Our Father

There are two passages in scripture that are more well known than all others. The 23 Psalm and the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6, so named because Jesus our Lord gave it to us, more specifically Jesus gave it to His early disciples, and by extension us. We have it in Luke 11 and Matthew 6 with minor variations. The Matthew one is the commonly taught one but I have included the version Luke shared because there we see Jesus originally gave it in response to a request. We have more than one version because Jesus traveled around the country teaching and taught regularly on the same subjects but wasn’t reading them word for word off of a tablet – tablets where heavy in those days!

1 Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” 2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.” Luke 11:1–4 (NKJV)

9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. Matthew 6:9–13 (NKJV)

A couple of important elements. When one of the disciples requested a prayer Jesus provided a model one that covered key areas, which was the practice of rabbis in that time period, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” I am going to focus on the version Matthew provided from the Sermon on the Mount as it is the longer and more commonly used version.

The prayer in Matthew begins and ends with the Father, starting with His location and ending with His kingdom. A bit more detail may help as we engage our hearts.

Our Father: Jesus instructs us to begin with an acknowledgement to/of our Fathers. A recognition that we are part of a larger family with the Father as the head.

In heaven: A recognition for us of where He resides. The spiritual eternal realm. Our prayers are rising before the throne, the throne of grace we later learn (Hebrews 4:16).

Your kingdom, Your will be done: These are not pleas or requests. The tense in Greek tells us that they are decrees/declarations. We are agreeing with His agenda and expressing our desire to see that His kingdom and will are established. There is submission to His will in this declaration.  

On earth as it is in heaven: A decree and declaration stating that earth is ultimately to come into alignment with heaven.  

Our daily bread: Expressing our dependence on the Father for our sustenance.

Forgive us: Requesting forgiveness in the context of our commitment to walk in forgiveness toward others. This is also a recognition that we all need it at some point (1 John 1:8-9).

Request for protection: We are praying for protection from ourselves and the evil one. He will lead us in right paths. We need to follow.

Yours is the kingdom and power: The Father is king in this eternal kingdom, the glorious one who sits on the throne. He is the one to whom our prayers ascend and the one we are agreeing with as we pray and declare.  

In a brief summary here is the pattern.

  • Acknowledgement and recognition,
  • Declaration,
  • Recognition of dependence for sustenance,
  • Request for forgiveness and a commitment to walk in forgiveness,
  • Request for protection, and
  • Worship.

Now go pray.


Of the many interesting and important things Jesus said, the following two are relevant to introduce our subject, Presence.

8 So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. Luke 16:8 (NKJV)

16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Matthew 10:16 (NKJV)

Here Jesus encourages us to be as wise as the world around us. He doesn’t tell us to function as them, hence His exhortation to be ‘wise as serpents and harmless as doves.’ We are to exercise godly wisdom in the world, not behave like the world in our daily interactions.

As we look at Presence, first some background that relates to the scripture references above. While Christmas shopping, I saw an ad prominently displayed on a large screen in a store, “Here for the Presence.” Now, as a public service announcement, I don’t recommend going to a mall in the afternoon in mid December! However, as I had done that, I had plenty of time to reflect on the ad while waiting in line. That aside, the ad caught my attention and stirred my heart. Some clever marketer hit on promoting the idea that people came to this store not merely to shop but to experience a certain atmosphere, a presence in that place. Which meant there had to be something beyond the merchandise drawing them. That could have been being part of a certain subculture, a sense of identity and belonging.

In my brief interactions with the staff, I also sensed that they also were attempting to create a presence. The ad and behaviour were aligned and it was reflected in the long line up at the sales counter. There was congruence between the stated goal of the ad, ‘presence,’ and the behaviour of the staff. Thus, while still in line I put a note in my phone as I wanted to write about what I had encountered.

In my reflections I began to think about our gatherings as His body and wondered what drew us and whether we intentionally sought to create an atmosphere that would draw His Presence. My qualifier here is that there is a difference between the Lord’s omnipresence and the degrees of His manifest presence. I am focused on the latter. In my experience, with some notable exceptions, most events I have attended over the decades have focused more on gathering people than drawing presence. While we need people, we need them to encounter Jesus when we draw them. I deeply believe we should focus more on aligning all we do to draw His presence. I think we need to spend more time in corporate worship and prayer, seeking to bless the Father’s heart. I believe we need to create space for more to share their hearts and learn how to minster to one another as a body.

I believe that if we think and practice along these lines, we will draw His Presence and His Presence will draw us. Why not build our gatherings around Jesus’ agenda and engage in a wholehearted pursuit of His Presence the way it is reflected in scripture.

4 One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple. Psalm 27:4 (NKJV)

8 When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Psalm 27:8 (NKJV)

18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV)

11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)

Here is a song reflecting a heart desire for His Presence.

 Lord Let Your Glory Fall https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGdpMbZey4Y

The Church Part 1

If you are happy and content with church as you experience it, perhaps stop now. I want to look at church as we practice it here in the West and look at whether what we are in engaged in is actually what Jesus had in mind. As you walk through this with me consider how you think the average 1st Century Christian would view our practices in light of what they knew and understood.  

The obvious starting point in understanding what we are to be as the church is looking at what Jesus taught us. In His preaching and teaching Jesus talked about both the church and the kingdom. A simple way of understanding the relationship between the two is that the church is called to proclaim and demonstrate the kingdom. A kingdom is simply a place where the king rules or has dominion. In this case we are to extend Jesus’ authority in the earth, we are to bring heaven to earth (see Matt. 6:9-10, 28:18-20). We do that by being the church, or more accurately the ekklesia. Ekklesia refers to an assembly or congregation. You may be familiar with the term ‘called out ones’ as that is literally what ekklesia means. In the Greek culture from where we draw the word, the ekklesia is both called out from something and to something. In ancient Athens all adult male citizens were considered part of the ekklesia, the assembly, and could participate in governmental decisions for their city. It seems that this is what Jesus had in mind when He instituted the church. Not a secular or human government but an assembly of those who could proclaim and demonstrate His kingdom in the earth. Below are some key passages from Matthew that will inform our study.  

9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:9–10 (NKJV)

18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:18–19 (NKJV)

18 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:18–20 (NKJV)

14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14 (NKJV)

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:18–20 (NKJV)

There are some key phrases in these verses such as, ‘on earth as it is in heaven,’ ‘the gospel of the kingdom’ and the concept of ‘binding and loosing.’ We will look at those and more as we continue. For now, I invite you to mediate on the above passages. For example, the idea of ‘agreeing’ in Matthew is generally used of prayer. Have a look at the context. It isn’t about prayer.  

More to come.

Praying with a Scriptural Strategy

Continuing with the subject of prayer, here we will look at one way that we can pray strategically, starting with some key scriptures, then focusing on what Paul wrote to the Colossians regarding his great conflict on their behalf and for the believers in Laodicea.

19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Luke 10:19 (NKJV)

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:18–20 (NKJV)

10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10 (NKJV)

10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, Ephesians 3:10–11 (NKJV)

In Luke 10:19 and Matthew 28:18-20 we see the authority Jesus delegated to His followers. In the model prayer Jesus provided, the first two phrases in Matthew 6:10 are declarative statements emphasizing what we can expect and the last phrase locates where this is to take place, on earth as in heaven. This allows us to pray with confidence. In Ephesians 3:10-11 we see that a responsibility and privilege we hold as the church is to make His wisdom known in the heavenly places and are made aware that it is part of the Father’s eternal purpose.

Now we turn to an example from scripture that we can emulate. Paul sharing something regarding the goal of his intercession for the church in Colossae and Laodicea.

1 For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. 5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. 6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. 8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. Colossians 2:1–10 (NKJV)

Paul’s heart was for the Colossians and Laodiceans to remain on the right path. In verse 1 the NKJV has the word ‘conflict’ while the ESV translates the word as ‘struggle.’ Neither conflict or struggle fully capture what Paul was expressing. Here is the meaning of the word in Greek. ἀγών agōn; from 71; a gathering, contest, struggle:—conflict(1), fight(2), opposition(1), race(1), struggle(1).[1] Agon is the root of our English word agony, in Greek, ἀγωνία agōnia. Here Paul is describing not a mere conflict or struggle as he qualifies it with the word ‘great.’ He is referencing a battle with dark spiritual forces.

We don’t know the exact words Paul prayed. We do know that his goal was that they would understand what they had and that they would be aware of the treasure they possessed in their relationship with Jesus. Hence his command to not only ‘receive’ Jesus but to ‘walk in Him.’ His concern was that they would lose out by embracing false philosophies built on the principles of the world rather than the truth of scripture.

Thus, in discipling those he knew and those he had never met, Paul let them know he was praying, wrestling and contending for them. We can assume that whatever words he used he would have been declaring that the Father’s kingdom would be present and submitted to in their lives, here on earth just as if they were in heaven. He would have prayed for their minds to be protected from the false philosophies he was concerned about. He knew that his actions would show forth the wisdom of God to the dark spiritual forces in the heavenlies (he wrote Ephesians and Colossians in the same time period).  

Now on to us. We can apply the same approach as Paul in praying for individuals or situations. We can come into agreement with His word and declare that His kingdom will come and His will be done in lives and circumstances. We can do this knowing He has given us spiritual authority to be exercised, authority that is effective based on bearing His name before the throne of grace. Let’s do that.

[1] Robert L. Thomas, New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries : Updated Edition (Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998).

Praying with Scripture

I have for many years engaged with the scriptures as a primary part of my prayer life. Here I will share a bit of the how. One way is to simply pray the scriptures, for example turning Psalm 23:1 into a prayer, taking ‘The Lord is my shepherd’ and praying, ‘Lord, thank You that You are my shepherd. I thank You that you lead and guide me.’ This aligns with what Jesus taught, ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.’ We begin to pray trusting in and honouring who He is. I have used this approach and a common prayer used by many, myself included, is something like, ‘Lord, give us a spirit or wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of You’ (based on Ephesians 1:17).

Though in general, in my own prayer life what I engage in is drawing on a composite of what scripture teaches. Here is an example of something I regularly pray for myself and others, “Father, I thank You that You are drawing out and establishing Your purpose in our lives, helping us to walk uprightly that our prayers may delight You! Father, I declare that in line with Your word You are filling us with the knowledge of Your will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” I know that I can pray this way based on the following scriptures.  

5 Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, But a man of understanding will draw it out. Proverbs 20:5 (NKJV)

8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight. Proverbs 15:8 (NKJV)

9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; Colossians 1:9–11 (NKJV)

The word counsel in Proverbs 20:5 also means purpose so I believe that He has placed His purpose in each of our hearts and desires to draw it out directly and through others. Proverbs 15:8 informs us that when we walk uprightly, He delights in our prayers. Thus, I know that when we come to Him with an open humble heart it brings delight to Him. I also know based on what Paul wrote to the believers in Colossae that He wants to fill us with the knowledge of His will more than we want to know it. I can then thank Him that He is in fact doing just that, filling us with the knowledge of His will and that if I quiet our hearts before Him we can discern His will.

The benefit of praying this way is that we can live out what John wrote.

14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 1 John 5:14 (NKJV)

In praying the scriptures, we know that we are praying according to His revealed will and that as we present our prayers before the throne of grace He is hearing and responding.

Praying the Scriptures

I have a copy of The Voice bible at home. It is an enhanced approach to scripture like the Amplified version. My personal trust is in the more literal approach, hence my ongoing use of the New King James (other solid translations are the NASB or ESV). I want to know what the writer said not someone’s opinion. At the same time, as long as we are grounded in the more literal translations bibles like the Voice or Amplified can be useful in drawing out different aspects of a passage and aid in turning scripture into prayer. Some benefits of using scripture to create a prayer language is that we know when we pray scripture we are praying His will. Another aspect is that there are a number of apostolic prayers in the New Testament that help us to focus on His heart as we engage in prayer.

Here is one simple apostolic prayer from three translations followed by an example of how to turn it into prayer.  

17  that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18  the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19  and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power Ephesians 1:17-19 (NKJV)

17 God of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, Father of Glory: I call out to You on behalf of Your people. Give them minds ready to receive wisdom and revelation so they will truly know You. 18 Open the eyes of their hearts, and let the light of Your truth flood in. Shine Your light on the hope You are calling them to embrace. Reveal to them the glorious riches You are preparing as their inheritance. 19 Let them see the full extent of Your power that is at work in those of us who believe, and may it be done according to Your might and power. Ephesians 1:17-19 The Voice (VOICE)

17  [For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him, 18  By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones), 19  And [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength, Ephesians 1:17-19 (AMP)

As noted, praying the scriptures can be much more dynamic than simply repeating the verse and drawing on various translations can provide a richer language. Here are examples of turning these three verses into prayer either for ourselves or others.

Father, this is part of Your word, a revelation of Your will. Because I know that You desire to give me wisdom and revelation, insight into Your purposes, I call on You. Draw me into a deep encounter with Your heart. Flood my heart and mind with the light of Your presence so that I can see from Your perspective. You have prepared a glorious rich inheritance for me. Help me to see that and to encounter Your power and see it released more fully in my life. Thank You Father, I agree with Your heart and say Amen, So be it!      

Father, this is part of Your word, a revelation of Your will. Because I know that You desire to give XX wisdom and revelation, insight into Your purposes, I call on You. Draw XX into a deep encounter with Your heart. Flood XX’s heart and mind with the light of Your presence so that XX can see from Your perspective. You have prepared a glorious rich inheritance for XX. Help XX to see that and to encounter Your power and see it released more fully in their life. Thank You Father, I agree with Your heart and say Amen, So be it!      

After praying in this way reflect on the reality and implications. Tune your heart to hear to hear His response. After all, He said, I am with you always.

Heaven’s Perspective

The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 is one of the most well known in the world. Recited over and over by millions of people. A better description is The Disciples Prayer since it is something Jesus gave us to pray. He wasn’t praying for His sins to be forgiven since He never committed any. Be that as it may the prayer begins as follows.

9  In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10  Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:9-10 (NKJV)

In teaching us to pray Jesus tells us to begin with worship and acknowledgement. He then tells us to pray, Your kingdom come, Your will be done. Jesus is here urging from us a heart cry, a longing to see His kingdom come and His will be done on earth, an agreement with heaven’s purpose!

Some implications flow from these two short statements. One obvious one is that if this is something we are praying then it is a desire we hold. We want to see His rule and reign operating on earth as in heaven. A second one is that we need to understand something of the perspective of heaven. That we have this opportunity is clear in scripture. We have been made to sit with Jesus in the heavenly realm (Eph. 2:6) even while we live our life here on earth. In Colossians Paul is more explicit than in Ephesians 2.

1  If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4  When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4 (NKJV)

The language in Colossians is Paul’s challenge to us. He challenges us to recognize what happened at our conversion, being seated with Jesus at the Father’s right hand and from there seeking the perspective of heaven, setting our mind on things above. We are not being encouraged to become as the saying suggests, ‘so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good’ but the exact opposite. We are called to be heavenly minded so that we can be of greater earthly good. That we can look at situations on earth, seek heaven’s perspective then bring it to bear in prayer. Seeking to see His kingdom and will established in whatever we are facing.

So whatever situation we are facing, whether relational, physical, moral let’s seek His heart in the matter and in prayer agree with His desire to manifest His kingdom and will in these situations.

Pursuing His Presence

There is an interesting verse in Luke.

15  However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. 16  So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed. Luke 5:15-16 (NKJV)

While many of us are ‘busy’ I doubt we have the demands Jesus had on His time. Look at popular figures in our culture and how they try to avoid being hounded by the media and fans. I know I have had the experience of teaching a course or seminar and on a break I want to gather my thoughts and refresh myself. However, that is generally when those who want to talk take the opportunity to ask you questions. This isn’t a bad thing, it just means we need to get away at another time to be refreshed.

Far beyond what we experience Jesus was constantly in demand. Yet as the text says, “So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.” While physically He withdrew to the wilderness, I think practically He was in the throne room interacting with His Father.

In recent weeks my heart has been drawn to the reality and significance of the throne room. It isn’t a place of accolades or recognition. It is a place of hiddenness but more importantly, it is a place of life, intimacy, wisdom, direction.

I believe we need to learn to physically withdraw and get away from noise and distractions. At the same time I also believe we need to learn to inwardly withdraw. We need to learn to deeply encounter Jesus. While others around us may be ‘busy’ in this season we need to develop a familiarity with the throne room and let our relationships and any ministry flow from that place. 

Here is a regular part of my prayer life for many of you. In recent weeks I have felt the weight of the Holy Spirit on it.

  • Awaken our hearts, stir up and release the gifts You have placed within us. Awaken within us a passion to fulfill the purposes You have called us to through Your word. Col. 4:17, 1 Tim. 1:18, 4:14-16, 2 Tim. 1:6, 2:1, 4:5

Let’s pursue His presence and purpose.

Kim Walker-Smith Throne Room https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1Ljl32SqRc