How To Pray — Manners and Attitudes — Matt. 6
Christ taught them “[how] to pray.” He taught the proper attitudes with which to come to God, the Father in prayer. This passage contains many examples of the Imperative of Entreaty whose function is to bring more attention to the agreement of the one speaking with what is being said than to bring question to the ability/willingness of the one being petitioned, particularly when addressing God. It is not formalism (as if to flatter the superior) but rather a statement of alliance and faithful agreement with the plans/person of superiority by the petitioner.
“Our Father”: The Attitude of Trust in one who is sympathetic and accessible. (Foreign to the Jew, separated by a levitical system).
“In Heaven”: The Realization/attitude of reverence that we creatures dwell on lowly earth, while He (Creator) dwells in supreme Heaven–a place of His limitless authority and power, outside/above time constraint.
“Hallowed be thy Name”: The Proper Attitude that prayer (in the asking and receiving) are for the purpose that HIS name/reputation be glorified or seen as unique above all others.
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven.”: the attitude of submission:
- “Let Thy Kingdom Come,” and “Let Thy Will Be Done” share the same adverbial phrase, “as [they are] in heaven [so] also upon earth.” One could, therefore, translate as “let thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven; let thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The point being, whereas in the garden mankind assented to the rulership of satan on earth, Christ teaches His disciples to maintain a certain attitude in prayer — a faith-filled assent to the coming rulership of God on earth. This results in hope. That is the proper attitude of the believer, to faithfully await His kingdom –especially the believing Jew.
- Just as “Let thy kingdom come as it is in heaven so also upon earth” expresses an attitude of submission to a coming physical kingdom; …so “Let thy will be done as it is in heaven so also upon earth” expresses a submission to God’s will above one’s own will and the collective human will. There is no implication within the phrase that God may not get His will done on earth and is seeking Intercessors. Intercession is a valid biblical doctrine and practice on its own, but it is not to be proofed by this context or taken beyond its biblical designation by a misapplication of this passage.
- Neither is the question of “how much responsibility do humans bear concerning God’s will being accomplished on earth” within the contextual license of proper interpretation for this passage. But rather, the prayer by Christ is instruction to the petitioner to have the attitude of “God’s rule & will is what I want…not my own and definitely not the will of collective fallen humanity.” Christ’s point is God wants believers to pray in such a way that they express an acknowledgement of GOD’s will as more important than their own will…It is an expression of the attitude of submission. This is the proper interpretation based on contextual analysis and the discipline of biblical theology.
“Give us this day our daily bread”: the Attitude of dependence for the physical needs, only enough for today, because it is all we have anyway.
“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”: the attitude of forgiveness; the attitude of dependence for past/present spiritual needs (reconciling past sin) — a complete clearing of spiritual debt just as an accountant wipes out every digit owed when performing debt forgiveness. This is how God forgives. We must remember that when coming to Him as well as when faced with the need to forgive others.
“Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil”: the attitude of dependence for future spiritual needs (avoidance of future traps/adversaries — lit. “Lead us into [the realm of] “not temptation” [when in temptation], but deliver us from the evil one.”)
“For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever”: the Attitude of worship and adoration and praise, recognizing it all is about God completely. “It’s all about God.”