Day 17

The Model Prayer

from the The Sermon on the Mount reading plan


Matthew 6:9-15, Proverbs 30:8, Luke 11:2-4, James 1:13-15, 1 Peter 1:3-9

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:9-15, Proverbs 30:8, Luke 11:2-4, James 1:13-15, 1 Peter 1:3-9

If we stacked the books, commentaries, and sermons that have been written about the Lord’s Prayer together, we might be able to build a bridge long enough to get us to the hillside where Christ first taught us how to pray. Our fascination with this segment of the Sermon on the Mount seems surprisingly obvious:

We don’t know how to pray.

I’ve been a follower of Christ for more than two decades. By God’s grace, I’ve grown leaps and bounds in my understanding of His Word and my grasp of my role in the Body of Christ. But when it comes to prayer, I still get the feeling that I’m somehow doing it wrong. Turns out, I’m in good company.  

It was after the Sermon on the Mount that the disciples begged, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). Jesus patiently repeated the model He’d already given them. Even if we’ve read, meditated on, and listened to commentary about the Lord’s Prayer a zillion times, Jesus’ words remain worth considering. (Take a moment to look at them again now in Matthew 6:9-13.) When my own prayers feel clunky or inefficient, these words of Jesus’ jog my memory about a few things.

First, prayer is not solely about me and my desires. It is first and foremost about God and His glory. If we rewind the Sermon on the Mount tapes just a smidge, we see that before Jesus taught us how to pray, He taught us how not to. He warned us not to pray fancy words in the hopes of being applauded by an audience of onlookers (Matthew 6:1-6). Prayer is not a tool we can use to bend the spotlight toward ourselves. Instead, Jesus’ model prayer opens with a list of “yours” that focus on the Father:

Hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done.

My prayers get off course because too often my heart is postured to think about my reputation, my little kingdom, and how I can convince God that my will needs to be done. But those things don’t get kicked to the curb entirely. The second half of the Lord’s prayer pivots to “us” beautifully.

Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts.
Lead us not into temptation.
Deliver us from evil.

Of the seven petitions given in the Lord’s Prayer, three are about God and four are about us. It’s the order of importance that is worth noting. God first, us second. It’s a pattern we should imitate in how we live, love, and pray.

Going over the Lord’s Prayer with a fine-toothed comb also reminds me that it’s okay to pray God’s words right back to Him. Many of Jesus’ words in the Lord’s Prayer nod to Old Testament passages and concepts (see 2 Chronicles 20:6; Proverbs 30:8; Psalm 71:4). Surely if the Word became flesh and quoted Himself, we can quote Him too.

Since prayer is a conversation of the heart, the goal is not rote memorization. Isn’t it possible to say the same things over and over and still mean them deeply? I told my husband and children I loved them this morning at the breakfast table. It’s the same script I’ve been reading for years, and I mean it now more than ever. When we don’t know how to pray, we can pray God’s Word, confident it never loses an ounce of its power.

From listeners on a hillside, to His disciples, to us, God invites us to lay down pretenses and performance and boldly approach Him through prayer. Lord, teach us to pray? Friends, He already has.

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Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Post Comments (73)

73 thoughts on "The Model Prayer"

  1. Alexi Markou says:

    I think this is so important, a lot of times I tend to start a prayer of with asking and asking- when it should be thank you thank you God! We have to praise his name as if the victory has already come, because my friends- it’s on it way!! Light has won.

  2. Becky says:

    I pray through the Lord’s Prayer about once a week using a method that I believe Martin Luther used.

    I also LOVE the point about praying the scriptures. I am struggling with a decision about missions work this summer in a country where there has been civic unrest for about a month. I have been reading through the psalms anyway but recently I have just felt them come alive. More than once I have stopped reading to pray specific verses back to God. It’s a new experience for me.

  3. Kay says:

    I worked with a group of retired pastors for several years. They always led the most profound prayers, and I was terrified to even say grace at a meal in front of them. Finally, one said to me, “You know you are praying for God – and not to please us, right? Just say whatever is on your heart. We trust God put those words there for a reason.” Now I lead group prayer regularly. Sometimes my words are awkward or I stumble, but you know what? Nobody minds. I think was afraid to be vulnerable in front of people, but my vulnerability seems to help them to connect to Christ. God is amazing in how He works through all of us!

    1. Julie says:

      Beautifully stated ❤️

    2. Melody Litchfield says:

      Yes this is so true! Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. Laura says:

    Over the years I have asked God to teach me to pray and why to pray. And although I still struggle at times with how to pray, why to pray and consistently spending time in prayer with my Father, there is one thing I have learned about prayer. Prayer is not about convincing God to change situations or other people but it’s about allowing God to convict my heart , move me, change me, and sustain me.

    1. Amanda says:

      So true Laura!

  5. Gema Muniz says:

    I loved todays study, specially 1 Peter 3-9. In this verse it talks about our suffering and our faith. It states that our suffering increases our faith and our faith is worth more than gold to God. How awesome is it that God always finds a way to take ashes and makes something beautiful out of it. Our bible states that we should pray for all things and be thankful for all things, and now I see why it says that because even in our darkest moments God sees nothing but beauty radiating from us. He sees our faith and our faith is what give us eternal salvation. I love reading God’s word and finding reassurance in a world that only gives us uncertainties. Thank you God for your faithfulness, for your love, and for loving me the way you do. Amen!

  6. Beth says:

    I love Philippians 4:6 in the Living Bible, “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything; tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank Him for His answers”. I was praying last spring for God to lead me to a church in my area and to find Christian friends. Then, one day someone ‘happened to mention’ a new church that was forming. From the moment I walked through the door it felt as though I was home. Dear Christian friends welcomed me so warmly. This past Sunday one of them said that she had been praying the same prayer and was so grateful to God for answering it. It then dawned on me that I had forgotten to thank Him for answering my prayer. Like some of you have said, I often feel like I’m talking to the air when I pray. I pray and then forget. God answers our prayers. He really does. Sometimes I just don’t notice and thank Him. I praise Him this morning not only for when He answers my prayers, but also for who He is. We serve an awesome God! I love you, Jesus!

    1. Elizabeth Highsmith says:

      So great, Beth! He is awesome indeed!

  7. Kamelia says:

    Thank you so much ladies for all your sharing. Prayer is tough sometimes as one of you said you feel like your talking to yourself. Some days I even plead with God talk to me. Let this be a two way thing. But then I know he does answer us through different ways an answer to a specific prayer or a small act of kindness through a child. Or his beauty around us. His still small voice as you fall asleep reading His voice. All I can say this morning is Lord I love you beyond words. All I can do is read your words and obey them then I know you have a home here in my heart. As that’s what you have told us if you love me then obey me then I will come and make a home in you!
    How precious are your ways oh Lord!

  8. Michelle says:

    I’m reading in my SRT bible today, as always, but what stuck out was the ‘echos of jesus in james’ specifically in relation to the sermon on the mount. Thank you SRT team for helping us truly be women in the word every day. For all the little details you put into these study plans and connecting all the books of the Bible together for a better understanding. <3

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