“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. / Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. / Give us this day our daily bread. / And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. / And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”
–Matthew 6:9-13

In the early days of his ministry, having been baptized by John, and spent time in the wilderness facing temptation, Jesus taught in synagogues and healed the sick. He had just chosen his first four disciples. People were coming from all over to hear him and witness (or receive) his miracles. There were so many that he climbed atop a mountain, so that everyone could see and hear. During this Sermon on the Mount he talked about praying with sincerity.

“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”—Matthew 6:5.

Prayer silences distractions so that we can think with our purest thoughts, our true selves. If we are sincere, then we can connect with that part of us that wants to do good. It takes time to get there, like losing weight or learning a new language.

Make every prayer the prayer, as if it’s the only one you’ll ever speak. Commit to the moment. You don’t have to spend the time asking for favors, whether it’s a new job or a hope that a relative will get well.

“Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”—Matthew 6:8.

This leads into how Jesus said we should pray, what’s called the Lord’s Prayer.

First verse: “Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”

From my first essay, and I John 4:7-8, we begin with God, our Father, being love. Save further contemplation on infinity for later. Now, we focus on the message. If God is love, then Heaven is being with God, being in a state of love, what we know as the Golden Rule. This was another gem from the Sermon on the Mount:

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”—Matthew 7:12.

We reach Heaven by following the Golden Rule.

Second verse: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”

Let it come. Let it happen. This verse is confirmation of our acceptance to let love happen. We have so many ways to prevent it. We’ve made an art of selfishness, more than that: We’ve made a society of it. There are always reasons to not trust someone, if you’ll remember the story of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10:30-37.

There are reasons to not trust the Bible. It has gone through many revisions. Who knows what the original text said? And there are reasons to not trust ourselves. Who am I, really? What is my worth?

That line of thinking is a trap, an intellectual and emotional vortex that spirals like a snake eating its own tail. We do this out of pride, in refusal to accept that we might’ve been wrong. But even in that state of blind ego, we can choose to change.

Some old choices might have seemed right, under different circumstances. We can’t use old reasons for new experiences. We need new reasons, those resulting from who and where we are now. When this realization comes, let it happen. The will of God is the will of the universe, as a whole. It is all of nature, all of humanity, as one—not the one you, but the one us. This “will,” therefore, is not yours alone. Acquiesce to what you feel is the will of all things; acknowledge your place, both large and small.

Third verse: “Give us this day our daily bread.”

This reminds me of the Manna from Heaven story in Exodus.

“And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. / And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.”—Exodus 16:14-15.

God provided food when there was none. This is a recurring theme in the Bible, especially in Jesus’ teachings. Love is nourishment.

This verse of the Lord’s Prayer says, in part, that we need to share in the experience of love every single day; it is a plea, an expression of humility, a willingness to let the will of all things sweep you up like a mighty river, then turn the steering of the boat on that river over to you.

Fourth verse: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

This one is my favorite. Forgiveness is a key component of love. And it is central in Jesus’ parables. At some point, I realized that our forgiveness by God was conditional.

“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: / But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”— Matthew 6:14-15.

I can’t forgive myself if I’m unwilling to forgive others.

We amass guilt while holding a grudge. Maybe it isn’t noticeable, but it’s there. Remember, God is the one us. We cannot hurt ourselves without feeling pain. Further, we can’t love others if we hate ourselves. Self-loathing is a result of the guilt that arises because we haven’t forgiven ourselves. And I can’t forgive myself until I’ve dealt with the bad feelings I have for someone else.

Stop hating others and you stop hating yourself, and vice versa.

Fifth verse: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.”

If God is love, then what is temptation and evil? Temptation is meant to lead us away from love, and toward evil. Temptation is doubt. Not all doubt is bad, though. If you can’t question your heart, your direction in life, then you could keep making the same mistakes. Unfortunately, we don’t know ahead of time what is right or wrong for us. Temptation can seem to be appealing. That’s its job. And that’s when you let it go.

“But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.”—Psalm 75:7.

We have no right to judge anything or anyone. We don’t have all of the answers. We can’t make informed decisions. That’s why God can judge, and why the Bible repeatedly states that it’s wrong for us to judge. Let it go. Release yourself to the river, then steer the boat you’ve been given. It is a mix of the control we desire, and the humility to accept that we have no control. A paradox!

Accepting our place, acting for the good of all will deliver us from evil.

“Kingdom, power, and glory” represents our mortal desire for control. It was how the serpent tricked Eve.

“For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”—Genesis 3:5.

We want the power and glory, to forge our own kingdom, to have the wisdom to judge good from evil; Eve sure did. But what might seem good to me, may have unforeseen, even evil ramifications for someone else. I can’t know every detail, every potentiality. Only everything can know everything.

“…Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”—Matthew 22:21.

“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”—Romans 12:19.

This is why we should forgive, because we can’t judge. We have no place to judge, no means. Turn that over. Let it go. The judgment of what is good or evil belongs to God, and so does “the kingdom, and the power, and the glory.”