After all that has been spoken and written by godly men on prayer, we need something better that what is human to guide us, if we are to perform aright this essential duty. How ignorant and sinful creatures are to come before the most high God, how they are to pray acceptably to Him and obtain from Him what they need, can only be discovered as the great Hearer of prayer is pleased to reveal His will to us. This He has done—not only by opening up for the very chief sinners a new and living way of access into His ...
After all that has been spoken and written by godly men on prayer, we need something better that what is human to guide us, if we are to perform aright this essential duty. How ignorant and sinful creatures are to come before the most high God, how they are to pray acceptably to Him and obtain from Him what they need, can only be discovered as the great Hearer of prayer is pleased to reveal His will to us. This He has done—not only by opening up for the very chief sinners a new and living way of access into His immediate presence, and by appointing prayers the chief means of intercourse and blessing between Himself and His people, but by graciously supplying a perfect pattern after which their prayers are to be modeled. “The whole Word of God is of use to direct us in prayer, but the special rule of direction in prayer is that form of prayer which Christ taught His disciples, commonly called the Lord’s Prayer” (Shorter Catechism).
From earliest times it has been called “the Lord’s Prayer,” not because it is one that He Himself addressed to the Father, but as graciously furnished by Him to teach us both the manner and method of how to pray, and the matters for which to pray. It should therefore be highly esteemed by Christians, for Christ knew both their needs and the Father’s good will toward them, and so He has mercifully supplied us with a simple yet comprehensive directory. Every part or aspect of prayer is included therein. Adoration, in its opening clauses; thanksgiving in the conclusion. Confession is necessarily implied, for that which is asked for supposes our weakness or sinfulness. Petitions furnish the main substance, as in all praying—intercession is involved in the first three petitions, and more definitely expressed in the last four, by them being in the plural number—“give us,” etc.
This prayer is found twice in the New Testament, being given by Christ on two different occasions—a hint for preachers to reiterate that which is of fundamental importance. The variations are significant. The language of Matthew 6:9 intimates that this prayer is given to us for a model, yet the words of Luke 11:2 indicate it is to be used by us as a form. Like everything in Scripture, this prayer is perfect, in its order, construction, and wording. Its order is adoration, supplication, and argumentation. Its petitions are seven in number. It is virtually an epitome of the Psalms; a most excellent summary of all prayer. Every clause in it occurs in the Old Testament, denoting that our prayers must be Scriptural if they are to be acceptable. “If we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us” (1 John 5:14): but we cannot know His will if we are ignorant of His Word.
It has been alleged that this prayer was designed only for the temporary use of Christ’s first disciples, until such time as the new covenant was inaugurated. But both Matthew and Luke wrote their Gospels years after the Christian dispensation had commenced, and neither of them give any intimation that it had become obsolete and no longer of service to Christians. It is contended that this prayer is not suitable for believers now, inasmuch as the petitions contained in it are not offered in the name of Christ and that they contain no express reference to His atonement and intercession. But this is a serious misconception and mistake, for by parity of reason, none of the Old Testament prayers, none of the Psalms, could be used by us! But the prayers of Old Testament believers were presented to God “for His name’s sake,” and Christ was the angel of the covenant of whom it was said, “My name is in Him” (Exo. 23:21). The Lord’s Prayer is not only to be offered in reliance upon Christ’s mediation, but it is that which He specially directs and authorizes us to offer.