“Back to the basics: For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus.
Sitting high on top of the Mount of Olives, just beneath the Chapel of the Ascension, there’s a church called The Church of Pater Noster, Latin for The Church of Our Father. It’s the place where, many believe, Jesus first taught His disciples the words of the Lord’s Prayer.
In about the year 318 A.D., an early church father named Eusebius wrote, “According to the common and received account, the feet of our Lord and Savior, Himself the Word of God, truly stood upon the Mount of Olives at the cave that is shown there. On the ridge of the Mount of Olives, He prayed and handed on to His disciples the mysteries of the end, and after this, He made His ascension into heaven as Luke teaches in the Acts of the Apostles.”
A little over ten years later, about the year 330 A.D., the first Christian emperor, Emperor Constantine, built a church there, calling it The Church of Eleona, a name that meant, The Church of the Olive Grove.
And if you were to visit there, there’s quite a lot to see. First, you’d see a church that’s built on three levels, with stairs connecting each level. The church itself, built on the highest level, is shaped like a long rectangular hall with two rows of columns. And along the walls of the church, there’s a series of regularly spaced ceramic tiles, each with a colorful border of flowers, and each bearing the words of the Lord’s Prayer. In more than 140 languages, ranging from those as common as English and Spanish, Italian, German, and Japanese, to those that aren’t so common, like Gaelic, Tagalog, Sioux and Cherokee, they say “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.”
On the east side of the church there’s an altar that faces the rising sun. And deep beneath that altar there’s a cave, the very place where Jesus taught His disciples how to pray.
It’s one of the most important and most holy sites in all the world.
Throughout these past few weeks, we’ve focused on the words of the Lord’s Prayer. And it’s good that we do that, for there’s nothing more important in the life of a believer than prayer, and there is no greater teacher than Jesus. As He said, “When you pray, pray like this…” (Matthew 6:9).
Also, before we leave our study on the Lord’s Prayer, let me share a little “Lord’s Prayer trivia” with you, if I could. The first is this--why do some churches ring their church bell three times whenever they say the Lord’s Prayer?
The answer’s simple. Back in the Middle Ages, monks in monasteries would speak the words of the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each hour. And when those who were out working in surrounding fields heard the sound of the first bell, they knew they should stop their work for the Lord’s Prayer had just begun. Then when the second bell tolled at the fourth petition, “Give us this day our daily bread,” if they were behind, they could catch back up. And when the third bell rang, it meant that the prayer was over, and they could get back to work. That’s why, even today, some churches still ring their church bell three times whenever they say the Lord’s Prayer.
And one other bit of trivia which I’m sure you wanted to know--what’s the smallest hand-written copy of the Lord’s Prayer? It was done by a man named Arthur Schiller in the late 1800s. He was a prisoner, a convicted forger, serving time in Sing Sing.
When guards found him dead in his cell, they also found a small, wooden box with seven regular straight pins tucked inside, whose heads measured the typical 47/1000ths of an inch. Six were silver and one was gold. And when they magnified the heads of those pins, they discovered that he had etched on the heads of those pins the complete Lord’s Prayer--65 words, 254 letters long. He spent twenty-five years of his life creating those pins and went blind because of his work.
Or think of a daughter of communist philosopher Karl Marx who once said to a friend, “I was brought up without any religion. I do not believe in God.” Then she said, “But the other day, in an old German book, I came across a prayer; and if the God of that prayer exists, I think I could believe in Him.”
“What was the prayer?” asked her friend.
She answered, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.”
So now that we’ve considered the words, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we’ve come finally to the words, “For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen”
What does it mean?
Luther wrote in the words of his Small Catechism: “That I should be certain that these petitions are acceptable to our Father in heaven and heard; for He Himself has commanded us so to pray, and has promised that He will hear us. Amen, Amen; that is, Yea, yea, it shall be so.”
And he wrote in the words of his Large Catechism: “All depends on this, that we learn also to say Amen, that is, that we do not doubt that our prayer is surely heard, and what we pray shall be done. For this is nothing else than the word of undoubting faith that knows that God does not lie to him, since He has promised to grant it. For where there is such faith, there is true prayer.”
As another author put it: “The last chord of this Pattern Prayer brings us to the very mountain peak of praise and focuses our hearts and minds on the greatness and the majesty of God. For while, all the way through, this prayer has been a petition, when it comes to this point, it’s an affirmation of praise, a doxology, that bursts from a soul that’s caught sight of the greatness, the goodness, and the grace of an almighty, sovereign God.”
Unfortunately, there is just one small problem with these words. If truth be known, they were most likely not part of the original prayer. The earliest manuscripts don’t record them. Instead, Bible commentators suggest that it’s more likely that the early church wanted to end the prayer on a more positive note.
So rather than saying, “Let us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen,” they chose to conclude the prayer with the words of I Chronicles chapter 29: “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and on earth is Yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; You are exalted as head over all” (I Chronicles 29:10-11).
And today, we’re glad that they did, because it’s a fitting conclusion to the prayer that Jesus once taught us to pray.
After all, just think of what we have just prayed. We have come, humbly and patiently, before our almighty Father in heaven, to pray for His mercy, pardon, and protection; that He would save us from all the dangers and evils that surround us. As Paul wrote to the Ephesians: “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
We’re surrounded by evil, and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it, except pray.
So we pray, “Father, dear Father, don’t lead me into a time of testing. Don’t give me any more than I can handle. And please deliver me from all the evil that surrounds me.”
And how do we know that God can hear and answer our prayer? Because His is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen
You know, out of all the words in the Lord’s Prayer, that little word “For” might be the most important one of all. After all, the only reason we can come before our Father who is in heaven, the only reason we can hallow His name, that we can pray for His kingdom to come and His will to be done, that He gives us this day our daily bread and forgives us as we forgive others, and that He leads us not into temptation and delivers us from evil, is all because of that little word “For.”
In spite of our great needs both physical and spiritual, in spite of all the trials and troubles that surround us, we can lift our eyes up to heaven and proclaim that glorious truth that our heavenly Father is King.
And not just any king. He’s the King of heaven (Daniel 4:37). He’s the King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2). He’s the King of Israel (John 1:49). He’s the King of the Ages (I Timothy 1:17). He’s the King of Glory (Psalm 24:7). He’s the King of the Saints (Revelation 15:3). He’s the King of all kings (I Timothy 6:15), and the Ruler of all kings of the earth (Revelation 1:5). To Him belongs all honor and power and glory. He alone is able to rescue us and to deliver us, no matter who or what may be against us.
There is no promise too hard for Him to fulfill, no problem too hard for Him to solve, no prayer too hard for Him to answer, and no person too hard for Him to save.
“For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory!”
And notice that little word “is.” We do not pray, “For Thine will be the kingdom and the power and the glory.” Instead we pray, “For Thine is,” today and tomorrow and every day, until He comes again to call us home.
And if that’s not good enough, not only is His the kingdom and the power and the glory today, but it will be His forever and ever. His reign will never end. His power will never cease. And His glory will shine in radiance beyond all time and all human understanding, forever and ever. Amen
It was dark the night of October 24, 1852, as Daniel Webster, the great American statesman and committed Christian, was dying.
But he was ready. His physician, a very caring man named Dr. Jeffries, had given him as much pain medication as was practically possible. And knowing that death was near, he chose to be a friend rather than a physician. So he picked up an old well-worn hymnal that Webster had often used and he read the words of one of his favorite hymns.
He said, “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins. And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.”
And as he read the words of the final stanza, Webster’s lips were moving, but no sound was coming out. “When this poor, lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave, then in a nobler, sweeter song, I’ll sing Thy power to save.”
Then as the doctor looked down at him and as their eyes met, Webster spoke his three last words: “Amen, Amen, Amen!”
As someone once wrote: “I cannot pray, ‘Our Father who art in heaven,’ unless I am a member of His family. I cannot pray, ‘Hallowed be Thy name,’ unless He has first place in my life. I cannot say, ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,’ unless I am actively committed to doing His will and to following in His way every day. I cannot say, ‘Give us this day our daily bread,’ if I do not trust His gracious care and provision. I cannot say, ‘Forgive us our trespasses,’ if I have an unforgiving attitude toward others. And I can’t say, ‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,’ if I deliberately place myself in its path.”
Once a long time ago, Jesus’ disciples came to Him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” And Jesus replied, “When you pray, pray like this…”
Our dear Father in heaven, we thank You that You have allowed even us to know and to call upon Your wonderful, powerful name. We thank You for Your kingdom of grace, mercy, and peace. May there be only one will on earth, and may it be Yours. We thank You for the gift of food and nourishment which You provide for us each and every day. As hard as it is sometimes, help us to forgive others, for we know that You have already, in Christ, forgiven us. We pray that You would never bring us into a time of testing. But if You do, don’t give us more than we can handle. And by Your grace, protect us from all the evil that may assault and hurt our soul, for we are nothing without You. All these things we ask in the name and for the sake of Jesus, acknowledging that Yours is the kingdom, Yours is the power, and Yours is the glory both now and forever. Amen