Certainly, the believer who has taken the time to sit down and study the Lord’s Prayer has been blessed in the process. While we will be focusing on the Lord’s Prayer as it has been recorded in the book of Matthew, it can also be seen in Luke 11. In Luke 11, it is amazing to see that the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. They could have asked anything, but that was the request.
The situation in which the disciples asked Jesus this question was actually during a time when Jesus had been praying. You can almost see what was taking place. The disciples must have been astonished at the way in which Christ prayed.
Surely, the disciples would have been very familiar with prayer. They would have been to the temple many times before, as well as synagogues. Prayer played a major role in the life of the Jew.
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, they were not asking because they did not know what prayer was. They were not asking because they had never seen anyone pray or because they had never been taught to pray prior this time. They were asking because they saw Jesus pray and wanted to pray like Christ.
There was a uniqueness to the prayers of Jesus that can only be appreciated rather than duplicated in an absolute sense. When someone prays to God, he is talking to God. In the case of Christ, it must have been absolutely evident that He entered into the presence of His Father and was communing with Him.
It is when the disciples witnessed the uniqueness of Christs’ prayers, the intimacy Christ had with His Father, and the assurance in Christ’s voice that the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray.
Jesus gives us the Lord’s Prayer as the greatest guide to a God-honoring life of prayer. Let’s take a look at the instruction of Christ on prayer.
Father in heaven
At the outset, Jesus says, “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven…”(KJV, Matt. 6:9). Jesus starts His instruction with stating that the Father is the recipient of prayer.
When Jesus went away into desolate places to pray, He prayed to the Father. Here we see that the Christian is to look to God as his Father and pray to the Father. It must be noted that the Christian can pray to Christ and the Holy Spirit, as well. However, we see that a Christian’s normal prayer life is one in which he is directing his prayers to his Father in heaven.
Second, we can see the disposition in which the Christian must approach prayer. The right heart attitude must prevail in prayer. The Christian must recognize that he is in a relationship with the Father and that he is a child of God. Approaching God in this way will set the tone for proper prayer.
Hallowed be thy name
The next few areas of instruction are vastly important. So often, people can turn prayer into a list of requests that misses the mark for vibrant prayer. Simply rattling off a large number of requests does not mean that someone is entering into prayer and prevailing in prayer.
Christ started His instruction with a recognition of God in heaven. However, He did not move swiftly into the requests of man. His first plea was that God’s glory would be upheld. Jesus tells us that we must be praying that God’s name would be hallowed among His creation. This means to pray that God would be adored, esteemed, and revered, and that His name would ultimately be seen as holy. God’s name being hallowed also means that God’s name would be sanctified or set apart. In a biblical sense, that which is set apart is sacred, unique, and special.
Thy kingdom come
Jesus moves from the name of God being hallowed to His kingdom coming to earth. Still we see that Jesus has not yet gotten to the normal requests of man. Prayer should start with a recognition of God that is permeated with a desire for God’s glory to be upheld. In other words, the greatest desire of man should be that God would have His way and that God would be glorified.
Man is quick to pass by these matters and move to prayers for self and for others. Nevertheless, we see in Jesus’ words a strong desire that God’s kingdom would come. God is a King, and thus, He has a kingdom. When someone advances his kingdom, he begins to rule in new areas and everyone is placed in subjection under him. We should pray that God’s kingdom would come in this way.
This brings us to our next request.
Thy will be done
The heart of man should be saturated with a desire that God’s will would be done. Scripture says, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). When the Bible speaks of God’s will, it speaks of the will of God in a number of different ways.
In the verse at hand, it can be seen that Jesus was instructing His listeners that they should pray that God’s desires and commands would be upheld. Simply put, the prayer of man should be that he and others would live lives pleasing in God’s sight.
When someone is living in the will of God, he is pleasing in the sight of God. Jesus said, “And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29). Everything that Jesus did pleased the Father, and thus, everything that Jesus did was according to the Father’s will.
Now we come to the requests for man. The first request can be seen as encompassing physical requests. Here we see that it is okay to pray for the basic needs of life. The Christian need not stop after he is done praying for food. However, food was the basic need that Jesus chose to focus upon in the Lord’s Prayer.
God has created man in such a way that man must eat to survive. There is no getting around this fact. Thus, man should also turn to His Father Who is in heaven and pray that God would continue to supply him with food, as well as other basic needs of life.
Next, Jesus turns to another basic need. While bread is a physical need, forgiveness is a relational need. We see that Jesus said, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matt. 6:12). The only way for man to be in a Christ-like relationship with God and others is for forgiveness to be found in that relationship.
The fact of the matter is that, ever since the fall of man, sin has damaged every relationship that there has ever been, including man’s relationship with God. The only way not to allow sin to absolutely sever a relationship is for forgiveness to triumph in the midst of that relationship. This is true with man’s relationships with others and man’s relationship with God.
Thus, man must continue to commit the matter to prayer.
Finally, Jesus instructs the Christian to pray that God would not lead him into temptation. Here we see a spiritual need. Man must not sin – this is a spiritual need. Man must be guarded from temptation – this is a spiritual need.
Therefore, the logical conclusion is that man must pray about these matters. The growth of a Christian will be greatly connected to his prayer life. In actuality, this is a deeper truth than man could ever know. God answers prayers and desires that man would walk with Him. Man must be praying that God would not lead him into temptation, but instead that God would deliver him from evil.
God is a gracious God Who loves to take care of His children. He will answer the prayers of those who turn to Him in faith.
Father, I pray that Your name would be hallowed in all the earth, that Your kingdom would come, and that Your will would be done in my life, as well as throughout the land. Teach me to pray so that I might honor You in my times of prayer. In Jesus’ name, Amen.