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Q Can you explain the Lord's prayer to me? 

 
 
A Let me begin by first covering the Lord’s prayer in its context. You might want to refer to the prayer in your Bible—Matt. 6:9-13. Then I will show you how I use it in my own prayer life.

The Lord’s prayer is a much misused teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, it is frequently used almost in the manner of the practices it was meant to correct. It starts in Matt. 6:9 with words that show a clear contrast with the wrong practices of the Pharisees and the heathen that He had just discussed (Matt. 6:1-8). He says “Therefore, pray this way...” (v. 9). The ‘therefore’ connects what He is about to say with what He said before, in other words, contrasting the right type of prayer with the wrong. When He says “pray this way” or “in this manner,” He is giving us a model prayer. For that reason, most Bible teachers would like to see this called “The Lord’s Model Prayer.” It is a pattern for us to go by—not a liturgical prayer to be mindlessly recited. When it is rattled off like a half-hearted school assignment, it has no meaning. In fact, it was not intended to be recited at all. 

“Our Father who is in Heaven” is an indication of a relationship. God (the Father) hears the prayers of His children. If you are not sure of your relationship with God, see “How To Know You Are Going To Heaven” on my web site. The only way to be in God’s family is through trusting Jesus Christ as our savior from sin. When we have depended on Him for eternal life we are adopted into God’s family and have an open line, so to speak, to pray to Him for all the types of things in this prayer.

Our prayers should start by praising God. The words “hallowed be your Name” are the expression of a believer’s fondest wish: to glorify God. This is pure and simple worship—recognizing how great God is and how much He has done for us. We can certainly spend much time in celebrating the goodness of God’s name. It doesn’t have to be as short as this phrase. A name in Scripture is representative of the person’s character. When we praise the Lord we are hallowing His Name.

Our prayers ought to be concerned with God’s priorities. Jesus’ example was “may Your kingdom come.” God’s children look forward to that day when the earth will be ruled by the Lord Jesus Christ—thus the last prayer in the Bible is “Even so, come Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). We should also be concerned for His will on earth now, “May your will be done on earth, just as it is in heaven.” Our primary focus must be God’s will, not our needs and desires (although He is going to get to that next!). 

In v. 8, Jesus points out that God knows our needs even before we ask. Here He is suggesting we pray “give us today our daily bread” (symbolic of all our needs) in order to acknowledge our dependence on our heavenly Father. In America,  we too often trust in own devices to supply our needs. Whether physical, emotional or spiritual needs, God will supply on a daily basis what His children need.

When Jesus taught us to pray “Forgive us our debts [sins] as we have forgiven our debtors [those who have sinned against us],” it was, of course, before He was crucified. At that time, a child of God could ask to be forgiven of sin. Now, after His crucifixion, since the debt of sin has been paid for the child of God, we confess our sins (1 John 1:9). When we confess, we agree with God that an action was a sin against Him. Then, He is faithful and just to forgive our sin. Nowhere in the New Testament after Jesus’ crucifixion is a Christian told to ask for forgiveness. But the comparable prayer today would be to confess our sins. We can only be holy in our daily lives by confessing our sin.

Lastly, in “Do not lead us [allow us to be led] into temptation, but deliver us from evil”, we are to pray for protection from Satan’s attempts to deceive and distract us. The Devil wants to smear God’s Name and frustrate His work in the world by causing us to fall. So we pray that God will alert us to the wiles of the Devil and give us the strength to withstand. Of course, we often willingly go looking for temptation, but God does protect His children who sincerely strive to live holy lives. 

He ends with a wonderful benediction concerning what should be the focus of all our prayer—God’s everlasting glory.

I try to use this pattern or model in my prayer life. The order is not important, but the elements are. I start by praising and thanking God for all He is and does for me, I confess my sins, I pray for His will to be done in my life and the lives of other people, I pray for my physical and spiritual needs, and the needs of others, and I pray for protection from the evil one. 

 

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