How Do We Pray?
Pray then like this: 'our Father in heaven. . .'Matthew 6:9
This prayer begins where all true prayer must start, with the spirit of adoption: "Our Father." There is no acceptable prayer until we can say, "I will arise and go to my Father."1 This childlike spirit soon perceives the grandeur of the Father "in heaven" and ascends to devout adoration, "hallowed be your name." The child lisping, "Abba, Father" grows into the cherub crying, "Holy, holy, holy." There is but a step from rapturous worship to the glowing missionary spirit, which is a sure expression of filial love and reverent adoration--"your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
Next follows the heartfelt expression of dependence upon God-"Give us this day our daily bread."
Being further illuminated by the Spirit, the one praying discovers that he is not only dependent but sinful; so he cries for mercy, "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors"; and being pardoned, having the righteousness of Christ imputed, and knowing his acceptance with God, he humbly prays for holy perseverance, "Lead us not into temptation." The man who is really forgiven is anxious not to offend again; the possession of justification leads to an anxious desire for sanctification. "Forgive us our debts"--that is justification; "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil"--that is sanctification in its negative and positive forms.
As the result of all this, there follows a triumphant ascription of praise, "For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen." We rejoice that our King reigns in providence and shall reign in grace, from the river even to the ends of the earth, and of His dominion there shall be no end. So from a sense of adoption, up to fellowship with our reigning Lord, this short model of prayer conducts the soul. Lord, teach us then to pray.
1) Luke 15:18
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