Matthew 6:5-15; Prayer

Prayer, like almsgiving, was an important part of daily piety for Jesus’s original audience. It may be difficult to imagine how central these things were, since we live in such a pluralist society today. We don’t pray in public schools today for a very good reasons.

I’ll try to extract some points from this passage and from the model prayer Jesus taught here. I call it a model prayer because Jesus said “pray like this”, not “pray this.”

  • We pray to communicate with God, not to impress people. Can’t do both at the same time.
  • And we don’t impress God with any form of fancy praying. We just talk to him.
  • We are concerned to God’s reputation be kept holy. We can go about helping to answer that prayer ourselves.
  • We are longing, not to die and go to heaven, but to see the kingdom come to where we are. Jesus brought it with him.
  • When the kingdom comes fully, God’s will is done. Until then, there are oppositions to that.
  • God cares about getting us through each day. Our life on earth is important, not to be deprecated.
  • We need God’s forgiveness. And we need to be forgiving. We are accountable to God for that.
  • It’s ok to ask for God’s help to stay out of hot water, and to get out of hot water if we are already in it.
  • One way to know this is a model and not a fixed prayer: no doxology.
  • Somehow, our being forgiven by God is tied to our willingness to forgive others.
  • Jews in the time of Jesus (of whom Jesus was one, don’t forget) for completely dependent on God for forgiveness, just as we are. They were not trying to impress him enough by lawkeeping to be accepted by him.

I won’t attempt any kind of major exposition on the Lord’s prayer. But I think there is a lot to learn there.

2 thoughts on “Matthew 6:5-15; Prayer

  1. Thank you for posting your comments, Randy. Been thinking a lot about prayer lately. I really like your quick take of how Jesus was modeling prayer. I’m one who does not believe God answers all prayers. By answering I mean we receive what has been requested. I have been told multiple times “God answers all prayers—Yes, No, or Wait. To me, one would never know the difference between no and wait. Also, no is not an answer (in my opinion) to a request but a denial. No would be an answer to “will you please” as a question as opposed to an earnest request, “Please ….” Of course all prayers should be prayed for His will be done. I also have issues in the Scriptures quoting Jesus and others when the words all, every, whatsoever, etc are used. I don’t know if those passages refer only to the people being addressed or if they should be taken for all believers. I do know we have only one true need and that will and is fulfilled in Christ. Sorry for the little rant here. No one around here understands my confusion.

    1. The subject of prayer is fraught with issues and questions. And riddled with folk theology, as you point out. People try to protect God, I think, by calling things by alternative names. It’s true that God doesn’t always respond. I can prove that. He does it rarely enough that we call it a miracle.

      Another piece of bad theology is that “prayer doesn’t change God, it changes me”. As if that protects God’s sovereignty. He doesn’t need our protection.

      Moses prayed and God changed his mind. Jesus prayed, and at least once God did not change his mind. God can change if he wants to.

      Otherwise, why pray?

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