It sounds like scary stuff. We’re not supposed to take the word of God and “expand” it. It’s good enough by itself! I believe that’s true. What we need to understand is that the word of God isn’t the ink on the page or the pixel on the screen. It’s the meaning behind the word that matters, not the word itself. That’s why we use an expanded version of the Lord’s Prayer occasionally in worship. We’re simply putting into different words what we’ve been praying all along. Let’s go through it line by line.
Our dear Father enthroned above,
Below in our bulletin it says, In silence praise and thank our loving, nurturing, protecting God. Our Father is our “dear” Father who is “enthroned” with all power and might. We are the redeemed children of God addressing the God who made us! Awesome!
May Your mission be the greatest truth.
Below it says, In silence honor and adore our Father’s holy name. This one really puzzles people. Let me try to explain. For decades I didn’t know what a “hallowed” was. As a child I thought it was “hollow.” You know, the cavernous voice of God used in the movies? Yea. Hallowed = holy. But I’ve found that many of us don’t know what “holy” means. Usually I find people think it means “perfect.” Not true. Holy actually means “set apart,” typically for the purpose of God. A holy name? I recently preached on the name of God, so here’s a synopsis. It’s more than just a label we slap on God. God’s name represents everything he stands for. More than just his identity, God has a mission! His mission is to restore his perfect creation through his Son Jesus who won forgiveness of sins! That mission is holy! That mission is the greatest truth. Can you think of a truth greater than the mission of God? That’s how God’s name is holy.
May Your kingdom-community come,
Below it says, In silence thank God for your brothers and sisters in Christ, and pray that the Holy Spirit may bring others to faith. The kingdom of God is a community. It’s here now and it’s coming. It’s here now when God brings people to faith in him by the power of the Holy Spirit. Sins are forgiven and the mission of God is accomplished in people. We pray that God’s kingdom-community comes to all people and that God would use us to play our part! We also know Jesus is coming back some day. When he does, the earth will be restored and all believers will rise to new life and live with him forever. We pray for the coming of that kingdom-community too!
May Your gracious, perfect will be done;
Below it says, In silence release to God those things beyond our understanding. God reveals some things to us in his word, and other things he chooses to keep to himself. What we know of God’s will is that he gives to us beyond what we deserve (gracious) and that his will is without error (perfect). This petition simply encourages us to release to God those things he has hidden from us and replace our anxieties with trust in his gracious perfect will.
Give us each day our necessary food;
Below it says, In silence thank God for how He provides for your life and pray that the abundance be shared with those in need. “Daily bread” = everything we need to support this body and life. Even as the population of the earth has exploded, there is still enough food and clothes and shelter for us all. Any lack of these necessities in any given place is not a failing of God, but a failing of man. We hoard and we waste what God has provided for us all. This petition encourages us to thank God for what we have and share with those who don’t.
Forgive us our sins as we strive to forgive those who wrong us;
Below it says, In silence humbly accept God’s forgiveness and plead to God for the strength to let go of your desire for revenge. We have an amazing example of forgiveness in Jesus. Jesus lays down his life so we can be forgiven. Even though we sin daily, God still forgives us. Take a moment to read Matthew 18:23-35. If God has forgiven us this much, what should we do for one another? We pray to God here that he would strengthen us to forgive as we have been forgiven.
For You would not lead us into temptation,
Below it says, In silence praise God for every opportunity he gives to avoid sin. Luther is clear in his Small Catechism. “God tempts no one.” He’s right. God guides us through life, but not into temptation! We have to realize that every temptation to sin comes from the devil, who sometimes is doing his best God impersonation. Rather, God always gives us a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13). We pray for the strength to take it.
But You rescue us from the powers of evil.
Below it says, In silence praise God for victory over the devil through Jesus’ death and resurrection. This one brings us back to the name of God discussion from earlier. God’s mission is to rescue us from evil. How perfect that the prayer essentially begins and ends with the mission of God. We begin by saying how his mission is the greatest truth and we end by acknowledging the success of that mission over evil. We end the Lord’s Prayer with confidence and praise. The God we pray to is victorious! Alleluia!
The rest of the Lord’s Prayer was tacked on later by the church. I like it. It mirrors the language of praise in Revelation. The last bit I want to address is the word Amen. Amen means “truly” or “YES!” or “I believe it!” Growing up I just thought it was what we said to finish the prayer. Amen doesn’t necessarily end anything! Often Jesus would begin by saying “Truly, truly I say to you…” Those “trulys” are “amen” in the Greek! Amen is the attention getter! It’s the springboard. It’s the plunge of faith. Yes! I believe it’s true! Which is exactly how we feel about this prayer. Amen!