The Lord’s Prayer–A Theological Perspective

The Lord’s Prayer is our pledge of allegiance to God and our assurance of God’s allegiance to us.

The prayer is part of my morning, noon and evening meditations.  I also recite the prayer at other times in the day, including thee times while I shower (yes, I do shower).  I have found the prayer meaningful and comforting as a mutual encounter between God and myself.  I cannot explain its impact on my life, especially in the last three months or so. God has become powerfully present to me through this simple but profound prayer.

I began the habit of daily praying this prayer regularly in 1992 after I was assigned to speak on the “Theology of the Lord’s Prayer” at the Abilene Christian University lectureship (which is now available on my Academic page).  Allen Black and I shared the “Biblical Forum.” He exegeted the prayer and I offered a theological interpretation. That experience moved me to incorporate the prayer in my daily walk with God following the example of the ancient church.

The prayer is a comprehensive, “big picture” view of relationship with God.  In the prayer–at the direction of Jesus–we address the Creator as one who is both immanent in relationship with us (“Father”) and transcendent beyond us (“in heaven”). The prayer proceeds to connect us to both dimensions.

In the first half of the prayer, we commit ourselves to the transcendent God.  We pledge allegiance to his name, will and kingdom. We have no other allegiance. This is the heart of worship itself–a covenant loyalty that transcends everything else in our lives and orders the whole of live under the sovereignty of God.  Anything else is idolatry. We call upon God to act so as to sanctify his name, accomplish his will and bring his kingdom to the earth.

At the same time that we petition the Creator to reorder life on earth in conformity to his purposes, we also commit ourselves to become the instruments of that work of God. We pray for the sanctification of the name, the accomplishment of the will and the inbreaking of the kingdom but our prayer is no mere passive waiting for the divine act.  Rather, we pursue those goals as proactive agents of the name, will and kingdom of God. God works through us and we testify to our willingness to be his instruments. Empowered by God, we commit to cooperate, to co-create, with the redemptive grace of God at work to transform the earth into heaven.

The prayer, however, is not simply about our allegiance to God, but it is also a testimony of God’s commitment (yes, even allegiance) to us. God is immanent, present to us, in our daily existence. The last three petitions assume God’s benevolence for us and claims God’s promises of daily material sustenance, reconcilation and power against the evil one.  God is for us and he will not abandon us.

We seek God’s involvement in our daily–one day at a time–life in the world. God feeds us, forgives us and protects us. We need the divine gift of life (physical and spiritual) and we need the divine power that overcomes the evil one. When I pray the Lord’s prayer I sense the renewal of God’s promises in my life–he will sustain me in all my needs whether it is about bread, sin or spiritual warfare.

The Lord’s Prayer is my pledge of allegiance.  I pledge allegiance to no other kingdom (including the United States of America).  And the Lord’s Prayer is God’s pledge of allegiance to me–he is for me and not against me.

Morning, noon and evening, I renew my pledge and embrace again God’s pledge to me.



5 Responses to “The Lord’s Prayer–A Theological Perspective”

  1.   Q Says:

    I really enjoyed this post this morning. Thank you for sharing.

    The progression of your last several posts has been fascinating. I haven’t commented, but I’ve been reading, interested to see where you’d go with each subsequent post. The unfolding of thought and theology has been thoroughly compelling and never fails to intrigue, challenge and enlighten me. Thanks again for being willing to make so much of your scholarship and life available to us.

  2. Profile photo of matthewmorine  Matthew Says:

    This is a great practice, one I never thought of. I friend of mine prays essentially the same prayer every morning. Thank you for your work on spiritual disciplines. Also, a few people bragged on you in my blog comments today.

    http://www.matthewsblog.waynesborochurchofchrist.org

  3. Profile photo of George Mearns  George Mearns Says:

    I too have been praying this prayer for sometime. The focus has been very helpful. I had not looked it as a pledge of allegiance so I thankyou for the insights.

  4.   RICH CONSTANT Says:

    Simply amazing, we don’t have to worry whether we should turn right or left, a brand-new day laying before us a new adventure with the heart prepared for the opportunities to further the work. I find it a joyful way to carry out my day always giving glory to to the Lord that I am worthy to share his work for our father.
    Blessings rich in California

  5.   rjs1 Says:

    If you have not yet read Watson’s commentary on the Lord’s Prayer then I would encourage you to do so!

Leave a Reply