The "Model Prayer" was given by our Lord in response to the request by the disciples, who had not been taught to pray independently. There are many lessons in this model prayer including&ldots;
As He was praying (v. 1) Christ is our example of a person of prayer. Not only did He show others how to pray, He first set the example.
Our Father in heaven (v. 2) True prayer depends upon our belonging to the family.
Hallowed be Your name ...Your kingdom ...Your will (v. 2) Thus at the outset we honor the holiness of God and submit ourselves to His will.
Give us ...daily bread (v. 3) Christ sympathizes with our daily necessities, and it is perfectly proper to pray for these anew each day.
Forgive us our sins ... (v. 4) Our own fellowship with God and daily cleansing require that we forgive others who have wronged us, because we have been redeemed through His blood. Our relationship with Christ depends upon and is indicated by our relationship with one another.
Do not lead us into temptation ... (v. 4) We should not pray with pride in our ability to withstand any test that God might allow to come our way. Rather, we ought to humbly remember our weaknesses and daily ask Him to protect us against Satan's temptations.
Jude tells us that we are to pray in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit especially assists in prayer, so we are to pray in the Spirit. That is, we are to be guided and controlled by the One who dwells within us. We cannot do this if we regard iniquity in our hearts, retaining any known and unconfessed sin (Psalms 66:18). In Romans 8:26-27, we find these benefits of praying in the Holy Spirit:
We need the Spirit's guidance to know what to pray for. He alone knows what we will need and what our requests should be.
We need the Spirit's intercession to speak to the Father for us.
We need the Spirit's mind to pray unselfishly, purely, and correctly. God searches hearts, and He sees when our prayers have an aspect of selfishness in them.
We need the Spirit's intercession so that we may pray according to the will of God. It is the Holy Spirit within the believer who guides each person so that he or she does not ask contrary to God's will (James 4:3).
God's will for the Christian is good, acceptable, and perfect (Romans 12:2).
The object of God's will. God's will includes holiness and His eternal plan (often called the decree of God).
Knowing God's will. We learn His will from:
The leading of the Spirit within us
The circumstances which He allows to occur in our lives (providence)
Christ put God the Father's will first. The ultimate example of praying God's will was Christ's going to the cross with the words, "Not as I will, but as You will" (Matthew 26:39). His agony unto death paid the penalty of sin for every believer (1 Peter 3:18).
Untrue perception of God's will. When Christ clearly told the twelve that He was going to be killed in Jerusalem, Peter declared Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You (Matthew 16:21-22) Suppose Peter began to pray that Jesus would not be allowed to die? Peter would have been praying contrary to the will of God. Thus, we too must be guided by the Scriptures and the Spirit to pray, not necessarily for the most comfortable, immediate, apparent good, but rather for that holy, lasting, eternal, more important good, according to the will of God (Hebrews 12:2).
Praying in God's will produces confidence. We see in verses 14 and 15, If we ask anything according to His will&ldots;" we have confidence that God hears us and that our petitions will be granted.
The Lord's Prayer "Your will be done" (Matthew 6:10). It is no accident that, in the Lord's model prayer for us, the sentence before the beginning of our own personal requests is the prayer, Your will be done. To be effective, our requests must consider His holy purposes before all other things. God's way is always best.
Paul closed his letter to the Christians at Thessalonica with a series of brief exhortations (vv. 14-22). Among these we find the words Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks (vv. 17-18). Here are some lifelong lessons for the believer regarding his prayer life:
Pray continually (v. 27). This command concerns the time of prayer. It urges the believer to a continual life of prayer with Godmorning, noon, and night (Dan. 6:10). It teaches the Christian always to be in the attitude of prayer, and to be conscious of God's invisible presence.
Pray continually, giving thanks for everything (v. 18). Prayer can wrongly become dominated by our asking "things" of God. Although asking is indeed a definite, legitimate, and biblically commanded part of prayer (Matt. 7:7), our prayers, like our attitudes in life, must be balanced. They should include constant thanksgivingfor the many blessings God sends our way, as well as for the trials which He allows us to face in order to mold us in Christ's image (Romans 8:29). We must thank Him for mercies even in these difficult times, for we know that all things work together for good to those who fear God (Romans 8:28) and that neither death, or any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39); cf. James 1:2-4.
Pray continually, and don't faint. Christ urges us not to cease praying when we do not see our problems disappear immediately. Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1). Pray on, pray without ceasing.
Pray continually, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).
Pray continually, but do not use vain repetitions (Matthew 6:7).
Pray continually, but not with an unforgiving heart (Matthew 6:14, 15).
Pray continually, but not to be seen and admired by men (Matthew 6:5).
Pray continually, including your enemies in your prayers (Matthew 5:44). This will help you to see that they often face more severe problems than those difficulties they cause you to endure.
Pray continually, lest you enter into temptation (Matthew 26:41).
Faith is based on the knowledge that the Bible is God's inspired, infallible Word (2 Timothy 3:16). We believe in God's almighty ability and desire to answer our prayers from the evidence and testimony of the Scriptures. We must pray with the understanding that all things were created, and therefore can be controlled, by the spoken Word of God (Hebrews 11:1-3).
It is possible to pray insincerely, too casually, irreverently, or even flippantly, just as a person can say words that he or she doesn't really mean (Matthew 6:5-8). Such a prayer is a false prayer, because it shows no interest in God's power or purpose.
By contrast, true prayer, according the Scripture, includes faith in God's power and will to accomplish what we ask. If we ask God for anything, but do not think it is His will, or do not believer He is able to perform it, in a sense we are not praying. We must be confident in what we know of God's will, and have faith in His almighty power, before we can ask and receive the answer. For whatever is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
Copyright © 2002, by John E.
Bible text is from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.
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