Lord, Teach Us To Pray

In the Gospel account according to Luke, the eleventh chapter records that Jesus' disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, just as John the baptizer taught his disciples to pray. This is an interesting request, in that one might take it for granted that there is a taught method for one to pray to God; yet, this shows us that there is a way one should pray to God that is proper.

Matthew's account gives greater detail as to the teaching of Christ regarding prayer. Jesus often condemned the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, or any person who “wears his religion on his sleeve” for the sole purpose of showing how spiritual he is; yet in reality that one's concerns are far from being pious. He gives these instructions:

Matt. 6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions as the heathen do; for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

These thoughts go further and deeper into our spiritual life than only prayer. It is evident that God desires that we are truly seeking Him, and not just being pretentious. He does not need our “wordiness” or endless and empty repetitious phrases like those used by them who liked to pray in public places to be seen of men. Jesus continues with an example of prayer, which is often referred to as the model prayer.

Matt. 6:9 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, forever. Amen.

First, Jesus taught whom we are to address: our heavenly Father. We praise him and honor him: we hollow even His name.

When this prayer was taught, the kingdom had not yet been established. Daniel 2:44 places it during the Roman empire that the kingdom would be set up by God. Acts 2 gives us the historic events on the day that God set up that kingdom. The kingdom already having been established, we need not pray that the kingdom should come. However, it is evident that we should pray for those things of importance to our Father. Consider this:

Matt. 9:37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; 38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

Next, Jesus taught them to pray for those things which are needful for our physical well being. Nothing extravagant, just those things which are necessary for our sustenance.

Following, they were taught to ask forgiveness from the Father for our sins, but only in the same measure which we forgive others who sin against us. Verse 14 gives us the reasoning behind this: 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.

After seeking forgiveness, the one praying requests spiritual help to steer him away from sin. 1 Cor. 10:13 states “. . .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.” There is always a way to avoid sinning, even when we stumble upon it. The key is to be prepared in knowing the ways Satan tempts us (God has given us the study material: the Bible), so that we have already predetermined how we will respond when confronted with temptation.

Finally, they were instructed to give God all glory and honor. Since the day this model prayer was given, Jesus has given us a new teaching, found in John 16:23-24, that we are to pray to the Father in his (Jesus') name, or by his authority.

Curtis A. Little, Royse City, TX

Curtis A. Little
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