Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
We’re finally to the end of the Lord’s Prayer. For over a month now, we’ve been slowly working our way through this prayer, given to us by Jesus Himself. If we want to learn how to pray and what to pray, there’s no better place to go than to God in human form, the one who intercedes for us, the one who hears and answers all our prayers. But if you open the Bibles in the pew there with you and turn to Matthew 6, where we hear this prayer from Jesus, you’ll notice that it ends a little sooner than we might expect. “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Period. The end. No “amen,” no “for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.” It just ends. So why do we end the Lord’s Prayer the way we do?
Well, if you’ve got those Bibles open, you may notice there’s a little footnote that has this doxology—this word of praise to our God—in it. It boils down to this: most of the Greek manuscripts of Matthew’s Gospel that we know of include these words. However, they don’t show up in the earliest and the most reliable texts. Whether Jesus spoke them here or not, they express a very Biblical idea that Jesus would have been familiar with. Whether taught by Jesus or not, for most of the Church’s history, these words have been prayed along with the rest of the Lord’s Prayer. And whether they originally ended this prayer or not, they are an appropriate conclusion and summary of everything we’ve been talking about this Lenten season.
After clarifying who we were praying to, we prayed three petitions that have to do with God and His way of working and being in the world. The fourth petition was the pivot of this prayer, being the only petition that deals with our physical needs, and the first having to do not directly with God, but directly with us. Then we closed our petitions with three areas of our spiritual needs. The words we use to close this prayer are words of confidence and words of trust. They add a firm resolve to our prayer, expressing our faith that our Triune God is the only one who hears our prayers, the only one who can answer our prayers, and the only one who will answer our prayers.
Remember back to the petition about God’s kingdom, and you’ll recall that it’s less of an earthly, geographic kingdom than it is His way of ruling over His people. To recognize that the kingdom belongs to God—for Thine is the kingdom—means that God alone is the only true source of authority in this world. Others try to take this authority and rule in His stead, but that doesn’t mean they have any real right to rule. Our heavenly Father alone is the one with all rights to the throne.
All power belongs to God as well. “For thine is the kingdom and the power…” If all power belongs to God, then He alone is able to answer prayer. Not only does He have a right to rule and is the only legitimate King, He alone is the one who can do anything about your prayers. It’s not as if He’s all you’ve got, but too bad for you, He can’t do what you need Him to. On the contrary, God is more than enough for anything and everything we bring to His feet. He is all-powerful, able to do anything He needs to do to accomplish what needs to be done.
His “is the kingdom and the power and the glory.” Not only is God the only one with authority and the only one with the ability, He alone gets all the credit. When He answers our prayers to our satisfaction, He gets the glory. When He answers our prayers in ways we don’t like, but He knows are best, He gets the glory. When we lose sight of God creating faith in us in our baptisms, offering forgiveness through His body and blood in Communion, working in our lives to sustain us physically and spiritually from one moment to the next, He is still the only one who deserves and receives all glory.
The authority, ability, and acclaim all belong to God in time and for eternity. They don’t end when time does, but are part and parcel of who God is. Even apart from our prayers, God is our King. He is all-powerful. He is all-glorious. The way scripture describes the heavenly realm at this very moment is the presence of God surrounded by a host of heavenly beings worshiping Him continuously, a never-ending song of praise that we get to join in, especially when we gather for worship.
And, as with all prayers, we end with the simple word, “amen.” It’s one of those “Christian” words that we use all the time and don’t really think about what it means. It’s tough to nail down, because instead of translating the work from Hebrew into Greek or Latin or English, they’ve just kept it the same. Amen. It’s a word of faith and trust that God will listen and answer as He’s promised. If we were to try to bring its meaning into English, it would be something like, “Yes” or “So be it” or “This is true” or “I believe this will be the case.” In any case, to add our “amen” to this prayer, or any prayer, means that you believe it you make that prayer your own, and that You are confident that God will do what He knows is best.
And with that, we’ve really come full circle in this prayer. God stuff, to me stuff, back to God stuff. With this doxology, we think back over the entire prayer, trusting that our heavenly Father hears, and praising Him even before our prayer is answered.
So tonight, we’re going to end this series the way we started, by simply praying the Lord’s Prayer, again pausing after each petition for you to reflect on what you’ve just said and make this prayer your own.
Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven;
Give us this day our daily bread;
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;
Lead us not into temptation,
Deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
Lobe den Herrn
B. A. Woell