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. Lana says:

    The workbook questions really helped me gain new insight today. Particularly the question that says: notice the order. Where should our prayers begin. Why does this matter?

    I’ve always struggled with the last part. Why does starting with praise matter?

    When you speak with unbelievers, they often believe God requires praise for his own ego. But this is false. God doesn’t have an ego. He is not human. He is not even a he. Sometimes I call God a she just to remind myself of that.

    What the questions helped me realize is praise = gratitude. And gratitude is a pure form of love.

    Gratitude is an offering to God that simultaneously heals us. It heals us from all the painful thoughts we inflict upon ourselves, even if just for a moment.

    God is love, so when you start your prayer with love, it’s like your linking your heart up directly to God’s heart. He loves this! Because in this peaceful surrender, you allow him to work on your heart better. Starting your prayer with praise/gratitude/love syncs you up with God. Never realized that until now.

    1. Jennifer says:

      Thank you for sharing your beautiful insight

    2. Sarah says:

      Thanks so much for sharing this Lana! I’ve never thought of it this way before

    3. Pam B says:

      Very interesting insight, Lana. Thank you for sharing this.

    4. Veronica says:

      This is so good!

    5. aprilinsydney says:

      You’re so lovely!

    6. DebbieInAZ says:

      Very well said! I love this. Thank you for sharing

    7. Chris Gruhlke says:

      Your words have touched my heart and spirit. Beautiful

  2. Renee says:

    Thank you all for praying for me yesterday. Much better day.

  3. candacejo says:

    One of the lines from The Message version of The Lord’s Prayer says, “Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.” Oh, how we love to blame everything on the enemy, and he is plenty busy wreaking havoc in our lives. But we can definitely be our OWN worst enemy, sabotaging the very efforts of our Almighty God. He is working good, molding our character, paving the way before us, righting wrongs, fixing attitudes, healing hearts and minds and preparing us for a grand homecoming. May I not make it more difficult for Him with my stubborn ways but submit to HIS will, in prayer, so that He can use me for His glory.
    One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes: “Don’t shine so that others can see you. Shine so that through you, others can see HIM.” This only happens because of prayer! ♥

    1. Kristi says:

      That is so true! Thanks for sharing!

  4. churchmouse says:

    Sorry to worry you all – trouble with posting here beyond a word at a time – still can’t get my original comment to post

    1. C Gunckel says:

      I am sorry churchmouse because I love reading your posts and even though today, I did not get to read them GOD saw in your heart your words. May you be blessed abundantly today.

    2. Cynthia says:

      I look for your insight every day. Hope you are able to post later. I can hardly wait to meet you and give you a hug for how God has used you to bless me! Hugs!

  5. Kristine L says:

    This was the exact topic my preacher taught on this past Sunday! One of the things I’m inspired to do is pray the Lord’s Prayer every day, but to rewrite it in my own words, however each particular phrase speaks to me that morning. It keeps the well-read words fresh for me, and it’s surprising how different each go-round is, yet how it stays true to the ancient word.

  6. churchmouse says:

    Help

    1. Diane Smutek says:

      Are you ok?

    2. Churchmouse – Are you ok?

    3. SB says:

      Churchmouse, is there something you need help with?

    4. Victoria says:

      Praying you are ok, Churchmouse..

    5. She Reads Truth says:

      Hi Churchmouse, we are so sorry that you had trouble with your comments today! We are replying to your email now with some additional troubleshooting tips if that happens again in the future. So glad to have you here! – Abby, The SRT Team

  7. churchmouse says:

    When the Church says the Lord’s prayer aloud in unison, it is profound. The church I attend does not do it often but when we do, the Lord’s presence is nearly palpable. It is the only time I am completely comfortable praying out loud. I feel like I should remove my shoes because I am standing on sacred ground. I bow my head and cry “Holy!”

  8. churchmouse says:

    Test

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