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When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
The foundation of the Kingdom of God is an unshakable JOY that GROWS from the bottom up.
Overall Commentary: 🌎
This passage continues Jesus’ walk through an authentic relationship with God. In chapter 5, He talked about Kingdom living. This chapter focuses on an authentic kingdom relationship with God. In this passage, we see how to properly relate to the Father.
Jesus says unshakable joy grows when we FELLOWSHIP WITH OUR HEAVENLY FATHER.
We don’t really use the word “fellowship” anymore. An oversimplified definition of fellowship is the sharing of time between two friends. While we have to be careful not to see God as merely a friend, we must also realize He desires to be in a relationship with us. We know the type of relationship He desires with us because He calls us His children. We have to also be careful not to give God the characteristics of our earthy Father. Even if you had the best father in the world, he was human and fallible. We have to go to God’s Word to see how He describes Himself so we know what a perfect Father looks like. When we realize how loved we are, we realize what it means to be in fellowship with our Heavenly Father. When we do this, prayer becomes less about getting our agenda completed and more about spending time with our Father.
Verse 7-8: Jesus says fellowship with our Father is not an EQUATION. It is an ENCOUNTER.
Cross-references: Ecclesiastes 5:2-3, 1 Kings 18:26-29, Acts 19:34, Daniel 9:18-19
"Babble"- In Greek culture and in the worship of their pagan gods, they would recite phrases over and over in order to get the attention of their god. Doing this over a long time period was hoped to get the favor of this god and cause them to receive what they want.
In these verses, Jesus says our Heavenly Father already knows what we need. This changes how we pray. Prayer becomes less about informing God of our needs and more about sharing our hearts about these issues with Him. The focus becomes on relationships and less on the agenda. In prayer, many treat God like a Coke machine. We put in the change, selected our choice, and the Coke comes out. We think we pray the prayer with authority, tell God what we need, and get what we want. This becomes an issue when God doesn’t grant our request. We end up thinking we did something wrong or that God is not faithful. Prayer is not like that. The reality is God is able and will do all He has planned for us. The challenge is He often does things in ways we would not expect or count on. Therefore, we make our requests in prayer, but we also take time in prayer to realize God knows best. We ask Him to let His will be known to us.
Verse 9-13. Jesus says fellowship with our Father is a conversation that brings ALL OF GOD to us and ALL OF US to God.
Cross-references: Luke 11, Revelation 4:11, Romans 8:15, Ezekiel 36:23, Psalm 111:9, Hebrews 10:36, Matthew 12:50, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Romans 12:2, Proverbs 30:8, Psalm 34:10, Isaiah 33:16, Ephesians 4:32, Mark 11:25, Ephesians 1:7, 1 Corinthians 10:13, John 17:15, Revelation 19:1
Before moving any further, Jesus moves next to show us a guideline of prayer. The template He lays out is wildly useful and helpful. Here is an app that can help you move through this prayer as a template.
“Pray like this”- notice Jesus says “like” this. He is not saying you have to pray exactly this. The goal of this prayer was to teach us how to relate to God as Father and not as the Creator of the Universe. Therefore, the goal of this prayer was to give us a template for relational prayer.
The link above can give you a “how to” guide to move through this prayer template. With that taken care of, let’s talk below about the relational aspect of what we are saying when we pray this prayer.
Jesus says fellowship with our Father is…
May Your Name: “Father, You are worthy of worship.”
- In the Old Testament, every time God did something extraordinary, they would ascribe a new adjective to God’s character. They would say things like “God my Provider,” “God my Peace,” and “God my Deliverer.” This was their way of saying God has done great things, and it reminded them of this great moment. Keeping God’s name hallowed reminds us to reverence and celebrate Him. Jesus is saying to start with worship because worship reminds us of how good God has been to us in the past. This reminder also helps us see that if God has been good before, He won’t stop now.
May Your Kingdom/Will Be Done: “Father, you lead, and I'll follow."
- Announcing God’s Kingdom and His will to be dominant is a statement of trust and expectation. When we realize that everything we have belongs to God, we are saying we realize it is all His, and He runs the show. This takes all the pressure off us. We are able to realize God rules it all, and we are His stewards. So we step back into our life as managers of God’s good things. What a blessing today to say, “God, all this is Yours. Thank you for letting me steward Your good blessings. Today, I am going to follow Your lead.”
Give us today: “Father, I give you everything.”
- “Daily bread”- This phrase has been hard to define accurately because it is specific and non-specific at the same time. The idea is anything and everything that keeps life going.
- What should we pray about? Everything. If it matters to you, it matters to God. We bring all our weight, fear, concern, and everything in between to the Lord.
Forgive our sins: “Father, I joyfully give and receive forgiveness.”
- The joy is that we have an opportunity to remove anything and everything that can separate us from the presence of the Lord. What a joy we have to constantly keep all sin, broken places, and distractions out of our way.
- We have the joy of setting ourselves free from the pain given to us by others. What a joy it is to not be a victim of the broken places of others. Forgiveness is not a feeling. It is a choice. Sometimes the best choice is to “decide” to forgive even before we are offended.
Don’t let us, but rescue: “Father, I stand with confidence in your ability and victory.”
- We stand with confidence in God’s ability to lead us through every temptation. God doesn’t take us any way that He cannot also sustain us. The first verse in the book of James says we should actually count it all joy when we enter difficult seasons because it has so much value. Jesus is saying that we shouldn’t pray to stay out of difficult seasons but to pray we have the strength to sustain us during them.
- We stand with confidence in God’s victory that is given to us. When Jesus rose from the dead, He won the victory. Now He hands His victory for us. We don’t live for victory. We live from victory. We stand in what He has already done.
Verse 14-15. Jesus says fellowship with our Father is determined by us. We choose HOW CLOSE WE GET.
Cross-references: Colossians 3:13, James 2:13,
Jesus says that our closeness to God is determined by us. He wants to be close to us, but He does not force Himself on us. We get to choose it. Later in Matthew 18, Jesus doubles down on what it looks like when we refuse to take the forgiveness we have received to become the platform we stand on to give forgiveness to others.
When our journeys take us to Matthew 18, we will dive deeper into this principle. For today, be sure to know this does not have anything to do with our relationship with God. Salvation is based on the justification that is based on God's goodness, not by anything we can earn. However, the DOES have to do with our fellowship with Him.
21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
23 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. 24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. 25 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.
26 “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ 27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.
28 “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.
29 “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. 30 But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.
31 “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. 32 Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
35 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.” -Matthew 18:12-35
So, let us come close to God more and more.
Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. -James 4:8
Joy grows as I realize my Heavenly Father wants to FELLOWSHIP WITH ME.
Questions/Journal Prompts for Reflection
- How would you describe your current “prayer life?”
- Do you ever struggle to see God as your Heavenly Father? Explain.
- Have you ever thought of prayer as an “equation?” Why?
- Have you ever thought about how much forgiveness gets in the way of our relationship with God?