Have you ever noticed that the prayer Jesus taught us to pray is not filled with begging and pleading? Jesus was very direct when He gave us instructions on how to pray. He said we are not to pray just to be seen and heard.
“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” (Matt 6:5, KJV). When praying just to be heard, the person praying is receiving their time of attention from the crowd, and that is ALL they are going to get. Now lest we misunderstand, He was not instructing us to abstain from public prayer or group prayers; He was speaking about those who pray just to be heard by the people (not by the Lord).
When we approach the throne of God, we are to be completely sincere and without distractions. Therefore, Christ said, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” (Matt 6:6-8). God knows everything and He also knows what we “need.”
Now that the space and time have been taken care of (with privacy and sincerity of heart), we are ready to approach God in Spirit and in Truth. We begin by honoring God and His name, “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” (Matt 6:9). Above all, we acknowledge that God knows best and that His will is holy to us. “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matt 6:10). God knows the future and we do not; therefore, however we may view the current situation, we can rest in the knowledge that He can and will work it all out for our own good and for His own glory. He is our Father and will make the best decisions for us.
Whatever “our need” is for the day (health, finances, food, clothing, shelter, or any concern) we do not have to go begging. We are given full authority through Christ to state that we are ready and expecting to receive “the needs” of the day from the Giver and Creator of all. “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matt 6:11).
After stating our need with expectation, we then seek forgiveness of our own sins and shortcomings. With this comes a reminder of our covenant with Christ. “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Matt 6:12). We desire to be forgiven, therefore we are to forgive. We are even to forgive people who are as big of a sinner as we are.
We forgive when people do not deserve it; we forgive in our own hearts so that our personal relationship with Christ remains sincere and honorable. Vengeance is the Lord’s territory and if retribution is necessary, He can dish it out in far better ways than we can anyway. He knows how to get to the heart of a person. We need to trust Him enough to do what He said he will do. We are to forgive others (removing that obstacle from our path to Him) and know in our hearts that His power is far beyond our own imaginations. DO NOT let your enemies come between you and God. This Christmas season, remember to honor the command to forgive others in the name of Jesus Christ.
Finally, we remind ourselves to be on guard against evil, to flee from it, and to keep ourselves in check with regular Bible study and prayer. We expect to be kept free from temptation by staying close to God, and we expect to be delivered from evil. Why? Because we are part of God’s kingdom, and God has all of the power and the glory, forever. “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” (Matt 6:13).
So when you recite the Lord’s prayer, think about the words, accept them as God given and mean them with your whole heart, especially as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Who came to earth for the forgiveness of sins.
Column courtesy of Civitas Media.