Tag Archives: The Sermon on the Mount

The Lord’s Prayer #4 – The Greatest Psalm

What is The Lord’s Prayer?

Our Father in heaven,
     hallowed 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 have also forgiven our debtors. 
And do not bring us to the time of trial [into temptation],
     but rescue us from the evil one. 
[For the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours for ever.  Amen.]  (Matthew 6:9-13 NRSV [marginal readings in square brackets] )

I have already said that it is a prayer outline, but is there more to it?  From the title you can guess what I am going to say now.  It is Hebrew poetry.  Now there is Hebrew poetry in the psalms and elsewhere, in this case I would class this as both Hebrew poetry and a psalm, and in Aramaic it even rhymes!  (See http://aramaicherald.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/jesus-poet-christs-words-as-hebrew.html for more on this.)

What do I mean by saying that The Lord’s Prayer is Hebrew poetry.  It struck me one day when I had been looking at The Lord’s Prayer and then read Psalm 1.  In Psalm 1 we see parallelism, an idea stated and then either expanded or otherwise developed.

We see this in The Lord’s Prayer also.

  • If God is our Heavenly Father then how should we respond?
  • God’s kingdom and will are inseparable, you are saying the same thing in two different ways, and we want to see both on earth as they are already are in heaven.
  • God provides for us both physical provision (food) and spiritual provision (forgiveness), our response should be to extend it to others.
  • God id our protector, what does this mean for us.
  • It is also finished off with a great doxology, which whether Jesus stated it with the prayer outline or not draws the whole prayer together, and back to praise to his Father, and finishes with a resounding Amen’, ‘So be it’.

The book of Psalms in the Old Testament is often referred to as ‘The Prayer Book of The Bible’, there are psalms of praise, of prayer, of lament, of longing.  More than that there are psalms elsewhere in the Old Testament, Moses’ and Miriam’s songs of praise to God in Exodus 15:1-21, and Deborah’s song in Judges 5 are a few examples.  For me The Lord’s Prayer is the ultimate psalm of prayer and praise, as we shall see as we examine it in greater detail.

Jesus made The Lord’s Prayer easy to remember for his first century audience.  How easy do you find it to remember?  Why do you think this is the case?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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The Lord’s Prayer #3 – Jesus’ Prayer (Meeting) Outline

So what is the Lord’s Prayer? 

It is a few things, but let’s start here.  It is true that The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer that we can just pray as it is, and as long as it is not just words, being used like a magical incantation (which is what Jesus is referring to in Matthew 6:7-8) then God pays attention to it.  But it is more than that.

It is a prayer outline, this is something that the disciples would have understood, but we seem to have lost.  It is not so much a case of pray with these exact words, but pray in this manner.  In Jesus’ day the teachers (rabbis) often gave their followers patterns for prayer, John had done so and his disciples who then followed Jesus asked him to do the same as we saw in The Lord’s Prayer #1 – ‘Lord, teach us to pray’.

Using Scripture as a prayer outline is not only Biblical, it is also very powerful.  I use Scripture a great deal in my prayer times, and the prayer meeting outlines I write for http://kingdomrevivalprayer.wordpress.com/ are all based on Scripture.

This is the greatest prayer meeting outline there is, as it is the one that Jesus himself instituted, though sadly many church prayer meetings are not based on this most amazing prayer outline.

Do you pray The Lord’s Prayer as an outline for you to fill in, or as words for you to say?  How do you pray it when you pray with others? I’d love to hear your views and experiences.

The Lord’s Prayer #2 – A Personal and Corporate Prayer.

Before I look at The Lord’s Prayer itself I will look at what Jesus said around it when he taught it on the Sermon on the Mount.  In Matthew’s gospel, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches not just The Lord’s Prayer, but surrounds it with teaching about personal and corporate prayer.

This has only just struck me as I am writing this post, and I shall explain what I mean.

The Jews understood that prayer could be personal, you could pray to God on your own, not just in the company of others.  We see this in both the Old and New Testaments, where prayer takes place both on a personal setting, and in a corporate setting.  So Jesus teaching on personal prayer is aimed specifically as the Jewish people as they understood this concept.  We see this in Matthew 6:5-6.

The Gentiles by contrast, especially the Romans who were then occupying Israel, had no concept of personal prayer, prayer to them was always and only a public affair.  So it would be strange to teach about personal prayer by referring to people who had no concept of personal prayer.  Therefore we can safely say that Matthew 6:7-8 is about corporate prayer.

Now you may be saying, ‘Can you back this up from the text itself, not just from the context?’.  Yes, I can.  In Matthew 6:6 Jesus is talking about ‘you’ singular, in the rest of Jesus’ teaching about prayer that is given here is ‘you’ is always in the plural.

The Lord’s Prayer, or more precisely what we can learn about how to pray from it, should be central to both our personal and corporate prayer.  It is both a prayer that we can say as it is, and a prayer outline that we can use in prayer.  It is also more than that, but you will have to wait for the next post to find out what.

What does the Lord’s Prayer mean to you in your personal and corporate prayer?  Have you thought of it only as a personal prayer neglecting its corporate nature? I would love to hear your insights.

The Lord’s Prayer #1 – ‘Lord, teach us to pray’

He [Jesus] was praying in a certain place , and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”  Luke 11:1.

In this introductory post of this series on The Lord’s Prayer, or The Disciples’ Prayer as some would rather call it, I am looking a verse from how Luke introduces it in his gospel.  For the rest of the time I will be using the prayer outline as it is given in Matthew’s gospel during the Sermon on the Mount.

The first thing that springs to mind is who asked Jesus to teach them to pray as the disciple who asked said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples’.  This says to me that the disciple who asked was one of the two of John’s disciples that Jesus had called.  Why?  Because he knew not only that John had taught his disciples to pray, but it would imply how he taught them to pray.  One of the two was Andrew, Peter’s brother, and we don’t know who the other was (see John 1:35-42).  Whoever it was, I’m glad they asked!

The second thing that stands out to me is that Jesus is basically repeating the prayer outline here that he taught on the Sermon on the Mount.  We should not be surprised that Jesus taught things more than once!  All really good teachers know that repetition is important in helping people to remember things.  I am quite sure that Jesus taught things over and over again.  Not because he needed to say them more than once, but because the disciples needed to hear them more than once!

The third thing I noticed is how Jesus taught about prayer.  This is something I know for myself.  You cannot lead others in prayer in ways that you do not pray yourself.  Prayer cannot just be taught in a book or on paper, it must also be modelled.  We see that here.  Jesus had just been praying, with the disciples near enough to see him, if not hear him.  It was only after this that one of the disciples asked him to teach them how to pray.

This is incredibly important.  You and I can only learn to pray directly from Jesus in our own prayer times, and by watching and observing other Christians in prayer, either in their personal prayer times, or in corporate prayer.  We can get ‘stuck’ in our own prayer lives, and in corporate prayer if we do not take this to heart.  We will only grow and get ‘unstuck’ if we ask Jesus to teach us more about prayer which he will do either directly or through others.

The two disciples that had followed John the Baptist had got so far in their prayer lives from the teaching and discipleship they had received from him.  The disciple who asked Jesus to teach them to pray saw that there was more to prayer that Jesus knew and modelled, and so wanted to learn more from him.

Do you want to grow in prayer?  I know I do! 

Why don’t you come on this journey with me, as I lead where Jesus has already led me!  I want to hear your insights about prayer along the way, as I am sure that you will be able to teach me things from your own walk with the Lord.  Let’s challenge and inspire each other, so that we can grow in our prayer lives.

Here’s to prayer, the greatest adventure!