The Lord’s Prayer:
“Therefore, you should pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
your name be honored as holy.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.[d]
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And do not bring us into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one
There is a moment in Matthew 6:9-13 where Jesus slows down, looks at his followers, and clearly teaches them how to pray. This is often call The Lord’s Prayer. It’s in this moment as we read these verses we realize Jesus gets it. He understands knowing how to talk to God wouldn’t come easy for most people. But instead of being frustrated that prayer might be difficult, He stopped and taught his followers how to pray. This passage gives us hope that we too can learn to talk to God.
But before we look at Matthew 6:9-13, we need to be reminded of what came right before these verses.
Guidelines for Prayer
Before Jesus helps his followers talk to God through the Lord’s Prayer, He lays out some guidelines. He needs them to understand prayer is not a religious exercise but rather an intimate communication with God. “Pray in secret” “don’t use a lot of words” are just a few of the suggestions he throws out. These guidelines assure us our words don’t matter as much as our heart before God. Jesus states the “Father knows the things you need before you ask him” assuring his followers God is not after fancy words. Rather, He simply wants their heart.
The most important thing Jesus wants his followers to know about prayer is to understand prayer is a relationship with God. God wants their heart, not a perfect public prayer. Once the guidelines are out of the way, Jesus states, “you should pray like this” and begins to model exactly what it looks like to talk to God. This example enables us to learn best how to talk to God. Let’s look at it line by line to find some help for ourselves.
“Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy”
Often when we go to God, we fall into one of two ditches. Either we are so intimidated by the fact that He is God that we sugarcoat our whole prayer. We don’t know how to be honest or vulnerable. Or we forget that he is God and just jump right into the conversation as if he’s our best friend hanging out one Friday night. We forget to honor or worship him.
To avoid these two ditches as you talk to God, Jesus showed us in the Lord’s Prayer to simply start by reminding ourselves of who He is. God is our father so we can come honestly and vulnerable to Him with our needs. He cares for us as a loving father cares for his children. In addition, God is also holy so we need to approach reverently and full of worship. He created and has authority over all things.
Our heart attitude before God matters. How we view God matters. Taking time to worship God puts our heart in the right position to talk to God.
With this in mind, we pray, “Lord you are my strength and my shield. My protection against all things. You are my father who takes care of me but also the holy God who is perfect in all ways. You alone are the creator of the universe and of me. Humble me and draw me close as I talk to you.”
Recognize God’s Authority
“your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven“
The Kingdom of God is an abstract concept in a concrete world. The Kingdom is often defined as God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule. As we think about being a people of God, we would all probably agree we want to be completely in God’s place and under his rule.
But there’s a problem. The world is still broken, and while his kingdom was ushered in with the death and resurrection of Christ, it is not yet fully realized on earth as it is in heaven.
So as we pray, “Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven” what we are really asking God is to usher in his rule and reign so the earth will eventually reflect what heaven currently displays.
We are crying out “Lord, I don’t want to serve sin or my own agenda or simply be focused on the earthly issues in front of me. I want my eyes lifted and for your Kingdom to reign over my life.” We can no longer be self-centered and focused on our own agenda when we are asking God for his kingdom to reign. Instead, this prayer of our heart reminds us we are loyal to God alone and to his rule and reign. We stop “loving the world or the things in the world” (1 John 2:15-17) because we are reminded that God’s kingdom is better.
With this in mind, we pray, “Let everyone on earth realize and submit to your authority, the way they do in heaven. May your Kingdom reign over my relationships, my workplace, and my heart. Let your kingdom come.”
Recognize God’s Provision
“Give us today our daily bread.”
This section of the Lord’s Prayer may be the hardest for some of us. If we are honest, we are pretty capable of providing for ourselves in most areas of life. There may have been seasons in life where we were desperate and unable to meet our basic needs. In those seasons, we easily looked to God for provision. However, throughout the majority of life, we wake up, have food in the house to eat, a car to drive to work, and money to buy the bare necessities.
This is why this section of the prayer is so vital!
In our natural walk of life, we are extremely self-sufficient and don’t need to rely on others for help. But when we stop and say aloud to God “you are actually who provides my basic necessities I’m taking for granted”, our hearts can be changed. We stop taking credit for the gifts of God. Instead, we recognize God has given us all we need. As we look to all God has provided, we begin to see Him moving in our world. If we don’t take the time to stop, we often begin to lose sight of God in our lives.
With this in mind, we pray “Lord, enable me to see all your blessings and provisions in my life. Thank you for sustaining me emotionally and physically. You alone have provided for me today. My food, my housing, my car, my job are all gifts that you have given.“
Recognize God’s Forgiveness
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”
We can easily forget how grievously we sin against God every day. Often we focus on the grace of God and gloss over our own personal offenses against God. We tend to think to ourselves, “well I’m not that bad. At least I don’t _____”.
God’s grace and love over us are the at the forefront of our minds, but we forget about his mercy that paved the way for his grace to be given. As we stop and ask God to forgive us, we must face our own failure to obey God on our own. We are reminded our salvation, forgiveness, and God’s grace are completely dependent on Him and not on us. Our hearts are humbled, and we are reminded of our need to forgive others because God has forgiven us.
With this in mind, we pray “ Lord, I confess these specific sins to you today. Reveal to me where I have failed to follow you and forgive me for choosing my own agenda instead of you. Help me to forgive others as freely as you have forgiven me”
Recognize God’s Protection
“And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one“
As we are reminded of God’s authority, provision, and grace, we now turn to him asking for help. What are your temptations today? Anger? Greed? Lack of integrity? Walking away from God? Complaining? Gossipping? Whatever it is, confess it and ask God to keep you from this temptation. To keep you from turning your back on God in those moments of vulnerability in your life.
As we ask for help, we acknowledge that we are weak without God. It is God’s strength that will allow us to fight temptation. God’s strength will protect us and save us. It is God’s strength that will allow us to overcome our weaknesses and have the discernment necessary to resist the “hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. ” (Hebrews 12:1)
With this in mind, we pray “Lord, I’m weak when it comes to ________. I desperately need your strength to overcome this area in my life. I’m dependent on you. Give me the wisdom and discernment I need to turn away from moments, places, and people who will lead me into sin. And when I fail, Lord, rescue me. Deliver me from my own sin patterns and habits. It’s your strength alone which will rescue me.”
How to Talk to God
As we look at the Lord’s Prayer, we can see a clear pattern that will help us in our own life as we seek to talk to God. First, we praise Him for who He is recognizing He is both our Father and our Lord. Second, we recognize God’s authority over all things. His kingdom is better than anything we could imagine, no matter how awesome our plan is. We submit to his authority and ask Him to bring His plan into all the earth so we can obey and submit to it. Third, we recognize God’s provision, and immediately we are humbled as we realize we have nothing without God. Finally, we recognize God’s protection as we confess our weakness and lean dependently into Him.
Overall, God knows your heart. He knows your struggle, and He longs to talk to you. In fact, He longs to talk to you so much that He gave you a blueprint through the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6. Take advantage of this blueprint and spend some time today talking to God.
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