“And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” Jesus answered them in the words of the Lord’s prayer.
He gave it as an illustration of what our prayers should be,—simple, earnest, and comprehensive.
The word “our” expresses a sense of human brotherhood; “father,” that of childlike trust.
In ancient times there was usually associated with the name “father” all the affection and tenderness now centered in the word “mother.” Affection and strength were combined; the exalted and stronger served the weaker.
When we say, “Our Father,” we worship God in truth. When we say, “Who art in heaven,” we worship him in spirit. This petition carries the suppliant away from earth and human beings, to One who is unerring in judgment, compassionate, merciful, pure, and holy.
Thus we give expression to our reverence for the divine nature. All true prayer will first recognize the presence of God, whose eye is open to all that his creatures do. The supplicant’s first work is to honor God by giving expression to his reverence.
In heaven the will of God is perfectly carried out. Love to God makes his service a joy.
On earth there are rebellion and variance. The disobedient and rebellious can not understandingly repeat the Lord’s prayer. Their will has never been submitted to discipline; and until they are brought into conformity to the will of God, they can not intelligently pray that his will may be done in earth as it is in heaven.
It should be the prayer of every true follower of Christ that God will subordinate everything in this world to his will.
Our temporal necessities are also to be the subject of our petitions.
We are to call upon God for the very bread we eat. But we are not to ask God for food, and then sit idly down, and do nothing. In order to supply our wants, our Heavenly Father puts work into our hands, that we may co-operate with him in answering our prayers.
We can not repeat this prayer from the heart, and dare be unforgiving; for we ask the Lord to forgive our trespasses against him as we forgive those who trespass against us. Very few realize the true import of this prayer. If those who are unforgiving comprehended the depth of its meaning, they would not dare repeat it, and ask God to deal with them as they deal with their fellow mortals.
Strength of character consists of two things—power of will and power of self-control. Many youth mistake strong, uncontrolled passion for strength of character; but the truth is that he who is mastered by his passions is a weak man.
The real greatness and nobility of the man are measured by the power of the feelings that he subdues, not by the power of the feelings that subdue him. The strongest man is he who, while sensitive to abuse, will yet restrain passion, and forgive his enemies. Such men are true heroes.
God sometimes allows Satan to tempt his children, that he may prove them. If they rely on their own strength, they will fail under the trial; but while they realize their inability to help themselves, and trust wholly in God, he will provide a way of escape for them.
There are times when it is necessary for men to be exposed to dangers, and be placed amid corrupting influences, but a sense of their dependence on God will lead them to keep their hearts uplifted in prayer every hour for strength to resist and grace to overcome. The experience gained in these conflicts will fortify the soul to pass unscathed through more trying scenes.
Christ prayed to his Father in behalf of his followers: “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”
Sin and pollution abound on every hand; and daily, hourly, the prayer should go forth from hearts that realize the dangers, “Deliver us from evil.” The Christian who offers this prayer, realizing his weakness, makes the temptation of the enemy powerless.
“Men ought always to pray, and not to faint,” Christ said. To every child of God the words of inspiration are spoken: “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.” “The end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.”
— The Youth's Instructor, December 7, 1899