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A Few Words About
The Perfect Prayer
By Malcolm B Heap, Midnight Ministries
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It's usually known as 'the Lord's Prayer', but it was not His prayer! It was meant as an outline model for us, to illustrate how we can find God in prayer. It's found in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4.
Like everything else, it has been abused in the religion of this corrupt world. The constituted Church has perverted it by reducing it to the level of an empty ritual. But you won't reach the heart of God with such lifeless formalism. You might just as well talk to a wall!
What the so-called Lord's Prayer contains was meant to enliven, not kill. Take a few moments to ponder its life-giving principles!
It is a natural approach to pray from a selfish viewpoint. People pray to get what they want or need. But, in this example of ideal prayer, Jesus was trying to show us that that is not the primary purpose of prayer. It should not be ours. He said, "Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him" (Matt 6:8). So why pray?
Certainly we should. But our motive should not be to get; rather to give. We give God great pleasure when we commune with Him in a right manner. Ideally, "Prayer is communion, not a battering ram used to break down the door to God's treasure house" (footnote in The Believer's Study Bible). Here are Jesus' words:
1. Our Father in heaven (Matt 6:9). The first thing to notice is that God is not my Father alone, nor yours alone. He is our Father. He is the God of all who will come to Him in child-like submission. Jesus here begins to point our minds away from ourselves and towards His greater dominion in the lives of His entire earthly family.
He also makes a point of reminding us that God is not like us. He is far above us in many ways. He is 'in heaven'. That was not meant to imply that He can't be with us on earth, for He IS very much with us and IN us as we allow Him to come in. But He is a heavenly Being, wholly perfect in moral character and not like we are – corrupt.
This thought is developed in Jesus' next words:
2. Hallowed be Your name (6:9). Hallowed is another word for holy. Holy means without sin, untainted, pure, morally spotless, wonderfully undefiled. He is so much greater than us – not just in power and sheer strength, but in all His uniquely beautiful virtues.
Have you ever been enamoured by the love and moral beauty of another person? If you have, their 'purity' will have given you an emotional and spiritual uplift. Maybe it made you 'tingle' inside. To be in God's presence is to experience more than a million times more intensely this invigorating uplift. It is beyond words to describe, it is so wonderful! It is a part of His holiness.
3. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (6:10).
We are not told to pray for what we want, but for what God wants. His desires are in our best long-term interests. In desiring His Kingdom to come – both globally in the future of this world, and in our own lives – we are becoming part of what He is doing on earth. Christians who don't desire to do His will, who refuse to submit their wills to His, are still a long way from God.
4. Give us this day our daily bread (6:11).
You might think that here is what we have all been waiting for – the crux of why we are petitioning God. But, while its emphasis may seem to be on what we need, it is only a small part of God's much greater purpose.
Why do you live? Do you live to eat, or eat to live? Any who live to eat will die without fulfilment. Those who live to do God's will shall live forever.
There is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die (Jn 6:50).
The bread you need for each day is not what goes into your mouth, but what goes into your spirit that can feed others.
5. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors (6:12).
It's no use you coming to God before you have forgiven any who have wronged you who seek your forgiveness. If you know a brother has got something against you because you have wronged him, don't bother coming to God's altar before you have put right your wrong (5:23,24). Forgiveness is reciprocal. As you forgive, so you will be forgiven by God.
6. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (6:13).
The problem of sin and evil is central to the purpose of our lives on earth. We are here to desire to become like God and to emulate His perfect holy character. Jesus' words reflect the reality that sin is our enemy, and that Satan has very real power to lure us to into temptation. When our minds are sold on the rightness of God's character, we will have an essential aspect of God's mind – His hatred of sin.
7. For Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever (6:13b, NKJV).
The thrust of Jesus' words are in two directions: towards God first, and others second. Prayer is of little value when it revolves around self. When your mind breaks through the restrictions of your selfish ego you will break out of the darkness of this world and come into God's light. &
From Awake! Awake! 5-1, Nov / Dec 1996
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