A Digression Regarding Prayer and Forgiveness

While on the subject of prayer, Jesus digressed a little to offer more specific instructions to His disciples regarding how they should pray. Jesus wants us to pray in such a way that we don’t insult His Father by denying, through our prayers, what He has revealed about Himself. For example, since God knows what we need before we ask Him (He knows everything), there is no reason to use meaningless repetition when we pray:

And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him (Matt. 6:7-8).

Truly, our prayers reveal how well we know God. Those who know Him as He is revealed in His Word pray to the end that His will be done and that He be glorified. Their highest desire is to be holy, fully pleasing to Him. This is reflected in Jesus’ model prayer, what we call the Lord’s Prayer, contained next in Jesus’ instructions to His disciples. It reveals His expectations for our priorities and devotion:[1]

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” (Matt. 6:9-11).

The foremost concern of Christ’s disciples should be that God’s name be hallowed, that it be respected, revered, and treated as holy.

Of course, those who pray that God’s name be hallowed should be holy themselves, hallowing God’s name. It would be hypocritical to do otherwise. Thus this prayer reflects our desire that others would submit themselves to God as we have.

The second request of the model prayer is similar: “Thy kingdom come.” The idea of a kingdom implies that there is a King who rules His kingdom. The Christian disciple longs to see his King, the one who rules his life, rule over the whole earth. Oh, that everyone would bow their knee to King Jesus in obedient faith!

The third request echoes the first and second: “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Again, how can we sincerely pray such a prayer without being submitted to God’s will in our own lives? The true disciple desires that God’s will be done on earth just as it is in heaven—perfectly and completely.

That God’s name be hallowed, that His will be done, that His kingdom would come, should be more important to us than sustaining food, our “daily bread.” This fourth request is placed fourth for a reason. Even in itself, it reflects a right ordering of our priorities, and no hint of greed is found here. Christ’s disciples serve God and not mammon. They aren’t focused on laying up earthly treasures.

May I also add that this fourth request seems to indicate that this model prayer is one that should be prayed daily, at the beginning of each day.

[1] Some unfortunately claim that this is not a prayer that Christians should employ because it is not prayed “in Jesus’ name.” Applying this logic, however, we would have to conclude that many prayers of the apostles recorded in the book of Acts and epistles were not “Christian prayers.”