(In this article, the Lord’s Prayer is quoted from Matthew 6:9-13 KJV).
The disciples came to Christ in Luke 11 requesting: “Lord, teach us to pray.” The greatest prayer ever written has become known as the “Lord’s Prayer” and is a pattern of which to follow. What a wonderful blessing to learn from the Son of God himself how to pray. This model prayer contains many elements that will enable people to pray effectually as they open their hearts in sincerity and love, pour out their devotion, and make their requests to God. “After this manner therefore pray ye….”
“Our Father”—Personal relationship. The opening of the prayer exemplifies the beautiful relationship that should exist between God and mankind. It expresses confidence in God as our father and in the love that we have as His children. We are adopted children of the King. “Our” is plural and implies unity and acceptance that God is also the Father of other children, our spiritual brothers and sisters.
“which art in heaven,”—Faith/Recognition. A fixed knowledge and assurance of God’s omnipresence and omniscience. We believe in and know to whom we pray.
“Hallowed be thy name.”—Adoration/Exaltation/Worship. Hallowed means sanctified, set apart for an office. Prayer is a time to honor and reverence God and to acknowledge with our hearts, thoughts, and words His divine, holy nature and position in our lives. Prayer does not start with a request but with worship of God’s holy name.
“Thy kingdom come.”—Anticipation/Expectation. This entreaty petitions God with expectation for guidance and for His presence. It is a longing for God’s complete rule and oversight in our lives and that the power of Satan be broken. “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17). Christ’s kingdom is a spiritual kingdom that exists within an individual.
“Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”—Submission/Consecration. God’s will is absolute in Heaven yet is only carried out in our mortal, fleshly bodies as we submit our will and plans into His hands. As Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, “Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” An aspect of prayer is surrender of all that we are and all that we possess to God’s exclusive use.
“Give us this day our daily bread.”—Petition/Supplication. After worship and submission, we are in a condition to seek God for the necessities of life. We request of God all things that pertain to life and godliness that we might fulfill His will in our lives. This encompasses not only the physical bread but also the spiritual graces needed to help us grow and be strong in our weakness.
“And forgive us our debts”— Confession/Intercession. We do not deserve God’s forgiveness, but He is willing and ready to forgive us not only of sin but also for our mistakes and failures. It is vital to examine ourselves and to acknowledge our own spiritual shortcomings in humility. A prayer of forgiveness can be prayed corporately, as when Daniel interceded for Israel in asking for God’s forgiveness.
“as we forgive our debtors.”—Compassion/Forgiveness. God is only willing to forgive us as we have mercy and compassion on those that trespass against us. Seeking God’s help in our relationship with others is vital to our relationship with God.
“And lead us not into temptation,”— Guidance. Temptations and spiritual dangers are real. If we follow God’s leadership, we will be tempted, but we do not have to enter into the temptation and commit sin. Seeking and obeying God’s guidance will keep us from much trouble.
“but deliver us from evil:”—Protection/Dependence. The power to overcome is not in our own strength but in the power of God. He will protect us from the wiles and snares of the enemy if we stay dependent upon Him for our help.
“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,”—Acknowledgment. We are weak and insufficient creatures but in Christ we are strong and able to live acceptably before God. All power and glory rests with no other than God Himself, for He is the giver of all good things. The prayer begins to conclude with faith, humility, reverence, and worship to the creator.
“for ever.”—Timelessness. Of God’s kingdom, mercy, and love, there is no end.
“Amen.”—Affirmation. So be it. Let it be so.
Prayer is key to a relationship with God; Jesus gave a blueprint of how to pray acceptably to the Father in a less-than-30-second prayer. It was not long and tedious but a heartfelt expression of love and worship while entreating God for the needs of life. How different this powerful prayer prayed is from many of the unintelligible and haughty prayers that are prayed in so many homes and congregations in our world. Prayer is our lifeline to God and is of utmost importance in a Christian’s experience. This prayer can be prayed as written when spoken from the heart, or the elements of it can be incorporated into our daily prayers to our Heavenly Father. Lord, teach us to pray…. ■