Today, we conclude the Above the Ceiling series looking at various questions about prayer. Today we are going look at Jesus answer to the question, “How do I pray?” We are going to be in Matthew 6, but according to Luke 11 what started Jesus’ teaching on prayer was the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. To help them in their prayer life Jesus said in Matthew 6, “Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. 10 May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today the food we need, 12 and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. 13 And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. [For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen]” (vs. 9-13, NLT). Before we start unpacking this prayer, let me give you some general observations.
- This prayer is most often referred to as the “Lord’s Prayer” but Jesus never actually prayed it Himself (because Jesus was sinless He never needed to pray, “forgive me of my sins”). Instead this prayer is presented as a model prayer for God’s people and so it might better be titled “The Disciple’s Prayer“.
- Jesus never intended for this prayer to be repeated ritualistically with regular, repetitious recital, but rather as a guide or model for our prayers. This model prayer is a summary of subjects and categories that we are to pray about.
- Jesus did not cover everything you need to know about prayer in this one statement. The Lord Jesus gave many other commands to pray (Matthew 7:7-11;9:38; 17:20; 18:19,20; 21:21,22; 26:41; Luke 18:1,7; John 14:13,14; 15:7,16; 16:23,24)–all of which give further instruction on the vital subject of how believers should pray.
From this we see six broad categories that Jesus recommends that we include in our prayers. Let me guide you through them.
Number one, God’s praises. Jesus said pray like this in verse 9, “Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy” (NLT). Some translations say, “Hallowed be your name.” To understand this you need to know two things.
- The word “name” refers to God’s character, nature, plan, purposes and everything He is, everything He does, and everything He says.
- The word “holy” means set apart, special, and a place of honor.
When we are keeping God’s name holy we are praying, praising, and living in light of who God is. So, what’s God’s name? His name (character, nature) is righteousness, holiness, love, all-powerful, all-knowing, forgiving, merciful, provider, healer, guider and gracious. That’s His name, that’s His character, that’s His nature. Let me give you some examples of this.
- Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name” (NLT). Praise God for who He is.
- Psalm 20:7 says, “Some nations boast of their chariots and horses, but we boast in the name of the Lord our God” (NLT). They boast about how powerful and strong God is.
One of the best ways to begin your prayer is to start with who God is and praise Him for who He is. When you start remember how big and awesome God is your problems and your life take on new perspective. Sometimes you discover those anxieties you had, those fears you had, and the worries that were on your mind are lifted from you in the light of God’s character.
Prayer Principle: I keep God’s name (His character, nature) special and unique in my life by praising and exalting Him for who He is with my lips and life. This reminds me of how great God is.
Number two, God’s priorities. Jesus said pray like this in verse 10, “May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” (NLT). This is where you are praying for God’s rule and reign over your life. Notice Jesus referred to God’s “kingdom” and God’s “will” being done on earth, in your life. God’s kingdom refers to His reign over your life and God’s will refers to God’s plan over your life. This is where you are praying about what God wants you to do. It might sound like this:
- “Heavenly Father, I want to love my spouse the way you want me to love my spouse. I want your will to be done in my marriage through me. Reign over my mouth, rule over my emotions, and let me honor my spouse the way I should.”
- “Heavenly Father, I am struggling with discontentment at work. Even though I’m not liking my job right now I want your kingdom to come and your will be done through me every day at work. Help me to honor you by how I work, help me to bring you glory by having the right attitude toward those I work for and work with. Help me to be thankful for the job I have and use me there to make a difference.”
This is where you pray God’s will over your mind, emotions, relationships, finances, and everything else in your life. When you are praying God’s will be done in your life you are saying you are willing to change. It’s not your will, but His will that needs to be done.
Prayer Principle: I am to pray and seek God’s will on all matters. His kingdom and will supersede my will and agenda. This reminds me of who is really in charge and in control.
Number three, God’s provisions. Jesus said pray like this in verse 11, “Give us today the food we need” (NLT). The word “food” is sometimes translated “bread.” If you are in a third world country and having something to eat is a daily struggle then this is something literal for you, but Jesus here is using this statement to summarize and symbolize the basics of life. The things in life that we need to live.
I want you to notice the emphasis is on “today.” “Give us today” what we need. What do you need today to do what God would have you to? Remember, the word “food” represents what you need to accomplish God’s plan for your life today. It might sound like this:
- “Lord, I am planning on talking to my son about a serious matter and I need wisdom today for that.”
- “Heavenly Father, I will be working on my personal budget today help me to organize and prioritize my finances in such a way as to honor you today.”
It may be a thank you.
- “Lord, thank you for how you provided for me today. I have food to eat, a roof over my house, friends to support me, and a future to look forward to.”
Prayer Principle: I am to pray about the various needs in my life. This reminds me God provides for my needs regardless of how they arrive in my life.
Number four, God’s pardon. Jesus said pray like this in verse 12, “and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us” (NLT). There are two parts to this.
- The first part says we are to pray, “Forgive us our sins.” Jesus is not talking about salvation here. He is telling believers, like His disciples and you and me, to regularly confess and admit to God we have sinned. We are to ask God’s forgiveness on a regular basis. It might sound like this, “Lord, forgive my envy and jealousy over my friend’s house, boat, car, job, and health.” It might sound like this, “Heavenly Father, forgive my greediness and selfishness when it comes to my finances and things. Help me to be more willing to share with others who are in need.” Or “God, forgive me for being impatient and rude with my spouse and children. Help me to love them correctly.” You are asking God to forgive you of your sins.
- The second part of this statement by Jesus says, “Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us” is a lot more challenging. People are going to sin against you. Some will lie to you. Some will steal from you. Some will gossip about you. Some will abuse you. These people who sin against you, they may be your spouse, your children, your friend, your parents, your coworkers, your boss or the people you go to school with. When they sin against us, we are to forgive them.
But now listen carefully, Jesus is telling you to ask God to forgive you based on how you have forgiven others. In other words, God is allowing you to set the standard of forgiveness you receive from Him based on how you have forgiven others.
- “God, I have this coworker that lied about me at work and I’m planning on getting even with him, so I want you to deal with me the same way I’m going to deal with him.”
- “Heavenly Father, there is this woman who has hurt me and lied about me. I can’t stand her. I’m going to hold a grudge, I’m not going to forgive her and when I see her I’m going to treat her with coldness and indifference. So, I want you to treat me the way I’m going to treat her.”
God is saying, the way you forgive others is the way I’m going to forgive you. I think you get the idea. God wants us to ask for forgiveness. He wants us to confess our sins to Him. He wants you to admit that you have sinned. He is encouraging you to do that. He wants to forgive you, but He is going to let you set the standard of how this forgiveness is given by how you choose to forgive others.
Prayer Principle: I am to ask God’s forgiveness as I sin against Him and to offer forgiveness to others as they sin against me. This reminds me of God’s grace and mercy in my life and that I’m to show grace and mercy toward others.
Number five, God’s protection. Jesus said pray like this in verse 13, “And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one” (NLT). This has to do with your personal spiritual battles, your struggle with your sin, and your conflict with the evil one.
- Jesus said we are to pray, “Don’t let us yield to temptation.” This prayer acknowledges your own weaknesses and your own vulnerabilities. “Lord, I’m going to be tempted at work to say and do something that are not honoring to You, help me not to give in to those temptations.” Or “Heavenly Father, I’m really attracted to this new person in my life, don’t let me be placed in a situation where I might yield to something I will regret later.” This is where you talk to God about the temptations in your life, the sins you struggle with.
- Jesus said we are to also pray, “…but rescue us from the evil one.” There is a real enemy who opposes God and you. The Bible calls him Lucifer, the devil, Satan, the wicked one, and the adversary. You are in a battle every day of your life against His army, His schemes, His strategies, and His influences upon this world. When you see yourself enraptured and enticed by His ways cry out to God for deliverance and rescue from the evil one.
Prayer Principle: I am to pray with alertness to the spiritual battles in my life realizing that God will provide protection or escape. This reminds me that I’m daily in a supernatural war against Satan’s kingdom and schemes.
Number six, God’s power. Jesus said pray like this in verse 13, “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” (NLT). Some translations place this in the main text and some do not due to some original manuscript timing. Some place it as a footnote. Either way, it doesn’t change the text at all. In fact, in concludes it in a very nice and honoring way.
- “kingdom” – points to who is really in charge and reminds you of whose Kingdom you really belong too.
- “power” – points to whose power you need in order to walk in God’s will, whose power it is that provides all your needs, whose power you need to forgive others, and whose power will enable you to resist temptation and be rescue from the evil one.
- “glory” – points to whose glory this is all for. It’s not about you, it’s about God. He does not provide His power in your life so you can be glorified and you don’t pray this prayer so you will look good, but so that God will be glorified and that He will look good in you.
Prayer principle: I am to pray realizing that everything I am and everything I have is for God’s glory, not mine. This reminds me that all the great things God wants to do in my life will happen by His power, not mine.
Here is what I want you to do with this today. This week use Jesus’ teaching on how to pray as your guide during your prayer time. Set aside a few minutes each day for the next five days. Go to your bedroom, go for a walk, or go sit on the porch but take Jesus’ guide to prayer and pray through it. This means…
- Start with some praises. Tell God how great He is. Remind yourself how awesome and wonderful God is. “God, you are a loving God… an all-powerful God… all-knowing God. I love you for who you are. I am so thankful that you are my God and you have saved me and made me a part of your family.”
- Then move into talking about God’s priorities and some things you need to make some decisions about. “God, what is your will regarding this decision I need to make. It look’s like I could do option A, option B, or option C. Which one do you want me to do?”
- Then talk to God about some needs in your life. “God, I need a new job. I’ve applied here and there, but nothing seems to be opening. God, I need healing in my life. Would you heal me?” Talk to Him about your needs.
- Then talk to God about your forgiveness. You receiving forgiveness and giving forgiveness. “God, I have committed the sin of ______, forgive me. I’m so sorry and I’m thankful that you are a forgiving and gracious God and that your mercies are new every morning.” Then “God, So-and-So has hurt me and sinned against me, I want to forgive them and I need your help to do so. I want to forgive them the way you want to forgive me.”
You get the idea. Spend some time with God talking about these issues.
If you would like to know more about Jesus, becoming a follower of Jesus, or want someone to pray with you about something that is going on in your life there will be Ben Schnipper, Roger & Jodie Penn who will be available up front to pray with you and talk with you.
If you would like to talk later you can fill out a Welcome Card or contact us through our email and we will get with you ASAP to see what’s going on and to see how we can be of help to you. We are here for you. We want to walk with you through your journey, your struggles, your successes, your joys and your pain.
New Living Translation
New International Version
Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name
Exalting God for who He is
May your kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven
Your kingdom come, you will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Aligning your will with God’s will
Give us today the food we need
Give us today our daily bread
Asking for what we need today
And forgive us our sins as we have forgiven those who sin against us
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors
Living in the joy of receiving and giving forgiveness
And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one
Staying alert to your personal spiritual battles
[for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen]
[for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen]
It’s all for God’s glory,