Pray Like This

Matthew 6:9-15
9Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
10Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11Give us this day our daily bread,
12and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
14For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,
15but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

As Jesus teaches His disciples about life inside of the Kingdom of Heaven He takes the time to give them a lesson in how to talk with God. We could easily spend a great deal of time on each of these seven petitions, but instead, we will take the prayer as a whole. It is taught to the youngest of children and shared at the graveside of the faithful. It is recited possibly millions of times per day around the globe and stands as a perfect example of what prayer looks like for all of us.

While we won’t belabor this prayer, a few things might be interesting to dwell upon for a few moments. First of all, this prayer is the property of God’s people. We know this because only God’s people can call Him Father. No one calls my parents Mom and Dad except for me and my brother (and our spouses.) We are the only ones with the right to use that title on them. Why would an unbeliever call God “Father”? And He is “Our” Father. This is a corporate prayer. Yes, we often say it when we are alone. But even in that case, we are reaffirming our part in the greater whole. God is the Father of the entire Church. Declaring that God is holy merely states the obvious. Yet while it is obvious, it is so fantastic that it needs to be repeated – often.

Asking that God’s Kingdom be with us means that we want to live in and with God right now – today. If we are interesting in dwelling in God’s Kingdom, we are then also desire that His will become our will. That demands that I live with His will in mind rather than my own; thus I am forced to ask for forgiveness at the end of the prayer for that isn’t always the case. Of course God is the giver of all earthly provision. Daily bread goes beyond mere food to everything that is needed to support this life. I ask Him to grant me what I need. Of course does not tempt us to sin, but we ask that He provide us the strength to resist the devil, the world and our flesh when they battle against our faith.

In this time of instruction, Jesus takes a moment to expand upon the concept of our willingness to forgive others. Clearly, we all want to be forgiven for our sins. But in that forgiveness, we must also be willing to extend to others the magnificent grace that has been extended to us. In our twisted thinking we sometimes believe that we have certainly been sinned against far more grievously than we ourselves have sinned. That is a delusion and Jesus deals with that right up front.

As I said early, we could talk for days about this prayer. But really, it is simple enough that we really don’t need a great deal of explanation to use it effectively. We just need to do it. And – instead of just saying it with your mouth while you’re thinking about what to have for lunch with your brain, engage both in the process of this prayer and actually think about the words. The blessings in that practice cannot be overstated!