Teaching Of The Lord's Prayer
The words to the Lord's prayer are familiar to millions of Christians and even non Christians all over the world. Jesus spoke the words to the Lords prayer while preaching the famous sermon on the mount. The purpose of the words to the Lord's prayer was to example how people should pray, not that the exact words of this supplication are to be repeated word for word. In fact, just a few verses prior to where this supplication is found, Jesus said that Christians should not pray like the heathen do, repeating a lot of words, thinking they will be heard due to their "much speaking". Rather, Jesus wants us to pattern our supplications after him. When praying, Jesus provided an example to the disciples. The words to the Lord's prayer is useful for any age.
"Our Father who art in Heaven", addresses the God of the universe, recognizing who He is and where God's throne sits. "Hallowed be thy name". Hallowed means holy. Christians recognize that God is holy, and are careful to reverence the Lord's name and not take it in vain. "Thy kingdom come" is a yearning that all who are in the Lord have, that God's kingdom would come back soon to the Earth. This is the culmination of man's existence. "Thy will be done", means we do not seek our own will, but that of our Father in heaven. "On earth as it is in heaven", references back to God's will. While Christians should not seek their own will, the desire is for God's will to be done on earth, and Christians seek to be the instruments for carrying out the will of God, according to the direction of the Holy Spirit. "Give us this day our daily bread" demonstrates we should state requests for only what we need, not our wants. God already knows what we need; he just wants us to voice to our needs so that we remember who provides them. "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors" is talking about forgiveness. God forgives us of our sins if we come and repent of them. In the same way, when our brother or sister in Christ comes to us asking for forgiveness, we are to forgive them because God has forgiven us of our sins. Jesus commands us to do this, or God will not hear us. This supplication is found in the New Testament: Matthew 6:9-15.
"For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever" teach us to recognize who is in control in our lives. God is our Lord, our God, our Creator, and He is the one that directs our lives, not us. Teaching of the Lords prayer demonstrates that man is not his own god. Note how this prayer is totally non-selfish, but addresses who God is and mentions praise for the Lord's holiness. Christians should be outward focused, reaching out to others as Christ reached out to save the lost. Teaching of the Lords Prayer can help young Christians understand how to pattern their own prayers, and refrain from making supplication into a session for asking for wants. Deconstructing the words to the Lords prayer as we have here gives special attention and meaning and helps others to understand each part.
In teaching of the Lords Prayer to children, memory is assisted when words are put into song. Music is a wonderful tool to help anybody, not just children, to remember things because music sticks in our minds better than dry recitations. Perhaps hand and arm motions can be created that go along with each phrase of the supplication. The children can perform these motions when reciting the words. This would be a great demonstration or teaching of the Lords prayer during a children's church service. This shows a way for children to praise God in a kind of dance rather than in song. No matter how praying is done, Jesus wanted the disciples to learn how to make supplication when they asked him to teach them. So we should teach praying to others as well.
When people first begin to learn how to make supplication, often they do not know how to begin. The teaching of the Lords Prayer words makes praying easier, and opens the door to understanding praying. Having a friend repeat the words with others helps to reinforce memory, and creates a safe environment when several people are involved. There will be less of a chance of anyone noticing when just one person makes an error. Adults joining in corporate worship regularly recite the Lords Prayer during the main worship service. This has been in practice for centuries.
Jesus prayed regularly to His father, because this was a personal intimate conversation. God wants us to converse with him and praying is the venue of communication. The Lord often went aside to spend time in supplication, and the disciples had to wait. Perhaps they learned a little, but apparently not enough, because they eventually asked Jesus to teach them how to perform supplication. Consequently we now know and understand the words to the Lord's Prayer as our example. Jesus also prayed by himself in a private place. This is a reason why the disciples could not observe Jesus' praying very much, or hear it. Jesus told the people during the Sermon on the Mount to refrain from praying the way the heathen do, drawing a lot of attention to them because it helped them feel self-important and righteous. Rather Jesus taught to go to a place alone and offer prayers to God. God rewards people who supplicate in secret because supplication is offered in humility. The Lord looks on the heart of those who want to follow. Teaching of the Lord's Prayer to others is an excellent example of how to pray humbly. Teaching of the Lord's prayer needs to take place not only in the main church service, but also in other activities of the church, even at social events.
Teaching Children About PrayerBy teaching children about prayer, even the very young ones, responsible parents are laying a spiritual foundation for the child to develop a personal relationship with God. A mom can pray as she rocks with her infant who responds to the familiar sound of mom's voice. A dad can cup his hands around those of his toddler and offer a grace as simple as "Thank you, God, for this food," before spooning the cereal into the baby's mouth. With this beginning by the parents, prayer becomes a natural and regular part of daily life for the child. Moms and dads will need to wait till the little ones can talk before teaching children the Lord's prayer, but even four- and five-year-olds can learn the words that Jesus first gave to his apostles when they asked him to teach them to pray.
Mealtimes and bedtimes are popular daily events for teaching children about prayer. At the kitchen table, before every meal, a child can say thanks for her food. In this way, she learns that God provides our daily needs. Allowing the child (and her brothers and sisters) to say the grace for the family gives children an opportunity to feel comfortable talking to the heavenly Father and showing appreciation for His provision. Settling into bed before going to sleep is a very special time for a parent to spend a few moments with each child, one-on-one, to talk about the day or to plan for tomorrow. Mom and dad can encourage the children, depending on the ages, to develop a strong spiritual grounding through learning to praise, confess, and petition God.
As part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen" (Matthew 6:9-13). These are the verses we quote when teaching children the Lord's prayer. Jesus' models a way to pray to God that is both simple and profound. Though the words are not long and lofty, the adoration and petitions show deep significance. Children can be taught each phrase separately and gain age-appropriate insight into its meaning by spiritually perceptive parents and teachers.
There are many methods for teaching children about prayer. Preschoolers love repetition and rhythm so music is a natural learning tool. Musical CDs of Bible verses are wonderful for helping little ones memorize short prayers that praise God. Of course, musically talented parents and teachers can create Scripture songs. The Israelites sang many of the Psalms and verses from this book of poetry are great resources for verses to sing to children. Elementary school kids can create prayer cards, posters, and collages by cutting pictures out of magazines or drawing pictures with markers and crayons. Adults can guide them by giving a topic such as "Thank you, God, for my family." Then the kids can draw or find pictures of family members, homes, and even pets to put on the cards and posters. Creativity in worship needs to be cultivated in young children so that they are comfortable praying throughout their lives.
Older children can go on nature hikes that encourage praise of God's creative power. Early scientists, noticing the order and mathematical "language" of nature, understood that the Creator designed the universe with specific scientific principles that could be studied and identified. Hiking leaders can be prepared to point out such fascinating wonders of God's creative imagination as photosynthesis, the nesting habits of birds, and the symbiotic relationships between different animal and plant species. After the nature hike, the kids can be given journals to write about the spiritual insights they gained about God as creator. Parents and teachers can also give the kids other prompts to write about in special journals so that they learn to express personal thoughts and feelings to their Heavenly Father.
In further teaching children the Lord's prayer, spiritual leaders can work with teens on deepening their Christian walks by meditating on each phrase. A careful study of the passage shows that Jesus opened and closed the model prayer by focusing on God the Father and the divine glory. In between, in only a few sentences, Jesus emphasizes God's sovereignty over earthly governments, requests daily provision to meet our physical needs, and recognizes our need for forgiveness of our sins and spiritual guidance. Older children and teens can expand on each phrase in when praying, using the outline that Jesus provided as a guide. In other words, it's appropriate in teaching children about prayer that the kids learn to focus on God instead of themselves. Of course, the heavenly Father is interested in the deepest concerns and needs of all His people. But the petitions, for themselves and for others, appropriately come between praise and adoration, and a heartfelt recognition of God's divine glory. By teaching children the Lord's prayer, phrase-by-phrase, they will more easily see this concept.
Parents don't need to worry about teaching the little ones entrusted to them to pray. By starting to pray with their sons and daughters during infancy, the little one will grow up feeling comfortable folding her hands to say grace before meals and kneeling beside her bed before falling asleep to thank God for the blessings of the day and to offer praise and petitions to the omniscient, omnipresent One.