Jesus’ model prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 is neither an incantation which can be mindlessly recited and result in automatic blessings nor a substitute for prayer.
It is a model; a skeleton; a guide; a pattern. Jesus’ “in this manner” in verse nine does not mean “use these words”.
Like all of Jesus’ discourses, His teaching on prayer is profoundly simple and simply profound. Each bite in this exquisite spiritual feast requires intentional savoring.
No other religious leader—not even Moses—has dared to teach his disciples to address their prayers as Jesus—the Son of God—does. (Mohammed and his followers, for example, consider such an address to Allah as extreme and egregious blasphemy.)
Yet, according to Jesus, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the One called “God Most High” (Genesis 14:18), “God Almighty” (Genesis 17:1), “God Everlasting” (Genesis 21:33), “Jehovah of hosts” (Isaiah 1:9)—can rightfully be addressed by His disciples as “Our Father”!
Compressed into the virile noun “father” is God’s life-giving power, love, care, concern, providence, protectiveness, authority, tenderness, and wisdom. One of the timeless wonders of the ancient gospel is the intense desire the Sovereign of heaven has to transform me from a dead enemy into a living son and heir of heaven’s wealth.
My need cannot be overstated. My spiritual bankruptcy cannot be calculated. My iniquities have separated me from my God. My sins have hidden His face from me (Isaiah 59:2). Yet, in Christ I have a birthright to all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3). I have constant access into the throne room of heaven. I have the listening and patient ear of a loving Father.
How wondrous are the words: “Our Father which art in heaven”!