“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
This, then, is how you should pray:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.”
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
The word ‘heaven’ in the Bible is often misunderstood. Some of this is due to religious art which has clouds, angels or pearly gates, or perhaps because of depictions of heaven in television or films. One of the themes of Matthew’s Gospel is ‘the kingdom of heaven’. But when we compare parallel passages in Matthew, Mark and Luke, we can see that ‘the kingdom of heaven’ is just Matthew’s way of saying ‘the kingdom of God’.
This kingdom is not a geographical place. It is not just a place where people go when they die. The kingdom of God is where God is king, where people let God be in charge of everything in their lives.
The death of Jesus brought about the kingdom of God on earth. There is now a new way of living. People whose sins have been forgiven because of Jesus’ death can now live forgiving others. We can trust God to provide for our daily needs because he is the king, he is the creator, he is our provider and he loves us.
Where there is pain and suffering we can pray that God will come and rule, bringing healing, forgiveness and reconciliation. Sometimes we may be part of the solution, acting as peacemakers so that God’s kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven.