By Nicole McLeod

Matthew 6:5-13

We’re glad you’ve joined us for our summer Bible Study in The Lord’s Prayer. This prayer is very well known and is loved and prayed by Christians in many languages and denominations all over the world. How many of you learned this prayer as a child – at home, at school or at Sunday School? How many of you memorized and recited it, before you ever understood what you were saying - or to whom you were praying?

The Lord’s prayer could also be called “the Disciples prayer” because Jesus taught it to His followers as part of His discipleship, to help them learn how to pray. Prayer is an area of struggle for many Christians, isn’t it? We may feel we don’t spend enough time in prayer, and sometimes wonder if we are praying effectively. Would you say that you could use help with your prayer life right now….? I I would! Remember, this prayer is for us!

As we take a fresh look at this amazing prayer together over the next several weeks, it’s our hope (and prayer) that the Lord will use it to help us deepen our personal devotions and grow in our prayer life.

I’m impressed by the conciseness of this prayer, along with its absolute completeness. It’s just 65 words long in English, it’s easy to memorize, and it only takes 30 seconds to pray, yet it’s so impacting that volumes of commentaries and books and sermons have been written from its message. It shows us not only about how to pray with faith and trust, but even more,… it teaches us how to live as followers of Christ in the Kingdom of God on earth.

Please open your Bibles to Matthew 6:

We are joining Jesus, and his disciples, and a large crowd of people on ahillside overlooking the beautiful Sea of Galilee . Jesus is the middle of His well-known Sermon on the Mount (Matt. ch. 5-7) teaching them about life in the Kingdom of God. This is at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, and everyone was listening intently to his message. As Matthew records an eyewitness account of this sermon, it is here in chapter 6, at the very center point of this message, that He gives this very important teaching on prayer, (just as prayer is at the very center of our lives as Christians).

From Chuck Smith’s commentary: “Now prayer was a very important thing in the life of the Jew. Twice a day he had to say the Shema, which comprised of three sections of the Old Testament scriptures beginning with Deuteronomy 6 "The Lord our God is one Lord and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy might, with all thy strength.” Then there was the ‘Shiminoph’ - eighteen separate prayers, that they would memorize as a child and say three times a day; 9 in the morning, at noon and 3 in the afternoon.”

Jesus knew these were people who knew how to memorize and recite a prayer! But praying from the heart would be a very important lesson to teach His Disciples. These men and women had given up everything to follow Him. They lived alongside Him, witnessing His miracles and watching His prayer life, sometimes seeing him go off alone and pray all night to his Father – and they saw his obedient and loving heart towards His Father. He was a living example to them all, of the power and importance of devotion, and personal prayer.

As Jesus began this teaching, he spoke first (vs. 5-6), about how not to pray, (i.e. like the religious hypocrites did, in a public way, or to impress people). Then in ( vs. 7-8) how notto pray like the heathen did (babbling on and on meaninglessly to their deities). He emphasized the need for honesty and sincerity, in all religious practices, like alms giving, prayer, and fasting. * Next week we will learn more about this as Bev teaches on these verses.

Beginning in vs. 9-13, Jesus gives a timeless example of what true prayer is. It is said that “Anyone who plans to build a house needs to look at the blueprint first.” In the same way, I would say that anyone who wants to develop their prayer life would be wise to study the Lord’s prayer. And this is what we are doing.

Matthew 6:9 “In this manner therefore pray” “Pray like this”, or another translation says, “in this way”.This is an example Jesus gave of how pray. A prayer that leads and guides us into areas we should all be praying about. It brings us “into what a full well-rounded prayer life looks like”. We don’t have to repeat it exactly. We can use it and be creative and flexible and let it inspire our prayers as we think about these petitions. Don’t let it become a rule, let it be a tool. This form of prayer gives a pattern to hold onto when we feel distracted, or don’t know what to pray. It is a way that people of God’s kingdom relate to and talk to God, and love and pray for one another.

“Our Father in heaven”It is important to identify to Whom we are speaking when we pray. This is a statement about who He is and who we are in Christ. Jesus’ disciples may address God as “Father” “Abba” (in Aramaic).

John 1:12 “But as many as received Him(Jesus),to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

Gal. 4:6 “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”

This personal address ‘Abba’ may have surprised the crowds, but it must have blessed His disciples, as it blesses us today. How truly blessed we are to pray to our Father in Heaven, who loves to hear the prayers of his children.These opening few words expresses God’s nearness to us, and the intimate relationship we have with Him in Christ as our Father, and yet, in the same breath, express our understanding of His holiness. We address him with adoration and with reverence because He is far above us, in Heaven, with an eternally better vantage point on all things that concern us… and this Father always knows what is best.* in 2 weeks, Judy will teach us more on these verses

The body of the prayer is divided into two distinct halves. Vs. 9-10 are prayers to honor God, His name, His Kingdom and His will.Vs. 11-12 are petitions that also honor God, as we bring Him our needs and the needs of others by faith.

  • Matthew 6:9b “Hallowed be Your name” we acknowledge God is as He has revealed Himself in His Word. He is Who He is, and we worship Him. May the way we speak and live give honor to His great name.
  • “Your kingdom come”He is the King, and this prayer lines up our desires and prayers with His promises.
  • “Your will be done, on earth as in heaven.” His Word teaches us His will and His Holy Spirit helps us yield to Him and learn to live in a way on earth that pleases our king in heaven.

* Diane will be teaching us more about this on June 25th

This prayer model guides our hearts first upwards to God our Father, and outwards to others. Every request is in the plural, reminding us when we pray to God, to think of the needs of those around us as well as our own. Which brings us to the second half of this prayer, praying for practical needs. Praying this way daily reminds us to live this way. This fits so well with what Jesus tells His followers just ahead in this chapter, Matt6:33 “Butseek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

  • Give us this day our daily bread – Every day is opportunity for a fresh experience of God’s grace and goodness to us. Daily seeking Him, means we are daily blessed.
  • And Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors … Even with all our faults and failings we are loved by God and are to share His love with others. Showing mercy is important to God, and this petition reminds me to forgive others, just as I have been forgiven. The vertical relationship we enjoy with Him is very intertwined with our relationships with one another on the horizontal plane, so forgiveness matters – picture the cross †. We will study more about these verses on July 9th.
  • And Lead us not into temptations (better translated trials). We all need God’s help and guidance. The enemy leads us into temptations.
  • And deliver us from Evil – asking Him for divine protection. * Adrienne will be teaching us more on this petition, and the doxology on July 16th.

The Doxology: Matt. 6:13 “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” JI Packer wrote this: “ The doxology with which we round off the Lord’s prayer is not in the best manuscripts, nevertheless, it’s in the best tradition! Doxologies (acts of praise to God) pop up throughout the Bible and in personal devotion.” Though it may have been added by early church fathers, it is in the spirit of all Christ taught. * More on this also on July 16th.

There we have it - Sixty-five words from Jesus that give us endless and timeless inspiration, and direction to help us pray effectively. A shorter version of this prayer is recorded in the 11th chapter of Luke’s gospel, but did you know that this prayer is never again repeated (or recited) in the rest of the NT …though it’s principles are seen throughout Acts and Paul’s epistles. Isn’t that interesting? The point I am making by mentioning this is that the Bible is full of beautiful, inspired prayers and teachings on prayer in addition to this model prayer. I encourage you to learn from and study all the prayers as we grow our own prayer life. We don’t limit our study on prayer to only this… there is so much more.

To those who think it should be recited word for word, I would say, if you can do so meaningfully and with your mind and heart engaged, wonderful! But remember the context, your heavenly Father wants to hear from your heart. Prayer is all about relationship, not religion.

In closing, turn with me to Matthew 22:37-40. I want to make this final point that this is so much more than just a model prayer, it shows us also the way to live our Christian life. “Right prayers lead to right actions”.

Here in Matt 22, Jesus was asked by an expert in the Mosaic Law, which of God’s commandments was the greatest (i.e. most important to know and do).

Matt22:37- 40 “Jesus said to him,‘You shall love theLordyour God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’38This isthefirst and great commandment.Andthesecondislike it:‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Like the expert in the law, don’t we also want to know what is important to God? Jesus in his answer, prioritized all of God’s commands all into two, which can be paraphrased with four simple words: Love God + Love people. Sound familiar?

This is our church mission statement, so this is why I said, this is more than a prayer we pray, it is also a life we live. When we pray the Lord’s prayer, or use it as a pattern, we are showing love to God, by honoring His Name, His Kingdom, and His will … and then second but equally important, we are showing love to people, by bringing their needs to Him in prayer, praying for daily necessities, forgiveness, guidance and protection. When we pray this way, we Love God + Love People. Our vertical relationship with God is connected to and our horizontal relationship with others in the power of His love. Love God + Love others.

May we pray and live this way, in Jesus Name. Amen

p.s. **Each prayer we pray is like a letter sent from earth to heaven. The intended recipient is God, our Father, His address is in Heaven, the date on the letter is “this day”, and the contents carry our requests - whether briefly stated or elaborated upon in length, and these are precious to Go., At the end of the letter is the seal, the “amen”. All postage pre-paid by Jesus, carried safely to God’s heart by the Holy Spirit. …

Eph 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”