as a love gift from the Father to those who are given to the Son – those who have received him

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13 ESV)

Jesus would have to give up His life and die on a cross in order that we could receive this great gift of eternal life. In this prayer He speaks about glorifying the Father by accomplishing the work which His Father had given Him to do. This work was His death on the cross of Calvary and He is praying to the Father before being arrested by the Jewish authorities in the Garden of Gethsemane and being handed over to the Romans to be crucified. Yet, He speaks as if this event had already taken place. This is amazing. When we are dealing with deity and godhead, the tenses of the verbs are changed. We would have to use the future tense if we were praying about an event still to happen and we would have to add a note of uncertainty by adding a word such as perhaps or maybe. For example, I would perhaps like to pay a visit to someone or I will perhaps visit this person in the near future. When the Son of God is involved, there is no uncertainty. He is so certain of his determination to do His Father’s will that He can speak about a future event – his dreadful violent death on the cross - as if it were already past.  He is not only certain that He will be crucified but He is also certain that by doing this He will bring glory to God.

This prayer makes it clear that God was glorified by the death f His own dear Son on the cross. It also makes it clear that we, if we are Christians or believers in the Lord Jesus Christ can share in all of this. The verses above expand what is meant by eternal life – we come to know God and His Son, Jesus Christ. We would never have seen God if Jesus had not come into the world to make him known to human beings. The amazing thing is that a sinner such as the writer can enjoy a close relationship with the God of Heaven through his Son.

There is more. He prays that we may see this glory one day in heaven and that we may experience this in our everyday lives on earth.

The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:22-24 ESV)

His prayer is that his disciples would be united in love with each other so that the world would know about Jesus. I would like to end on this note. As Christians we are going to share in glory and see the Lord Jesus – not naked and bleeding on a cross but glorified in heaven with all the angels worshipping him. What about the present – do those who see us worshipping Him and living as Christians see the signs of divine life in us? Do they see Christians united in love and in service? Do they see something from our lives which will cause them to worship God and the Lord Jesus and will bring glory to Him.