“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 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.”
Prayer is as essential to the Christian life as breathing is to physical life. Prayer is our “lifeline” to heaven; we simply cannot survive long without it. That is why the Bible has so much to say on the topic, and why the Lord Jesus Himself, in the days of His earthly ministry, spent so much time in prayer. Amazingly, even now He is praying for us, interceding on our behalf to His Father in heaven (Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1). He is our great teacher, guiding and instructing, in word and in example. Today’s passage contains what is commonly referred to as “the Lord’s prayer,” though Jesus Himself never prayed such a prayer (He never had sins to be confessed or forgiven!); “the disciples’ prayer” would be a more accurate title. Interestingly, the Lord’s instructions on prayer were themselves an answer to a kind of prayer. Luke tells us that “As he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” (Luke11:1). The message here is subtle but important. Jesus knew the disciples needed instruction on prayer, but he wasn’t going to give it until they asked. This in itself is a brilliant lesson on prayer. We don’t pray to inform God of our needs (Matthew 6:8), but to have our needs met. Jesus encouraged us to pray often, to petition God regularly (Luke 1:1-8; 18:1-8). We might wonder why persistence in prayer is necessary, why God doesn’t just grant our requests immediately. Of course God has His reasons that are known only to Him. Even so, the Bible does provide much insight into the need for persistence in prayer. All prayer is a confession to God, and a reminder to ourselves, of our complete dependence upon Him. We may be sure that God hears the desires of the humble (Psalm 10:17) and gives them grace (1 Peter 5:5). The first and greatest command is to love God with everything we have, and prayer is a way in which our relationship with God grows and deepens. When we pray, we spend time with God, giving attention to Him and not some comparatively lesser thing. Paul reminds us that giving attention to the Lord helps us become more like Him (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). When He does answer our prayers, we are reminded that He is not an abstract notion but a living, personal reality, a Good Father in Whom our love and trust is well-placed. May these meditations be an encouragement to you today.