The Service of the Overcomer
I. Praying diligently for the Kingdom
We all know the rebuke in the Scriptures: “This people honors Me with their lips but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me.” (Matt. 15:8-9) Although God through Isaiah spoke these words to the Israelites, yet they are also directed at us. (Refer to Rom. 4:23-24) So often our worship to God is only a routine and our heart is not in it. Not only we cannot receive blessings from God but on the contrary, we will suffer loss! This is especially true when we pray for the Kingdom. Everyone knows that the Lord’s Prayer is a demand from His own lips. So, it must be important. But how important is it? Why do we have to pray this way? What are we asking for? Most people still feel that this prayer is none of my business, so don't bother me! So how could such ‘groaning in the dark’ prayer reach the court of Heaven? For this reason and without being presumptuous, the author will briefly discuss the Lord’s Prayer. The intent is to help those overcomers who have a desire to serve the Kingdom.
The Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13) is not an example of common prayer. It is a special prayer. We all know Matthew 5, 6 and 7 are the constitution of the Kingdom given by the Lord. In the heart of the constitution, the Lord gave us a prayer for the Kingdom. It can also be said that it is a command from the Lord to pray for the Kingdom. Since the Lord said, “Pray, then, in this way:” "Pray" in the original is a command in the present tense. So, if we do not pray frequently in this way, it is the same as disobeying the order of the gracious Lord! At the same time, the word pray is a combination of two words: ‘towards’ and ‘wish’. This tells us without any alternative that prayer should be the expression and cry of one's spiritual desire. So, words recited without sincere desire are not prayer at all! How does the Lord want us to pray for the Kingdom? First, He told us whom we should pray to. Following that He divided the content of His prayer into two parts: The first part is a prayer for the Kingdom. The second part is for Kingdom personnel. Every part is also divided into three items. Finally, He tells us why this prayer will be accomplished. The following will answer the four questions in this prayer:
1.Who should we pray to? 2.Why should we pray? 3.Who are we to pray for? 4.Who should we praise?
May the Holy Spirit enlighten and lead us to enter into the service that overcomers ought to have! Amen.
A. Prayer to the Father.
The Lord said, “Our Father who art in heaven.” This tells us clearly that the One we pray to is not one who is so high and lofty and so far away that is beyond our reach. Rather it is the gracious Father. He is a “how much more shall He give what is good to those who ask Him.” (Matt. 7:11) gracious Father. What kind of a gracious Father is He? Permit us to use just the several instances our gracious Lord mentioned in the Beatitudes to understand this. The Lord said that He is our heavenly Father who desires us to shine our light before men so that He will receive the glory. (Matt. 5:16) He is the faithful Father who frequently sees in secret and rewards those who do good to others in sincerity. (Matt. 6:1-6) He is the gracious Father who takes delight in forgiving people's transgressions. (Verse 14) He also delights in supplying the needs of those who desire is for the Kingdom. (Verse 32 -33) But He also requires us to do His will. (Matt. 7:2 1) He is not only like this, the Scriptures tell further that He is Father of all, over all, through all. (the meaning being that through all people to do all things) He is also a Father that lives in all. (Eph. 4:6) We have a most glorious, super faithful, abundantly loving and kind, most high, all-powerful and most dear Father. He is more faithful than any other kind fathers on earth (Matt. 7:11). He is delighted to hear our prayers, so why don't we pray?
B. Prayer for the kingdom (3 items altogether).
1. "Hallowed be Thy name,"
"Thy name" is the Father's name. In society, very few people do not know the name of their father. But in the church, it is frequent that after people accepted the Lord, they do not know the name of their heavenly Father! If we do not know the name of our heavenly Father, then our prayers are like talking in our sleep? The Scriptures tell us that Jehovah is our Father. (Is. 64:9) David also tells us Jehovah is One who owns everything, who rules the universe and He is the Father whose hand is power and might and it lies in His hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. (I Chron. 29:11-12) Hallelujah! In this manner, the honorable name of the Father is Jehovah. The pronunciation of this honorable name, if it can be pronounced as ‘Yewah’ would be closer to the original sound. The meaning of Jehovah is clearly stated in Revelation: “He is the beginning and the end; who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Rev. 1:8) For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things, He is Yewah. (Rom. 11:36) May all people give thanks to Yewah and call upon His name! Amen.
‘Hallowed’ means ‘set apart’. It is the same word ‘sanctified’ used in John 10:36. The Lord wants us to pray in this way so that God’s name is set apart because His name is holy. Since man was created, Satan always wanted man to take God's place or worship idols in place of God to confuse and pollute God’s name. In history, he caused many to proclaim themselves as god, lord and king of the world. Hannibal proclaimed himself to be ‘king of all’. Seluman called himself ‘king of the world!’ Nebuchadnezzar claimed to be ‘king of kings'. Islam religion says, “He who follows the prophet (that is Mohammed), he follows God.” Communism says, “God's true kingdom is communism.” One day, Satan will also sit in the temple of God and display himself as being God (II Thes. 2:4)!
Although Satan and those sons of prediction who are possessed by evil spirits attempted to commit sacrilege by scheming to replace God with others, God’s regal authority can never be replaced. His holy name also should never be muddled! For this reason, God the Father wants us to work with Him. He asks us to get going on earth first and then He will act in heaven. The Scriptures tell us: “... whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 18:18) This is the authority God gave to the church. It is also the order of how God works today. Earth comes before heaven. Praise the Lord! So, we should pray constantly. May everyone honor the name of the Father as holy. May all honor and worship Him as the only God, the only Lord and the only King. The names of Satan, his messengers and every name that is outside of His name should be abolished. All people and nations should glory in His name. (Psalm 105:3) All should exalt His holy name. (Psalm 112:9) All should serve Him with gladness and sing praises to His name! Amen!
2. “Thy Kingdom come,”
Perhaps some may ask, “The Kingdom of God is in our midst (Luke 17:21), why did the gracious Lord still want us to prepare it with Him through prayer?” The Lord has clearly revealed to us in the Scriptures and He said, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matt. 25:34) Here, the gracious Lord told us that there are two periods of the Kingdom: the preparation period and the inheritance period. When the Lord said, “The Kingdom of God is in your midst.”, it refers to the Kingdom of preparation period. “Thy Kingdom come” refers to the Kingdom of inheritance. Since it has not come, we need to pray so that the Lord’s Kingdom will soon come. Thank God!
God’s purpose in creating man is no other than for man to rule over His creation. (Gen. 1:20) It is too bad that Adam was unable to pass the test God allowed. He flunked it bad and lost his reign! Until this day, the world still lies in the power of the evil one. (I John 5:19) The king of the world is still hogging onto the throne of the world. He even blinded the spiritual eyes of people so that they cannot resist and can only be his obedient subjects and allow him to use them in any which way he wants! Today, the ruling powers of most countries are no other than the manifestation of Satan’s ruling power. The leaders of these countries are no other than puppets in his hands. They are under the control of the one whose purpose is to destroy! To this day, all humanity groans together and is waiting eagerly for the redemption of the body. (Rom. 8:23) But this final redemption or in other words, the Kingdom of inheritance cannot be realized yet unless Satan’s kingdom is first abolished. This is just like a single chair. If someone is sitting in it, no one else can sit in it. If anyone wants to sit there, one must first get rid of the one sitting in it. This is the same rationale in desiring God’s Kingdom to come. So, when we pray, “Thy Kingdom come”, although we have not said any antagonistic words against the kingdom of Satan, in reality, we are attacking Satan’s kingdom already. One day, our prayers will destroy Satan’s kingdom. It is because the Scriptures tell us, “And another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer and much incense was given to him that he might add it to the prayers (for the Kingdom) of all the saints upon the golden altar which is before the throne. ... and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake.” (Rev. 8:3-5) Following the sound of the angels’ seventh trumpet, our prayer for the Kingdom is accomplished. “The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ and He shall reign forever and ever.” (Rev. 11:15)
3. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
This is God’s earth. He created it and also upholds it. God’s will should be the only standard for all walks of life and profession. God’s command should be carried out at all times. God’s ruling authority should be publicly recognized by all. But in reality, it is not so. On the contrary, Satan’s domineering authority can be seen everywhere. The demons control peoples’ thoughts and bodies at will. Sometimes, they even bully Christians. They are so wicked! Today, many people’s prosperity is actually Satan’s prosperity. Many people’s achievements are Satan’s achievement. Unknowingly, people became his slaves and carry out his evil schemes for him. Brothers and sisters, should we allow this condition to continue to exist? Certainly not! So, the Lord wants us to pray so that the Father’s will may be carried out without hindrance everywhere on earth just like how it is in heaven. As to how this can be realized, we can learn from the gracious Lord Himself. When He was on earth, He said that His will, His teachings, His preaching and His work are none from his own saying or doing. They were all according to the Father’s teaching or what He heard from the Father and then carried out. (Refer to John 5:19, 30; 6:38; 7:16; 8:28, 38) He even regarded doing God’s will as food. (John 4:34) No wonder a voice came out of the cloud saying, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased!” (Matt. 17:5) May those of us who love the Father would rely only on the Father’s will. No only we pray that His will be done on earth as in heaven, we should allow His will to be done without hindrance in the church today. So, we should in one accord, pray earnestly that the good, pure and pleasing will of God can be done in church today as in heaven. Thus the church on earth would be a foreshadow of the Kingdom. Let the brothers and sisters have a foretaste of the sweetness of the Kingdom. How beautiful it is! Even though the Scriptures tell us: “There is none who understands. There is none who seeks for God. All have turned aside.” (Romans 3:11-12) One day, “ ... the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Is. 11:9) “ ... Those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father.” (Phil. 2:10-11) Hallelujah. Are there anything too difficult for Him?
Dear brothers and sisters, have you seen the importance of praying in accordance with the Lord’s prayer? It should not be just part of a worship service. It is even a battle song. Moreover, how dare we recite it without meaning it!
While these three phrases of prayer have different wording, in reality, there is only a single desire: the desire for God’s Kingdom to come soon. These three phrases are also three arrows shot at Satan’s heart. Unless one does not have eternal life, otherwise, no one dare neglect this battle strategy. The Lord knows the seriousness of these three phrases in spiritual warfare. So after He taught us now to pray for the kingdom; He immediately taught us how to pray for ourselves who will reign with Christ in the future. It can be said that it is the prayer on how to protect the junior kings. (Refer to Romans 5:17) The strategy of protection is also listed as three items:
C. Prayer for the kingdom’s personnel.
1. “Give us this day our daily bread.”
This sentence prayer has troubled many good Christians today. They feel that this prayer is quite contrary to reality. The reason being that in most of the time, when they pray like this, they have already stored up plenty of good tasting food in the kitchen. To the extent that before they go to church to worship, they have already prepared plentiful courses so that when they go home after worship is over, they can eat to their hearts’ content. So, how can they pray this? There are two reasons why they think like this. First of all, they do not understand the Principle of Bible Interpretation. They explain the word ‘bread’ literally. They do not know that in the Scriptures, it is quite common to ‘use one to cover all’ (part represents the whole). The word ‘bread’ used here does not refer only to food and drink. It refers to all our bodily needs. We need God’s watch care. Secondly, they do not realize that even there is a plentiful meal set on the table or they have already cut a piece of tender and flavorful prime rib to be placed in the mouth; in the absence of God’s protection, they might not be able to consume it! For example, when Satan attacked Job’s family, it wasn’t when they were preparing the food. It was when the children were eating and drinking at home, an unpredictable great wind blew in from across the wilderness and struck the house. The house collapsed and they all died! We know that this great wind is from Satan! So, no matter how much food we have stored up, even if you are the owner of a super market, you still need to pray this way. Only when we are under the gracious protection of God, we can enjoy everything. It applies not only to ‘eating’, but also to ‘clothing’, ‘living’ and ‘going places’.
2. “Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors.”
After we prayed for our bodily needs, the Lord wants us to pray for the watch care of our psychological aspect. Satan can attack people’s body and also people’s psyche. Through his evil spirits that is working in the hearts of the sons of prediction, he controls people’s thinking, words and activities to do things contrary to their will! Especially in these last days, Satan has intensified his attack on people’s mind. As Christians, we should pay extra attention to the alertness of our mind. We have to wear the helmet of salvation. We should often hide ourselves under the precious blood of the Lord and apply for the Lord’s victory. Through the precious blood of the Lord, we maintain our holiness and purity. We do not leave room for the devil. Certainly the Lord can protect us because He has promised us that no one can snatch us out of His hand. (John 10:28-29) However, we also have the responsibility to be constantly in the Lord. So, the Lord wants we to pray for the forgiveness of sins because they can separate us from the Lord. To receive he forgiveness of sins, we not only have to apply for the Lord’s precious blood because without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins. We also have to be willing to forgive others who have offended us. The reason being that after the Lord’s prayer, the Lord stressed the importance of mutual forgiveness. (Matt. 6:14-15) To receive forgiveness from the Lord, we must forgive others especially when we pray. (Mark 11:25-26)
‘Forgiveness’ is the prescription for all kinds of hatred and anger. In these last days, life will become increasingly difficult and very easily we will have friction with others. Very easily, we will get angry. So, in interpersonal relationship, ‘hatred and anger’ become a common occurrence. But hatred is Satan’s basic nature. It is also his expertise. From the very beginning he spread hatred. Also, he loves people who because of hatred make room for him. Through hatred, he caused Cain to murder Abel and king Saul to use various schemes to kill David. In the same way, he used the Jews to crucify our Lord and caused tens of thousands of people to be crazy and nuts. Dear brothers and sisters, may God grant us the grace to forgive those people who bully us or cause us grief. Do not leave room for Satan. That is why the Scriptures say: “Be angry and yet do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your anger and do not give the devil an opportunity.” (Eph. 4:26-27) To ‘forgive others’ and ‘be forgiven’ are the source of joy in living. Even psychology medicine teaches this today: ‘The experience of forgiving and receiving forgiveness is of primary importance in the nature of creativity and happiness.’ May God help us to learn how to forgive others just as the Father who forgave us.
3. “Do not lead us into temptation but deliver us from the evil.”
We were born as people so we not only have a physical body and soul nature, we also have spiritual life. (spirit, soul, body) The Lord taught us after we pray for our body and soul, He also taught us how to pray for our spiritual life. In the items above, what He taught us are all prayers on the positive side. Now, when we pray for our spiritual lives, He wants us to pay attention to the positive and negative sides. He said, “Do not lead us into temptation (negative side), but deliver us from the evil one. (positive side)” “Do not” is the original means: ‘do not allow’. The word “lead” in the original is ‘enter into’. So, the original meaning should be: ‘Do not allow us to enter into temptation.’ In this way, the Lord is not going to exempt us from all temptation. But He wants us to pray in order not to enter into temptation. So, what does all this mean? Please allow the author to clarify this briefly. The words ‘testing’ and ‘temptation’ are the same word in the New Testament. However, their purposes are just the opposite. The purpose of temptation is the desire that the one tempted would fail and offend God. The purpose of testing is that after the test, the one tested would be more precious than fine gold. In other words, we encounter many things in our lives. From God’s standpoint, He wants us to go through ‘testing’ or ‘refining’ and afterwards become more mature and experienced. But from Satan’s standpoint, he wants us to ‘fail and regret forever’. So, temptation is our moment of danger and also moment of change. So, no matter how beautiful is the name of temptation or how welcome is its existence and how loud its slogan sounds; if it is from the evil one, it certainly must be evil. We all need to be careful and do not allow him to take advantage of us. On the contrary, we can turn temptation into our testing through the mighty power of our Lord’s resurrection. So that after we go through fire and through water, He will bring us out into a place of abundance. (Psalm 66:12) This is just as James said, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial, for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life.’ (In this verse the word ‘trial’ is not the same word as ‘temptation’; James 1:12)
“But deliver us from evil.” This is the end of the prayer. There is no need to explain its importance. The word ‘evil’ is seen in the New Testament seventy-eight times. In many instances, it is translated as ‘evil one’. For example, this word is seen in I John six times. Other than the once translated as ‘evil’ in 3:12; the rest of them were translated as ‘evil one’. At the same time, according to the style of this prayer, this sentence should be translated as ‘evil one’. (It is not a blind force but one with personality.) Here the Lord pointed out in particular that the prayer for the Kingdom is originally warfare against the power of darkness. We need salvation from God the Father. Then what are we to be saved from? First, that we do not enter into temptation but in testing we will be more than conquerors. Secondly, for the Kingdom to come early and the compliment of Kingdom personnel ready soon. Since these two tasks are so important, we will need the salvation from God the Father. The gracious Heavenly Father will be more than happy to save us. But according to the order of spiritual work: ‘Earth comes before heaven’ (Matt. 8:18), we must first pray with one accord on earth. The Father in Heaven will accomplish for us. (Matt. 18:19) Praises to God the Father.
D. Praises to the Father.
“For Thine is the kingdom, power and glory forever, Amen”
All our life needs God’s salvation. All salvation is not accomplished the moment we pray. But it is accomplished long ago when the Lord was crucified on the cross! As long as we express our faith through our praises, we can apply God’s abundance. Through boasting of the victory through the Lord, we can shut the mouth of all of our enemies. So, the Lord’s prayer uses praise as its conclusion.
As to this praise, its accuracy and word usage will be briefly discussed:
Many scholars feel that these words of praise were not in the original but added in the fourth century to make it more appropriate for the worship liturgy. The reason being that in the better manuscripts, this prayer is identical to that recorded by Luke and there were no praises. (Luke 11:4) Even if it is so but after such a magnificent prayer, even if we ourselves added these words of praise, there is nothing wrong! The words we use in our personal prayer are not from the Scriptures; does it mean that should not pray then?
2. Word usage.
From the surface, these words of praise seem to be a union of three independent items: kingdom, power and glory. But according to the word usage in the original language and the style of the prayer, this union of three should be ‘three in one’. By this, we mean that in this union of three, the kingdom should be the king. Power and glory should be its left and right hand man. So, the accurate translation should be: “Because this all powerful and glorious Kingdom is Yours.” Yes, this Kingdom is all-powerful and it is certainly also glorious. Originally, it belongs to the Father. So, it goes back to its original owner and that is certainly reasonable. Hallelujah.
To offer up praises at the end of a prayer is the wisest strategy. Praises are frequently more effective than prayers because praise can convey our faith better than prayers. The intent of prayer is to ask God for help. Praises are offered when we know that God has already accomplished it. Prayer is hoping that God can save us. Praise is trusting that the Lord has victory. Furthermore, we are also standing on the side of victory. Dear overcomers, Satan can cheat or frighten us. But let us remember: he is the eternal looser! As long as we are in the hand of the Lord (John 10:30) and we have no separation with God; no one can snatch us out of the Lord’s hand. (John 10:28-29) Praise the Lord! This is our faith that overcomes the world! (I John 5:4)
So, every time when we pray with the words of the Lord’s prayer, let us no longer just mouth the words and take it light heartedly. Through the words of this prayer, we are to pray earnestly that all other names will be forgotten and only the name of God is lifted up. The kingdoms of the world will be destroyed and only the Lord’s Kingdom will be established. The will of Satan and people will be removed and only God’s will would remain forever. At the same time, we are to pray that our bodily needs are met; our psyche receives good health and our spiritual enemies are defeated. This is such a significant prayer! No wonder sometimes subconsciously, we would doubt if the Kingdom would come to become a reality! Will our needs be met by the Lord? Thank God. He knows fully our weaknesses. So, He not only taught us in the beginning to pray to “our Father who art in heaven” but also at the conclusion, He let us know how to praise ‘the Father’.
May God enlighten and open our spiritual understanding so that we can comprehend the Father’s heart and be an overcomer. Pray respectfully without ceasing. Not only we do this in the church but also in our personal prayers. Trust that He will grant our request and very quickly, His name will be hallowed, His Kingdom will come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Finally, let us join the apostle John at the conclusion of the New Testament and say, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus.”