Prayer is a common struggle for Christians. There have been hundreds of thousands of study guides, devotionals, research papers, and philosophical books written on the topic. A quick search on Amazon reveals over fifty thousand materials on prayer.
Christians often make the mistake of over-complicating virtually everything when it comes to our beliefs, and while there are some complex things in the Bible, prayer does not have to be one of them.
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ gave us instructions on how to pray in both the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
For the sake of time, I am going to delve into Matthew, specifically chapter 6, where Christ gives a model for prayer broken into five points in what has become known as the Lord’s Prayer. I previously wrote a devotional on this topic, but today I want to go into more details and expand on what I said before.
9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
The first words Christ models for us is, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” This is an acknowledgement that we, as His followers, can come before God without permission from a third party. This is something Christianity did that is revolutionary. As opposed to coming to a pantheon of gods to ask for individual things or going through a human avatar to make a petition on your behalf, Christians can go before God directly.
Now “hallowed be your name” is an acknowledgement of God’s holiness. We can come before Him, but with a reverence towards His righteousness. Cast off your foolish pride before speaking with God.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” is a call to recognize God’s sovereignty. As Christians, we should seek first the Kingdom of Heaven, as Matthew 6:33 states, this is a call to live a pure life and in order to spread the message of the Gospel.
“Give us this day our daily bread,” here Christ is explaining that we can pray for our day-to-day life. It is not about seeking fame, glory, or riches, but living a life according to the Bible. God does care about our lives. That does not make us immune to realities of living in a fallen world, but it does give us hope that God is watching over us and cares about us.
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors,” it is all about forgiveness, right? God forgives us despite the fact that humanity does not deserve it. It is your Christianity duty to forgive people, especially when they do not deserve it. You are not awarding their bad behavior, nor are you saying you trust them. You are saying they will not get free space in your mind or allow you to become bitter. Should they change, you will accept the new person that they have become.
The last point, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” We cannot fight evil in this world alone, nor can we accept it. Instead, we pray that we have the faithfulness to come out on the other side still holding onto the hope of the Gospel. Will it be difficult? Is life hard? At times, yes, but we have hope that God will deliver us.
In my experience, complication only makes the faithful pull away from prayer. It becomes an idle thing that you can mark off your “daily Christian checklist,” but it is so much more than that. It is a simple yet profound way to draw closer to God.
In an interview with Bible Gateway, Christian scholar Richard Albert Mohler Jr. said, “Christians tend to fall into very predictable and comfortable patterns of prayer. I can remember the first time as a teenager I arrived at a destination familiar to me and realized I really didn’t remember the process of driving in order to get there. It was a fairly scary thought and one that I think relates directly to the experience many Christians have in prayer. If we can’t remember something significant about the prayer we’ve just prayed, then something’s wrong. The Lord’s Prayer gives us an outline of how Jesus taught his own disciples to pray. Prayer is active and dynamic—a conversation with our Creator.”
In my opinion, I do not think Christ was telling us to recite this exact prayer (though at times it helps) but providing us with an example of how we can approach God in a humble way. It is a revolutionary idea that we can approach the throne of God without permission from a third party, because we were provided that path through Jesus’ sacrifice.
What do you think? How does the Lord’s Prayer help you? Let me know in the comments below. While you are at it, check out my post on how Billy Graham’s life inspired me. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.
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*All scriptures are taken from the English Standard Version.
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Very well said.
May I add for the benefit of the politically correct the first words are that Jehovah is our father. There is no mention of Him being our mother.