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Jesus’ pattern for prayer


Matthew 6:9 “This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”

Have you ever driven somewhere and wondered how you got there? Sometimes my mind is so preoccupied with things that I drive to a destination without ever thinking about what I am doing. Sometimes I have even found myself at a familiar place, but not the destination I was planning on. Distraction is a scary thing when it comes to driving a car. It can be dangerous and sometimes lead you astray. But this kind of mindlessness also affects our prayers. It is fruitless and not what God wants to hear.

Jesus spoke constantly about the difference between outward and inward action. Looking good on the outside forfeits a reward if the action doesn’t come from the heart. Prayer is another example of how an exterior action such as repetitious words serves no purpose if not intentional and heartfelt.

Often people do not understand that prayer is an actual conversation with God. We speak to Him through prayer and He speaks to us through His word. We can converse with Him anytime and anywhere just as we would to a friend. But sometimes we mindlessly recite memorized words without ever really thinking about what we are saying or to Whom we are saying them. We would never speak this way to another person, but often we do to God. Jesus told His disciples not to mindlessly babble in this way because their Heavenly Father knows what they need even before they ask. Jesus continued by sharing a sample prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer, as it has been called, is not supposed to be just a recitation spoken without thought, but a pattern of how we should converse with God. Jesus began by addressing God as our Father in heaven. Our heavenly Father is as real and present as any human you might address face to face in conversation. And He cares about us even more than a good and loving earthly father might, so we must approach Him in that way.

Just as we should respect our human parents, we must honor and respect our heavenly Father even more. He is perfect in every way, and we must hallow, or treat His name as holy, by speaking respectfully and with reverence.

In the same way it is polite in conversation to focus on another person before launching into our own interests, it is appropriate to acknowledge God’s will and pray for it to be done. By asking that His kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we bow to God’s desires, recognizing that they are most important for His glory and for our good.

The phrase “give us this our daily bread” acknowledges dependence on our Heavenly Father for our sustenance and shows thankfulness for all He provides physically. And the phrase “forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors” recognizes our sinfulness and need for daily internal cleansing as well as the importance of forgiving others who have harmed us.

Lastly, Jesus taught us to ask God not to lead us into temptation, but to deliver us from the evil one. The author of the book of James, reminds us that God never tempts us, but at times He does allow temptation into our lives to fulfill His purposes in us. Paul clarifies this with the assurance that at these times God always makes a way to escape. This sample prayer teaches us to daily ask for protection from the evil one.

The Lord’s Prayer is the best known example of how to approach God in meaningful conversation. We can use it as a guide when we speak with the Lord. Reciting these words can be a beneficial practice as long as we don’t do it mindlessly without thinking of what we are saying. Otherwise the exercise would just be babbling and similar to driving a car without being aware of where we are going — fruitless and unproductive.



Sandra Sheridan is a midwest wife and mother of five. She shares her letters to her children with our readers. Visit her at www.VersesFromMama.com.