The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines prayer like this.
“Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things that agree with His will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins and thankful acknowledgement of His mercies.”
This is a very helpful definition covering very succinctly aspects of prayer that are taught by our Lord Jesus Christ in His prayer for us His disciples. He has laid down the pattern prayer, commonly called the Lord’s Prayer, to help us to pray. It is not mechanical or liturgical but it is the saviour’s directions to His loved people how to respond to Him in all that we know of Him. Indeed, as our Brother Maurice Roberts has pointed out, prayer is the natural response of a converted heart to an inner desire for communion with God. (Banner of Truth Magazine Editorial June 2002 issue.)
It is this aspect of prayer that separates General Prayer from Christian Prayer.
Any human being can pray. Anyone can ask for what they want or need. Anyone can spend much time meditating on their personal deity or deities. It is a feature of the human soul, distinct from the other creatures, that human beings can engage in spiritual exercises such as prayer.
The DIFFERENCE between common and general prayer and the CHRISTIAN’S prayer is that prayer is not driven from the outside – driven by duty, by fashion, by habit or by compulsion. True prayer is a response to God - His greatness, Majesty and Divine excellence which He has revealed individually to every one of His true children.
And this is why the pattern prayer is such a help to us. It is short but profound. It primes the pump but does not tell us what to say in detail.
It is a suitable pattern for PRIVATE prayer sometimes called secret prayer which we do when we are on our own when there is nobody to hear us except God.
It is also a suitable pattern for Public Prayer, which is what we do when we gather for a prayer meeting and in our Public Services of worship such as we are doing this morning. One of the Believers engages in prayer and leads us to the throne of grace.
At the beginning of this series of sermon’s on the Pattern Prayer we observed how the Prayer begins with the glory of God, extends to the Kingdom of God and the will of God – because everything in life should start with God Himself; then we are able to address our needs to God in the 7 petitions – physical needs, with bread as an example, and spiritual needs such as forgiveness and the help to forgive others; after this the need of protection against the evil one and his temptations.
Finally we come back to the Kingdom, power and glory of God, which is where we first started – God first, us second and God last – a kind of sandwich with God Himself enveloping us with His person, power, grace and presence.
This is where we come to this morning – the end of the prayer as we find it in verse 13 –
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
This is a wonderful conclusion to a wonderful prayer! They are appropriate and fitting and lead us to worthy praise of our dear Lord and saviour the Lord Jesus Christ who is their author.
But some unwise people in the Christian world have cast doubt on the authenticity of these words. If you have read any of the modern translations of the scriptures you will be disturbed to find that these words are missing from the text. Happily the New King James and the NASB retain them – but they are missing from the NIV and others.
The justification for omitting the phrase is that they do not appear in the earliest manuscripts of the Greek text of either Matthew or Luke. The assumption is that this doxology was not part of the prayer as the Lord Jesus originally gave it to us. It only appears in manuscripts dated from the Second Century.
We can leave the arguments to the experts – with their variety of reasons for its inclusion or exclusion in the Text.
But there is no getting away from the fact that the Spirit of the disciples’ prayer and the Lord’s words favours their being included as a perfect ending to a very special prayer – as already mentioned – starting with God and ending with Him too.
Indeed these words at the end of the prayer reflect the Spirit of the Old Testament scriptures so well, and the Lord Jesus Christ the author of the Old Testament, a Jew who knew the Bible inside out, was more than capable of bringing to the closing statement of the prayer Old Testament themes.
We quoted one of those themes at the beginning of the service this morning – a verse from 1 Chronicles 29 v 11
Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.
Can you recognise some of the similarities – greatness, power, glory are THINE O LORD! Then in Nehemiah 9 v 5
Then the Levites, Jeshua, and Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, Stand up and bless the LORD your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.
“Bless the LORD your God for ever and ever:” wonderful praise words.
What about the verses of Psalm 145;
10 All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints shall bless thee. 11 They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power;
21 My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.
10 The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD.
13 Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory [is] above the earth and heaven.
The New Testament writers also reflected their acknowledgement of the truth of the words in such passages as 1 Timothy 1 v 17
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
And 1 Timothy 6 v 15 – 16.
15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
But these words are such a fitting climax for our prayers. Someone has suggested that the words would have been included originally because the Jews would never have closed any prayer on a negative note. It doesn’t sound right does it – lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen.
There is further reason to believe that the words should be here – and that is that they are true!
The Kingdom DOES belong to God! The Power is His and His alone! And The Glory is all His in His world.
Yes, men may try to set up their own kingdoms – with capitals in Washington, London, Brussels or Baghdad! The Kingdom of heaven has its capital in heaven and the Lord Jesus Christ is the King!
Yes, men might think that they have all power and even have the temerity to accuse God of having little power – that some events lie beyond His control. Such men do not believe the truth of these words – all power belongs to God and any power that men have is at His supreme discretion.
Yes, men love to bask in the glory afforded them by other men. The shapers and builders of technology and research sing, “Glory to men upon earth who are so clever, sophisticated and advanced that they will soon make God redundant.” Yet all glory belongs to the God who spoke the monarch butterfly into existence – this little creature which from a tiny egg laid in Canada grows into a caterpillar 2,700 times bigger than when it was hatched – in 20 days; then it turns into a chrysalis. 8 days later it emerges as a beautiful butterfly able to see all the colours of the rainbow with its complex eyes – and within 2 hours is able to fly as far as 3,000 miles away to a place it has never seen, but to exactly the same place, to the same tree its parents had migrated to in the mountain forests west of Mexico city. No man or men can do that! Only a glorious creator God is worthy of true glory! John Calvin suggests that the purpose of the Doxology was
1. To kindle our hearts to seek the glory of God; 2. To remind us what ought to be the object of our prayers – the pattern; 3. To teach us that our prayers are founded on God alone and that we cannot rely on our own merits.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
So the doxology, the end of the prayer brings us who pray the prayer back to our starting point and our focal point – to God Himself. We are led to His throne away from our concerns and back to kneeling at His feet in worship. And the pattern so laid down gives us a pattern to think about.
1. The Fact of the Throne
– thine is the Kingdom.
2. The Power of the Throne
– thine is the Power
3. The Majesty and Glory of the Throne
– thine is the glory. Our souls are directed back to the Lord God and His attributes – and we are able to round them off with a resounding AMEN! Let us consider each phrase.
1. The Fact of the Throne – thine is the Kingdom.
The word for Kingdom is Basilea. It is the same word as seen in verse 9 – They Kingdom come. Oh let thy kingdom come was the sense of the prayer at the beginning – now it is a triumphant statement of absolute fact – there is only one King – one throne of any value or worthy of mention – one seat of authority in the universe that matters – and it is the throne of our Sovereign Lord Jesus Christ!
Psalms 45 v 6 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.
Psalms 145 v 13 Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.
The King is Christ and His Kingdom is at hand – it has come in part and will come in full when every one of His subjects have been born and born again. The throne of the Lord Jesus, King of Kings, reflects the Royal status and authority of Him who is the Messiah, triumphant and reigning, having overcome all of His enemies at the cross!
This throne indicates that Christ is the one who is reigning and has dominion over all. Thine is the Kingdom proclaims, “Oh Lord thou hast rule and control over all things and can so order the circumstances of our lives as to answer the petitions that we have brought in the pattern prayer.” God has the right to answer our prayers and to grant our requests – simply because it is His Kingdom.
Hallowed be Thy Name – for thine is the Kingdom.
Thy Kingdom come – for thine is the Kingdom.
Thy will be done – since the Kingdom is thine then thou hast the right to rule and to order it!
And this kingdom is in contrast to the kingdom of Satan – he who thinks he is king, called the god of this world, who has some authority, but only what is allowed for God’s purposes.
My friends, just how much are we in subjection to this Messiah, this glorious King of kings this morning? We who name the name of Christ, who are called Christians, who belong to the saviour, are we in submission to Him, our King? Are we living our lives as if He was here in physical presence sitting on His awesome and powerful throne? Or are we still running our own lives, planning our own schemes, seeking to do things our way rather than finding out what is His way? Are we serving Him with contented hearts, happy to submit to His ways and obey His commands? Are we careful in all that we think and say, believing that he hears everything and knows our hearts so well? If He is truly our King we will think twice before doing anything that would be outside of His will and that we know would not please Him. We will resist a spirit of dissatisfaction with His rule over us and our opportunities in life and we will be pleased just to please Him. Are we challenged by this, my brothers, my sisters? We cannot name Christ as King nor claim to be His happy subjects if we are harbouring disunity, irritation, or complaints against Him in our souls. The fact of the Throne before which we all have to bow, not merely in the future, but NOW as well, should so govern every waking thought that selfishness and self-determination and schemes to achieve change in our lives when the Lord has not willed it, will fly out of the window!
Of course it may be that you have yet to come under His Kingship – it may be that this morning you are still one of the devil’s subjects and that your life is run by him. If that is the case then I urge you to change Kingdoms – and do it soon. You must trust the only wise King, the most wonderful King who rules the universe now! Frankly, I am encouraging you to defect. Defect by repenting of your allegiance to the world and Satan and renounce the old Kingdom – and come into the blessings of Christ’s Kingdom, which is far better. It takes faith to do that my friend – but this righteous, perfect King will give you that gift if you are determined to defect, repent and trust the Lord Jesus Christ alone.
2. The Power of the Throne – thine is the Power
The word for power in the Greek is DUNAMIS and means strength and ability. The power of the Throne of the King of kings is Omnipotent power. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 28:18
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
I wonder if we really know how powerful our saviour Jesus Christ is? The power of the Throne is that power that is inherent in the Lord Jesus. His power is an absolute power. His power was never limited when He was in the flesh, but it was veiled. His omnipotence was wrapped up in that body and confined to the display of power that would be enough to convince men of His identity, but not so much as to destroy them at an instant – which He could so easily have done. He used His power to perform miracles – miracles of creation, healing and dismissing demons. Miracles of controlling nature and raising dead souls to life again. And the supreme miracle of He being a man able to have moral power and excellency of soul – He never sinned and always did that which was right.
Now He has absolute power over the universe. He has power to bring His people to life, who are dead in their trespasses and sins. He has power to order all things in the Church as He is the head and sovereign. As we acknowledge His power we say this – “Thou hast power to accomplish all things, including what we ask for in our petitions. We are weak and cannot do it – but thou art almighty and all things are possible with Thee” The power of the throne is the word coming from the throne – in eternal decrees and the sovereign voice of the only one and true potentate – God Himself. In our passage on Tuesday evening, as we thought from Matthew 20 of the parable of the workers in the fields we came to verse 15 –
Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
The householder, who is the Lord Jesus Christ, says just that – all things in the universe are His and it is lawful for Him to do exactly as He pleases. Then when we put that together with His loving nature we find that His love motivates His power. He loves to bless His own – He loves to exercise His benevolent and awesome power on their behalf – He does it in response to their prayers – AND sometimes when they do not pray. Many times have each of us been richly blessed by our providing God when we had not asked for His blessings. How thankful we should be that we, insignificant though we are, are on the side of the most powerful person in the universe! Remember that, next time you are apprehensive of a witnessing opportunity; when your friends at school seek to mock; when unbelieving relatives are mystified at your complete trust in the Lord – remember His awesome, irresistible, infinite power! Remember what we discovered 2 years ago from Ephesians 3 v 20
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Which leads us to the third word in the Doxology -
3. The Majesty and Glory of the Throne – thine is the glory.
Glory is the word DOXA from which, when joined with LOGOS – word – we get our English DOXOLOGY - words of glory. Doxa refers to a high opinion of excellence, something worthy of praise. God is worthy of all praise for His perfection. He is essentially glorious – His glory shines in all creation. ‘Glory’ is displayed or manifest perfection. God’s glory is in stark contrast to Satan’s supposed proud glory. He glories in his temporary rule over the lower parts of the creation, being called the god of this world. He thought to offer the glory of all the kingdoms of the earth to the Lord Jesus Christ in the temptation – what a futile offer compared to the glory that Christ already had – glory all of His own. When we come to this part of the doxology we are saying, “Oh Lord – thine is the honour and the praise. As Thou art providing for our needs Thy glory is being displayed and thy goodness towards us is evident to all. Thy glory is demonstrated in power being exerted in our defence. And thy praise and glory is celebrated because thy Kingdom is being spread throughout the whole earth.”
Since all of God’s magnificence is reflected in His works – the works of creation and the work of redemption through the Lord Jesus Christ then we His children, at the close of this very special prayer proclaim – “Thine be the glory” and we ascribe all three aspects to Him alone – Kingdom rule; mighty power and eternal glory.
I am reminded of Ephesians 1 v 6
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
The glory of His grace towards us means that we are accepted in Christ. He accepts our petitions. He receives our praises and adoration. Certainly as King David said in 1 Chronicles 29 11
Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.13 Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.
Surely this is what we are to do – praise His great and glorious Name. But also we can seek to know Him more intimately, have a genuine desire for communion with Him, and use this pattern prayer not only as our request service to God but more especially as our response to Him whose Kingdom, power and glory are everlasting – and that is in our interest!