Jesus told us to “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen’” (Matt. 6:9–15).
Jesus gave six elements that constitute true prayer.
Many people have memorized the Disciples’ Prayer so they can recite it often, but as beautiful as it is, it wasn’t given for that purpose. In fact, after Jesus gave it, no one in the New Testament recited it—not even Jesus Himself (cf. John 17)!
The disciples didn’t ask Jesus to teach them a prayer, but to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1). There is a significant difference. Jesus preceded His prayer by saying, “Pray, then, in this way” (Matt. 6:9), which literally means, “Pray along these lines.” His prayer was a general pattern for all prayer, and although it wasn’t recited, its principles are evident in all New Testament prayers.
Christ’s model prayer teaches us to ask God for six things: 1. that His name be honored, 2. that He bring His Kingdom to earth, 3. that He do His will, 4. that He provide our daily needs, 5. that He pardon our sins, and 6. that He protect us from temptation. Each request contributes to the ultimate goal of all prayer, which is to bring glory to God. The last three are the means by which the first three are achieved. As God provides our daily bread, pardons our sins, and protects us when we are tempted, He is exalted in His name, Kingdom, and will.
If you understand and follow Christ’s pattern for prayer, you can be assured that you are praying as He instructed and that whatever you ask in His name, He will do, so “that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13).
Suggestions for Prayer: Do your prayers reflect the six elements outlined in the Disciples’ Prayer? If not, work on making them a regular part of your prayers.
For Further Study: Read Matthew 6:1–8, where Jesus discusses some of the practices of the Jewish religious leaders. ✧ What practices and motives did He mention? ✧ How did He feel about their spiritual leadership?