Thanksgiving from the Footnotes
November 22, 2022 | Ray Pritchard
Listen to this Sermon
Let me begin with my text, and then I want to tell you a story.
My text comes from the last line of the Lord’s Prayer, which means everyone should know it by heart:
“For yours is the kingdom,
and the power and the glory forever. Amen”
Here’s the story.
Some years ago, I did a live TV interview with Jerry Rose on the Total Living Network. I have forgotten what we were discussing or how it came up, but during the interview Jerry mentioned that when he was starting in Christian ministry, he talked one day with an older gentleman who had accomplished great things for the Lord.
When Jerry asked him for advice, the man said he had learned to pray a certain prayer every day.
Did Jesus say these words?
He found that this prayer centered his soul and kept him on course spiritually. He said he had prayed this prayer over and over again.
When Jerry told that story, I wondered what prayer could have been so powerful.
It’s a prayer many of us have recited time and again.
It’s my text for today:
“Yours is the kingdom
and the power and the glory forever. Amen” (Matthew 6:13).
I want us to think together about that verse and why it is so powerful. But before we do that, I need to say something about my title: “Thanksgiving from the Footnotes.”
When you look up Matthew 6:13 in your Bible, you immediately face a problem. Or a challenge. Or a puzzling question.
This benediction is not in the text of many Bibles.
It is found in the KJV and the NKJV.
If you use the NIV, it’s not there.
If you use the NASB, it’s not there.
If you use the RSV, it’s not there.
And yet we all know these words are part of the Lord’s Prayer.
We know it because these words are always included when we sing the Lord’s Prayer.
What’s going on?
If these words are part of the Lord’s Prayer, why aren’t they in the Bible? If these words aren’t part of the Lord’s Prayer, who made them part of the musical text?
But if you look closer, you’ll find those words in your Bible, even in those modern translations.
They are in the footnotes.
That raises the question, Did Jesus say these words?
Before I answer that question, let me point out that you can find the Lord’s Prayer in two places in the gospels: Matthew 6 and Luke 11.
The benediction is found only in Matthew 6.
That leads to a simple conclusion:
Jesus repeated this prayer on different occasions. Sometimes he included the benediction, and sometimes he didn’t.
Jesus often repeated his prayers
That’s what I mean by Thanksgiving from the Footnotes.
Everyone agrees the words are both true and biblical.
They form a fitting end to the Lord’s Prayer.
What, then, does this benediction teach us?
To answer that question, let’s take each part of it individually.
#1: Yours is the Kingdom
We all want to build our own kingdom, even if we wouldn’t say it that way. We have our hopes, our dreams, and our plans. When we pray, “Yours is the kingdom,” we remind ourselves that only one kingdom matters.
I often pray this way: “Lord, if there needs to be a decision today, let my kingdom go, and let your kingdom come. Let it be your agenda and not mine that moves forward.”
I pray like that because God rules the governments of this world.
That’s the approximate meaning of the phrase “Yours is the kingdom.”
The kingdom belongs to God.
He rules over the affairs of men and nations.
God rules the governments of the world
Governments come and go, nations rise and fall, presidents and prime ministers rise to power and suddenly disappear.
I am writing these words shortly after the hotly contested midterm elections in the US. After all was said and done and after all the money was spent, the results weren’t quite what we expected. The red wave never appeared.
In the last few days, I’ve read multiple columns trying to explain (or explain away) the results.
How could they have elected him?
Or why didn’t they elect her?
Psalm 75 reminds us that there is a power greater than all that money and all those ads, mail-in ballots, and Get Out the Vote efforts.
“No one from the east or the west
or from the desert can exalt themselves.
It is God who judges:
He brings one down, he exalts another” (Psalm 75:6-7).
Does that mean we shouldn’t care about politics? Of course not.
But there is a God in heaven who rules over the affairs of men. He works out his will while the nations rage. The Lord laughs at our puny efforts to control the course of history.
The Lord laughs at our puny efforts to control history
As I thumbed through my copy of The Great Thoughts by George Seldes, I came upon these words of V. I. Lenin.
Religion is the opium of the people. Religion is a kind of spiritual vodka in which the slaves of capitalism drown their human shape and their claim for any decent life.
For 70 years the communists tried to build a paradise on earth by following Lenin’s words. They thought they could stamp out religion from Russian life.
But today communism is a decaying corpse waiting to be buried in the graveyard of history. Meanwhile, the church of Jesus Christ is stronger than ever.
That’s not all Lenin said. Listen to this vain boast:
Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.
Lenin’s prophecy failed because his seed bore rotten fruit.
But the church rolls on.
The hammer and sickle has come down.
The Soviet Union is no more.
The church rolls on!
But the church rolls on.
That church—evangelical and Bible-believing, persecuted, hated, jailed, vilified, maligned, mocked, ridiculed—that church is rolling on today.
Stronger than ever.
Tempered by years of suffering, purified through decades of tribulation, unified through persistent prayer, and held together despite all that Lenin and Stalin and the rest could do.
That church is rolling on.
When you look at a map of the world, remember the lesson: God rules the governments of the world.
#2: Yours is the Power
Power is an aphrodisiac of sorts.
The world flocks to powerful men and women because they know how to get things done. They are the movers and the shakers, they run the show, they make the decisions, they speak and we all listen.
But earthly power is fleeting.
The real power in the universe belongs to the Lord.
So I sometimes pray like this: “Lord, if you need to make me weak so that your power might be on display, please do that.”
I pray like that because God has the power to support his people.
Whatever his children need, our Heavenly Father can supply.
Do they need wisdom?
He is wisdom.
He owns the cattle on a thousand hills
Do they need strength to carry their burdens?
He has an unlimited supply.
Do they need power?
His hands created the universe.
Do they need mercy?
His mercies are new every morning.
Do they need financial help?
He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.
The whole Bible testifies to this great truth.
Where God guides, God supplies.
There is no power shortage with God.
He has the power to support his people in all their needs.
#3: Yours is the Glory
Glory is tricky.
Do you remember the “Celebrity Apprentice” TV show?
The theme song began with one word repeated four times: “Money, money, money, money,” which tells you everything you need to know.
The Romans knew a thing or two about glory (check out Rome and see for yourself), and they coined the phrase, Sic transit gloria mundi, which means “Thus passes the glory of the world.”
Fame is fleeting. In the end, everything man builds collapses before his eyes. A friend sent me an email containing these lines from a poem called “Gray’s Elegy” written in a country churchyard in England:
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave
Awaits alike the inevitable hour
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
And so I pray, “Lord, nothing I do today will matter unless you make it matter. Be glorified in my life, and if that means my glory should fade, so be it because I am fading away anyway.”
Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
I pray that way because all that God does, he does for his glory.
All that God does for us, all that God does in us, all that God does through us, all that God does with us, he does for his glory.
And what is the glory of God?
It is anything that enhances God’s reputation in the world.
This is a crucial principle to remember when we pray. It’s the key to understanding why some prayers are answered in ways that greatly surprise us.
All his answers are for his glory.
God never answers prayer in any way that does not ultimately bring glory to his name. Sometimes God’s glory is enhanced through a miraculous answer to prayer. Other times God is glorified when his children endure suffering patiently.
Sometimes God allows a teenager to drift away from him despite the prayers of that teenager’s parents. Why? In part because God gives us the power to make wrong choices.
He will not compel people to serve him.
All God’s answers are for His glory
But there is something deeper. God receives greater glory through the repeated prayers of the parents. Others watch as they model consistent faith in the face of a great family difficulty.
God may allow it so that when the teenager finally returns home, they will glorify God for his discipline while he was in “a far country.”
This principle applies to every area of life. Sometimes God is glorified through our prosperity and sometimes through our poverty.
Sometimes his reputation is enhanced when we get the job we prayed for. But he is also glorified when we react in a godly manner even though we lose our job.
In all things God is working to bring glory to himself through the lives of his obedient children.
God will do what is for our good and for His glory
He will do whatever is best for our ultimate spiritual good.
And in the end, we will discover that whatever was for our spiritual good also brought glory to his name.
There will be good times and bad times, miraculous deliverances and long seasons in the desert, happiness and sadness, popularity, and misunderstanding.
God uses all the experiences of life to bring glory to his name.
Three Takeaway Truths
What Do These Words Add to The Lord’s Prayer?
First, they point us back to God as the source of all our blessings.
There is a Trinitarian emphasis in this closing benediction that reinforces both halves of the Lord’s Prayer.
We are to pray that God’s name might be “hallowed” for “Yours is the glory.”
Even our “daily bread” is made sacred when we eat it to God’s glory.
We pray, “Your kingdom come,” because we understand that “Yours is the kingdom.”
And it is by the grace of King Jesus that our sins are forgiven.
All our blessings come from God
We pray “Your will be done” because “Yours is the power,” and it is by the power of the Spirit that we are rescued from Satan’s control.
By arranging the prayer this way, Jesus is teaching us one of the fundamental truths of the Christian life:
All our blessings come from God.
No realm of life lies outside the realm of prayer because everything we receive comes as a gift from our loving Heavenly Father.
Second, this benediction reminds us to rest our hopes in God alone and not on our clever schemes. We like to think God is lucky to have us on his side.
But that’s wrong, and luck has nothing to do with it. The Lord’s Prayer teaches us how blessed we are to be on his side.
God could do just fine without us. We couldn’t survive for a moment without his sustaining grace.
Third, these words teach us to praise God always.
When we pray, we are to begin by asking that God’s name be hallowed, and we are to end by praising God for his sovereign rule over the affairs of men. Thus the prayer begins with God and ends with God.
Praise is the language of heaven
Matthew Henry said,
“Praise is the work and happiness of heaven,
and all who go to heaven hereafter
must begin their heaven now.”
Praise fits us to receive God’s blessings now and to enter God’s presence later.
It is the highest work of mortal man for it lifts man from the mundane and points him toward the sublime. Praise redirects our vision from the temporary to the eternal.
Psalm 71:14 says, “I will praise your name more and more.”
I was in Dallas doing a series of radio interviews for a book I had written. During a live television interview, the host asked me a question that had nothing to do with my book.
He leaned over to me and asked, “What’s God been teaching you lately?”
That’s not an easy question, but it’s doubly tough when the camera is staring in your face.
After a brief pause, I gave a simple reply:
“I’ve been learning that I’ve still got a lot to learn about God.”
No matter where you are in your spiritual life, you’re still far from knowing God in all his fullness.
Even though I’ve been in the ministry for almost 50 years, there is so much I still don’t know about God.
At this point in my life, I’m more aware of what I don’t know than what I do know.
Some of us have constructed a God of the good times.
I have a lot to learn about God
When our prayers are answered and life goes our way, we say, “God is good.” Does that mean when the cancer returns that God is no longer good?
If your God is only good during the good times, then your God is not the God of the Bible.
When he was a teenager, our oldest son and a few friends survived a terrible crash in our van that sent them to the hospital.
During a Thanksgiving morning worship service, my wife stood and said something like this:
“We are very grateful God spared our son and his friends. Many people have said, ’God was certainly good to you.’ Ray and I believe that with all our hearts. But I want to say that even if our son had died, God would still have been good whether we understood it or not.”
I confess I was unnerved when she said that.
But every word was true.
As I have pondered the matter since then, I have concluded that faith is not a feeling based on our circumstances.
True biblical faith chooses to believe that God is who he said he is, and he will do what he said he will do.
Faith is a conviction, not a feeling
As I look at the world around me, many things remain mysterious.
But if there is no God, and if he is not good, then nothing makes sense. I have chosen to believe because I must believe.
I truly have no other choice.
I have learned through my tears that my only confidence is in God and God alone.
This benediction adds crucial balance to the Lord’s Prayer.
It brings together all the great themes in one triumphant climax. Furthermore, it reminds us of important truths we need to know.
We pray because we know these things are true. “Yours is . . . Yours is . . . Yours is . . .”
We pray because we know these things are always true. “Forever.”
Let all God’s people say “Amen!”
We pray because we know these things are always true, and we should say so. “Amen.”
As we come to Thanksgiving Day 2022, our hearts should overflow with gratitude. We have everything we need, always.
This is the promise of our God.
If you don’t know where to begin, you can always say, “Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”
Let all the people of God say, “Amen!”
When we despair
because of situations that seem out of control,
help us to remember that “yours is the kingdom.”
When we feel like giving up
in the face of impossible difficulties,
remind us that “yours is the power.”
And when we become too impressed with ourselves,
teach us again that “yours is the glory.”
With the people of God across the ages,
we affirm that these things are always true.