One cannot talk about the Lord’s prayer life without talking about the Lord’s Prayer. People from churches all around the world pray the words of His model prayer on a regular basis. Yet, as believers, do we really think about what the meaning is behind this amazing prayer? I have to believe that, when Jesus taught His disciples this prayer, He carefully chose the wording so that it would have the most significant impact. Before we go any further, let’s return to our foundational prayer book of Luke and actually read Jesus’ example of the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11:1-4:
Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” So He said to them, “When you pray, say: 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 sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
In this passage, Luke did not specifically tell us Jesus’ location, but he just said that Jesus was praying in a “certain place.” It would not surprise me if He was on a mountaintop, for Luke wrote elsewhere that “He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed” (5:16) and that “He was accustomed” to going to the Mount of Olives (22:39). Regardless of His location, the important thing to dwell upon here is the amazing model prayer that Jesus displayed for us. Many have written far more educated and theological discussions on the Lord’s Prayer than I can attempt here now, but I do want to point out just a few remarkable points.
First, we must understand the order that Jesus presented the topics in this prayer. It begins with exaltation, then leads to supplication, and ends with sanctification. It’s interesting, because we often reverse the order. We somehow have received this training that we’re supposed to repent of our sins before we go any further in prayer. However, is this really biblical? I understand that the Scripture says that the Lord will not hear our prayers if we keep iniquity in our hearts (Ps. 66:18), so there is obviously a need for prayers of repentance when we have been living contrary to God’s Word.
Nevertheless, it is significant that Jesus ended His prayer with the topic of forgiveness. One day, I was praying, beginning with my usual time of repentance first. What I sensed in my spirit that morning surprised me, for I sensed God was saying, “Stop beginning your prayers with repentance.” I wanted to cry out, “heresy!” in my thoughts. But, as the Lord began to reveal things to my spirit, I began to understand. Let me paraphrase what I believe He was telling me: “Jason, you’re already in right standing with Me. I made you to be in right standing with Me when I purchased your life on the cross. You don’t have to make things right with Me every time you pray. Yes, there is a time and a place to examine your heart and get rid of all the junk. But what kind of friend asks his friend for forgiveness every time they talk? Any friendship that is built upon requesting forgiveness every single time surely is faulty and will not last. Jason, I want a relationship with you, and I don’t want it to be defined by perpetual requests for forgiveness every time we meet. I want you to come to Me with joy and praise, not sorrow and shame. Live in the confidence of My forgiveness.”
Wow! This revolutionized my attitude toward prayer! And the Lord’s prayer backs this up! If we are to follow Jesus’ pattern of prayer, then our first thing to do should be to exalt the Lord and give praise, honor, and glory unto Him. “Our father in heaven, hallowed be Your name” (v. 2a). This first portion of the prayer could last forever if we just left it right there, for there are endless reasons and endless ways to praise God! But Jesus showed us that we should continue from there into supplications—supplications for God’s Kingdom to be revealed, for His will to be made complete, and for our daily needs to be met. Finally, we should conclude by being focused on sanctification, allowing God to uncover our motives and show us where we need correction, as well as whom we should show forgiveness toward (v. 4a). We can then ultimately pray that He would deliver us from evil and take us as far away from temptation as possible (v. 4b).
In addition to the order of the prayer, let me focus on a couple key phrases within the prayer. Regarding the words, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” (vv. 2b-3) a simple but important truth exists. The idea of God’s kingdom coming and the idea of His will being done are two inseparable entities. If we pray for His kingdom to come, then we are ultimately praying according to His will. And if we pray for His will to be done, then we will see that prayer answered by the manifestation of His kingdom on earth. I believe that God’s will is that His kingdom would come to earth—not just His millennial kingdom in the future, but the present reality of His Kingdom in our midst. Every time the lost are saved, the sick are healed, and the bound are set free, more of God’s will is being done on earth. Every time more of God’s will is done on earth, more of His kingdom is being poured out on the earth.
Finally, I can’t end this article without discussing the line “Give us this day our daily bread” (v. 3). Did you know that it is biblical to ask God to provide our needs on a daily basis? In fact, not only is it biblical, but it’s commanded! Jesus said, “When you pray, say” (v. 2a). Because Jesus said that, everything that followed that introductory phrase became imperative to us. The Lord’s prayer is an imperative command for us to follow. Therefore, you should not feel guilty or shameful for asking God to provide for your needs as part of your daily prayer life. He commands us to ask Him to provide for us! I don’t know about you, but I think that that is one easy command to follow. “You mean, God wants me to ask Him for the things I need?” Yep, He sure does! However, do take note that doing so should only make up a fraction of our prayer time. If you’re spending the entire time asking for your needs, then there need to be some serious adjustments made to your prayers. It all comes back to that idea of relationship. Friends ask friends for help, but if they only ask for help all the time, there is a problem with the relationship. Don’t be ashamed to go to God with your needs. He already knows you need those things anyway.
The Lord’s Prayer is filled with a wealth of powerful truths and insights. I simply scratched the surface of everything that could be said about this amazing and powerful prayer. Yet, I do hope that this helps to provide a starting point for you as we continue to journey together through the prayer life of Jesus and the amazing example He set for us. Be blessed as you continue to pursue Him wholeheartedly!