Jesus said, “This, then, is how you are to pray:
Our Father, who is in the heavens,
may your Name be held in reverence;
may your kingdom come;
may your wishes come about on earth,
just as they do in heaven.
Give us this day the food we need to live on.
And forgive us the debts we owe,
just as we also forgive the debts others owe us.
And don’t bring us into testing,
but rather rescue us from the Evil One.”
— Matthew 6:9-13 (USC)
Just how are we to approach prayer?
Jesus answers this question in an elemental way. He gives the disciples a model for what and how they are to pray. The ‘how’ has already been handled. Now we are directed to the ‘what’.
These are the components of the disciple’s prayer:
1. Reverence: we are privileged to be able to speak to God who is so like us on the one hand (we’re made in the image of God) and so unlike us (God is holy) on the other. As we revere God we approach appropriately.
2. Kingdom: we are people of the Kingdom; subjects of the King. Our life and our existence only has hope from a Kingdom perspective. If the Kingdom never came our hope would vanish. But, as it is, no matter what happens to us, our best is still so wonderfully yet to come.
3. God’s Will: when we pray that things would be on earth as they are on heaven we pray that we, of ourselves, would both discern and desire God’s will in our own lives; as far as it depends on us.
4. Our Needs: several times in this chapter of Matthew the matters of prayer and God’s care of our needs are joined. God is patently aware of our needs. He knows we need food, water, shelter, clothing, etc. But he also knows we need other things. We can trust his provision, but we are blessed not to take it for granted by praying for it.
5. Forgiveness: here, as it’s reinforced elsewhere, our forgiveness is conditional on us forgiving others – “just as.” Forgiving others is an imperative as much as it’s obvious that we are forgiven. As much as we struggle to forgive will we struggle to accept having been forgiven. But as we forgive with copious grace, we experience the implicit grace of God that forgives totally in an instant.
6. Temptation (testing): it’s a wise Christian who knows and accepts the strength of temptation as being occasionally beyond him or her. Not all temptations and testing can we endure without failing and falling. That’s the difference between us and the incarnate Jesus.
7. Salvation: having been rescued once when we accepted Christ at our salvation we go on being rescued if we’re in right relationship with him. Once a Saviour, he’s always a Saviour.
The disciple’s prayer communicates love with reverence and seeks God’s Kingdom and his will. It requests our needs be met and for forgiveness for sin, as well as protection and deliverance from evil.
QUESTIONS in REVIEW:
1. The disciple’s prayer (a.k.a. the Lord’s Prayer) is so famous, yet we probably don’t use it enough as a model through which to pray. Why is that?
2. What elements of the disciple’s prayer do you think are missing?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr. Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.