The Kingdom, Power and Glory
We have just read and heard the Lord’s Prayer as it comes from Matthew’s Gospel. We have been hearing it for the past seven weeks. We have been learning it, and how we can pray it.
But did you notice one thing about the Lord’s Prayer as we read it? Where is the part of the prayer that goes “For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever. Amen”? You don’t find those words.
Jesus did not give those words. You don’t find them in the Gospels. Matthew and Luke are the two places Jesus teaches this prayer and neither end with that stanza.
In fact, Roman Catholic brothers and sisters do not pray this line when they pray the Lord’s Prayer. You can always tell a Protestant in a Catholic mass or circle because while everyone else ends at “deliver us from evil” the Protestant keeps on going “for thine is the kingdom…” until he stops out of embarrassment from the realization that he is the only one praying.
“Martha, look at the Protestant over there.”
So if Jesus didn’t teach this as part of this prayer, why do we say it? Where does this final line that we pray come from? Well, Christians added this from the earliest times of Christianity.
At the beginning of the sermon series I mentioned a document from the earliest years of Christianity called the Didache, which means “the teaching.” It was a manual used to teach early Christian disciples belief and practice. It is from the second century, so just a matter of decades after the time of Jesus. One of the instructions in the Didache is that Christians are told to pray the Lord’s Prayer regularly. It also says that they should end with, “Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” So this was added by the earliest Christians.
As the Lord’s Prayer came to be a formal prayer that Christians shared and used in worship, they became uncomfortable ending it with “deliver us from the evil one.” It was kind of a downer. It was too abrupt. “Surely we can end with something better than this,” someone thought.
Jewish prayers often begin with the blessing and glory and praise of God. So, early Christians tacked on “yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory…”
The words actually come from a prayer of King David, after his campaign to raise resources to build the first temple. It is found in I Chronicles 29 and David prays,
“Yours, O LORD, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and on earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O LORD…”
So when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, it’s the words of Jesus, with a smattering of King David thrown in. That isn’t so bad, given that Jesus was descended from David, was called the Son of David, and is truly the King of Israel.
To pray in affirmation that the kingdom, power and glory belong to God for all eternity is a good thing to pray.
God has a kingdom. That is where this is all headed. A day will come when all the kingdoms and nations of this world will be gone, and God’s rule will be the only reality standing. We affirm this when we pray “yours is the kingdom.”
Jesus came to proclaim and bring the kingdom of God. That day when he rode into Jerusalem people hailed him as King. But he would not be the king they were looking for. They were looking for a king to come and overthrow the Romans and establish Jewish independence once again. But Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world. And in a matter of just a few days, the people who hailed him as king shouted that he be crucified.
And he was crucified, with a sign fixed to his cross that facetiously read “King of the Jews.”
Jesus’ kingdom is not political or geographical. It will not be established by violence or worldly power. It will be a place where all that is wrong is put to right. All that has hurt will be healed. All that is hidden will be revealed. All that confuses will be understood. All tears will be wiped away. And all who believe in him will see him face to face.
God has power. He is in control. When we pray “yours is the power” we are praying, “Father, you can! You can make whatever we pray a reality.”
God has glory. The late pastor and Bible teacher John Stott said that in the Lord’s Prayer Christians are obsessed with God – his name, his kingdom, and will. We have seen how the prayer begins with God and his concerns before ours. “True Christian prayer is always a preoccupation with God and his glory.”
With this final stanza, everything in the Lord’s Prayer is fenced and enclosed with praise. It begins with the honoring and hallowing of the name of God: that God’s character and reputation is to be the most central and significant reality of all. It ends with affirming his reign, power and glory.
When we pray, we tend to do an awful lot of focusing on ourselves, and little focusing on God. We can sometimes sit in the dark cells of our own little worlds, instead of living in the expansive light of God’s glorious presence and power.
The bigger our picture and knowledge of God, the different our lives will look. All the problems and concerns that weigh us down might not go away, but they will look different.
Someone said that nothing so changes us – even in the darkest moments of life – as the praise of God. Maybe those of us who find ourselves down or anxious should simply praise God in our prayers in order to turn our hearts to God. Try to think of all the different attributes of his nature and who he is. Imagine all the qualities of God. Focus on him and praise him for every one of those things.
Perhaps the key to all spiritual transformation and strengthening of our faith is a deeper and wider awareness of God. And prayer should increase our awareness of God.
Doesn’t the Lord’s Prayer help us get a larger and richer picture of God? Many people throw the title of “God” around, never really knowing who God is.
Right from the first word that Jesus gives us to pray we learn that he is our Father. Not just Rock, Lord, or Almighty, but Father; Abba – a term of love, trust and intimacy. And in this we learn that we are sons and daughters. Not just subjects, but children.
We learn that our Father is holy. His character is absolutely pure, good, and perfect.
He is a King and a Ruler. He has things he wants to see happen. He has a will and a plan.
He cares about our needs and is a Provider. It isn’t just our spiritual needs that concerns him. He knows we need daily bread, material and physical sustenance.
He is a Forgiver. He seeks reconciliation. He takes seriously how we relate to others, particularly those who might hurt us.
Our Father knows that we are in a battle. He knows temptations come. He knows there is an evil one who is trying to pry us away from his love and grace, and the struggle we face. But our God is a Protector who will deliver us from the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Jesus gave us this prayer to help our own praying. Really we should call it the Disciple’s Prayer rather than the Lord’s Prayer, because it is ours to pray.
We can pray it to begin our day or end our day, or both.
We can pray the Lord’s Prayer word for word. We can pray it before we launch into prayers that we express with our own words. It can warm up our hearts as we pray to the Father.
We can pray it line by line, or idea by idea. We can say a stanza and then organize our prayers based on the spirit of that. For example, we pray “Our Father, who is in heaven” and then we take time to pray all that God is. We pray “Give us this day our daily bread” and we bring before God those things we need, or things we would ask him to give to others.” We pray “forgive us as we forgive” and we examine and take stock of our relationships, and how we stand with others.
We can say this prayer while getting ready for the important meeting or presentation. We can certainly say this prayer with our children and family. We can put this prayer on our lips as we walk, drive, or work.
We can use the prayer to anchor us in times of stress or uncertainty.
A few weeks ago in our weekly email newsletter, “The Weekly” I wrote about a woman I knew who hopes the words of the Lord’s Prayer might be the last words of her life, if possible.
It is her habit to say the Lord’s Prayer every night before she sleeps in case she doesn’t wake up. She is not paranoid or pessimistic. But she knows the reality of life and death and all that can come.
She also prays this when under extreme duress. Years ago she was an at-risk mother for death in childbirth. When she went into labor with her son she was being watched by a large group of specialists. She rode out the childbirth process by saying the Lord’s Prayer constantly for 9 hours. She said it in a rhythmic cadence during labor to control pain. She said it when relaxing. When the pain got to where she couldn’t speak it, she thought it.
She made it through and had a perfect delivery.
Afterward her doctor stopped by and told her that he'd heard everything during labors from fierce swearing and screaming to women cussing out their husbands. But the Lord's Prayer about a thousand times was a new one on him.
There may be no end to the way this prayer can be woven into our lives.
The Lord’s Prayer brings all of life before our Father.
When we pray it we are saying that we want to be part of his kingdom-movement.
When we pray it we are saying we are drawn into his heaven-on-earth way of living. When we pray it we are saying we want to be part of his bread-for-the-world agenda, for ourself and for others.
We are saying we need forgiveness for ourself- from sin, from debt, from every weight around our neck – and we intend to live with forgiveness in our heart in our own dealings with others.
Because we live in the real world, where evil is still powerful, we need protecting and rescuing.
And, in and through it all, we acknowledge and celebrate the Father’s kingdom, power and glory.
This world and those who think they run it is not all there is.
Christians from all traditions, on all parts of the globe, of all languages, colors and backgrounds know this prayer. It doesn’t matter if you are Roman Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox or what part of the Christian family you come from. We all know this prayer. It unites us. It is a prayer for all of us.