READ : 1 Chronicles 29:10-18
All our prayers are to begin and end with praise to God, for the kingdom, the power, and the glory are his alone.
Welcome, friends, to this final message in our series on the Lord’s Prayer, “For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.” We’re ending with a burst of praise. You know, it’s often noted that this part of the Lord’s Prayer is not included in some of the most ancient manuscripts. It’s possible, some scholars say, that they were added very early in the history of the church as believers used the Lord’s Prayer in public worship. But on the other hand, it seems unlikely that any prayer prayed by a first-century Jewish believer would end without some doxology, some expression of praise to God. The prayers of devout Jews every day were strings of benedictions. The words here are thoroughly biblical and are considered by many scholars to be Jesus’ own words. It’s not likely that our Lord would have concluded this marvelous prayer with the words “Deliver us from evil.” I’m going to treat this final doxology as Jesus’ own words.
Praise is what we’re thinking about today, giving glory to God. We’re not making him more glorious, of course. We’re simply recognizing and celebrating his glory. And in praise we recognize how wonderful God is and acknowledge that, and celebrate that. The great Scottish preacher Alexander Whyte described praise as “thinking magnificently of God” and then putting that thought into words of prayer and worship. That’s how the Scriptures are of such tremendous importance to us. They give us those magnificent thoughts about God that we can then lift to him from a praising heart.
Praise in Anticipation
Praise sees from the perspective of the long future. Think of those words in Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” In other words, we recognize that God is the one to whom the kingdom and the power and the glory belong, and we praise him that these prayers that we offer in the midst of all our struggles in this life are sure to be heard because of who God is.
Praise looks to God in the sure hope of what he will do. I’m always moved by these words from Romans 4 about Abraham:
Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body which was already as good as dead for he was about a hundred years old or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.
Now listen to this:
No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. (v. 21)
This is what especially honors God?”when we consider him to be faithful, when we trust him to keep his promises and thus praise him in advance for what we believe he will do. Then we are walking by faith and not by sight. The writer to the Hebrews notes that without faith, this kind of faith in what God will yet do, it’s impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).
Praise From the Depths
This is also, friends, praise from the depths. I was reflecting on how Jesus must have felt as he taught the disciples this prayer. He knew what awaited them. “In the world you will have tribulation,” he said. And Paul talks about how we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom. And these apostles surely did. As far as we know, every one of the eleven except John died a martyr’s death. They were hated, persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, killed, and all the while they would be praying these words, perhaps in their worst sufferings or last hours.
Remember those bracing words from Habakkuk? The prophet sings about how the fig tree may not blossom and no fruit be on the vines and the produce of the olive may fail and there may be no animals in the fields or in the stalls. Then he says, “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Hab. 3:18). In other words, “No matter what comes, I’ll praise him. Hallelujah anyhow!”
We had a letter recently from the granddaughter of some dear friends, and this granddaughter and her husband had seen their first baby die three days after he was born. Their letter spoke eloquently of their trust and said that “God is good all the time. All the time God is good.” They were so thankful for the three days they had been given to be with their little child.
Remember Acts 16:22-25, what happened to Paul and Silas in Philippi? They were seized in the marketplace and dragged before the authorities. The crowd mauled them. They were stripped of their clothes and beaten with rods. Then they were put in the innermost cell of the jail where the most dangerous prisoners were kept. Their feet were clamped in wooden stocks. Yet at midnight, beaten, bloody, incredibly uncomfortable, they began to pray and sing hymns to God, loud enough for all the prisoners to hear.
I remember hearing of a wonderful preacher who pictured this scene in heaven. God says, “What’s that singing I hear?” The angels answer, “What do you mean, Lord? All the angels, all the hosts of heaven are singing your praises.” God says, “No, this is a song of pain.” And then the angels say, “These are your servants, Paul and Silas, in a jail down in Philippi.” And you know what happened then. An earthquake almost shook the jail to pieces. The preacher’s comment was, “Then God began to tap his foot!”
How many believers are persecuted, burned, tortured, killed in our time? Barrett’s Encyclopedia of World Missions estimates that worldwide, the last ten years or so, between 300,000 and 400,000 Christians every year are killed because of their faith and witness. And how many have gone to the flames or to the gallows singing? They are like Paul, persecuted in Antioch and Iconium, filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Praise in the darkest hours often changes circumstances. It surely changes us.
Praise for a Lifetime
And this is praise, friends, for a lifetime. We keep on praying the Lord’s Prayer through the years. Jesus apparently intended for this to be prayed at least daily since we ask in it for daily bread and since we need forgiveness every day. Think how many times in the lives of believers this is prayed. Thousands and thousands of times. And as we keep on, we observe how wonderfully the Lord works. We have experience of his answers and so we cry in the words of Psalm 116, “I love the Lord because he has heard my voice and my supplication. Because he has inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.”
There was a time when one of our sons was far away from God. We were praying day by day for him. Then one evening his heart was changed and we saw him with tears in his eyes telling us of how Christ had come into his life. These words from Psalm 116 resounded in our hearts: “I love the Lord because he has heard my voice and my supplication, because he has inclined his ear to me, therefore, I’ll call on him as long as I live.”
We keep offering cries to him and never reach the limit. We keep on making our appeals and find that the fountain never runs dry. We discover the truth of Ephesians 3:20 and 21, “He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think.” And then praise results, “His love has no limit. His grace has no measure. His power has no boundary known unto men, for out of his infinite riches in Jesus he giveth and giveth and giveth again” (He Giveth More Grace by Hubert Mitchell).
So the more we pray, the more we realize how inexhaustibly gracious God is. And this becomes our song, “Great is your faithfulness.” The first time we prayed this, it may not have had great meaning and power for us. But through the years, God’s mercies, new every morning, move us to more and more praise.
What Does This Final Doxology Teach Us?
So what does the final doxology teach us? It points us back to abba, the one to whom we pray, reminding us of who he is. We remember now that praise is to precede and follow all our prayers. It’s to saturate our spirit all the time. We see that the final aim of our living and praying, serving and suffering, is to give honor to God. The final meaning and goal of all that we ask and receive, all we do and suffer, is to glorify him.
I hope that you will want to be, through all of life, a praising person. I remember how it changed my whole approach to devotions?”from thinking that it was just kind of a spiritual survival kit to something that was much richer?”when I read in the scriptures of these psalmists who were determined to praise God.
I will praise the Lord as long as I live. Every day I’ll bless you. I’ll praise your name forever and ever. (Psalm 146:2; Psalm 145:1)
I realized that devotions were not to be left at the mercy of my moods, weren’t just for me. God is worthy of our praise, and in doing it, in giving him praise, I touch his heart. I realized about my devotional time that it was an appointment with God that meant something to him. He seeks those who will worship him in spirit and in truth. So be a praising person. He loves us, and our praise is the sign that we recognize that great love, and realize that finally to worship him is our highest joy.
Then comes the “amen.” Jesus uses this word to say, “Truly, truly; verily, verily” testifying to the truth of what he says. Ordinarily it expresses assent to a prayer or a wish and also the confidence that it will be fulfilled. So to everything the Lord has taught us in this prayer, and to every request we make of him, and to every ascription of praise to him, our abba, we say a hearty AMEN!