Jesus taught His disciples to pray by giving this prayer
as an example:
"'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.
[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory
forever. Amen]'" (Matt. 6:9-13).
In this short series, we want to explore the components
to Jesus' prayer, and apply them to our prayers in the 21st
Pray for Brethren
In teaching His disciples to pray, Jesus began the prayer
by saying, "Our Father. . . ."
The first word in Jesus' model prayer is "our," a plural
pronoun. Notice that He continued to use plural pronouns
throughout the prayer ("us" and "we").
From Jesus' usage of plural pronouns, we learn to pray
for other disciples when we pray for ourselves.
Often times, the things we pray for personally are things
we can pray for other brethren. Things like material and
spiritual blessings, health, peace, etc.
By praying for others when we pray for ourselves, incorporating
plural pronouns into our prayers, we make the most of our
Pray to God as Your Father
The second word Jesus spoke in the model prayer is "Father."
As Christians we've been adopted by God, by which we cry
out, "Abba Father" (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). We're incredibly
blessed to beseech God as our Father, having access to Him
through Jesus (Eph. 2:18; 3:12).
God's designation as our Father speaks volumes regarding
the relationship we have with Him, and the relationship
He has with us.
- It communicates God's love, and our hope as His children
(1 Jn. 3:1-3; Rom. 8:17).
- It communicates God's nurture, and our dependence on
Him (Eph. 1:3-6; 5:29-30).
- It communicates that God teaches us (Jn. 6:45).
- It communicates the security God extends to us in Christ
- It communicates that God disciplines us (Heb. 12:5-11).
Praying to God as our Father makes a meaningful impact
on our prayers, lovingly speaking to Him with total dependence,
accepting His answers to all our prayers.
Praise and Glorify God
At the beginning and end of the prayer, Jesus praised and
glorified God. At the beginning He said, "hallowed be Your
name." And at the end He said, "For Yours is the kingdom
and the power and the glory forever."
"Hallowed" means to make holy, sanctify. In the prayer
Jesus acknowledges that God's name is holy, praising and
The fact that Jesus praised and glorified God twice in
His short prayer, teaches us to do the same in our prayers,
spending a good amount of time glorifying God when we pray.
Pray About the Kingdom
Jesus prayed about the kingdom, saying, "Your kingdom come."
"Kingdom" denotes the domain of the king.
Although the kingdom has already come and men enter it
by obeying the gospel (Col. 1:13), there are many things
to pray about regarding the kingdom today. For example,
- Pray for Christ's rule over the kingdom.
- Pray for people in the kingdom (Christians) -- that
they put God's kingdom first (Matt. 6:33).
- Pray for the numeric growth of the kingdom -- that
more people obey Jesus and become members.
- Pray for Christ to come, and take citizens of His kingdom
Pray About God's Will
Jesus prayed that God's will be done, saying, "Your will
be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
Jesus exemplifies this attitude in prayer, when He offered
up prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears
in the garden, with sweat falling to the ground like drops
He prayed, saying, "Abba! Father! All things are possible
for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but
what You will" (Mk. 14:36).
Our attitude in life is the same as Jesus', "yet not what
I will, but what You will." As such, this attitude is reflected
in our prayers, praying with a submissive heart, wanting
God to accomplish His will in our lives, no matter the personal
Pray For Daily Needs
In the model prayer, Jesus teaches us to pray for our daily
needs, saying, "Give us this day our daily bread."
Although God promises to give us the basic necessities
of life (Matt. 6:25-33), He desires for us to ask for them
in prayer, thus acknowledging our dependence on Him for
everything, which helps us remain humble.
When we pray, asking God to supply our basic needs, we
cast our heaviest burdens on Him (food, drink, clothing,
shelter), which helps us overcome worry and anxiety, as
we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God (Matt.
6:33; Phil. 4:6-7; 1 Pet. 5:6-7).
Although we're prone to take the necessities of life for
granted, we must discipline ourselves to thoughtfully pray
for them, knowing that we depend upon God for everything
Pray For Forgiveness
Jesus teaches us to pray for forgiveness, saying, "And forgive
us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." It's
a sobering thought that God forgives us, partially based
on our forgiveness of others.
Immediately after the prayer (as recorded in Matthew)
Jesus says, "For if you forgive others for their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do
not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your
transgressions" (Matt. 6:14-15).
Jesus illustrates this lesson when Peter asked how often
he should forgive his brother. He tells a parable about
a king who forgave a slave who owed about $400,000,000.
But when the slave refused to forgive a fellow slave who
only owed $16,000, the king summoned him and said, "'You
wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded
with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow
slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?'" (Matt.
The parable concludes with the king handing the unforgiving
slave over to the torturers.
Then Jesus teaches the spiritual lesson we should learn,
saying, "My heavenly Father will also do the same to you,
if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart"
In other words, we'll be lost for eternity, if we don't
forgive others from our hearts.
- "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and
beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility,
gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and
forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against
anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should
you" (Col. 3:12-13).
- "For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown
no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment" (Jas. 2:13).
Pray For Deliverance
Jesus teaches to pray for deliverance, saying, "And do not
lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
Peirasmos, the Greek word translated "temptation"
in Matt. 6:13, has caused some confusion, sounding like
God leads people into temptation. But that's not the case,
since God tempts no man (Jas. 1:13).
Rather, peirasmos denotes a trial (which can be
tempting), not a temptation from Satan.
For example, James uses peirasmos twice, saying:
- Jas. 1:2 "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when
you encounter various trials."
- Jas. 1:12 "Blessed is a man who perseveres under
trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive
the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those
who love Him."
At the end of the prayer, Jesus said "Amen," which means
"so let it be."
By saying Amen at the end of a prayer, we beseech God
one final time to hear our petition.
And when listening to a public prayer, we join together
as listeners and say "Amen," assenting to the things said
and beseeching God to hear our prayer (1 Cor. 14:6).
A Persistent Friend
Jesus tells a story to teach us to be persistent in prayer.
"Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at
midnight and says to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves;
for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and
I have nothing to set before him'; and from inside he
answers and says, Do not bother me; the door has already
been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get
up and give you anything.' I tell you, even though he
will not get up and give him anything because he is his
friend, yet because of his persistence he will
get up and give him as much as he needs" (Lk. 11:5-8).
From the story, it seems the men weren't rich, or slaves
would have done the work.
So based on Oriental customs of the day, the man was probably
asleep with his wife and children on the floor, in their
one room house, when his friend knocked. The knocking would
have aggravated his whole family. And getting up to give
his friend the bread, he would have disturbed everyone in
Understanding the cultural context of the story, we realize
that getting up to get the bread was more than inconvenient.
It was, as we say today, a hassle.
Jesus uses this story to teach persistence. He says, "yet
because of his persistence he will get up and give him as
much as he needs."
God wants us to be persistent in our prayers. Not that
He wants us to bug him to get an answer to our prayers,
but God wants us to have a fervent and diligent prayer life.
God teaches us to be persistent in a number of Scriptures.
Once a Canaanite woman came to Jesus, pleading for Him
to heal her demon-possessed daughter. Jesus didn't answer,
possibly testing her faith, but she persistently sought
His help, saying "Lord, help me" (Matt. 15:25)!
When Jesus answered the woman, He said, "'It is not good
to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs (Matt.
15:26).'" But she replied, "'Yes, Lord; but even the dogs
feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters' table
Jesus remarked that the woman's faith was great, and granted
her request, healing her daughter at once.
Why was her faith so great? Simply put, it was great because
she was persistent in her prayer (request) to Jesus. She
didn't give up!
Today, if our faith is great, we'll be persistent in our
prayers. We won't give up!
- "Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything
give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ
Jesus" (1 Th. 5:16-18).
Ask, Seek, and Knock
Following the model prayer and the example of the Canaanite
woman, Jesus tells us to ask, seek and knock.
- "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given
to you; seek, and you will find; knock,
and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks,
receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him
who knocks, it will be opened" (Lk. 11:9-10).
Jesus gives us three components of a persistent prayer
- Ask: Like the Canaanite woman, persistently
pray to God. And don't give up.
- Seek: Like the Canaanite woman, seek the Lord's
favor, persistently petitioning Him to grant your desires
- Knock: Like the man who needed bread, persistently
knock, confident God will answer your prayer in the way
that's best for you.
Jesus teaches us the how to pray, teaching us to be persistent
in our petitions to God, just as He persistently prayed
in the garden, hours before His crucifixion.
As a faithful Christian, you're persistent in your prayers!
You don't give up, casting all your anxiety on God, in everything
by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, making your
requests known to Him. As a result, you have the peace of
God that surpasses all comprehension, guarding your heart
and mind in Christ Jesus (1 Pet. 5:7; Phil. 4:6-7).
- Pray for brethren.
- Pray to God as your Father.
- Praise and glorify God in your prayers.
- Pray about the kingdom.
- Pray about God's will.
- Pray for your daily needs.
- Pray for forgiveness.
- Pray for deliverance.
- Say Amen at the end of your prayer.
- You're persistent in your prayers.
- You ask, seek, and knock in your prayers.