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Jun 14, 2012

Examining the Lord's Prayer Through New Covenant Eyes

The Lord’s Prayer is probably one of the best known teachings in the Bible. Believers read it, they pray it and they even sing it. Some have even committed to praying it every day. That all sounds great except that the Lord’s Prayer is NOT a new covenant prayer so it has absolutely NOTHING to do with us as new testament believers.

The prayer as prayed by Jesus is found in Matthew 6:9-13 and I’m going to use the New King James Version to discuss some of its various points. The book of Matthew is one of four books that detail aspects of the life and ministry of Jesus while he was on the earth and these four books are found in the section of the Bible that we call the new testament. However, the new testament era did not actually begin until after Jesus’ death and resurrection so the events described in Matthew actually occurred during a transition period that should not be included in the new testament.

Since the events described in this book took place during the culmination of old testament times, Jesus was actually speaking to believers who lived under the old covenant. His listeners were not new covenant believers as we are so not everything that he said and taught applies to us today and the Lord’s Prayer is a perfect example of an old testament teaching that does not apply to us. I believe there’s great danger in Christians praying the Lord’s Prayer because it can hinder them from believing and accepting what God has already provided for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

I’d like us to examine this prayer together in the hopes that by doing so, we’ll all experience a greater depth of understanding of what has been freely given to us today as new covenant believers. The prayer starts out with Jesus praying to “Our Father in Heaven.” The idea of praying to a God who is in heaven encourages a picture of a distant god who is separate from his people. Yet, in the new covenant, we know that God lives in us and he’s promised to never leave us so why pray to him as though he’s somewhere out there in the wild blue yonder. Instead, he lives in us, in our very being, as one with us as is our DNA.

Next, the prayer continues, “Your kingdom come.” When Jesus prayed that, he was looking forward to the day when God’s kingdom would come to Earth. Well, that day has already come and is NOW. We don’t have to pray “your kingdom come” any longer. His kingdom is already here and it lives within us. (Luke 17:21) We have the kingdom of God and all that it entails in our hearts so we don’t have to pray asking God to bring it to the earth.
Jesus then continues to pray, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Later, in verses 14-15, he tells his listeners that their forgiveness is dependent on how they forgive others. If they forgive others, they’ll be forgiven. If they don’t, too bad. Forgiveness is only available for those who follow the rules.

Jesus was setting the standard so high that his listeners would realize that it’s impossible for them to keep the rules. Their behavior would never be good enough to earn forgiveness so, in the new covenant, God provides it freely with no strings attached. We’re forgiven. There’s nothing we can do to earn his forgiveness and the good news is that there’s nothing we can do to lose it. It’s a free gift based solely on Jesus’ death and resurrection.
The Lord’s Prayer was meant to encourage Jewish believers to look forward to the forgiveness and freedom that would be given in the new covenant. That day is here so we no longer have to beg God to give us what he’s already freely given. All we have to do is believe it, accept it and then begin to live as though it’s true.

For additional study of the new covenant and what it means to us today as believers, I would recommend “Heaven is Now” by Andrew Farley.


by Aida Calder

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  1. Gravatar

    I am thrilled to hear someone point out that a lot of the "Gospel" narative has an O T context as this is something that I have considered for a long time but was usually howled down if/when I verbalised it. This perspective when viewing the Lords Prayer is new to me so I will have to consider but power to you for raising the whole OT NT issue

  2. Gravatar

    I really believe in many cases we’ve been deceived by the labeling of the gospels as “New Testament.” So, in order to understand truth, it’s important to examine who Jesus was speaking to because I believe most of the time it doesn’t directly apply to us. I’m glad you’ve also been able to recognize that. Thanks for your comment.

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    You recommended Andrew Farley and that's a great recommendation but I am going to recommend this post to my friends. I just found this doing a search on the Lord's prayer in light of the new covenant. This is a great article. Understanding this clears up what appears to be a contradictory "new testament" as we know it. This is the stuff that will change your life. Thanks.

  4. Gravatar

    Thanks so much for revealing this truth. It needs to get out there more. I began to ask myself that very thing why verse 14 says that we must forgive others. I thought, this can't be right! I listen to R.B.Thieme so i suppose you could scream at me and call me a thiemite or you could get over it haaha........ with love....... but yea he mentioned that it's not for us. I did a search and only found this article. I think we really need to make this truth known. Thanks for sharing in such good context. I will be sure to pass this on.

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    Chasplain George Paterson

    Finally - someone who has read the bible and understands what it say. By the way, we have also been "delivered from evil." The battle is not between God and satan, it is between us and satan. Now lets start on Easter (Estar), the wise men (at the house not the manger) and dozens of other things dragged along by traditional denominations. I'm tried of correcting peoples thinking.

  6. Gravatar

    simply put I was challenged today at church for stating just this. pray for opening of eyes and ears and rites to be removed and replaced with the all trusting faith in Jesus x

  7. Gravatar

    I am new to FBN and this is the first thing I read, as I have just studied the Lord's Prayer in depth and so it caught my eye, and I am surprized that this blog was challenged by no one. And to read comments like "Finally - someone who has read the bible and understands what it says" brings back eiry reminders of others who have claimed sole insights into scriptures and temporarily led me astray. I was hoping for something more from FBN.

  8. Gravatar

    The idea that the Lord's Prayer (LP) was instruction given prior to the establishment of the NC and therefore not applicable to those under the NC is tragically flawed. Matthew was written to NC Christians many years after Pentecost. He did not include the (LP) as some recollection of Jesus' teaching on prayer that is no longer valid. What would be the point of that? The people who heard Jesus' instruction on prayer during his life without doubt did not grasp its meaning in its fullness, and may have misunderstood what he was saying, as is indeed the case today. I would agree that merely saying the (LP) has little value. The (LP) is a rich condensation of concepts and themes that make NC prayer efficacious. Praying the (LP) is dangerous--prayed with understanding and with God's Spirit, it endangers this evil world! This world is doomed, as the NC is already inaugurated, and the power of praying as Jesus instructed ensures the final victory, already certain.

  9. Gravatar

    “The idea of praying to a God who is in heaven encourages a picture of a distant god who is separate from his people.” In trying to understand our NC relationship with God, it is indeed a mistake to view God as distant. But it is also a mistake to minimize God’s glory. “Our Father in heaven” strikes a perfect balance. First, “our” reminds us that the NC is not just about our relationship with God, it is about our relationships with each other. “Our” prevents the impression that all true piety is purely personal. To pray “our Father” is to express our love of our neighbor. Second, “Father” tells us God is not remote, He relates to us in the most intimate terms, as you rightly point out. We are no longer slaves to sin, but sons of the Father. But what makes this so breathtaking is the additional understanding of who this God is! God transcends all that is on earth, infinite in holiness and glory and love! Yet He lives in us and calls us his sons and daughters!

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    Sorry Doug, but the article is correct. We do not need to ask for forgiveness. We are already forgiven. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus! Too many churches are living in condemnation, trying to please God and failing. The truth is we are covered in the blood of Christ period. We have to stop trying to please God and learn to rest in the fact that we are his. That is enough to push us on.

  11. Gravatar

    Wonderful commentary.Something I have believed for a long time but couldn't put it in writing without confusing people. Thank you Aida.

  12. Gravatar

    I think you for your clear and concise explanation. I heard Andrew Wommack explain this on a tape, but couldn't remember which one. I remember thinking, 'why is no one else seeing this'? It brought such clarity for me as did your article. I have just started reading the Bible over this past year. I am a 'baby on milk' but getting a little more comfortable with 'meat'. I can, however, get really confused when I try to find answers via the internet. I use my study Bibles, but find sometimes I just HAVE to see if I can find an answer now! Thank you for your help in this endeavor and God Bless.

  13. Gravatar

    ps I also THANK you!! lol I should proof better, but at times I do feel that I THINK too much!

  14. Gravatar
    ed duignam

    WOW....where do i start!!.....ok...THE FATHER IS IN HEAVEN...he dwells in the hearts of men through His SPIRIT...JESUS is ENTHRONED IN HEAVEN PREPARING A PLACE FOR US..SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND WHILE I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET..THE KINGDOM is here, there and everywhere, however it is EXPANDING daily as CHRISTIANS fullfill the dominion mandate, i refer you to the MUSTARD SEED PARABLE...NOW if you are going to call yourself a CHRISTIAN...You better be asking for daily bread (food from God to nurish YOUR SOUL..i.e. THE WORD), you better be asking GOD to forgive you your sins, You better be forgiving those who sin against you, and lastly, JESUS is the PROTECTOR and DEFENDER of all His SHEEP...EVIL does exist and only with the RIGHTEOUS ROBE shielding you from temptations and evil shall You be able to "GIRD UP YOUR LOINS" and "PUT ON THE FULL ARMOR OF GOD" to fight the good fight!!...this FULL PRETERISM thing is getting really awful...DENY the truth at YOUR OWN PERIL!!!

  15. Gravatar
    ed duignam

    ALSO for the HERETICS saying we need not ask for FORGIVENESS!....JAMES 5:16 "CONFESS YOUR SINS TO ONE ANOTHER"....1 JOHN 1:8-10..."IF WE CLAIM TO BE WITHOUT SIN WE DECEIVE OURSELVES and THE TRUTH IS NOT IN US,IF WE CONFESS OUR SINS, HE IS FAITHFUL AND JUST AND WILL CLEANSE US FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOSNESS, IF WE CLAIM WE DO NOT SIN, WE MAKE HIM OUT TO BE A LIAR and HIS WORD IS NOT IN US!!!!!!!!!!!.... STOP PLAYING GAMES WITH THE WORD OF GOD!! people do not know the Scriptures and prey upon those who are either young in the faith or lacking proper instruction in the Word....try debating me if you want, here is my email anyone who has been 'sucked" in by the CULT/HERESY that is FULL PRETERISM, please contact me for the TRUTH! CHRIST, ED

  16. Gravatar

    Just a note for Ed with all the truth who thinks only new converts except this truth. 1john1:8-10 is not to believers but people who joined the church who claimed to be. 2john v 10 talks about if anyone comes and teaches not the truth not to receive them. V7 of 2John tells you what that lie was. It was people confessing Jesus but denying he ever came in the flesh. So, in 1john 1:1-3 John talks about Him who we touched , heard , saw and in v3 says, I quote" and we tell you these things that you may have fellowship with us", implying that those he was speaking to in thechurch were not in true fellowship. Agnostics believed 2 things, that Jesus was a spiritual entity only and rthat there was no such thing as sin. That why in 1john 1:8, " if you say you have no sin" and 1john 1:10 " and if you say you have NEVER sinned" are important here. Ed, have you ever met a Christian that said they have no sin, or worse that they have never sinned because in order for anyone to be saved they must.

  17. Gravatar

    There is not a lot of original thought here. Most people are just parroting off teachings they have read or heard.People, please read the bible ! When you come up with some new wind of doctrine, and it's wrong, you have to shoe horn or explain away every other verse that says something else. There is a lot of that going on here. When you hear something new, ALWAYS find out where it originated, and who first came up with it. A lot of stuff here first appeared in the 20th century.Some has come in on a more recent wind. It's a pity that the early church didn't know some of these "revelations", they might have done a whole lot better. They might not have given the importance to the Lord's prayer that they did. They might not have treasured the words of Jesus like they did. There are not many voices here, but a lot of echoes, and parrots.

  18. Gravatar
    Ashley Silva

    This is for Ed and John and others that think that the Old Covenant applies to Christians today.

  19. Gravatar

    When Jesus spoke, there were many times when He referred to the Law and Commandments. Yet many times He is seen referrring to a time after His Death and Ressurection. It is therefore wrong to use the time period of Jesus on earth as our start all and end all. Remember sin seperated us from the Father, therefore before Christ and after Adam's sin we had now become His creation. The Death Of Christ and His Father accepting His Blood, RESTORES that Father and child relationship that we now have. Therefore it is ONLY the believer who may pray in that manner. Again while The Lord was on earth with his disciples, they were given powers and authority that were for then yet also for time to come, meaning when He would leave and the Holy Spirit would come. So the First two Words of the Lord's Prayer throws all your doctrine out the window. He is now our Father, and we adresss HIm so as believers through Christ.

  20. Gravatar

    It is written: Do Not Mix the Old with the New. HEB 8:6,7:22 Read the Bible "in spirit" knowing who, what, where, the full story of why. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes & heart to the meaning and purpose for today. Do not come to any conclusions by what myself, pastor, theologian or any human being says. That is dangerous. With that said: No one can argue that the Lords Prayer is an Old Covenant prayer. I must share that it was taught to me as a child and it confused me through my Adult years until I read it for myself in the proper way. It was Jesus sharing - before he went to the cross. As far as confession goes, it is a wonderful way for us to humble ourself to God and to our brothers and sisters. No one can argue the fact that today our sins our taken away - past,present,future. Confession is ok, but asking God to forgive you of sin you did yesturday should make you ? if you really believe. Also: if you write response in anger - Know it's not of God. Peace-

  21. Gravatar

    Quote: "The idea of praying to a God who is in heaven encourages a picture of a distant God who is separate from his people." -See Acts 4:24-30 and Ephesians 3:14-21. The prayer is to our Father who is indeed in Heaven. It is His Spirit that's in us. Our Father who is in Heaven does in no way encourage a distant God, but a more complete understanding of the New Covenant. Jesus indeed is in flesh in Heaven. This is His, and His Father's, physical address. Quote: "His kingdom is already here and it lives within us. (Luke 17:21)" -"Within" is translated 'in your midst' here. He was speaking to the Pharisees. For the kingdom of God to be IN them would be contradictory since He stated they were as dead men. Every scripture regarding the Kingdom is not about it entering into us, but rather us entering into it. His kingdom still comes in the earth when someone is transferred into it. -Agree regarding forgiveness. Acts 8:22 however implies a believer may need forgiveness from correction.

  22. Gravatar
    Thomas Wolney

    The Lord's Prayer was to "pray like this", not necessarily to "mouth the same words as I do". The Lord's Prayer, along with everything Jesus taught, proclaimed the Kingdom of God, and everything Jesus did and taught, proclaimed the Kingdom of God; that was His Message from the Father. To say that Jesus was only speaking to the Jews, and not the church is to ignore the "this I say to you" passages. The Kingdom of God message is the message of the New Covenant, and those that want to say, "no, it isn't so", forget Rev. 13:8, "The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world". You have to ask forgiveness, Jesus said so; who's the Master, Jesus or Paul? Paul says in 1 Cor. 1:13 that he was neither crucified or saved for you, therefore, stop using his words to contradict what the Lord Jesus Himself said.

  23. Gravatar

    This article has a very weak understanding and knowledge of the Bible, NT and Jesus Christ. It can not even defend its own opinions in a proper way. I hope not many Christian believes this kind trash easily.

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