Matthew 6:9 (NIV )
This…is how you should pray.
Today’s reading does a good job of explaining the Lord’s prayer in everyday language. One of the things that I’m finding exciting about reading in the Scriptures lately is how much God is about relationship rather than simply a code of ethics, and this passage is no different.
When you pray "Our Father in heaven" it establishes the basis of your relationship with God. He’s not just your Creator He’s your Father. You can create something and be related to it, but if you father it – it will always be yours. Today you can come to God with the assurance that you’re His. You can call Him Abba, a term of endearment which means Daddy (See Romans 8:15).
It was the relationship with God that drew me to Him. There was something different about the people I saw who had a relationship with Him – not how good they were (although they were good).
"Hallowed be your name" means He’s more than just your Father, He’s your God. He’s worthy of your love but He demands your respect. How should we approach God? With our complaints, our demands and our wish list? No: "Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him" (Psalm 100:4 NIV ). Gratitude gets God’s attention every time!
There are two points here. First, God is our God, not just our father. Proverbs 1:7 says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (KJV ). That isn’t to say we should be afraid of God, but that we should respect Him and be in awe of Him. Probably not a bad basis for most relationships, actually.
Second, when we approach God in prayer, what do we say? In any relationship, showing gratitude is the quickest way into someone’s heart. As a parent, I try to teach my kids to be grateful for what they have. In the same way, God is moved when we express our gratitude.
"Your kingdom come," releases God’s power. "Your will be done," releases His purpose. "Give us today our daily bread," releases His provisions. The things you lack and long for begin to flow into your life because now you’ve accessed His power, discovered His purpose for you and you’re walking in it.
It’s not that we are tapping in to power. To say it that way would be an abuse of our relationship with God, saying that we’re just using Him to get to His power. Certainly in any relationship there are benefits to both parties, and our relationship with God is no different, but there are no magic words or incantations that release this power. Instead, we learn how to live in the reality of the presence of God. As we relate with Him, we learn what He wants to accomplish and the result is that the benefits of our relationship with Him are released.
"Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." It’s easier to forgive when you recall the things God has forgiven you for, and realize that your enemies can’t stop Him from blessing you. Remembering God’s goodness to you will give you the grace to forgive others, and even understand them!
How true that is! Luke 4:36-50 relates the story of Jesus dining with in the Pharisee Simon’s home and the sinful woman anointing His feet. In that passage He points out that those who are forgiven much have much to be grateful for. I can also testify to how much being understood means to me. That is true forgiveness.
"Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one" means we enter each day prepared for battle, promised victory, and protected against all of Satan’s attacks. And that’s why Jesus said, "This…is how you should pray."