Praying Through the Bible #123
TEXT: Matthew 6:9-13
In the first seven messages in this series, we have looked at seven principles or instructions that Jesus gave regarding prayer. Those seven instructions on prayer, which came in the midst of a message regarding hypocrisy in doing good deeds and in fasting, lay the groundwork for the next thing Jesus shares — and that is what is commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer.”
So, first Jesus taught by instruction, and now He is teaching by example — by actually showing us what to do.
Strictly speaking, this prayer should actually be called “The Disciples’ Prayer,” as it was not a prayer Jesus himself prayed. For example, Jesus Christ would have no need to ask for forgiveness of sins in His own prayers. He said that for our sakes.
Today, we are going to look at the value of this prayer as a model prayer. Jesus Christ said, “after this manner therefore pray ye.” The word “manner” means pattern or guide. Jesus is laying out the framework of prayer for the Christian. We can look at this prayer as a structure upon which we can build our own prayers. There is nothing wrong with praying this prayer as you see fit, however it was not intended to be a prayer that we recite ritualistically. Nor is it intended to be the only prayer that we pray.
Charles Spurgeon said, “It seems to me that Christ gave [the Lord’s Prayer] as a model, whereby we are to fashion all our prayers, and I think we may use it to edification, and with great sincerity and earnestness, at certain times and seasons.”
There are two components to the value of this prayer as a model for all our other prayers.
1. The size or length of the prayer. Jesus did not give us a long prayer to pray nor did He give us a series of statements to repeat over and over again. It only takes a minute to prayer the Lord’s prayer itself. The length of this prayer is in keeping with Jesus’ instructions in previous verses to not use vain repetitions or mindless utterings in our prayers. Brother Lawrence wrote about the value of praying short prayers, and one of the benefits to praying short prayers is that it keeps our minds from wandering to other topics.
2. The second component of the Lord’s prayer is the structure of the prayer. When we look closely, we see a pattern in how Jesus organizes the model prayer.
First, we are to praise and recognize God. “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”
Second, we are to put God’s will before ours. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
Third, we are to ask for our daily needs. “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Fourth, we are to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness of sin. “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
Fifth, we are to ask God to deliver us from temptation and sin. “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Sixth, we praise and recognize God’s glory once again. “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”
All of our prayers can be modeled around this basic, six-point pattern. At times, it may appear to be too simplistic, but it is not. D.A. Carson said, “The words of Christ, like the works of God, are inexhaustible. Their depth is concealed beneath an apparent simplicity which the child and the savage can understand. But as we gaze upon them and try to fathom all their meaning, they open as the skies above us do when we look steadily into their blue chambers, or as the sea at our feet does when we bend over to pierce its clear obscure. The poorest and weakest learns from them the lesson of divine love and a mighty helper; the reverent, loving contemplation of the profoundest souls, and the experience of all the ages discern ever new depths in them and feel that much remains unlearned. This is especially true about the Lord’s Prayer. We teach it to our children, and its divine simplicity becomes their lisping tongues and little folded hands. But the more we ponder it, and try to make it the model of our prayers, the more wonderful does its fulness of meaning appear, the more hard does it become to pray ‘after this manner.’ There is everything in it: the loftiest revelation of God in His relations to us and in His purposes with the world; the setting forth of all our relations to Him, to His purposes, and to one another; the grandest vision of the future for mankind; the care for the smallest wants of each day.
When Jesus says, “in this manner therefore pray ye,” He is speaking in the present imperative tense. This is a command calling for us to make prayer the habit of our lives. Prayer is not to be an occasional occurrence in our lives, but a lifestyle. It is sometimes a difficult task, but by following the example of Jesus Christ, we can be successful and consistent in our prayer life.