Jesus had just explained how NOT to pray: to impress other people or mindlessly fill the air with words in hopes of impressing God (Matt 6:5-8). Then the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray like He did. We’ve discussed His first four lines of the prayer already: “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father, who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matt 6:9-12)
Jesus used this prayer as a model on how to pray. For our prayers to be effective, we must learn to enter into the presence of God with a grateful heart, no matter what we are going through in life. “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courtyards with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.” (Ps 100:4) Every prayer should start with thanksgiving and praise.
We are to address our Father in heaven in prayer, while honoring His name. We must always honor His name; never profane Him. We are to remember the 4th of the 10 Commandments: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” (Ex 20:7) Christ then models the importance of submission to God’s will, and speaking to Him in a way which acknowledges it so that our will lines up with His will. “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.”
The next line in the prayer is to request our needs for today: “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matt 6:11) When we ask the Lord to meet our needs for today, we’re acknowledging that God is our sustainer, source and provider. Then we discussed the next line: “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matt 6:12) If we look at this literally in the English NASB version, we may believe that if someone owes us $100, we are to forgive the debt. But that’s not the debt Jesus is teaching us about.
In Luke’s gospel, Jesus puts it this way: “And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” (Luke 11:4a) Sinning against others creates a debt. When Jesus talks about forgiving “debts” he means forgiving “sins”; the debts He’s talking about are sin debts. We need to be forgiven for our sins by God (and Jesus came to this earth to pay the ransom for our sins if we believe by faith in who He is, understand our sinful nature and our need for a Savior, and ask Him for forgiveness and repent). Because of our own need of forgiveness, we also need to forgive others their sins against us.
Today we come to the last line, for which I will use the NKJV: “And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” (Matt 6:13) The phrase is better understood as “lead us away from temptation or testing”. James 1:13 makes it clear that God never entices anyone to sin. God obviously has the power, though, to lead His people away from tempting circumstances. We should ask God to do that for us, knowing that even when we’re tempted, He always provides us a means to avoid sin (1 Cor 10:13); and we must understand that it is our free will to choose to sin, but we aren’t excused from the consequences even with repentance.
Matthew described the temptations Jesus experienced from the evil one, the devil, in the wilderness (Matt 4:1-11). Jesus resisted each temptation by quoting Scripture and finally sending the devil away. He now instructs His followers to ask God the Father for deliverance from the temptations of the evil one, as well. This prayer model wraps up by stating that it is our Sovereign Lord who owns the kingdom He created, and He has all power to answer our prayers if it is His will; and most assuredly all the glory belongs to Him and Him alone. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Heavenly Father, we praise You for Who You are. We pray that Your will be done in our lives and Your purpose be fulfilled on earth, when Christ Jesus will reign as King of kings and bring peace to this war-torn world. Provide our daily needs, and forgive me for the times when I have not loved You as I should and depended on myself instead of trusting You. Help me to resist the temptations in life and to acknowledge my total dependence on You, especially in times of trials and testings – and keep me I pray from all the evil attacks of the enemy – for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. In the precious name of Jesus, amen.