Article - Prayer, the Essentiality, Manner, and Understanding
In the Gospel accounts, Jesus teaches His disciples about prayer. He was asked a question regarding how to pray, and He answered like this:
“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. Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:9–15, NKJV)
It is interesting to notice the elemental priorities and attributes of this prayer. When it is broken down into basic grammatical statements, we find the following items to consider.
- "In this manner" - The phrase "in this manner" shows that prayer is to be purposeful, and meaningful.
- "Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name." - The element of the term used to describe the location of the Father in heaven is very significant. This gives us a certainty that God exists and there is a place in which the faithful and obedient will one day live in glory! If God is described as being in heaven and Jesus says in John 14 that "I go there to prepare a place for you," then we must know he means heaven and that place prepared is there and not on this earth or a figment of imagination! The second part of the statement shows honor, respect, and reverence. Some who pray may consider this to be a patterned statement, but it should be more of a characteristic of the humility in which we enter prayer.
- "Your kingdom come" - This phrase has caused many an argument in religious discussions. The reference here seems to be the kingdom in which the church is today. With that said, Matthew 16:13, Mark 9:1, Luke 7:27; 24:46, Acts 1-2 all indicate that the kingdom has come and it is truly the church, therefore, when Jesus gave this "model" language, we must realize that this part of His prayer has come into fruition and not necessary to be prayed.
- "Your will be done." - Let us always remember that no matter what we ask for, even when Jesus tells His disciples to ask for things in His name (Matthew 21:22), let us realize that we are asking amiss if we are asking for our own benefit and not the will of the Father. (c.f., prayer in Gethsemane)
- "Give us this day..." - Notice that there is sort of a disclaimer here. "Give us THIS DAY our DAILY bread." (emphasis JF) When we pray asking, let us not ask for things for the future, but more so for things of today. It is imperative to remember this in our prayer life because this will also give us an indication of how often we should pray...not weekly with the assembly, but at the minimum daily in order to give thanks for our many blessings! Matthew 6:25-34 shows that we can expect to be cared for each day, not worrying about the 'morrow.
- "Forgive us our debts....as we forgive others." - Another conjunctive type of clause is found here. Notice that we should ask for forgiveness each time that we pray. Also, note the emphasis, however, that Jesus says "as we forgive others." Does this imply that if we ask for forgiveness, but are unwilling to forgive that we won't be granted? God can only answer that, but the idea seems to be that we must be willing, and praying that we can do just that should give us the courage, boldness, and desire to seek, ask, and to offer forgiveness. In the last part of the teaching of prayer we see that balance given and an emphasis placed.
- "lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from the evil one." - How can we overcome sin? Ask for help. The Bible states that no man will be overtaken by a sin that God has not given a way of escape (1 Cor 10:13). It would seem sort of challenging if this were a prayer that Jesus would offer for Himself as he asks to deliver from temptation; however, if you think about the setting of the temptations that Christ endured and overcame, He always references back to God the Father and His word. Some like to think that the phrase heard "guide, guard, and direct" comes from this idea, and maybe so. The emphasis is that we need help to overcome evil and that help comes from God...and we need to focus on asking for that help and not just expecting it.
- "Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen" - Closing out with another point of reverence and realizing the "net worth" of the avenue of prayer should be an essential part of our prayer life. God is the grantor of all blessings (James 1:17). His power is seen in the creation and in the world in which we live (Job 26:7-14). He is worthy of our praise, honor and glory (Revelation 4:11).
We hope that this discussion on prayer will help each of us to understand the significance - essentiality and manner - of a good prayer life with God the Father through Jesus Christ. Prayer can be vain and it can be mundane if we are not careful. Our prayer life needs to be such that when we ask as we have been told, that we give the reverence and thanksgiving due to our God and Father in all things for His glory.