Lessons from the Mountainside: 20

What a good, good shepherd we have in Jesus. Not only did he help the people and us realize that our prayers don’t need to be showy like the hypocrites, but he taught us how to pray. Just as he did with everything else during those three years of discipleship, Jesus demonstrated what he expected his followers to do.

That’s why he said:

Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Matthew 6:9-13 CSB

No long words, haughtiness, or pride here. No, this prayer is a prayer for every person. This is the kind of prayer God hears and accepts. Jesus set the standard, breaking down commonly held beliefs on what prayer should be.

Our prayers should honor God first.

Lift up the name of God before we go any further with requests or needs. We need to simply acknowledge God for who he is.

Our prayers should seek his kingdom and will first and foremost.

May we always be forward-looking people as we come before the throne of Grace. The goal of all our prayers is for God’s kingdom to expand and fill the earth; for his will to be done, not ours.

Our prayers should acknowledge God as the source of our daily needs.

We may look forward to his kingdom to come, but in the meantime, all we need is what he provides us for the day at hand.

Our prayers should include a desire for his forgiveness and help in forgiving others.

Paul caught this one when he said, “Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8). This is why every prayer should include a request for forgiveness. Keeping our slate clean with God includes keeping our slate clean with our brother or sister.

Our prayers should show our reliance on God alone for the strength we need to stand against temptation.

Jesus knew that when his followers let their guards down in regard to evil, the devil would be right on their heels. Keeping this in our prayers is a reminder that we’re fighting an ongoing spiritual battle.

Then Jesus added:

For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your offenses.

Matthew 6:14-15

As simple as this prayer was, our Good Shepherd knew his sheep were slow to catch on. Some of them probably didn’t hear that last statement about being delivered from the evil one, because they were too caught up with the idea of having to forgive their brother who hurt them. Yep, when our feelings are hurt or when someone does us wrong, forgiveness is tough.

Jesus knows what’s hard for us, so that’s why he wants to show us the consequences of an unforgiving spirit.

If you forgive, God forgives, but if you harbor unforgiveness toward your brother or sister, then God can’t forgive what you’re not willing to give over to him as sin.

Unforgiveness is sin.

Sounds simple, but harder to apply. Still, he knows, he helps us, and he shows the way. Hanging on the cross he said,

Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.

Luke 23:34 CSB

Jesus prayed as we should pray—simply, directly to a loving, forgiving Father.

How’s your prayer life? It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it might be hard. Thankfully, we have his Spirit who helps us today, just as Jesus did on that mountainside, so long ago. He helps us, Jesus helps us, to pray by his…

Grace and Peace

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