Teach Us How to Pray – The Lord’s Prayer

The Disciples Prayer (a.k.a.) The Lord’s Prayer

Opening Thoughts: You know when a topic is so huge that you just know you can’t do it justice. I’m going to attempt to unpack something that is so massive that I tremble as I write. I’m not a Bible scholar, nor do I profess to be, however I believe God gives all who truly possess His Spirit and who seek Him the wisdom and ability to decipher the Scriptures. So as I am writing this I’m totally depending on His Spirit because I DO NOT want to be wrong about it. Praying as I type actually.

The Catholics: Have you ever heard the term “Say 10 Hail Mary’s and 10 Our Father’s”? I simply cringe when I hear terms like this when used as some type of expression or penance for sin. I was in a church about a year and a half ago for a baby baptism, our friends that we care about had just had a baby and invited us, so we went hoping to connect with them better and share the Gospel. As I entered the sanctuary there were about 50 people in pews all chanting “The Lords Prayer” and “Hail Mary’s” at their priest’s direction. If praying a prayer saves you these guys were in for sure, but as we have come to know, even for us Protestants, that simply praying a prayer can neither save you nor change you, instead, many times it gives a false hope of salvation.

The Protestant: My other observation over the years has been the lack of praying this prayer in the Protestant churches. Clearly Jesus tells His disciples that they should pray like this, why have we not actually done that? I mean, when is the last time you heard someone in your Protestant church pray ‘The Lords Prayer’? Or instruct new converts to pray the Lords Prayer? I know I haven’t in a long time. But on the other hand, was Jesus telling us that our prayers should be recited and systematic and we should be praying exactly those words like some sort of script?  Or was He saying “Pray like this”? In other words listen to the words and pay very careful attention to what I say, then address God in this attitude and manner. I think that’s more like what He was saying.

After taking a close look at the passage and the prayer, I have come to the conclusion that many professing believers could not actually pray in line with the Lord’s Prayer, because it doesn’t fit in with their theology or belief system. So without any further adieu let’s dive into this loaded prayer and allow Jesus to reshape our thinking and our prayer life.

Main Text of Scripture:  Luke 11:1-4 ESV .. Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:
“Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”

Secondary Text of Scripture: Matthew 6:9-15 ESV .. 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. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Teach Me How to Pray: Right now in our stage of life Danae and I are teaching our own kids how to pray, well actually more like how to slow down when they pray mainly. We’re also dealing with their understanding of prayer as well. Our son Max seams to have a basic idea of why we pray, but man is he ever in a race to get to the end. His prayer often goes something like this “Dear Jesus, thank you for this day, thank you for this Powerful day, thank you for this incredible powerful day, thank you for this food in our bodies… oh yeah, and dying on the cross for our sins, Amen” If he was to come to me and say, “Daddy, can you please teach me to pray?” What would I say? And where would I start? I think I would start here in Luke 11.

The disciples came to Jesus and asked Him to teach them how to pray, Jesus then begins to teach them, along with the proper way to address God. In this famous, often thoughtlessly quoted prayer, Jesus teaches us about the Holiness of God and about His sovereignty over all things, including us! Are you ready to be taught how to pray? I am.

Our Father in Heaven: The prayer opens with giving God the title ‘Father’, the English word derived from the Aramaic word ABBA. Often times you hear people say that the word Abba means Daddy, this gives us the idea that we are to him like a toddler is to us. This description of the word is not entirely that accurate. The word Abba was also used by grown men to address their fathers which is a completely different relationship than a toddler would have. However, the word Abba does give us a warm invitation to look at God as a caring father instead of some taskmaster as some are prone to viewing Him.

Scripture: Romans 8:15-17 ESV For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Paul tells us that if we have been delivered from the spirit of slavery to sin, then we would have received the spirit of adoption as sons. It’s only when God draws us, saves us and delivers us from the slavery to sin that we are indeed adopted sons of God. Let’s not get confused though and think it be some type of good works that we can perform that grants us adoption. Adoption as we know has nothing to do with the will of the baby or child, but everything to do with the will of the parents. A baby that is in desperate need of a home can do nothing to earn adoption and neither can we. God is the one who does it all, justifies (adopts), sanctifies and prepares us for good works. We are slaves, blind in our own sin, helpless to be free or make any decision to be adopted, our will has nothing to do with our own adoption as sons otherwise it would be granted to us as good works, it’s God who wills to adopt you and  to make you his own, therefore if you have been freed from that slavery of sin rest secure in His glorious adoption.

In Romans 8 there is one sentence that gives us a very clear indication of whether or not we are sons. “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” The words “Provided we suffer with Him” should cause us to closely examine how we deal with suffering in our lives. How do we handle persecution, how do we deal with strife and pressure? We are often taught that God doesn’t want His children to suffer, but Romans says you aren’t His children unless you suffer. So much for the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ having any legitimacy. The evidence that you are His is how well you suffer and still see Christ as your beautiful treasure.

How are we doing so far? Are you ready to call Him Abba? Or are you still a slave to sin, or do you try and avoid every ounce of suffering that comes your way? If so, read no further until you call on God who alone can grant you the spirit of repentance, then repent of your ways and place your faith firmly in Jesus Christ who alone can save.

Holy is Your Name: It’s not by chance at all that Jesus couples the word Abba and Holy right after one another. Giving us the idea that yes, we are to call his name DAD, but at the same time it should be done in the utmost fear and trembling. When Isaiah saw God on His throne he fell on his face and felt like he was going to be killed Isaiah 6:5. You often hear people say, “When I get to heaven I’m going to ask God a thing or two”, and then they rant and rave about how unfair things are. Are you really going to do that? And then there’s the songs we sing, although I do like the song “I can only Imagine” I don’t think we even have to imagine how it’s going to look when we see Jesus for the first time in His glorified state. In Revelation John, like Isaiah, gives us clear indication of what we will be doing when we see Him. As John, our face will be in the dirt and we’ll be saying to ourselves “I’m a dead man”,

Scripture: Revelation 1:17 …  When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last.

I say all this because in that moment our revelation of His holiness will be so immense, while at the same time our realization of our sinfulness will be so obvious, that it will be all we can handle just to lift our eyes. I’m so thankful that God has provided us wretched sinners a way that we can be made holy and presentable to Him.

Scripture: 1 Peter 1:14-17 ESV .. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear…”

Just like Jesus spoke in Luke, Peter couples the words “Father | Abba” together with the holiness of God as well. Fear and holiness go hand in hand with calling Him Father. Peter says the words “If you call Him as Father”, in other words, if you truly believe that you are His son, then you you should conduct yourself with fear. He also commands us to be holy just like God is holy. WOW! That’s completely impossible isn’t it? Yes, without a total transformation of our heart, mind and emotions it is impossible. God adopts us and makes His home in us through His Spirit and we are given a new nature. Then it is possible.

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:3 .. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,

So Jesus gives us a good start to ‘The Lords Prayer’ … HE says that we are to address Him as Dad and as Holy Father. That we are to come before Him with requests but in the attitude of fear and trembling. That we are to trust Him with all our hardships and sufferings because everything He does is for His glory and our good. These are the opening meanings to this magnificent prayer!

Your Kingdom Come: How many times have you heard this passage presented with the idea that we as Christians should be living in the Kingdom right now.. healthy, wealthy and prosperous, since we are His children and part of the royal family we should have abundant life here on earth. I can tell you with certainty that I have heard that too many times to be exact. The reference Jesus was making had nothing to do with living the comfy kingdom life here on earth, but rather that the presence of God’s kingdom would reign through Christ and with the indwelling Spirit of God in the lives of the believers. The church is called to make His kingdom known by being His image bearer, obeying his commands, and declaring the gospel of the kingdom of God.

Scripture: Acts 8:12But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Scripture: Acts 14:22 … strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

Scripture: Acts 9:18 … And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.

Scripture: Acts 28:23 … When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.

Scripture: Acts 28:31 … proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

Your Will be Done, on Earth as it is in Heaven: This is a very tricky one, because at first glance you could assume it to say “Things are peachy in heaven and that’s the way God wants it here”, but if you look at it closely you can see that is not what is being said at all, but rather Jesus is painting for His disciples a very clear picture of the Sovereignty of God. The idea is that God rules heaven and all its created beings with total authority as well as ruling the earth and all of its created beings with the same authority. It’s kind of like a young child coming to grips with the fact that his parents are in total control over his life; all of his decisions, though he may think they are within his control, they are directed from his parents sovereignty over him. “Your Will be Done” is praying in line with His sovereign will and surrendering to His authority and power over you.

Scripture: Daniel 4:35 ESV … all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and He does according to His will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?”

Before we go on, I would like you to read that passage again really slow and think about every word… (do it now)….
King Nebuchadnezzar knew something that most of us roaming the earth today professing to be believers don’t have a clue about. And that was that God is so ridiculously powerful that “all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing”, in other words, there is no one that controls God, no one is a challenge for God, God isn’t surprised by anything, He isn’t shocked by who gets voted into office, He isn’t consumed with grief, He isn’t sitting on a throne begging you to come to Him, He controls all things whether you like it or not. King Nebuchadnezzar went totally loony at the WILL OF GOD, his mind was gone. His body even became deformed, he grew feathers like an eagle and ate grass in the fields like a beast. He did this all because God willed it, and when God decided it was enough He restored his mind and returned him to his throne. King Nebuchadnezzar goes directly to his chambers and prays almost the identical words that Jesus told His disciples to pray. Jesus Prayer: “Your Will be Done, on Earth as it is in Heaven”, Kink Nebuchadnezzar ‘s prayer: He does according to His will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth”. Do you see the unavoidable similarity to these prayers?

God does not need your permission to carry out His will nor will He seek it. He does everything He plans, Satan is subject to him Job 2:1-3, kings and kingdoms are subject to him, and you and I are subject to Him. Finally God calls whomever He wills to His blessed Son Jesus Christ and no one can stay His hand or question His ruling, “none can stay His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?”

Scripture: Matthew 26:39 ESV … And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

Are you starting to see the big picture? Jesus modeled what it looked like to surrender to the will of God. God’s is going to do whatever He wills, but you and I have two choices and that is either to surrender to it or rebel against it. So maybe there are things in your life right now that don’t seem to make any sense, sickness, trouble, anything. God sees the entire book from start to finish and He works all things together for the good of those who are called according to His purposes, even if that just means that you head for heaven earlier that you had anticipated you would. I love the song “It is well with my soul” it speaks profoundly of the sovereignty of God and our surrender to His will.

It Is Well With My Soul

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Horatio Spafford

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread: This is likely one of the hardest pills to swallow. In a culture that is inundated with storing up, planning ahead and keeping as much for yourself as possible, the need to depend on God for our daily allotted food is almost unheard of. It was just a couple years ago that Danae and I were convicted of the way we were living (luxuriously) when two-thirds of the world hardly had enough to survive. We decided that we would sell most of our things and trust God, so we did, it turned out that over the next year or so we almost lost everything we had. I’m so glad that God released us from our hold on the things of this world and caused us to rely on Him even before He placed us in a position where we had no other choice.

I heard Francis Chan say once, “Have you ever been in a position in life where if God doesn’t come through with provision you’re in huge trouble?” That’s what trusting in God is like. When Danae and I started to realize how sovereign God was we lost all our fear and anxiety of what would happen if we didn’t have enough money or food, we knew and trusted that He would make provision for us even if it was the day we needed it. “Give us this day our daily bread”

Scripture: Proverbs 30:7-8 ESV … Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me.     lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.

Have you ever in your life prayed that type of prayer? “God, please don’t give me a lot of money, nor make me hungry. Please just give me enough food for today so that I can live. If you give me too much money, I will likely trust in it and forget about you! And if you don’t give me enough to eat, I may steal and reproach your name! All I’m asking is My Daily Bread, Amen” Does that sound like a good prayer to you? That’s what Jesus asks you to pray in “The Lord’s Prayer”.

Forgive Us Our Debts, as We Also Have Forgiven Our Debtors: When I was reading through this prayer two words came to me “dangerous prayer” don’t pray this prayer if it’s not something that has taken root in your heart. Have you ever you ever said the words, “treat others as you would like to be treated?” Jesus coined that phrase and it’s exactly what he’s saying about forgiveness as well. Jesus prays “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”. The idea is that you are requesting that God forgive your sins in the same way that you overlook and forgive the sins that others have committed against you. So stop right now and think about the way that you forgive people who do you wrong? Is that the way you want God to forgive you? Because that’s what you’re saying here. Forgive me in the same way I forgive others! We have been forgiven such a great debt of sin, how could we ever withhold forgiveness from all who wrong us, for our wrongs against God were High Treason and worthy of death. I pray that you grab hold of this truth and repent of UN-forgiveness in your life.

Final Thoughts: I’m actually going to close on this note without finishing the last line of the prayer, as it’s getting late and I feel that this is enough to chew on right now. I’m so glad for the “Lords Prayer” knowing that God is my HOLY Father who is all powerful over all things in heaven and all things on the earth, with or without me. He calls me to trust in Him alone even to the point where I would starve if He didn’t provide my next meal. Finally He forgives all that owe, the crimes that I had committed against Him, He holds them not against me but forgives them and nails them to the Cross where His precious Son paid it all. With such an amazing God, how can I ever withhold forgiveness from those who sin against me and do me wrong?

Scripture: Colossians 2:14 ESV … by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Feel free to use this in your home group as well. I’ve included some questions that you can use to create discussion.

1. How has this prayer affected your view of God?

2. Do have a difficult time balancing the view of God being Father as well as Holy at the same time?

3. How is your trust level? Are you seeking worldly gain for stability? Or have you been able to Trust Him for your next meal?

4. If you were to die right now and God Forgave you the same way you forgive others, how well would that go?

Preparing The Way
~Shane Martin