Solomon prayed: “Hear in heaven Your dwelling place and forgive and act and render to each whose heart You know, according to all his ways (for You, You only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind), that they may fear You all the days that they live in the land that You gave to our fathers.”
The great king of
But what are the pleas that the Lord God’s people will make? Solomon lists them. You heard some of them in the excerpts of his prayer read this evening: “Listen in heaven Your dwelling place, and when You hear forgive. . . . Hear in heaven and act and judge Your servants. . . . Hear in heaven and forgive the sin of our people. . . . Hear in heaven and forgive the sin of Your servants. . . . Hear in heaven Your dwelling place and forgive and act and render to each whose heart You know.” Note the common theme in these petitions: the Lord God’s people come to Him with the need for forgiveness, the need for being brought into a right relationship with Him.
This is the heart of Solomon’s Prayer. It is also the heart of the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus instructs His disciples how to pray. He gives a form that you know well, because as His disciples, you have committed His teaching to memory. But it is important to note what Jesus says before He gives the words of the prayer: “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” The need that the Father’s children have is known. That need includes earthly provisions. But it especially is the lack of righteousness, the necessity of receiving forgiveness. It is that need which He answers.
Like Solomon, Jesus—the true Prince of Peace—gives the intercessory prayer for His people. He tells them to pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” What is asked of the Father is based upon knowledge of His will. His children want it to be fulfilled, because it is good. They know this is so, because the Divine Will has been revealed. It is seen in the actions that the Lord God does. It is the same foundation that Solomon used for his prayer: “O Lord, God of
And just what is that will? It is that the people of God would receive salvation from Him. It is the will fulfilled by Christ—the Incarnate Word of God—who offers Himself for the life of the world. He keeps the Covenant which the Lord God had made. He makes good on the promises. The divine, steadfast love is shown in the sacrifice of Christ. In Him, the
This privileged status was given to Solomon and the Old Testament believers in the Covenant made to them. So Solomon makes those petitions: “Listen in heaven Your dwelling place, and when You hear forgive. . . . Hear in heaven and forgive the sin of our people. . . . Hear in heaven Your dwelling place and forgive and act and render to each whose heart You know.” They can ask for what they need, and the Lord God gives it to them. The same privileged status is given to Christ’s disciples. This is why He tells them: “Your Father knows what you need before You ask Him. Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven. . . . Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” You can ask for what you need, and the Lord God gives it to you.
What is it that you need? That the Lord God’s will for you be done. That His forgiveness be given to you. That His favor be extended to you. This is described so very well in Luther’s explanation of the Lord’s Prayer. Speaking about the Divine Will, he writes: “God’s will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want us to hallow God’s name or let His kingdom come; and when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die. This is His good and gracious will.” Breaking and hindering the will of Satan, this world, our sinfulness is what Jesus does in His crucifixion. The death that Jesus undergoes removes you from eternal condemnation. There the covenant promises are fulfilled for you. The Lord God speaks with His mouth; He accomplishes His will with His hands.
The need for forgiveness is great. So Luther also writes: “We are neither worthy of the things for which we pray, nor have we deserved them, but we ask that He would give them all to us by grace, for we daily sin much and deserve nothing but punishment.” But Jesus says: “Your Father knows what you need before You ask Him.” Divine favor is extended to you. Based upon the divine promises fulfilled by Christ’s death and resurrection, you may pray as you are instructed: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Like Solomon, you may bring the petitions to the Father’s mercy seat, to the place where He is present—through Jesus Christ, the Incarnate God who died for you.
So the Eternal Son of God instructs you to pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” No other is like Him in heaven or on earth, and yet He makes Himself accessible for you. His will was fulfilled by Christ on earth, so that it is fulfilled in heaven. His kingdom has come to you through Christ’s words that make you one of its citizens. This was done for you well before you ever asked. It was prepared to be yours from before the foundation of the world. The Heavenly Father’s covenant has been kept, as His steadfast love has been shown to you in the work of His crucified Son. It is shown you again and again when you pray as the Crucified Christ has taught. Because of Christ, you are now the Father’s children who walk before Him with all your heart. A privilege has been given to you: so you may pray and know that your Father listens in His dwelling place in heaven and forgives.
T In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.