The Lord’s Prayer
“Teach us how to pray,” one of the disciples asks Jesus. And that is when Jesus sat down and gave the disciples - and us “The Lord’s Prayer.” Christians have been praying this prayer – The Lord’s Prayer- down through the centuries. Let’s read The Lord’s Prayer as is found in Matthew 6:9 and Luke 11:2
“Our Father in heaven.
Hallowed be Your Name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On 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 Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Many Bible scholars believe that Jesus was showing the disciples how to pray and not intending for them to just memorize the words of the prayer and pray it exactly. Of course it is fine if we pray this prayer exactly as it was given. But many scholars believe that Jesus intended more. Jesus’ prayer is believed to be a general pattern or an outline with seven petitions or topics. We can personalize the prayer by praying our own requests and feelings from our hearts.
Jesus starts out in the “Lord’s Prayer” by teaching us to speak to God or address Him as “Our Father”, or “Our Daddy”. The Israelites in Jesus’ day never called God their “Father” when they prayed. But now Jesus is inviting his followers to relax and come to God as beloved children and call Him “Abba” or “Daddy”. By His death our sin has been removed and Jesus has opened the way for us to come into the presence of God our Father. And now our prayers can be very personal and intimate, an emotional experience between us and our loving “Abba or Daddy” or “Father”.
Secondly, Jesus teaches us in the “Lord’s Prayer” to always come into God’s presence with praise and reverence. You notice that right after Jesus addresses God, - “Our Father in heaven” (Matt.6:9a) he praises and worships and glorifies God with, “Hallowed be Your Name.” (Matt.6:9b) When we come before our heavenly Father we are always to worship Him in a spirit of humility and devotion and praise and reverence. Scripture says: “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” (Psalm 100:4) Also Psalm 22:3 says that God comes to us in the praise of His people. When a group is praising God either in song or in prayer often the sweet heavy presence of God can be felt as it settles in over the group.
Next in the “Lord’s Prayer” Jesus teaches us to pray that Gods’ kingdom and Gods’ will come here and now. The prayer reads: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) Scripture says that everything is good and right in Gods’ kingdom. But that is not the case here on earth. So Jesus urges us to ask that Gods’ will be done in our life, our children’s lives, and in the lives of our loved ones and our church and our nation. We can hold up anyone or anything in prayer and intercede that Gods’ will be done and know that God answers prayer. Without our prayers, earth’s circumstances will only become more desperate. Prayer changes things.
Jesus continues his lesson on how to pray by encouraging us to ask that our daily needs be met. Matthew 6:11 reads: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Jesus, the need meeter, asks us to pray daily, asking Him to supply all of our needs. I don’t think Jesus is telling us to only pray for “bread”. I think by “bread” He means that we should pray every day for the things – anything- that we need. Sometimes I pray for the ability or strength to do a job and sometimes for guidance in what to do or say. I ask for healing of an illness or a good attitude when I have a bad one. Peace and calm when I am feeling nervous and faith when doubts come around.
Jesus moves on with: “Forgive us our debts (our sins), as we forgive our debtors (those who sin against us). (Matthew 6:12) If we are followers of Jesus we have already been forgiven our sins. But Jesus’ followers still sin and we need to confess our sins. These sins do not keep us out of heaven but they may keep us from enjoying as close a relationship with our Father God as we could have. And of course because God extends grace to us and forgives our sins, we are to extend grace to those who sin against us and forgive them also. We are called to walk in love. Even when we don’t want to! In this prayer, isn’t Jesus teaching us that we do not have the luxury of not forgiving others?
Next Jesus teaches us to pray: “Do not lead us into temptation. But deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:13) Because the lure of temptation is ever near and evil is often disguised as good - Jesus is teaching us that we need to pray for Gods’ help in keeping us and our loved ones from sinking into the miry pit of sin. And we need to ask God for the courage to fight wrong when we see it.
Jesus finishes the “Lord’s Prayer” with: “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Jesus ends the prayer with more praise to God. We begin and end this prayer with praise to God. Jesus is teaching us here that we should be reverent when we pray to God. Bow down and worship Him with prayers of sincere, heartfelt devotion. Become lost in praise for Him. We are changed when we praise God.
Christians for more than two thousand years have loved and prayed this prayer that Jesus gave us - the Lord’s Prayer. It is the prayer that teaches us how to pray.