(Matt 6:9-15 WEB)
6:9 “Pray like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.
6:10 Let your Kingdom come.
Let your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.
6:11 Give us today our daily bread.
6:12 Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.
6:13 Bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
For yours is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen.’
6:14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
6:15 But if you don’t forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
How should we pray? It is a question that many ask today, and it was a question that any first-century Jewish disciple might reasonably expect their Rabbi to answer. Thus, following his comments on hypocritical prayer, Jesus suggests how his followers should pray. He provides them with the prayer we now refer to as the Lord’s Prayer, a prayer for collective use by all who consider God their Heavenly Father (note how it uses ‘our’ and ‘us’).
The Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:9-13), distils the themes of the Sermon down into a succinct prayer. It opens with intercession for the coming of the Kingdom promised in the beatitudes. The centrality of God’s words finds its expression in asking for ‘daily bread’, i.e. for God given wisdom. Then the prayer seeks the sort of freedom from temptation and deliverance touched on by the antitheses corrective wisdom.
Wrapped around the central focus, of seeking God’s wisdom and forgiveness, is the idea that just as what God thinks in heaven should affect what is done on earth, so what we think on earth affects what is done in heaven. As Jesus points out in verses 14 and 15, whether we forgive others governs whether God will forgive us or not. God has fashioned mankind to fulfil good purposes in accord with the divine will. However, all fall short of that high goal. Therefore, what people need above all else is for God to forgive them when they have inadvertently gone astray, unknowingly fallen short, or deliberately sinned and then repented. If we refuse to forgive those around us, then God applies the same measure to us.
We should pray, says Jesus, that God’s name be kept holy without the need to put us to the test, that God’s Kingdom will come and deliver us from evil. Indeed this was the pressing matter of the moment, for Israel had already rejected Jesus authority once. Although God is merciful, allowing time for repentance, he is also just and eventually has to uphold his word.
. . . commentary continues with Matt 6:16-18
This page is just an overview. For a detailed analysis of the Lord’s Prayer, with supporting material and citations, see the further notes on Matt 6:9-15.