7 And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father 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 lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
— Matthew 6:7-13
A friend of mine has three young daughters. I love listening to him pray because he prays in a way that his daughters can hear and understand. His prayers are devoid of any of the flowery “empty phrases” that litter so many “adult” prayers. He prays in a simple, straightforward way and his daughters understand prayer as an authentic exchange with the Father in heaven. This is where Jesus’ teaching on prayer begins.
God-seekers invoke the hallowed name of YHWH in prayer, a confession of God’s holy character but also a plea for God’s eschatological activity (Ezekiel 36:22-23), a request for the Kingdom reign of God to permeate the present. This is the heartbeat of the life of prayer: a deep conviction to see the will of God win out on the rebellious earthly sphere as it surely does in heaven. And so we pray: “Let your Kingdom come, let your will be done, in me as in heaven.”
This cosmic eschatalogical prayer is juxtaposed with a request for daily sustenance, daily manna. With the future reign of God squarely in view, Jesus offers a lived-in appeal for today’s provision. The prayer for daily bread is a prayer for just enough to make it through today, a tease on Jesus’ teaching re: worry later in the sermon. This daily petition resides squarely next to two additional areas requiring daily attention: forgiving others and avoiding temptation. These constant reminders keep us grounded. We never want to stray too far from them in prayer, for we seek the deliverance only God can provide.