7 Insightful Things We Can Learn about Prayer from the Lord’s Prayer

Whitney Hopler

Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
Published May 09, 2024
7 Insightful Things We Can Learn about Prayer from the Lord’s Prayer

In the Bible, Jesus gives his disciples a powerful lesson on prayer through what has come to be known as the Lord’s Prayer. Matthew 6:9-15 presents the longer version of Jesus’ prayer, while Luke 11:1-4 presents a shorter version. Jesus’ example of how to pray well offers us important insights into the nature of prayer and how we can deepen our connection with God through it. Let’s explore seven key lessons we can learn from the Lord’s Prayer. 

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/4maksym

1. Address God with reverence.

1. Address God with reverence.

The Lord’s Prayer begins with these words: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9). This opening sets the tone for our approach to prayer. It emphasizes the reverence and awe we should have when coming before our Creator. By addressing God as “Our Father,” Jesus invites us into a close family relationship with our all-powerful yet loving Father in heaven. Jesus mixes familiarity with a profound sense of reverence. His words call us to recognize that God is holy, so we should approach God with humility and respect.

By calling on God as “Our Father in heaven,” we acknowledge God’s transcendence, majesty, and authority over all creation. When we pray, “Hallowed be your name,” we acknowledge that God’s name is sacred, and we express our desire to honor God in every aspect of our lives. As we enter into God’s presence with reverence, we open ourselves to God’s transformative power and invite God to work in and through us according to his will. So, let’s approach our Heavenly Father with an attitude of worship that welcomes God’s work in our lives.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/StockPhotosArt 

women smiling and crossing hands over heart, out of the heart the mouth speaks

2. Align our hearts with God’s will.

In the next verse of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus prays: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). This part of the prayer highlights the importance of aligning our will with God’s will. When we pray for God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done, we are expressing our longing for God’s purposes to be established in our lives and in the world around us. It’s a declaration that we want to seek God’s wisdom and fulfill God’s purposes. This part of the prayer challenges us to relinquish control and trust in God’s perfect plan for our lives. It means letting go of our own agendas and embracing God’s priorities – letting God’s love flow through our lives and out into the world. It also reminds us of the holistic nature of God’s kingdom. God’s reign extends to everything and everyone in our lives, encompassing our relationships, work, and daily interactions.

As we align our hearts with God’s will, we aim to live faithfully and reflect God’s character to the world around us. Praying for God’s will to be done also involves a commitment to partnering with God in his redemptive work. It means actively seeking opportunities help people in need, choosing a lifestyle of kindness, and sharing the Gospel message with people who are searching for hope. In essence, this portion of the Lord’s Prayer challenges us to surrender our own agendas to God and join God in his greater plans for our lives and our world. As we pray for God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done, let’s do so with sincerity and conviction, trust God to help us every step of the way.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes 

thanksgiving dinner prayer

3. Rely on God for our daily needs.

When Jesus instructs us to pray, “Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11), he highlights a vital aspect of our relationship with God: relying on God for our daily provision. This simple yet profound request reminds us of our continual reliance on God for all aspects of our lives, including our basic needs. The phrase “daily bread” encompasses not only physical sustenance like food, but also the provision of everything we need to sustain our lives. By reminding ourselves that we depend on God for even basic necessities like the next breath we take to stay alive, we humbly recognize God’s role as our ultimate provider and sustainer. In a world that often values self-sufficiency and independence, this part of the Lord’s Prayer challenges us to be mindful that our security and well-being are not dependent on our own efforts or resources, but on the faithfulness of our Heavenly Father.

Also, Jesus’ emphasis on “daily” bread highlights the need for us to rely on God every day. We are not to worry about tomorrow’s provision but trust God for what we need each day. Praying for our daily bread also helps us develop a sense of thankfulness and contentment in our hearts. When we recognize God as the source of all good gifts, we are less inclined to hoard or grasp for more than we need. Instead, we learn to cultivate an attitude of gratitude for God’s generosity to us. Praying this part of the Lord’s Prayer teaches us to trust God in all circumstances – even in times of scarcity or uncertainty – knowing that our loving Father is always faithful to provide for his children.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/SARINYAPINNGAM 

woman looking out window lonely alone content sad thinking

4. Seek forgiveness for ourselves.

Then Jesus instructs us to pray, “And forgive us our debts” (Matthew 6:12). This simple yet profound plea reveals an essential aspect of our relationship with God: the recognition of our own sinfulness and the need for God’s forgiveness. The term “debts” that Jesus uses here represents our sins against God. Each of us carries a spiritual debt – a burden of wrongdoing that separates us from our Heavenly Father. However, through prayer, we have the opportunity to bring these burdens before God and seek his forgiveness. Acknowledging our sins before God requires humility and honesty. It means coming before God to confess our failures, take responsibility for our mistakes, and sincerely choose to turn away from those sins and toward God.

Seeking forgiveness also includes embracing God’s grace and mercy. When we ask God to forgive us our debts, we are expressing our trust in God’s unlimited love for us, and in Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice for our sins that makes it possible for us to experience reconciliation with God. This part of the Lord’s Prayer also reminds us of the ongoing nature of our need for forgiveness. Just as we need daily bread physically, we need daily forgiveness for our sins spiritually. A day-by-day process of confession, repentance, and restoration helps keep our relationships with God healthy. Praying for forgiveness reminds us of the reality of our own brokenness and God's redemptive power. As we approach God with contrite hearts, may we do so with confidence in His grace and mercy, knowing that He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Wavebreakmedia 

holding hands forgive forgiveness prayer

5. Forgive other people.

Continuing Matthew 6:12, Jesus emphasizes the reciprocal nature of forgiveness, saying that we should ask God to forgive our debts “as we also have forgiven our debtors.” This aspect of the prayer highlights the importance of not only seeking forgiveness for our own sins, but also extending forgiveness to others. When we forgive others, we emulate the mercy and compassion that God has shown us. It’s an act of obedience to Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as ourselves and to forgive as we have been forgiven. Jesus reveals in Matthew 6:14-15: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

It’s clear that choosing to forgive others is something that God expects us to do, no matter what. However, extending forgiveness is not easy. It involves confronting painful memories and wounds from the past. It requires us to let go of feelings of resentment, bitterness, and anger toward those who have wronged us. Yet, God will empower us to forgive others in every situation. We simply need to choose to forgive, pray for help, and rely on the strength that God will send us. Forgiving people who have hurt us doesn’t depend on their repentance or apologies. Just as God freely offers his forgiveness to all who repent and turn to him, God calls us to extend forgiveness without expecting anything in return. It is a choice we make out of obedience to our loving God and a desire to live in peace with others, without bitterness poisoning our souls. We need to keep in mind that forgiving others is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process. It may require us to continually release feelings of resentment and choose to forgive again each day.

While practicing forgiveness is challenging, it’s vitally important, because forgiveness is an act of love. Choosing love is what God calls us to value most, because God’s core nature is love. If we don’t forgive, we block the flow of God’s love through our lives. We must welcome God’s love to flow through us in order to live faithful lives.

Photo Credit:  

Woman raising her fist in the air

6. Ask for strength in times of temptation.

Jesus then teaches us to pray: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13). This emphasizes the reality of spiritual warfare and our constant need for God’s strength to overcome temptation. Temptation to sin comes to us in various forms every day in this fallen world. Jesus recognizes the power of temptation and urges us to ask God to lead us away from situations that may lead us astray. Asking God to deliver us from the evil one acknowledges the existence of evil spiritual forces that seek to undermine our faith and lead us away from God. Yet, God’s light is much more powerful than the darkness of evil.

Praying for strength in times of temptation is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of spiritual strength that shows wisdom. It’s an acknowledgment of our own vulnerability to sin and a recognition of our dependence on God’s power to overcome our challenges. By inviting God into our struggles with temptation, we demonstrate our faith in him. This part of the Lord’s Prayer reminds us of Jesus’ own temptation experiences. In the wilderness, Jesus faced intense temptation from Satan, yet emerged victorious by relying on the Word of God. As we follow Jesus’ example, we can be confident that he will empower us to overcome our own temptations.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/kieferpix 

Woman with hand raised in worship

7. Worship God.

The Lord’s Prayer concludes with this powerful affirmation: “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” This part of the prayer is based on a part of Matthew 6:13 that is included in some Bible translations, such as the King James Version. It emphasizes God’s authority over all creation. In this final verse, Jesus points out that God's reign is eternal and unshakable. He declares that the kingdom, power, and glory belong to God alone, both now and forever. This declaration affirms that all of creation in is in God’s loving and powerful hands.

Acknowledging God’s unlimited power reminds us of God’s unlimited ability to accomplish his plans and fulfill his promises. It also reminds us that only God is worthy of our worship. The concluding phrase of the Lord’s Prayer inspires us to pay attention to the wonder of God’s work and respond with worship. Jesus teaches us to end our prayers with awe as we give God the worship he deserves. 

In conclusion, Jesus teaches us valuable lessons about the nature and practice of prayer through the Lord’s Prayer. This sacred example from Jesus of how to pray well features the essential elements we need to develop thriving prayer lives. So, let’s continue to learn from Jesus’ teachings and deepen our relationships with God through the wondrous power of prayer!

Photo Credit: Unsplash/John Price 

headshot of author Whitney HoplerWhitney Hopler is the author of the Wake Up to Wonder book and the Wake Up to Wonder blog, which help people thrive through experiencing awe. She leads the communications work at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. Whitney has served as a writer, editor, and website developer for leading media organizations, including Crosswalk.com, The Salvation Army USA’s national publications, and Dotdash.com (where she produced a popular channel on angels and miracles). She has also written the young adult novel Dream Factory. Connect with Whitney on X/Twitter and on Facebook

Originally published Saturday, 11 May 2024.