In Matthew chapter six, we find one of the best-known sections of Scripture in the Brit Chadasha (New Testament). While millions are familiar with the words from this text and many repeat the words daily or weekly as a part of liturgical worship, this familiarity has also opened the door to misunderstanding. Let’s look at these verses.
Therefore, pray in this way: ‘Our Father in heaven, sanctified be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day 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. – Matt. 6:9-13
A simple look to the introduction lets us know that while these powerful words were spoken about prayer, the context tells us that Yeshua (Jesus) was not giving the Disciples a formulated prayer, but He was providing instructions for prayer. He was not giving them a prayer to recite. He was teaching them a format or formula for their individual prayer lives.
In the verses, preceding Yeshua telling his followers not to pray like the heathen and then tells them how to pray, not what to pray. In other words, Matthew 6:9-13 isn’t a liturgical prayer to recite over and again; it is an outline to be followed in order to have a powerful and effective prayer life. As we read through the words of instruction, we find instructions to honor and praise our G-D and Creator; Our Father.
We are further taught to acknowledge His Kingship and Kingdom both Heavenly and Earthly. The lesson continues by teaching us to be thankful for His provision. We are then told to forgive, and the teaching ends by reminding us that only G-D can keep us from temptation and deliver us from evil. There is amazing power in prayers who follow these instructions provided to us so clearly and simply by our Messiah. Even so, the key to revival begins with the word “Our.” Notice that this word as well as the words, “us” and “we” used throughout these verses of instructions on prayer are all plural words. In other words, Yeshua’s instructions for His followers on prayer teach us that our prayers must be prayed within the context of unity and community.