“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
After telling us to keep it simple and how not to pray, as a good teacher, Jesus then tells us how we should pray. Some words brilliantly describe truths and the real meaning of humanity. A few of Shakespeare’s sonnets; some words from the Declaration of Independence; the Gettysburg Address; perhaps even some of the sayings of Confucius: they all succinctly describe what is best in us and what it means to be a human being.
None of them do it like the Lord’s Prayer. In these words, Jesus tells us how to simply say the things that sum up our lives and the whole human condition. He tells us how to communicate these things to the Father in ways that say what we mean most, what is best in humanity, and our desperate need for Him. The prayer gives praise, acknowledges truth, asks for His blessings, and requests Him in our daily lives. It is personal, timely, and supernatural.
This is a prayer going up to the Father. We are praying to God the Father in saying this, not the other two persons of the Trinity. That matters because we’re praying to our heavenly parent, to the ultimate creator. In referenced verses (below), Jeremiah and Malachi (from the Old Testament), and Peter (from the New) all remind us that we call on ONE Father, one divine creator, one single parent in heaven, who created us to be reflections of Himself. To share His glory both with Him and especially with each other.
Jesus, the Son in the Trinity, always prayed to His Father. The Father is the parent and co-equal divinity who Jesus knew both personally and reverentially. In this section of Matthew, He was explaining deep, personal things to the crowd there on the Mount. And, in this, He explained how we should pray to the Father because it’s how He Himself would pray to His Father.
Notice, too, that Jesus says “how” we should pray, not “the only things we should pray.” Here, Jesus models the kinds of words we should say to the Father, and how our prayers should encompass the whole of our being (like this one does). We aren’t confined to just this prayer, though most churches do commonly pray it (because Jesus taught it to us). Simply know, as a whole, that this prayer is simply a model for our other ones.
For more reading: Jeremiah 3:19, Malachi 2:10, 1 Peter 1:17, Matthew 6:10
Jesus, thank You for giving us this prayer, for teaching us how we should pray to the Father in praise and thanks and supplication.