The following is the tenth part of a series written by one of our members, David Carrico. Previous parts can be found at the links below:
“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” Matthew 6:9-13
We’ve meditated our way through the Model Prayer and arrived now at the final phrase. Today we meditate on “For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” Not every ancient manuscript of the Gospel of Matthew contains this phrase. For that reason, not every modern translation will contain it. Your Bible may not. It is, however, found in the King James Version, and as such is part of what almost all of us accept as the full text of Jesus’ prayer. And there’s certainly nothing unscriptural or unbiblical about it, so I accept it as part of the text of the prayer, and therefore fitting for our meditations.
At first glance this sentence seems to be almost banal. I think that may be because if we’ve been in church much, we’ve probably heard it several times, which means it’s probably starting to seem routine. I’m becoming more and more convinced that one of Satan’s favorite ploys to disarm Christians is to make vital and important teachings seem routine, because once something slides into the “Routine” column in our lives and our busy schedules, the less likely we are to really think about it and the more likely we are to simply go through the motions.
Back to the topic at hand. No, this sentence is not at all banal, or superficial, or routine, or anything like that. I can’t say that it is the most important sentence in the prayer, because each sentence and phrase as crafted and pronounced by Jesus is incredibly important in guiding us. I will say that it provides a fitting climax and ending to the prayer.
Well, first of all, it is fitting because it is a doxology—a statement of worship and praise—for God is always worthy of worship. Worship should be a part of our prayer life. In the modern church, all too often we seem to think that worship is always some kind of music. In fact, one of the recent trends is to segregate church-related music into categories, one of which is called “Praise Music”. That’s a trap.
It’s a trap because it emphasizes praise at the expense of worship. It gives the impression that in order to worship you must first praise. And I wonder sometimes if the traditional order of service in most churches, where we sing our hymns and psalms and spiritual songs/praise choruses before the sermon doesn’t reinforce that impression. What would happen in church if we had the sermon first, and only sang praises after God’s word and will had been proclaimed; if we only sang praises after we had been reminded of just what God has done for all of us? Just a thought.
But I digress. We were talking about the observation that modern thinking seems to be leaning toward the idea that worship grows out of praise. But that’s not how it works, according to scripture. Let’s look at an event in the future to understand this.
…the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created.” Revelation 4:10-11
Worship comes first in this scene; then comes the praise. The principle is true today: true praise grows out of true worship, not the other way around. And that is how it should be, because if we do not have worship in our hearts, then any praise we speak or sing is just noise.
And the topic of worship leads us to the second reason why this sentence is a fitting conclusion for the prayer. The Greek word translated as “worship” is a form of the word proskuneo, which literally means to fall on your face before someone or something. For example, look at the following passage:
Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things will I give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Begone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'” Matthew 4:8-10
This is, of course, the third of the three great temptations Jesus suffered between His baptism and the beginning of His active ministry. Here we see Satan at his subtlest. He’s trying to distract Jesus from His purpose. He’s trying to derail Jesus before He even gets started. I believe it is significant that Satan saves his last and greatest effort to convince Jesus to worship him. You see, although Satan is the Father of Lies, he knew a great truth: that which is worshipped will ultimately be what is served. Jesus underlines that truth in His response.
How does that apply to what we are meditating on? Well, look again at what Satan tempts Jesus to do: to fall down and proskuneo. Now, think about the physical position of the proskuneo, on your face on the ground. This is a position that a subject assumed before his lord, before his king. This is a position like Joseph assumed before Potiphar, and later before Pharaoh. It’s a position of helplessness, because there is no way you can strike at someone when you’re on your face in the dirt. It’s a position of utter and abject submission. And that is really what Satan was trying to get Jesus to do; submit to his authority, rather than God’s.
Now, let’s look back at the prayer. Remember, in the last meditation we had arrived at the conclusion that “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” was an admission of helplessness and a plea for God to protect and sustain us. It is not accidental that that phrase was the lead-in to the “For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever”.
Well, let’s break this final sentence down a little bit. What is it saying?
- For Thine is the kingdom
- For Thine is the power
- For Thine is the glory
That’s okay as far as it goes, but it’s still not as explicit as it could be. Try this:
- For Thine—not mine—is the kingdom
- For Thine—not mine—is the power
- For Thine—not mine—is the glory
Does that make it clearer?
You see, in every human life since Adam and Eve (with the exception of Jesus) sin has occurred and will continue to occur until God ends Time. All sin breaks down into one of three categories: lust of the flesh (gluttony), lust of the eyes (greed), and the pride of life (arrogance). Those are the three temptations to which Eve and Adam succumbed, those are the three temptations which Jesus successfully repulsed, and those are the three temptations to which you and I are subject on a daily basis. But when viewed from another direction, each of those three temptations is really just one sin: substituting our own judgment for that of God. At the root of every sin is the rejection of God’s will.
So this prayer concludes with a three-fold submission of our wills to that of God in an act of worship. Before and to the very God and King of the universe we set aside our own desires and subordinate them to His will. We willingly acknowledge His authority. And we give to Him the glory that is His by right; the glory that was never rightfully ours. We do this because only when we have truly worshipped can we begin to truly serve Him.
Father, You, not I, are King of the Universe; You, not I, have all authority and power; and to You alone, never me, is all glory and honor due. May it ever be so. Amen and amen.
But as with every other aspect of this prayer, this is something that must be done day after day, one day at a time. Never let this prayer or its principles become rote to you. This is too serious a matter to let lapse into routine. Your relationship with God, your relationship with your brothers and sisters in Christ, and your ability to properly serve Jesus are all dependent on what Jesus teaches here. Take these teachings in to your heart, meditate on them as David instructs in Psalm 119:11, knowing that as you do so you are submitting yourself to God’s word and God’s will.
Grace and peace to you.