The Lord’s Prayer may be the most familiar prayer that exists. It is found in the Bible, in Matthew and in Luke, and came from the very mouth of Jesus Christ. This prayer is actually instructional; it is a model prayer that is meant to teach us the correct focus and emphasis of prayer. Although it is commonly called ‘The Lord’s Prayer’, it should more correctly be called ‘The Disciples’ Prayer’ because it is meant as a model prayer for those who follow Jesus.
Table of contents
The context of the Prayer
We find Matthew’s recounting of Jesus’ delivery of the Lord’s Prayer set amidst Jesus’ teachings against hypocritical religious acting. Jesus was contrasting the way the false religious leaders acted with how true followers of God should behave. Jesus had cautioned His disciples not to call attention to themselves in prideful ways when they went about living out their faith. He said that the false religious teachers like to call attention to themselves, instead of pointing to God, when they did things like giving to the needy (Matthew 6:2-4) or praying (Matthew 6:5-8). After Jesus had finished describing the wrong way to pray, He illustrated the right way to pray by using this model prayer.
Of course, if this prayer is simply memorized and repeated without a heartfelt commitment and earnest sincerity, it becomes the same sort of hypocritical mumbling that Jesus had just condemned. This prayer was never meant to be mimicked; it was to serve as an outline, or guide, for the sincere devotee to God. As we will see, this prayer requires an honest love for God on the part of the one praying for it to be anything more than a superstitious poem that will not even reach the ceiling.
The content of the Prayer
“Pray then like this…” (9a)
Jesus had railed against the false religiosity of the Pharisees and Sadducees. He had pointed out that they do their religious duties for selfish reasons, to steal the glory that rightfully belongs to God for themselves, not out of love and service to Him. How often do we do the same thing today? How many times do we do something good for someone simply to make ourselves look good? Rather, we should be doing everything for Jesus’ sake; out of love for Him and for His glory and honor.
“Our Father in heaven…” (9c)
This phrase recognizes our allegiance to God. He is our Father; He created us, He sustains us, He gives us spiritual life. Everything we have and everything we are or ever hope to be, we owe to Him. The all-powerful Creator, Who lives outside of time and space, in the realm we call ‘Heaven’, is our Father, our God, our life, and our Savior. When we pray, we must be aware of exactly Who it is to Whom we are praying. “Those who pray like this are members of a family, and they look to God as the Head of the family, one who is bound to them by ties of love” (Baker, vol. II, p. 1350).
“…hallowed be your name” (9c)
In Jesus’ day, a person’s name was indicative of his character. This phrase means that we realize, and acknowledge, that God is holy, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3 ESV). There are too many people these days who think too little on God’s holiness. We do not realize that God is perfect, He is our Creator, He sustains us, and He deserves our worship and love. Too often, we do not approach Him with the reverential awe, or fear, that the Bible commands, “The fear of the LORD leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm” (Proverbs 19:23 ESV).
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (10)
This phase means that we should want God’s plan to be carried out by humans on earth the same way it is carried out by the angels in Heaven. As believers, our hearts should be set on furthering His Kingdom any way that He asks of us. We should be agents of change, whose mission is to share the good news of God’s love for humanity with all those we can, so that this world would be more like His Kingdom. “The servant of God looks for the rule of God to become actual in more and more lives” (Baker, vol. II, p. 1350).
“Give us this day our daily bread…” (11)
The believer should be living in a daily dependence on God’s provision. After Jesus had told His followers that they need not worry about having the necessities of life, He said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33 ESV). “…the prayer is for the simple and present necessities of life. Jesus is counseling his followers to pray for necessities, not luxuries, and for what is needed now, not a great store for many days to come. By confining the petition to present needs Jesus teaches a day-by-day dependence on God” (Baker, vol. II, p. 1351).
“…and forgive us our debts , as we also have forgiven our debtors” (12)
Because we are believers in Jesus Christ, our sins are forgiven. Therefore, this is not saying that our sins are forgiven because we forgive others. Rather, we forgive others because we have been forgiven. It is easy to forgive others when we truly understand how much God has forgiven us. If we claim to have had our sins forgiven by God, yet we refuse to forgive others, there is a problem with our relationship with God, and that problem needs to be dealt with.
“And lead us not into temptation…” (13a)
We know that God does not tempt anyone with evil (James 1:13). Therefore, this phrase must be a request for God to guide our paths away from temptation and testing. It is a request for protection against that which might cause us to fall into sin. The Bible tells us that everything that happens is either caused by God, or God allows it. As such, we believers realize that God is in control of every second of our lives, so we pray for God to guide our steps away from temptation and towards holiness.
“…but deliver us from evil” (13b)
God is the only one Who can protect us from evil . It is by His strength that we are enabled to stand against the world, the flesh, and the devil. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 ESV). The Bible also tells us that God will not let us be tempted or tested more than He will also supply the ability for us to endure, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (I Corinthians 10:13 ESV).
Conclusion: Important Principles from the Lord’s Prayer
When we pray to God, we must understand that He is the Holy Creator, and Sustainer, of the universe. Our basic motivation in prayer must be for His glory and the furtherance of His Kingdom. We can surely ask Him to supply our needs and comfort our afflictions, but we must always recognize that His will trumps ours. We should desire that His will be done here on earth, and we should be willing to submit to His plan, rather than expect Him to submit to ours. We must always remember that every good thing comes from God (James 1:17); He lovingly supplies our needs. We must forgive others as we have been forgiven. We must trust God to deliver us from any temptation or testing that we should encounter, knowing that we are unable to resist temptation on our own. When we pray with this attitude, we can say with the apostle John, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us” (I John 5:14 ESV).
Here are some more Bible study articles for you to read:
Are Christians saints?
Bible study on joy
A Bible study on friends
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Walter A. Elwell, ed. Baker Book House, 1988.
YouTube video: “Our Father” by Don Moen
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A Prayer to Pray before Studying God’s Word
By Christina Patterson
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” – James 1:5
The Bible compares the Word of God to a double-edged sword showing its ability to cut the heart and change lives forever. (Hebrews 4:12) Whenever I pick up my Bible I feel the weight of this sword and its power. It makes me feel like a little girl holding a weapon too big to carry. Handling something so powerful is exciting yet intimidating at the same time.
So I never go into studying God’s Word lightly. We never should. The Word of God has the power to change minds, heal hearts, and cut out sin. However, something so powerful handled the wrong way can also cause harm. I never want to be the one using God’s Word to cause hurt, pain, or confusion. And I’m sure you don’t either.
For this reason, before I open my Bible and heart to the Word of God I first open my mouth in prayer to request specific things from God. And over years of studying my Bible God has faithfully answered this prayer. I want to share my prayer with you in hopes it will increase the quality of your time in God’s Word and help you to handle it’s truths with clarity and confidence.
I always start off praying for discernment and wisdom. James 1:5 tells us:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (NIV)
Coming across a scripture I do not understand can be discouraging. But I’ve found that unlocking the mysteries of scripture starts with prayer. All wisdom, knowledge, and correct understating come from God and He is ready to grant us understanding if we are willing to ask. This also ensures that I am receiving God’s understanding and intention about a scripture and that I am not relying on my own understanding.
“Lord, thank you for this time you’ve given me to open your Word and discover who you are. Thank you that you don’t leave us in the dark about who you are and what you are doing in the world, but that you have revealed yourself and your will through the Bible, your sacred words to us. Lord, I need wisdom as I read your Word. You promise us in James 1:5 that we only have to ask for wisdom to receive it. Lord, please give me your wisdom now as I approach your word. Help me discern the truth of this text. Help me not rely on my own understanding. Thank you God for the clarity, encouragement and hope your Word brings. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.”
Editor’s Note: Portions of this devotional were taken from Christina Patterson’s article, 3 Prayers You Should Pray before Reading Your Bible. You can find that article in full here.
Studying God’s word is one of the most important things that you can do in your life. Before you start Bible study, say a prayer to ask for his blessings and guidance. We are all fortunate enough to be able to understand and read the Bible. This inspirational writing has spoken to generations of people throughout the world and helped to guide people through difficult paths in life. The following prayers before Bible study can help you guide your heart and mind as you begin to learn more about God’s word.
10 Prayers Before Bible Study
These prayers before Bible study can be used as your opening prayers. Some of them ask God to send the Holy spirit to challenge, speak and teach the Christians present. You can also use some of these prayers before Bible study and afterward. Whatever the case, these prayers can help guide your mind and light the path of wisdom ahead of you.
1. O Lord, may your ancient scriptures come alive within us. As we open our Bibles today, open our hearts to your words of truth. Help us make your words the very fabric of our lives. May your scriptures come alive within our spirits as they heal, teach, inspire, restore and cleanse our hearts. Lord, bring your words to life within our lives. Amen.
2. We gather here today to grow, learn and change as a group. As we begin our Bible study session, we ask that you help all of us to gain a better understanding of your truth. We lay down our hearts, minds and lives before you. We ask that you move among us and help us to feel safe with one another. Help us to feel safe to think, ask for help and to question. Helps us to share our life with you and grow in our knowledge of your word.
3. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the eternal love of our Father come down upon us today. May we be blessed and guided as we follow a Christian path in life. May each thing we learn here today help us to grow and learn as Christians so that we may bring your light, O Lord, to the world. Amen.
4. Heavenly Father, we thank you for all of the amazing things that you have done for us today. Thank you for making it possible for all of us to gather together. Thank you for revealing your love and truth in you. We are blessed to be able to gather together and read your words. Sow your words in our hearts today so that they may grow and blossom. Help your words to take root so that we can follow your path in life. As we learn more of your teachings, walk with us and help us to live in your unending love. For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, now and forever. Amen.
5. Lord, thank you for giving us all the time and good health we need to gather here today. Thank you for giving us a chance to open our hearts and minds to your word. Thank you for guiding us through the darkness and toward your everlasting life. Grant us the wisdom we need to understand your teachings and to put them into practice. Amen.
6. While we may be lacking in wisdom and knowledge, we know that we can place our trust in you. When we cannot see the way forward, your light will always guide us. Help us to have faith in your teachings and to follow you in every way. We ask that you bring us wisdom through the Holy Spirit so that we can better understand your scriptures. Bless this gathering and guide us as we work to be better Christians.
7. James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the world, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” While we gather to read and learn your scriptures, we know that just reading is not enough. As we learn of your word, plant the seeds of your teaching within our hearts. As we leave here, help those seeds to grow and bear fruit so that we may serve you through our actions as well as through our beliefs. Guide us and help us to always do good. Thank you for giving us another opportunity to grow closer to you and to serve you. Amen.
8. We are inspired by the message of your only son, Jesus Christ, to love one another. He gave his life so that we may be free from sin and live in your eternal kingdom. Today, we are gathered here today to learn more about you through your scriptures. We know that reading is never enough, so we ask for your guidance. Help us to understand your word so that we may put it into practice within our lives. When we leave here today, help us to be examples to the world of your love, compassion and mercy. Amen.
9. According to Thessalonians 5:11, we should always, “Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Through your scriptures, we can help to encourage each other as Christians and to develop our faith. As we begin today’s Bible study session, guide us toward a closer knowledge of your will. Help us to grow as Christians and to put your scriptures into practice within our daily lives. Amen.
10. In modern life, finding time to hear your word is rarely easy. Far too often, we forget the spiritual side of life in the pursuit of the material world. We thank you, Lord, for helping all of us to find the time to gather here today. Thank you for reminding each soul that we must devote ourselves to loving and knowing you. As we begin today’s Bible study, guide our thoughts and minds so that we may grow closer to you. We pray that our Bible study session and every part of our lives will glorify your name. Amen.
These personal Bible study and prayer journals cover a variety of topics designed to help you with your daily study and prayer. Each journal has daily studies for 12 to 18 weeks and can be done individually or in groups.
- Every day of this 13-week study researches Scriptures on how we come near to God in prayer and how he comes near to us (James 4:8). The typical day has some suggested Scriptures to read, room for you to take notes and a page for you to write a summary of your prayer.
J011 Teens Hooked on Prayer
- Same topics and themes as the journal above, in a format designed for teens.
J012 Prayer for Preeteens
- Same topics and themes as above, on a level designed for preteens. Families can study this great topic together.
- Same topics and themes as above, in Spanish.
- This 13-week journal is subtitled The disciples Master and the Master’s disciples. Each day has Scriptures for you to study on the characteristics of Jesus and how you can follow him as his disciple.
J021 Discipleship for Teens
- Same topics and themes as the journal above, in a format designed for teens.
J022 Discipleship for Preeteens
- Same topics and themes as above, on a level designed for preteens. Families can study this great topic together.
- Most people have not studied the vast amount of Scriptures on this great subject. This 12-week study focuses on holiness as being God’s gift to us as well as our life-long pursuit.
J040 The King & His Kingdom; Volume 1: Luke
- This 13-week study through the Gospel of Luke allows you to focus on the personal reality of having Jesus as your King and daily implications of being in his Kingdom.
J050 The King & His Kingdom; Volume 2: Acts
- A 12-week study through the book of Acts with the continued focus on personal and practical applications of being in Jesus’ Kingdom.
- An 18-week journey through the longest book of the Bible. This journal gives you a suggested weekly reading schedule and allows you to write your notes and prayers on a daily basis in a very flexible and unencumbered way.
J070 Prayer and Faith
- You see prayer emphasized in every journal and notebook provided in this website. This 13-week journal emphasizes the Scriptural teachings that faithful prayer moves God, changes our lives, and impacts the world.
J080 Faith in the Lord Jesus
- Continuing the emphasis of prayer and faith from the previous journal, this is a 13-week study of Jesus from the Gospel of Mark. Every week focuses on having the faith that Jesus is working in our lives and that we are growing in being his disciples.
J090 Like Father/Like Son
- A 13-week study of the Father/Son relationship as seen in the Gospel of John, seeing how Jesus reveals the Father to us and wants us to have the same relationship with the Father that he has.
J100 Relationships in the Family of God
- A 13-week study of the “one another” Scriptures, focusing on the relationships that are possible within God’s Family.
J110 Living By Faith
- An 11-week study in the amazing letter of Paul to the Romans. Studying this part of God’s Word on the life of faith in the grace of God is exciting and encouraging, but it is not trivial.
J111 Living By Fath (for Teens and Preteens)
- 11 week study in Romans for teens and preteens.
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Here are some pictures of the journals.