LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY
In a small rural, Alabama church, many years ago, I was told to memorize Matthew 6:9-13. We actually recited this passage every Sunday whether we understood it fully or not. Looking back, I’m thankful this was a part of my childhood. While I didn’t realize it then, I was actually learning how to pray.
PRAYER CHRIST USED TO TEACH US
Matthew recorded the lesson when Jesus took time to teach on how we should pray. The passage is usually called “The Lord’s Prayer” but it is actually a lesson on how Christ teaches us to pray. His personal prayer is found in the gospel of John 17.
CHRIST’S WORDS IN MATTHEW’S GOSPEL
Matthew 6: 9 So then, this is how you should pray:
‘Our Father 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 lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive yours.
Question – To whom do we address our prayers?
Answer – Our heavenly Father
Question – What should we understand about our Heavenly Father?
Answer – His name is to be kept Holy – set apart from other names and reverenced.
Question – What should our greatest desire be?
Answer – That the Kingdom God come into our midst. That the Father’s will be done perfectly on earth as it is being done in Heaven.
Question – For what earthly goods should we ask?
Answer – Daily bread or needs.
Question – For what spiritual needs should we seek.
Answer – That we be forgiven of our sin debts and recognize our responsibility to forgive others because we, like them, need forgiveness and that we be kept from temptation and evil.
We learn from studying the scriptures that God hears prayers that are not exactly like the words Christ used in the passage. He heard the tax collector in the synagogue who prayed, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.” He heard the thief on the cross who prayed, “Lord, remember me when You come into your kingdom.” We know Paul prayed:
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.”
These Bible lessons show us that our Lord hears our prayers when we use our own words addressing various needs, however, I believe He gave us the model prayer so that we will not lose sight of what is truly important. The things Jesus addressed are of utmost importance. We will be helped in so many ways and the world will be a better place if we make these things our prayer daily.