Communicating with God. Listening. Speaking. Sharing. Learning.
When Jesus sets about teaching the Disciples how to pray (or how not to pray in an ostentatious or pretentious manner) in the Gospels we are given “The Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6 (ESV). A better name for this prayer might be “The Believer’s Prayer” or “The Disciple’s Prayer” because it is a model given to us to show us how to pray.
Many folks pray this prayer by rote, and have since childhood, believing it to be the perfect end-all be-all prayer, and while the words ARE great words to pray, it might be a better approach to see this prayer as a MODEL for how to pray, not a prayer that HAS to be recited word for word to have any power or meaning.
The Lord’s Prayer opens up with a declaration of who God is: “Our Father in Heaven.” This sets the tone for the rest of the prayer – a prayer that looks to honor and glorify God first, and reveres, and appropriately “fears” the greatness and bigness of God (“Hallowed be Thy name”).
Then it moves into what is commonly called “petitions” which are basically themes that run through the prayer and can be looked at as points of focus for us when we pray.
“Hallowed be Thy Name,
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Out of these first few lines we get: Thy name, Thy Kingdom, and Thy Will. These 3 petitions move us toward God, for His own sake. An appropriate expression of true love is to think of the one who is loved first, before we think of ourselves. True worship is the same way. We don’t worship ourselves. We worship God, and think of him first.
About Us, Yet Still Focused On God
“Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
Out of these final lines we get: Give us, Forgive us, Lead us, Deliver us. These last 4 petitions deal with the here and now, and allow us to profess our need for God. Although we’re able to bring “us” into the focus the idea is that we are looking to God the ultimate Provider to fulfill our needs.
This reinforces the idea of worship. It’s all about God, His goodness, His exalted and glorified name. And even though there will be times when we petition Him with our needs, the point of worship still remains – we look to HIM as the Provider, as the Comforter, as the Healer, as the Deliverer.
Lastly, the Doxology (most scholars agree that it was added later and so it isn’t included in modern translations).
“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.”
Although this seems to be a later addition, we can use it to bookend the model prayer. We opened the prayer with a declaration of who God is and we focus on His attributes of greatness.
So when we pray, it IS an act of worship, especially as we pray as Jesus modeled. And as we look to The Lord’s Prayer, we can see a great example of HOW to keep our eyes and our hearts turned towards God in a simple and humble act of worship.
Jesus did say that “His house would be called a house of prayer.” (Matthew 21:13 ESV)
Russ Hutto is the Associate Director of Worship & Media at St. Simons Community Church where he mentors, oversees and helps lead Family and Student worship environments. He is also the content curator and editor here at The Worship Community.