“While we ordinarily first bring our own needs to God in prayer, and then think of what belongs to God and his interests, the Master reverses the order. First Thy name, Thy kingdom, Thy will; then give us, forgive us, lead us, deliver us… In true worship the Father must be first, must be all.” -Andrew Murray
When the apostles said to Jesus, “Lord teach how to pray” It was because they knew that he was a man of profound devotion and prayer. They walked with him and talked with him, but perhaps more importantly for our study they saw that he was a true man of prayer. The gospels tell us that Jesus prayed at every major event in His life: His baptism (Luke 3:21); the choice of apostles (6:12-12); his transfiguration (9:29); before the cross at Gethsemane (22:39-40); and on the cross (23:46). The Bible tells us that He continues in prayer for us. Hebrews 7:27 says, “He always lives to make intercessions for them.” He sets the example for us to follow. Meditate on the following scriptures that talk about His personal prayer life.
- “He went up on mountain by himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.” Matthew 14:23
- “He departed and went into a deserted place.” Luke 4:42
- “So He often withdrew himself into the wilderness and prayed.” Luke 5:16
- “He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer.” Luke 6:12
- “He went up into a mountain and prayed.” Luke 9:28
- “He went out and departed to a solitary place and prayed.” Mark 1:35
- “He departed to the mountain and prayed.” Mark 6:46
The secret to Jesus’ powerful prayer life is found in the most important prayer of the Bible, commonly known as “the Lord’s Prayer.” It is one of the most popular passages of scripture; being read at funerals, weddings, and church services throughout the Christian world. But few people really grasp the meaning of this little prayer. It is Jesus’ definitive teaching on prayer. It is an outline by which we can shape our own personal prayer life and begin to learn how to pray according to His will.
Applying the Lord’s Prayer
There are several important things to look at when examining the Lord’s Prayer and applying it to our own prayer life. We will break down the Lord’s Prayer in the following points.
God is our Father in heaven and we are His children. He loves us and wants to take care of us. He is our divine parent. James tells us, “Every good and perfect gift comes from above, …from the Father of Light.” James 1:17. Paul tells us that He is our Abba, Father, which is Arabic and literally means “daddy.” Prayer begins by understanding that God is our loving Father and we are His children.
The second part of the prayer is praise to God’s name. Hallowed, means to make holy. We are to make His name holy through praise and worship. In other words, prayer is an act of divine worship. It begins by acknowledging and praising God for His mighty acts and greatness.
The purpose of our prayer should be to pray for His kingdom to come and His will to be done. Jesus himself told the Father, “not my will but your will be done.” Prayer is not just coming to God with our own personal agenda, rather it is seeking His agenda for our life. His ways are greater than our ways and His plan is always better than our plans. Sometimes we have to learn this the hard way.
We should not be afraid to ask the Lord to meet our needs. “Give us our daily bread” means that we ask God to provide our basic needs. We need to understand that it is God’s desire to take care of His children. Philippians 4:19 says, “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches and glory.” Whatever your needs are, don’t be afraid to ask God to help you with them today.
No one is perfect, except for Jesus. We are broken, fallen, sinful humans who desperately need the forgiveness of God. In prayer, we must confess our faults and sins before God. The Bible says that, “he is just and righteous to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This is God’s way for allowing us to continually come before Him. We can come to God broken and stained and leave cleansed and whole. Likewise, we should forgive others as God has forgiven us.
He leads us away from temptation and protects us from evil. We need to be reminded that there are spiritual forces of darkness in this world and we need God’s help to protect us. The first thing you should do every morning is to ask for God’s protection throughout the day.
The prayer closes in a similar way that it started, by acknowledging God’s greatness. He is sovereign and in control. The kingdom, power, and glory belong to God! When we worship and praise God it gets His attention. He loves it when His children worship Him and acknowledge His greatness.
Dr. Winfield Bevins is founding rector of Church of the Outer Banks and Canon for Church Planting for the Diocese of the Carolinas. He is the author of several books, including Our Common Prayer and Creed.
Dr. Winfield is the Director of Church Planting at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He also directs Asbury’s Anglican Formation program. As a seasoned practitioner, he has helped plant several churches and has used his experience to train leaders from around the world. He is the author of several books including his forthcoming book Ever Ancient Ever New: The Allure of Liturgy for a New Generation (Zondervan, 2018). As an author, one of his passions is the intersection of spiritual formation and mission. He and his wife Kay, have three school aged children and live in the Bluegrass state of Kentucky.