Rev. & Mrs. Kenneth Fellenbaum

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Milford, Connecticut, United States

Bible Verse of the Day

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Praying as Jesus Taught Us

In this column we will follow two strands of thought: namely, the Kingdom of God and prayer. Our text will be the familiar but always inspiring words of Jesus on prayer from the Sermon on the Mount. In the first couple verses, Jesus offers some introductory comments to guide our thinking and practice on prayer. “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:5-8). If we take this instruction to heart it will help us not to “pray” the wrong way and to approach the throne of God properly which will result in effective and powerful prayer.

Next Jesus offered an example of prayer, “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘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 the evil one’” (Matthew 6:9-13). This prayer is popularly known as “the Lord’s Prayer.” It can be prayed as such, although we should be careful to pray with meaning and not just recite it. Properly understood, I believe what the Lord taught us was a pattern of prayer. If prayed this way you can pray the Lord’s Prayer in minutes or hours.

Note that Jesus taught us to begin with the salutation “Our Father.” God is the Father of all who have become His children through faith in His Son (see John 1:12). We cannot really pray this with confidence until we know for certain that He is our Heavenly Father. Do you know Him? Analyzing the body of the prayer, we see that it evenly divides into two sections. Part one deals with God’s concerns and Part two involves our needs. When we pray we should remember this order and put God’s things first and ourselves second (too often it is the opposite). We are to pray for God’s Name to be sacred. His Kingdom to come (presently and future), and His will to be done (in our lives and others). We can ask for our daily sustenance, forgiveness from sins and relief from temptation.

Lastly, do not overlook the important matter of forgiveness that Jesus repeated and elaborated upon. The reason that forgiveness is so critical is that if we do not forgive others we will not be forgiven—which means our prayers will go unanswered.

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