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.


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. Heather N says:

    Prayer is one of the easiest parts to my faith. I pray a lot in the car and in my head throughout the day. Prayer is just talking to God and he already knows what I’ve done, my motivation behind my actions (good or bad) and what I need. Honoring him for who he is like telling your bff how awesome she is. God is the only one I verbalize everything to…because I know he gets it.

  2. churchmouse says:

    Oops what the problem was…

  3. churchmouse says:

    It posted! Four attempts but… I don’t know why…what the proven was… Still, you all have blessed me as I’ve read your comments over and over while I kept trying. God surely wanted me to take note of all you have said. Thank you!

  4. churchmouse says:

    When the Church says the Lord’s prayer out loud in unison, it seems a profound thing. It’s the only time I feel completely comfortable praying aloud. The church I attend does not do that very often, but when we do, I feel like I am standing on sacred ground.. I bow down and say “Holy!”

  5. KimN says:

    When I pray, I get fixated on my worldly self, problems, people and all the interactions that come with those. Because that’s really all I know or have experienced.
    When Jesus prayed, He focused on praising God and asking for more of God here on earth. Because He knew heaven. That’s where he had come from was from God.
    He prayed for the earthly stuff b/c he loves us and I think to show us that our needs and cares are not insignificant. But I think this prayer also shows us to lift our gaze and thoughts and hearts to God before tackling the trials of this world. We can’t do it without Him!
    And why wouldn’t we praise Him?! For all the heartache that we pray about, doesn’t it lift our hearts to give thanks for all the good and joy that is God and that He gives us?!
    Thank you Lord for the privilege of coming to you in prayer! Thank you for this community and all the perspectives and ideas of drawing closer to you. Bless each one here today Lord and help each one of us draw a closer to you. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus name, Amen.

    1. Cassie Kendall says:


      I love your thoughts here! We have to look to God before tackling the world’s trials. Everything seems so much smaller when we put it in the right perspective. Our God is big enough for anything, and if we focus on that, we can be sure that any care and need we have can be met.

  6. Summer says:

    How amazing God’s word is! A sharp sword. Convicting me this morning about my relationship and how I’ve acted towards people at work. Reminding me to forgive others as I want to be forgiven.

  7. Gina says:

    I would love to make this lesson kid friendly for our 6 an 8 yr old in our little homeschool. Any ideas?

    1. She Reads Truth says:

      Hi Gina! We have a Lord’s Prayer Card Set in our shop that could be a really great resource for families with kids! It may be worth looking into. So glad to have you in this community! – Abby, The SRT Team

  8. Gina G says:

    Sometimes prayer seems easy, spontaneous. If I am overwhelmed, in distress about something I can pour out my heart, cry out to God. But then, there are seasons when I feel that I am not spending the “right” amount of time praying. I have these index cards with names and situations that I pray about, but do I do this forever? After a while I feel as if I am just saying a name without thinking about the person because I have sooo many to pray for. I feel guilty if I cross off a name…too often prayer seems a hard “work” that needs to get done or I am failing here. Today’s study is a good reminder for me to take a deep breath, ask for the Spirit’s guidance and begin…Our Father.

    1. Anita says:

      Journaling my prayers has helped me to stay focused. A long ago teacher also gave me a tool to use; aloud, in my closet, or journaling, it works well: P.R.A.Y.E.R.S. Praise, Repent, Acknowledge His forgiveness, Yourself, Everyone else, Reigns-remembering and acknowledging Jesus Christ is in control, and Salutation-closing your prayer.

      1. Alexa says:

        That is such a special and useful acronym! Thanks for sharing!

      2. Gina G says:

        Thank you!

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