There’s a myth that we who preach grace dismiss everything Jesus said before the cross. According to the myth, we disregard the red letters of the Bible as law for to those under law.
Nothing could be further from the truth! What sort of followers of Christ would we be if we ignored what Jesus said?
Take the Lord’s Prayer for instance. It’s one of the greatest prayers in the Bible:
This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,” (Matt 6:9)
Jesus doesn’t teach us to pray, “Almighty God and Judge of the Living and the Dead,” but “our Father.” God is our Father. I could write a book on those two little words, and I have. It’s called Who’s Your Daddy? and you can get it free here. Read it and be blessed.
God is our Father. This is the key to effective prayer. When you pray, you’re talking to your Daddy who loves you.
“Hallowed be your name” means “may your true identity be recognized and honored.” May you be revealed as my Father who loves me and cares for me. May the whole world know this!
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matt 6:10)
Whose will be done? Our Father’s will. As it is in heaven means if it’s not his will for there, it’s not his will for here. Sickness is not his will. Poverty and oppression are not his will. No father wants to see his children sick and bound with poverty.
Give us today our daily bread. (Matt 6:11)
From the kingdom (a great big thing) to our daily necessities (a small thing), you can trust God to care for every detail of your life. Don’t ever say, “I don’t want to trouble the Almighty with this small thing.” If it matters to you, it matters to him because he’s your Father.
And because he’s your Father you don’t need to beg or babble “like the pagans who think they will be heard on account of their many words” (Matt 6:7). Ask boldly, with confidence. Note the audacity of Christ’s words. “Give us our daily bread.” My little girl is not afraid of letting us know when she’s hungry and I’m not offended when she demands food. I delight to give her what she needs. Similarly, your heavenly Father delights to give you good gifts (Jas 1:17).
Notice that we’re not praying for tomorrow’s bread, but today’s. “Don’t worry about tomorrow” (Matt 6:34) because that will ruin your today and deprive you of the blessing that God has for you now. This faith walk is a day-by-day relationship.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matt 6:12)
The genius of Jesus is he can say one thing and give perfect medicine to everyone. If you are self-righteous you will hear these words as law. (You’d better forgive, or God won’t forgive you!)
But if you know God is your loving Father, you will hear these words as grace. (My Father has forgiven me and in his name I forgive others.)
(What about those verses that come after the Lord’s Prayer where Jesus says “If you don’t forgive, God won’t forgive”? See this post.)
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matt 6:13a)
Some people confuse the devil with the Lord. They say things like “God gives and takes away.” But Jesus says, “God gives and gives and gives. It’s the thief who’s robbing you.”
Some say, “God is testing me with one test after another.” But Jesus says, “God will never lead you into temptation but will deliver you from the tempter.”
Some say, “I’m hardwired to sin. I can’t help it.” But Jesus says, “God will never lead you into sin, but he will lead you out!” Trust your loving Father, resist the evil one and he will flee from you!
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (Matt 6:13b)
We began our prayer with praise – “Hallowed be thy name” – and we finish with praise. When we fill our prayers with praise, boasting in the awesomeness of Daddy God, our faith is stirred. We don’t pray in reaction to our circumstances, but in response to our Father’s goodness.
The prayer that Jesus taught us is brilliant for it covers everything – from the big stuff to our daily needs and our relationships with others – without being formulaic. It is not a set of magic words but an invitation to approach the throne of grace in our hour of need.
Although some treat the Lord’s Prayer as a religious and lifeless cliché, its real power is in revealing a mighty God who loves us like a Father and cares for even the smallest details of our lives.
Praying in the manner that Jesus taught changes us. It transforms us from desperate, lonely individuals into who we truly are; our Father’s beloved children.