February 25, 2024 | Doug Sauder
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“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.’ 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 6:9–15 (NIV)
Have you ever had trouble writing an e-mail? What about putting together your resume? I know I have! In those moments, I’ve found myself searching for help in the form of a template. I’ve found that templates are super helpful because they give us a model for how to construct our own version of something.
In Matthew 6:9–13, Jesus gives us a template for prayer called the Lord’s Prayer. It’s one of the most well-known passages in Scripture. I’m afraid; however, that Jesus’ intent has largely been lost. You see, the Lord’s Prayer has become a script repeated verbatim day after day. For many, it’s their only prayerful interaction with God. Interestingly, just before this, Jesus said, “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6:7 NKJV).
Jesus wasn’t giving us a script, but a template, a model and outline for prayer. He doesn’t say, “This, then, is what you should pray,” but “how you should pray.”
So, what does this template entail and why?
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name . . .”
Here, Jesus shows us we can address God in the most intimate of ways—by calling Him our Dad—but also with the respect, honor, and praise He deserves.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven . . .”
Next, we’re shown the importance of putting God’s plans and purpose for our lives above our own. Why? Because His will is so much better for us, so much greater than anything we could ever dream of for ourselves.
“Give us today our daily bread . . .”
In life, we may not always have what we want or want what we have, but we can be confident God will always provide what we need! As we pray, we acknowledge all we have is from Him and that we trust in Him to provide.
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors . . .”
When we receive Jesus, all our sins are forgiven. But just like we ask our parents for forgiveness when we mess up, knowing they love us and will forgive us, we confess our sins before God so we may feel His forgiveness wash over us while also asking for the Christ-like ability to forgive others when they sin against us.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one . . .”
Finally, Jesus encourages us to pray for God’s protection from evil and the temptation to sin we’ll inevitably encounter in this fallen world.
This beautiful template Jesus provided us will help us get the most out of our time with the Lord in prayer. It shows us the importance of intimacy with God, worship and praising Him for who He is and what He’s done, and reminds us to seek His will, provision, protection, and love so we may show it to others. Not all prayers need to look the same, though. Your prayer could be as simple as, “Thank You, God!” or “Lord, please help me get through today.” Or “Father, what should I do? I need Your guidance.”
As you continue to grow in your relationship and make prayer a regular part of your life, I hope talking to God becomes natural and a joy for you!
Pause: Why did Jesus give us a template for prayer?
Practice: Today, use the Lord’s Prayer to help guide your time in prayer. Consider writing out your prayer, first writing the words of Jesus and then making it personal as you speak to Him.
Example: “Your kingdom come, your will be done in ____ situation in my life today.” “Father, I ask for Your provision in _________.” “Lord, help me to forgive _________ for ____________. I can’t do it without You!”
Pray: Heavenly Father, I praise You in Jesus’ name. I thank You for Your love and grace, for revealing Yourself to me and making me Your child. You’re amazing and I worship You. Father, I pray for Your perfect purposes and will to be done in my life. Help me to see and walk in it today. I know You know everything I need and I know You will provide it. Teach me to always be grateful and content with Your provision. I confess my sins to You today and ask for Your forgiveness. I know that in Jesus, I’m already forgiven. Help me experience freedom and the release of guilt and shame, and let Your forgiveness wash over me, as I know first and foremost that all sin is truly against You before it’s against me. And if You can forgive everyone’s sins and my sins, give me the mind and heart of Christ to forgive those who have wronged me. And dear Father, I pray for Your protection. You are my shield, and Your Word is my lamp. Help me to flee temptation and overcome evil. For Yours is the kingdom, power, and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.