This is a guest post by author Dr. Frank Chase Jr, Th.D
Matthew Chapter 6 outlines important principles for prayer. The prayer Jesus teaches the disciples is often called the Lord’s Prayer, but a more apt title is The Model for Prayer. The prayer is not just words to recite and follow slavishly. It is the pattern for believers to use in their personal lives when addressing Him. Therefore, the purpose of prayer rests in our relationship with God.
Communicating with God through prayer focuses on our relationship with Him. The model prayer Jesus recites in Matthew starts with Our Father, which art in heaven…The word ourimplies that we have a common relationship with all people, sharing the same heavenly Father. Praying ouris not my four and no more. Praying our brings not just our own needs to the Father, but also the needs and concerns of all of humanity. When we pray Father,we acknowledge the compassionate relationship we have with him. Our prayers recognize who He is. We approach the Father knowing He is our Abba(Daddy) and “the source who can provide the needs of everyone.”
Prayer focuses on reverence for God. In verse nine the text states Hallowed be thy name.Reverencing God’s identity as holy involves extolling the attributes of His love, faithfulness, integrity and grace in worship and in life. In the Hebrew language, Hallowed be thy nameis Kiddush HaShem (To hallow or sanctify the name).In Jewish culture, a Hebrew name is an idiom that refers to a person’s reputation. In this case, we may not think of the name we refer to God as important, but it is important because we must bring glory to God and his reputation. To hallow God’s name means we will do everything possible to sanctify His name in our lives. In verse ten, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth is reverence for His inclination to accomplish His will on earth to bring the Kingdom, and it should also be our determination, our purpose, our choice, our desire, and our pleasure as much as it is His.
In Matthew 6:11, prayer focuses on requests. We ask God to give us this day our daily bread,whichsuggests that we have access to approach Him daily for our portion and, as one writer put it, our prayer should be like eating—daily. Requesting our daily portion is confined to a single provider because we know that God is the only one who makes grass grow, corn grow and everything we need. Our daily prayer is confined to a single period because the Father meets our daily needs, one day at a time to help us avoid gluttony and greed. When God fed the Israelites with manna daily in Exodus chapter 16, the scripture confirms daily provision. God’s care and compassion is evident throughout the prayer. From a Jewish prospective, our daily bread represents all food and sustenance we receive from Him in a general sense. Daily bread is to have enough for the day without discarding anything. We can learn a lot from the writer who said, “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread” (NIV).
In Matthew 6:12, And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtorsrequests that as we forgive the faults and hurts caused by others, God also forgives us. Here we are considering those we are in relationship with—our family, our neighbors, our friends—as well as those we may know only casually. As important as it is for us to receive forgiveness, it is equally important that we learn to forgive others.
The model prayer focuses on righteousness in Matthew 6:13. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evilhelps us evade sin’s captivation and escape sin’s corruption. We know this because 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “there hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (KJV). In Greek, temptation means peirasmos. The full meaning of temptation would read, putting to proof by an experiment of good or an experience of evil either by solicitation, discipline, provocation nor adversity (Strong’s Concordance #3986). As the model prayer focuses on righteousness, clearly God does not use temptation or temptations to provoke or prove our righteousness. Temptation and evil comes from many sources. So our overall prayer concerning temptation and deliverance from evil is a call for God’s protection from what is inside and outside of us.
The model prayer helps us focus on the reality that “For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever. Amen” (Matthew 6:13b). We must accept the reality the whole world is God’s possession and he has the power over it. In Greek, power means duamis, which is force, ability, might, strength and miraculous power to answer prayers.
The language of the model prayer touches every part of our lives. Our Fatheris our personal relationship with God and one another. Which art in heavenrequires faith in Him because without faith it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Hallowed be thy nameasks us to worship him and bring glory to his name. Thy kingdom come is our expectation of his coming millennial and kingdom now. Thy will be done on earth as it is inheavensubmits our will to His will. Give us this day our daily breadpetition’s God for our needs and others. And forgive us our debtsis a willing confession of our heart to God. As we forgive our debtors,shows we are willing to reciprocate the forgiveness we receive. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evilis our dependence on Him as he promised to preserve us from what is inside and outside of us. For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever acknowledges the reality that God’s kingdom, his possessions and His power is real.
When the prayer is put together, each line creates synergy with the next growing in power. The prayer Christ taught us to pray is the perfect prayer and is as relevant today as it was 2000 year ago when we learn that it is not mere words to recite but insight into the Father’s heart concerning us.