There was a time when Jesus’ disciples came to him with a request, “Lord, teach us to pray.” In response, Jesus taught them. You have the prayer that he used as he was teaching them as recorded in Matthew 6:
Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:9–13 ESV).
Notice that Jesus was teaching His disciples how to pray, not what to pray. Some have thought that, since Jesus used these words, that we should repeat the same prayer. However, if one looks beyond the words to what Jesus was teaching about prayer, there is a lot to be learned. Let’s take a look.
The first three statements teach us about (1) who we are to be praying to, including proper reverence for Him, (2) the importance of His kingdom and (3) the importance of His will. First, we need to understand that the One we pray to is God, Our Father. Jesus never authorized prayers to His mother, saints or anyone else. The kingdom is so important to God that he gave us prophecies about it in the Old Testament, Jesus talked about it often while he was on earth and it was established shortly thereafter. And “Your will be done” are the words expected from every Christian.
The second three statements show us that God wants us to pray concerning the important things in our lives. They include (1) the basic needs of life, i.e. our daily bread, (2) forgiveness for ourselves and others and (3) support in living the Christian life.
What a beautiful set of instructions on prayer. Each of us would be well served to consider the lessons found in these words. You may want to ask yourself, “Do my prayers reflect the important things that Jesus taught me to pray for or are my prayers more of a checklist of things I want God to do for me?
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