Matthew 6:5-15 Lawful Prayer.

Matthew 6:5-15 Lawful Prayer.

Just as hypocrites love to be seen doing charitable deeds (vv. 1-4), even so they also love to be seen praying – they not only are seen doing good, but they are seen as good. This, sadly, is their only reward (v. 5). Again, the true child of God prays to God in secret, and as with the doing of charitable deeds, the Lord promises to reward such a one openly (v. 6). Also, the mere repetition of the same incantations is not the secret, but a sincere heart (v. 7 Cf. I Jn. 3:21). Jesus states what should be obvious to anyone who understands what the Scriptures say about the Father – he knows the things we have need of, better than ourselves. Prayer is more about aligning our hearts with his, than his with ours (v. 8).

‘The Lord’s Prayer’, as it has come to be called, was not just another incantation, rather Jesus gave us a “manner” , a template or perspective as it were, for the main purpose of prayer. This prayer was a prayer for the child of God to keep his law, summarized in the ten commandments. When we pray ‘Our Father’ we are affirming the first commandment – “You shall have no other gods before Me” (v. 9a; Dt. 5:7), a declaration of his immanence. “In heaven,” is a declaration of his transcendence – “You shall not make for yourself a carved image” (v. 9b; Dt. 5:8-10). “Hallowed be Your name,” is a commitment to not take his name in vain (v. 9c; Dt. 5:11). “Your kingdom come,” is a commitment to the Sabbath rest of God (v. 10a; Dt. 5:12).

“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” finds its first and primary expression in one’s image bearing parents, symbolic of all those other lawful authorities on earth (v. 1b; Dt. 5:16). “Give us this day our daily bread,” is the contentment we are to have, which is the exact opposite of the ultimate expression of discontent – murder (v. 11; Dt. 5:17). “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” is a prayer that we would maintain our fidelity to our neighbour, expressed in that most significant area of expression – marital fidelity (v. 12; Dt. 5:18). “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one,” is a petition the opposite of which finds its ultimate expression in theft, after the pattern the ultimate thief, Satan (v. 13a; Dt. 5:19).

“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever” (v. 13b). This is a petition to bear true witness to our neighbour, of the Father, that it is his kingdom, power, and glory that transcend and rule over all others (Dt. 5:20). Finally, we conclude with the “Amen,” or “so be it.” This is simply a word for the ultimate contentment of the true child of God (Dt. 5:21). It is not an accident that Jesus returns to the matter of fidelity, or one’s integrity. Forgiveness must rule the day, for all men fall short of fidelity to God’s law, and sin or debt is lawlessness (I Jn. 3:4). Later in his first letter, the apostle John also affirmed this point of praying according to the Father’s will (3:21-22; 5:14).

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