I though I’d start my first blog post with a prayer. The simplest and most beautiful prayer I know is the prayer Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount (The Beatitudes). He told us in Mathew 6: 5-9:
5 And when you thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
8 Be not ye therefore like unto them for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
9 After this manner therefore pray ye:
Our Father which art in Heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily Bread.
And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, for ever.
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
The Lord’s Prayer may be the most familiar prayer that exists. It is found in the Bible, in Matthew 6: 9-15 and also in Luke 11: 2-4, and came from the very mouth of Jesus Christ. This prayer is actually instructional; it is a model prayer that is meant to teach us the correct focus and emphasis of prayer. Although it is commonly called ‘The Lord’s Prayer’, it should more correctly be called ‘The Disciples’ Prayer’ because it is meant as a model prayer for those who follow Jesus.
We find Matthew’s recounting of Jesus’ delivery of the Lord’s Prayer set amidst Jesus’ teachings against hypocritical religious acting. Jesus was contrasting the way the false religious leaders acted with how true followers of God should behave. Jesus had cautioned His disciples not to call attention to themselves in prideful ways when they went about living out their faith. He said that the false religious teachers like to call attention to them, instead of pointing to God, when they did things like giving to the needy (Matthew 6:2-4) or praying (Matthew 6:5-8). After Jesus had finished describing the wrong way to pray, He illustrated the right way to pray by using this model prayer.
Of course, if this prayer is simply memorized and repeated without a heartfelt commitment and earnest sincerity, it becomes the same sort of hypocritical mumbling that Jesus had just condemned. As we will see, this prayer requires an honest love for God on the part of the one praying. The content of the Prayer [taken from Matthew 6:9-13 KJV]
“After this manner therefore pray ye”
Jesus had railed against the false religiosity of the Pharisees and Sadducees. He had pointed out that they do their religious duties for selfish reasons, to steal the glory that rightfully belongs to God for themselves, not out of love and service to Him. How often do we do the same thing today? How many times do we do something good for someone simply to make ourselves look good? Rather, we should be doing everything for Jesus’ sake; out of love for Him and for His glory and honor.
“Our Father which art in Heaven,”
This phrase recognizes our allegiance to God. He is our Father; He created us, He sustains us, He gives us spiritual life. Everything we have and everything we are or ever hope to be, we owe to Him. The all-powerful Creator, Who lives outside of time and space, in the realm we call ‘Heaven’, is our Father, our God, our life, and our Savior. When we pray, we must be aware of exactly Who it is to Whom we are praying. “Those who pray like this are members of a family, and they look to God as the Head of the family, one who is bound to them by ties of love”
“…hallowed be your name”
In Jesus’ day, a person’s name was indicative of his character. This phrase [“hallowed be your name”] means that we realize, and acknowledge, that God is holy, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3 KJV). There are too many people these days that think too little on God’s holiness. We do not realize that God is perfect, He is our Creator, He sustains us, and He deserves our worship and love. Too often, we do not approach Him with the reverential awe, or fear, that the Bible commands, “The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil” (Proverbs 19:23 KJV).
“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven”
This phase means that we should want God’s plan to be carried out by humans on earth the same way it is carried out by the angels in Heaven. As believers, our hearts should be set on furthering His Kingdom any way that He asks of us. We should be agents of change, whose mission is to share the good news of God’s love for humanity with all those we can, so that this world would be more like His Kingdom. “The servant of God looks for the rule of God to become actual in more and more lives”
“Give us this day our daily bread…”
The believer should be living in a daily dependence on God’s provision. After Jesus had told His followers that they need not worry about having the necessities of life, He said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33 KJV). “…the prayer is for the simple and present necessities of life. Jesus is counseling his followers to pray for necessities, not luxuries, and for what is needed now, not a great store for many days to come. By confining the petition to present needs Jesus teaches a day-by-day dependence on God”
“…and forgive us our debts [Luke: our sins], as we forgive our debtors”
Because we are believers in Jesus Christ, our sins are forgiven. Therefore, this is not saying that our sins are forgiven because we forgive others. Rather, we forgive others because we have been forgiven. It is easy to forgive others when we truly understand how much God has forgiven us. If we claim to have had our sins forgiven by God, yet we refuse to forgive others, there is a problem with our relationship with God, and that problem needs to be dealt with.
“And lead us not into temptation…”
We know that God does not tempt anyone with evil (James 1:13). Therefore, this phrase must be a request for God to guide our paths away from temptation and testing. It is a request for protection against that which might cause us to fall into sin. The Bible tells us that everything that happens is either caused by God, or God allows it. As such, we believers realize that God is in control of every second of our lives, so we pray for God to guide our steps away from temptation and towards holiness.
“…but deliver us from evil. For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever Amen”
God is the only one Who can protect us from evil. It is by His strength that we are enabled to stand against the world, the flesh, and the devil. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 KJV). The Bible also tells us that God will not let us be tempted or tested more than we can endure. He will also supply the ability for us to endure, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (I Corinthians 10:13 KJV).
Conclusion: Important Principles from the Lord’s Prayer
When we pray to God, we must understand that He is the Holy Creator, and Sustainer, of the universe. Our basic motivation in prayer must be for His glory and the furtherance of His Kingdom. We can surely ask Him to supply our needs and comfort our afflictions, but we must always recognize that His will trumps ours. We should desire that His will be done here on earth, and we should be willing to submit to His plan, rather than expect Him to submit to ours. We must always remember that every good thing comes from God (James 1:17); He lovingly supplies our needs. We must forgive others as we have been forgiven. We must trust God to deliver us from any temptation or testing that we should encounter, knowing that we are unable to resist temptation on our own. When we pray with this attitude, we can say with the apostle John, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:” (I John 5:14 KJV).