(Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 107)
by Bob Burridge ©2012
Sometimes people are not able to deliver what they promise. They might have the best of intentions, but things come up that keep them from following through. We all have to handle the unexpected and deal with things that break down. Sadly, there are also times when people never intend to fulfill their promises.
It hurts when that happens with family and friends. No one likes to be forgotten when someone says they will come by and pick you up to give you a ride. It’s discouraging if someone was going to get something for you at the store, but came home without it.
It can become a more serious problem when national or world leaders fail to deliver on their promises. Voters are commonly skeptical of political campaign promises and commercials. When trust is violated or little is done to accomplish important things, people suffer. Even international treaties, agreements, and sanctions have little impact if they are not enforced responsibly. It makes terrorists and rogue nations more bold in their oppression and attacks. Broken promises or protections that never come cause doubt and mistrust.
It’s one thing to say what you want to do, what ought to be done, or even what you plan to do. However, it is another thing completely to make those things actually happen. We need to be careful not to assume that God’s promises are unreliable that way. God can do all he promises, and he never fails to do so. This is why we pray with great confidence.
The answer to Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 107 is, “The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, which is, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen, teacheth us to take our encouragement in prayer from God only, and in our prayers to praise him, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to him; and, in testimony of our desire, and assurance to be heard, we say, Amen.”
Some modern translations do not
include this last part of verse 13.
There isn’t a museum or vault where the actual original copies of the Bible books are kept. In God’s wise providence, we no longer have them. There were no printing presses or copy machines at the time of their writing so each copy was done by hand. Very quickly the books of the New Testament spread to Asia Minor, Europe, Asia, and Africa. We have over 5,000 ancient manuscripts that preserve the New Testament text. Some papyrus fragments date back to the first century, about the time of the original writing.
By comparing the copies from different ages and from different parts of the world, the copying errors can be confidently identified and eliminated. Dr. B. B. Warfield counted that about 95% of the variations in the copies are just isolated errors. Most are just misspellings, or a word left out or sometimes duplicated.
Once in a while a marginal note by a commentator was copied into the text of one or two manuscripts. Sometimes in regions like Alexandria exiled heretics tampered with the text in a few places. However, it is not difficult to recognize these changes by comparing with the other copies.
This last part of Matthew 6:13 is found in almost all the Greek texts known. It is found in manuscripts from all regions, including the carefully preserved Byzantine copies. These words are quoted by some of the early church writers so we know they cannot be a late addition.
These words are missing from one old copy from Alexandria, and another from Europe. It is also missing from 6 later copies probably made from the earlier one in Alexandria. A few early translations into Latin and Syriac change the text around some or add words. However, of the thousands of copies available, there is unanimity that these words belong there.
Some modern commentators and translators, based upon this rather thin evidence, leave the words out. Many scholars, myself included, find no reason to doubt their authenticity.
Can we be sure that these are the faithful and true words of God? There is a way to authenticate the truth of these words without having to base our decision upon the study of ancient manuscripts. This is not the only prayer in the Bible where these words occur. They are also found in the prayer of King David in 1 Chronicles 29. Most of the Lord’s prayer seems to be based upon this prayer of David. In verses 10-13 we see all the support we need to pray with confidence, “thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever”. David’s prayer goes this way, “Blessed are You, Lord God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, And You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all. Now therefore, our God, We thank You And praise Your glorious name.”
These ideas and words are also found in other portions of Scripture. Paul wrote them in 2 Timothy 4:18, “And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!”
The same things are said about God in Psalm 145:11-13, “They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom, And talk of Your power, To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, And the glorious majesty of His kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.”
These things are obviously true about God, so it is no surprise they appear in these inspired prayers. It makes sense that Jesus would include them in this model prayer he gave us too. It is a proper thing to include in our prayers as well.
This closing doxology is a fitting
end to this model for prayer.
The Lord had just given seven petitions, things we should pray for regularly.
- that God’s name will be hallowed, treated with holy awe and respect.
- that his Kingdom will advance displaying his Sovereign rule and power.
- that God’s revealed will should be done on earth as it is in heaven.
- that your daily needs will be provided by God who controls all things.
- that you will be forgiven for your sins through the work of Jesus Christ.
- that you will not be taken in by temptation to satisfy your needs immorally.
- that you will be delivered from the evil one, who wants to see you fail.
The model prayer concludes with confidence that God can deliver on the things we ask him to do. His is the Kingdom where he rules all things. His is the power and the glory. These eternal qualities can never fail, they have no end.
These qualities speak to God’s abilities. If God truly rules as King with infinite power, then there is the wonderful and glorious hope that cannot possibly fail to accomplish all the Creator’s holy will. Our petitions are not in vain. They come to a God who redeems and loves his children. He directly made and sovereignly rules over all things, even over those who defiantly dare to be evil.
We call this type of expression used in these concluding words of the prayer a “doxology”. Literally, it means they are words of glory. They remind us of the wonders of our Lord. David’s prayer honors God in his greatness, power, glory, victory and majesty. It says that he is the source of all riches and honor that any other creature might enjoy. He reigns as King with all power and might.
There are no accidents, no changes in his plans. He is our Sovereign God. He is the one who can actually do what you need him to do, and what he says, he will do. He is not just a theological idea. He is the one and only Living, Sovereign Lord.
God’s Majesty and Glory continue forever.
As it says in the Shorter Catechism, God is infinite, eternal and unchangeable. His kingship, power and glory are as eternal as he is. It is his Nature. It is what he is.
God has no beginning, and will have no end. Through all eternity he remains the same. Psalm 90:2 tells us, “Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”
God’s people have often responded
to his glory by saying, “Amen.”
This is an ancient custom that continues today. When David had the recaptured Ark of the Covenant brought back to the Tabernacle in Jerusalem, he wrote a dedication Psalm which is recorded in 1 Chronicles 16:8-36. It ends this way, ” ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel From everlasting to everlasting!’ And all the people said, ‘Amen!’ and praised the Lord. ” When true and good things were said about God, his people showed their agreement by saying “Amen”.
“Amen” is a Hebrew word, amaen (אמן). It means “to confirm, to support, to be firm, to be sure, to be true.” The Greek New Testament writings used this same word, amaen (αμην) but wrote it in their own alphabet. We have brought this Hebrew word into English language unchanged except for the pronunciation.
Since God is truth, amen is often used as a name for God. Deuteronomy 7:9 uses a form of this word when it says the “Faithful God” hael hane-eman (האל הנאמן). Isaiah 65:16 twice speaks of the “God of Truth”, “the God of Amen,” Elohae-amaen (אלהי אמן). In Revelation 3:14 Jesus Christ is called “the Amen,” ho amaen (ὁ αμην).
When you put “Amen” at the end of your prayers, it keeps this same basic meaning. Not all prayers in the Bible end with an “Amen,” but when it is there, it wraps up the prayer by saying the word “truth.”
When you close your prayer that way, you are saying that everything in your prayer is offered sincerely and is true. It is all the honest hope and desire of your heart. It means you are confident that the promises your prayer rests upon are true. They must be because God’s word is a solid and certain foundation, and God cannot lie.
When you consider all the things you should ask for in prayer, all 7 petitions in this model Jesus gave us, and agree that the God you pray to is the all powerful and eternal King, and affirm that in Christ he loves you and redeemed you with an infinitely great price, you speak an amazing truth! God can deliver on all the things you are told to pray for. Prayer should be a thankful time of confidently resting your concerns upon God himself.
Use this prayer as a daily guide.
With confidence bring every need and praise to the Creator all through the day. Make sure you, your children and friends know this model prayer by heart. Make this model prayer a pattern to follow whenever you speak with your Redeemer. It should be a part of everything you do throughout every day. Prayer should be more regular than eating. Three meals a day is enough for basic nourishment, but it is not enough for prayer.
Start the day talking to the one who brought you through the night and who has planned the day ahead. Pray in humble thanksgiving every time you receive his provisions of food, your paycheck, or meet a new friend. Bring your needs to him and those of any others God brings to your mind. Your intercession makes you part of the means by which God powerfully fulfills his promises in the lives of others.
Have family times of worship which include prayer for one another. Teach your children to pray. End the day thanking God for every opportunity, for being your loving Shepherd through the rough times, and for every skill and ability you were called upon to use that day.
Since God ordained prayer as a means by which he unfolds his providential care and plan, it is tragic that some neglect this important duty. They leave it to others.
Are you sometimes too busy to engage in what really makes a difference? Do you not believe that God can and will deliver on the promises he made? Has Satan and your fallen heart pulled the wool over your eyes once again? Never let the evil one have little victories in your life.
Make it a point to pray for your prayer life. Use this awesome model our Lord gave you, expand upon it, fill it out with specifics. Engage the enemy with a power he cannot resist or overcome. Be an active advancer of the Kingdom of Grace right now here on earth.
When you finish your prayer, rest back and consider the certainty behind it all because God is All Mighty! Then, really meaning it, think or say a good hearty, “Amen!”
(The Bible quotations in this lesson are from the New King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise noted.)