In the first major teaching event delivered by Jesus Christ known as the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus set aside some time to teach those listening how to pray. In so doing, He provided his followers with a model prayer commonly referred to today as The Lord’s Prayer.
“This, then, is how you should pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV)
It is believed that Jesus did not intend for this prayer to be repeated word-for-word since just previous to offering this prayer, He stated that repetition was meaningless.
“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition.” Matthew 6:7 (NASB)
Instead, it is believed that the elements of the Lord’s Prayer were examples of the direction an individual prayer should take. Jesus demonstrated that prayer should start with worship and a reverence for the Father. He follows this with an expectation of the Father’s will being carried out by the establishment of His kingdom. The personal aspect of this prayer includes a request of God to help with basic needs of life and confession of misdeeds. In that same statement, there is also an expectation that prayer should include a personal promise to forgive those who have aggrieved us in some way. Finally, the Lord’s Prayer concludes with a request for protection from the evil that occupies our world.
The Lord’s Prayer is intended to demonstrate that prayer is a simple personal conversation with God and not a grand ostentatious spectacle designed to impress those listening. When we pray, we are to acknowledge God and worship Him, we are to demonstrate our trust and faith in Him, and we are to make our request known to Him as we confirm our dependency on Him. This is the simple model Jesus provided for us to follow.
Immediately after providing His followers with the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus emphasized the importance of forgiving those who harm you.
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)
Our ultimate goal is to be like Jesus. We are to pray like Jesus. We are to worship the Father like Jesus. We are to trust God like Jesus. And we are to forgive like Jesus. Amen.
Answer each question as though you were speaking privately to Jesus. Don’t just answer yes or no, explain your answer completely to yourself and to the Lord.
Do your prayers include worship and a reverence for God?
Do your prayers include an expectation that God’s will is being carried out?
Do your prayers include a request for God’s assistance?
Do your prayers include remorse for your misdeeds?
Have you forgiven those who have aggrieved you in some way?
Do you pray for those who have aggrieved you in some way?
Are you praying for God’s protection from the enemy?
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