I’ve mentioned before that we have a men’s Bible study at my house on Tuesday nights. We are still going through the sermon on the mount, and last night we talked about the model prayer of Jesus in Matthew 6:9-13. Here is the text of that prayer in it’s entirety:

9. “Pray, then, in this way: `Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

10. `Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

11. `Give us this day our daily bread.

12. `And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13. `And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’

Interesting isn’t it? In the gospel of Luke we learn that Jesus gives this prayer in response to the disciples request, “Lord teach us to pray”. Imagine asking your pastor or an elder how to pray and hearing a response like this one. It’s six sentences, fifty-five words. You would be hard pressed to find a book about prayer thats only 55 pages long in the Christian bookstore today.

And yet this is the teaching of Christ on prayer. This is the way in which we should pray. Our Catholic brothers and sisters take this to mean that we should pray this prayer verbatim, repeating it often exactly as it is written here. On the other hand, many of our brethren in the modern evangelical church look down on any sort of written or memorized prayer at all, teaching that a pre-written prayer is not from the heart and therefore inferior to spontaneous prayer. So what did Christ mean? How should we “Pray, then, in this way”?

I recently heard a pastor explain this in a way that that I had never heard before. He compared this model prayer to the frame used by a sculptor. Evidently, when creating larger sculptures an artist might begin with a rough frame of wire and pipe. He then adds more and more clay to this frame as he creates his piece. Eventually the frame is obscured completely, seeing only the finished product one would not even realize it’s there. Yet all the beauty of that work of art had it’s foundation in that frame.

In the same way, the Lords model prayer might be a frame on which we can build our own prayers. It’s depth and simplicity are the crude pipe and wire that we apply ourselves to as we sculpt our prayers to God. In the end, one hearing the final outpouring of our hearts might not even realize that the foundation is those six sentences uttered by Christ.

I’ll post more about this idea as we study it together, so check back if you are interested. And feel free to post your comments here.