The Model Prayer (2)
"Thy Will Be Done"
Since God knows what is best, it is best for His will to be done. We should deeply desire for His will to be done "on earth as it is in heaven." His will is perfectly done in heaven, and we should desire for it to be perfectly done on earth. We know it never will be, because the earth is populated by imperfect men. Just think, however, what a wonderful world it would be if everyone on earth carried out God's will.
It is only through doing God's will that men can enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 7:21). Of course, no one perfectly does God's will, but Christ has provided that we can be forgiven of our imperfections, so that it is as though we had carried out His will perfectly. When sins are forgiven, it is as though they had never happened.
Forgiveness, of course, is conditional (Acts 2:38; 8:22). The conditions include repentance. This means that in order to be forgiven of our sins, we must be determined to quit our sins. We cannot persist impenitently in violating God's will and be forgiven.
How inconsistent it is for men to pray for God's will to be done, yet make little effort to do God's will in our own lives. It is inconsistent, also, to pray for God's will to be done, yet fail to try to teach His will to others, If we really desire for God's will to be done, we will try to do it ourselves and to lead others to do it.
"Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread"
It is right to pray for our material needs. We are taught to pray about all things that concern us (Phil. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:7). It is wrong, however, to pray with a covetous spirit, seeking to use prayer as an avenue to gratify our greed, To do so is to "ask amiss" (Jas. 4:3). To ask for daily bread does not reflect such an attitude.
We are not to offer this prayer with the expectation that God will provide food for us apart from our own efforts. We are taught to work for what we have (1 Thess. 4:11-12; 2 Thess. 3:10). The point is, if we do what we are able to do for ourselves, God will help us obtain the necessities of life.
Here is an illustration of the principle that God helps those who help themselves. If a man prays for food while making little effort to get a job, just hoping for a handout, his prayer is vain.
When times are hard and our outlook is bleak, we can pray to God while doing all that we can for ourselves, and trust Him to provide the help we need. Such trust in God brings comfort in the worst of times.
"Forgive Us Our Debts"
We owe God complete obedience. When we fail to obey (sin), we have failed to pay what we owe. We have made a debt we can never repay.
But our situation is not hopeless, for God is a merciful creditor Who is willing to forgive the debt. Forgiveness was made possible through the blood of Christ (Matt. 26:28; 1 Jn. 1:7). When we are forgiven, it is as though we had paid Him all we owed - as though we had given Him perfect obedience.
In the model prayer, Jesus taught His disciples to pray for forgiveness. This teaching is applicable only to God's children - those who can address Him as our Father. Those who are not in God's family must meet other conditions to be forgiven of their sins (Acts 2:38). Upon doing so, they become God's children (Gal. 3:26-27) with the privilege of praying for forgiveness when they sin.
Prayer for forgiveness must come from a repentant heart (Acts 8:22). One who prays for forgiveness, but has no intention of quitting his sin, cannot be forgiven.
Moreover, Jesus makes it clear that God will not forgive Our sins if we are unwilling to forgive those who sin against us. To forgive them is to regard them as no longer guilty. As God's forgiveness is conditioned on repentance, our forgiveness of those who sin against us is conditioned on repentance (Lk. 17:4; Eph. 4:32). We must love them before they repent, but we must continue to recognize their guilt until they have repented.
We do not deserve forgiveness; we deserve punishment. Let us ever praise God for His marvelous grace.
"Lead Us Not Into Temptation, But Deliver Us From Evil"
Recognizing our weakness and our susceptibility to temptation, we should pray that as God providentially intervenes in our lives, He will lead us so as to help us avoid temptation. It is obviously not God's will to keep us from ever being tempted, but we trust that He will help us avoid temptations to whatever degree His wisdom will allow, preventing us from being overwhelmed by them. Through thus shielding us, He will deliver us from evil.
Praying for God to help keep us from being overwhelmed by temptations is like asking for our daily bread. We must do what we can to help ourselves. It is inconsistent for one to pray to be kept from temptation, and then deliberately and unnecessarily put himself into a position in which he will be tempted.
Inasmuch as temptation begins with lust (Jas. 1:14), we can help ourselves by avoiding activities which stir up our lusts (2 Tim. 2:22). For example, to pray for help in avoiding temptations, yet engage in lustful dancing or view provocative movies or TV shows is grossly inconsistent.
It is noteworthy that most of the requests in this model prayer are spiritual in nature. Inasmuch as prayer is an expression what is on our minds, is this not a pretty good indication of the kind of concerns that should weigh heaviest on our minds?
Guardian of Truth XXX: 24, pp. 742-743