The Model Prayer
General Idea: This passage gives us the quintessential template on how to pray. Jesus is calling us to seek Him with the emphasis on our sincerity so our public prayers are as genuine as our private ones. To make this real and effective, He gives us a systematic how to do it checklist. We can then know how and for what to pray, so our own needs do not get all of the attention, and we will not grandstand ourselves with pride and hypocritical actions. This passage is called the Lord's Prayer, but it is not a prayer in and of itself; rather, it is a pattern on how to pray. To recite this as a prayer is like giving a recipe to your dinner guests and forgoing the preparing of the meal.
Jesus often taught His disciples about the importance of perseverance, faith, and humility in prayer (Luke 11:1-13; 18:1-14). That prayer is directed to God, not people, and to be heard by God, not others (Psalm 65:2; Heb. 11:6), so make sure you are offering up the kind of prayer that will please God!
1. Do not be like the hypocrites! Prayer is the two-way communication between we, the created beings, and God, our Creator! We are made for relationships, and communication is essential for effective relational growth. For us as Christians, prayer is one of the main ways we can grow in faith and maturity in our Christian formation, alongside getting into the Word with personal study and devotions, solid group Bible study, teaching, and the various disciplines of the faith.
a. The great wonderful fallout from our redemption is the ability for us to pray real and effective prayers to which God actually hears and responds!
b. God speaks to us through His Word and the Holy Spirit teaches and convicts us through the Word. Thus, through our prayers we can be taught, grow, and be convicted, so we can apply His precepts to our lives that will affect those around us. Prayers are not just selfish wish lists to get God to cater to our needs and whims; rather, their true purpose is for us to be shaped by what He has revealed, to grow in character, perseverance, and maturity.
c. Jesus is not condemning public praying; rather, He is condemning self-gratifying prayers with improper motivations that seek approval from people and are unconcerned about God (Matt. 11:25; John 11:41; Ac 27:35).
i. This is not to be a liturgical exercise of rhetoric!
ii. Do not use vain repetitions refers to rhetoric speech, having no value or meaning, saying something to catch the attention of others, or just having to say something so we are heard. This is empty and vacant in the call of our Lord! This is not to say we should not persist in asking God for something, as long it is Biblical (Luke 18: 1-8), but we are not to be wrapped up in our words, how we say it, trying to fit a pattern (other than Jesus pattern), or impress someone. Prayer must be sincere, heartfelt, and real! God is impressed by what is in our heart, not with our quantity or quality of words.
iii. This is not condemning repetition, but vain words, which are insincere and meaningless repetition. Jesus repeated Himself in prayer at Gethsemane; Paul did the same with his thorn in the flesh (Matt. 26: 36-44; 2 Co 12:7-8). God is sovereign; you do not need to use superfluous words! God is not swayed the by quantity of our words, but by the quality of our heart, offered with a merciful spirit (Matt. 18:21-23; James 2:13).
iv. To get what they wanted, the Greeks used 'overload prayers' to tire out their gods with many prayers and formulas that were repeated over and over again. It seems some of the Jewish leaders gave this a try too!
v. Keep your eyes on God, not on people! If you only seek God for your needs, you will never understand God or yourself, or His wonderful plan for you (John 17:22)! Your faith will be on your terms only. How sad that would be! How much you will lose!
d. Our private prayers are the ones that shape us; our public prayers are the ones that are to help others be shaped, and be in spiritual agreement to express praise, worship, seek forgiveness from God and each other, confess sins, make petitions for each other, and teach one another (Luke 11:2-4; Acts 1:14; 4:24).
i. Petition is the seeking of needs, personal as well as for others. It probably accounts for over 95% of all prayer requests. It is sharing our requests before God with the attitude that He does provide, but it may not be what we want or think we need. We need to learn how to depend upon Him, and to express and develop real impacting faith. This is not to be our only aspect of prayer. We are to intercede for others, seek forgiveness of our sins, seek His will, and most importantly, we are to praise and adore Him!
ii. Intercession is the understanding of the needs of others and bringing those before God. This is the exercising of love and kindness, and showing our unity in the Body of Christ (John 17).
iii. Not all prayers are acceptable to God (Prov. 28:9; Isa. 59: 1-2; Luke 18:9-14; 1 Pet. 3:12) God looks for our motivations, which are crucial.
iv. Chamber or your room meant a storeroom, as most people did not have an extra room with a door.
v. Standing was the most popular way to pray in Jesus time! The posture however is not important. Prayer is a manner of the heart and Will.
e. Jewish religious leaders were expected to teach their disciples how to pray! This was of paramount importance. However, the Romans did not consider prayer important.
i. The Lord's Prayer in Luke differs slightly due to the fact that Jesus is responding to a question, whereas in Matthew, He gives this prayer as a sermon on how to pray (Luke 11:1-4).
f. This model of prayer (as all models must be) places the emphasis on God and His glory, not on us! This is called 'brevity' (brief and sincere), that we ask that God be glorified before we can seek our request in a clear and concise manner. The more time you spend in prayer the more you will grow in your Christian formation. However, be sure you are not praying in circles with vain repetitions. Rather, cover more ground with requests for others and praise for God. (See our Theological Note on Our Pattern for Prayer below.)
i. To the Jews, God knew everything. Thus, Jesus was challenging their hearts and motivations, not their knowledge.
ii. This model is one of intimacy, not a 'business model' as the pagans and Greeks saw prayer.
2. Father is the Aramaic word for daddy or papa a very dear, intimate, personal honor to the head of the family. This is also a name of reverence and devotion, and not to be taken as we say daddy. It is not a cheap saying, or a word to put God in just a friend category. We are adopted in His family, and He loves us ever so deeply. Yet, He is still God and sovereign!
3. Hallowed be Your Name refers to the holiness, mightiness, omnipresence (He is everywhere transcending time and space), and omnipotence (All powerful) of God. He is the holy Judge, Creator, Savior, and Sustainer of all things. So, we are commanded to keep His name holy, as in the first two commandments.
a. In Jewish teaching, right living declares God's name as hallowed (Isa. 5:16; 29:23; Ezek. 36:23; 38:23; 39:7, 27; Zech. 14:9)!
b. If they lived profanely, it made God's name profane amongst the nations (Ex. 20:7; Jer. 34:16; 44:25-26; Ezek. 13:19; 20:14; Amos 2:7)!
4. Kingdom come is an essential theme in Matthew. (See our theological note on it in the study of Matthew 3:1-12.)
5. Your will be done, further expounds that we are to seek His character and sovereignty in all things, and not bully what we want over what He has called us to do! His needs must precede our needs, because He wants what is best for us!
6. Give us our daily bread is not just a request for food, but also a seeking of what is necessary for now and for the future (Prov. 30:8; Matt 6:19-34).
a. It is imagery, comparing to the manna for the wandering Jews. As God provided for them, He will also provide for us.
b. There are three views on this:
i. Some see this as the bread for the Lord's Supper, and is called the Sacramental View. It could mean this, but it is reading into the text what is not really there. And, this is not the main intention of Jesus in this prayer.
ii. Some see this as the life fulfilled in the coming Kingdom.
iii. The third view is a request for provisions for our needs. This is what it plainly means; the other two views are not unbiblical, but are only possible secondary meanings.
7. Forgive, we have to realize that we are all sinners, we still have sin and we still do sin. Thus, we always need to not only be aware of it, but also repent from it and seek forgiveness. This is a must, daily act, not just when we think about it, or wait until we are convicted. We must be willing to seek forgiveness daily from God and others!
a. These are spiritual debts; it is not necessarily referring to property or money transactions. Although, with discernment, it can be applied to all types of debts with forgiveness.
b. The Jewish understanding of Sin was a dept to God that needed to be repaid though redemption and sacrifice.
c. If you are not able or willing to forgive others, God will be able, but unwilling, to forgive you!
d. We are to forgive others in response to the fact that we have been forgiven. However, the forgiveness we may give to others will never compare to the forgiveness Christ has given us! (See our Character study on Forgiveness.)
8. Do not lead us into temptation means help us not sin when we are tested or going through trials, and help us through them (Psalm 141:3-4). Trials are a primary means for growth and maturity. It does not mean to keep us from them altogether. If that were so, we would never grow spiritually.
9. We have to be persons who has received grace with the knowledge of what we have been forgiven before we can really, truly forgive others.
True prayer comes from a sincere and humble Christian, offered with a merciful spirit, one who is not interested in making a public display for the sake of pleasing others or seeking prestige. Prayer will help us see His perfection, and receive His mercy and grace to help us, and others through us, in times of need, so we can find that peace that guards our hearts and mind (Phil. 4:6-7; Heb. 4:14-16). In order for this to happen, we must be willing and able to open and surrender our heart and Will to Him. If not, we will be living on the wrong floor of life!
1. Did you have a favorite prayer as a child that you may have recited at bedtime? If so, did that prayer give you comfort and understanding about God?
2. With what emphasis is Jesus is calling us to seek Him? Why would that emphasis be important?
3. Have you ever considered that the Lord's Prayer is a systematic, how to do it checklist, a model on how to pray, and not a prayer in and of itself? If so, why do so many Christians and churches use this as a mantra, a repeated prayer? In addition, is using it this way a direct contradiction to what Jesus is saying about prayer? If so, why do we do it?
4. How is reciting this passage as a prayer like giving a recipe to your dinner guests and forgoing the preparing of the meal?
5. How do you pray? How much time is spent each day? What methods do you use?
6. How much time do you give to your personal prayer requests, and how much time to other needs, to others, etc.?
7. How much time in your prayer life is dedicated to praying and worshiping God? Remember, singing in church is only a small aspect of worship; worship is also prayer, an attitude, and a lifestyle!
8. What can you do to make sure that how you pray and the things for which you pray are not just for your own needs, or that you are not using prayer to get attention?
9. Have you ever seen people--even pastors and church leaders--use prayer to grandstand (promote) themselves, displaying prideful and hypocritical actions?
10. Why is the importance of perseverance, faith, and humility in prayer essential? Can you think of other essential aspects of prayer?
11. Jesus often taught His disciples about prayer, that it is directed to God, not people, and is to be heard by God, not used for show to others. So, how can you make sure you are offering up the kind of prayer that will please God?
12. How, and why is prayer a form of communication, which is essential for effective relational growth?
13. Our private prayers are the ones that shape us. So, how can your public prayers also help others to be shaped?
14. Your will be done, further expounds that we are to seek His character and sovereignty in all things, not bully what we want over what He has called us to do! His needs must precede our needs, because He wants what is best for us! What is in your life and in your church that would keep this from fully happening?
15. Give us our daily bread is not just a request for food, but a seeking of what is necessary now and in our future. What would be some of the other things you can, and should be praying for?
16. We are to forgive others in response to the fact that we have been forgiven. However, the forgiveness we may give to others will never compare to the forgiveness Christ has given us! So, what blocks your seeking forgiveness from Christ and others?
17. Many people are surprised to find out that Do not lead us into temptation, refers to keeping us from sinning when we are tested or are going through trials, and helping us through them, not just keeping us from them. Why would people be surprised to discover this, given the fact that trials are a primary means for growth and maturity? All the disciples, as well as Christ, suffered greatly, as did countless saints over the last two thousand years.
18. How can you make sure that your prayers to the Father, daddy, or papa stay very dear, intimate, and personal yet remain honoring, not putting God in just in a friend category (i.e. He loves us ever so deeply, yet He is still God and sovereign)?
19. What can you do to keep your eyes on God, not on people? If you only seek God for your needs, you will never understand God, yourself, or His wonderful plan for you! Your faith will be on your terms only. How sad that would be! How much you will lose! How could that be so; what can you do to get back on track with your prayer life?
20. Prayers are not just selfish wish lists to get God to cater to our needs and whims; rather their true purpose is for us to be shaped by what He has revealed, and to grow in character, perseverance, and maturity. So, how can this be made real in you and your church?
Theological Thought: Our Pattern for Prayer
(Matthew 6:7-15, Luke 11:1-13)
1. Acknowledgement for who God is, this worship as worth ship: Praise and adoration of Him who is worthy of eternal praise (Is. 6:1-8, Rev. 4,5)
2. Response of our personal adjustment.
a. Recognition of God's Person, purpose, provision, and Presence.
b. Confession: cleansing; commitment of all to God.
c. Petition: Asking and receiving God's offer of grace and help, as He promised.
d. Response: Letting God be God to us, in us, and through us.
3. Communion with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, three as One.
4. Intersession: Ministering before, and with God, for others.
5. Thanksgiving: Honoring God with our trust and obedience.
II. Prayer as A.C.T.S.
A = ADORATION. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.
Not as duty, but desire; not as law, but love; not as demand, but delight; not as necessity, but privilege; not as ritual, but relationship; not in order to, but because of.
C = CONFESSION. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
T = THANKSGIVING. For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
S = SUPPLICATION.
a. Petition. Give us today this daily bread . . . Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
b. Intercession. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Amen means so let it be! It is an affirmation of the goodness and power of God who has heard and is acting upon the prayer offered with thanks giving!
© 2002 R. J. Krejcir Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.com