New City Catechism – Week 41

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Q41: What is the Lord’s Prayer?

A41: 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 evil.

This model prayer, given by Jesus to teach his disciples how to pray, has been repeated by Christians for centuries. Found in Matthew 6:9-13, the Lord’s Prayer is indeed a rich storehouse of instruction for Christians on the topic of prayer.

Unfortunately, some have turned this model prayer into something of a magical formula, to simply be repeated word-for-word. While using Jesus’ exact words in our prayers may sometimes be helpful, we will experience a greater benefit by looking at the structure and substance of his model prayer and applying it to our own prayer life.

Volumes of commentary have been written on the Lord’s prayer. I do not have time or space to examine each section of the prayer, but I would like to make three observations.

First of all, when we come to God in prayer we are coming to him as a Father. We can trust his intentions for us, even when he leads us through difficult circumstances that we would not choose for ourselves. Charles Spurgeon once wrote we should remember that “had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.”

Next, notice that praise and submission to God take the primary location in the prayer. Immediately the Lord’s prayer begins with three requests: that God’s name be hallowed (that is, honored and revered), his kingdom come, and his will be done. Again, these requests are putting our requests and our will in their proper place of submission to God. We acknowledge that our perspective is limited, and that our ultimate desire is for all things to come under God’s good rule.

A final observation is that it is right to come to God with our needs. It recognizes the fact of our dependence on him. Our needs are not met by our own toil or accomplishment, but out of God’s gracious provision.

Let’s come to God with thankfulness, submission and humble expectation. Those attitudes in prayer will conform us to his will, just as Jesus taught us to pray.

-Pastor Jonathan

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