AFTER THIS MANNER THEREFORE PRAY YE . . . Matthew 6:9 KJV
My friendly advisor in Judaic thought tells me that in some sects of Judaism the practitioners are told not to engage in intercessory prayers on the sabbath, although they may ask for blessings on the sick. The theory here is that God established the first sabbath based on His own need for rest following creation, and that He still has need for rest from the pleas of His children. As my friend says, “I’m sure He doesn’t like to hear our whining all the time.”
This is a new way of looking at prayer for me. I have heard sermons given where we are told to pray once in awhile and ASK FOR NOTHING, but GIVE ONLY THANKS to God for His blessings, and that such a prayer should make us more grateful and aware of all God does for us. Making it a regular sabbath day matter had not occurred to me.
In what manner ought we to pray? Even the Disciples asked, ” . . . Lord, teach us to pray . . .” (Luke 11:1) KJV. Dietrich Bonhoeffer recommended the Psalms as a teaching tool for prayer based on a sermon given by Martin Luther. Bonhoeffer said that every person seeking God in prayer should take the time to study all of the Psalms at least once each year.
Jesus did give the true pattern of prayer in answer to the request of His disciples. Although it is translated a little differently in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, the essence is the same, and it is beautiful in its profound simplicity. It is known as THE LORD’S PRAYER as given in Luke. Let’s break it down to see if we can truly consider the meanings:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
We pray to the Father of us all, who dwells in Heaven, and give reverence to His name to show our love and awe for Him.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
We need to be reminded that it is His kingdom we seek. In order for that kingdom to come, we seek to follow His will here on earth and to pray to understand it. This reminds us to always consider our doings carefully and not rely on our own limited understanding.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Such a simple thing, our daily bread. We don’t ask for great riches or glory here, merely the “bread” that sustains us. Beyond that we also need to remember that Christ is “the Bread of Life.”
And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.
The reminder that in order to be forgiven by God, we, too, must forgive all men. We need so much help in forgiveness and we need to ask God to help us in that grueling task. Notice here that Luke says we are to forgive “indebtedness”, a term which covers all sorts of payments we think are due us, maybe even the value of a tooth for a tooth, or for emotional or monetary harm. We need to learn to forgive, but we can still ask for justice to prevail.
And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil.
Does God “lead” us into temptation? Does He always “deliver” us from evil? These are hard questions. Is this another statement of how the world really is? Can we be led easily into temptation, or from time to time, through no fault of our own, find ourselves in a place where we must be “delivered from evil?” Perhaps we need to think of this as a responsibility we each have, to pray for the strength to resist temptation and, if at all possible, the strength to flee if we are placed in a dangerous or evil situation.
Luke 11: 2-4. KJV
. . . For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Matthew 6:13: This ending is left off in Luke’s account. But we must remember it and always keep in mind that the kingdom belongs to our Father, whose kingdom, and power, and glory we seek.
Amen. This is our seal of acceptance for what we have prayed.
The Lord does not want “vain repetition”, but rather thoughtful prayers – from the heart. Jesus said that God our Father knows what we need before we ask, but we still need to talk to Him about those needs. That is good six days a week, but perhaps we should approach our sabbath day prayers a little differently. Give our Father a rest and let the thanksgiving really count on that day.