One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples." (Luke 11:1)So we find here clear evidence of how Jesus wanted his students to reach out to the Supreme Being. Let's review his prayer.
"Our Father in heaven"
This phrase illustrates that Jesus is wanting his students to see the Supreme Being as their Protector and their Creator. The word "Father" comes from the Greek word πατήρ (patēr), which means, metaphorically, "the originator and transmitter of anything."
In other words, by honoring the Supreme Being with the Name "Father" - we are not speaking as though we would to the father of our physical body. This is referring to the Source of everything. The Father of all things and all beings.
Next Jesus states "in heaven." This indicates the spiritual world - a dimension outside - yet inclusive of - the realm of the physical world. Why is this important for Jesus to state?
Because we cannot see God with these physical eyes. The physical eyes were designed not to see the Supreme Being and those activities that take place between God and His loving servants.
But that doesn't mean that the physical world is beyond the Supreme Being. God is also dwelling here as well as in the spiritual realm. The physical world is simply a small portion of His creation.
It is like a television set. The television set may be part of our living room but our living room doesn't exist within the television set - nor is the virtual reality portrayed on the television the reality occurring in our living room.
In the same way, the physical world is real, but the activities that take place within it are temporary and thus virtual. Just as the activities of the actors seen on the TV set may reflect real activities, the temporary activities of the physical world pervertly reflect the eternal activities in the spiritual realm. The activities of the physical world are perverted reflections of those within the spiritual realm.
In the same way that a television actor cannot see the television audience when he is acting out his part, we cannot see the Supreme Being and the reality around us because we are immersed in the physical world.
This dimension and these bodies were designed for the purpose of our being able to avoid Him.
In other words, "heaven" here does not necessarily mean some physical place away from here - like some place up in the clouds. "Heaven" refers to the domain of God - the spiritual realm where God is loved and served. This can take place anywhere in either dimension.
This is confirmed by the statement, "Your kingdom come." Jesus is asking his students to request that they return to the spiritual realm - that place where God is honored, loved and served.
"Hallowed be Your Name."
The Supreme Being's Holy Names are a vehicle for us to make contact with Him. God's Holy Names allow us to connect with Him and be with Him. This is because God's Names are part of Himself.
Here in the physical world, we are separate from our names, just as we are different from our physical bodies. A person can be named "Tom" and 20 years later may change his name to "Bob." This is because the person is not his name.
But there is no differentiation between God and His reference. God's Form is part of Himself and God's Names - references to Him - are also a part of Himself. They are all part of Himself because the Supreme Being is absolute.
For this reason, the teachings of Jesus and the lineage of teachers before him - up through all the prophets - taught the importance of calling upon - repeating - singing - praising - God's Holy Names as a means to connect with the Supreme Being. See the scriptural evidence here.
"Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
This is one of the essential elements of Jesus' teachings. Why?
When we love someone, we naturally want to please them. We want to do what they want. This is love, and this is our real nature - our spiritual nature. Each of us wants to truly love someone - we want to 'fall in love.' And we want to serve someone out of this love. We want to please the one we love.
For this reason, serving God is the essential process we undertake as we come to know and learn to love the Supreme Being. We find out what pleases Him and we do what pleases Him. Why?
Because by acting in such a way that is pleasing to God, we execute our spiritual nature. This is the perfection of our existence - our means for fulfillment.
Here in the physical world, we see around us everyone desperately looking for fulfillment. We look for it through achieving fame; we look for it by becoming wealthy; we look for it by having a family; we look for it by having a nice house; or a great job; or whatever. Yet none of the people that have these things - whether us or others - are fulfilled by these things.
This is why we see famous and wealthy people addicted to drugs or alcohol - some even committing suicide. This is why those with all the money a person could use in a lifetime still working so hard for more money. This is why people with families have affairs. This is why people with nice homes want a bigger home - or a home in a better neighborhood. This is why those with great jobs want to move up to another job. We are simply not satisfied with what we gain in the physical world because we aren't these physical bodies.
These physical bodies are simply vehicles.
It would be like a hungry person who is driving a car driving up to a gas station and thinking that if he puts gas in his car he won't be hungry anymore. The gas may fill up the car but it doesn't satisfy the driver's hunger.
In the same way, we are the spiritual person within this temporary physical body. We have a spiritual hunger to return to our relationship with God.
In the physical world we are blocked off from God because we are self-centered. We want to please ourselves. This is why we cannot see Him or feel His presence - even though He is right here next to each of us.
This relates directly to the next phase of the prayer:
"Give us this day our daily bread."
Is Jesus really advising his students to pray for bread? Is this the same teacher who also taught his students:
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes." (Luke 12:22-23)Certainly, Jesus would not ask his students to utilize their precious prayers to ask for food for their physical body - as this would directly contradict his teachings.
Rather, Jesus is not speaking of literal bread here. He is using the word "bread" metaphorically. We see elsewhere that Jesus used bread metaphorically:
"Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." (John 6:32)and
“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’” (Luke 4:4)and followed in this conversation with:
"It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only." (Luke 4:8)Thus we see that Jesus had used the word "bread" metaphorically to describe what will feed us spiritually - to love, and worship God, and serve God.
This is what Jesus is asking his students to ask God for in his prayer - he wants them to ask to re-establish their loving service relationship with the Supreme Being.
Worshiping and serving God results in fulfilling our spiritual nature. This accomplishes the meaning of "Your kingdom come."
Our "bread" is love for God.
This is what we pine for as we search for love throughout this world. As we seek the approval of others. As we seek our soul mate - the perfect person. We seek to 'fall in love' with someone we adore and can always trust and rely upon. This can only be accomplished with the Supreme Being.
And the next element of Jesus' prayer: "And forgive us our sins, as we also forgive those who sin against us" - this reveals the true meaning of "sin."
If "sin" was merely the execution of something considered "wrong" or "bad" - or breaking some rule - then there would be no need to ask the Supreme Being to forgive that activity, just as it would make no sense for us to forgive someone else if they broke a rule. Why would they need to seek our forgiveness?
Let's say that there is a sign with rules on it at the swimming pool that says "no running." And we go running and jump in the pool. Would we need to later go to the lifeguard and say, "I'm sorry I ran - please forgive me" ?
No - because our running did not offend the lifeguard. The lifeguard would likely say, "so what - no problem - just don't run again."
But it would be a different story if we were to call the lifeguard a jerk - or splash water on him. This would be offensive against the lifeguard. Such an activity would require us to apologize - seek his forgiveness - because we offended the lifeguard.
This same issue - offending - is the condition that we would have to forgive others. If someone offends us - we can get mighty upset by that. Especially if it embarrasses us or otherwise harms us physically, emotionally or financially. Such an activity would require a stretch for us to forgive them. Especially if they didn't ask for forgiveness.
This is the kind of forgiveness that the Supreme Being would expect from us just as He forgives us for those activities that have offended Him.
What activities offend Him?
First, activities that impede His loving servants during their service to Him. Or activities that blaspheme Him, His Name or one of His loving servants. These are the worst offenses.
Behind these are activities performed for our self-centered purposes whilst we ignore Him. These are activities that forget our relationship with Him. Worst of these are activities that specifically make it harder for us to regain our relationship with Him. The Supreme Being, through His loving servants, have spelled most of these out to us if we want to know them. This is what Moses' commandments were all about, which Jesus also reflected upon.
Certain self-centered activities are specifically discouraged because they lead us away from Him. These activities offend the Supreme Being only because He wants us back. He wants us to return to our loving relationship with Him because He knows that will fulfill us. By ignoring Him and ignoring those things that will help us return to Him, we effectively turn our back on Him. This offends Him because He loves us and wants the best for us. It is thus personal - producing the need to ask for His forgiveness.
And yes, it is not that any of us are innocent. We are all offensive, and this is why we are here in the first place: Because we offended the Supreme Being by becoming self-centered, and turning our backs on Him.
And this relates directly to the last part of Jesus' prayer:
"And lead us not into temptation."
This is taken from the Greek: καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν.
The word "lead" comes from the Greek word εἰσφέρω (eispherō) which does indicate, from the lexicon, "to lead to" or "bring to". Why would God "lead us into temptation"?
Such a question ignores the reality of the situation. Ecclesiastical institutions and their teachers would present that temptation does not come from God - but from satan - some entity who is competing with God.
God has no competitor. The Supreme Being is absolutely in control of everything.
But - the Supreme Being wants us to truly love Him out of choice. Love cannot be forced. A person cannot be forced to love and worship someone if they are forced to.
So the Supreme Being gives His children the choice to love Him, and some choose not to. Those of us in the physical realm have chosen not to in the past - that is why we are here.
As soon as we choose not to love and serve the Supreme Being, He puts us within physical bodies in the physical world and allows us to play out our self-centeredness.
In this way, He is leading us into temptation - or self-centeredness. He is allowing us to do what we want rather than what He wants.
In this way, He is giving us the choice - at every moment - to love and serve Him or love or serve ourselves.
And this part of Jesus' prayer is a request for Him to "lead" us back to Him - by giving us the strength to follow the teachings of Jesus, and return to our loving relationship with Him.
This ties directly to the last phrase:
"but deliver us from evil."
While some attribute the word "evil" to a particular person as mentioned above - the devil or satan - the word "evil" - taken from the Greek πονηρός (ponēros) which relates to being "diseased or blind" - actually refers to self-centeredness - being blinded by self-centeredness.
This is our essential choice granted by God: We can choose God or we can choose ourselves.
We can work for our pleasure or we can work for God's pleasure. This is our innate choice, and it is required in order to have true love.
Evil is borne of the nature of the physical world and these physical bodies and minds. The mind will tease us with various scenarios that are essentially self-centered - to please the body or our desire for the body's pleasure.
Yes, we can certainly attribute this to an entity because certainly, God has numerous facilitators who assist Him with the operations of the physical world. So we can ascribe temptations in a personal format realistically.
But God has no challenger. His facilitators all work for Him. He is in charge. Therefore we can know that any of the temptations of the physical world are in the end arranged by the Supreme Being to allow us the ultimate choice to love Him or love ourselves. This grants us the perfect freedom to love Him or not.
At the same time - because God loves us and wants the best for us - Jesus is encouraging us, with this prayer and his other teachings, to choose to love God:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind" (Luke 10:27)