THE LORD’S PRAYER
Lord, teach us how to pray.
Read MATTHEW 6:5–15
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘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 today 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 the evil one.’
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“A Christian without prayer is just as impossible as a living person without a pulse” (Martin Luther, 1483–1546).
Some years ago, I taught a class for new believers, and we covered the Lord’s Prayer. I asked the group what made this prayer different from the prayers they offered to the deities they used to worship. One thing that stood out was the petition for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. These new believers confessed that they had always understood prayers to deities as presenting requests for their own material well-being and personal wishes. Prayers never purported to seek for the will of God to be done. This is what marks the significant difference in Christian prayer.
Jesus hits the nail on the head when he describes the way the religious leaders pray in public so that they would be seen by others. The motive of the prayers of the religious leaders is self-centered rather than God-centered. Jesus teaches us how we should pray. The Lord’s Prayer is what distinguishes us: we are to honor God in our prayers; we are to focus on doing his will; we are to pray against covetousness by asking for our daily bread. We are to pray for forgiveness just as we extend forgiveness to others; we are to guard ourselves so that we do not fall into temptation and do evil. In summary, if we take the Lord’s Prayer seriously, it is a prayer that shapes us and transforms us as we align ourselves to the values of the kingdom of heaven.
Have we ever wondered whether, by praying the Lord’s Prayer, the answer to seeing God’s will be done on earth actually lies in us? We should take seriously the way we live as citizens of this lower kingdom, because we might be the answer to God’s will being fulfilled on earth.
Have we listened to our prayers? How do they sound? Are they God-centered or self-centered? How then shall we pray?
Lord, cause an awareness to arise within us that we work with You to usher in Your forthcoming earthly kingdom.
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