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Summary: The Lord's Prayer is not a 'carved in stone' set of words that we must use, but is a good guide for how to talk to God, Who wants us to pour out of hearts to Him, but not to try to impress others by our long and fancy words and 'super-spirituality'.

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Matthew 6 verses 5 – 13

PRAYING and THE LORD'S PRAYER

Jesus based his teachings, and advice, and especially his parables on things, events and situations,

that would be instantly recognisable and understandable

to the people He was addressing.

So, when He said ‘When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites;

do not be like them’,

then we can easily see with our mind’s eye,

the main targets Jesus would have had in mind:

the Pharisees and “outwardly religious” people,

not merely wearing, which was a right thing to do,

but flaunting, their ornate tallith prayer shawls

and leather tefillin on their foreheads and near their hearts.

They were noted, and notorious,

for praying long prayers,

with beautiful well-thought-out words, really poetic,

and out loud for all, not only God, to hear, and be impressed by,

but also all the 'sinners' and ordinary people

who just could not match their words, or length,

showing, at least to the Pharisees,

that they were 'sinners' and 2nd if not 3rd class in God's eyes.

…..........................................................................................................

Jesus prayed often, and He wants us to pray often,

about everything, and everyone, and everyting, on our hearts.

He wants us to pray prayers of praise, prayers of confession,

prayers of thanksgiving, and prayers of intercession (that’s for others)

and prayers of supplication (that’s for ourselves).

He certainly does want us to be 'Prayer Warriors',

but He wants us to be sincere and humble as we do so

and not to show off to God or to others,

that we are ‘Super spiritual’,

and that somehow the QUANTITY of our prayers determines their QUALITY .

….......................................................................................................................

In one his 'Lectures to my students'

Charles Haddon Spurgeon said:

'True prayer is not the noisy sound

that clamorous lips repeat,

but the deep silence of a soul

that clasps Jehovah's feet'.

…...................................................................................................................

Apart from anything else, over-long detailed prayers

may result in another, sincere Christian being put off praying

because they think ‘I can’t pray, or least not like brother X or sister Y’.

….........................................................................................................

Of course, God wants to hear and receive our praise

and hear our admission of sin

and hear our pleas for others,

and while He wants us to persist in prayer,

Jesus seems to be suggesting in Matthew 6

that He gets no pleasure from vain repetition,

or when we just trott out the same words,

the same ‘Shopping list’ over and over,

and He must certainly experience displeasure

if when we pray

we deliberatly do so to impress others by our fancy and long words,

but providing we are sincere,

and asking for something in accordance with God's sovereign will,

there is nothing particularly wrong about praying long and loud.

…............................................................................................................

The Psalms are prayers:

Psalm 1 and Psalm 13 and Psalm 15 and Psalm 23 each have only 6 verses

and Psalm 117 has only 2,

so short and sweet is OK to God,

but on the other hand, Psalm 119 has 176 verses

showing us that God has nothing against long prayers,

providing they are sincere and based on faith in His Sovereign grace and mercy.

…....................................................................................................................

With these thoughts in mind,

let us look at the words of the prayer that Jesus taught us,

which should be regarded as a model,

not a formula that has to be observed every time we pray;

it is a God-given guide for us to use

but not to stick rigidly to every time we pray.

…...................................................................................................................

The Lord’s Prayer challenges us

Can we say ‘OUR’ Father is we do not love any other member of His family,

the church of Jesus Christ?

Can we say ‘Who art in heaven’ if we are not trying to lay up treasure there?

Can we say ‘Hallowed, or holy, is Thy name’ if we are not aiming at holiness,

sanctification, Christ-like-ness,

in our own daily lives?

Can we say ‘Thy kingdom come’ if we are not warning everyone,

or at least as many as we can,

about the consequences of that event happening soon?

Can we say ‘Thy will be done’ if we are not fully obedient to His word,

and pick-and-choose which parts of the Bible we believe and live by?

Can we say ‘On earth as it is in heaven’ if we are unwilling to serve Him

and be obedient to His commandments,

here and now?

Can we say ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ if we are greedy

and never satisfied with what we have,

which is a lot compared to millions of others around the world?

Can we say ‘Forgive us our sins, trespasses, or debts’

if we are not really repentant for what we have done?

Can we say ‘As we forgive those who have sinned against us’

if we are harbouring a grudge against even one person?

Can we say ‘Lead us not into temptation’ if we deliberately place ourselves

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