“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. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is 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 also have forgiven our debtors.
‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]’
For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”
– Matthew 6:7-15 (Jesus speaking; our 16th segment of the Sermon on the Mount)
Today’s portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is a digression from the point He was making in the previous section about not praying to impress people.
Jesus is teaching us here that prayer is much more a matter of listening than it is of speaking. It takes less than a minute to speak the words of the Lord’s prayer. Not even a minute! Furthermore, Jesus has also said that merely repeating the words won’t help. Where did Jesus get this idea about prayer? Where He got all His theological ideas: from what we call the Old Testament.
Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few. For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words.
– Ecclesiastes 5:1-3
Notice also that Jesus has so constructed the prayer that by praying it we are, in effect, asking God to withhold mercy from us to the degree that we have withheld it from anyone else!
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord, I have a lot to learn about prayer, and I’ll have to practice to ever get good at it…(this is where you remain quiet to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)