Author: Ron Graham
This page continues to study Matthew chapter 6 and the Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus provides a prayer as an example, to help us pray as we ought. Jesus never intended this prayer to be a form of words that we recite at the end of, or instead of, our own prayers. Rather he said to pray "in this manner" (Matthew 6:9). It is an example of the WAY to pray, not of WHAT to pray about.
There are many more things to pray about than Jesus included in this sample prayer. But whatever the SUBJECT of our prayers, the MANNER in which we pray should be just as our Lord shows us in his example of prayer.
Which of the following are true of the manner of prayer demonstrated in the Lord’s example of prayer?
Humble, Sincere, Clear, Natural, Brief, Simple, Child-like, Thoughtful, Unselfish, Respectful, Pleasing (to God).
At certain times in your life, you may wish to temporarily suspend normal physical activities such as eating, sexual intercourse, sleep, daily work, "that you may devote yourselves to prayer" (1Corinthians 7:5) and other spiritual activity.
This is not a habititual or normal manner of life for the Christian. But in some circumstances it may be appropriate (examples: Esther 9:28,31; Acts 14:23; Luke 10:38-42).
In the normal course of life, Christians are found "breaking bread from house to house and taking their meals together with gladness..." (Acts 2:46).
The value of fasting, and bodily deprivation in other forms, is not intrinsic. When practised as though it does have value in itself, it becomes a problem (Colossians 2:20-23). The Lord does not encourage Christians to be ascetic and austere in their way of life, but rather to enjoy God’s gifts, yet "seek first the kingdom of God" (Matthew 6:33).
Temptation is often unnecessary. God will gladly help us to avoid plenty of situations that we need never get into, where we would be tempted.
Evil is over there, and good is over here, and if we stay here in the good, we won’t get into trouble. For example, if you are here in Bible class tonight, you are not in the sort of danger you might be in, if you were at a sleazy night club tonight. In that place you would not be distancing yourself from lust and the bad company that may corrupt good morals (1Corinthians 15:33, 2Timothy 2:22). By leading you here to Bible study, God has helped you to avoid temptation, and temptation wasn’t necessary. However that is not the whole story.
More often than not, God’s objective is not to lead us away from temptation, but rather to lead us into doing good (Titus 2:11-13). You might assume that if God is leading us to do good, then surely he is leading us away from temptation. It’s not that simple.
Put another factor into the equasion: Satan and his objective. As soon as we do this, we realise that the closer God leads us to doing good, the more Satan tries to deter us, and tries to make us do evil. So, while there are many temptations God can lead us away from, there are also many that he cannot avoid leading us into. By leading us to do good, he brings us to the attention of the devil and temptation ensues.
That’s why Jesus, after saying, "Lead us not into temptation" then adds, "But deliver us from evil" (Matthew 6:13). God cannot help leading us into temptation, but he has the power, having led us into it, to help us out of it, to "make a way of escape" so that we can resist (1Corinthians 10:13).
Every time we follow God’s lead, Satan comes to tempt us aggressively, just as he came to tempt Jesus when God led Jesus into the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-3). God also led Jesus to the cross, but he led him through it too, and raised him up.
Remember that "God does not tempt anyone" (James 1:13). and "knows how to rescue the godly from temptation" (2Pet 2:9).
1. Christ’s prayer says, "Do not lead us into temptation". Would God ever lead anyone into temptation?
2. What was wrong with the customary manner of praying in Jesus’s community?
3. In Matthew 6:16 Jesus uses the phrase, "Whenever you fast..." When is that? When is it good to fast before God?
4. In what sense does God "give us each day our daily bread"?
5. For whom are requests made in the first part of the Lord’s example prayer, and for whom are the requests made in the second half?
6. Is there any thanksgiving in our Lord's example prayer? If not, is that a problem?