The Lord's Prayer

The Lord's prayer is a prayer that we can pray at any time. However, I don't believe it is intended to be the only prayer that we pray, nor is it intended to be a prayer that we repeat every day. Rather it is a template of how we should pray, it is a guide to how we should pray and not the words that we have to use.

Jesus' disciple asked Him to teach him how to pray as John taught his disciples Luk 11:1; they didn't ask Him to tell him what to pray. The prayer that Jesus taught them appears in two separate places in the bible Mat 6:9-13 and Luk 11:2-4.

There are some things that we need to understand about this template for prayer:

it gives us guidance on how to structure our prays,
it sets out for us an order and a focus on how we should pray,

The very first thing that Jesus taught on this subject is that we should understand who God is. This is best realized if you look at the historical background of the disciples that Jesus was teaching. They were jews. It is all too easy to see them as Christians. Yes, they were, however, first they were Jews. Jesus brought them out of a Jewish community. Each one of them would have been taught the Jewish beliefs and would have had Jewish mindsets.

The Jewish religion was very strict about its hierarchical structure. Only the Levites were to serve God in the tabernacle; only the High Priest was allowed to enter the holiest place, and even then only once a year; The very name of God was so holy that to use it, in its purest form, was a sacrilege; JHVH (Jehovah) the Tetragrammaton or divine name of God, was considered too sacred for utterance.

Matthew 6:9
(9) Therefore pray in this way: Our Father, who is in Heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

Here, in the first part of this verse, Jesus is revealing to His disciples that God is no longer so far removed from them that they cannot reach Him. He is teaching them that they can have a close and personal relationship with Him; that they can call him Father, Daddy. He is teaching them that when they pray they should start from the revelation that they can reach out to Him as His beloved children, that they have His ear and are not rejected by Him because of their position in the hierarchical structure.

The second part of this verse is, I think, often misunderstood by Christians. For many years I read this as a request for God's name to be hallowed. It is almost as if we are asking God to achieve something. However, the truth is that His name is already hallowed. Jesus did not mean us to ask God to achieve this, rather for God to reveal this to us; for God to give us the understanding that His name is hallowed.

In other words, this verse itself is a prayer for us to come to the understanding of who God is.

Having challenged His disciples understanding with this start to His prayer teaching, Jesus continues to challenge them in the next verse.

Matthew 6:10
(10) Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.

When Jesus said, "Your kingdom come would." It would have challenged His disciples thinking. Remember, His disciples were all Jews. They would have been taught from birth the Old Testament scriptures, and they would have known that Moses was sent by God to bring the Jews out of captivity. They were now waiting for the Messiah to come and take them out of captivity again; the captivity they were in was the oppressive Roman rule that they were subjected to.

So when Jesus taught them, "Your kingdom come." they would have been expecting His kingdom to be in a different place; they would have been expecting the messiah to remove them from their present place into a new one.

However, in one sense, His kingdom is not a new place geographically, it has to come in our hearts and our minds. His kingdom is the one where we live in this world, not as this world lives, but transformed by God by the renewing of our minds.

Romans 12:2
(2) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God.

His kingdom is a kingdom of righteousness. His desire is for His righteousness to be present in our lives, in the way that we live in this world, in the way that we act towards each other. When we live in righteousness, we are bringing His kingdom into this world.

Jesus also said, "Your will be done." This is another thing that would have challenged His disciples in the same way as it challenges us today. How many times have you prayed about what you want; how many times have you brought your fears, your worries, your desires to god in prayer.

Many of us were taught that whatever we want, God will do for us as it says in the scriptures.

1 John 5:15
(15) And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.

This is true, but it is not what Jesus was teaching His disciples. He was teaching them to bring themselves in line with God's desires.

Each one of us wanted something as a child that was not good for us and our parents had to say no. Also, each one of us as a child was given something that we didn't want because it was good for us. In truth, each one of us still has desires that are not in keeping with God's principles. These desires are contrary to the will of God and get in the way of His good plans for our lives.

Jesus was teaching His disciples to be very clear-minded when they pray; He was teaching them to put down their desires and take up the desires of God; He was teaching them to put aside all of their wishes, their wants, their aspirations and pray that God's will be done in their lives. If His will is to be done on earth as it is in heaven, it has to start somewhere; it has to start right here in the life of the person who is praying for it.

When we pray, we so often come to God with a wish list, almost a shopping list, of what we want to pray for. Our prayers are heavily laced with our desires. But Jesus is teaching us to put those down and so seek God's desire for us to be made manifest in our lives before we start to tell God what we want.

When we do this, we often discover that some of the prayers that we wanted to pray are not necessary any more. In fact, not only are they not necessary, but they are also not what we want. When we become clear-minded in like this in our prayers, we become changed people; we receive that renewing of the mind that Paul wrote about in Rom 12:2 and that completely alters our desires. We no longer lust over the things of this world but we eagerly desire the righteous things of God.

Now, Jesus teaches us, we are in a fit place to pray for the things that we need.

Matthew 6:11
(11) Give us this day our daily bread;

You see, when we allow God to change our perception of what we need, we no longer cry out for our base desires. Now we can talk to God about the simple things that are necessary for us, such as our daily bread. I don't believe that Jesus was teaching His disciples to pray for the bread alone. Rather, this is a prayer for the need that we have that Paul wrote about in his letter to the Philippians.

Philippians 4:19
(19) But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Remember that God is our provider, He is Jehovah Jireh. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray for their daily bread I believe that this included all that they need; the fullness of God's provision for them.