The Lord's Prayer
Jesus gave his disciples a prayer that we call “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4). Though we can pray the words as they are, Jesus seems to intend this to be a pattern for prayer.
The whole prayer is linked to the phrase, “hallowed be your name.” All that God is is enfolded into in his Name. We pray with confidence because each petition in the prayer is based on some aspect of the glorious, holy, hallowed character of our Father in heaven.
Simple Prayer. The most common kind of prayer is to ask God for good gifts, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Because God is a loving, caring, and compassionate Father, we can come to him, like a child, with all our felt needs (Matthew 7:11).
This is the prayer of beginners, yet we never outgrow this prayer of simple trust in God. Jesus not only permits this kind of prayer; he encourages us to ask, daily, for God to meet our most basic needs.
Forgiveness Prayer. Our Father in heaven is holy, pure, and perfectly good. Marred by sin, we cannot be in relationship with God, so we ask: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
When we sin, we give the devil a foothold into our life (Ephesians 4:26-27); he exploits this vulnerability to do us harm (John 10:10). For the sake of our spiritual well-being, Jesus urges us to include forgiveness prayer, for ourselves and for others, in our daily routine.
Kingdom prayer. We advance the rule of God when we pray in the sovereign, powerful, triumphant name of our Father in heaven, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
The kingdom of God is not a particular place; rather, it is people, everywhere, who live under the rule or authority of Jesus. When we ask God to fulfill his purposes and promises as we find them in Scripture, we collaborate with God to bring people into relationship with Jesus and, under his leadership, to increasingly speak and act in accord with his teaching and example (1 Corinthians 3:9).
As devout Jews, the disciples had been praying all their lives. Yet when they saw Jesus praying, they recognized a profound difference. It may have been the words, the fervor, the intimacy. Whatever it was, they asked Jesus to teach them to pray; and we are the beneficiaries of that holy instruction.