Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”
So He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us day by day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.” (Luke 11:1-4)
This prayer, often titled “The Lord’s Prayer” in bibles and recited verbatim, is a model of prayer Jesus gave. This wasn’t Jesus telling us exactly what words to say and we know this because of what verse 1 reveals – it was after the disciples saw Jesus praying that they said, “Lord, teach us to pray…”. When a teacher teaches an academic concept, they give examples of using that concept. Here is no different. Jesus, in teaching the disciples to pray, gave in essence a model or outline of prayer as He taught them.
You’ve likely heard different, easy-to-remember acronyms, such as ACTS, which stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication, and these are modeled on this section of scripture and put into an easy to remember acronym. However, if we were to breakdown Jesus’ model of prayer into a not-so easy-to-remember but more detailed outline, it would look something like this:
- Reverence – remembering and acknowledging the Almighty God we are praying to.
- Submission – in remembering Who we’re praying to, we remember that His sovereign will is good and we submit to that in our requests.
- Supplication – for our daily needs and the needs of those we pray for.
- Forgiveness – not only forgiveness of our own sins, but also remembering that we need to have a heart of forgiveness to others. This is the concept of what Jesus said in Matthew 5, that if you bring your gift to the altar and remember that there’s an issue that needs reconciling, to go first and reconcile and then come back to offer your gift; as well as Jesus plainly saying, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him…” (Mark 11:25)
- Deliverance – although we know that God doesn’t tempt anyone (James 1:13), we do know that the Spirit does sometimes lead us to places where we may be tempted, such as He did with Jesus in the wilderness (Luke 4). The disciples didn’t have the added context that we do, but in Jesus’ high priestly prayer, He said, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:15) We echo Jesus’ prayer for us in not being led into temptation but to be delivered from the evil one, being spiritually protected by the hand of our Father.
This week, we’re going to dig in and focus on Submission and Forgiveness. Why? Because they tend to be the aspects that we struggle most with as Christians.
Think of a child who is told what they may or may not do, who then almost immediately defies their authoritative figure and does what they shouldn’t. It’s innate from birth that being born into a sinful state, submission isn’t a top priority or desire for us. So as new creations in Christ, we must fight the struggle of our flesh and submit ourselves unto the Lord.
Submission to God in our head is a no brainer – we know that He is perfect, good, knows all things, is all powerful, etc, yet it’s still a struggle sometimes in our hearts to fully relinquish control of everything to Him. Remember last week, when we read about Martha and how she went to Jesus and told Him how she thought He should handle things? Would you say she was submitted to Jesus’ will in that moment? Well, she didn’t know His will yet because she hadn’t asked, but sometimes in prayer we won’t know what God’s will is for specific things. And that’s where we need to have a heart that truly surrenders and can say, “Your will be done”.
And Jesus is no stranger to this specific aspect of prayer. Remember the night of His arrest, as He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray? Jesus prayed and asked the Father if He’d be willing to remove the cup from Him – the cup being His crucifixion and being a picture of Jesus being poured out as a cup offering according to the sacrifices laid out in the Law. And yet, immediately after that request He prayed: Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done (Luke 22:42) Jesus is not asking us, as His followers, to do anything He didn’t do Himself. If Jesus, as the perfect Son of God, submitted Himself to the Father’s will, should we not also?
Forgiveness is one of those topics that is usually very sensitive to most people. It’s far easier to receive forgiveness than to give it, and in part, forgiveness is impossible to give without God’s help. Because we live in such a broken, sinful world, the sins committed against each other can be downright brutal; yet we don’t find exclusions to the forgiveness we’re told to extend to others. For God, forgiveness is a part of His very nature – He is a loving and merciful God; and as Christians, forgiveness should also be in practice in our lives.
In this model of prayer, Jesus includes two practices of forgiveness – asking God for forgiveness and forgiving others, and the model of prayer presumes our forgiveness of others has already been dealt with as we’re coming to the Lord and praying for His forgiveness of our own sins.
“The thing about forgiveness is, it’s not like a light switch, it’s more like a journey” (to quote my pastor, Daniel Reagan). In our journey through life, we are in the process of sanctification, which is a lifelong process, so to think that any aspect of it has to be instantaneous is flawed. Only God can instantly forgive someone and truly have done it without having any qualms surrounding it later. So although we’re currently being sanctified, we’re not perfect until we’re in heaven with Him, so we can’t expect to be able to instantly forgive and never have issues or feel like there’s still unforgiveness lingering.
Might some transgressions take a lifetime to completely forgive, coming about when the Author and Finisher of our faith has completed us in Himself in the end? Maybe. Does that mean you’re not forgiving? No, it means you’re not perfect and while your spirit longs to forgive like Jesus, your flesh is weak and battles against your spirit. If your heart is to forgive and you’re moving down that road, you’re moving in the right direction and therefore in the process of forgiving.
With forgiveness of our sins against God, the Bible tells us that God doesn’t “remember” our sins. This doesn’t mean He doesn’t actually have any memory of it. The word for remember indicates taking action over. So when it says God doesn’t remember, it means He won’t be taking action against us for our sins – because Jesus already paid for them. Likewise, we shouldn’t take vengeful action towards our transgressors, because the Bible says, Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19) – we need to release them to the one who paid for our and their sins and forgive them.
I pray that as you spend time in prayer with God, that you’d use Jesus’ model of prayer, approaching the Father with reverence, being fully submitted to His will as you make your requests known to Him, having a forgiving heart towards others as you seek the forgiveness for your own sins and the deliverance from the evil one.