In response to the inquiries of His disciples Jesus teaches them how to pray. He offers up a prayer model when He says to them, “Pray like this…”
Matthew 6:9-13 (nlt)
Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need for today, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
This isn’t meant to be a prayer to be memorized and mindlessly repeated. In fact, right before these verses Jesus tells us not to repeat the same prayer over and over like the heathen, who think they will be heard because of their much talking. It’s a model.
The prayer is broken down into a sequential order that will help Christ’s followers pray more effectively. 6 requests to God the Father are featured.
First 3 requests are about God:
1. May your name be holy,
2. May your kingdom come,
3. May your will be done
This structure addresses all parts of the Trinity; Father, Son & Holy Spirit. God the Father, whose name is holy; Jesus, who brought God’s Kingdom to earth; and The Holy Spirit, who leads us into God’s will today.
Next 3 requests are about Us:
1. Give us our daily food,
2. Forgive our sins,
3. Keep us from temptation, which rescues us from the evil one.
Again the Trinity is addressed in these petitions for God’s help. The Father supplies our needs, Jesus paid the price for our sins to be forgiven, and the Holy Spirit leads us away from temptation and into righteousness. The point?When we pray we should involve all three parts of God.
Another huge lesson here is to begin with God and then move to our needs. The first three requests are great. They are about God: His holiness, His Kingdom, and His will…huge, monumental topics. The second set of requests is small, ordinary, and everyday. They’re about us, normal, everyday people. We NEED food, we NEED forgiveness (and to give forgiveness) and we NEED God’s help with temptation and the devil everyday. “Lord help me not to fall into that old sin habit again today.“
There is such a huge truth hidden in these four little verses. We must first rehearse the immensity of God’s nature but then remember He cares for my little needs because of who He is. Pray that His name would be hallowed or revered in my life, that His Kingdom would dominate me, and that His will would be performed. If that happens, the three requests for my needs are easy.
Another truth revealed in the passage, is that we should begin praying about the eternal, the Kingdom stuff, and then turn our attention to our needs. Oh, let’s not be falsely religious, we’re not beggars, we’re His children, we need to pray for our needs. Jesus used the word Father so we wouldn’t be afraid to go to Him who loves us. My point is, let’s put God’s Kingdom first in our prayers, then our needs. Let’s focus on the eternal more, the temporary less.
In heaven with a holy name gives us the balanced view. Yes, He’s your daddy but please don’t forget He is also the Almighty One. The angels around the throne of God in heaven don’t cry love, love, love. They cry “holy, holy, holy!” That is His dominant characteristic. It is our job to make sure we reverence His name. His name, refers to who He is, His character, His personhood. Before anything else we pray, we need to declare His holiness in us and in the world. The beginning of the book Ephesians echos this process.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…v3
God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. v5
All the praise should go to The Father because He cared enough for us to save us. After we’ve hallowed His name (separated it as unique, lifted it above all others), prayed for His Kingdom and His will to come, then we can run to Him with our problems!
At some point, your whole life shrinks down to your problem. Financial pressure, “God I need bread!”…”Lord I messed up my life with sin!”…”Or God I’m overwhelmed with this struggle.” We try to focus on God but the sickness, death, relationship problem, abuse, sin or other worry pulls our attention back to what’s right in front of us. It’s not wrong to cast your cares to God, He tells us to but there is an additional prayer strategy here.
Draw your attention first, to the first three requests of the Lord’s Model Prayer. Lift your prayer up to heaven, to the glory of God, to the greatness of who He is. When we forget to start there, that’s when we lose our ability to stand in the face of our issue.
There is more strength, more forgiveness, and more provision in praying for God’s name would be made holy, that His Kingdom would come and that His will would be accomplished than any request for a specific situation we could pray. We need to do both, but let’s keep the order correct for the power to be released.
Before closing, I would like to change focus for a moment. It sticks out like a single tree in a vast, open field. Forgiveness is the only request that is listed conditionally. If we don’t forgive sins against us our sins won’t be forgiven. Later Jesus would explain that His shed blood purchases forgiveness for all. If we say we don’t want this person forgiven we say don’t apply the blood! If the blood isn’t applied to one, it’s not applied to any. Remember as you pray for forgiveness that you choose to forgive those that have hurt you. If we don’t, then we are putting ourselves on God’s throne and saying we want to be the their judge and that He never tolerates.
It is my prayer that this blog helped you to organize your prayer time and pray more effectively by following the pattern Jesus gave us. God Bless