Charles H. Spurgeon, a great English Baptist pastor, said, “A prayerless church member is a hindrance, he is in the body like a rotting bone, or a decayed tooth, and, ere long, since he does not contribute to the benefit of his brethren, he will become a danger and a sorrow to them.”
Prayer is important. We may not understand completely how it works, but it does. We must pray effectively, and these verses give a pattern.
These verses are usually referred to as the Lord’s Prayer, but they should be called the disciples’ prayer. The Lord’s Prayer was in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. Also, Jesus would not have to ask for his sins to be forgiven.
Jesus spent an enormous amount of time in prayer. He rose early in the morning to pray. Prayer was the “spiritual air” he breathed. Prayer keeps us going just like air does. It gave him the strength to fulfill his earthly ministry.
Prayer should be a normal part of our life. Dr. D. Martin Lloyd-Jones said, “Man is at his greatest and highest when upon his knees he comes face to face to God.”
James writes, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (5:16).
Jesus gives us a skeleton for prayer in these verses. We should not limit our prayers to these very words, but it is a model we add to.
Prayer Recognizes the Fatherhood of God
During the Old Testament era, a faithful Jew would never address God directly as Father. Jesus spoke Aramaic primarily, and the word he uses for Father is “Abba.” The word is equivalent to our word Daddy.
To the Jewish mind, addressing God like this would be improper (an act of irreverence to the highest degree). This teaching was unique to Jesus, and he uses this form of address when talking to his Father.
There are some misunderstandings about the fatherhood of God. God is not the father of all in the sense Jesus refers to. Rather, he is only father to all in the sense he is their creator. In the sense Jesus used the word, God is only Father to Christians.
Faithful Jews knew God as their Father. He was the father of Israel (he chose and set them apart). He was a spiritual father and Savior to the nation. Yet, over time, they lost this sense of intimacy.
Recognizing the fatherhood of God means several things. We don’t have to fear him in the sense of being afraid of him. Doing so settles uncertainties and gives us hope. It also settles loneliness. God will never leave or forsake us. It deals with selfishness. We share God with all believers. It also deals with resources. God owns all and we do too by extension. It further deals with obedience. If Jesus obeyed, we should too.
The benefits of having God as father include knowing he will care for us now and in eternity and that he will guide us through life.
An old saint said, “True prayer brings the mind to the immediate contemplation of God’s character and holds it there until the believer’s soul is properly impressed.”
Prayer Recognizes the Hallowness of God’s Name
We can rephrase the prayer to say, “My Father in heaven, my first desire is that in everything you might have preeminence.”
God should have priority in every area of our life. Prayer is not a casual routine, but we can use everyday language. Prayer does not bring God’s desires in line with ours but rather ours with his. It should also lead us to reverence and awe.
In Jewish thought, the name was important and revealed a person’s character. God’s name represents all he is. It tells his character, plan, and will. His name is demonstrated by his faithfulness to all his name implies. His name is also synonymous with his righteousness.
The names applied to God in the Old Testament told different things about him. He is Creator, possessor of heaven and earth, provider, Lord of peace, and righteousness. But the clearest teaching about him comes through Jesus Christ.
To hallow God’s name means to reverence, honor and obey him. This begins in the heart and then leads to us glorifying him. We know him and are aware of his presence. This leads us to live set apart lives. We want to draw him into every area of our life and want that for others, also.
Prayer Recognizes the Program of God
Praying for his Kingdom to come was the heart of the message of Christ. God’s kingdom is past, present, and future. In the past, God has always ruled over individuals and history. In the present, God still rules. Jesus told people that the kingdom was in their midst. In the future, Christ will come again and rule solely as King of kings. The Kingdom is spiritual now, but will become literal later.
We enter the kingdom when we place our faith in Christ. We then seek to bring others into the kingdom. This part of the prayer is asking for God’s rule in our lives and in other’s lives.
Prayer Recognizes the Plan of God
Our prayers ask for God’s will to be done on earth even as it is in heaven. This is a paradox. God is sovereign, and yet we are to ask for his will to be done. We pray for his will in our life, and then we pray for his will to prevail all over the earth.
God’s will is for us to study the Word and allow the Spirit to enlighten us. We know it is his will for others to follow him. We know he wants us to live pure and holy lifestyles. We also know he wants us to claim all his promises and to have peace in our lives.
John Hannah said, “The end of prayer is not so much tangible answers as a deepening life of dependency…The call to prayer is a call to love, submission, and obedience…the avenue of sweet, intimate, and intense fellowship of the soul with the infinite Creator.”