"Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
Growing up, I attended Catholic school and learned that prayer by rote. I knew every word and could recite the prayer without even thinking about what I was saying. It became almost mechanical. It was just a prayer that we all prayed. But when Jesus taught His disciples the words that became what we know as "the Lord's Prayer," His intent was not to give us a specific prayer to pray. Rather, the words of Matthew 6:9-13 were meant to be a model for how we should pray.
"Our Father in heaven." Jesus began this model for prayer by acknowledging God as Father. We are able to call God our Father because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. "Hallowed be Your name." Our prayer time should begin with worship. As we worship God, we should acknowledge that He is holy, that His name is to be revered. Before we come to God with our prayer requests, before we acknowledge our sin, we must first give Him the praise and the worship of which He is worthy.
"Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." Jesus taught that we should seek God's kingdom above all things (Matthew 6:33). When we come to God in prayer, our first request should be that His will be done. God's will is perfect (Romans 12:2) and we should always seek His will in our lives and in the lives of those for whom we pray. When we pray in accordance with His will, we have the assurance that He will hear and answer our prayer (1 John 5:14-15).
"Give us this day our daily bread." We can and should pray for God to meet our personal needs. The Greek word translated as daily here is epiousion, which means "sufficient for today." We should pray for God to meet our needs for that day. When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness following their exodus from Egypt, they were hungry and cried out to God for food. God provided them with manna each day, bread from heaven, of which they were only to take enough for that day (Exodus 16:4-5). God will also provide for our daily needs.
"And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." When we come to God in prayer, we need to search our hearts and confess any sin that we may be guilty of. When we confess our sins, God will forgive them. But we also must forgive anyone who has hurt or offended us (Matthew 6:14-15). "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." When we pray, we must acknowledge our shortcomings and our weaknesses. We are all faced with temptation in our lives and need to pray for God's help in avoiding it.
What a wonderful model for prayer our Lord has given us! Thank You, Jesus, for these words!