The Prayer Jesus Taught His Disciples
Week # 15
The Hebrew word translated "amen" literally means "truly" or "so be it." "Amen" is also found in the Greek New Testament and has the same meaning. Nearly half of the Old Testament uses of amen are found in the book of Deuteronomy. In each case, the people are responding to curses pronounced by God on various sins. Each pronouncement is followed by the words "and all the people shall say Amen" (). This indicates that the people applauded the righteous sentence handed down by their holy God, responding, "So let it be." The "amen" attested to the conviction of the hearers that the sentences which they heard were true, just, and certain. Seven of the Old Testament references link with praise. The sentence "Then all the people said 'Amen' and 'Praise the LORD,'" found in , typifies the connection between and praise. In and , the people of Israel affirm Ezra's exalting of God by worshipping the Lord and obeying Him. The highest expression of praise to God is obedience, and when we say "amen" to His commands and pronouncements, our praise is sweet music to His ears.
The New Testament writers all use "amen" at the end of their epistles. The apostle John uses it at the end of his gospel, his three letters, and the book of Revelation, where it appears nine times. Each time it is connected with praising and glorifying God and referring to the and the end of the age. Paul says "amen" to the blessings he pronounces on all the churches in his letters to them, as do Peter, John and Jude in their letters. The implication is that they are saying, "May it be that the Lord will truly grant these blessings upon you."
When Christians say "amen" at the end of our prayers, we are following the model of the apostles, asking God to "please let it be as we have prayed." Remembering the connection between amen and the praise of obedience, all prayers should be prayed according to the will of God. Then when we say "amen," we can be confident that God will respond "so be it" and grant our requests (; ).
The Lord's Prayer is a prayer the Lord Jesus taught His disciples in and . says, "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. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'" Many people misunderstand the Lord's Prayer to be a prayer we are supposed to recite word for word. Some people treat the Lord's Prayer as a magic formula, as if the words themselves have some specific power or influence with God.
The Bible teaches the opposite. God is far more interested in our hearts when we pray than He is in our words. "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 use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words" (). In prayer, we are to pour out our hearts to God ( ), not simply recite memorized words to God.
The Lord's Prayer should be understood as an example, a pattern, of how to pray. It gives us the "ingredients" that should go into prayer. Here is how it breaks down. "Our Father in heaven" is teaching us whom to address our prayers to—the Father. "Hallowed be your name" is telling us to worship God, and to praise Him for who He is. The phrase "your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" is a reminder to us that we are to pray for God's plan in our lives and the world, not our own plan. We are to pray for God's will to be done, not for our desires. We are encouraged to ask God for the things we need in "give us today our daily bread." "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" reminds us to confess our sins to God and to turn from them, and also to forgive others as God has forgiven us. The conclusion of the Lord's Prayer, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one" is a plea for help in achieving victory over sin and a request for protection from the attacks of the devil.
So, again, the Lord's Prayer is not a prayer we are to memorize and recite back to God. It is only an example of how we should be praying. Is there anything wrong with memorizing the Lord's Prayer? Of course not! Is there anything wrong with praying the Lord's Prayer back to God? Not if your heart is in it and you truly mean the words you say. Remember, in prayer, God is far more interested in our communicating with Him and speaking from our hearts than He is in the specific words we use. declares, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
If I don't pray, then I am cut off from my only true source of help. I need God and my prayers to Him acknowledge this fact. The longer I am out of prayer, the more I feel out of fellowship with Him. Why not pray to Him more consistently, pour out your heart to Him earnestly, tell Him about all of your burdens and then cast every single one of them upon Him because "he cares about what happens to you" (1 Pet 4:7).
Father in Heaven, You are worthy to be praised. We honor You, and please help us to obey You, and cause our plans to be Your plan for, so we can accomplish it in our lives. Father God, we ask You to forgive us of all the sin we have committed against You. Also, Lord, help us to forgive others who have hurt us in anyway. Our God of the whole earth be exalted in every place. We praise you God for sending Your Son Jesus to die for our sin, and for making us free to worship You. Thank You Jesus, for leaving us this prayer pattern for us to learn how to pray correctly. Holy Spirit, teach us to use these patterns in our everyday prayer life. We give You glory, honor, and praise because You are worthy of them. Let Your Kingdom of peace reign in our hearts, Lord. Father God, make our relationship with You be priority in our daily living. Thank You for providing and protecting us in every need. We know that all things work together for our good, because You love us. We thank You and praise You, Lord. Glory be to our God! Hallelujah! We worship You in praise, Lord. Father God, bless us to continue to study Your Word, so we can learn more of You and Your Word to live by and through the Holy Spirit. We love You, Lord! Hallelujah. AMEN.