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After Jesus counsels His disciples not to make a big show of their prayers (Matthew 6:5-6) and not to babble on endlessly without actually saying anything new, (Matthew 6:7-8) He gave them an example to follow. Most of us know this example as “The Lord’s Prayer”, but it would be more accurately called “The Disciples’ Prayer” or “The Model Prayer”. It was not something that Jesus would have prayed, not completely anyway, since He had no need to ask forgiveness, and He didn’t seem too concerned about being able to find food. (Matthew 16:5-12) The prayer is an example for us to follow, so that our focus is in the right place—on God, and not only on ourselves.

Let’s take a closer look. (Matthew 6:9-13)

  • First notice that the pronouns are in the first person plural form—our, us, we—indicating that this is a model for all of us to follow.
  • The prayer starts by acknowledging God as our Father. (Matthew 6:9) The term that is used was much more intimate than the Jews would have commonly used before Jesus came. It establishes a loving relationship, but by adding “in heaven” it also acknowledges God’s sovereignty and majesty.
  • After addressing God, the prayer gives honour to Him. (Matthew 6:9) “Honour” is the very word used in the NET version; most other versions use the word “hallowed”, which has been carried over since the time of King James. “Hallowed” means honoured as holy, revered or respected.
  • Then the prayer welcomes God’s kingdom to reign on earth, so that His will would be done. In this way, we acknowledge that His ways are better than our ways, and we will put our trust in Him. (Matthew 6:10)
  • We are halfway through this model prayer before we get to any petitions to meet our own needs. But God is willing to listen to our requests, and Jesus invites us to make them. Notice though, that asking for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11) focuses on our short term needs rather than on long-term provisions and desires that would tend to give us a false security in worldly possessions.
  • The word “debts” (Matthew 6:12) refers to our sins against God. Yes, Jesus has already paid the price for our sins, and we accept the gift of forgiveness at the time of salvation, but to continue to ask forgiveness keeps us in a right relationship with God. It is understood that we will have already forgiven those who have sinned against us, before we ask God’s forgiveness of ours. The reason why is clarified in Matthew 6:14-15.
  • We know that God does not tempt us, (James 1:13) but He knows that Satan will. Matthew 6:13 is a request for protection from the evil one. God has promised that He will provide a way out when we face trials. (I Corinthians 10:13) It would be wise for us to ask God to help us see it.
  • The closing of the prayer, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” is only included in a few versions. It is almost certainly not a part of the original text of Matthew, but one shouldn’t worry about including it in a worshipful repetition of the prayer. To seek to give God the power and the glory is a worthy goal.

Considering that only two verses before this passage, Jesus told His disciples not to use vain repetitions (Matthew 6:7-8), I am sure that Jesus did not intend for us to thoughtlessly recite this model prayer by rote. Not discounting the value of repeating it as an act of thoughtful worship, I believe Jesus wanted us to use this prayer as a pattern. Follow the principles it teaches by example, but use your own words. Express your own heart. Jesus wants our worship of God our Father to be sincere, not forced. Put Him first, attempt through your life to bring Him glory, and feel confident that you can also bring Him your requests. As a holy God, He is worthy of our worship. As a loving Father, He wants to be our provider. This prayer shows us that He is both.


I just had a visit from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. (You know if you’re nice to them once, they keep coming back, but if they talk to me they have to listen to me too.) Today’s topic of conversation was The Marks of a True Christian. What makes someone a true Christian, and how can we know it? I don’t think that we can really know for sure, because the state of a person’s soul is between that person and God, but I do think that there should definitely be some evidence to make us suspect. By evidence I don’t mean where they go to church, whether they wear a cross around their neck, how they dress or how they cut their hair. Anyone could profess to be a Christian if these were the only requirements.

Romans 10:9 makes it clear that you will be saved if you believe in your heart and declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead. John 3:16 says that whoever believes in Jesus will have everlasting life. So that’s what makes you a Christian. But how does the rest of the world know that you are one?

In John 13:34, Jesus told His disciples that He was giving them a new commandment—to love one another. Now the commandment to love was not new. It had been around since the days of Moses. (Leviticus 19:18) But the old commandment was to love your neighbour as yourself. Now Jesus was telling the disciples to love each other as He loved them. These were the disciples that argued about who was greatest, (Mark 9:33-37, Luke 9:46-48, Luke 22:24-27) and who would sit at Christ’s side in heaven. (Mark 10:35-40) They didn’t really have the servant attitude that Christ demonstrated. Shortly before Jesus said this, He had washed His disciples feet, and told them He wanted them to do the same. (John 13:3-17, John 13:14-15) Shortly afterward He gave up His life for them and for us. (John 19:30) That’s quite an example to follow, but if we do, others will know we are Christians by our love. (John 13:35)

Can you be saved and not be loving? Can you be loving and not be saved? Yes, and yes. But if we have a personal relationship with Jesus, we are encouraged and commanded to love one another. And if we love each other the way that Christ loved, people are going to notice, and wonder why. Does that mean being nice to the Jehovah’s Witnesses when they come to the door so that they can see the love of Jesus too? For me it does.