There are a number of things that we are instructed on concerning prayer by the savior Jesus/Yeshua. We were taught by Jesus, that prayer is something that is between every believer and God. It is an intimate connection with the creator of the heavens and earth. The word prayer in the New Testament comes from the Greek word transliterated “proseuchomai,” meaning 4336 proseúxomai (from 4314 /prós, “towards, exchange” and 2172/euxomai, “to wish, pray”) – properly, to exchange wishes;pray – literally, to interact with the Lord by switching human wishes(ideas) for His wishes as He imparts faith (“divine persuasion”). Accordingly, praying (4336/proseuxomai) is closely inter-connected with 4102 /pístis (“faith”) in the NT. This is something that involves interaction with the Lord. An exchange of wishes. In other words, prayer is not a time for just talking to our Father in heaven, but it is also a time when He speaks back to us with His wishes and we conform to them. We exchange our desires for His. He moves our hearts and imparts His wishes on us, through prayer. He tells us what to do, how to act, how to handle specific situations, all because under the New Covenant he dwells in us, walks with us, and talks with us again. This is very different from today’s perception of prayer, being understood as a one way interaction from us to Him. Some Christians even treat prayer as a time to rattle off their wishes and desires to the Lord in list form. Ask yourself, “Is my prayer life an ‘exchange’ between the Father and me, or is it a one way dialogue?” Many learn habits about prayer in their churches, where ministers pray in the pulpits and at the gatherings, in many cases using the same repetitions and requests over and over again. The Christian brethren see this, and mimic the behavior in their own prayer life. Then comes the questions from the brethren- “Why won’t God answer my prayers?” The Creator is treated like a “Santa Claus” so to speak. Religious leaders have made the same mistakes as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. Let’s take a look at what Jesus had to say about this topic of prayer:
“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” ~ Matthew 6:5-8
The word in this text “Hypocrites” comes from the Greek word transliterated “hupokrites” meaning- 5273 hypokritḗs (a masculine noun derived from 5259 /hypó, “under” and 2919 /krínō, “judge”) – properly, a judging under, like a performer acting under a mask (i.e. a theater-actor); (figuratively) a two-faced person; a “hypocrite,” whose profession does not match their practice – i.e. someone who “says one thing but does another.” A hypocrite is nothing more than an actor who acts a certain way in one situation, but practices something completely different in daily life. Jesus refers to these men who love to pray standing in the synagogues (a building where the Jews would assemble) or on the street corners to be seen by men, as hypocrites. He says they use vain repetitions thinking they will be heard by using their many words. You might concede as I do that this sounds like many religious leaders of today. Then Jesus instructs us, the children of God, not to do what they do- but rather enter into a “tameion” in the Greek, meaning a secret chamber, and close the door and pray to the father which is also in secret. According to Christ, true prayer wasn’t intended to be a public event. It was intended to be an intimate two-way interaction between the Father and us in private, done in secret. We are advised not to advertise our prayer life, but rather walk it out IN SECRET before the Father. He continues to tell us that we don’t need to say much in our prayer to the Father, because He is the Creator- he already knows what we need! THERE ISN’T ANYTHING THAT WE CAN TELL THE FATHER THAT HE DOESN’T ALREADY KNOW. Prayer isn’t about us talking to the Father, as much as it is listening to what the Father has to say to our Spirit and heart. Then, Yeshua goes on to tell us how we should pray, in a very simple way. We’ll break it up into sections to discuss the original translation:
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” ~ Matthew 6:9-10
This first part of the prayer, addresses our Father, where he is, and who he is. We acknowledge that He is “in the heavens” according to the original Greek, and we acknowledge that his name is holy. The word “hallowed”, comes from the Greek word “hagiazo” meaning “I make holy, treat as holy, set apart as holy, sanctify, hallow and purify.” When we speak to the Father, we speak to him with more respect than anything else, or anyone else in existence. The Father is our Creator and King! The word “Kingdom” here comes from the Greek word “basileia,” meaning “kingship, sovereignty, authority, rule, especially of God both in the world, and in the hearts of men.” In opening our prayer, we acknowledge that the Father is the ruler of all things, including the hearts of men. We acknowledge that his Kingdom encompasses everything in heaven and earth, and we ask for his will (wishes and desires) to be done (or ‘born’ in the Greek) in all the earth. It takes humility to be able to address anyone in this manner, as we completely surrender our own will to Him as our Lord and Master. Continuing on:
“Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” ~ Matthew 6:11-12
This portion of the prayer addresses two things- our daily need, and sin. Notice Jesus doesn’t mention in this section our housing, retirement, vacation funds, cars, jobs, investments, schooling, etc. He mentions our “daily bread” or “daily food” in the Greek. Notice He doesn’t say weekly food, or monthly food. This echoes the teaching of Jesus later on in the chapter, that we need not worry about tomorrow, but rather just focus on today:
“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” ~ Matthew 6:31-34
American false teachers insist “times have changed” and that this text can’t possibly be asking us not to worry about tomorrow, yet Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Many American pastors and religious leaders encourage the brethren to pray to God for all kinds of worldly wants- retirement, finances, business, jobs, schooling, etc. These are all things that the “Gentiles seek” according to Christ. Are you a worldly Gentile, or are you a child of the living God? If you are a child of God, “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Don’t be fooled by the never ending covetousness (wanting what your neighbor has for yourself) of America today. The next portion of the Lord’s prayer concerning sin, involves us seeking forgiveness from the Father, as we freely forgive the sins of those that have sinned against us. Sin as we know, is the most central problem of Creation in the Bible, and still is a problem yet today. It is vital that we not only seek forgiveness for the sins we may have committed (unintentionally due to temptation), and also that we forgive those that have sinned against us. We know from scripture that the Father will only forgive our sin, if we forgive the sins of those that sin against us. Holding a grudge, is like drinking your own poison. It will result in death. Continuing on:
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” ~ Matthew 6:13
This final portion of the prayer is a plea with the Father not to lead us into a temptation, or a “test” in the Greek. Of course we want to avoid situations where there is testing and temptation. We also ask for deliverance and the ability to overcome any evil that we are exposed to. Finally, again we address the greatness of our Father who possesses all authority, kingship, sovereignty, rule, power, and glory for ALL OF THE AGES- forever and ever. This is such a short prayer, one can say it in 30 seconds. The precepts of this prayer include us showing respect and reverence for our Creator, acknowledging His holiness, authority, rule, kingship over heaven and earth etc., a request for our DAILY provisions and needs, a request for forgiveness of our sins, presenting our forgiveness for the sins of others, and requesting deliverance from temptation, testing and evil. That’s it. This is how we are taught to pray by the Savior himself behind closed doors in secret. We pray this prayer, and wait for God to speak to our heart and our situation. We wait for Him to make His desires known to us in this prayer time. We can find many examples of the patriarchs while in prayer time receiving revelations, prophecy, words from God, guidance, wisdom, and understanding. Nothing has changed, and those that truly pray and listen to the Father through the Holy Spirit will hear His instructions clearly. The purpose of this special prayer is to prepare our hearts (through belief, voluntary humility, and our own forgiveness of others) to receive what God wants us to receive. He wants us to know His desires. When I pray, sometimes I speak to God as if I’m having a conversation. I ask him what he thinks about this or that, and what should I do. He speaks to any situation, yet we have to be prepared to listen to, and hear His desires. PRAYER IS HOW WE CULTIVATE A RELATIONSHIP WITH BOTH THE FATHER AND THE SON.
We encourage you to start a true prayer life if you haven’t already. It doesn’t matter what you say or how many words you use. Follow this example Christ provided for us, pray, and wait on God to speak to your heart. If your prayers “aren’t answered”, you may want to examine your prayers and compare them with this simple example that Christ gave. Usually complaints of unanswered prayers have to do with long lists of worldly wants that aren’t received. You are not of this world- seek heavenly things and you will never have this complaint. Avoid public prayer situations, and if you are asked to pray for food in a group- keep it short, thankful and simple (Just say thank you to God). The danger in public prayer is that it can definitely be less genuine, wordy, and focused on pleasing the men who hear the prayer, rather than interacting with God. It can puff men up, and can lead to hypocrisy. It is better to never be known or admired by men, than it is to receive admiration and become a hypocrite. We encourage you to start a prayer life, and to begin receiving the instructions and desires of the Father today!!!