Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jesus Teaches Us How to Pray


 Although Jesus warned against abusing the grand privilege of prayer, he did teach his disciples how to pray. (Read Matthew 6:9-13.) The model prayer is not to be memorized in order to be recited over and over again. Instead, it furnishes a pattern for our own prayers. For instance, Jesus put God first with the opening words: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified.” (Matt. 6:9) We properly address Jehovah as “our Father” because he is our Creator, who dwells “in the heavens,” far beyond the earth. (Deut. 32:6; 2 Chron. 6:21; Acts 17:24, 28) Use of the plural term “our” should remind us that our fellow believers also have a close relationship with God. “Let your name be sanctified” is a petition that Jehovah take action to sanctify himself by clearing his name of all the reproach that has been heaped upon it since the rebellion in Eden. In answer to that prayer, Jehovah will remove wickedness from the earth, thus sanctifying himself.—Ezek. 36:23.

 “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” (Matt. 6:10) In connection with this request in the model prayer, we should remember that the “kingdom” is the heavenly Messianic government in the hands of Christ and the resurrected “holy ones” associated with him. (Dan. 7:13, 14, 18; Isa. 9:6, 7) Praying for it to “come” is a request that God’s Kingdom come against all earthly opposers of divine rulership. That will soon occur, paving the way for a global paradise of righteousness, peace, and prosperity. (Ps. 72:1-15; Dan. 2:44; 2 Pet. 3:13) Jehovah’s will is being done in heaven, and asking that it take place on earth is a plea that God carry out his purposes toward our planet, including the removal of his opposers today as he did in ancient times.—Read Psalm 83:1, 2, 13-18.

 “Give us today our bread for this day.” (Matt. 6:11; Luke 11:3) By making this prayerful request, we are asking God to provide necessary food “for this day.” This indicates that we have faith in Jehovah’s ability to care for our needs on a daily basis. It is not a prayer for surplus provisions. This request for our daily needs may remind us that God commanded the Israelites to gather manna “each his amount day for day.”—Ex. 16:4.

 The next request in the model prayer turns our attention to something we need to do. Jesus said: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matt. 6:12) Luke’s Gospel shows that these “debts” are “sins.” (Luke 11:4) Only if we already “have forgiven” those sinning against us may we expect forgiveness from Jehovah. (Read Matthew 6:14, 15.) We should forgive others freely.—Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13.

 “Do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the wicked one.” (Matt. 6:13) How are we to understand these two related requests in Jesus’ model prayer? One thing is certain: Jehovah does not tempt us to commit sin. (Read James 1:13.) Satan—“the wicked one”—is the real “Tempter.” (Matt. 4:3) However, the Bible speaks of God as doing things that he is merely permitting. (Ruth 1:20, 21; Eccl. 11:5) Therefore, “do not bring us into temptation” is a petition that Jehovah not permit us to succumb when we are tempted to disobey him. Finally, the plea “deliver us from the wicked one” is a request that Jehovah not allow Satan to overcome us. And we can be confident that ‘God will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear.’—Read 1 Corinthians 10:13.

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Christian view the Bible as the inspired Word of God, absolute truth, beneficial for teaching and disciplining mankind.