9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Matthew 6:9-13
In Luke 11:1, we have the essentially the same prayer, but this time it is the disciples who asked Jesus to teach them to pray.
And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
In most bibles, this section of scripture is called the model prayer. Some of us have been taught to quote this prayer verbatim when we pray. The “Lord’s Prayer”, as it is called is a of safe, catch all prayer we can say when our mind goes blank and we don’t know what to pray — or a safe prayer we can make in public when we don’t want to offend anyone.
We have also been taught that the “Lord’s Prayer” is a formula: an outline for an effective prayer. It is said that this Jesus’ prayer a listing of the essential components which must be part of our prayer if we expect God to hear us. They say that if we fail to touch on each topic that Jesus mentioned, maybe our prayer won’t be acceptable to God.
I believe Jesus was saying something else entirely. He was correcting false ideas about prayer that were taught then and still taught to this day. Lets parse this
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. We pray to a God who is high and lifted up, holy and perfect: But He is our father. The is Abba – Daddy. He is in heaven, not the temple, the idol, the Kaaba. He is accessible to us through prayer.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. We are to pray in alignment with His will, Not ours. If we pray according to His will, He hears us. If He hears us, he answers our prayers.
Give us this day our daily bread. Are we to pray for riches? A Mercedes? A new home? Did Jesus pray for any of these things? Paul says we should be content with food and clothing. Each day we need a roof over our head, utilities, food, clothing. If we trust God for our needs today, we can trust Him tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. If we are behind on our bills and we pray for relief yet we insist that Allen pays you that 20 dollars I borrowed. We even threaten to take Allen to court! How can God answer our prayer if we don’t answer the prayers of others who are in debt to us?
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: This may be controversial so I will spend a bit more time on this topic. Do not pray to be tested, and tried. Do not pray as the old song says, “Lord, don’t move that mountain, but give me strength to climb.” Look at the example of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus prayed for the cup to be taken away. I know that this is not what actually happened, but allow me to speculate. Jesus gets down on his knees beside the boulder. He prays and prays and prays. He says, “Father, I know what we discussed. I understand your plan, what I have to do. But one thing: I forgot to ask, earlier. Is there another way to accomplish the reconciliation of humanity? If it is possible we can do this without the trial, the cross, and my death, I am open? But – and you know this – not my will but thine be done.”
Testing and trials will come. Count it all joy when you FALL into various temptations. No where are we instructed to ask for testing, trials. Instead, we are to ask God to deliver us from the evil one and his tricks, lies, tests, and snares.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Again as Jesus taught us, it is not our will but His will that that is, should be, and will be done. Amen.