The greatest prayer ever prayed by the greatest Person who ever lived is a powerful prayer. That prayer, usually referred to as the Lord’s Prayer, is actually the “Disciples’ Prayer.” It is the prayer Jesus taught His disciples in response to their request, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).
This is the prayer He taught them: “Our Father in heaven, / Hallowed be Your Name. / Your kingdom come. / Your will be done / On earth as it is in heaven. / Give us day by day our daily bread. / And forgive us our sins, / For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. / And do not lead us into temptation, / But deliver us from the evil one” (Luke 11:2-4).
Jesus’ disciples knew it was difficult to learn how to pray effectively, so it was no wonder that they asked Jesus to teach them to pray. The book of Acts and history bear record that they learned well from Jesus. In fact, they learned how to pray so well that they saw the gospel reach out to the extremities of the known world in its transforming power. When we learn to pray in the manner Jesus taught His disciples, we too will see our prayers answered in a mighty way.
Jesus Had a Wonderful Concept of God as His Father
It was because of His wonderful concept of God as His Father that Jesus prayed as He did, beginning His model prayer with the words, “Our Father.” So powerfully has this principle been engraved upon our minds that even today most believers begin their prayers with those reverential words.
Jesus always exalted and magnified His Father. Several examples of this exaltation appear in His great high-priestly prayer: “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4) and, “That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:21).
The only way the world will be able to see and believe in Jesus as the Son of God, the Savior of mankind, is for them to see us blending ourselves together with God in prayer. It is only when they view us as one with the Father that they will believe in and receive Jesus as their Savior.
In His exaltation of His Father, Jesus truly reverenced His Father’s name: “I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:26).
How wonderful to know that prayer brings us into sonship with the almighty God. He is not our Father until we call upon Him. However, when we do call upon God and receive Jesus into our lives, we are born again, and truly become children of God. Jesus made it clear that only those who do this are the children of God. And on one occasion Jesus charged a group of people, who were living presumptuously, with the strong accusation, “You are of your father the devil” (John 8:44). The privilege of knowing God as our Father is precious and inestimable.
Jesus Saw a New Kingdom Relationship in Prayer
“Our Father,” Jesus began His model prayer, “in Heaven” (Luke 11:2). Then He taught His followers that the kingdom of God is not something far away, but that it’s as near as their concept of God. “For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21).
God is interested in what goes on inside of you far more than He is interested in anything else. The new kingdom relationship in prayer demands that God must be enthroned in our heart.
“But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart onebelieves unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:8-10).
By crowning Jesus King of kings in every aspect of our lives, we recognize and give homage to God, the Father, above all.
When Pilate questioned Jesus and asked Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37).
Jesus, who flatly states that His very purpose was to become king, is the One who tells us to address God as “Our Father, in heaven.” When we do so, we acknowledge the supremacy of the kingdom of God.
Jesus Taught Us to Honor God’s Name
Jesus, our Lord, taught His disciples (including us) to hallow, to respect, to give honor to God’s name. His name is not to be used or taken lightly. It is not to be used in oaths, which are blasphemous. God’s name is sacred and holy. He is the Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth. He is the One who made us in His own image. He is the One who upholds the earth. Our very breath comes from Him.
Jesus’ respect for God’s name was traditional among His people. In fact, for centuries religious Jews (especially the orthodox) have refrained from the use of God’s name in either speaking or writing. When speaking of the Almighty, they would use a euphemism such as Ha-Shem (the Name), or Ha-Shemyim (the heavens). When writing God’s name, they would notcomplete the word, writing it “G-d,” leaving out the vowel. Jesus emphasized the importance of the Father’s name, and in His model prayer declared that God’s name should be remembered as holy.
In His Model Prayer, Jesus Spoke of the Kingdom
He taught His disciples to anticipate the total coming of the Father’s kingdom, to look forward to the day when all men would be a part of that grand and glorious rulership. Then after He had prayed, “Your kingdom come,” Jesus went a step further. “Your will be done / On earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).
Jesus knew that the will of God is perfectly, scrupulously done in heaven. So in teaching His disciples how to pray, Jesus taught them to desire—and to speak of the desire—that God’s will be done here below as perfectly and completely as it is done in heaven. Of course, that should certainly be our prayer today: that God’s will be done in our lives—not man’s sinful will, not Satan’s will, but God’s perfect, lovely will.
To paraphrase Jesus’ words, it seems to me that He was suggesting that his disciples think, Lord, in all of my daily thoughts and actions, my strong desire is to do Your will. So, as I approach You in prayer, I ask You to help me to totally perform Your will. Thus, by constantly thinking of and praying that God’s will be done in our lives, our actions will automatically begin to bear out that desire.
Jesus Taught His Disciples to Pray for Daily Bread
Of course, Jesus was not necessarily speaking of physical bread alone, though He doubtless had that in mind when He said, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11). Basically, Jesus was teaching submission to our Lord in everything, every day. This includes believing in God to supply our every need.
Later in this same sixth chapter of Matthew, Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (v. 33). So, according to Jesus, it is not wrong for us to say, “Lord, today I ask You to supply my necessities, because I am continually putting the things of the kingdom first in my life.”
Jesus Taught Divine Forgiveness in This Model Prayer
“And forgive us our debts, / As we forgive our debtors,” Jesus prayed in Matthew 6:12. Jesus taught that divine forgiveness comes through prayer. But forgiveness does not come merely for the asking. Forgiving others is the acid test. We will be forgiven in the same manner, and to the same degree, that we forgive others. In other words, if we do not forgive others, we will not be forgiven. But if we forgive others, we, in turn, will be forgiven. Think about that for a moment.
There can be no resentments, no evil thinking about others, Jesus said. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).
Forgiveness is reciprocal. When and as I forgive, I will be forgiven. But if my heart is full of bitterness toward another, I will be unable to forgive him. And if I do not forgive my brother, then God cannot forgive me. Jesus is teaching in this model prayer that we will be forgiven if and when we forgive.
“And do not lead us into temptation” (Matt. 6:13). There are those who teach that God tempts some of His children. This is a false teaching. “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (James 1:13). Praise the Lord for His concern for His children! God is our Helper, not our tempter. God loves to strengthen us, to build us up. The devil is the one who desires to hurt us and lead us astray. For that reason Jesus calls the devil a thief.
Jesus said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they [My children, My disciples, My followers] may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Jesus knows the heart of His Father. He knows how God loves us and that He “will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13).
“But deliver us from the evil one” (Matt. 6:13). Whenever evil presents itself, God always provides a way out. There is no evil in the world from which God cannot deliver you if you are doing what He has called you to do. But if you are dabbling in sin, you’ve got a problem.
In essence, Jesus is saying in this model prayer, “The Father and I can deliver you from any evil, no matter what it is.” If you, even right now as you read, realize that you are bound by any sin and any evil thing, I want you to know that you can be delivered from it here and now and begin walking in freedom and power.
Jesus Had a Vision of World Dominion in Prayer
“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever” (Matt. 6:13). Jesus realized the totality of the Father’s kingdom. He knew better than anyone else that God is the Source of all power and that to Him all glory is due. For that reason, He incorporated these words into this prayer for His disciples. As believers, we need to be continually reminded of who we are: that we are the sheep of His pasture, and that all our strength and power flow from the Lord God.
The apostle Peter echoed Jesus’ words when he wrote, “To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Pet. 5:11). The psalmist sang, “Give unto the LORD, / O you mighty ones, / Give unto the LORD / glory and strength” (Ps. 29:1).
These strong affirmations should be a part of every believer’s prayer life. Awareness of our Father’s kingdom and power and glory, and our constant remembrance of them, will help us build a strong relationship with our heavenly Father, for all of us who love Him are His children, and all of us are equal in His sight. He is the almighty God. He is the Creator of the universe. He is our Holy God.
“Our Father in heaven.” My heavenly Father.
“Hallowed be Your name.” I will give unto God the glory due His name, and I will not forget to praise Him.
“Your kingdom come.” I will live in continual anticipation of Your kingdom rule.
“Your will be done.” No longer my will, my desires, but only what He desires in my life, on earth, as in heaven.
“Give us this day.” Not next year’s need, not even next week’s need, but today’s. I will depend upon the Lord today.
“Forgive us.” Lord, I will forgive others, regardless of what they have done, in order that You will forgive me.
“And do not lead us into temptation.” Instead lead all of us, Lord, so we will not stumble or stray from the pathway.
“Deliver us.” Deliver us from all evil. I thank You for Your great salvation, which is for all of us, including me.
“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory.” The Kingdom is Yours, Lord, and Your Kingdom is within me. You’ve got the power. I give You the glory—forever. Thank You, Lord, for making me a part of all that You are.
God’s Kingdom, God’s domain, is everlasting. It is endless; it is eternally present—forever and ever and ever and ever. Through prayer that is in line with the model prayer that Jesus taught His disciples, we will see His Kingdom come. We will see His Kingdom established throughout all the earth. We will see every language, every land, every people come under His lordship.
“Our Father 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 forgive our debtors. / 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. 6:9-13).