Some could be thinking, ‘Hey, that’s good, it’s a short prayer so I can do that easily.’ Not so fast! Do we really think that Jesus taught us to pray with something that can be rattled through in a few seconds? The problem is that this prayer is well known to most of us, and is said or sung in many places with no further thought. It is often used like a kind of mantra. So it becomes fairly meaningless.
Here’s what Jesus was doing. The rabbis in Jesus’ day taught people ‘index praying’. You know what an index is—it appears, usually at the beginning of a book, giving chapter numbers and titles. Imagine using a large book for any study or work you’re doing and finding there’s no index. How would you find your way around? On the other hand, what if there were just an index and no substance to the book? The point of the index is to act as a pointer to the substance.
That’s exactly what index praying was all about. The rabbis would provide the points for prayer, like an index, and the people would fill in the substance—their own prayers. This is the method Jesus was teaching in this prayer. Can you now see the Lords Prayer is like that? And what an index of titles!
- Worshiping the Father
- God’s kingdom
- God’s will/guidance
- Our daily needs
- Spiritual warfare
I challenge you to find one subject, broadly speaking, that’s not covered in this prayer. No wonder Jesus taught it! Hopefully you can begin to see why it’s such a great prayer to pray and how it can help you in your prayer life.
Why is index praying so helpful? Because we’re obviously praying according to God’s will— and that’s something with which I often struggled as I read the verse that says, ‘This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.’ (1 John 5: 14–15). How could I be sure that what I was praying was according to his will? Surely I must have been praying according to his will if I was praying the prayer he gave.
John 17:1-5 King James Version (KJV)
1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
Luke 11:2-5 KJV
2And 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.
3 Give us day by day our daily bread.
4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.