Forgive Us Our Debts

Kathy Mullin

Friday, April 2, 2021

Today, we continue our reflections on the Lord’s Prayer, as we set our hearts on Easter.  Today’s reflection is by Deacon Kathy Mullin.

"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." Matthew 6:13

I love the Lord's prayer. In it, Jesus shows us how to pray and He reveals once again that he knows our frailties and the things that consume our mind and heart. In the verses preceding the Lord's prayer, Jesus tells us not to use lots of empty words when we pray as if that will impress God with our devotion. He tells us to bring our real fears and our real needs to God.

Jesus begins by reminding us we have a loving and attentive Father in heaven who is listening to us and is able to help us. He echoes the cry of our heart that the kingdom of God will come, that justice will be done in the earth and that good will win out over darkness. He recognizes that we worry all the time about our daily needs and He encourages us to trust God for these practical things. Jesus reminds us to live peaceably with our family and friends by extending forgiveness as often as it is needed. Finally, he acknowledges our weakness and encourages us to pray: Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.

In this final section of the Lord's prayer, Jesus lets us know that He understands we are often tempted. During this global pandemic, you may be tempted to cope with the stresses of life in unhealthy ways. Every week, I see reminders from mental health experts encouraging me to get plenty of sleep, build some physical activity into my day, eat a healthy diet, plan activities I enjoy, practice gratitude. I would add a couple more things to that list: pray often and read the Scriptures as these daily spiritual practices keep you grounded in the hope Jesus offers each of us. Experts remind us to avoid unhealthy choices and activities that leave us feeling worse off about  ourselves and complicating our life even further.  You may be tempted to give up hope that life will ever return to normal. You may be tempted to be cross and impatient with other people because the basic activities of daily life are so complicated or so limited by the restrictions put in place. Temptation comes to each of us in different forms but Jesus knows it is very real. He urges us to ask for God's help every day: Please, Lord, lead me not into temptation. Rescue me. Help me. Save me from myself. Jesus knows what it is like to be tempted and he sympathizes with us. He knows we are particularly weak and vulnerable right now and He encourages us to ask for God's mercy as often as we need it.

Jesus also tells us to pray to be delivered from the evil one. Jesus acknowledges that there are spiritual forces of darkness at work in our world and in our lives that want to steal, kill and destroy. We are not just contending with our own sinful nature and wayward hearts. The evil one is also actively seeking ways to destroy us and to disrupt our lives. God has assured us that his power and goodness will ultimately win the war with evil but today we are still engaged in the battle. You may feel overwhelmed at times by your circumstances. Ask the Lord to deliver you from the evil one, to fight on your behalf. Jesus came to disarm the powers of sin and death. He is interceding for us and His presence is with us moment by moment. Don't be afraid to call a friend or reach out for help to the pastors and leaders at Rivercross Church if you need someone to pray for you and walk alongside you.

The Lord's prayer allows us to express our daily concerns and struggles to the Lord. Jesus recognizes how easily we are tempted. He knows the evil one is out to destroy us. Let's follow the example Jesus gave us and pray together: Lead us not into temptation, Lord, and deliver us rom the evil one. Amen.                      

Submitted by Kathy M

Forgive Us our Debts

Rob Nylen

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Today, we continue our reflections on the Lord’s Prayer, as we set our hearts on Easter.  Today’s reflection is by Pastor Rob Nylen.


“and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

Matthew 6:12


Growing up in small town Saskatchewan in the 1970’s, meant each school day started the same way, a teacher or one of the nuns, usually Sister Alphonse, would stand at the front of the class and would lead us in the reciting of the Lord’s Prayer, in unison, in a very specific cadence.  

And in the version we were taught growing up, we all obediently repeated that one line, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Now, trespasses, or trespassing for me, meant, jumping someone’s fence and running across someone’s lawn, either as a short cut, or to retrieve a ball that went into someone else’s yard, or stealing some raspberries.  Having done this many times as a kid, I was happy to know Jesus died a cruel death on a Roman cross to forgive my minor property violations.  Obviously, that is not what Jesus meant when he taught us to pray, forgive us, our trespasses.

            The original word translated, trespasses, in the Greek, is not a religious word, rather it comes from the commercial world, which is why some translations use the word, debts.  We are all familiar with debts.  Most of us have a cell phone and over the month you accumulate a small debt, and then at the end of the month you get a letter or email telling you what your debt is.  

Now, the word “forgive” is also from the world of business.  So, you get your cell phone bill telling you what your monthly debt is, and you send them the money, and you say, “Please, take this money and forgive me my debt.”  And, they gladly take your money, forgive your debt, and your balance returns to zero. The ledger has been cleared.  


So what is our debt? Simply, it’s obedience, we are in debt because we have failed to obey, again and again. So, imagine each time you fail to obey God, an amount is credited to your account, and your bill keeps growing and growing.  Origen, an early church father, said we had three kinds of debt:

  •         Debt to others: to parents, children, strangers, to the poor, to our bosses, to those who serve under us, to our neighbours. In all these relationships we have incurred debts.   
  •         Debt to ourselves: to our physical bodies we often abuse, to our minds which we pollute, to our soul which we often do not tend to well enough. We have debts piling up here too.
  •         And then, finally, Debt to God: that each time we disobey, we are also incurring a debt. 

So, we start to see, that our debt is larger and more serious than we originally thought, but s Jesus invites you and I as his followers to pray, Father in Heaven, forgive us our debts, erase the ledger of duty to you, and to others.


Which is why this invitation to pray so boldly is quite shocking!  “God, cancel my debts, the debts I owe others, the debts against myself and the debts against you.”  If this does not seem shocking to you, the next time your cell phone bill arrives in the mail, call up the company and tell them to forgive your debt!  And then let me know what they say! 


Jesus, says, I invite you to ask me, to forgive all of your debts.  It’s an incredible offer.   

Or, as Paul says it so wonderfully, in Colossians 2:13-14, 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses, or debts, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”


So, Jesus says, “forgive us our debts” but then he has this extra, very difficult line, “as we also have forgiven our debtors.”  Or, forgive me to the same extent that I forgiving others.  Does anyone have a debt against you or owe you something?  Someone done something to you, against you, maybe they hurt you?  You might not use this language, but the ledger of your heart remains open because a debt is owing.  Maybe it happened yesterday, and maybe it happened 10 years ago.  But still, it’s there, like an unpaid bill.  And, knowingly or unknowingly, we send reminders of this debt, maybe by spreading gossip about them, or by ignoring their texts, or by being withdrawn when we are around them.  Because, we want them to know, you owe me.


And in this Easter season, so drenched in this theme of forgiveness, we wrestle with the idea that Jesus really expects me to forgive her?  To forgive him? To forgive them?  And Jesus invites us, with the same audacity it took to ask him to forgive our debts, to forgive others of their debts against us.  Forgiving people who are indebted to us allows us to let that hurt stop holding our hearts captive, stop taking up so much room in our thoughts.  Meaning, not only do we set the person who hurt us free, but we set ourselves free too.


So, today.  Maybe you are feeling burdened, weighed down, like there are a lot of accumulating sin bills, making it difficult to be with God in prayer or just in His presence.  Can I invite you to write a few of the sins that are really bothering you, and then, read Colossians 2:13-14, knowing they have been dealt with once and for all.


Or, maybe there’s a bill you’ve been holding onto.  Someone owes you something.  And you’ve been calculating interest, and awaiting payment.  And maybe today, as you sit in the shadow of God’s great mercy for you, you can finally tear up that bill.  Forgive it.  Let it go once and for all.  And as you do, you should sense a freedom cover over you, and a freedom to move on. 


Lord as we reflect on this Easter Season, as we learn to become your disciples, would you “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”


Daily Bread

John Knight

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Today, we continue our reflections on the Lord’s Prayer, as we set our hearts on Easter.  Today’s reflection is by Pastor John Knight.


In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus presents his model for what our prayers should look like. We now call this prayer, the “Lord’s Prayer.” I think we need to appreciate that the Lord’s Prayer is actually part of Jesus’ larger teaching known as the “Sermon on the Mount.” The Sermon on the Mount is where Jesus spells-out, in clear and challenging terms, how we should live if we choose to follow him.


The Lord’s Prayer is located almost dead center in the Sermon. I really don’t think this is an accident. Jesus is reminding us that, if we really want to lead lives that reflect God’s intentions, then prayer must stand at the very heart of it – connecting us to God’s power in all we think and say and do.


I love how the late Eugene Peterson says this – in his words: “Prayer holds the [Sermon on the Mount] together and animates it. A kingdom-of-heaven life consists of things to do and ways to think, but if there is no prayer at the center nothing lives. Prayer is the heart that pumps blood into all the words and acts. If there is no heart doing its work, there is only a corpse. It may be a very lovely corpse. But dead is dead. R.I.P.”


So, as followers of Jesus, we are called to pray. This is the source of life for us – our connection to God’s life-giving power. But we are not called to pray in an oh-so-spiritual, lost-in-the-clouds kind of way. No instead, the model prayer Jesus offers us is clear – simple – down to earth. It even leaves room to bring our basic-yet-essential needs before God.


Matthew chapter 6 verse 11: “Give us today our daily bread.” Or as The Message translation renders it: “Keep us alive with three square meals.” Isn’t that amazing? The fact that the great God of the universe – who brought this world into being – cares enough about me and you – to pay attention to our daily needs? Jesus reminds us that this is in fact true in the Lord’s Prayer. God is even concerned if we have enough food for the table – or not.


With that in mind, let’s take a closer look now at those words – “Give us today our daily bread.” The repetition is the first thing that I notice – it speaks of “today” and “daily.” Now obviously this is for emphasis. Jesus is reminding us that our prayers for help should reflect a day-by-day dependence on God. We are to come to God “daily” and ask him to secure our immediate future – “today.” We are called to lean on God to meet our needs day-by-day. Not tomorrow – not three months from now – today.


Now here’s something interesting about that word, “daily,” you probably don’t know. Matthew’s Gospel was originally written in Greek. Well, outside of Matthew, the only known source for the Greek word translated as “daily” is in a grocery shopping list scribbled on papyrus, where it’s clear that the person was making purchasing plans for the coming day. In hot climates with no refrigeration – like back in the time of Jesus – shopping for food was a daily activity.


I think there’s an important truth here for us. Jesus is reminding us that, coming to God in prayer every day, to ask Him to meet our needs, should be as common and as regular as putting together a shopping list – or for that matter any other plan we make for each day. It should simply be a routine part of our lives – built on our trust that God really does care about our most basic needs. He will secure our future for today. And then we come back to God in prayer again tomorrow, and start again. We are called to live in trust with God one day at a time.


Now let’s talk about “daily bread.” Many of you who are listening to this podcast know that I’m the Community Outreach Pastor at RiverCross Church. One ministry I oversee is called, “Hope Mission.” It’s a ministry that focuses on people living in Saint John’s Old North End and Crescent Valley – two neighborhoods with many challenges.


Here’s what’s great about Hope Mission: People meet God there – a God who loves them and cares for them! They know that from the moment they walk through the doors, and are welcomed by followers of Jesus who treat them no differently than they would anyone else. Part of the care these Jesus followers provide is practical in nature. It even includes baked bread; in fact, bread has always been part of the Hope Mission story.


It all goes back to when a man named Horace Buford showed up at the Mission on its opening day, over twenty years ago, with a load of bread to give away. It was an answer to prayer. Ever since, bread has been part of the Mission’s ministry. For a while, we received donations from Superstore; most recently, we’ve been buying it through Chuck’s Store (right near the Mission) and have also been given bread by Glen’s Bakery in Grand Bay.


The bread we provide to people through the Mission is important. Why? Because folks in the Old North End and Crescent Valley need it! It helps stretch the dollars. In neighborhoods with not much money, this is what survival sometimes looks like. It’s at least a bare minimum to help them to keep going.   


I think this story helps us to make some sense of “daily bread” in the Lord’s Prayer. Please notice that Jesus doesn’t instruct us to ask for a gourmet feast. No, we are told to ask for “bread” – the bare minimum food requirement we need to survive another day. Again, it’s about learning to live in daily trust with God. It’s about putting aside any misguided ideas we might have that we can do it on our own, and recognizing, instead, that our dependence on God is built into the very fabric of who we are.


At a bare minimum, our God-created bodies need “bread” to survive – and only God can supply it! But here’s the great thing! As we learn to live this way – trusting God to meet our needs every day – we discover that God is always present and active in his concern for our lives. God is enough! He will meet us in our need. Here’s how the late Dallas Willard says it: “God is always present today, no matter which day it is. Today I have God, and he has the provisions. Tomorrow it will be the same.” 


I want to invite you to try something – to hopefully help what I’ve just shared with you – settle into your hearts.  Here goes:

1.      Practice learning to trust in God on a daily basis. Do this by spending ten minutes in prayer every morning for one week. Don’t get fancy. Just have a friendly conversation with God.

2.      Practice learning to trust God for your daily bare minimum “bread.” Maybe that “bread” is actually just that – food for the table. Or perhaps it’s something else you need to survive. Maybe your “bread” is a need for friendship. Or for regular spiritual guidance from a mentor. Whatever your “bread” is, put it before God in these daily prayer times – without hesitation and with an honest heart.

3.      At the end of this week of practice, take some time to look back. Recall what you’ve prayed about. See if you can discern any answers to those prayers. Also see if you’ve learned anything about what it really means to live in daily dependence on God.

Try it out! I’d love to hear back from you on how it went. 😊

Pastor John

Thy Kingdom Come

Sandi Killeen

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Today, we continue our reflections on the Lord’s Prayer, as we set our hearts on Easter.  Today’s reflection is by Pastor Sandi Killeen.


Hi RiverCross! Welcome to episode 2 of our Easter series on the Lord’s prayer. My name is Sandi Killeen and for the next few minutes we will be thinking together around the second line of the prayer: Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.


In this short time that we have together today, I want to focus our attention on three words which have formed and transformed the way that I pray: Your Kingdom come.


The idea of the Kingdom of God, which is so central to the Lord’s prayer and to the teaching of Jesus, emerges out of the history of God’s people. When Jesus begins his public ministry on earth, he comes first to Judea, the home of the historic people of God, the Israelites who have become a shadow of who they once were. As a people, they are scattered, oppressed, and barely holding on to hope. But at one time, the Israelites had been a strong and successful nation. They were at the height of their greatest glory during the reign of King David who, despite all of his failings, had been a king who was given over to God. He was chosen by God for God’s purposes. And because David was this, very soon after the reign of his son Solomon, as the kingdom fell into disobedience and decline, there emerged a hope in Israel that God would do the David thing again in their midst. This idea of a Davidic Kingdom was projected onto the future and became idealized. David came to represent the ideal King, and the time of his reign came to represent the ideal kingdom, and even as Israel fell further into the grip of its enemies, hope grew that God would send a new David, an anointed one, a Messiah, a righteous ruler who would lead the people of God in righteousness, and restore them to their former glory.


The prophets took up this hope and they gave it a name: the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord was first of all going to be a day of judgment, both upon the enemies of Israel, and upon Israel, the people of God who had not at all been acting like the people of God! Rather than modeling the concerns of the heart of God by caring for the oppressed, the poor, the widow, and the orphan, they had become the ones who were oppressing the poor, the widow, and the orphan! The day of the Lord was going to be a day when justice was finally and visibly done. But because this day is God’s day, it would also be a day of salvation. God’s justice isn’t vindictive or malicious, it’s restorative, it’s salvific. It’s fearsome, yes, but it’s righteous. It marks freedom for the oppressed, good news for the poor. God, the just King reigns in salvation and righteousness.


And so it happened suddenly one day in Israel’s history that the day of judgment came in the form of the destruction of the temple, and the triumph of the Babylonians who took the Israelites as captives back to Babylon, where the people of God lived as exiles and foreigners for 50-70 years. An entire of generation living in the crushing weight of separation and affliction. And then came the restoration to their land, to Jerusalem, and they began to think: “Aha! We’ve had judgment, now this must be the salvation! This must be the restoration of Israel’s fortune! This must be the time for the Messiah to come and to rule in righteousness!”


But instead of being the great fulfillment of all of their expectations and hopes, it turned out to be a colossal disappointment. The reconstructed temple was only a shadow of the first, they didn’t regain any kind of political independence or influence. In fact, a large portion of God’s people didn’t even return to the land at all, and Israel spent the next couple hundred years passed around like a pawn between warring states, held captive under the power of increasingly intolerant and oppressive regimes, all the while remembering the promises of the Old Testament. They’d been promised a good deal more than they were experiencing.


And as time passed, their hope began to shift. Their hope was still rooted in the conviction that God would act in the future, but they had given up on this “future” happening within the scope of human history. At some point, God would bring time to an end, and usher in a new age that was marked by his rule of justice, righteousness, and salvation, but they had given up hope for the age in which they lived. Because as they looked around, God’s Kingdom was just not in evidence for them. They were a people living in perpetual poverty, injustice, and oppression. The bad guys were winning. The good guys were losing. Sickness, poverty, and death were ruling the day. They began to ask: Where is salvation? Where is justice? Where is deliverance? Where is righteousness? All visible evidence pointed them to the conclusion that God was not really reigning in this world after all. The age to come belongs to him, but the age of human history was understood as an evil age under a different authority.


This is the context into which Jesus steps with an announcement: Good news! The Kingdom of God is at hand. And Jesus teaches these people, of all people, to pray the words: “Your Kingdom come.” And there’s a real sense in which these words signal to them that the thing they have hoped for is entering the scene sooner than they’d dared to let themselves believe, but I think that even more than that is happening here. In teaching them to pray these words, Jesus gives them, and us, permission to voice our disillusionment when the world around seems to be broken beyond repair. Permission to ask him: “Why do the righteous suffer? Why are your sheep slaughtered? Where is your justice? Where is your rule? Where is your righteousness? Where is your salvation?” The words “Your Kingdom come” function on one level as a prayer of desperation; a confession of brokenness. In praying them, we pray: “God, in this place where I see no evidence of your justice, or your salvation, or your righteousness, let your kingdom come.” When we are at the end of our rope, painfully aware of the brokenness in us and in the world around us, we need some sustaining, life-giving evidence that God is at work. So we pray “Your Kingdom come.”


But these words also function in this prayer as a confession of hope. Creation is in a state of brokenness; alienated from its Creator, yes. But through the person and work of Jesus, God has already taken back creation and is restoring it to a state of wholeness. We see this in the way that the Kingdom of God breaks into the scene. Jesus the Messiah establishes a kingdom that is nothing like the kingdoms of this world. He steps into human history not with military might or coercive power, but with compassion and grace. Jesus comes to the broken places, and the broken people. He draws near to the outcasts, the lepers, the sinners, and he restores them to wholeness. A classic example of this for me is the story of Zacchaeus—a tax collector, a cheat, a sinner who steals money from an already impoverished and oppressed people. He’s the kind of person for whom you really want the justice of God to come. But Jesus calls him out of the crowd in Jericho, and he doesn’t say “Zacchaeus, what is wrong with you?” or “Zacchaeus, how could you?” or “Zacchaeus, do better.” He says “Zacchaeus, I am coming to your house.” He comes to Zacchaeus with compassion and grace and it is transformative. Zacchaeus becomes a new person. He turns away from his former behaviour, sells all that he has, gives to the poor, and repays everyone he has wronged. Salvation comes to the house of Zacchaeus because the reign of God has come in compassion, in grace, in saving power, and has made what was broken whole. The words “Your Kingdom come” function not only as a lament, but also as a prayer of hope, rooted in the confident expectation that Jesus the King can and will continue to come in compassion and grace to bring wholeness to the brokenness in and around us. So we pray “Your Kingdom come.”


And finally, the words “Your Kingdom come” serve as a cry of surrender. Notice, as in the example of Zacchaeus, that the Kingdom of God enters into our lives quite apart from any intention or effort of ours. It’s established by Jesus, secured by his death and resurrection, and is growing steadily and quietly in the world around us. Jesus compares it to a mustard seed, or to yeast, something seemingly small and unnoticeable which sparks exponential and irreversible growth. It’s here in our midst already. Jesus is king already. Salvation and justice and righteousness are here already, and they will take their full expression when Jesus returns and his kingdom is universally acknowledged. And all of this will happen with, or without our participation. But in the mean time, what is required of us is to yield to what Jesus has already accomplished. The words “Your Kingdom Come” function as a prayer of desperation, an expression of hope, and also on a third level as a cry of surrender. A confession that his kingdom is better than ours. It’s a laying down of our crowns before the only good King. We’ve seen the fruit of our own kingdoms, and of our own wills and I don’t know about you, but I’ve had my fill of it, of my own selfish ambition, my own quarrelsomeness, my own anger and greed and deceit, my own insistence on getting my own way. Paul’s writings make it clear to us that these things accomplish nothing good. In teaching us to pray “Your Kingdom come,” Jesus teaches us also to surrender our own reign, and submit to his instead. To set aside our own imperfect will and to be conformed to his perfect, righteous, just, good, saving will instead. To die to ourselves so that we can learn what it means to really live in the kingdom of God as fully now as we will one day when we are made complete in his presence. When we pray these words we are really praying “let your Kingdom come in me. Let your will be done in me, whatever it might cost me. Your Kingdom, not mine. Your will, not mine.” And so we surrender, and we pray, “Your Kingdom come.”



Would you pray these words with me this morning, as we offer up a prayer of lament for the brokenness in the world around us, a prayer of glad expectation for the wholeness that Jesus is in the process of bringing, and a prayer of surrender, of giving our lives and our wills over to the service of God’s Kingdom.


Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.


Your Kingdom come.

In the brokenness of our hearts, in the brokenness of our world, in our feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, in our anger and frustration, in our weeping and our mourning, we voice both our lament, and our hope: Your Kingdom come.


Your Kingdom come.

In the unsurrendered corners of our hearts and our kingdoms, in the parts of ourselves that we keep hidden, in the areas in which we insist on our own way, in the moments when try to conform your will to ours instead of surrendering ours to you, we offer up a cry of surrender. We’ve had our fill of our own Kingdom, and we yield to yours instead. Your Kingdom come.

And your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.


And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Our Father

Ryan Killeen

Monday, March 29, 2021

Today, we continue our reflections on the Lord’s Prayer, as we set our hearts on Easter.  Today’s reflection is by Ryan Killeen.


So throughout this series of devotionals we’re going to be going line-by-line through the Lord’s Prayer as found in Matthew 6:9-13. Today we’re going to be looking at the first line, in verse 9, which reads:


Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.


First, though, we want to understand where exactly this passage is – this is a part of what’s called the Sermon on the Mount, a very famous part of the gospel of Matthew where King Jesus is giving His inaugural speech, declaring what the Kingdom of Heaven is like and how it’s different from what we know – and there’ll be more on that in the next devotional. For today, all we need to know is that just before this, Christ was condemning prayer that doesn’t align with His Kingdom – prayer that’s showy, that’s done for the sake of being seen and being heard. He uses this opportunity to show what authentic prayer looks like.


There’s one word in this prayer that I really want to focus in on today. That word is “Father.” This word can be a bit tricky because when we hear it, we tend to automatically think of our own father, but in order to understand what Jesus is saying here, we need to grasp that the way families look today is very different from the way they looked at the time when Jesus lived. Instead of the nuclear family model, back then you would typically have not just parents and children, but also members of the extended family living on a family estate. Depending on how wealth you were, your household might also have workers, servants, and slaves – whose families might also live with you.


Today we often think of a household as being, at most, two parents and their children, but two thousand years ago a household was often more like a miniature town. And while in that household you might have several people who were fathers, there was one person – usually the eldest male – who was *the* father, who was in charge. They were like the miniature king of that miniature town. They were responsible for governing the household: making sure that it was financially sound, protecting it from outside threats, arbitrating disputes – not just when it came to their children but also their siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews, servants – the entire household. In some ways, the authority that the father had over the household was more absolute than the authority that a king had over his people.


Now I want to take a minute for a quick disclaimer here: I’m not saying that this was a good system, or that it was the way God had designed families to live. There were a lot of problems with this way of structuring families. But Christ uses it here and elsewhere as an example from the surrounding culture to teach His audience something about who God is. Because as I said, the patriarch of a household at that time was in many ways like a king, but one crucial difference I want to highlight is that a patriarch did not rule over subjects he’d never met. He was deeply familiar with those in his household. They were his family, his own flesh and blood.


And that’s the imagery that Jesus is drawing on here. Because like I said, this part of Matthew is Jesus declaring the arrival of God’s Kingdom, and in this statement He is declaring what sort of Kingdom it is – and what sort of King God is. Because He’s powerful, yes. He’s the King of Kings, the Lord of all creation, the one who made the heavens and earth. He’s far greater than anything our words could describe or our brains could imagine. But He’s not a distant King. He wasn’t like Caesar or even Herod, sitting on his throne with no personal connection to the people he ruled. Instead He knows and cares about each of us individually. That’s the sort of Kingdom this is – the King is great and mighty but He also loves you more deeply than you could ever possibly imagine. He emphasizes that the question of whether God is our holy Lord or our close friend is not either/or but both/and.


And that’s how Jesus opens this prayer: Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Jesus is declaring who God is, what He is like, and proclaiming Him holy or hallowed. The prayer isn’t about us. Later on it deals with our needs and wants and struggles, but never from a self-centered perspective. From the very beginning, the prayer is about God: The perfect Father. And that’s one thing that separates this from the prayers of the hypocrites that Jesus was talking about before this: Prayer isn’t about us. It’s not a way of looking holy or getting God’s attention or getting what we want. It’s a way to spend time with Him – the Father who loves us.


Before I wrap up there’s just one last thing I want to cover here. I should say that I’m only touching on part of the imagery the Bible is using when it comes to God being our Father. This imagery isn’t something that began with the New Testament, either. We see it used sometimes in the Old Testament as well, in the context of Him being our Kinsman-Redeemer. To make a long story short, a Kinsman-Redeemer was a relative who would recover or buy back property or people that had been lost from the family. In proclaiming that God was our Father, Jesus wasn’t just drawing on family structures to illustrate who God is, He was proclaiming His intention to be the Kinsman-Redeemer to all those who had been lost from God’s family – to buy us back at the price of His own life.


Pray with me:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.


Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.For yours in the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.

The Stream

We have been so grateful for the people who have taken time to share how God is leading and speaking to them during this time. The “Stream” will be taking a break for the summer, however all past devotionals are available here on our website and we would encourage you to revisit them.