“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. – Matthew 6:9-15
Have you ever wondered how to pray? The Lord’s Prayer, as this prayer is called, wasn’t originally intended as a prayer to be recited repeatedly (see Matthew 6:7). Instead, Jesus is telling us how to talk to our heavenly Father.
Prayer begins by setting the right framework. When we begin a conversation with God, we need to remember who we’re talking to — the Creator of the universe who cares for each one of us. And we need to recognize that God is to be set apart and revered (“hallowed be your name”).
Next we need to recognize that God wants to be intimately involved in every part of our life. Even though we may sometimes feel that our daily needs are not important enough for God to bother with, considering all the suffering in the world, that’s not how God sees it. He cares for each one of us. He listens to us. That’s why we each pray that his plans will be worked out in our life (“your will be done”), which means that we want him to enable us to yield to his will and follow his commands. That’s also why we bring before God even the most mundane matters of everyday living (“give us today our daily bread”).
Next we need to look at our sin. Because sin creates a barrier between us and God and between us and others, God wants us to admit what we’ve done wrong (“forgive us our debts”) and to forgive those who have wronged us (“as we also have forgiven our debtors”). Matthew 6 verses 14 and 15 underscore the importance of forgiving those who have hurt us.
Finally, God wants us to live free from the painful consequences of sinful choices. We pray “lead us not into temptation” not because God tempts people to sin, but because we need his help to avoid temptation. Someone once prayed, “God, protect me from the opportunity to sin when I have the inclination, and from the inclination when I have the opportunity!” That is what Jesus is talking about here.
God cares about us and listens to what we have to say. As our heavenly Father, he occupies a place of great power, and he does answer our prayers.
Article content drawn from content in The Journey Bible.
The Journey Bible helps you discover the practical aspects of Christianity and better understand God. Notes and insights are woven throughout the complete NIV Bible text, drawing you into God’s message and pointing the way to a relationship with Jesus. Learn More
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