Summary: On how Jesus prayed focusing on the Father and warnings that he gave us about prayer
SBC Philippi 10/5/05 am
Rev. Jeff Simms
The Model Prayer1
Primary Purpose: Jesus encouraged us to pray focused on him and to pray for his kingdom
This story about the Lord’s prayer is told in both Matthew and Luke 11:1-4. They differ in what comes before Jesus teaches his disciples to pray. In Matthew’s account, we see Jesus teaching about almsgiving or giving to the poor and then prayer and then fasting. In both giving and fasting, the emphasis is on doing it privately and not to be seen by men. Jesus’ promise in all three accounts is the same, that the Lord will reward what is done in secret. Vs.4,6,18. In Luke’s account, we see the disciples asking Jesus how to pray. So, it’s possible this prayer was repeated more than once. Before Jesus gives us what is commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer” he gives us in Matthew’s account two warnings about prayer that are closely linked with what comes before and after this prayer.
The first warning is against praying to be seen by men. This isn’t a condemnation of public praying, but rather a matter of where the focus was. The Pharisees would pray in the most public places, the synagogue and the crossroads of public squares in order to be seen by men and thought religious. Jesus himself would withdraw to private and lonely places to pray. We are rather to go to private places and pray our personal prayer. We are to understand that God sees what we do and will reward us accordingly.
The second thing that Jesus warned us about is praying with vain repetition. It isn’t repetition that is condemned either, but vain repetition. It means repeating something to God because you think you will be heard by your many words vs.7. The word vain repetition actually means “idle babbling” as if we are trying to convince God to do something he doesn’t want to do or to win an argument with. Jesus tells us that we don’t need to act like that because God already knows what you need before you even ask vs.8. He told his disciples in Matthew 7:11 that the heavenly Father knows much better how to give good gifts to his children that earthly parents. We have to trust that He knows what is best for us at all times. I don’t have to wonder if God wants to give me good things. God is always good.
Jesus then turns to the prayer itself and I want you to notice first where the focus is in this prayer. The personal requests don’t come until halfway through this prayer. The focus instead is on the Father. Jesus uses the word “Our Father”. He could have said “My Father” but he included his disciples. Romans 8:15 says that we have “not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, “Abba, Father””. We have the right to cry out to him as Father. John 1:12 says that “as many as received him, to them gave he power to becomes the sons of God”. We can cry out to him in the intimacy of a family relationship and knows that he hears us and that he cares. Our focus shouldn’t be on ourselves though, it should be on Him.