During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave His disciples an example of a good prayer. “After this manner therefore pray ye,” He said:
Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.
Amen (Matthew 6:9-13).
As I’ve pondered this prayer today, I’ve had the following observations:
- It is unselfish. After addressing the Father, the speaker expresses three desires on God’s behalf—that His name may be hallowed, that His kingdom may come, and that His will may be done. Only then does the speaker ask for blessings on his or her own behalf, and on behalf of other people—sustenance, forgiveness, and resistance to temptation. After making these requests, the speaker returns immediately to the big picture, acknowledging God’s glory. the Bible Dictionary says, “Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other.” The purpose of prayer isn’t merely to make a list of requests. More importantly, it is to help us align our thoughts and our desires with His.
- It is judicious. The speaker does not ask for monthly or yearly bread, but for the bread he or she needs today. When the speaker asks for forgiveness, he or she acknowledges that such forgiveness is dependent on their willingness to forgive others. The person offering the prayer is cognizant of the sacred privilege of approaching God and is thoughtful about the petitions he or she chooses to make.
- It is humble. The speaker acknowledges three things:
- They are dependent on God. As King Benjamin said, God preserves us from day to day by lending us breath (Mosiah 2:21). Hence, it is appropriate for us to ask God to provide the things we need to survive and be healthy, physically and spiritually.
- They have made mistakes. By asking forgiveness, the speaker acknowledges that they have sinned. They have fallen short. They need God’s healing power to overcome the negative effects of those errors.
- They are vulnerable to temptation. By requesting assistance in overcoming temptation, they recognize their weaknesses and their vulnerability. Not only have they sinned in the past, but they will be tempted to sin in the future. God can not only heal their past mistakes but can also help them avoid the pain associated with sin.
Today, I will strive to follow the Savior’s admonition to pray “after this manner.” As I approach God in prayer, I will strive to align my will with His, to make thoughtful and appropriate requests, and to be humble.