The Lord’s Prayer is without a doubt one of the most famous and beloved passages of scripture in the Bible. The Lord’s Prayer can be found in the 6th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in verses 9-13. A shorter version of The Lord’s Prayer can also be found in the 11th chapter of the Gospel of Luke in verses 2-4. Of all the passages of scripture in the Bible, The Lord’s Prayer is probably the passage that is most commonly committed to memory by most people. The Lord’s Prayer has been an icon of the Christian faith throughout the centuries. Surprisingly, one of the things that people often fail to realize is that when Jesus spoke the words of The Lord’s Prayer, he didn’t necessarily mean for it to be something to be memorized word for word and recited verbatim on a regular basis. Now please don’t misunderstand what I am saying. There is absolutely nothing wrong with memorizing The Lord’s Prayer and praying it word for word. Anytime you are able to memorize scriptures from God’s word, it can do nothing but help you. However, the truth is that Jesus never intended for his disciples to go through their life repeating his prayer word for word like parrots. When Jesus spoke the words of The Lord’s Prayer, he meant them to be a guideline or a template as to how to structure our prayers. Jesus was using it as a teaching moment.
When we read the passages in Matthew’s Gospel and in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus wasn’t actually praying, he was teaching. This was Jesus conducting Prayer 101. In the account of The Lord’s prayer that we read about in Matthew chapter 6, Jesus was giving the well known Sermon on the Mount, and he had just finished telling the people how NOT to pray. In verses 1-8 of Matthew chapter 6, Jesus spoke of the Pharisees, and how they would often pray in public and would pray very repetitive prayers with the underlying motives of being seen of men. The Pharisees would indeed pray, but their motives in praying were to gain the admiration of men rather than to seek after God. If you read the account of The Lord’s Prayer in the Gospel of Luke, you will easily see that Jesus was teaching how to pray rather than actually praying. Take a look at Luke chapter 11 verses 1-4. In this passage it reads, One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be thy name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.” (Luke 11:1-4) Notice that the passage says Jesus had finished praying when one of his disciples asked him to teach them to pray as John the Baptist had taught his disciples. This makes it clear that when The Lord’s Prayer was given, it was given as a model as to how to pray and was a teaching moment, not a prayer itself. All of the necessary elements of prayer are spelled out by Jesus in this great moment of teaching. I would like to take a few moments and take a deeper look at The Lord’s Prayer and point out a few observations as to the structure of prayer and how we can implement this sacred pattern for prayer into our own prayer life.
The first thing I would like to point out about this teaching from Jesus about prayer is that Jesus was taking for granted that his disciples were going to make prayer a part of their life. Jesus didn’t say, “Just in case you want to pray, or if you decide to…..” Jesus said in both Matthew and Luke, “WHEN YOU PRAY….” He didn’t say if. Jesus knew that he would soon be offering himself up on the cross to die for our sins, and he knew that his days with his disciples were numbered. Jesus also knew that they would want to maintain a close relationship with him even after he was gone from them. Jesus knew that prayer was the vehicle in which they could maintain their relationship with God through Jesus. My point is, if you are a Christian, and you want to maintain a relationship Jesus, the one who died for you, you MUST pray. Even in the natural, no relationship ever survives without communication. How long would your marriage last if you never spoke to your spouse? Prayer is a direct line of communication to the throne of God.
Let’s take a look at how a prayer should be structured according to this teaching that Jesus gave us on prayer. The Lord’s Prayer starts off with “Our Father which art in Heaven….” This indicates that when we pray we are to pray to God and God only. We are not instructed to pray to anyone else…not to Mary, the Saints or to angels. We are to pray to God the Father. We are instructed to address Him as our Father, which if we have accepted Christ as our personal savior, God is indeed our Father. John chapter 1:12-13 says, “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn–not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God”
When we pray, after we address God for who He is, we are then instructed to WORSHIP Him for who He is. The Lord’s Prayer says, “Our Father which art in Heaven, HALLOWED be thy name.” The word hallowed means holy, sacred, divine, to be honored. The point is that when we pray, before we begin to submit our requests to God, we should worship and honor him for who He is. Prayer should always begin with praise to God. God inhabits the praises of His people. Psalms 95:2 says that we should come into His presence with thanksgiving.
Jesus goes on to tell us that when we pray we should pray that His “Kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” Before Jesus went to the cross to be the supreme sacrifice for our sins, the disciples had a misunderstanding as to what the Kingdom of God was going to entail. The disciples believed that Jesus was the much awaited Messiah, but they thought that Jesus was going to establish His kingdom then and there on earth and overthrow their enemies. What they didn’t understand is that Jesus came to be the once and for all supreme sacrifice for their sins. His death on the cross broke the bondage of sin and established a kingdom that would rule and reign in the hearts of men. We are told in the Bible to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. (Matthew 6:33) The kingdom of God is the spirit of God that resides in the heart of the born-again believer and it represents the will of God in the lives of those that serve Him. We are referred to as earthen vessels in the Bible. (2nd Corinthians 4:7) The pattern that Jesus is giving us in this model prayer is that we should pray that his spirit would come and rule and reign in our hearts and that His will be done in earth ( in us) as it is in Heaven. We are the tools that God uses to carry out his will in the world around us. When you consider what the 9 Fruits of The Spirit are as listed in Galatians chapter 5, (love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, self-control, and faith) these are the qualities that should be present in the life of every born-again believer. The 9 fruits of the spirit will be everlasting into eternity. They are characteristics that will be present in Heaven, and they should be present in us.
Jesus instructs us to pray that God would “Give us our daily bread.” This is a reminder to us to not get caught up worrying about tomorrow, next month, or next year. We should live one day at a time and pray for God to provide what we have need of today. The truth is God knows what we need before we even ask. Asking him to meet our needs is simply illustrating to God that we believe that He is able to meet our needs; and He indeed is. Simply focus on today. Tomorrow you can present to God the things you will need tomorrow.
Jesus included in the prayer instructions that we should combine the asking for God to forgive us of where we have wronged Him with forgiving those who have wronged us. When we ask God for forgiveness of anything, we should be willing to forgive others of any trespass that they have made against us. Unforgiveness is something that will eat at you and destroy you like a cancer. We have to remind ourselves of the grace that God has extended to us and we must be willing to also extend grace and forgiveness to others.
The last part of The Lord’s Prayer is instructing us to pray that God would direct our steps in such a way that we would not fall into a situation of temptation, and if we are subjected to temptation, that he would deliver us from the situation before we sin against Him. According to the Bible, God will direct our steps if we allow him to, (Psalms 37:23) and with every temptation that we face, He will provide a way of escape. (1st Corinthians 10:13) It is vitally important that we pray that God would show us and direct us in the ways that we should go and the paths that we should take. If we seek his direction, He will lead us down the right paths and if we do stumble, He will always be there ready to catch us and reestablish our goings as we journey through life.
Well there you have it! The Lord’s Prayer is the ultimate instruction on how to pray in such a way that we enter into the throne room of God himself! The Bible says that we should come boldly before the throne of grace so that we can obtain mercy in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16) You don’t have to get all wrapped up in how you pray or be concerned if you are saying all the right words. The main thing is that you worship and thank God first, then believe in faith that what you are asking of Him He will do. The Lord’s Prayer is simply is a guideline for us to pattern our prayer after. I hope and pray that some of the thoughts I have shared regarding prayer have helped you. Never forget…prayer works. The only limits God has are the limits that our faith place upon Him.
Thanks for reading!
Until next time,