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 Matthew 6:9 Jesus said “In this manner, therefore, pray.” What followed has become known as “Lord’s prayer” and it gives legalistic model for all prayer. It teaches that right prayer begins with worship; puts the interest of the kingdom before merely personal interest; accepts beforehand the Father’s will, whether to grant or withhold; and petitions for present need, leaving the future to the Father’s care and love.
The Jewish masters used to give their followers some short form of prayer, as a peculiar badge of their relation to them. This it is probable John the Baptist had done. And in this sense it seems to be that the disciples now asked Jesus, to teach them to pray. Accordingly he here repeats that form, which he had before given them in his sermon on the mount.
Theologically speaking, the so-called Lord’s prayer falls under the dispensation of the law rather than that of grace. That is to say it was not a model for the church as it is a prayer in the name of Christ. It makes human forgiveness, as under the law it must, the condition of divine forgiveness; an order which grace exactly reverses (cf) Eph 4:32.
We ought to remember that Jesus did not pray this “model prayer” that he gave to His disciples. This “model prayer” is an outline or pattern that He gave to His disciples as a teaching tool for them to learn how to pray. It is interesting to notice that there are seven specific points in Jesus’ model prayer as listed in Matthew 6:9-13 (NKJV): “In this manner, therefore, pray: 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 forgive our debtors.
- And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.
- For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
Of course, Jesus did not say that these are the exact words that we should use and repeat over and over and over again. It was only an outline. Today I took some time to think about each phrase, to meditate upon them and to expand upon each phrase. What follows is my own prayer, inspired by the Rabbi Jesus, but written the day after Thanksgiving 2012.
We pray, “Dear Father who art in Heaven….” but we enjoy the delights of living in this world, we fear heaven more then we fear hell. Are we so deceived, beguiled, and hoodwinked that we don’t know one from the other? Forgive us.
We say, “Hallowed be your name…” but we do not know your name. If we did, it certainly would not remain Holy on the lips of men for long. We say, “your will to be done…” but do we care to know your will? Do we make any effort in this regard? Do we even give the Most High a second thought as we go about our business, as we disrespect ourselves and everyone else? Are we like Satan? Do we walk the Earth accusing everyone we see, blaming others and seeking our own petty validation. Are we that selfish, that full of vanity? Yes. Yes, we are. Forgive us.
We pray for “OUR daily bread….” but we are ungrateful for what we have. We want what we can’t have, and what we do have, we no longer want. Like a spoil child our heart if full of evil. We desire, we crave, we covet, we cling, we lust. We hold our own opinions in high-esteem and think everyone else is stupid. We quarrel, we fight, we feed our ego. This is the only daily bread we really care about. Forgive us.
We say, “lead us not into temptation…” but run to it. We cherish our sin. It is our refuge, our defense against the world. We take pride in our crimes, our cleverness, and ruthlessness. We avoid responsibility by asking for protection from the Evil one, when a greater devil lives inside us. We claim to believe in Satan, but it is you we deny. Forgive us.
We pray, “your Kingdom come…” but it is our ego that sits on the thrown. It is our pride that holds the staff and our fear that hold the rod. We claim to believe in heaven, but the prospect of eternal life scares us more then the fires of hell. We are ignorant, we are unworthy, we are fools. Forgive us.
We know you do forgive us. Thank you!
We know all things work together for our good. Thank you!
We know you have prepared a place for us in heaven. Thank you!
Make us aware of your forgiveness–this is our prayer.
Make us aware of your mercy, your grace, your goodness.
Then we can pray, “Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven….”
Make us able to unlearn…. so we may worship in spirit and truth.
Make us able to let go of ego, drop attachments, relinquish the outcome… Then we can pray knowing peace and happiness–knowing righteousness.
Bless our efforts to encourage, uplift, and edify one another. Remind us, our body is destined for the grave, but we are not tied to it. Remind us, our ego is tied to the body and it too will be cast into hell. Remind us, who we are–and what we are not.
Tie our hearts to heaven, for it is our home.
Tie MY heart to heaven, for it is MY home.
Grant us THIS AWARENESS is our Prayer!
Grant us awareness. And we will find the courage to forgive.
Grant ME awareness of my ignorance so I am ashamed of my resentment of others and their ignorance … Oh, LORD, grant us awareness of YOUR mercy, that we may know YOUR grace, and make it known… Keep us in your grace, so that we may manifest your will… Keep us in your will, so that we may bring Light into the Darkness. Above all, bring us joy in seeing this lost world redeemed–in your name.