Prayer Overview
Our Father

Matthew 6:5-13

Hypocrites Pray to Impress Others

"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Don't Treat God Like a Divine Vending Machine

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

"This, then, is how you should pray:

Praise & Submission

Acknowledge His Position
    "‘Our Father in heaven,

Acknowledge His Holiness -
His contempt of the presense of sin
    hallowed be your name,

Acknowledge His Lordship (It's a kingdom, not a democracy)
        your kingdom come,
        your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Supplication
Ask for necessary provisions
    Give us today our daily bread.

Deal with Sin
    Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
    And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. ‘


Attitudes to Avoid

There are two major attitudes to avoid if you expect God to listen to you.

1. Avoid Selfish Motivation

One aspect of this is when we pray to impress others. Those who are more prone to pray publically but find themselves reluctant or otherwise neglecting to pray privately should ask themselves the question as to why that is.

Secondly concerns selfish content of prayer itself. James writes, "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." James 4:3

2. Avoid Treating God Like a Fool
When you obsess over ritualism you treat God like He is a fool. If you think God is impressed with long prayers or ritualistic prayers, you are treating God as if He were a mindless vending machine of which you just have to push the right buttons to get what you want. Your very prayers become an insult to God.

Gaining an Audience with the King

Acknowledging God's position and attributes is an essential part of prayer as is acknowledging our relationship to Him. In this case we see a two fold acknowledgement.
First is the acknowledgement of God as our Father and therefore we are his children and come to Him as children do their father.

Secondly is the acknowledgement of God as King of His Kingdom of which we are but subjects - servants of God. And thus we approach Him not as masters with our demands, but as slaves requesting necessary things to fulfill His will.

And then concerning our recognition of His character, what is the primary character quality we must recognize to be heard by God?  His Holiness.
We notice this of Isaiah's experience in the presence of the Lord, speaking of the seraphs he says, they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty." Isaiah 6:3-5
Thus when we enter into God's presence we first must establish whom we think He is - His position and character qualities - and whom we are in relationship to Him.

What to Request

Prayer doesn't necessarily have to have any request associated with it. The above is categorized as "Praise", and in addition you could have "Thanksgiving" as well, neither of which would incorporate asking for something.

In this model of prayer Jesus spoke of asking for daily necessities. This might be generalized to incorporate all necessary provisions to carry out God's will as servants of God. There are both material and spiritual provisions to consider.

Just as God's holiness is acknowledged here, so also holiness in the Christian life is Jesus' focus here concerning the subject of our supplication. If a Christian falls into sin he should confess it, turn from it, and thank God for the forgiveness of sins under the New Covenant. The parable of the unforgiving servant of Matthew 18 is the attitude Jesus speaks of here as one which is not acceptable to God, namely asking to be forgiven while not forgiving others in the same manner. It shows a lack of appreciation of God's grace. An appreciation of God's grace is therefore a prerequisite for receiving God's grace.

Maintaining one's level of holiness is sometimes a function of circumstances. Some circumstances overwhelm, such as the circumstances Peter found himself in when he denied Christ. Therefore, as holiness is a priority, we can pray for God to keep us away from circumstances in which we would be weak in the flesh. Or if we are in the midst of temptation, that God would deliver us out of it, that we might not sin. "Deliver us from the evil one" can also be taken to mean to be delivered from other such circumstances, persecutions, sufferings or the like which might hinder our service to God. For example Paul prayed,

"Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me,  that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints" Romans 15:30,31
 "And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men." 2Thess 3:2

Corporate Terminology

We notice at the beginning that Jesus instructed his followers to pray privately, not to discourage public prayer per se, but rather in order to avoid the temptation of praying publically to impress others. (Interesting that this was actually an answer to the prayer "lead us not into temptation" given before it was even asked.) Certainly there are plenty of examples of praying publically. In fact in the parallel "Our Father" passage in Luke 11 it starts off "One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.'" And thus Jesus was praying publically - at least within earshot of his disciples. And so also he does in John 17. We also have the examples of the early church which held prayer meetings.
Acts 1:14 "They all joined together constantly in prayer."
Acts 12:12  When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying.
Acts 12:12  When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying.
But Jesus' instruction should cause us pause that prayer meetings not become gossip meetings and that each examine himself as to his motives lest the "spiritual" become the "hypocrite", just wanting to impress others.

HOWEVER, it is interesting to note that while the "Our Father" is given in the context of private prayer, it uses corporate terminology. It doesn't use "mine", "me", or "I", but rather "our", "us", and "we". Therefore when you pray, even in private, get used to using corporate terminology. For we are one body in Christ.


Our Father - Paraphrased

Our Father and our Lord enthroned in heaven, we reckon you perfect and without sin. You reckon sin with contempt and drive it away from your presence. We are your children and your servants, and as such submit to your will and look forward to the time when all will be submitted to your will.

We request that you provide us our necessary provisions on a daily basis in order to serve you. We thank you for the forgiveness of our sins, and we forgive others likewise in the same manner as you have forgiven us. Sanctify us. Cleanse us from our innate sinfulness. Keep us from circumstances which cause us to fall into sin. And deliver us from people, circumstances or whatever else Satan may use to hinder us from serving you effectively.


The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jul 29,2015