The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down: The Lord’s Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution by Albert Mohler. 224 pages. 2018
In this new book, step by step, phrase by phrase, Dr. Mohler explains what the words in The Lord’s Prayer mean and how we are to pray them.
We begin our look at this important new book by reviewing the Introduction:
- We still yearn for radical change, for things to be made right. We rightly long to see righteousness and truth and justice prevail. We are actually desperate for what no earthly revolution can produce. We long for the Kingdom of God, and for Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We are looking for a kingdom that will never end and a King whose rule is perfect. This is why Christian’s pray the Lord’s Prayer.
- The Lord’s Prayer is the prayer that turns the world upside down. Are you looking for revolution? There is no clearer call to revolution than when we pray “Yourkingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” But this is a revolution only God can bring … and He will.
- The Lord’s Prayer takes less than 20 seconds to read aloud, but it takes a lifetime to learn. Sadly, most Christians rush through the prayer without learning it – but that is to miss the point completely.
- Jesus did not only teach his disciples to pray – he commanded us to pray.
- Many Christians simply do not know how to pray. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us how to pray.
Chapter 1: The Lord’s Prayer ~ An Overview
- Like anything of great value, prayer takes great effort, tremendous care, and Spirit-filled discipline.
- The Lord’s Prayer must be seen not only as a model of what prayer is, but also as a model of what prayer is not.
- Praying forces us to articulate our doctrines, convictions, and theological assumptions. These aspects of our Christian life come to a unique focus in prayer because when we speak to God we are explicitly revealing who we believe he is, who we believe we are, what his disposition toward us is, and why he has that disposition.
- What we believe about God is revealed most truly not in what we say about him but in how we approach him—in prayer or in worship.
- Prayer discloses much about us. It discloses our assumptions and convictions. It discloses our view of God and of ourselves. It discloses our priorities and our assumptions about God’s priorities. It discloses our doctrines of God, man, sin, redemption, the world, and a host of other theological matters. If we really want to know what a person believes, we should listen to them pray.
- Along with affirming what prayer is—communion with God—we should note what prayer is not. First, prayer is not a matter of creative self-expression.
- Second, prayer is not an act of therapy.
- Third, prayer is not an act of manipulation or persuasion. We are not simply trying to find the right formula or secret code to force God to answer our prayer as we want it to be answered. Nor are we trying to persuade or bargain with God as if he were one of his creations. Prayer is not persuasion. Prayer is about God’s will being done—not our own.
- We must bring our needs before God humbly, willing to submit to his perfect plan.
- Fourth, prayer is not a news report to the Creator. God knows everything perfectly.
- Finally, prayer is not an act of bargaining.
- Prayer does not change God; it changes us.
- It is our opportunity to commune with the Creator and Redeemer who loves us.
- The Lord’s Prayer in the Sermon on the Mount is part of Christ’s vision for life in the inaugurated kingdom of heaven.
- The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer for disciples to pray. Jesus specifically designed it to be used by the people of God and to enrich our prayers.
- The first and most urgent warning Jesus gives is a warning against a piety that is public and ostentatious—a piety that is completely vapid and false.
- The prayer God seeks is the prayer of the humble and contrite heart.
Chapter 2: And When You Pray
- A failure to pray is therefore not only a sign of anemic spiritual life, it is disobedience to Christ.
- There is simply no way to reconcile the general prayerlessness of the typical modern American Christian with the teachings of the New Testament and the example of Christ.
- The real issue is not so much where you pray but doing so in a way that does not parade your piety in front of others.
- The Lord isn’t looking for impressive words; he is looking for humble hearts—hearts that trust him enough to work, even when our words are few.
- He teaches us that prayer is not about impressing God; rather, it is about praising him by humbly coming before him to offer the kind of prayer that pleases him.
- We need the Lord Jesus Christ himself to teach us to pray because, left to our own devices, we will pray wrongly.
Chapter 3: Hallowing the Father’s Name
- Every word we utter in prayer, every idea and concept that we form as we pray, and every emotion that flows out of our heart is a reflection of what we believe about God and about the gospel of Christ.
- As we approach Jesus’ teachings on prayer, we should ask ourselves: How do Jesus’ words correct any bad prayer habits I have developed? How is Jesus challenging my prayer life and inviting me to enter into a more God-glorifying pattern of prayer?
- Jesus is making a tremendously powerful theological point by beginning his prayer with the word “our”. Jesus is reminding us that when we enter into a relationship with God, we enter into a relationship with his people.
- Do you notice what is stunningly absent? There is no first-person singular pronoun in the entire prayer!
- One of our greatest problems and deficiencies in prayer is that we begin with our own concerns and our own petitions without regard for our brothers and sisters.
- God is properly Father only to those who know him through the Son. Only by virtue of Jesus’ work on the cross can we truly say, “Our Father in heaven.”
- Our knowledge of God’s transcendence should shape our prayers by reminding us that prayer is a humble and reverent enterprise.
- God prescribes the vocabulary we ought to use when addressing him.
- Jesus is not merely saying that God’s name is hallowed; rather, he is asking God to make his name hallowed.
- Jesus’ first request is not that his personal needs be met, but that God’s glory and holiness be known and loved as it deserves. What a remarkably God-centered prayer.
- If we do not truly know the God to whom we speak, our prayers will remain impotent, facile, and devoid of life.
- If we come to know and love the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we will be motivated to pray and to pray as Jesus taught us.
Chapter 4: Your Kingdom Come
- The Lord’s Prayer is for revolutionaries, for men and women who want to see the kingdoms of this world give way to the kingdom of our Lord.
- What is the kingdom of God? That question is one of the oldest and most hotly contested theological issues in the Christian church.
- Among these attempts at explaining the kingdom of God, Augustine’s City of God has proven the most helpful and the most in line with the teachings of Scripture.
- They demonstrated that in Scripture the kingdom of God must be understood as something that is already here on earth but not yet fully present. In other words, the kingdom of God has been inaugurated but not yet consummated.
- In our current stage in redemptive history, therefore, God’s kingdom is made up of those who believe in Christ (God’s people) gathered in local churches across the world (God’s place) under the law of Christ and partaking of the new covenant (God’s rule and blessing).
- Thus, while we are indeed in God’s kingdom, we still await God’s kingdom in its fullness. We still await the completion of the Great Commission. We still await the coming of the king and the destruction of all wickedness. We long for the day when we will no longer be the church militant, but the church triumphant.
- God’s kingdom is essentially his reign over his people for their good and his glory. God’s reign is not just his absolute sovereignty; it is also a redemptive reign that transforms hearts and creates obedience.
- Jesus is clearly referring to God’s revealed will. He is asking the Father to reshape the hearts of every single person such that God is obeyed and glorified by men on earth as the angels obey and glorify God in heaven.
- Praying “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” also reorients our own sense of personal autonomy and sense of control over our own lives and situations. This petition causes us to forfeit all our personal claims of lordship and sovereignty over our lives. This petition expresses a humble resignation to and desire for the reign and rule of God. It is no longer “my will” that is preeminent, but his.
- One of the reasons we must pray for God to advance his kingdom is because we, in and of ourselves, cannot cause the kingdom to come.
- The rapid disappearance of cultural Christianity in our own time will mean that Christians may soon find themselves in a situation similar to that of the early church in Rome or the Confessing Church in Nazi Germany. Praying for the coming of God’s kingdom will be considered culturally and politically subversive.
- So, what are we asking when we say “your kingdom come”? We are asking for something wonderful and something dangerous all at the same time.
- This is indeed a radical prayer. We must not take this petition lightly. But, as we have seen, this petition also carries great hope.
Chapter 5: Give Us This Day
- The petition “give us this day our daily bread” reminds us of our dependence on God for even the most fundamental needs of life.
- Food, rightly received, functions as a constant reminder of the greatness of God and our need for his goodness and provision.
- Jesus highlights our regular dependence on God by teaching us to pray for our “daily” bread.
- The word “daily” here teaches us to train our hearts to depend consistently on God, rather than just in times of need.
- We may never experience great riches, but we can be confident that God will provide for us—though sometimes his perception of what we most need may be different from our own.
- At times God may not provide for us in the way that we think is best. But we will always find that he provides for us according to his infinite love and care.
Chapter 6: Forgive Us Our Debts
- If the petition “give us this day our daily bread” emphasizes our most urgent physical needs, the petition “forgive us our debts” emphasizes our most urgent spiritual need.
- Saying we owe a debt to God means that we have failed to give him the obedience he is rightly due.
- Only God’s forgiveness can clear our guilt and establish a meaningful relationship between God and us.
- We can only say these words and ask these things of God when we stand on the finished, atoning work of Jesus Christ.
- This petition demonstrates that the theological bedrock of the Lord’s Prayer is nothing less than the gospel. We can only rightly pray the Lord’s Prayer when we recognize that we are deeply sinful and only God’s grace in Christ can remedy our souls.
- The sum and substance of the gospel is that a holy and righteous God who must claim a full penalty for our sin both demands that penalty and provides it.
- First, this prayer establishes that we are sinners in need of forgiveness.
- Second, Jesus teaches us not only that we have sinned but also that we have the hope of forgiveness.
- Third, we see in this passage that God is willing to forgive sin.
- Finally, this petition demonstrates the relational character of the kingdom of God.
- The extravagant mercy of God shown in this petition should be on our lips and in our hearts daily.
- When we recognize we are debtors, then we see ourselves as we truly are, beggars at the throne of grace.
- What Jesus is affirming in these words is that when we experience God’s forgiveness, we are fundamentally transformed into forgiving people.
- Jesus’ words on forgiveness are clear. Without forgiving others we will not be forgiven. Again, the grounds of our forgiveness is never our own works. But forgiveness is a necessary evidence that we have received forgiveness. If we do not forgive, we will not be forgiven.
Chapter 7: Lead Us Not Into Temptation
- The Bible clearly teaches that the Devil and his demons are real and that these invisible enemies are bent on destroying our spiritual lives. Yet many evangelicals rarely, if ever, meditate on or live in light of this truth.
- Asking to be delivered from sin and temptation is a cry that emerges only from the heart of a citizen of God’s kingdom.
- We desire to submit to the rule and reign of God, not the dominion of sin.
- This petition is one of kingdom warfare, asking that God conquer the powers of sin, Satan, and the demons so that we might live for his heavenly kingdom.
- The most dangerous thing a Christian can ever do is believe that he is somehow immune to temptation. In fact, failing to account for the dangers of temptation betrays a severe misunderstanding of the gospel.
- If we, at any point, think that we are somehow freed up from fighting temptation, then we have both overestimated our own spiritual state and grossly underestimated our need for God’s grace.
- The Bible does not teach that God helps those who help themselves; instead, God helps those who are at the end of themselves.
- The Lord’s Prayer might seem to imply that there are times when God does in fact lead us into temptation. Yet when we let Scripture interpret Scripture, we find that God does not tempt his people.
- We must also recognize that while God will never tempt us, he may sometimes test us in order to strengthen our faith.
- God certainly tests us, but he never tempts us.
- We must never allow God’s tests to lead to temptations.
- The question is not if we will encounter temptations, but what will we do with temptations when we encounter them?
- This prayer underlines the fact that apart from God, we simply are unable to resist temptation.
- We must recognize that the fight against sin will be a lifelong struggle. Only by regularly pleading with the Lord for strength to overcome temptation will we endure to the end.
- We all have weaknesses. The adversary will exploit those weaknesses at every opportunity. This is why we need the Lord’s gracious hand to guide us away from temptation at every turn.
- Christians must never entertain temptation. We are to radically reject it and flee from it.
- While the final petition of the Lord’s Prayer is typically rendered “deliver us from evil,” most modern scholars and translations note that the most appropriate translation is probably “deliver us from the evil one.”
- Jesus teaches us that we will never combat temptation to the fullest extent until we recognize that we have an adversary that plots against our personal holiness.
- Jesus taught his disciples that the best weapon against temptation is prayer. When we do not pray faithfully, our defenses are down.
- Every Christian church is supposed to be a deliverance ministry. Christians are in this together. We cannot be faithful individually if we are not faithful together.
Epilogue: Thine is the Kingdom – Matthew 6:13
- Since the Lord’s Prayer seems to end rather abruptly, Christians in the early church added a doxology to the end of the prayer so as to give God the final word of praise in corporate worship settings.
- It would certainly be wrong to ignore the textual evidence and assert that these words are scriptural and part of Matthew’s Gospel.
- It is not wrong to recite the Lord’s Prayer with the concluding doxology or to benefit from this tradition—so long as we understand the words are not themselves Scripture.
- In an age of superstition and superficiality, the Lord’s Prayer is a beacon of true biblical piety and theologically informed worship.