The most important prayer request is that the most important person in the universe would do the most important act in the universe. – John Piper
Last time we reflected on Matthew I said that our biggest sin in prayer is not that our prayers are too short, but too small. Small prayers both blaspheme and are idolatrous. Prayer should be God-centered.
And now we come to the second half of the Lord’s Prayer. We transition from “Your” to “us”. Is this prayer at war with itself? Does this prayer implode? Does it self-destruct? No, this prayer is perfectly at peace, because all other requests are submissive to the first and primary request, that God hallow His name. All of the “we needs” are “to God be the glories”. In one way this prayer is divided into two halves, but in the deepest sense it is a unified whole. The “us” is still “Your”.
One way to see this is by noticing what is not there, what is not there at least in most good modern versions. The traditional ending, “For yours is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”, is either in brackets, placed in a footnote, or omitted from modern versions. I believe this is a good decision. The oldest and most reliable manuscripts do not include it, it was not in the original document written by Matthew. How did it come to be in the text? Most likely this was a liturgical ending added by the early church inspired by 1 Chronicles 29:11-13. Some assuming scribe then sat down to copy a copy of a manuscript and thought that the poor bloke before him left out part of the text. That monk’s revised copy is then copied several times over until a whole family of manuscripts has the liturgical ending while the older ones do not. Do not let this disturb you, when the manuscript evidence is examined we can be extremely confident of what the original author wrote.
So how does this help? The early church saw no disparity between praying the first part of the prayer and the second for the glory of God, nor should we. God is glorified in both halves. Ultimately we ask for our daily bread, forgiveness, and to be kept from temptation and the evil one for His glory.
In the final three requests God is glorified as our Sustainer, Redeemer, and Treasure. Further the Son is glorified in that He is the only way we can approach the Father and know Him in these ways. God sustains all of humanity, but only through the Son can we come to Him as a Father and ask daily provision for our needs. Only in Christ can we be forgiven by God. And it is only because of the gospel of Christ that we see the ugliness of sin and the glories of God and cry, “No contest, give me the eternal pleasures of God and not the temporal pleasures of sin!”
“Us” is still “Your”. At least is should be.