Drawn from Building a Culture of Discipleship by Mike Breen and the Westminster Shorter Catechism.
Key Scriptures: Matthew 6:9-15, Luke 11:1-4
In the Matthew 6 (part of “The Sermon on the Mount”), Jesus tells his disciples to “Pray this way.” He gives them not just words to pray—but a way to pray that is clear and balanced. “The model for prayer taught us by Jesus is shallow enough for a Baby to bathe in and deep enough for a elephants to swim through.”
Prayer is the most powerful thing a Christian does. Without prayer, our work and service often becomes empty and unproductive. It has been said that we can never do more than pray until we’ve prayed.
There are six parts (classically known as the six petitions) to the Lord’s prayer—thus our tool to help us remember is the Hexagon. When we pray the six phrases of the Lord’s Prayer, we are planting the seed of kingdom life in our hearts.
Luke 11:1-4 – “Jesus never taught his disciples how to preach – only how to pray” (A. Murray).
1) Praise God for who he is!
“Our Father in heaven, holy is your name.” The preface teaches us to draw near to God to God with reverence and confidence as children to a father, able and ready to help us. Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Remember and proclaim the Father’s Character – who God is – and who we are. Begin times of prayer by praising God for who He is!
2) Ask for Heaven to come to Earth!
When we pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we are asking for the Father’s Kingdom of light and love to advance against darkness and hate. Our desire is to see heaven come to earth in every situation. Dallas Willard wrote, “Heaven is God breaking into our reality.” What are our realities? Ask God to break into them. For example: if our reality is sickness, God breaking in would bring healing. If our reality is fearfulness, God breaking in would bring courage. If our neighbors are disconnected, God breaking in would bring community. If our friends have rejected Christ, God breaking in would bring faith.
3) Ask for your daily needs!
“Give us this day our daily bread” is a straightforward way of asking for the Father’s provision. We have needs and in asking for God to meet them we acknowledge that God has the means to feed us whatever our hunger is. Some are reluctant to bother God with things so trivial as our own personal needs. But God is not above being concerned about these things. He wants us to humbly acknowledge our needs and our dependence on him for everything. Pray for your own needs! God is a loving father who is wise enough to know our needs and who likes to hear from his kids.
4) Ask for God to forgive you (as you forgive others.)
“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”. Here we ask for the Father’s forgiveness and express our commitment to forgive others. When we refuse to forgive the transgressions of another we are saying, “God, my sins against you were not as bad as this person’s sins against me.” But we owe God more than we can imagine for the forgiveness he gave us in Jesus. Jesus tells a parable about a man who’s master forgave a huge debt. Later the man refused to forgive someone a little. The master was not pleased (Matthew 18:21-31) Jesus is clear—God’s forgiveness of us includes our forgiveness of others. Besides, when we forgive others, we experience something of the joy and life of God! We are all sinners in need of grace. God has forgiven us our sins at the cost of his own suffering. Remember the Canyon and the Cross.
5) Ask for God’s guidance!
Praying “Lead us not into temptation” is asking God to guide us in more circumstances. God is very interested in each of us and desires for us to represent Him in his kingdom well. Here we are asking God to give us the strength to be in the world but not of the world– and to lead us through it. It is okay to ask God to guide in big things and little.
6) Ask for God’s protection!
“Deliver us from the evil one” is acknowledging both the problem of evil in the world and our need for the Father to protect us from it. Our souls have a strong and destructive enemy, but “Greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world.” The name of Jesus is greater and God will answer this prayer.
When you work through this prayer, use it as a pattern to pray for all sorts of things. God is interested in every aspect of your life. Of course, he knows what’s going on already, but he wants to hear it from you. Bringing our praises, our requests, our needs, and challenges before God makes a difference in our hearts and opens our eyes to the ways that God is at work around us.
Questions for Reflection:
1) How can this pattern of prayer help bring both depth and bredth to our prayers?
2) Are there other patterns of prayer that you know of that have been helpful. A.C.T.S.—or praying the scriptures, for example.
3) Sometimes people have a hard time praying for their own needs, fearing it might be selfish. How does Jesus’ teaching on prayer address that.
4) Sometimes people have a hard time praying for the needs of others. Where do we pray for others in the Lord’s prayer?
5) In many prayer groups, health concerns dominate the prayer needs. While it is certainly important and good to pray for those facing illness , how can following the Lord’s prayer keep us from falling into that rut?
6) Is God saying anything? What will you do about it?