Jesus’ teaching on prayer is by far the most practical and helpful teaching that I have ever read. I know..shocker right?
But in all seriousness Jesus lays out where we should pray, what attitude we should pray with, He gives us examples of how long and how often we should pray through His own life, and He even explains to us how we should pray. (Related article: Prayer Life of Jesus & How to Pray Like Him)
Now many Christians know that Jesus answered the disciples when He was asked to teach them to pray, but not a lot of Christians quite understand His response.
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
“Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
And even more troubling, many denominations and Christians, have opposing views about the Lord’s prayer, which is the very prayer that was meant to teach us how to pray!
So because of this confusion and lack of understanding, I decided to write this article to assist some people in the body of Christ to grow in prayer by better understanding the Lord’s prayer. Let’s get started.
Why did Jesus teach the disciples/us the Lord’s prayer?
Jesus taught the disciples, and us, the Lord’s prayer because He wanted to give us a guide to assist us in praying. The Lord’s prayer is not meant to be recited, rather it is meant to be a “manner”, or a way, in which we pray.
In Matthew chapter 6, right before Jesus taught the Lord’s prayer to the disciples, he referred to the Lord’s prayer as a “manner” of prayer.
This is important because this language reveals that the Lord’s prayer is not meant to be repeated line by line, but it is meant to be a template on how to pray. [Related article: How to Pray Like Jesus (For Beginners)].
“In this manner, therefore, pray” (Matthew 6:9).
Another reason we know that it is not a recitation but a template on how to pray is because a few verses before Jesus actually condemns repeating words in prayer if they are done in vain.
“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).
Prayer is not meant to be a robotic event, it is meant to be a time of communion with the Lord so that we can come to know Him and become more like Him.
So one way we come to know God is by talking to Him from our heart and by worshipping in sincererity. We can’t do that consistently and effectively if we are unable to express ourselves to God because of a word for word prayer.
In short, Jesus taught us the Lord’s prayer to give us an outline, or a template, for us to use when we come before God in prayer. Jesus did not give this prayer to us so that we can have a word for word repeat of something He said 2000 years ago, rather this prayer acts as a guide for us so that we can pray and come to know the Father effectively.
What is the structure/breakdown of the Lord’s prayer?
The structure and breakdown of the Lord’s prayer is simple; Jesus starts off with praise and worship, then after worship He teaches us to pray for God’s will and Kingdom to be done on the earth, then He tells us to pray for our own needs, and then finally, He teaches us to end the time of prayer with more praise and worship.
Put simply, it is structured like a sandwich. The praise and worship are the slices of bread, and the supplication and intercession are the ham and cheese.
We are to begin and end our time with praise and worship and we are to pray for our needs and God’s will to be done on the earth.
We don’t only see this in the Lord’s prayer, but we also see a similar structure all throughout the Bible.
We see the prophet Daniel pray in Daniel chapter 6, and the Bible reveals that when he prayed he did two things: prayed and gave thanks to God.
“And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.”
Giving thanks is a form of praise and worship because you are acknowledging and honoring Him for what He has done, which praises and glorifies Him.
The apostle Paul also followed this same pattern and taught others to follow it. (Related article: The Prayer Life of the Apostle Paul & How to Pray Like Him).
“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:25)
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Phillipians 4:6).
“Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ” (Colossians 4:2-3)
As you can see from just a few passages, all throughout scripture we are taught to not only pray for our needs and the needs of others, but we are also taught to have praise, worship, and thanksgiving as vital parts to our prayer lives.
Why do we say the Lord’s prayer?
The Lord’s prayer is not meant to be recited word for word. Jesus said that the Lord’s prayer is a “manner” of praying. In other words, it is meant to be a template for us to use in our prayer lives, and not a word for word recitation that we repeat multiple times throughout the week or day.
The truth is, we shouldn’t just say the Lord’s prayer, because that is never how it was meant to be used. It is meant as a guide to how we should be praying. It is a resource and a reference point, to effective praying.
Religious institutions who teach that the Lord’s prayer is meant to be copied and repeated are mistaken. Although they may mean well, they are hindering people’s relationship with God because people need the outline of Christ’s prayer so that they can apply it to their lives and begin to have an intimate relationship with God.
But if people get stuck praying nothing but a quotation, over and over again, they are missing out on the entire reason Jesus saved us! And that is, primarily, for us to have a vibrant relationship with God.
So if you have been taught to say the Lord’s prayer regularly, it’s okay. Just understand that the Lord’s prayer is simply meant to be a model of how we are to effectively pray. It is nothing more than a basic outline of prayer so people don’t get himmed up on the wrong stuff when trying to build a relationship with God.
I hope this article assisted you in your walk with the Lord. If you enjoyed this article, please consider giving a donation of any amount by going to the support page. The support I receive from you enables The Biblical Foundation to reach more people with the teachings of the Word of God.