In this post and in the following eight posts our discussion will be drawn strictly from what Jesus taught us about prayer in the gospels.
In my study, I found fourteen different passages in the gospels where Jesus taught on prayer. I have organized them into eight different categories. This is an excerpt from my book Principles of Prayer.
#1. Jesus taught that prayer is not to be directed to others or self but to God alone; therefore, it must not in any way be a show or an effort of good works, but rather to be as a humble cry to God for help (from Matthew 6:5-8 and Luke 18:9-14).
We will outline this section in three parts. First, from Mathew 6:5…
1. Prayer must not be a show of good works.Jesus said, “And when you pray, you shall not be like the…
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
In previous blog posts I first wrote on the invocation, “Our Father.” And then I wrote on the first three petitions, which have to do with God and His glory: with His character and holiness, with His kingdom, and with His will.
Now we come to the last three petitions that have to do with our needs and desires. Though this prayer outline is quite brief, it is all inclusive: the needs of the body, the soul, and the spirit are all included. Nothing is left out. The needs of the body are termed as “our daily bread.” The needs of the soul are termed as “forgiveness.” And the needs of our spirit are termed as our deliverance from evil.
Our daily bread
This request is for our material needs: everything that is necessary for our living. And notice that this is the first petition having to do with what we need, suggesting that God cares that we be healthy in our life.
And just because He knows all our needs even before we ask, doesn’t mean that we should not ask Him. We should ask Him every morning because He desires us to speak with Him every day. And He also wants us to realize our dependence on Him; that we cannot live for one day without Him.
In the first section, “And forgive us our debts,” we must recognize that “us” is in reference to anyone who is in the family of God; all others are excluded. So, this prayer is only for His children. Next, know that He will give us forgiveness immediately if we ask (look at 1 John 1:9).
In the next part, “as we forgive our debtors,” notice that it says “as” we forgive our debtors, not “because” we forgive them. Hence, our forgiveness is not based on our work of forgiving others. Rather, we should see it altogether. In the family of God, He gives us the desire and the strength to forgive others; and He also forgives us. It is in the new nature of believers to forgive as God forgives.
We could see it this way: the proof that we are forgiven of God is that we forgive others. And if we have not forgiven others than this is an indication that God has not forgiven us—that we are not His children.
Deliverance from evil
The first part, “And lead us not into temptation,” is asking God not to allow us into any situation where we are liable to be tempted by Satan or the flesh. It is the same as in 1 Corinthians 10:13, where we can ask God to give us a way of escape from temptation. The second part, “deliver us from evil,” is asking God to show us that way of escape and then give us the power to get out of there—or He may just remove the power of evil from us, just as He tamed the lion in front of Daniel (you know the story).
Now here are three reasons why we should pray this third petition:
1. So that our fellowship with him may not be broken.
2. So that we will have a right relationship with Him.
I have been reviewing the sermons of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. I am now covering his chapters on the Lord’s Prayer, from Matthew 6:9-13. So far, from my previous blog post, I wrote shortly on the first line, “Our Father in heaven.” That is the invocation, or we could say, that which takes us into prayer. Those words remind us that He is our Father and a mighty Father-God who is in heaven.
Now we come to the rest of the prayer, which is really an outline that Jesus has given us in order to pray better. And it consists of six petitions as follows:
1. Hallowed be Thy name.
2. Your kingdom come.
3. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
4. Give us this day our daily bread.
5. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
6. And do not lead us unto temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Notice that the first three petitions have regard to God and His glory, and the second three have reference to ourselves. And please take note of this order; for it is the way He wants us to pray. We must never start with ourselves; we must always begin first praying for God and His glory. In this blog, we will examine these first three petitions.
Hallowed be Thy name.
At first glance it doesn’t really appear to be a petition, or request, but more of a statement—that we are sort of willing His name to be hallowed, or holy. But it is definitely a petition, that His name would be hallowed on this earth.
Here are two other translations that may help:
“May your name be honored” (NLT).
“Reveal who you are” (the Message).
Hallowed means to sanctify, or to revere, or to make and keep holy. The petition is that God, in all that is true of Him, would be revered (God has many names, and it would be good to study those names).
Your kingdom come.
This petition is that His kingdom would come into every heart. Then it is also that His kingdom would come into the world and light up the world. His kingdom is His reign, His law, and His rule. This I think is a good missionary prayer. Every Christian should pray this prayer—that all would come to know Him and reign and rule in his or her life.
Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
This is the result of His kingdom coming, that His will would be done on earth just as it is in heaven.
The thing about Daniel that I appreciate most is his devotion to God and to a pure life. From his youth he “made up his mind that he would not defile himself” (Dan. 1:8). He also had a practice of praying on his knees three times a day (6:10); and much of his praying was with fasting (9:3; 10:3). If we are to stand in the gap for others this must also be our manner of life and devotion. We must lose ourselves for God and for others. In the following prayer of Daniel’s, in Daniel 9: 1-19, we learn a great deal about what intercession is.
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