“Lord, teach us to pray…” ~ Luke 11:1
John Calvin on the Lord’s Prayer
The “Lord’s Prayer” is found in Matthew 6:5-14 and Luke 11:1-12. It was given to Jesus’ disciples when they asked him how they should pray. The prayer is not a magical incantation that works by being repeated often, but rather it is an outline of what we should pray The prayer is not a magical incantation that will yield results if we repeat it often, but rather it is an outline of what we should pray whenever we pray. Every time we pray, we should strive to pray each of these petitions in a way that is relevant to others and ourselves. In his Institutes 3.20, John Calvin explained that the Lord’s Prayer consists of the following six petitions:
*) Our Father Which Art In Heaven
This is the preface, not a petition. We are unable to pray to the father apart from Jesus’ name.
1) Hallowed Be Thy Name
“Hallowed” means that we would treat God’s name as Holy, not that God would treat His own name as Holy.
2) Thy Kingdom Come
This petition is for the gospel to advance through the church, in the world and in many other ways.
3) Thy Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven
Heaven is where God reign is perfect and complete, and this petition is that the Holy Spirit would make all things on Earth to experience that same reign of God.
4) Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
This includes literal bread as well as spiritual bread. Remember that Jesus said that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
5) Forgive Its Our Debts As We Have Forgiven Others
Remember, it’s the Cross, not our forgiveness that covers sins: Ps 19:12. The word “debts” is synonymous with “sins” and the idea that when we sin, it is against God and it is akin to a debt.
6) Lead Us Not Into Temptation and Deliver Us From Evil
Calvin believed this was one petition, rather than two, and it is common for Jesus to make doublet statements like this one. Temptation is not a sin in itself, but giving into temptation is when we fall into evil.
Martin Luther’s Simple Way to Pray:
Once upon a time, Martin Luther’s barber asked him how to pray. Luther wrote him a short essay called “A Simple Way To Pray.” Luther’s method was for his barber to pray each of the petitions in a way that was relevant to the praying individual. Like Calvin, Luther also divided up the Lord’s Prayer into petitions and explained them in his Shorter Catechism’s section on the Lord’s Prayer.
An example “Simple Way To Pray” based on the Lord’s Prayer:
* Preface: “Father in Heaven,
- I pray that people in Seattle would turn from sin and fear the name of Christ Jesus
- I pray that Mars Hill would expand and many who are lost would be born again, than we would plant churches and make disciples.
- I pray that people in my city would repent of sin, and that they would love God.
- Father, provide for those in Mars Hill who do not have jobs and so and so who needs a job in our CG.
- Forgive us for the way I treated my wife or grumbled against the church or didn’t pray
- Change our hearts so that we would love reading the bible and prayer and protect us from cheating others at work.
* In Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.”
There are many wonderful resources on prayer at the Resurgence: http://theresurgence.com/categories/prayer
Deacon Wyatt Houtz is a Community Group Leader, Coach and Elder Candidate at Mars Hill Bellevue
Related: A Simple Way To Pray The Lord's Prayer