Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua
In this post, we continue with our study of the Sermon on the Mount by learning more about how Yeshua taught us to pray. We have been sitting at His feet for some time now as we learn directly from Him what it means to be true talmidim and how we should pray.
We have already learned that Yeshua tells us not to be a hypocrite when we pray; that we should pray in our secret place; and, that we should not babble on and on with endless words in our prayers.
Recently, a priest, a minister and a rabbi sat discussing the best posture for prayer while a telephone line worker made repairs nearby.
“Lying prostrate on the ground is definitely the best way to pray,” the priest said.
“No,” said the minister. “I get the best results kneeling with my hands outstretched to Heaven.”
“You’re both wrong,” the Rabbi said. “The most effective prayer position is standing in the synagogue facing Jerusalem.”
The line worker couldn’t help but interject. “Hey, fellas,” he interrupted, “The best prayin’ I ever did was when I was hangin’ upside down from a telephone pole.”
Luke records that Yeshua’s talmidim asked Him to teach them how to pray. “One time Yeshua was in a certain place praying. As He finished, one of the talmidim said to Him, ‘Sir, teach us to pray, just as Yochanan taught his talmidim’” ~ Luke 11:1. Matthew records that Yeshua responded to this request by saying: “You, therefore, pray like this: Our Father in Heaven! May your Name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven. Give us the food we need today. Forgive us what we have done wrong, as we too have forgiven those who have wronged us. And do not lead us into hard testing, but keep us safe from the Evil One. (For kingship, power and glory are yours forever. Amen.) For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will not forgive yours” (Matthew 6:9-15).
This prayer is best known as “The Lord’s Prayer,” but “The Talmidim’ Prayer” would be a more accurate title. Yeshua did not give this prayer to us to be memorized and recited a given number of times. In fact, He gave this prayer to keep us from using vain repetitions that He warned about in verse 7.
Yeshua did not say, “Pray in these words.” He said, “Pray like this”; that is, “Use this prayer as a pattern for how you should pray, not as a substitute.” Before we begin to look at the Disciple’s Prayer in detail, I want to make a few general observations.
First of all, this is a prayer that Yeshua taught his talmidim to pray. Both Matthew and Luke are clear about that. Matthew sets the whole Sermon on the Mount in the context of the talmidim (Matthew 5:1); and Luke tells us that Yeshua taught this prayer in response to the request of one of his talmidim (Luke 11:1).
The Disciple’s Prayer is a prayer that only a true talmid can pray; it is a prayer that only one who is committed to Yeshua can take upon his lips with any meaning. To put it in another way, the Disciple’s Prayer can only really be prayed when the person who prays it knows what he or she is saying, and they can’t know that until they have entered into discipleship.
We should note the order of the petitions in the Disciple’s Prayer. The first three petitions have to do with God and His Glory; the second three petitions have to do with our needs and our necessities. In other words, God is first given his supreme place, and then, and only then, we turn to ourselves and our needs and desires. It is only when God is given his proper place that all other things fall into their proper place. Prayer must never be an attempt to bend the will of God to our desires; prayer should always be an attempt to submit our wills to the will of God.
The second part of the prayer, which deals with our needs and our necessities, is a marvelous unity. It deals with our three essential needs, and the three spheres of time within which we exist. First, it asks for bread, for that which is necessary for the maintenance of life, and thereby brings the needs of the present to the throne of God. Secondly, it asks for forgiveness and thereby brings the past into the presence of God. Finally, it asks for help in times of testing and thereby commits all the future into the hands of God. In these three brief petitions, we are taught to lay the present, the past, and the future before the footstool of the grace of God.
But not only is this a prayer which brings the whole of life to the presence of God; it is also a prayer which brings the whole of God to our lives. When we ask for bread to sustain our earthly lives, that request immediately directs our thoughts to God the Father, the Creator and the Sustainer of all life. When we ask for forgiveness, that request immediately directs our thoughts to God the Son, Yeshua our Savior and Redeemer. When we ask for help for future times of testing, that request immediately directs our thoughts to God the Ruach HaKodesh, the Comforter, the Strengthener, the Illuminator, the Guide and the Guardian of our way.
In the most amazing way this brief second part of the Disciple’s Prayer takes the present, the past, and the future, the whole of man’s life, and presents them to God the Father, God the Son and God the Ruach HaKodesh – to God in all His fullness.
In the Disciple’s Prayer, Yeshua teaches us to bring the whole of life to the whole of God, and to bring the whole of God to the whole of life.
In my next post, we will begin to take a closer look at what He has taught us in this model prayer phrase by phrase.