Is the Lord's Prayer for Us or for Believers in the Future?

Manfred E. Kober, Th.D.

The Lord’s prayer is one of the most misunderstood and misused prayers in the Bible, and yet it is the prayer that is better known and repeated more often than any other prayer in the Scriptures. Martin Luther called the prayer “The greatest martyr on earth,” because it has been abused by so many people in many ways.

1. The Outline of the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-15)

a. Petitions for God's glory: 6:9-10

A prayer for sanctification: 6:9
"Hallowed by thy name"

A prayer for sovereignty: 6:10a
"Thy kingdom come"

A prayer for submission: 6:10b
"Thy will be done"

b. Petitions for men's needs: 6:11-13

A prayer for provision: 6:11
"Give us our daily bread"

A prayer for pardon: 6:12
"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors"

A prayer for protection: 6:13
"and lead us not into temptation, be deliver us from evil"

c. A proclamation of God's power: 6:14

His authority: "for thine is the kingdom"

His attributes: "for glory"

His ability: "the power"

It cannot be stressed too strongly that despite the common use, the prayer is a model prayer. While it is valuable to us as believers with certain principles and patterns, as seen in the outline above, nonetheless it should be put in its proper dispensational context. The prayer was given to people who lived at the time when the kingdom was offered by both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.

There is no reference to the church in Matthew’s gospel until Matthew 16 (universal church) and Matthew 18 (local church). The prayer is part of the offer of the kingdom. To indicate how the prayer fits into the eschatological framework of the establishment of the kingdom, it should be emphasized that the prayer is most suitable for the time when the kingdom is offered. In Christ’s day the kingdom was postponed, as He said to the Jews of His time, “the kingdom is taken from you and given to another generation” Mt. 21:43.

Note the factors listed below which make the prayer suitable for those people who are alive next time the kingdom is offered, namely, the Jewish people in the tribulation.

2. The Context:

The prayer is taught as a model prayer in the context of the Messianic Kingdom.

3. The Expectation:

The request to pray for the kingdom does not fit with the prayer given to the church where in Revelation 22 the Bride and the Spirit say “Come.” The believer today prays for the coming of the Bridegroom, not the King.

I. M. Haldeman, a leading dispensational pulpiteer in the early part of the 20th century has put it well:

The prayer of the church is not for the coming of the kingdom, but for the coming of the Bridegroom, that the marriage may take place and the Queen be ready to accompany the King when He shall descend in the splendor of the kingdom.

The attitude of the church is not looking for the King but waiting for the Son: not looking for signs but listening for sounds, the sounds of His voice and the trump which shall summon her to meet Him; not crying out for the manifestation on earth, but yearning to be caught up into the air; not clamoring for revealed power but pleading for ascension into the banqueting house, and over her His banner of love (How to Study the Bible: the Second Coming and Other Expositions, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1964, 138).

4. The Ground:

The ground in the prayer for forgiveness is dependent on our forgiveness of others. However, the believer today is not under law but under grace, having been totally forgiven (Rom. 8:1). The emphasis of the prayer is one of Jewish legalism rather than under life under grace.

5. The Time:

The prayer is suitable for the time whenever the kingdom is offered, which will be during the tribulation prior to the Second Advent.

6. The Conditions:

“Thy will be done” best fits conditions on earth during the great tribulation when the willful king of Daniel 11:36 and 2 Thess. 2:3-14 will reign supreme.

And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.

7. The Need:

The prayer for daily bread is necessary because believers in the tribulation who do not receive the mark of the beast will not be able to buy or sell (Rev. 13:17) And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

8. The Protection:

The prayer includes the request, “Lead us not into temptation.” The same word “temptation” is used in Revelation 3:10 where it is clearly stated that the church is exempted from the tribulation, but the Jewish believers in the tribulation are praying that they might be delivered from that time and Jesus Christ assures them that the days will be shortened (probably indicated in Matthew 24:22).

9. The Deliverance:

The prayer for deliverance is not simply from evil but the Evil One. The word has a definite article and the disciples are praying that the Lord will deliver them from the hands of the Evil One (2 Thess. 2:8-9).

In the Olivet Discourse, the Lord clearly spells out the possibility of such a deliverance, namely, in the mountains east of the Dead Sea (Mt. 24:16). In fact in Daniel’s prophecy the very area is indicated that Antichrist will not be controlling while he is a world dictator, and that includes Ammon, Moab and Edom, east of Israel and the Dead Sea (Dan. 11:41). There the Jewish people will find a safe refuge from Antichrist who for three and a half years will be an autocratic ruler over the entire earth. And then they shall see the marvelous answer to their fervent prayer, “Thy kingdom come.”

The church age believer appreciates this prayer because it gives us a pattern for our requests of praising God and asking for our daily needs, but although it is for us, as is all Scripture, it relates primarily to that generation living before the establishment of the kingdom in Christ’s day and then at a future time in the tribulation period.

© Manfred E Kober

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