Courage for life Blog

How Jesus Taught Us to Pray

February 21, 2023

Our Father, who is 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 also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Jesus gave us this profound prayer as a model to follow. Known as “The Lord’s Prayer,” this prayer wasn’t intended to be repeated without thought or intention. In fact, before giving us these words, Jesus said that we should not pray with “thoughtless repetition.” Although for some, this prayer has become just that.

Let’s dig deeper into this prayer and discover how Jesus taught us to pray.

Jesus had begun His earthly ministry and appointed His twelve apostles. He went throughout Galilee teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. Vast crowds started following Him, so He went up a mountainside and taught them from there. Some theologians and scholars refer to this teaching in Matthew 5-7 as the “Sermon on the Mount.” Jesus taught many topics, one of those being prayer. He gave us a model prayer, but He also had some additional guidance on how to use it. Jesus said in Matthew 6:5-13 (NASB),

And when you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they will be seen by people. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But as for you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
And when you are praying, do not use thoughtless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
Pray, then, in this way:
Our Father, who is 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 also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

You may have heard this prayer conclude with, “For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” and we will get into that below. However, the first thing I want to point out is verse seven. Jesus says not to pray with “thoughtless repetition.” So, there must be more to this model prayer than reciting it repeatedly without much meaning. Let’s break it down.

Pray, then in this way:

Jesus gives us a beautiful model prayer to follow. This prayer is not necessarily to be recited repeatedly without any thought or consideration for its words. We can use this prayer, but we should take the time to speak it to God thoughtfully and reflect on each of the words as we seek to grow in our relationship with God.

Our Father, who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

God wants an intimate relationship with us. He wants us to experience Him as our faithful protector and loving Father. However, Jesus’ prayer balances God’s closeness to us with the recognition that He is the powerful, almighty God. He is holy, righteous, and glorious. Still, He is accessible to us and wants to be in a relationship with us.

Hallowed means to be held in reverence or regarded as holy. God is holy, and this part of the prayer reminds us to view Him as such. God’s name is more than just His name. God’s name is the expression of how He has revealed Himself to us. It’s His whole character. Many people do not know who God truly is and do not revere or honor Him. In Jesus’ model prayer, we recognize God for who He is and worship Him accordingly.

Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

After we worship God and His character, His kingdom and will become our focus. We are not praying for God to accomplish His will as if He could not do it without our help. We know that God can do anything, but He invites us to be a part of His kingdom coming and His will through our prayers and obedience to Him.

Jesus exemplified this type of obedience as He faced the cross. Matthew 26:39 says, “And He [Jesus] went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.’”

In this model prayer, we submit ourselves to God and His will and align ourselves with the desire to see God’s kingdom here on earth.

Give us this day our daily bread.

We move from worshipping God, aligning with His mission, and submitting to His will, and we seek to petition Him for our daily provisions. God cares about our everyday needs, but He wants our dependence to be on Him. Much like the Israelites in the desert who received their daily manna from God (see Exodus 16), we are to fully depend on God each and every day. Prayer is a powerful reminder that God is in complete control and we are not. We can rely on Him daily and share our needs with Him.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Let me be honest here. I have a love-hate relationship with this line. I love it because it reminds me that I was in debt to God. I had overdrawn my account by my own sin, and yet Jesus paid my debt through His death so that I could have a relationship with God. Amazing! However, I hate (hate is too strong of a word here, but you get my drift) this line because it reminds me that I also need to forgive those that may have sinned against me.

God has been so gracious in accepting me through my faith in Jesus. I, too, should show that same graciousness to others when they err against me. Their sin against me is nothing compared to my sins and disobedience against God. When we truly experience God’s grace and forgiveness, we are more ready to extend grace and forgiveness to others.

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Once we confess our sins to God and share with Him how we feel about others’ sins against us, we turn our thoughts to future temptations. The concept of “lead” here does not mean that God leads us to sin or tempts us (see James 1:13). While we have faith tests, they are intended to strengthen our faith, not trick us into sin. We ask God not to let us succumb to temptation. When we do feel the overwhelming lure of temptation, be it from our own sinful desire or the enemy’s evil attacks, we should seek God’s way out (see 1 Corinthians 10:13). The bottom line here is that we acknowledge that we cannot live a godly life without the help of God.

For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Most scholars and theologians agree that this line was not in the earliest manuscripts and was likely added later as a doxology by the early church. However, the truth of this closing worship remains, creating a full circle with the earlier portion of the prayer – Your kingdom come, hallowed be your name.

Jesus taught us to pray in this way. We recognize God for who He is and worship Him accordingly. We submit ourselves to God and His will and align ourselves with the desire to see His kingdom here on earth. We ask God for our daily provisions and remind ourselves to rely on Him. We confess our sins to God and share with Him how we feel about others’ sins against us. We ask for deliverance from future temptations and evil. Finally, we praise God for who He is and thank Him for being in a relationship with us.

The next time you feel tempted to pray without much thought, be it before a meal or maybe reciting this prayer, let me encourage you to pause and take a moment with your Father. He wants to hear from you, genuinely and sincerely. Use this model prayer to worship God, submit your life to Him, ask Him for what you need, confess your sin and ask for help in forgiving others, seek deliverance from future temptations and evils, and continue to grow in your relationship with God.

Watch the LIVE REPLAY of this breakdown of the Lord’s Prayer. Join us LIVE every Monday at 3 p.m. ET on @GodGivesCourage Instagram for our Spiritual Growth Series and check back here on Tuesdays for the companion blog post.

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