Summary: Introduction to a study of the Lord’s Prayer and an examination of the first six words, "Our Father who art in Heaven."
A Study of the Lord’s Prayer
Lesson # 1
Introduction : How to Approach God
Almost all of our prayers begin by rushing into a series of petitions in which we pour out to God our problems, our needs, our irritations. This only reinforces the focus of our attention on what is troubling us and our inability to remedy it. It could be that is at least part of the problem of why we are more depressed and frustrated after we pray than before.
Alan Redpath sums up how many feel even when they have prayed, “When we have finished our praying we can scarcely bring ourselves to believe that our feeble words can have been heard, or that they can have made no difference in the things concerning which we have been praying. We’ve said our prayers but we have not prayed.”[ Victorious Praying: Studies in the Lord’s Prayer ( Grand Rapids: Fleming Revell, 1993) p. 12]
Jesus gave the Lord’s Prayer in response to the disciples request, “Lord, teach us to pray?” In fact Jesus gave this prayer twice, once recorded in Matthew (6:9-13) and once recorded in Luke (11-2-4). There was a time lapse of some 18 months between the two occasions.
“In this manner, therefore, 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 forgive our debtors.(13) And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” Matt 6:9-13 (NKJV)
“So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.Your kingdom come.Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. (3) Give us day by day our daily bread. (4) And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.” Luke 11:2-4 (NKJV)
There are some who argue that this is not the Lord’s Prayer that the prayer recorded in John 17 more rightful deserves that title. But whether you call this the “Lord’s Prayer,” or the “Disciples Prayer” doesn’t matter much as long as we recognize that it a model for all true prayer. Obviously the Lord’s Prayer was not given to be just be recited as a ritual. It is actually given to us as the Lord’s outline for prayer that is acceptable to God. There is something tremendously important about the way Jesus answered the disciples question, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus’ reply was, “Pray like this” or “When you pray,” say this.” The point is that you only learn to pray by praying.
The Lord’s Prayer was given to show the disciples how to pray, after all that is what they asked, that is how they should go about praying, not just the words they should use. The Lord’s Prayer is a model prayer that is to be prayed through.
When a believer prays through the Lord’s Prayer, they will find that they have covered scope of what God wants them to pray.
There is a difference between saying the Lord’s prayer and praying the Lord’s prayer. The Lord’s Prayer is more often mindlessly repeated than prayed. This particularly ironic because the context in Matthew is verse chapter 6, verses 7 and 8 which warn against the dangers of meaningless repetition. In this command Jesus wants to understand two things. First, he does not want us to repeat any prayer again and again. There is a difference between much talking and much praying.
Secondly, he wants us to know that God does not hear us based on the length of our prayers. Elmer Towns says this way, “The effective prayer is not measured by how loud you pray, or how long you pray, or even if you say the words of the Lord’s Prayer again and again in a repetitious fashion. Your prayer life will be effective it you are sincere (your approach) and if you ask for the right things (what you say).” Towns p. 27
It is the intention of this study to examine Lord’s Prayer as pattern for prayer. We will attempt to understand it by separating it into its individual thoughts and examining them one at a time. It is my hope that the insights that are gained will if we let them, transform our prayer lives as we pray with new confidence and effectiveness.
Before looking at the Lord’s Prayer one petition at a time we need to get an overview. The Lord’s Prayer contains seven petitions; the first three petitions are called the “Thy Petitions” because they begin with the word “thy” and they center on God.