Summary: A message on prayer.
THE MODEL PRAYER
INTRO: One day, our daughter Sarah wanted to write a note to her teacher. As she sat down with pencil in hand, she turned and said, “I don’t know what to say.” She really did know what she wanted to say. She just did not know how to say it.
So it was when the disciples approached Jesus that day with the request, “Lord teach us to pray.” These disciples knew what they wanted to say to God. They just didn’t know how to say it. They needed a model to go by, a pattern to follow. Jesus gave them this in our text. In these sixty-six words Jesus captured the heart of communion with God. The model prayer can be recited in fifteen seconds. It cannot be fully comprehended in a lifetime. This model should be at the heart of our ministry of prayer.
I. THE POSSIBILITY (v. 9).
The word father has two meanings in this passage: creativity and concern. The first describes a father who produces a child. The second describes a father as one who provides for the child and has a relationship of love and intimacy and confidence and trust with the child.
The latter idea was in Jesus’ mind when He used the term abba, which is translated Father, for that term is the tenderest term a child could use in reference to his father. The modern day equivalent would be daddy or dad.
This concept of God as Father is unique to Christianity, for no other religious teaching allows man to approach God in such a personal way. John wrote of this in his epistle (1 John 3:1).
We are God’s children and He is our Father. Because of that fact, we know that we cannot be lost in the crowd of humanity, for God knows our names. Because of that fact, we know that whether or not we matter to anyone else, we matter to Him. Because of that fact, we know that we can approach Him in prayer.
II. THE PASSION (v. 10).
The passion of prayer is that the person of God and the power of God and the plan of God might be manifest in the world.
The first phrase has to do with the person of God. The word hallowed means to be honored or to be given the proper degree of reverence. In Hebrew thought, a man’s name represented his total personality. Thus, Jesus first suggestion is to pray that the person of God would be presented to the world in such a way that He will be given the unique reverence which He deserves (our language, etc.)
The second phrase has to do with the power of God. We think of a kingdom as a geographic territory (i.e. England). The word actually means kingship or kingly rule. The kingdom of God is the unhindered rule of God in the lives of people, voluntarily accepted It is the sovereign power of God to rule.
This power is already acknowledged in heaven. This sovereign rule of God was established on the earth in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Right now, however, it is not universally accepted on the earth.
The third phrase has to do with the plan of God. “The will of God” usually implies accepting some tragedy in life as coming from God. The Bible proclaims, however, that God’s will is positive. To refer to the will of God is to declare that God has a plan for this world. That desire is already perfectly manifest in heaven. Our prayer should be for God’s plan to be manifest in the same way in our lives and in our church.
Prayer is more than a religious ritual. Prayer is a declaration of our dedication to God. Because He is our Father, we want His person to be honored before the world, we want His power to be accepted by the world, and we want His plan to be initiated in the world.
III. THE PETITIONS (vv. 11-13).
The first phrase has to do with our present needs. This phrase relates to today. Bread refers not only to the bread we eat but also to all that nourishes our lives, both physically and spiritually. To ask God to supply our needs for the day is not an invitation to idleness but a recognition of our total dependence on Him.
The second phrase relates to our past needs. This phrase has to do with yesterday. The Greek word translated debts in Matthew means something which is due or something which is owed. The word can be translated either “debt” (Matt.) or “sin” (Luke). In either case, the word relates to a past grievance with another person or persons.
Many people are locked into a past of bitterness, anger, and sin. The greatest need many of us have is for God to wipe clean the slate, to meet the needs of yesterday so we can better serve Him today.