The Lord’s Prayer
The Lord’s Prayer is one of the most famous and beloved passages of scripture in the Bible. It can be found in the 6th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in verses 9-13. A shorter version can also be found in Luke chapter 11, verses 2-4. The Lord’s Prayer is probably the passage of scripture that is most commonly committed to memory by most people. It has been an icon of the Christian faith throughout the centuries.
Often, people fail to realize when Jesus spoke the words of The Lord’s Prayer, he didn’t necessarily mean for it to be something to be memorized. Jesus never intended it to be a prayer that is recited verbatim on a regular basis. 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 memorize scriptures from God’s word, it can do nothing but help you. However, 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. Jesus was using it as a teaching moment on how to structure our prayers.
Jesus Teaching How To Pray
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 we read about in Matthew chapter 6, Jesus was giving the well known Sermon on the Mount. 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. They prayed very repetitive prayers.Their motive was to be seen of men. The Pharisees prayed, but their motives were to gain the admiration of men rather than to seek after God.
Praying Vs Teaching
If you read the account of The Lord’s Prayer in the Gospel of Luke, you will see 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 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. It was a teaching moment, not a prayer in itself. Let’s take a deeper look at The Lord’s Prayer and observe the structure of prayer. We can implement this sacred pattern for prayer into our own prayer life.
Prayer Must Be A Part Of Life
Jesus was taking for granted his disciples were going to make prayer a part of their life. He 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 he would soon be offering himself up on the cross to die for our sins. He knew his disciples would want to maintain a close relationship with him even after he was gone.
Jesus knew prayer was the vehicle in which they could maintain their relationship with God through Jesus. As a Christian, if you want to maintain a relationship with 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.
The Structure Of Effective Prayer
Let’s take a look at how a prayer should be structured. The Lord’s Prayer starts off with “Our Father which art in Heaven….” This indicates we are to pray to God and God only. Jesus didn’t say to pray to anyone else. We are not instructed to Mary, the Saints or to angels. We should address him as our Father. If you have accepted Christ as your personal savior, God is indeed your 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”
Effective Prayer Includes Worship
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. When praying, before submitting 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.
Praying His Will Be Done In Us
Jesus goes on to say when we pray we should pray His “Kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” The disciples misunderstood what the Kingdom of God was going to entail. The disciples believed Jesus was the much awaited Messiah. However, they thought Jesus was going to establish His kingdom then and there on earth and overthrow their enemies. They didn’t understand Jesus had come 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.
God’s Kingdom Within Us
The Bible tells us 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. It represents the will of God in the lives of those that serve Him. The Bible refers to us a “earthen vessels.” (2nd Corinthians 4:7) The pattern Jesus gave in this model prayer says 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 God uses to carry out his will in the world around us. Consider the 9 Fruits of The Spirit as listed in Galatians chapter 5. They are 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.
Praying For Our Daily Needs
Jesus instructed us to pray that God would “Give us our daily bread.” We should live one day at a time and pray for what we need today. God knows our needs. Asking him to meet our needs is simply showing God we believe He is able to meet our needs. God will always provide. Simply focus on today. Tomorrow you can present to God the things you will need tomorrow.
Included in the teaching about prayer are instructions regarding forgiveness. We should combine our asking for God’s forgiveness of our wrongs against Him with forgiving those who have wronged us. When asking God for forgiveness of anything, we should forgive others of any trespass that they have made against us. Unforgiveness will eat at you and destroy you like a cancer. We must remember grace God has extended to us and be willing to also extend grace and forgiveness to others.
Prayer for Divine Direction
The last part of The Lord’s Prayer instructs us to pray God would direct our steps so would not fall into a situation of temptation. If subjected to temptation, we are to pray 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) With every temptation we face, He will provide a way of escape. (1st Corinthians 10:13)
It is vitally important to seek divine direction in the ways we should go and the paths that we should take. If we seek his direction, He will lead us down the right paths. 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! 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 be concerned if you are saying all the right words. The Lord’s Prayer is simply 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,