Reading the Word
Matthew 6:7–15 (ESV)
7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Parallel Text: Luke 11:1-4
Understanding and Applying the Word
Here is one of the most well-known passages in all of Scripture. It is a passage that many have memorized and many recite regularly. It is often referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer”, though that might be a little confusing because it is not actually a prayer by Jesus, but a prayer template that Jesus taught to his disciples. We are told in Luke’s Gospel, that Jesus taught this to his followers after one of his disciples approached him and asked Jesus to “teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).
In response to being asked how to pray, Jesus instructs his followers to “Pray then like this.” I do not believe he meant for his followers to simply repeat the exact words, but to use this as a template or outline for prayer. If we follow this understanding, we learn to address God as Father, revere him, seek his will in every area of life, depend on him for our every need, ask him for forgiveness, offer forgiveness to others, and rely on God to protect us from temptation and evil.
Prayer is not just a time when we ask God for things. It is a time to reorient our lives around God and his purposes. When we pray as Jesus instructed, we remind ourselves of who God is and how we fit into his plans and purposes. When we do this, we are ready to live in the world, not for ourselves, but for the glory and honor of our Father, who is worthy of reverence and who is trustworthy in every circumstance. Take time to pray to him right now in thanksgiving.
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