The Model Prayer

Praying Together 2021
December 1, 2021
Howard Bennett

Matthew 6:9-13- 9 “Pray, then, in this way:  ‘Our Father who is 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 do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]

For our last meditation on prayer, let’s take a quick look at Christ’s model for prayer from Matthew 6:9-13.  The first thing we must realize is that this prayer is not some magic formula that needs to be recited.  Verses 7 and 8 tell us to avoid vain repetition.  Simply repeating this prayer would be just that – vain repetition. This prayer is a model for us.  Something we should use to help us organize our own prayers.

The prayer starts with a simple phrase – “Our Father.”  The term “Father” expresses a closeness and a dependence upon God.  It denotes a person that we can trust to not only lead and love us, but to protect us. The next phrase, however, puts that relationship in perspective for us.  It says, “Our Father, who art in heaven…” This phrase serves to remind us that God is the infinitely exalted, perfectly holy, triune creator of the universe to Whom belongs all majesty and power. He is in heaven while we, lowly, sinful, slothful man, are on this sin-cursed earth. (Eccl. 5:2) When we approach God, yes, we can call Him Father, but we still must approach Him with a profound reverence and awe.

Continuing with verse 9, we read “…hallowed be thy name…”  Again, here we are focusing on the holiness and greatness of God.  His name is to be hallowed – or set apart. Verse 10 says “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Here, we are expressing to God our desire that He rule and reign in our life. Much like we see in Matthew 6:31-33, we want to acknowledge that we desire that His kingdom come and His will be done. We are committing ourselves so that in everything we do – our thoughts, actions, words, and yes, our prayers – we seek His glory and His praise.

It’s at this point in the prayer that our focus turns from God and His kingdom to us.  It’s interesting that most of us start off with us when we pray.  We immediately ask for a loved one to be healed or for God to meet a need in our life.  Maybe if we began our prayers in the way Jesus taught, we would realize that God is our father as well as the creator of the universe.  We would see that God’s name is like no other name.  We would know that His kingdom and His will will be done and we would be reminded that He is in control of all things.  With that as our perspective, our requests will not seem so urgent and our despair will be turned into hope and trust.

Next, in verse 11 we read “Give us this day, our daily bread…” We must not only trust God to meet our spiritual needs, but also to meet our physical needs. Not just our needs enough for the week, month or year – but our daily needs.  We ought to be daily depending on and expressing that dependence upon our Father in Heaven.

Verse 12 reads “And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors…” Our greatest need is forgiveness.  Here we are seeking that forgiveness from God.  We find immediately after this model prayer two verses that expound on this.  Verses 14 and 15 say “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Forgiveness, both from US and from God is vital!

Verse 13 starts “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one…” We know from James 1:13 that God tempts no one and in I Corinthians 10:13 we read that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear.  He will even provide a way of escape for us.  This prayer is simply us acknowledging that we desperately need that protection. Finally, we read, “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

Here we are agreeing that God is the sovereign ruler of the universe.  His will will be done.  His goals will be accomplished.  He is indeed our great and holy God!  We fully trust in Him and His power alone.