Jesus had been teaching the people on the mountainside to love each other. He told them to be kind to their enemies. He said they would find happiness by being sorry for their sins and asking for forgiveness. Now He talked to them about how to pray.
“Don’t be like the hypocrites, who pray loudly on the street corners or in the synagogue,” Jesus said. “They only pray to be seen and heard by people. That is the only reward they will ever have for their prayers. When you pray go to your room and shut the door. Pray to your Father in secret, and He will reward you openly.”
The people had seen and heard the scribes and educated men shouting their prayers in the middle of the synagogue. Sometimes the prayers were so loud no one could hear the reading of the Scriptures or think about what the holy words meant.
A hypocrite is one who pretends to be good just to get attention and praise from people. Jesus said God would never hear the selfish prayers of the hypocrites.
“Don’t repeat the same words over and over,” Jesus said. “You don’t have to use a lot of words to get God’s attention. He already knows what you need.”
The disciples listened closely as Jesus talked to them and to the rest of the people about prayer. They had come to realize that His great power came from the time He spent in prayer with His Father. They wanted to know how He prayed.
“This is the sort of prayer you should pray,” Jesus said, “These are the kinds of things you should pray about.”
“Our Father in heaven,” He began. Many in the crowd were orphans. Today, too, many children and adults are orphans or come from broken homes. Jesus was telling the people then, and all of us now, that we are never alone. We have a Parent more powerful and loving than any earthly parent. We are never without a family.
Because God is our Father, everyone on earth is our brother or sister, just as Jesus is our big Brother. We are to love and help each other as He loves and helps us.
“Hallowed be Your name,” Jesus continued. To hallow means to make holy. We make God’s name holy by speaking it reverently, by not making it a joke or a swear word. We also make His name holy by living the kind of life He wants us to live. When we call ourselves His children, we should act like we belong to Him, instead of to Satan or to the world.
“Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This part of the prayer is a wonderful promise. By asking us to pray for His kingdom to come, Jesus assures us that it will come in God’s own time.
His kingdom is growing in our hearts right now. When we pray, “Your will be done,” we are asking Him to help us obey His commandments and live a Christlike life. Only when we obey Him, are we praying sincerely, “Your kingdom come.”
“Give us this day our daily bread.” By putting this request farther down in the prayer, Jesus was repeating a lesson He taught the people many times. “Do not worry about tomorrow,” He said. “Before you think about anything else, give yourself to God and to His service. God knows your needs and He will take care of them.
Don’t be nervous and anxious.”
This part of the prayer is not just for ourselves. It is for everyone, all our brothers and sisters in the world. Jesus taught we should always share with people who have less than we do. “When you have a party or a big supper,” Jesus had said, “don’t invite just your friends. Invite people who are hungry. Then God will reward you.”
When we all cheerfully share to help feed hungry people in countries where there is famine caused by drought, earthquakes, or war, we are obeying Jesus’ command to feed the hungry. We are helping to answer our prayer of “Give us our daily bread.”
“And forgive us our sins for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” Jesus taught that God will not forgive us if we refuse to forgive others who have hurt or offended us. We are His children, and we are to act like Him. When we are merciful, peaceful and forgiving, we will receive the same kind, loving treatment from God, Who is the source of mercy, kindness and love.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” The Bible teaches that God does not tempt us. He would never try to make anyone do something wrong. It is Satan who tempts us. It is Satan who brings us trouble to try to discourage us. In this part of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus said we should pray for strength in fighting the temptation and troubles that Satan brings to us.
There will always be trouble in the world, Jesus told His disciples. The good news is that He will always be with us to help us overcome the troubles. We can smile and be happy when bad times come, because we know He is beside us. Each time He helps us overcome temptation; each time He helps us to smile at trouble, we grow stronger in Christ. Whatever happens on this earth is just for a little while. There is a wonderful, beautiful life coming for us, if we claim the promise of Jesus.
“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” This last part of the Lord’s Prayer reminds us that God is in charge. Satan will be destroyed. The battle has already been lost by Satan. God is waiting only for each of us to make our choice for good or evil. Then He will come in all His power and glory, just as He has promised.
There are two versions of the Lord’s Prayer, given at two different times. The account in Matthew 6:1-15 was given in the Sermon on the Mount. Read also Luke 11:1-4.
If you do not already know the Lord’s Prayer, learn it for this lesson’s Treasure Chest Verse.
“Our Father 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 forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Matthew 6:9-13