A Model Prayer
Text: Matthew 6 : 1 - 18
What a brilliant idea Jesus came up with when He gave to His disciples a model prayer, commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer”. How do we interpret and apply this model prayer Jesus taught?
1. Was it meant to be Recited As a Prayer?
Some have used the Lord’s Prayer as a personal prayer. Others use it as part of the corporate Church worship service. Still others commend it as a prayer that binds the church community together in worship.
A careful study of the context would indicate that this is not the best way to interpret and apply this text. Jesus clearly warned against “vain repetition”. Would not the recitation of this prayer be an example of what Jesus clearly forbade?
To understand the Lord’s Prayer as something to recite would go against the very concept of prayer as a relationship with God. How significant would any relationship be if there was a constant repetition of a set prayer?
2. Was it meant to be a Pattern to Follow After?
Obviously, another interpretation and application must be sought. The alternative suggestion is that we should look at this model prayer as a “pattern”. Everything seems to suggest that this understanding is the right one.
The very introduction Jesus uttered suggests that this model prayer was meant to be only a pattern. Let us study carefully what Jesus said,
“In this manner, therefore pray…”
The key word to note is the word “manner”. Jesus could not have given this model prayer to be merely recited. He would have contradicted Himself otherwise. The word “manner” suggests a “pattern”.
The Lord’s Prayer would therefore form a framework upon which full prayers may be constructed. This would mean that every prayer offered to God would indeed be different one from another. Understanding and applying the Lord’s Prayer as a pattern to follow after would be in keeping with Jesus’ general teaching and practice in prayer.
A FRAMEWORK FOR DEEP AND THOUGHTFUL PRAYER
Let us pursue the idea of The Lord’s Prayer as a “framework”. How would the Framework look if we were to analyse it in detail?
1. The Commencement of Prayer
How should prayer commence? Jesus taught His disciples to address all prayers to God as “Father”.
“Our Father in heaven…”
2. Consciousness of the Sanctity of God’s Name
The thoughtful petitioner who enters into the Presence of the Father should be most conscious of the great sanctity of God’s Name.
“Hallowed be Your Name.”
3. Concern for God’s Kingdom
Jesus sought to teach His disciples how they ought to give due and prayerful concern for matters involving God’s Kingdom.
” Your Kingdom come.”
4. Commitment to do God’s Will
Every child of God should pray that he might be committed to understanding and doing God’s Will.
“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
5. Confidence in God’s Provision
The believer may indeed petition God to provide for His daily needs. He must always pray with utmost confidence that God would take care of him.
“Give us this day our daily bread.”
6. Confession of Sins
Attention must always be given to the confession of sins! The believer must also practise the concept of forgiving others of wrongdoing.
“And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”
7. Coveting God’s Protection from the devil
The wise disciple is fully aware of the wicked activities of the evil one. He recognizes that on his own, he would never be able to triumph over the devil. Thus he seeks God’s protection.
“And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.”
8. Culmination of Prayer
Every prayer should go beyond a simple conclusion. Every disciple should culminate his prayer with a glorious ascription of God’s glory and power.
“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and
the glory forever. Amen.”