Luke 11:1 And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
Luke tells us that the disciples came to Jesus and asked him to teach them to pray as John did his disciples. That occurred after Jesus raised Lazarus at Bethany. Jesus had gone off to a “certain place” to pray. It may have been a private place or it may have just been a quiet place out of the way. Therefore, Jesus taught them. He spoke the model prayer, known today by many as The Lords Prayer, which is also recorded in Matthew at the Sermon on the Mount. These events occurred at two different times.
We will confine our study to the event we have termed “The Sermon on the Mount,” in Matthew 6. Since Jesus was in Galilee on this occasion, this mountain was probably a gently sloping hillside on the Sea of Galilee near Capernaum. We must remember that the two different versions of the Model prayer occur at two different places and are two different events. This is not an example of a Bible contradiction. Jesus taught a model prayer on the mount and He taught his disciples a similar prayer near Bethany three years later.
Scholars, especially secular Bible scholars, will tell you that the writer of the book of Matthew probably got his information from Mark, whose Gospel is considered to be the common source of the material in the other two Synoptic Gospels, Matthew and Luke. Since the Gospel of Mark does not contain as much data as the other two, and does not even mention this prayer, some scholars believe a hypothetical document called “Q” to be a second source of material for the other two Gospels. Some claim that the compiler or compilers of “Q” gathered together all of these teachings from various sources and put them together in this supposed document. (“Q” stands for the German word, Quelle, meaning source).
We must accept that there were written sources of information about and the sayings of Jesus that predate the Gospels. Certainly, the letters of Paul, which predate the Gospels, were sources that the Gospel writers used, especially Luke who was a traveling companion of Paul. Paul’s earliest writings, the letters to the church at Thessalonica and at Corinth, occurred circa 52-53. The earliest date for the Gospels was in the mid sixties. There may have been other source documents as well.
However, to hypothesize a collection of legendary sayings of Christ is not acceptable for several reasons. One of which is the span of time between the actual events recorded and the time of their writing. These things were written down in the same generation that Christ lived. When they were written, most of the eyewitnesses to Jesus life and death were still alive. For these things to be legendary, the eyewitnesses would have had to be complicit in the untruths or they would have had to turn a blind eye, which is most unlikely. In secular history, scholars accept that legends do not develop about individuals until after several generations have passed. One well—known example is Alexander the Great. Plutarch and Arrian wrote the earliest histories of Alexander some four hundred years after Alexander’s death. Historians still accept these histories as viable.
Skeptical scholars say that the “Q” document is an alleged collection of stories of Jesus that may or may not have been true. There is no extant document available, nor is there any evidence that “Q,” in particular, ever existed. It is simply a theoretical collection of the sayings of Jesus. Those scholars that do not believe in the truth of the Bible conceived it to explain away the Holy Spirit’s inspiration of the Bible. They simply do not acknowledge that the Gospels of Matthew and Luke are separate accounts of the Life of Jesus. Furthermore, many of theses scholars won’t even admit to the author being Matthew, so take it for what it is worth. If “Q” existed, and we must accept the possibility (though not the probability) of one single document as a source of the Gospels, then it would have been a collection of accurate information and accurate sayings of Christ.
Many people simply will not admit that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. They prefer to believe it is a book of legends, stories, and myths. Some educated men and women fall into this group as well. In fact, educated men and women dreamed up “Q” to facilitate their skepticism. Education (including public education) is good and it is ordained by God (2 Tim 2:15), but many folks educated to the world’s standards reject the notion of God. Their education has become a stumbling block. God has a few words for such folks:
- 1 Corinthians 1:18 (NKJV) For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
- 1 Corinthians 1:20 (NKJV) Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
- 1 Corinthians 3:19 (NKJV) For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.
Matthew 6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Jesus prefaces this model prayer with a short monologue about praying; the general theme was “do not pray to receive the admiration of men, rather, pray to receive the blessings of God”. This does not mean we should not pray publicly; it simply means not to pray to impress people. That does not impress God. The phrase translated, “to be seen of men” may also be rendered, “to shine before men.”
The hypocrites prayed long, elaborate prayers in order to impress others with their piety. They stood on crowded main streets to do so. Again, they got what they desired-the praise of men-which was their full reward. God would not reward them further. They made a public show of their prayers in order to make themselves look better in the eyes of their neighbors. They were puffed up. They were not praying to God; they were simply making public spectacles of themselves.
Nevertheless, when called on to pray in public, you need not refuse. These verses do not refute public prayer. Jesus Himself made public prayers (Matt 15:36, 26:27, Mark 8:6, Luke 22:17&19).Simply make sure you address your prayer directly to God and that you are truly praying to Him. Resist the temptation to pray in a way that will make you look good in the eyes of others. In other words, make your prayer real and make it to God and Him alone.
Matthew 6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Public prayer is more than acceptable if your motives are pure and you address your prayer directly to God. However, the effectual, fervent prayer from the heart should be done in secret, away from the eyes and ears of men. If no others are around, one can pour out the needs, desires, and requests of his heart without trying to impress any others.
The word translated “closet” is a word that generally means a private place. If you want to enter a prayer closet, do so. When you have no access to a closet, just go to a private place. You can pray privately in a chapel, a car, your bedroom, or simply in your mind. No law in any nation can prevent anyone from praying. God knows your thoughts and you can pray by thought. Any public school student in America can pray in school silently. Others won’t know what you are doing if you don’t make a show of it. As a rule, I walk daily for exercise and I pray while I am walking in the country. I pray silently and no one walking on the same path as I is aware that I am praying. I walk alone and pray truly in secret.
The rewards of your prayer in secret will be seen in the open. I prayed secretly for the healing of many people in my time as a pastor. The prayer was secret, but the healing was public. God healed some of them openly for all to see. If you pray to God in secret, you will not pray to impress men. God will hear your prayer. When he answers your prayer, everyone will see the rewards of his answer. The word translated “secret” can also mean “inward, concealed or hidden.” They are all synonymous; I just give them to illustrate what the Lord is saying
Here is an interesting look at the structure of this passage:
- The hypocrites pray in public, we are to pray in secret.
- They pray in the streets, we are to pray in our closet.
- They pray to so that men can see them, we are to pray to be beheld by God
- They receive their wages: men’s esteem, we receive our blessings from God
Matthew 6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
What are vain repetitions? Much time has been devoted to this subject. The answer is quite simple. The Greek word means to stutter or stammer or to prate or babble tediously. You may make prayer requests repeatedly and not be using vain repetitions. In fact, Paul tells us to do that. A vain repetition is like the chants one might hear a shaman (medicine man) or a monk in some eastern religion do. Vain repetitions are syllables repeated endlessly and meaninglessly. God made wisdom and common sense. Babbling relentlessly is not using common sense. God is our Father. He hears us without all that nonsense.
Matthew 6:8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
Since God already knows your needs, you need not babble incessantly. If God already knows our needs, why should we pray? He wants us to ask him. You may know what your child needs, but you wait until he asks you so that he will know his need. For example, at lunchtime you know your child should eat, but you sometimes wait for him to ask for his lunch because you want him to know he is hungry so he will perhaps eat better. It is the same with us. God wants us to acknowledge our need before He fills it. That way we recognize that we need Him to supply our need. It also keeps us humble knowing that God supplied our need and not we ourselves.
Matthew 6:9a After this manner therefore pray ye:
Jesus says to pray like this and not necessarily to pray this explicitly. It is a prayer for us to model our own prayers on. He does not say memorize this prayer and just repeat it whenever you pray. That may qualify as a vain repetition. I am not saying that you should not memorize it. You should. It is scripture and memorizing scripture is a worthy pursuit. Repeating it is okay too, just do not let it be a substitute for true heart felt prayer. You may repeat it in addition to your own prayer. It is very uplifting to repeat scripture when praying.
Matthew 6:9b Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Our Father—Through the Christ we are the sons of God. God is our Father. Dads, how much do you love your children? Do you love them enough to die for them? Of course you do. That is exactly what our Heavenly Father did for us. He allowed His son, the Christ, to die for us. Although you love your children, do they ever make you angry? Most do make us angry at times. When they do, do you still love them? Of course you do. When we make God angry, he still loves us. Do you like to talk with your children? So does God. We talk to our Heavenly Father through prayer. When you pray, you are having a conversation with your Father. He loves it. Pray often. Understand that He adopted you into His family because of your faith in His, Son, Jesus Christ. You are a member of His family; He is your Father.
Which art in heaven—Where is heaven? It is wherever God is. The word “heaven,” in the Greek as well as English, means several things. It means the sky. When I look up to the heavens, it means I look at the sky. It means space. At night, when I gaze out at the Milky Way, I look into heaven. Heaven can be a pleasurable place or action. When I eat a hot fudge sundae, I’m in heaven (actually that is Hog Heaven). There is even a song where the singer says he is in heaven when he is near his girl friend. In this scripture, heaven is obviously the abode of God. The psalmist tells us that the thick clouds of the skies are God’s dwelling place. God is in heaven and he hears our prayers. God is not a part of nature. He is supernatural or outside of nature. He is somewhere “out there.” From our perspective standing on the surface of the earth, “out there” is up there. When we gaze out into the heavens, from where we stand, we are looking up. That is why we consider the abode of God to be in Heaven. Wherever we stand on earth, when look out into space, we are looking up. Hence, the dwelling place of God, that is, Heaven, is up.
Is it superfluous to tell God that he is in heaven? After all, God knows where he is. No, we say this to tell God that WE know where he is. It shows our faith.
Hallowed be Thy Name—Hallowed simply means holy, consecrated, set apart, or honored. To hallow someone is to reverence, honor, and worship that one. Yet, here we have much more than just the simple meaning of the word. Here we have the Holy God Almighty. This phrase means that we worship and reverence Him. Proverbs tells us that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” To be wise, we must worship and reverence (fear) God. The most educated man on the face of the earth is a fool if he does not reverence God. If you knew everything that man’s knowledge had to tell, and did not reverence God, you would be a fool. Be wise and make sure you worship and reverence the Lord our God when you pray. Tell Him you love him. Praise and adore Him. It pleases Him.
Matthew 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. We can take the whole of the phrase, “Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven” as one phrase. Hence, we would be in essence saying that His name is honored in Heaven, His kingdom has come in Heaven, His will is done in heaven, and that we pray for all these things to happen here on earth just as they already occur in Heaven. It is just as correct that way as when we separate the three phrases into their respective parts. Either way we are still praying for these things to occur on earth.
Thy kingdom come—What is a kingdom? It is the domain or dominion of a king. In this case, it is the dominion of The King. This is the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven. Gill wrote, “[Christ] puts it thus, ‘thy kingdom come’, to let them know that the Messiah was come; and that it was the kingdom of the Father, in the power of his grace, upon the souls of men, they must pray for and expect:”
It is also necessarily the Kingdom of Christ, for, as He said, “All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him (Luke 10:22).” So the kingdom is the Father’s, Who delivered it to the Son, who will rule and reign on earth. But it is even more than this.
God is the king. His kingdom is eternal. It is here now. It was here in the beginning and it will remain forever. When we pray, we ask God for things like food, shelter, healing, etc. Jesus tells us we need not worry about these things. He says to seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you. In this prayer, we are to diligently seek God’s kingdom and we are asking Him to help us to find it. We are to seek God’s will and we are to live God’s way, and our lives should be spent in striving to be a good citizen of the kingdom. Where do we find God? In His Word. The Bible is our user’s guide for citizens of God’s kingdom. Read, study and rightly divide God’s Word, and you will be seeking the kingdom. Seek it first and everything else will fall into place.
Just as the Father has given dominion to the Son and the Son is over all things, so Pharaoh gave all power to Joseph. Jesus has power and dominion over all things, yet He does not sit upon God’s throne. He sits at the Father’s right hand. Joseph sat at Pharaoh’s right hand. He had all power over the entire kingdom, yet he did not occupy the throne. Jesus sits at the Father’s right hand and has all power over all creation. Yet He does not occupy the throne of the Father. As Pharaoh said, “Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 41:40-41).
Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven—When we are seeking first God’s kingdom, we are allowing for God’s will to be done. It is not a lack of faith to pray that God’s will be done. Some teachers will tell you that if you name it and claim it, it is yours. They tell you that your faith is weak if you ask for the will of God. This is a prideful teaching and it is a false teaching. Ask for anything you want IN JESUS’ NAME and you will have it. This necessarily implies that you ask according to His will.
I always ask for my desires but I always tell God that I want his will to be done. If his will and my desires meet, I will receive them. For example, a few years ago, when my aunt was near death and not expected to recover, I prayed that I wanted Him to heal her and for her to return home just like always. That was my desire. She was 81 years old. I prayed for my desire but I also told God I wanted his will to be done in this matter. If He had taken her, I would have been grieved but I would have known it was His will. Praise God that His will and my desires were of one accord. She went back home, doing very well. She has since passed away, but God healed her that time. Always pray for God’s will to be done. In Heaven, His will is always done, so pray it will be done on earth.
I have prayed for many seriously ill men, women, and those on their deathbeds in my days as a pastor. I always pray for God to heal them and bring them back to good health while acknowledging that His will would ultimately prevail. God healed many, but many also died. In fact, two very dear friends of mine passed away last year (2008). I prayed earnestly, fervently, and often for God to spare them. He did not. Sometimes my and God’s will coincide, but more often they do not. When they do, He answers my prayers in the affirmative, when they do not, He says “no.”
Is God’s will always done on earth? No. God has given humans free will. We can do as we will. We are free to accept God or reject Him. We are free to obey his will or reject it. Look around you. Watch the evening news. God’s will is not always done on earth. Is urban violence God’s will? Gang warfare? Abortion or homosexuality? Any sinful activity? No. Pray for God’s will to be done on Earth, just as it always is in heaven.
Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.
We are to ask God for our needs. We may ask God for anything. Prayer allows room for supplication. Here, our daily bread is everything we need for our bodies and our souls. That included our perishable food, the elements of Communion, and the spiritual meat we need for our daily walk with God, which is the Word of God. Ask God to give you a better understanding of His Word on a daily basis. Ask for wisdom and discernment.
Even though we work daily to earn money to provide for our needs such as nourishment, shelter, and safety, God truly is the one that provides these things. He gave us the skills needed to do our jobs and indeed, he made sure the jobs were available when we needed them. We are asking God to take care of all our needs, no matter how large or small that need. God can handle it. Go ahead and ask Him to.
Mat 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Luke puts it this way, “And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us” (11:4).
Being human, we sin almost daily. Yes, Christians sin. Each time you look down on another you are committing the sin of pride. How many times have you considered yourself or your actions to be better than another? This is a sin. I believe this is a very common sin, especially in the church. We sometimes think because we go to church and try to be in God’s will, that this somehow makes us better than others. Not so. Have you ever done this? Ask yourself and answer yourself truthfully. If you have, this is a sin. I bring this up to prove we all sin. When we sin, we need to repent and ask God’s forgiveness. Jesus paid our sin debt, but God still wants us repent and confess. That is so that we will realize our sinfulness, our helpless condition, and our need for a Savior.
Ask forgiveness of your sins or debts every time you pray. Sin gets in the way of our relationship with God. When you repent and confess your sins, God forgives them. In fact, He has already forgiven them. When Christ died on the cross it was for the forgiveness of our sins. Our confession and repentance are simply works and our works cannot save us. As Christians, we are already forgiven. When God forgives our sins, he wipes the slate clean. Start every prayer with a clean slate. Again, repentance helps us to remember our need for a Savior and that we are sinners.
We must also forgive others who have committed a sin against us. If we don’t, we won’t be forgiven. Remember the parable of the debtor. A man who was much in debt went to his master and asked to have his debt forgiven because he could not pay. The master forgave him. He went out and one who owed him a small sum and could not pay asked him to forgive the debt, but the man refused. When the master heard this, he reinstated the debt and had the man thrown into debtor’s prison. Forgive others and you will be forgiven. Don’t ask God to forgive you if you won’t forgive others.
Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
And lead us not into temptation—Does God tempt us? Does he lead us into temptation? No. We are to ask God to help keep us away from temptation. This includes delivering us when we are tempted. A better way to understand this verse is “lead us away from temptation,” or “do not allow us to be lead into temptation.”
Deliver us from evil:—the same thing here applies. Deliver us from evil when we are tempted to do evil.
The Greek is quite specific here. It states, “αλλα ρυσαι ημας απο του πονηρου,” “alla rusai hēmas apo toy ponēroy,” “but deliver us from the evil.” The inference is that we are to ask God to deliver us from “the evil,” which is a singular evil. We may imply that the single evil is the evil one. Who is the Evil One? Satan. In fact, most modern translations and some older ones translate the passage “but deliver us from the evil one.” Young’s Literal Translation (1862) renders it that way as do The Geneva Bible Margin (1599), Whiston (1754), and Matthew Henry’s Commentary (1706). We may take the passage to mean all evil including the Evil One.
For Thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, forever—This is a doxology or a verse of praise. Since God is sovereign, the Kingdom is his. The power to do anything is His, and the Glory is always his. When we receive glory, we have our reward in full. Tell God that you KNOW that the kingdom, the power, and the glory are His and that He is eternal.
When you pray, use this model prayer as a guideline for your prayer. When you don’t know what to pray for or how to pray for it, use this model as a guide. Personalize and tailor it to fit you. Pray from your heart and mean it.
- This model includes several items:
- Adoration and praise. Praise your father when you pray.
- Confession. Repent of your sins, confess them to God, and ask his forgiveness.
- God’s will. Pray for God’s will to be done.
- God’s Kingdom. Pray for his kingdom
- Supplication. Ask God for your needs. Ask him for understanding of His Word
- Deliverance. Ask God to keep you from temptation and evil. Ask him to protect you from the evil one.
- I’d like to add one not mentioned in this model:
- Thanksgiving. It is biblical to thank God for your blessings. So don’t forget it. Thank him daily.
I sometimes recite this prayer when I am talking to God, but I tailor it to my own prayer. It goes something like this:
Father in heaven, I pray for your Name to honored on earth, your will be done on earth and your kingdom come on earth as in Heaven. Please Father, take care of my and my family’s daily needs. Forgive my sins (I sometimes list them here) and help me to forgive others who have sinned against me. Keep me from temptation to sin, and deliver me from the Evil One, for Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen. Then I go on with my supplications.