The Model Prayer (Lord, Teach Us to Pray)

“9) After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10) Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11) Give us this day our daily bread. 12) And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” (Matt. 6:9-13)

During Jesus Christ’s sermon on the mount in Matt. 6, he instructed the disciples in the proper manner that we should pray. We read a similar account in Luke 11:1-4 at a later time when the disciples request Jesus to teach them to pray. After hearing Jesus pray unto God, the disciples understandably felt very inadequate in their prayers unto God (Luke 11:1). Could you imagine hearing the second person of the Godhead praying to God the Father? The disciples clearly saw their futility in prayer compared to Jesus Christ and requested, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1b) The disciples, and certainly us today as well, need instruction and teaching from Jesus for how to better pray unto our Heavenly Father. Jesus is teaching all the disciples of Christ the proper manner of prayer for how we are to communicate with our Heavenly Father in prayer.

After this manner therefore pray ye

God gives “The Model Prayer” to teach the disciples the proper pattern and model for to pray (“After this manner” pray ye). This prayer is more commonly known as “The Lord’s Prayer”, but rather it is “The Disciples’ Prayer” (“pray ye”). Jesus teaches us the proper manner for how we are to communicate with our Heavenly Father in prayer. There are 7 distinct statements in the model disciples’ prayer that set the pattern for how we are to pray unto our Heavenly Father.

  1. Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
  2. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
  3. Give us this day our daily bread.
  4. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
  5. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
  6. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.
  7. Amen.

In the model disciples’ prayer, we see the proper order in our prayers and petitions to God: 1) First comes praise, exalting God’s name, 2) then God’s kingdom, 3) then God’s will, and 4) only then comes our personal petitions unto God. If you don’t get that priority straight, we will never be effective in our prayer life. God’s praise, God’s kingdom, and God’s will come first in our prayers (and first in our overall lives). Only then can we move on to our personal petitions to God. God is first in our lives; we are last. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) We begin our prayers with praise (“Hallowed be thy name”) and close our prayers with praise as well (“For thine is the kingdom, power, and glory”). Therefore, prayer is an act of worship towards our Heavenly Father. We place a priority on the advancement of God’s kingdom and the manifestation of God’s will in this earth, even before we make our petitions for our daily bread, forgiveness, or daily providential guidance. Only then after reverencing God, setting our hearts towards the kingdom and submitting to God’s will, are we in the proper frame of mind to petition for God’s blessings for our daily bread, forgiveness, and deliverance from evil. We pray for God’s will to be done; then, we close with “Amen” (so let it be), finally submitting again for God’s will to be done in our lives.

We are told to pray in a collective way – “our” and “us”. There are no “I’s” or “me’s” in this model disciples’ prayer. The prayer begins like a family with children addressing their dad together, “Our Father”. We should pray in a collective way with a mindset on the unity of the church and the kingdom. If we properly set our mind in prayer for God’s kingdom (thy kingdom come), then our prayers should extend far beyond just our daily needs. We need to pray for other believers and other members of the church who stand in need of the Lord’s blessing every day. We do not need to be selfish in our prayers to pray only for ourselves. Instead, we are instructed to pray in a collective way – we pray as a “family” with our brothers and sisters in Christ together unto our “Heavenly Father”.

We need to pray unto God early in the morning – “Give us this day our daily bread”. This petition unto God for our daily bread would be null and void if we only pray unto God at night or when we go to bed. We need end our day with prayer as well, but especially we need to begin our day with prayer, communing with God early in the morning in a quiet time of prayer. “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee and will look up.” (Ps. 5:3) We will be much better prepared for the challenges of our day when we have already begun our day with meditating on the hallowed name of God in praise and submitting to his will for our day. We need to follow Jesus’ pattern and begin our day by entering into our closet and quiet place and beginning our day with prayer to God.

Jesus had just finished a lesson on the sincerity of prayers in secret with just us and our Heavenly Father. This secret devotion is contrasted to the public prayers in the synagogues and on the street corners with vain repetitions that the Pharisees were well known to do (Matt. 6:5-8). In contrast to the much speaking and long prayers that Jews were accustomed to (notice the “therefore” distinction), Jesus presents a much more concise model of prayer for his disciples. This model disciples’ prayer is quite concise – only 65 words in total and can easily be said in about 30 seconds. This does not mean our prayers should always be this short and concise. We are commanded to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). However, we don’t need to always feel like we have to make long, flowing prayers. The most effective and fervent prayers can be very concise in nature.

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Our Father. Just as with a letter, we begin our payers with addressing the recipient, Our Father. We need to pray with a collective mindset in the church – “Our” Father. We need to pray together in unity in the church. We pray to God as a family in the church, praying with our brothers and sisters in Christ unto our Father. This close parental term of “Father” shows an intimacy with God that men had not previously been privileged unto. Even for the Jews in the Old Testament, they were not allowed to approach the Lord with such intimacy. They were forbidden from even saying aloud the name of Jehovah (YVWH), let alone call him their Father. The Jews equated calling God your Father as making yourself equal with God (John 5:18)..

Thankfully, the middle wall of partition has been torn down, the veil separating men from close communion with God has been rent in twain by Jesus Christ. Now, we have a close intimacy with our Heavenly Father, the Lord God. Therefore, we should not call men on earth “father” but should reserve that term for our Father in heaven alone (Matt. 23:9-11). We have an intimate relationship with God as our “Abba Father” (Gal. 4:6, Rom. 8:15). We can approach God as our Heavenly Father in prayer because we are joint-heirs with Jesus Christ and have the same legal right to approach God the Father as the Son of God. We have the great privilege to approach unto our Heavenly Father in prayer, and we should come before him with boldness but also with the intimacy of his parental love for children.

which art in heaven. We need to always remember (especially in prayer) that God is God, and we are not. God is in heaven and we are not. Sometimes we pray unto God “demanding” him to act on our behalf. We do not have the right or the authority to “demand” God to do anything. We can petition our Father in faith, trusting he has our best interest in heart and submitting to his will, but never demanding God to act. Let us never forget that we are praying to the God of heaven with all power in heaven and earth. We need to approach his throne of grace with reverence and respect. “God is in heaven and thou upon the earth; therefore, let thy words be few.” (Eccl. 5:2) This doesn’t mean that all of our prayers should be super short. We need to express all our petitions and cares unto our Lord. However, when we do begin to pray, we must remember that God is in heaven; he’s God; we are on the earth, and we are not God.

Hallowed be thy name. We need to begin our prayers by extolling and honoring the name of God. Our Lord’s name is to be “hallowed”, exalted, reverenced, and honored in this world and in our lives. Do a Bible word search and look at all the examples in scripture, and particularly in the Psalms, where the name of God is praised, honored, and exalted. We begin our prayers praising God’s name, and we close our prayers in praise as well. This shows that prayer is an act of worship. The entire life and purpose of the child of God ought to be characterized by seeking the glory of God (Matt. 5:16, 1 Cor. 10:31). The glory of God should be reflected in our prayers as well. We begin and end our prayers by extolling the glory of God.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven

Thy kingdom come. After praising and extolling the name of God, the very first thing we should pray for is the kingdom, the church, and its growth and expansion and advancement in the world. We are called to seek the kingdom of God “first” in our lives (Matt. 6:33). That kingdom priority should be reflected in our prayers as well. The growth and advancement of God’s kingdom in this world should be at the forefront of our minds and thus at the forefront of our prayers. We should pray for the kingdom of God first, even before we pray for our own daily bread, forgiveness, or providential guidance. We ought to pray for open doors for God’s kingdom to be advanced (Col. 4:2-4, Eph. 6:18-20, 2 Thess. 3:1-2). We need to pray for God to send forth laborers into his kingdom (Matt. 9:36-38). We ought to have a kingdom priority in our prayers and pray diligently for God’s kingdom to come and be advanced in our lives and in this world.

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. We must submit to the authority of God in our prayers, submitting to God’s will in our lives. We desire and pray for God’s will to be done as perfectly and obediently in earth as it is in heaven. God’s will is done perfectly in heaven and all the inhabitants of heaven are perfectly obedient to his will. We should pray for God’s will to be just as effectively and perfectly carried out here on earth as his will is perfectly carried out in heaven. We have confidence that if we ask God “any thing according to his will, he heareth us.” (1 John 5:14) We out to pray “if the Lord will, we shall live and do this or that.” (James 5:15). The Holy Spirit makes intercession for the saints “according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:27). We submit to God’s will to be done because even if his will is contrary to our will, we pray knowing that our Father knows what is ultimately best for his children, even if we think different and don’t know what’s best for us in the moment.

We are instructed to pray for God’s will to be done before we get around to actually asking for any specifics of what we need. We usually have it backward in our prayers. We often ask for what we want, and then ask “if it’s the Lord’s will”, then give me what I just requested. The proper pattern here is to just pray for God’s will to be done “first”, submitting that God knows what I need (not just what I want). Thus, we pray for the Lord’s will to be done, even before we ask for any specifics of what we need. This quote summarizes the proper posture of prayer and submission to God’s will we ought to have in prayer. “Prayer is not an exercise to get man’s will done in heaven. Prayer is the way for God’s will to be done on the earth.” Prayer is not to conform God to obligate him to do our will; prayer is to conform us to God’s will, to understand and accept that’s God’s will is best, even if it’s contradictory to what we have asked for or what we think we need.

Give us this day our daily bread.

We need to pray for God to provide for our daily needs. This does not just mean we ask the Lord to only give us daily natural food to eat in our bodies (which we should pray for). This is actually a prayer of dependence upon God to provide for our all needs in every area of our lives. We are praying, “Lord, give me what I stand in need of today in every area of my life. Give me my daily bread today. Give me the ‘appropriate grace sufficient’ that I stand in need of in every activity and every circumstance of life today.” God gives us just what we need “today” (this day). Then tomorrow morning, then we have to pray the same prayer for daily bread and providence for that day as well. God gave Israel manna from heaven in the wilderness, but it was just enough “daily bread” for that one day. God’s daily provision spoiled the next day if they tried to use it again for the next day, except for the day before the Sabbath (Exod. 16:1-21). God gave Elijah and the widow and her son their appropriate “daily bread” every single day. Their barrel of meal and cruse of oil didn’t waste for probably a few years. They didn’t have any extra, but they did have just enough daily bread from God for that day and for every day after that as well (1 Kings 17:8-16).

God knows what we need so much better than we do. That is why even before we pray for daily bread, we need to pray for God’s will to be done. “7) Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: 8) Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: 9) Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” (Prov. 30:7-9) The writer of this passage, Agur, saw his depravity. Therefore, he prayed for God to not give him riches or poverty, but “feed me with food convenient for me”. He knew if God gave him too much, he would be prone to feel self-sufficient and forget his dependency on the Lord. He also didn’t want to be so poor that he would be tempted to steal to provide for his family. His prayer was for God to give him exactly what he “needed”, not what he wanted, because he submitted to God’s will as what is best for his life. Not just with our food, but in every area of life we need to pray for God to give us what is “convenient (you prescribe) for me”. Father, you write out the prescription of what I need and give me a resignation to your will for what you provide in my life.

Just before Jesus gave us the model prayer, he reminded his disciples that “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” (Matt. 6:8) God already knows what we need, and he has promised to provide for our needs. Jesus instructs the disciples to not spend time worrying about our daily provisions because if we have already properly prayed for God to “Give us this day our daily bread”, then we don’t need to worry about how God will provide that bread. We just trust God that he will provide, even if we don’t know or see how he will in the moment. Don’t be worried about food, drink, or clothing because “your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” (Matt. 6:32) Therefore, if we have properly followed the model prayer to pray for God’s kingdom and put the kingdom first in our lives, and we have prayed for God’s will to be done, and prayed for our daily bread, we don’t need to worry over where our daily provision will come from. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33) God will provide for all the things that we need, but not always what we want. God has not promised “bonus” and “extra”, but God promised to provide for all our need.

God has promised that if we “ask, seek, and knock”, praying for God’s will to be done, that our Heavenly Father will “give, find, and open” unto us. An earthly father wouldn’t give his son a stone or serpent when he asked for bread or a fish. Therefore, if we are inherently evil and sinful and still give good gifts to our children, “how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matt. 7:7-11) That is why we begin our prayers with “Our Father”. We remind ourselves that God is our Heavenly Father and that he loves his children more than we could ever imagine and that God will not allow his children to suffer and be deprived of what we truly “need”. No father will allow his children to go without their needs if he has the ability to provide for that need, and our Father won’t either. We should have confidence that our God will supply all our needs on a daily basis. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19) God is not lacking in his ability to provide for all his children. It is great to pray to a God for provision that has immeasurable “riches in glory”. God provides for our needs because our Heavenly Father is “rich”. God’s storehouse of daily blessings for his children will never run out. Our Heavenly Father will never leave his children destitute of what we truly need in this world. God will give us our daily bread that we have prayed for.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Jesus tells his disciples to request forgiveness from God in the same manner that we forgive others. In Luke 11:4, we realize these debts are primarily sins – “And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.” Forgiveness of others who have sinned against us is a very difficult thing to do. Jesus’ language in the model prayer shows us why forgiveness is so difficult. When someone sins against us, they owe us a debt (they are “indebted to us”, Luke 11:4). When we forgive someone else, we chose to absorb the loss of that debt to where they are now no longer indebted to us. We take the penalty of payment of their debt upon us, instead of exacting that debt upon them.

The only thing in the Model Prayer that Jesus expands on further and gives more explanation for is forgiveness which he does in v.14-15. This shows the significance of forgiving others since Jesus felt the need to expand on this one topic even further from his Model Prayer. “14) For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15) But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:14-15) God deals with us according to the law of sowing and reaping; what we sow, that is what we shall reap (Gal. 6:7-9). If we are unforgiving and harsh towards others, then God will be harsh and unforgiving to us as well. Understand, this lesson on forgiveness has nothing to do with eternal life, that if we don’t forgive others, then Jesus won’t forgive our sins eternally, and we will go to hell. No, this applies to our fellowship with our Heavenly Father in time, not to our eternal destination.

If we are unwilling to absorb the loss and debt of others’ offenses to us, then we will continue to bear the weight of our debt to God and others in our own conscience. God says that he will not hear and answer our prayers if we harbor unforgiveness in our hearts. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:” (Ps. 66:18) God cannot look on iniquity, so when we are continuing in iniquity by unforgiveness, God will turn away the manifest presence of his fellowship away from us. Unforgiveness is one of the most destructive devices of Satan (2 Cor. 2:10-11). We need to be proactive when we are praying to evaluate our interactions with others, and if there is an offense pending (a debt still outstanding) we need to pay off that debt by forgiveness. “25) And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26) But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25-26) Peter asked Jesus how many times he had to forgive his brother who offended him; is seven times the limit? Jesus says we are called to forgive until “seventy times seven”. Not only 490 times we forgive, and then on offense 491, we have the right to exact vengeance. No, Jesus is saying we are to forgive like God. We are to forgive perpetually, keeping no score on how many times we have forgiven another (Matt. 18:21-22).

Jesus then teaches a lesson on how God will deal with us if we do not forgive others (Matt. 18:21-35). There was a man who was 10,000 talents in debt ($15 million) and could not pay his lord. He begged for mercy, and the lord wrote off the debt and forgave him the full balance. However, the same servant went and found a fellow servant who owed him 100 pence ($15) and cast him into prison for this minuscule debt instead of mercifully forgiving him. The lord found out that this man was not forgiving towards his fellow servant and did not have “compassion” on him. Therefore, because he was ungrateful for his forgiveness by being unforgiving to others, the lord sends the unforgiving servant to the tormentors until he should pay all that he owed (which he clearly would never do). Let us take heed to this parable and the warning of Jesus. “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” (Matt. 18:35) Notice, we must forgive others “from our hearts”. Not just giving the pretense of forgiveness in our outward actions, but we still keep a grudge in our hearts against them. No, we must forgive them fully “from our hearts”, as God has given us “from his heart” for Christ’s sake.

We don’t forgive others because they deserve it. Rarely does someone fully deserve forgiveness. If they deserved forgiveness, that would mean they had already “paid off their debt” and there would be no further “debt to forgive”. If they still owe us a debt, that means they most likely don’t deserve it. No, they should pay off that debt. Instead of being harsh and unforgiving to others who have wronged us, we need to forgive others for Christ’s sake, just as God forgave us for Christ’s sake. “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:32) God did not absorb and pay off our debt of sin because we deserved it. No, we still owed the full balance of our immeasurable weight of sin. We didn’t deserve forgiveness, but God forgave our debt “for Christ’s sake”. We don’t forgive others for their sake; we forgive others for Christ’s sake. When we forgive others, we don’t continue to bear that weight of their sin, offense, and debt either. We can “forgive and forget” because we give that debt over to Christ. We don’t hold that debt against our offender; we don’t hold that debt ourselves; we give our debt over to Christ in forgiveness. We legally transfer the debt of others’ sin over to Christ. The debt and weight of unforgiveness is too much for any of us to bear.  Therefore, we give that immense weight over to someone who can actually shoulder the weight of that debt of sin. We give the debt of sin over to Christ in forgiveness. We don’t keep that debt when we forgive others, but we give that debt over to Christ. We forgive others for Christ’s sake and give the debt over to Christ as well.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

And lead us not into temptation. God does not actively lead us into temptation or entice us to sin. The Bible makes it clear that any enticements to sin come from man’s sinful natural heart. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” (James 1:13) God does not lead us into temptation, but he will allow our faith to be tested from trials in our life. “God did tempt Abraham” by commanding him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice (Gen. 22:1). God did not tempt Abraham to sin, but he tested his faith to allow his faith to be strengthened. We pray for God to providentially guide us in a pathway that will keep us out of bad situations. Even I make bad decisions that put myself in a bad situation, Lord, please bless me in the midst of that temptation. We need to pray for God to “lead me beside the still waters; lead me in the path’s of righteousness for thy name’s sake” (Ps. 23:3-4). We pray for God to lead us in paths of righteousness, not to be in the perils of temptation in this world.

but deliver us from evil. Man is wicked and can do some horrendous things when not restrained from evil by the Lord. Therefore, we pray for God to protect and guard and deliver us from all the possible danger and evil here in this world. Jesus prayed for the Father to keep his people from evil. “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” (John 17:15) It is a tremendous blessing for Jesus to be praying for us to be kept from evil, and we need to pray the same prayer to God as Jesus. If it wasn’t for the protecting hedge of God in our lives, delivering us from evil, it’s just scary how much wickedness could be happening in this world. We see from Job’s life what can happen so quickly when God removes his protective hedge from around his people. God removed his protective hedge from around Job and his family, and immediately Satan destroyed his possessions, his business, his children, his health, and the support of his wife. If it wasn’t for God delivering us from evil, we would be consumed in a moment by Satan. Therefore, we must pray diligently for God to deliver us from all the evil surrounding us here in this wicked world.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.

For thine is the kingdom. Our concluding thoughts in prayer are the same as our opening thoughts, to ascribe praise to God’s kingdom, power, and glory. God is the only one worthy of glory, not us. He shall be glorified and exalted forever. In our closing to prayer, our thoughts should return once again to the kingdom of God, the church. We have already prayed for “God’s kingdom to come”. We have already prayed for God’s will to be done in his kingdom. Now, in closing, we praise God for his kingdom. God is so gracious to give us the church, the “kingdom of heaven” here in our lives. In the church, we get to experience a little “foretaste of heaven” here in our lives. God is so gracious to give us this kingdom of heaven to have a little sliver of heaven in this sinful world. We need to praise God in prayer for giving us this kingdom.

and the power. We need to conclude our prayers with a reminder of God’s abundant power to work in ways far beyond our comprehension in this world. There is “dunamis” (dynamite) power in the name of our God. Our God is in the heavens, he hath done whatsoever he pleased (Ps. 115:3). There is no limitation of the power of the sovereign God of heaven and earth. God can work in ways in his sovereign power that are literally beyond our comprehension. “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” (Eph. 3:20) There is no limitation to the power of our God, and he is able to do far beyond even the highest thing that we can ask or think. Therefore, we close our prayers calling the power of God down upon our petitions, for God to answer our prayers in a powerful and mighty way, to his honor and to his glory.

and the glory, for ever. Finally, we close our prayers with a desire for the glory of God in our lives and in this world. We have already come before God in prayer seeking to glorify his name. Now, we close our prayers with a continued zeal for the glory, praise, and exaltation of our God in this world. We were created for the glory of God (Isaiah 43:7, Rev. 4:11). We pray for God’s strength and direction to glorify him in every action of our lives because whatsoever we do is to be unto the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). We pray for the church and the kingdom because the church is God’s chosen place of his glory throughout all ages, world without end, amen (Eph. 3:21). Our life is identified and purposed by the glory of God. We must seek God’s glory in our prayers, just as much as in every other action of our lives.

Amen.

We are to conclude our prayers with “Amen”. Amen literally means “so let it be”. In concluding our prayers to God, we again show submission to the will of God, submitting and desiring for his will to be done instead of our own will. God, so let it be done according to your will. God identified himself with Amen. Jesus Christ takes the name of “the Amen” for himself (Rev. 3:14) God’s promises are identified by yea and Amen. “The promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” (2 Cor. 1:20) We close our prayers with a reminder that God is in sovereign control in this world. We close our prayers by submitting to God’s will in our lives and in this world, knowing that our Heavenly Father knows what is best in this world, even if we don’t. We close our prayers in faith and trust in our God for all we stand in need of here in our lives, “So let it be, according to your will, O Lord. Amen.”

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