By Ryan Shaw
In Matthew 6:9-15 Jesus provides disciples’ clear instruction about how to pray. We know prayer is one of the most powerful resources the body of Christ has been given. Here, the Man possessing the most outstanding prayer life with the Father reveals the secrets of that prayer life.
God Himself (incarnated in the Son) is teaching us how to pray to God. No individual has ever had a prayer life equal to Jesus’ and He Himself is outlining the specifics that enable His people to most effectively commune with the living God.
We are first instructed to engage with God as Father and address ourselves entirely unto Him as such. Then we see six primary petitions within the prayer.
The first three petitions can be said to relate with God, His glory, His honor and His work in the world being accomplished. The second three focus on our personal concerns and needs.
We see an instructive pattern in these six prayers – self and all its needs are to be secondary and the Lord and His work afforded the utmost place in our prayer and intercession. We don’t have to look far to see just how rare this is.
The glory of how Jesus is teaching us to pray is not in an individual phrase but in all six of these petitions and their order flowing together to produce power packed clarity as to how to pray with authority, seeing results follow.
Jesus is not only revealing the way to pray but also modeling for us the priorities of the Kingdom of God. Remember this prayer is in the context of the Sermon on the Mount and its call to the highest discipleship lifestyle possible according to the Kingdom of God.
These phrases in the “Lord’s Prayer” paint a picture of what is most important on the heart of God and which, as His disciples, we are to prioritize as well. It is not merely a lesson in prayer but of the very principles governing the Kingdom of God.
He is speaking to believers prone to wander from what is most important to secondary focal points. It is a caution from the eternal Son to not allow distractions of any sort to lead us away from what is central on God’s heart and His eternal Kingdom.
Jesus is putting prayer in its correct context here. He is prioritizing the absolute need of the body of Christ as a people dependent upon God through the vehicle of prayer.
Prayer is the highest activity of the human soul and spirit. Human beings are at their greatest when face to face with God through prayer. He knows that human beings are prone to want to “do it ourselves” and to operate apart from reliance and submission to His will and ways. As a result He has set up the means and vehicle of prayer.
Prayer drives us back to God. It produces confidence as we entrust ourselves fully to God. Our tendency to avoid prayer or only pay it lip service, but not enter into it much ourselves, is the entire reason Jesus gave His disciples this central teaching on prayer.
He knows our tendency to sideline prayer in our own pride of believing we can somehow make things work on our own. God is calling us to confess such self-reliance and self-sufficiency.
He wants us to surrender this and embrace His mysterious creation called prayer. He has willed us to partner with Him in bringing forth great breakthrough in the world but it has to be done His way.
A challenge we have with the “Lord’s Prayer” is how familiar the body of Christ has become with it. It has often been stripped of its real meaning and true power to teach and instruct because believers (and unbelievers alike) know it by heart and have heard it over and over.
It is likely the most well known passage in the Bible. Because of its familiarity we have generally reduced this power packed prayer to something similar to a nice poem we recite every once in a while. It has become a kind of religious good luck charm to recite in troubling circumstances.
Each phrase in this prayer is full of spiritual revelation and understanding if we set ourselves to seek it from the Holy Spirit. There are so many layers of applications and implications in this prayer.
There is so much that God has to say about each individual phrase. He is enticing us to press into Him for the layers of Truth as He teaches us to pray these simple phrases.
We cannot be content with only a superficial understanding of this passage if we want to partner with God in His Kingdom purposes. With a sincere heart we must ask Him to teach us.