By Joe R. Price
It is often called “The Lord’s Prayer” because it was spoken by Jesus. But, a more appropriate description would be “The Model Prayer,” since it was spoken by Jesus to his disciples upon their request to “teach us to pray” (Lk.1 l : l ff). The model set forth by Jesus is as follows:
Our Father who art in heaven. Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, soon earth. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen (Matt. 6:9-13).
J.W. McGarvey called this prayer “a model of matter, arrangements and expression.” The German theologian Helmut Thielicke described it as “great things and small things; spiritual things and material things; inward things and out-ward things there is nothing that is not included in this prayer.” Truly, this prayer is a model of sincerity, simplicity and faith.
A Blueprint For Prayer
The importance of this prayer is found in the words which directly precede it in Matthew’s account: “After this manner therefore pray ye” (Matt. 6:9a). Jesus has put us under commandment to learn to pray from this blueprint he left us. By emulating this prayer when we pray, we will be communicating with God in the most effective way possible. People pray in all sorts of ways. We can have confidence that our prayers are honorable and honored by our heavenly Father when we pray to him in the Christ-approved way. Consider a brief outline of this prayer which may help us increase our understanding of how to pattern our prayers after this Model Prayer.
1. First, we should know that prayer is a matter of invoking God’s hearing and help (v. 9b). So, Jesus says to acknowledge this when we pray “Our Father.” It is the Christian who is blessed with this unique relationship with God. God has bestowed upon us his love that we should be called his children (1 Jn. 3:1-2; Jn. 1:12). Prayer is given to God’s children to talk with their Heavenly Father! Our prayers must always give honor to God as our Provider, Protector and Sustainer (2 Cor. 6:18).
2. It is equally needful to exhibit reverent regard for our Heavenly Father “Who art in heaven” (v. 9b). While we (as the children of God) love him, we must never be irreverent toward him. “… God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few” (Eccl. 5:2). As someone has said: “The familiarity of love must not forget the reverence due to holiness.”
Once we have invoked God’s hearing and help in our prayers, our attention should be given to petitioning God about himself and man’s response to him (v. 9c-10). Specifically.
a. That God’s name be hallowed (treated as holy): Hallowed be thy name. The glory of God should be in view when we pray. Not only should we acknowledge his holiness (Rev. 4:8), we should also pray that all men everywhere may revere him. “And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee” (Psa.9:10).
b. That God’s kingdom come: Thy kingdom come. This element of prayer anticipates as well as announces the rule of God in the lives of men. God’s kingdom has come (Mk. 1:15; 9:1; Lk. 24:49; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4), and is identified as Christ’s church. Yet. there are billions who have not subjected them-selves to the rule which God exercises through his Son. That the lost might obey the rule of God in their lives must be our constant prayer.
c. That God’s will be done: Thy will be done. God’s children long for the purposes of God to be fully realized in every corner of this universe! As God’s will is done in heaven (completely, cheerfully and immediately), it is our prayer that things may be soon earth. We help matters when we conform ourselves to the will of God (Matt. 26:39; 9:36-38; Rom. 12:2).
4. We should petition God about ourselves (vv. 11-13):
a. Our physical provisions Give us this day our daily bread. The things needful for life come from God (Matt. 6:31-32).
b. Our need for pardon Forgive us our debts. We can never pay the debt we owe God due to our sin (Matt. 18:21-27). We must seek his mercy while understanding that our forgiveness is related to our own mercifulness (Matt. 18:28-35).
c. Our protection Bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (Matt. 26:41; 1 Cor. 10:13). We must be sober and watchful as we pray for strength and wisdom to withstand temptations (Eph. 6:18; 1 Pet. 5:8).
5. We should approach God with adoration (v. 13). Our prayers must pay homage to the majesty and grandeur of God. Sovereign rule, might, and honor belong to him (Rev. 4:10-11). A recognition of the position and attributes of God always has a place in the prayers which we lay before him.
Jesus teaches us sincerity, simplicity and faith through this “Model Prayer.” As we pray, let us remember this order: God, others and ourselves. Prayer is powerful when prayed to the All-Powerful God (v. 15) who is “our Father who art in heaven.”
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: No 19, p. 22
October 7, 1993