The Sermon on the Mount is arguably the key document in the New Testament. The teachings that Jesus gave that day touched the hearts of billions, including the author of this article, and contributed to forever changing the course of history. Taking place in the book of Matthew over chapters five, six, and seven, there is much that could be said about the Sermon, but in recognition of national prayer day, this article is focused on chapter six, Jesus’ teachings on how one should pray.
Verses five through eight set the stage for how one should pray. One should not pray with the intent of looking good in the eyes of other men. That comes from vanity. When we pray, we connect with our Father in Heaven, and we must focus on Him. Prayer, more often than not, should be private time for the individual to speak directly with God. That connection allows the person to be filled with the Holy Spirit, aligning them with God’s plan. We are instructed to not use vain repetitions, God wants a personal and genuine relationship with all believers, and these vain repetitions serve as virtue signaling more than anything else. Be genuine. God knows what we need before we ask him. Prayer allows us to know what we need as well. With the stage set, “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'” Matthew 6:9-13 NIV
I aim to pray every morning, as well as throughout the day, but the morning prayer is where these instructions most apply. These instructions function as a blueprint, a foundation on which all believers could build their prayer. Personalize it, and remember,”..work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12 NIV.
So let’s break it down. “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,” saying these words addresses who you are talking to, where He is, and what He is capable of. The fact that we are able to communicate to God, being in Heaven, is truly a blessing but simultaneously difficult for us to comprehend, which is why we need to be reminded of what He is capable of. “Hallowed be your name,” God is Holy, He is Light, He is Love, and He is able to turn situations that are seemingly hopeless into something wonderful. This is what we need to be reminded of so go beyond, “hallowed be your name,” examine your life, and give thanks for all you are grateful for.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” The Kingdom is here. Believers who have the Holy Spirit within them are God’s Kingdom. Through God’s Kingdom, His will is done, and we have the ability to change the earth’s spiritual atmosphere and align it with the spiritual atmosphere of Heaven. This part of the prayer functions to align us with God’s will, aligning us with His plan for our lives. As stated, He knows what we need more than we do. Prayer aligns our soul with His Spirit bringing us into purpose. Doing His will gives us that sense of fulfillment because we are literally completing the work that we were created to complete.
“Give us today our daily bread.” What are you lacking? This is the time to ask God for anything you may need to make it through the day. As believers, we need to strive to show the fruits of the Spirit in our lives. What are the fruits of the Spirit? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control..” Galatians 5:22-23 NIV. These are great ideals to strive towards, and these fruits also make for some delicious daily bread. Ask God for these fruits along with anything else you made need to make it through the day.
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” This may be a point of struggle for some, but it is necessary to walk in the Spirit. “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15 NIV. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. In debt to our sin, we were sentenced to death until that debt was paid in full with the blood of Jesus. You have been forgiven. Show the same grace to others that was shown to you. Unforgiveness breeds resentment and withholds blessings.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” God is faithful and will always provide a way for us out of temptation. We need discernment to see that way out. Do not give in to temptation. When we give in to temptation, we fall into sin. This is exactly where the devil wants us. In sin, our connection to God becomes weakened. The sin is like a static that disrupts a television signal. Protect your heart and stay prayed up. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 NIV. God is not the author of confusion. The enemy is. The evil one is a thief who wants to steal your identity and leave you lost in this world, in darkness. God is Light, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105. Stay in the light, and you will be delivered from the evil one.
Prayer is our way to connect with our creator. It functions to shape us into the best version of ourselves, the version that we were created to be. We are called to be set apart, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2. Part of being set apart means doing things today that others will not, so that tomorrow you will be able to achieve things that others can not. “…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33