The Model Prayer
“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’ ”- Matthew 6:9–13
We have been considering the acrostic ACTS—adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication—which can be helpful for structuring our prayers. However, we would be remiss if in our study on prayer we did not also consider the Lord’s Prayer. Since Jesus first gave it to His disciples, believers have recited this prayer in public worship and in private intercession.
Certainly, it is appropriate to recite the Lord’s Prayer. Yet, what many people miss is that the Lord’s Prayer is not merely something for us to say aloud but actually is a model structure for prayer. We know this from Matthew 6:9, where in introducing the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus says, “Pray then like this.” First and foremost, the Lord’s Prayer is an example of the kind of prayer that honors God, and its various elements show us what we should include in our prayers.
Moving through the prayer line by line, we note several things. First, we see the privilege of prayer. We can call God “our Father” (Matt. 6:9), and this promise of a familial, intimate relationship with God is no small thing. Not everyone is a child of God, but only those who believe in Christ alone for salvation (John 1:11–12). We have God as our loving Father only if we are in Christ by faith.
Second, the first petition of the prayer is for God’s name to be hallowed (Matt. 6:9). This alerts us to the priorities we should have in prayer. Above all else, Jesus asks for God’s name to be hallowed—to be honored as holy on the earth. We should want that above all else as well, praying that men and women would know and respect the holiness of the Lord and His sovereign reign.
Jesus then prays for God’s kingdom to come and for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven (v. 10). Jesus does not here request for God to become King over creation, for He is sovereign over everything by virtue of His being God (Ps. 97:1). Instead, Jesus asks that people would acknowledge God’s reign by bowing to His authority and keeping His commandments. God’s kingdom is evident wherever people do His revealed will, and Jesus shows us we should ask for people to become willing servants of the Lord.
After praying for the kingdom, Jesus instructs us to pray for our needs (“our daily bread”) and for forgiveness (Matt. 9:11–12). Finally, we are to pray that the Lord would preserve us from temptation, that we would be kept from situations in which we feel the full assault of the world, the flesh, and the devil (v. 13).
What do you prioritize in prayer? Do you ask first for the hallowing of God’s name and the extension of His visible kingdom, or do you focus only on your own needs? The Lord’s Prayer shows us that we should pray for the extension of God’s kingdom above all else. Take some time today to pray that God’s name would be honored as holy and that sinners would repent and start doing His will.
Passages for Further Study
From Ligonier Ministries.