Friday, June 27, 2008

The Model Prayer: Thoughts on how to pray



After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 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. Matthew 6:9-13

The 'Lord's Prayer' or better, “The Model Prayer”, is the prayer guide that Jesus gave to us in order to teach us how to pray. The model prayer describes a structure that we should strive to emulate when speaking with God. Furthermore, it provides an outline of what to pray for and it inherently provides priorities relating to our relationship with God through prayer.

The structure of Prayer

  1. Proper focus with humility and exaltation of God.
  2. Align your desires and will with His will.
  3. Suplication with dependence upon Him.
  4. Confession, repentance and forgiveness.
  5. Protection and guidance.
  6. Acknowledge and praise His pre-eminence over all creation.

Proper focus with humility and exaltation

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name
  1. The proper focus of our prayers should always be God the Father. Never should you pray to a person or saint (living or dead), or anything else (idol) that you could venerate.
  2. Humility and exaltation are found in 'hallowed be thy name'. Hallowed means to venerate. Venerate means to make holy. Also see Jude 1:25

Align your desires with His will

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
  1. God's will is always perfectly done (performed) in heaven. You must be willing to align yourself to His authority and desires and will for your life here on earth.

Suplication with dependence upon Him

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
  1. Paul said, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
  2. Dependence upon Him is is paramount above all else. Dependence upon self, outside of the Grace of God, is rooted in pride. This does not mean we should not take action based upon our knowledge and abilities. Recall David and Goliath: even though David spent years (assuredly) practicing with the sling, it was God that enabled him the victory.

Confession, repentance and forgiveness

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors..
  1. It is interesting to compare the differences in the priority Jesus gives to confession of sins during prayer as to priorities we learn from the average teacher. The average teacher (or preacher if you so chose), is dead set on telling you that the first thing you should do is make sure your sins are confessed, or “God won't hear you”. They're even sure to use the scripture to back themselves up, quoting Isaiah 59:2: “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” This scripture is taken completely out of context, and such an application does not fit in any way, shape or form the model prayer given by Jesus that we see here.
  2. So consider for a moment, the placement of confession, repentance and forgiveness in the model prayer: it's 4th in the list of priorities. Why is this? Because He has forgiven all our sins. Not just some of them today, and a few more tomorrow, but all. When we were made alive with Him, we were forgiven all of our sins; past, present and future.
  3. Confession, repentance and forgiveness (our forgiveness of others) is for us to restore our right relationship with God. God never moves away from us, we move away from Him.

Protection and guidance

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
  1. If God does not tempt any man, then what is the meaning of this phrase? It is a prayer of protection. A similar petition was made in Psalm 141:4: “Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.”
  2. Quite simply, God has the ability to protect you from suffering, should it be His will. However, through trials and tribulations, we are perfected.

Acknowledge His pre-eminence over all creation

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
  1. We end up at the end of our prayer in a similar place as when we began: acknowledging that God is in all, through all and in control of all, and that it is use that needs to be changed, not the desire or will of God. We must be willing to praise and worship Him in all things, and we must be willing to humble ourselves and our will to His desires and will for our life.


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