The Expository Files


 The Teacher Teaches Us to Pray
Matthew 6:9-13

It is an amazing thing to think about. We have all heard teachers and preachers tell us about God. Some are accurate and some not when they speak to us about these matters. But Jesus, God in the flesh, is unique as a teacher. His teaching was special because it was the word of God, not just words of men about God. Jesus came to tell us directly what God expects of us. We'll look specifically at His teaching on prayer. Consider the "Lord's Prayer" (Matthew 6:9-13).

Our Father
"Our Father who art in heaven" (Matthew 6:9). Jesus teaches that God loves us and provides for us in a similar way to a loving parent (see also Matthew 7:7-11). There are two senses of Godly Fatherhood:

(1) Our origin is through Him and we bear His image by creation. (Genesis 1:26,27; Acts 17:28).

(2) Fallen in sin, we become part of His spiritual family by spiritual rebirth (John 3:3-5; 1:12,13).

Jesus also teaches that God, the Father, is in heaven. That is where His throne is. We can only begin to imagine the beauty, wonder and majesty of that heavenly sphere, but if we are faithful, the day will come when we will not have to use our imaginations (Revelation 4:5; 5:6; 7:15-17).

Also, we are taught to be reverent as we address God in prayer. "Hallowed (or "holy") be Thy name" God's name is to be placed in a separate category from all other names. It is distinct; it is His alone. He is above all others (Isaiah 57:17).

The Kingdom
"Thy Kingdom Come" (Matthew 6:10). It is not a physical, earthly kingdom that Jesus is praying about, though it is fine to pray for our nation and its rulers. But the kingdom of God is a different kind of kingdom. Jesus refused to have any part of being an earthly king (John 6:15; 18:36).

Instead, He came to establish a spiritual kingdom. (Acts 8:12; Colossians 1:13). It was Divinely ordained to be established in the first century, and it was (Mark 9:1).

Those who are looking for Jesus to come and set up an earthly kingdom are mistaken, just as much as those who were looking for such a kingdom back in the first century. Wherever men and women obey the good news, or gospel of the kingdom, they are submitting to King Jesus and become citizens of His spiritual kingdom. One day, He will return to take His kingdom home to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:23-26).

The Will of God
"Thy will be done" (Matthew 6:10). Jesus had, and taught us to have, the utmost respect for God's will. His will must take precedence even over our own wills. A good example of this attitude was displayed by Jesus as He faced the cross. His prayer acknowledged the precedence of the Father's will over His own will in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39).

It is easy to say, "I really, really want God's will to be done" but those who really want it to be done are active in making it happen! It would be a rather empty prayer to pray "Thy will be done... but let someone else do it, not me!" (John 12:27,28).

God's Care
"Give us this day our daily bread." (Matthew 6:11). This part of Jesus' prayer shows us that it is appropriate to call upon God for our physical needs. Not only our bread, but all of our physical necessities; our health, shelter, and so forth.

But like many other things, we must act in faith to advance that for which we pray, and trust in God as we do so. It would be wrong to tempt God by jumping off a building as we ask for good health. (Matthew 4:5-7).

Also, to pray for our daily bread but then to fail to do what God says we need to do to secure it shows a lack of faith (Ephesians 4:28) Good things come to us from God (1 Timothy 4:4-6).

"And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Matthew 6:12). After the prayer, Jesus explains that it is necessary to be forgiving in order to receive forgiveness from God (Matthew 6:14,15).

In a remarkable example of being eager to forgive, Jesus prayed that God might forgive those who crucified Him even as the very deed was being done (Luke 23:34)!. This prayer was answered for some of them when they later obeyed the gospel - and that was exactly what Jesus wanted for them (Acts 2:36-38).

Spiritual Guidance
"'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil." (Matthew. 6:13). It may seem peculiar to ask God not to lead us into temptation. He wouldn't tempt us with evil (James 1:13). So what does this mean?

It is simply to acknowledge a God who delivers from evil and to keep us from situations which might prove to be too much for us to handle. We can be sure that God will do this for His people who live by faith (Matthew 26:40,41; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Peter 2:9).

"[For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.]" (Matthew 6:13b). The kingdom belongs to God. Power and glory are His as well, today and tomorrow and forever. We see the Master teacher who proclaimed the glory and power of God. For those who want to see Jesus, they will find the answers to life and its purpose. Eternity is coming, and to be in God's kingdom, saved by His power, and to ever share in His glory is as noble an ambition as we can have, and there is no greater blessing.

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 14.12; December 2007