Jesus prayed such prayers. Some were brief exclamations as he confronted difficult situations (John 11:40-41) or was blessed by something that happened (Luke 10:21). Other times, he could pray all night (Luke 6:12) or pray for hours on end (Mark 14:32-42). Jesus' closest followers all knew of his prayer life — something he did regularly, early in the morning before daylight broke (Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16). His prayer time and place were so predictable that Judas could use this daily discipline to find the Lord in the Mount of Olives to betray him (Luke 22:39).
When Jesus wanted to teach his closest followers to pray, he shared the heart of prayer. It was prayer tuned to the Jesus vibe:
"Our Father in heaven,Hallowed be your name,
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 lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one." (Matthew 6:9-13)
Jesus makes clear two of his concerns for prayer as he teaches his closest followers to pray. First, he wants us to know that prayer is about our relationship with our Father, not about impressing other people with our piety (Matthew 6:5-6). Second, the Lord wants us to realize that prayer is about God's grace, not about the potency or number of our words (Matthew 6:7-8).
Yet as Jesus shares this simple example of prayer, a third and crucial point about prayer is revealed. Jesus wants our prayer life to be tuned to The Jesus Vibe. He wants us to tune our prayer life around the two great commands:
One of them, an expert in the law, tested him [Jesus] with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?""'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment."And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:35-40)
When seen in this way, Jesus' teaching on prayer suddenly takes on a powerful new light. We approach God as our Father (see verses 6, 8, 9, 14, 15) with two sets of concerns:
|Loving God Focus||Loving Neighbor Focus|
|Your name held in reverenceYour will be doneYour Kingdom come||Give us our daily foodForgive us our sinsDeliver us from temptation|
The prayer is even framed with these two key concerns. Jesus' words preceding his model prayer are focused on pleasing God (Matthew 6:5-8) and his words at the end of his model prayer are a reminder of our need to bless others (Matthew 6:14-15).
Jesus' concern — his holy passion — was to help his followers know what is most important — what is central, what is core — to living a life that honors God. No matter how we express it, The Jesus Vibe is about honoring God and blessing others. It is about reflecting the holy character and undying compassion of our Father in heaven. It is about living a God-touched life of holiness that connects and touches those around us with our Father's grace.
Jesus didn't just teach these two truths, he demonstrated them. More than just teaching and demonstrating these truths to us, Jesus gave us prayer to draw us back to the heart of God's will for us.Prayer becomes a tuning fork that helps us sing the song of God's magnificence with both holy praise and worldly concern.
Prayer reminds us that God's indescribable holiness and our messy and mundane world are not divorced, but are the concert halls where the Jesus Vibe must be heard.
Maybe most important of all for our individualistic and isolated age, prayer is also a reminder that our faith is about a personal connection to our holy God as Father and a necessary and vital connection to others around us as we share this faith together in community and before a watching world.
What role does prayer play in your life — is it a daily thing, a weekly thing, or random thing?
What do you wish you knew more about prayer?
Why do you think Jesus stressed simplicity in our prayer life?
I'd love to hear from you on my blog about these matters as we share our insights together or you can respond by email: