Exploring Prayer With
By Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
Chapter 27 — The Model Prayer
Matthew 6:9-13, "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." Luke 11:2-4, "And He said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil."
This is what is commonly known as the Lord's prayer. However, this is not a prayer prayed by our Lord. This is often called "the model prayer," or perhaps it could better be called "a good outline for praying." Since it is an outline for the Christian's prayer, it is worthy of careful investigation.
1.Jesus introduces a new title for God. Luke 11:2a, "And He said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father . . . . " No one had before this time addressed God as Father except the Lord Jesus. Luke 2:49, "And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" Now He comes to tell us that HIS Father can now be OUR Father. So when the Christian talks to God to ask Him for his needs, he is instructed that it is to be as a child talks to a father. In transferring our needs to us and in our asking for our needs to be supplied, God could have chosen for it to be done as an employee would make a request from his boss or as a soldier would make a request from his commanding officer or as a businessman would make a request from one of his peers, but God wanted there to be more of a personal touch in the dispensing of our needs, so He chose the tender yet secure relationship of a child and his father.
2. Before we pray, God wants a time of praise and worship. Note the words, "Hallowed by Thy name" in verse 2 of Luke 11. We have just been introduced to a new name for God. None of the Old Testament prophets or Christians ever called God their Father. It is natural then for those of us who have been given this new privilege to rejoice in His name. So we have the expression, "Hallowed by Thy name." No doubt He is talking about the name "Father" to which He has just introduced us.
Bear in mind, this is not praying, for praying is asking for something; this is preparatory to praying. We are adoring God, worshipping God and praising Him. We are about to ask Him for something. It certainly won't hurt our chances any to tell Him how wonderful He is and to praise His name, to worship Him and to exalt Him. If our children on earth are going to ask us for something, it certainly enhances their chances of receiving it if they spend a few minutes telling us what good parents we are and how much they love us.
3. There are basically only three requests in this outline. The first is found in Luke 11:3. Here is a simple request for daily bread. Notice the word "us." Compare this to the word "our" in verse 2. It seems as if God intends for us to pray some together because we have the first person plural mentioned throughout the Lord's prayer. In verse 2, "OUR Father"; in verse 3, "Give US day by day OUR daily bread"; in verse 4, "And forgive US OUR sins; for WE also forgive every one that is indebted to US. And lead US not into temptation; but deliver US from evil."
The second request made in the Lord's prayer has to do with forgiveness of sin. Notice verse 4. "And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil."
The third request is a request for bread for a friend. Luke 11:5,6, "And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?"
These are the only requests mentioned in our Lord's outline of prayer: bread for self, forgiveness, and bread for others. Notice that this is a primary prayer, a learner's prayer. Our Lord was teaching them this prayer in answer to their request, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." (Luke 11:1) The first need of the body is bread. The first need of the soul is forgiveness. So in this basic learner's prayer, there are only two requests—bread and forgiveness. There are two requests concerning bread, however; bread for me and bread for others.
It is also interesting to note that the prayer starts off with the word "Thy." Notice, "THY name," "THY kingdom," "THY will be done," "Lead US," "Deliver US." Then it turns to a friend of mine, or "others" in verse 5.
There are two friends mentioned in the model prayer. (It must be remembered that the lesson on prayer goes beyond what we usually call the model prayer. Verses 5-13 are as much a part of this outline as are verses 1-4.) In verse 5 the prayer goes to a friend at midnight who has the bread. In verse 6 he speaks of a friend who came to see him. The friend who has the bread is our Heavenly Father. The friend who needs bread who has come to see him is the sinner. Notice that our right to requisition the friend who has the bread is based upon our being a friend to the one who needs bread. He who is not a friend of sinners and does not seek to win them to the Saviour cannot claim closeness of friendship with the Father. In fact our Saviour gave us a requirement for friendship with Him—our obedience to His commandments. John 15:14, "Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." His main commandment is reaching the unsaved with the Gospel. Matthew 28:19,20, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." We call this "the great commission"; hence, it is His great commandment. Our Lord is telling us that our intimacy with Him as a friend is dependent upon our friendship with sinners; that is, leading them to Christ and being concerned about their salvation. A friend had come at midnight, and because he was his friend, the Christian was driven to seek the other friend who had the bread. The teaching here is that our degree of intimacy with Christ depends upon our faithfulness in obeying His commandments. It must always be remembered that Jesus came, lived, died and rose again for the salvation of lost souls. Luke 19:10, "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." Only when we become this type of friend to the unsaved can we enter into the sweetness and closeness of the friend relationship with our God.
4. The location of forgiveness in this outline is after bread for self and before bread for others. God is telling us that He will feed us because we are His children, but He will not let us enter into the work of feeding others with Him until we have sought forgiveness. Anyone for a few pennies can go to the store and buy a loaf of bread. This is a very small task which is speedily executed, but getting a job in the bakery is much more difficult. This requires application, references, interviews, etc. God feeds US because we are His children; God allows us to enter into the great work of getting the Bread of Life to others after our hearts have been made right with Him; that is, being forgiven of our sins and forgiving others of their sins against us.
5. God requires the Christian to forgive others before He offers forgiveness. Being forgiven is not Christlike, for Christ never sinned; hence, He never needed forgiveness. Forgiving IS Christlike, for Christ does forgive. This makes the little outline read as follows: (1) Bread for me, (2) Forgiveness of others, (3) Forgiveness for me, (4) Bread for others.
6. It requires much longer to receive bread for others than it does to receive bread for self. Luke 11:3, "Give us day by day our daily bread." Luke 11:7,8, "And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth." Bread for self comes with a simple daily prayer, but bread for others comes comes only after pleading. In verse 7 the friend that had the bread said, "Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee." However, the person in need of bread continued and pleaded. The word "importunity" in verse 8 means "much begging."
So I come to God and ask for bread for myself. I simply say, "Lord, give me this day my daily bread." Notice only one mention of myself, but when I come after having forgiven and been forgiven and I begin to plead, "Lord, bread for others, please. Give bread for others. Others, Lord, give bread for others. Give bread for others. Please, Lord, give bread for others." Perhaps God wants our thought dwelling more on others. As we plead for others we think of others and become more burdened for others. If God had made us plead for our own bread, we would have dwelt on ourselves too much, so God wants us to get our minds off of ourselves. We ask for bread for self one time, and He gives it to us. Then since He wants us to dwell on others, love others and have compassion on others, He requires much praying and much begging for that bread.
7. Our Prayer for self is done in the daytime. Luke 11:3, "Give us day by day our daily bread." Our prayer for others is made at midnight. Luke 11:5, "And He said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves." Most of the Christian's long intercessory prayers should come during the nighttime hours. A little motto I have had for years is as follows: I will help others while they are awake and pray for them while they sleep. Lengthy praying is usually not for the daytime hours, because in the daytime hours we are supposed to be busy dispensing the bread and caring for the needs of others. However, while they rest, the bakery is turning out the bread, ready for delivery the next morning. Oh, the need of midnight praying! God give us parents who pray in the wee hours of the morning for children. God give us midnight prayers for the blessings of God upon our churches. No one will ever know the depth of prayer until he has learned to pray while others sleep.
8. This praying for bread for others is symbolic of praying for the power of the Holy Spirit. Luke 11:11-13, "If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" He, the Holy Spirit, is the power by which we witness. Whatever the price we must pay, it must be paid. No amount of human wisdom or human cunning will take the place of the mighty power of the Holy Spirit of God. When we learn to pay the price at the midnight hour, through the wee hours of the morning, pleading with God for His mighty power, we then get that blessed power of the Holy Spirit.
Churches often chant the model prayer as part of their worship service. Many children are taught to pray this prayer before they go to bed at night. I am not saying that this is sinful, but if this is all the model prayer is to the child of God, he is missing the entire teaching. The disciples had seen Him pray, they had heard Him pray, and they wanted to know how to pray as He prayed. They had heard Him preach, but never said, "Teach us to preach." They heard Him teach, but never said, "Teach us to teach." They heard Him pray and said, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." In response to that request, He teaches them and gives them this little outline. Then they follow and present their petitions at the throne of grace.
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