9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. – Matthew 6:9-15
Why did Jesus instruct us to pray in this manner?
First, Jesus acknowledges the Father in a particular way. The Father is seated above all things and His name is above every name.
Next, Jesus asks that the kingdom of the Father would come—that His will would be done on earth as in Heaven.
Let’s pause and consider.
God is good and His ways are superior in every way. We know that the Father reigns in heaven, and although we trust that He is in control of all things on earth, we do not experience life as it would be if God were personally enthroned on earth as He is in heaven.
In many ways, God seems far removed from us. As a Christian, we want the Father to look favorably on us in the earth and have His will done in the earth because we trust that His will is good.
After these acknowledgements, Jesus prays for the necessities: daily food, forgiveness of sins, and the leading of the Father towards doing His will instead of succumbing to temptations and sin.
Jesus humbly acknowledges that all good things come from the Father, therefore it is by Him only that we can be sustained.
All things are created by and ordained by the Father in heaven. When we pray to the Father in the name of the Son, Jesus, we are coming to Him as those who are poor and needy and we are seeking to have our needs fulfilled by the only One who can truly help.
Jesus’s prayer also helps us consider how we can avoid praying amiss. When we come to God in humility and reverence, this is a good start. Next, we humbly make our simple petitions. We do not ask for things that displease God—things that serve the natural man (aside from necessities) or things that neglect the spiritual needs which often go against the needs and desire of the natural man.
We need food to sustain our bodies and we need the forgiveness of God to sustain our soul and the strength of God to refrain from sin. Since we need the forgiveness of God and the strength of God to abstain from sin, we recognize that we should be forgiving towards others also.
Following this prayer, Jesus reminds us of this fact.
We must forgive others of their sins if we want the Father to forgive ours. Forgiveness can be a complicated subject. What does it mean to forgive? How does forgiveness play out in the actions we take and our heart towards others? Is there a time to forgo forgiveness? For example, is repentance necessary for forgiveness or should we be like Jesus who said, “forgive them, Father for they know not what they do?”
If we seek the Lord earnestly and honestly, He will lead us in the right way. However, if we must fall short, let’s fall short in mercy and forgiveness. It is better to forgive that which should not be forgiven than it is to condemn that which should not be condemned. Jesus by His Spirit will teach us all things as necessary for the individual circumstances we face, but in all things, look for mercy as much as possible because we need mercy too.
This article is part of a series that considers the Parables of Jesus. Right now, we are looking at the statements Jesus made during His Sermon on the Mount, to which He referenced in His Parable of the Building on Rock and Sand. Visit the link for quick access to all articles written within this series.
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