Question on the Model Prayer

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Pastor_Bob, Nov 6, 2013.

  1. Pastor_Bob

    Pastor_Bob
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    Matthew 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. (KJV)
    Luke 11:2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. (KJV)

    Although I am not dogmatic on the issue, my personal opinion is that these two passages represent two different events. Matthew records Jesus giving the model prayer as a part of His Sermon on the Mount. Luke records Jesus giving the model prayer at the conclusion of His prayer time at His disciples request to "teach us to pray."

    In Matthew, Jesus commands the crowd, "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking." (6:7) Then, He goes on to instruct the crowd, "After this manner therefore pray ye..."

    In Luke, Jesus instructs His disciples, "When ye pray, say..." which seems to be in direct violation to His command not to use "vain repetitions."

    I fully recognize that it is quite possible to sincerely pray a repeated prayer even using the same words (Jesus Himself did this in the Garden of Gethsemane). It all has to do with the attitude of one's heart. I believe there is a big difference between "saying a prayer" and "praying a prayer." So, Luke's account gives me a reason to pause and think about what Jesus might have been saying to His disciples.

    I realize that I did not ask a specific question, but I was hoping for some discussion on the issue for my own personal insight.
     
  2. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    I believe you are aware the word in Luke 11:2 is lego which means to speak, to say, or to teach, exhort, advise, command, etc. The word doesn't always mean "repeat after me" as your question would imply, but speaks in general of a methodology, on several occasions. It can be stated unequivocally that Jesus is not saying in Luke 11:2 to "repeat after Me" but is saying to pray "in a similar manner."
     
  3. Pastor_Bob

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    How many of us know people, possibly even ourselves, that pray/say the same prayer before we eat? When my children were still at home, I could almost quote their dinnertime prayer along with them - "Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this day. Thank you for this food. Please use it for the nourishment of our bodies. In Jesus' name, Amen."

    How many, when called on to lead in prayer to open or close a service, say the same things? When called on to pray before the offering? When called on to pray in Sunday school class?

    Would these prayers be considered "vain repetitions" or, is Jesus allowing for such praying by His example in the model prayer?
     
  4. agedman

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    Pastor Bob this can become a wonderful thread!

    IMO, the prayer is a "form" to guide.

    Now, I'm not going to break down the whole prayer, but give just a glimpse of how "The Lord's Prayer" can be used to guide our own.
    1) The opening statements of praise and honor, and plea - hope for the soon return with the reason why.

    2) An expression of gratitude for blessings, and understanding that forgiveness extended by God must also be extended by the believer.

    3) A plea for daily guidance followed by the reaffirmation of who is in actual control and deserves all praise.
    Often, the "Lord's Prayer" is repeated thoughtlessly, and ad nauseum with (or as) a meaningless expression chant. God is about as near as the heart of that person is as far.

    Rather, try praying (without having the song going around in your head) the prayer like one might extend or pull taffy.

    "Our Father in heaven, surrounded by praise of holy, holy, holy being echoed by all who dare look upon your thrown, we too lift our prayer in awe and adoration. Father, we long for your will to be done here in this sin abundant world, just as it is now being done in heaven..."

    By focusing upon what each phrase of the prayer means to the believer, personally, and how that prayer is to be from the heart of the believer, personally, the believer will not only enhance their own understanding by pondering on the wonders and goodness of God, but truly use the prayer in the way the Lord Jesus Christ intended - as an example of meditation and expressions of and to our heavenly Father.
     
  5. agedman

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    You are so very correct!

    My preacher grandfather purposely prayed extremely short prayers.

    When the assembly was gathered in fellowship and he was asked to "bless the food," he might say, "Father. The food? Amen."

    I remember my mom saying that one time someone asked him to pray about a matter, and after he had listened to them and the details, he bowed his head, said, "Amen" and that was the prayer.

    When questioned. He said, "The Lord heard it all, too, and knows the thoughts and intents of the heart more than I."

    I never asked, but I wondered if he didn't do this to keep the focus of the assembly on what was important, prayer from the heart and not words of grandiose intellect.
     
  6. InTheLight

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    At the church I used to attend until this summer I can still recite the offertory prayer. Same thing with the closing prayer. I don't know if it rises to "vain repetition" but it sure indicates that the person praying is on auto-pilot.

    I think the Lord's Prayer was an outline of the items we should pray for but we need to personalize it to fit our own circumstances. Thus, "give us this day our daily bread" becomes, "Lord, I know all things come from you and I want to thank you for the good food that you provide for me and my family"; "forgive us our trespasses.." would be personalized to be something like, "Lord, forgive me for coveting my neighbor's BMW, forgive me for the white lie I told on the job", etc.

    I don't think Jesus gives us license to give rote prayers.
     
  7. Pastor_Bob

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    That is an excellent analogy. I've often referred to such praying as "jukebox" (for those old enough to remember what a jukebox is) praying. When it is time to eat, we push the button for our mealtime prayer. When it is time to pray with the children before bed, we push the button for our bedtime prayer. It is the same for praying before the offering, etc.

    I don't know who said it, but I certainly agree that "much heart without words is far better than much words without heart."

    Let me be quick to reiterate that I do not believe it is always wrong to say the same words when we pray. For example, in praying for a lost loved one, you pretty much have to pray the same prayer each time. In praying for a specific need, the same words will often be repeated when we ask God to work on our behalf. As I mentioned above, Jesus Himself prayed the same prayer twice in the Garden of Gethsemane.

    Mark 14:36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.
    37 And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour?
    38 Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.
    39 And again he went away, and prayed, and spake the same words. (KJV)
     
  8. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    I understand what you are saying, but I also come from a background of addiction, first alcohol and then disordered gambling. Now I am licensed to treat both, in Kansas and in Missouri. I have worked in treatment centers in which we had in-house AA and GA meetings, and for years, I attended meetings of both fellowships. At virtually every meeting, the "trusted servant" who leads the meeting will call for its opening by repeating the first paragraph of Reinhold Niebur's "Serenity Prayer" and its close with the Lord's Prayer. I don't believe that represents "vain repetition" even though I believe what is called the "Lord's Prayer" (it should actually be called the "Believers' Prayer") is, as do you, a guide for prayer, not necessarily a prayer to be recited in public or in private.

    However, we're talking about men and women who can barely cling to sobriety or abstinence for a few hours, much less the 24 hours in which many must function between meetings. If either or both prayers can get them through that 24 hours without drinking or gambling, I'm 110% for it.

    I think we worry far too much about whether a prayer is "vain repetition" or not. I think any prayer, particularly the prayer of God's own words back to Him, are of great benefit to those who choose to use them in that fashion. I say that even though I am aware of my tendency to fall into patterns of repetition, and try to vary what I say to bless my wife's and my meals, and when our children are with us, I am very careful to use that time to pray for them, since only my two, and one of hers, are active Christians. Nonetheless, I've been in places spiritually that left me unable to pray any but the most simple, even child-like prayers, and I did so. I would encourage anyone else to do the same.
     
  9. Pastor_Bob

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    I certainly would not condemn this practice in this setting. I believe this is more of the memorization of Scripture (at least as far as the model prayer is concerned) than it is an actual prayer. Quoting Scripture is the first line of defense against temptation, as our Lord Himself showed us.

    I believe the litmus test is, are we "saying" the prayer or "praying" the prayer? I believe it is absolutely possible to "pray" a prayer even using the same words. Again, it is the attitude of the heart. We must give the matter of avoiding "vain repetitions" serious consideration because Jesus clearly commands us to (Mat. 6:7).

    I am in 100% agreement. In fact, child-like prayers are often far more effective. Having said that, I do believe that there comes a time when we move our children beyond "Now I lay me down to sleep..." and "God is great; God is good..." We must be very diligent to teach our children to "pray" as opposed to merely "saying" a prayer. Please do not think I am asserting that you or anyone else here does that; I am just making a general statement.
     
  10. agedman

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    In my experience, I have yet to meet a true believer who has not traveled this ground more than once.

    Even Paul says there are times when we intellectually don't know (or even desire) how to put into words the exercise of the heart.

    Every true believer has at least one time when the Holy Spirit took all our "weakness" before the Lord, for we didn't even have enough strength to muddle a simple prayer just groan.

    Romans 8:
    26In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
     
  11. InTheLight

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    Then there was the believer that, after bringing the groceries into the house, gathered the family and had all of them say a heartfelt prayer over the bags of food, then needn't worry about saying individual prayers at the table with each meal...
     
  12. Sapper Woody

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    I think of Peter on the water. He didn't have time for a lengthy prayer. "Lord, save me." Pretty simple, but heartfelt. I think this is a good example of praying over saying.
     
  13. agedman

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    Did the early church conduct prayer in the assembly as the Amish do?

    Everyone sitting quietly saying their own prayer until the father (or bishop at the assembly time) clears his throat.

    Sometimes public prayer is a display of arrogance and perhaps more likely an embarrassment.

    Is standing in the assembly "leading the prayer" the same as what Christ was not pleased with by those who prayed in the public?

    It certainly can be.

    If everyone is to pray for a certain matter, why is it that someone has to "lead in prayer," or that it even has to be oral prayer at all?

    Why not (as my Grandfather reportedly did) merely bow the head and say, "Amen" - so be it?
     
  14. Pastor_Bob

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    I think we can be certain that Jesus is not against public prayer since He, Himself prayed publicly at times. Jesus warns against praying for the purpose of impressing men or exalting self.

    Mt 6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

    Mt 6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

    Does this mean that we cannot pray or perform other righteous acts in front of others? Absolutely not. We were left here on this earth after salvation to be salt and light to this world.
    Mt 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
     
  15. Pastor_Bob

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    I would take issue with this believer. Following his/her logic, would it be necessary to thank God for the meal if it consisted only of leftovers? Personally, I do not feel that we should fail to take advantage of any opportunity to give thanks to God.

    I thanked God for each of my children on the day they were born. I've thanked Him for them untold hundreds of times since. Is that a "vain repetition"?
     
  16. Pastor_Bob

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    Great example. I firmly believe that God is concerned with the depth of our prayer, not the length of our prayer.
     
  17. InTheLight

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    I should have put a smilie after my post. It was totally hypothetical and was meant to be humorous.
     

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