The Disciples' Model Prayer
Does your prayer begin with a focus on God's attributes: his kingship, his holiness, his power? Is your prayer sincere or just rote memorization? Jesus himself modeled prayer for the disciples in Matthew 18:9-10.
The Disciples' Model Prayer
The Lord’s Prayer or what might better be called the disciple’s model prayer was one prayer that the Lord himself never prayed nor in fact could have, as in asking forgiveness for personal sin.
It’s very appropriate to pray the Lord’s Prayer today, exactly as Jesus taught it. If this prayer or any prayer ever becomes one that is simply modeled by rote, apart from conscience affirmation, then it becomes meaningless.
The main themes that emerge can be prayed for using a large variety of specific wordings and lengths of prayers and it is the THEMES THAT ARE CRUCIAL, NOT THE REPETITION of these precise words.
The prayer begins with a focus on God, Matthew 18:9-10 and balances the recognition of him as intimate, our Father, from the Aramaic ‘Abba’, that Jesus uses elsewhere. It reflects a parallel intimacy with God for a Jew of Jesus’ day. But yet, this is balanced also by recognizing him as transcendent and holy with the prayer that his name be hollowed or made holy or treated as holy.
The focus on God continues as Jesus teaches his followers to pray for his Kingship, his kingly power and reign, which is largely synonymous with the follow-up prayer, 'that his will be done', as we have already noted, 'on earth as it is already being done in heaven.’
Then in verse 11-13, focus on God is appropriately followed up with a focus on people; just as Jesus’ double love command called us to love God and our neighbor. The focus on people begin with the basic physical needs such as daily bread, but moves on to spiritual needs; 'forgive us our sins our trespasses, debts.’ But note the condition, even as we commit to promise to do the same to those who need our forgiveness or who is indebted to us. The one is conditioned on the other; those who truly experience God’s forgiveness will realize that no sin committed against them comes remotely as close to being as heinous as the sins God has already forgiven us.
How then could we ever refuse utterly to forgive others their sins?
As we will see in Matthew 18, forgiveness is not always the same thing as returning to business as usual as if nothing had ever happened. Spiritual needs also involve spiritual preservation, positively and negatively, 'lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil' and then the condition of forgiveness is repeated in verse 14-15. Later manuscripts inserted, after the prayer, a benediction similar to the one found in II Chronicles 6, no doubt, feeling that the prayer needed to be rounded off better; 'for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, amen.'