The Old Covenant, Red-Letter Prayer
Have you ever wondered why we are never instructed in New Testament epistles to pray “The Lord’s Prayer?” Not one single time. Think about that … considering all of the emphasis that corporate Christianity has placed on us praying in this way, surely at least one of the apostles would’ve mentioned to “pray the prayer the Lord taught us.” And yet, it’s nowhere to be found. The reason we’re never instructed in New Covenant writings to pray in this manner is because the prayer was meant for those to whom Jesus was speaking—to His disciples who were stuck under a law of works that could not bring them the redemption they were seeking.
Prior to the prayer, Jesus had just revealed to His Jewish disciples the hopeless & desperate situation they were in under the law of the Old Covenant. He had dropped a bombshell during this sermon that the required standard was for them to be perfect, just as their heavenly Father. Therefore, since they could not acquire right-standing with God through the works of the law, Jesus told them how they should pray at that time. In order for them to be delivered and redeemed, they needed God’s will to be done (the sacrifice of Christ).
Right before the prayer instruction, Jesus told these people not to repeat prayers over and over as the Gentiles do. What is it we (non-Jewish) Gentiles have done with this prayer? We do the same thing Gentiles did back then—the prayer gets repeated constantly, the very thing Jesus said not to do. It wasn’t meant to be a model for us, but for those who were trapped in the ministry of condemnation under the law.
We make a serious error when assuming everything Jesus spoke was meant for us today. We don’t have to mumble a memorized script as though we’re reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The good news for us in the New Covenant is that we have received what the prayer would’ve been seeking:
- The presence of the Father is no longer quarantined or limited to a distant planet called heaven. We can interact intimately with the One who now abides in us by His Spirit.
- The Kingdom has already come through Christ. Later, Jesus said the kingdom would not arrive in a way that is seen or observed, but would be within us. A kingdom does not exist without a king, and we have received a kingdom that cannot be shaken—He abides in us forever.
- The will of God has been done on earth as it is in heaven (the sacrifice of Christ as described in Hebrews 9 &10).
- Our daily bread (Christ) has been given—He is the bread from heaven that came to do God’s will (John 6:32-51). There is no need to ask for what God already given (His Son).
- Under the Old Covenant, Jesus reminded them they could not acquire forgiveness unless they would first forgive (this left them in a place of despair). In a new and better covenant, we forgive others, but not in order to be forgiven, but because we’re already forgiven, through the blood of Jesus (Ephesians 4:32).
- In Christ, God does not tempt us (James 1:13), and He has delivered us from evil (Colossians 1:13-14).
For those disciples who prayed this way prior to the cross, their prayers were answered … Jesus finished and fulfilled everything the prayer was seeking.
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