The Lord’s Prayer
The “Lord’s Prayer” is very important because prayer is essential in the life of every child of God and God himself is teaching his children how to pray in this passage. This prayer was taught to those who have a Father in heaven and who are his disciples (see Matthew 5:1-2) as part of the “Sermon on the Mount”. It does not apply to those who have not become God’s children through the new birth and who therefore do not have the “father-child” relationship spoken of within this prayer. Before the prayer itself, Jesus gives some contrasting examples to help us understand how to pray as well as how not to pray (verses 5 through 8).
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.
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.
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.
8. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
9. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11. Give us this day our daily bread.
12. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
In verses 5 and 6 God warns his children not to pray hypocritically with the intent of receiving honor from men. The Greek word translated “hypocrite” has to do with “stage acting”. A hypocrite is one who is intentionally pretending to be something that he is not, and he is doing so in front of an “audience”. The hypocrites that Jesus speaks of here were pretending to be godly, holy people who sought out public places in which to pray in a manner that was meant to be impressive and to draw attention to themselves. By contrast, God’s people are to pray to their Father in their “closet” (a place where they can get alone with God and pray to him in secret). This is not to say that public prayer is wrong – there are many examples of good public prayer in the Bible
God also warns his children not to use “vain repetitions” and “much speaking” (as is common in false religions) but rather to pray simply and in a manner that reflects the knowledge that God hears us the first time and knows what we need before we even ask.
This model prayer focuses on God the Father and exalts him. It starts with “Our” which tells us that we are not to pray for ourselves only but for other disciples as well. It seeks God’s will rather than our own. It asks for our simple daily needs to be met and for forgiveness as a condition of forgiving others.
It acknowledges that there is evil in this world and asks for deliverance from it. Finally, it acknowledges God’s supreme authority, power, and glory (all of which should give us confidence that he is fully able to answer our prayers in a manner that a loving Father would and in a manner that will bring honor and glory to him).