The Lord's Prayer.

Unfortunately, the majority of the people of the Christian world, have been given mis-information about what is the "Lord's prayer" in the Bible.

The actual "Lord's prayer" is found in John 17 - the whole chapter. Notice specifically v20.

What most people call the "Lord's prayer" is actually a list of instructions given in response to the request, "teach us to pray" .

Luk 11:1 NET.  Now Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he stopped, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."

Mat 6:9 NET.  So pray this way:
Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored,

The instructions were not meant to be repeated over and over, but rather to be expanded and varied from day to day. Our prayers also need to change as the needs in our life change.

How do we know they were not just  to be repeated?

Mat 6:7 NET.  When you pray, do not babble repetitiously like the Gentiles, because they think that by their many words they will be heard.

This article is about how we can take Jesus's instructions, expand them, and then put them to use every day. Prayer will open doors that nothing else can.

Luk 11:9-10 NET.  "So I tell you: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.  (10)  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

How do we pray?

Before we get into the finer details, we need to consider the environment around us.

Where to pray?

Mat 6:5 NET.  "Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward.

We need to be careful in the way we read this. Jesus is not saying that it is wrong to pray in a synagogue - or a church building - but that it is wrong to pray anywhere just to be seen.

Prayer is communication between you and God. For the most part it should be private.

Mat 6:6 NET.  But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

Ok - closing the door makes the point about keeping prayer private, and if you had a house full of visitors, you certainly should do this. However, in a home - but still where people outside the house can not see you - I feel it is alright for a husband and wife to get in prayer at the same time and in the same room.

It is usual to pray kneeling (if you are able) and using the bed or a chair to lean on, but if you feel like praying with your hands held up to God, then that is OK too. Remember, your conversation with God is what is important.

How often to pray?

The words in Mat 6:11 NET.  "Give us today our daily bread,"  strongly indicate that we are to pray daily.

So once a day, on our knees (where that is possible), in private, is the basic minimum.

Both David and Daniel talk about getting in prayer three times a day. My suggestion is that for a week or so you try to get in prayer three times a day, and maybe you will see how much more "conversational"  it becomes. Of course, much depends on your circumstances, and with your work situation, so twice a day may be a good compromise. Some people like to pray before they get up, and just before they go to sleep, as a little extra - over and above the more formal prayer times.

It is my experience, that apart from special needs, going for more than a total of one hour a day starts to impact on other things. That said, the Bible talks about people who committed themselves to prayer, and that became a major part of their life.
So we need balance, and take into account all our responsibilities and circumstances .

Seven basic conditions we should fulfill to get answers.

In my old prayer book, which I describe in more detail below, I had these seven points listed in the front. Each point can be further expanded on, but if nothing else, they are a good reminder that we have to do our part in getting prayers answered.

1.    Seek God's will.

1Jn 5:14-15 NET.  And this is the confidence that we have before him: that whenever we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  (15)  And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, then we know that we have the requests that we have asked from him.

Mat 7:21 NET.  "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the kingdom of heaven — only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

2.    Believe God.

Jas 1:5-8 NET.  But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him.  (6)  But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind.  (7)  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord,  (8)  since he is a double-minded individual, unstable in all his ways.

3.    Be fervent.

Jas 5:16-18 NET.  So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness.  (17)  Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain and there was no rain on the land for three years and six months!  (18)  Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land sprouted with a harvest.

4.    Pray with fear [respect not dread] and humility.

Psa 111:10 NET.  To obey the LORD is the fundamental principle for wise living;
    all who carry out his precepts acquire good moral insight.
    He will receive praise forever.

Heb 5:7 NET.  During his earthly life Christ offered both requests and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death and he was heard because of his devotion.

5.    Be persistent.

Luke 18:1-8
Luk 18:7 NET.  Won't God give justice to his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay long to help them?

6.    Obey the Commandments.

Rom 6:16 NET.  Do you not know that if you present yourselves as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or obedience resulting in righteousness?

1Jn 2:3-6 NET.  Now by this we know that we have come to know God: if we keep his commandments.  (4)  The one who says "I have come to know God" and yet does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in such a person.  (5)  But whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has been perfected. By this we know that we are in him.  (6)  The one who says he resides in God ought himself to walk just as Jesus walked.

7.    Use Christ's name.

Joh 16:23-24 NET.  At that time you will ask me nothing. I tell you the solemn truth, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.  (24)  Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive it, so that your joy may be complete.

A mechanical aid.

I have tried what I am going to suggest now, at the beginning of my Christian life, and I found it very helpful. Your mind may be better than mine and you may feel that you don't need it, and that is OK. Or maybe you have a better idea, and that is fine too.

Buy a small (A5?) three ring binder.

Start with two pages open.

On the left you have as a heading the instruction that Jesus gave to His disciples. Under the heading, you write out all the principles that come under the main heading.

Then on the right hand page you write all the names of the people or things that you want to pray about in particular that fall under the principle given. Since this page will have additions and cross-outs over time, the page can become "messy", so that is why you use a three ring binder. Just remove the page and rewrite it. Obviously, don't write the next heading on the back of a "details" page. You might also want to make tabs for each of the "principles" pages.

A look at the principles given.

The first heading, on the lefthand side.

1.    Mat 6:9 NET.     Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored,

The principles.

"Our":  We need to think about God as being "ours". He is our God, not just someone else's God. The "our" also indicates a personal close relationship - we can call Him "abba" or "father".

"father": He is our "father" in the spiritual sense. He is the Father of the future spiritual family He is creating.

We start out in life being very concerned with our physical father, but as we mature we should start to turn our focus from the physical to the spiritual. Our physical father stays important in our life as the fifth Commandment tells us, but our spiritual Father becomes "more important", as the first Commandment tells us.

This is also a good place to list all the names that are used for God in the Bible (for example "Yahveh Ro'r" = God is my shepherd)

"heaven": The place of God's throne at the moment. This is where the angels gather to praise God. It is also where the instructions go out to the whole universe. Each star is named by God. Each and every part of His creation has a purpose. Reports come into heaven about everything that is going on. In other words, it is the nerve center of the universe.

"your name be honored":  Very few people in the world today honour God's name. Coming up to the end of the first 6000 years - the end of the working week (each day a 1000 years - 2 Pet 3:8) of man trying to come up with something "better" than obeying God's laws - we are at a low point as far as God being honoured goes. It is similar to the conditions just before the flood in Noah's day.

The practical issues (on the right hand side).

As we open our prayer time, we need to take time to praise God, and to be thankful that He is a good God. He only wants what is for our long term benefit.

We can ask God to help us feel closer to Him. To clear our mind of the wrong feelings we might have about our physical father (unfortunately all physical fathers make mistakes  in representing God's perfect character to their children) or to ask for help to understand what a loving father can do, if you haven't had one. A good physical father - one who loves and cares, and is there to listen and guide you - is a big help to understand better our loving spiritual Father.

We might want to draw a comparison between the hate, oppression, killing and dying going on in the world today - due to people breaking God's law of love - to the peace and harmony in heaven, where God's law is obeyed. We should also pray for peace and harmony in our lives and our homes.

We should pray for the time when all people on earth will honour God's name.

This is a good place to go through the reasons why God is God.

1.    Matter has not always existed - radioactive decay..
2.    It took supreme intelligence to make the universe.
3.    He is the sustainer of all laws.
4.    He is the creator - (creation requires a creator).
5.    Life can only come from life, and God is the one who gives life.
6.    He is the master designer. Design requires a designer.
7.    There is a master clock of the universe - and God put it in motion.

The second heading.

Mat 6:10 NET.  may your kingdom come,

The principles.

"your kingdom come":  

By looking at all the "wrongs" in the world today, we can understand why a better system is needed.

The practical issues.

When you look around the world today, you can see God's law being broken everywhere. Almost every news item on the TV could have a subtitle of which law has been broken, or if it is good news - which law/principle has been obeyed. People would be far better off if they obeyed God's law, but today man has free will and can make a choice to obey or disobey, and the natural "bent" of our human nature is to disobey - at least sometimes.

In the kingdom, things will change.

First up, people will be taught the laws from their childhood up, and knowledge of God and his Grand Design to create a spiritual family will be known by all.

Jer 31:34 NET.  "People will no longer need to teach their neighbors and relatives to know me. For all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me," says the LORD. "For I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done."

Second, God's law will be the law of the land worldwide, and will be enforced.

People will be encouraged to obey God's laws (Isa 30:20), so then they can enjoy the blessings that come from keeping God's law of love.

So, the real solution to today's problems is brought about by God's kingdom being set up on earth. Praying for God's kingdom to come is something we should pray about with deep commitment and a lot of feeling.

Mat 6:31-33 NET.  So then, don't worry saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?'  (32)  For the unconverted pursue these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  (33)  But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

We need the Kingdom, so that:

Men will be taught how to be masculine.
Women will be taught how to be feminine
Children can be allowed to be children.
Families can work together for the whole families good.
The land and the animals will no longer suffer as a result of men's sins.

The Third heading.

Mat 6:10b NET.    may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The principle.

"your will be done":

Today, very few people are concerned about God's will.  Everyone wants to do their own thing.

The practical issues.

Understanding and seeking God's will is very important.

Mat 7:21 NET.  "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the kingdom of heaven — only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

There are not multiple ways of making it into the kingdom - just one. So - praying about God's will being done should be our primary focus.

We need to touch on several aspects of this. We need to ask for help in coming to understand God's will, and then we need to ask for the help to be able to do whatever is God's will. Remember Christ praying in the garden on the night before He was crucified - it all came down to doing the Father's will (Mat 26:39,42).

We need to pray for our spiritual and political leaders, that they too will be motivated to seek out God's will, or that God will use them in a way that will further His will or give us time to spread the Gospel.

In my original prayer book I had all the names of the elders in Australia listed. I didn't go through the whole list every time, but picking out two or three each day meant that they were not forgotten.

The Fourth heading.

Mat 6:11 NET.  Give us today our daily bread,

The principle:

This instruction has a double meaning. It can refer to physical bread - which we need for our physical existence - but more importantly it can also refer to our spiritual bread.

Mat 4:4 NET.  But he answered, "It is written, 'Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.' "

Joh 6:48-51 NET.  I am the bread of life.  (49)  Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.  (50)  This is the bread that has come down from heaven, so that a person may eat from it and not die.  (51)  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats from this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."

So we need to pray for both kinds of bread.

The practical issues:

In my original prayer book I had a loose alternate translation for Mat 6:11

"Help us to remember the important things from your word, Father, that will enable us to cope with today's trials and blessings".

To grow spiritually, we need to the help of the Holy Spirit - so we need to ask for more of that.

Gal 5:22-26 NET.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  (23)  gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  (24)  Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  (25)  If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit.  (26)  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, being jealous of one another.

Each day we need to be working on growing in the fruits of the spirit given in verses 22 and 23. Talk - through prayer - to God about where you want to see improvement


The Fifth heading.

Mat 6:12 NET.  and forgive us our debts [sins], as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors [those who have sinned against us].

The principle:

There are many people in the world who have never taught themselves how to forgive. Because they can't/won't forgive, they run the risk of becoming hard and bitter people that won't be forgiven by God.

Mat 6:14-15 NET.  "For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  (15)  But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins.

Most people who will not forgive, think that by forgiving someone, they are condoning their guilt, or are "letting them off the hook".

This is just not true.

Forgiveness is about the person who is doing the forgiving. We all sin. We all need God's forgiveness. To become more like God (and thus more likely to be accepted into God's spiritual family) we need to practice forgiveness ourselves. How can we learn how to have mercy and forgive - unless we are first victims of someone else's sins?

We have no right to ask God to do for us, what we are not willing to do for other people.

When we forgive others, we are not making their life easier for them, we are making our own life easier. If they have sinned against us, THEY have to answer to God for THEIR sin. That is something between them and God. However - when we forgive them - we are showing God that we want to be forgiven by Him. That is something between us and God.

When we have forgiven someone, and they later come to us and ask to be forgiven, we don't have to hesitate to accept their apology. Even if it comes across as an insincere request for forgiveness, again that is something between them and God. Our forgiving them helps us to stop carrying "baggage" (the hurt feelings), and demonstrates that having our sins forgiven by God is far more important than our hanging onto our "rights".

Looking at our reaction to someone doing something - in our eyes - that is wrong, from a different angle. Some people treat other people like they were their own children, and have to be "taught" how to behave, and think it is quite OK to "chew out" another person for upsetting them.

In doing so, they miss a great opportunity to show God that they understand mercy and forgiveness, and need God to extend it to them in the same way they extend it to others.

People are God's children - not ours. Leave their training and instruction for God to take care of.

The practical issues:

Rom 3:23 and 1 John 1:8 both tell us that as human beings - we sin. We break God's Ten Commandments, and if not in the letter, then certainly in the spirit. Remember what Jesus said about looking on a women in lust - and the same goes for unsafe work practices or driving too fast (could kill and break the sixth). And so on, and so on.

So - each day we need to follow Jesus's instruction and ask for forgiveness. But before we do that, we need to repent. Not just feel sorry that we got caught out, but sorry that we have - through weakness - allowed our human nature to get the better of us, and we have had wrong thoughts - and maybe even wrong actions.

Remember, the Bible talks about sin as like taking on a debt. At the start or end of the day (or whenever we get in prayer) we want all these debts squared off (either paid off or forgiven).

So - the sequence of events is:

Mentally forgive those who owe us debts - wipe them all out in full.
Repent of our own debts that we have incurred against God.
Ask God to "clean the slate" (forgive us our sins).

The sixth heading.

Mat 6:13 NET.  And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

The principle:

As described in the Baptism article, we have three major "pulls" (or places where temptations can get the better of us) to overcome.

Closest to home is our human nature. We all have a desire to look after self first. We need to pray for help to stop this happening.

Next is the world around us. Many people that we see, have no respect for God and His Laws, yet they seem to be having "fun", and this creates a "pull" in us to follow them.

Then there is the Master of creating temptation - Satan.

1Pe 5:8 KJV  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

Jesus once described him as the "father of lies" (John 8:44), and he uses lies to get people to follow the god of mammon (put the getting of wealth before serving God or looking after your fellow man). It is natural for men to lie if they think it is to their advantage, so a lot of men are eager to follow Satan's temptations. A Christian must not.

The practical issues:

Pray daily for the spiritual power to master wrong desires.

Jer 10:24 NET.  Correct us, LORD, but only in due measure.
    Do not punish us in anger or you will reduce us to nothing.

We should pray for God's correction, and then that we can be responsive to God's correction - and thus avoid "sore trial".

Satan still wields a lot of influence in this world, and as a spirit being is much more powerful than we are, so we need God's help to resist him and his "system" [worshiping the god of mammon, or "saints", or people, or icons, or anything but the true God].

The Seventh heading.

End with praise. The extra words added to the end of Mat 6:13, probably came from 1 Ch 29:10-13, and form a fitting end to our prayer.

1Ch 29:10-13 NET   David praised the LORD before the entire assembly:

 "O LORD God of our father Israel, you deserve praise forevermore!  (11)  O LORD, you are great, mighty, majestic, magnificent, glorious, and sovereign over all the sky and earth! You have dominion and exalt yourself as the ruler of all.  (12)  You are the source of wealth and honor; you rule over all. You possess strength and might to magnify and give strength to all.  (13)  Now, our God, we give thanks to you and praise your majestic name!

The principle:

While the instructions given by Jesus, end with the "temptation" principle, ending our prayer session with praise is the logical thing to do.

The practical issues:

Every day we should find something to be grateful for - so this is a good place to start thanking God.

Thank God for His "grand design" (His logos) whereby flesh and blood has been given the opportunity to become spirit beings in the God family.

Be thankful that God is a good God - He only wants, what in the long term, is good for us.

Thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit that has opened our mind so that we can pray to God.

Thanks God for the help He has already given, and ask for more help.

The final word we end with is "Amen" - meaning "so be it".

Bob Orchard Sep 2013

While this information is made freely available (Mat 10:8b) , and can be printed out, it is done with the understanding that there will only be fair and honest use of the material, and that it will be copied in full with no alterations.

Miscellaneous Index.