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The model prayer

By Thurman Hayes

When we think about praying, often we overlook the most basic prayer Jesus gave us. We call it “the Lord’s Prayer, but really it is a model prayer for us.

But when we pray, we should think about what we are saying. Prayer is not a mantra or a formula to be mindlessly repeated.

So let’s think about the Model Prayer. What should we be thinking about when we pray it?

“Our Father” — If you have repented of your sin and trusted in Jesus as your Savior, God is your Father. Jesus used the Aramaic word, “Abba,” to address God, and here He teaches us to do the same. Abba was a tender word that was only used by children in the context of family life. In modern English, its equivalent would be “Daddy.”

This means that we should address God as Father, because the shed blood and resurrection of His Son has secured our adoption as sons and daughters. If you have trusted in Jesus, you are God’s child, and your Father loves you with a perfect love.

Furthermore, He is “our Father in heaven.” The words “in heaven” refer not to His location but to His sovereign power. Again, think about it: Your loving daddy is King of the universe. All power and authority belong to Him. Now, doesn’t the knowledge of that give you confidence to come before Him in prayer? Doesn’t it give you confidence for life?

“Hallowed be your name.” — A more modern rendering would be this — “Your name be honored as holy.” This means that we are praying for God and not us to receive glory and honor. As Psalm 115:1 says, “Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory.”

We are praying for God to be more famous and joyfully adored, in our community and around the world. That leads into the next petition…

“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Here we are praying for the rule and reign of our Father and King to be extended to every people on earth. We are praying for people from every tribe and tongue to know Him and be giving joyous praises to God, through Jesus. This is a missionary prayer, a prayer for the spread of the gospel around the world.

“Give us today our daily bread.” Notice that it is “today” or “this day.” Our Father will provide for tomorrow’s needs when tomorrow arrives. His mercies are new every morning.

So this prayer is about God’s provisions today. Most Americans aren’t used to praying for daily food, because we already have more than we need. But every morsel and every beat of our heart is a gift from God.

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” — We recognize our own sinfulness, and our need for grace, provided for us through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross. We do not deserve such amazing grace, but through Jesus it is ours. But who are we to receive such grace and forgiveness, yet refuse to extend it to others?

“And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” When we pray this, we are praying that God would protect us from the devil and from situations that would be especially tempting.

“For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” Again, life is not about you. It is about God.

The Model Prayer is a reminder that we are not the center of the universe. Life doesn’t revolve around us. And life works a whole lot better when we joyfully live for God’s glory.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr. is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.