By Melissa McLaughlin
Who is your closest friend? Our closest friends are typically those with whom we share our deepest aches, goofiest moments and most candid thoughts. We rest in their love for us knowing they will enjoy the high points, cry with us in the low points and gently but honestly correct us when we are wrong. A close relationship requires ongoing, heartfelt communication, both listening and talking.
Like any human relationship, our relationship with God requires ongoing, heartfelt communication, both listening and talking. When we read the Bible, we are listening to God’s Word and hearing God’s heart for His people and His will for us today. But it’s not really a relationship if we only listen and do not share our heart with God.
Prayer is Communication With God
Prayer is our communication, conversation, connection and communion with God. That’s why prayer is so important. Imagine this… God inclines His ear to hear us! We could never communicate freely with the president of a large company or the president of a country. But God, the Creator of the universe, is interested in what we have to say! No appointment needed.
We should treasure this most precious gift, the opportunity to pray, or talk with God, the Maker and Savior of our souls.
How Should We Pray? How Did Jesus Pray?
But how should we address One so great and so far beyond us? How should we pray to God?
Jesus’ disciples asked the very same question. And it is a good one. Luke 11:1 – One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
The Lord’s Prayer – The Model Prayer
The prayer Jesus taught His disciples has become known as The Lord’s Prayer or The Our Father. However, many now refer to this passage as The Model Prayer for Jesus was not teaching His followers to recite this prayer, but to pray like this, or in this manner. Many people memorize The Lord’s Prayer and there is nothing wrong with reciting it. However, it is important to pray these words from the heart and take in the full meaning as we say the words. Let’s contemplate Jesus’ Model Prayer more deeply.
In the account recorded in Matthew 6, Jesus opened His teaching on The Model Prayer by reminding people not to pray in order to make themselves look good outwardly with lengthy prayers that impress others, for God looks upon the heart. Jesus invited people to pray quietly, in secret places, alone before God.
Six Elements of The Model Prayer
Jesus continued with The Lord’s Prayer or The Model Prayer 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.
What can we learn from Jesus’ Model Prayer?
Here are 6 areas we can include in our prayers, to mirror Jesus’ prayer.
1.Praise and Adoration – Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
Jesus opened His prayer by addressing God as both – intimate and transcendent. God is our Abba Father, our Daddy who loves us more completely and cares for us more tenderly than any earthly father ever could. And yet, God is in heaven. God is above us and beyond us. He is like no other. He alone is God. Consequently, we revere His name. He is the loving Father who sent His only Son to rescue us from hell and He is also the God who will judge the living and the dead on the last day.
In this first line alone, Jesus taught three profound truths:
1.As we begin to pray, we address God and draw near Him as our loving Abba Father.
2.We remember God is also the Great I AM.
3.Let us bow down to revere His Holy Name.
2.Surrender – Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
Following the opening sentence, Jesus made a call to surrender. This is not tossing out a lighthearted cliché, “Have it your way, God.” This is a total abandoning of our earthly desires, laying them down for the Lord’s will and the Lord’s kingdom. These words foreshadow Jesus’ famous prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane before He hung on the cross. And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39
When we pray these words, let us pray with a vision of Jesus, prostrate on His face, weeping, knowing He was headed for the crucifixion. “Not my will, but yours be done, Father.” As we say this sentence, we commit to take up our own cross to follow Jesus.
3.Requests/ Dependence on God – Give us this day our daily bread.
Next we lay our requests before God. Though God knows our every thought and our deepest needs, He invites us to come to Him and lay them down. In doing so, we are reminded that everything we have comes from God. We are acknowledging our daily dependence on God for every little thing. Some people refer to these as prayer requests, petitions or supplications. Notice, Jesus did not pray for a larger house, a powerful horse or other earthly luxuries. Jesus prayed for the most basic need, daily food. If God is our greatest treasure, then we actually need very little else in this life. Though this third sentence in The Model Prayer is simple, it echoes with profound truth.
4.Forgiveness for Self and Others – And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
When we bring to mind our deep sin-debt before God, we maintain a heart posture of humility and gratitude. For God is holy and just. Yet God is also merciful and forgiving. All have fallen short of the glory of God. Were it not for the blood of Jesus paying the penalty for our sins, we would never be able to stand before our God who is righteous and pure.
It is not by accident that Jesus began this section on forgiveness by first having us reflect on our own sins. This helps us extend mercy and forgiveness to those who have hurt us. And we do indeed need God’s help to forgive, because this act of grace does not come naturally to us. But with God’s Spirit at work in us, He can heal the wounds of our heart and help us forgive. Just as we have been forgiven.
5.Protection and Deliverance – And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.
At the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He contended with Satan in the wilderness. Jesus withstood every attack and remained victorious, of course. However, He knew the cunning, evil and deception of Satan and taught us to pray daily for God to lead us away from the areas that tempt us and cry out to be delivered by God. Jesus reigns now and forever! But we must call on His strength and power to succeed against the enemy of our souls. As we ponder this sentence, we recall that Jesus fought against the devil using scripture. May we be diligent to learn and know the Bible deeply, that we too can fight off the devil’s accusations and deceptions against us. In this, we also acknowledge that God is greater and can help us succeed in our daily struggle against temptations.
6.Proclaim God’s Greatness – For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Jesus closed His Model Prayer with words of praise for God’s strength and glory. Though some versions of the Bible do not include this closing sentence, it is worth considering. I find it very helpful to close my prayers with praises to God, so that my prayer contains bookends of God’s mighty power. I can rest in God’s power over all. My soul is anchored in God alone. He will reign forever! This helps me keep an eternal perspective as I wrap up my prayer.
Amen – Amen
Translated from Hebrew into English as “Amen” meaning: verily, truly, so be it. When we say “Amen” we are adding our assent, our faith, our affirmation that these words are trustworthy and true and we believe God will carry it out.
As we pray, may we remember these elements of Jesus’ Model Prayer:
1.Praise and Adoration
3.Requests/Dependence on God
4.Forgiveness for Self and Others
5.Protection and Deliverance
6.Proclaim God’s Greatness
I invite you to use Jesus’ Model Prayer to pray or write out a personal prayer using your own words.
Here is my prayer based on Jesus’ Model Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father,
I praise your Holy Name, for you are above all and beyond all. And yet, you see me and you love me. I am overwhelmed at your great power and your powerful love. Lord God, I surrender myself to you. May you carry out Your good plans in my life. Help me yield more of myself and my ways to Your way. How I need you, my Savior. I ask you to meet my daily needs and the cries of my heart. Help me see your hands at work in ways great and small in this new day. Please forgive me for my sins. Holy Spirit, give me the desire to grow in purity and holiness to reflect more of Jesus in my life. Soften my heart toward those who have hurt me. Help me forgive them and pray for them. Protect me from evil in every form. Help me turn from temptations and run to you. You are higher than any evil, so I call on the name of Jesus over my life. Jesus reigns, now and forever! Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Amen
Please share your thoughts or prayers.
May our connections with God grow stronger as we commune with Him more and more in prayer!