I want to share with you what Warren Wiersbe writes about “The Lord’s Prayer”:
“This prayer is known familiarly as ‘The Lord’s Prayer,’ but ‘The Disciple’s Prayer’ would be a more accurate title. Jesus did not give this prayer to us to be memorized and recited a given number of times. In fact, He gave this prayer to keep us from using vain repetitions. Jesus did not say, ‘Pray in these words.’ He said, ‘Pray after this manner’; that is, ‘Use this prayer as a pattern, not as a substitute.’”
Some of you may be mad right about now, but let’s go to Scripture, shall we?
“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, 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 this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:5-15)
In the context of the eleven verses it is abundantly clear Jesus was giving us a pattern for prayer, so what is that pattern? There are six petitions we are to bring before God; three for God and His Glory and three for our needs:
1. Jesus puts it best a few verses later in Matthew 6:33 — “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” This is a method for prayer because too often we do not prayer in this manner. We start our prayers out with our personal petitions. Praying first that God’s name be glorified through our lives as the starting point.
2. As American Christians we’ve spent the last century praying that America would be restored to its greatness. How about we start praying God be restored to the throne rooms of our hearts? Let’s pray for God’s kingdom to come rather than America to return to its greatness. The latter would surely follow the former, would it not?
3. When I pray I want my will to be done in my life and I need God to endorse the request and sign the check. Funny, I’ve never received any of those requests back from God. Must’ve got lost in the heavenly mail system. God’s will be done, His kingdom come, His name be hallowed on earth as it is in heaven. Not Dave’s will, not Dave’s idea of a earthly kingdom, and not Dave’s pathetic pattern of hallowing the Heavenly Father’s name.
4. Oh good, now the part where I pray for me! Give me my daily bread; I don’t even know what that means most days. Our old friend Matthew Henry explains it best:
We ask for bread; that teaches us sobriety and temperance; and we ask only for bread; not for what we do not need. We ask for our bread; that teaches us honesty and industry; we do not ask for the bread of others, nor the bread of deceit, Proverbs 20:17; nor the bread of idleness, Proverbs 31:27, but the bread honestly gotten. We ask for our daily bread; which teaches us constantly to depend upon Divine Providence. We beg God to give it us; not sell it us, nor lend it us, but give it. The greatest of men must be beholden to the mercy of God for their daily bread. We pray, Give it to us. This teaches us a compassion for the poor. Also, that we ought to pray with our families. We pray that God would give it us this day; which teaches us to renew the desires of our souls toward God, as the wants of our bodies are renewed. As the day comes we must pray to our heavenly Father, and reckon we could as well go a day without food, as without prayer.
If ever I have prayed like that for my daily bread I do not remember. Learning to pray heavenly prayers is getting tougher as I go.
5. What debts is Jesus talking about? He is talking about my sins, not my credit cards. I should loathe my sin; I should never come to grips with it, embrace as just part of my fallen nature. I should hate my sin and I should seek mercy always. And if I would seek mercy then I must give it. Who has sinned against you? Are you holding a grudge? I want you to write down the offense of that person and then burn the paper. Literally! Do it after you get done reading this. We must seek mercy and give mercy if we are to live a Christlike life.
6. And if I truly loathe my sin then I would ask the Father daily to protect me from myself, the devil and others when it comes to temptation. I am asking God to guide my daily steps so that I do not get myself into tempting situations.
And I ask these six things because God’s kingdom and His power and His glory shall reign forever. And if I will live my life, if I will begin my morning meditation and prayer time in this method seeking the matters of God, then will I be living the disciple’s life.
This model prayer, this disciple’s prayer, is what Matthew Henry described as “the matter and method of [our] prayer” given to us by Christ.
Praying for our nation is a good thing but let us pray that we become a nation that hallows God’s name, that seeks a government that is obedient to God’s laws, and that we as a people do the will of the Father who is in heaven.
Praying for our needs is a good thing, even though God knows what we need even before we ask. Bringing our needs to God is a sign of trusting Him to bring the outcome of whatever we are facing to His will, not ours.
Learning to forgive others as the Lord forgives us molds our hearts to one of mercy and compassion.
I cannot think of anything more needed from the church today towards the world than mercy and compassion.
Too often we strut around and want to be seen by others by how holy, or theologically and doctrinally sound we are, or what we are “doing for the Lord.”
That does not please our Lord. More on that tomorrow.
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Copyright © 2011 David Jeffers