As teens in God’s Church, you have undoubtedly heard sermonettes, sermons and perhaps even teen Bible studies about the Matthew 6 prayer outline. You know that this is the outline that Jesus Christ gave His disciples while He was on the Earth, and you’ve probably heard that it is a good idea to use it yourself. Perhaps you’ve tried it, or maybe you even use it currently.
You’ve probably also heard this outline referred to as the “Lord’s Prayer,” and you’ve probably heard people recite it from memory, almost as an afterthought. It can be easy to think this is an acceptable way to pray. If all we do is recite the “Lord’s Prayer” once a day like a sports team does before its big game, however, we are using vain repetition (Matthew 6:7).
Jesus Christ gave this outline to His disciples with the hope that they would take it and add their own material to it, fleshing out each point like you would if you were turning a list of bullet points into a term paper. It is, after all, only an outline. It’s meant to give the general points for prayer, and you are meant to add to those points. If you use this outline correctly, you can have effective, fervent prayers that will move God and get results.
There are also other scriptures that help immensely in planning and delivering our prayers. Let’s examine some of these scriptures, in the context of the Matthew 6 outline, that will make your prayers more specific, personal and effective.
1. How should you begin your prayer? Matthew 6:9.
The word “hallowed” means “sanctified” or “highly venerated.” Hallowing God’s name means that you deeply respect and reverence God’s name. To effectively open your prayer, you should praise God and thank Him for His active participation in your life.
2. Did Solomon open his dedication prayer with praise for God? 1 Kings 8:22-24. What do the angels in God’s throne room do day and night? Revelation 4:2, 6, 8-11.
As you read about God’s throne room, try to picture it in your mind. Think about the vast universe, and realize that even it is too small to house God. God resides in the third heaven, which is above the physical universe. Deepening your understanding of God’s great power and vastness will give you more ways to praise Him in the opening section of your prayer.
1. What is the next thing we should pray about? Matthew 6:10. Why is it important for God’s Kingdom to come? Revelation 21:4; Micah 4:1-4.
The world is full of violence, suffering and misery. When God’s Kingdom comes, it will do away with all of that. People will finally be taught how to live God’s way. God’s Family will teach them to obey God’s law of love, and they will be truly happy for the first time in their lives.
2. What does God tell us to do before we pray? Luke 21:36.
God tells us to watch, and then He tells us to pray. If we are focused on world events and see the suffering that is wrapped up in just about every headline, it will help us more clearly understand the desperate need for God’s Kingdom—and it will help us pray with a much greater sense of urgency.
This focus on world events also allows us to witness firsthand the fulfillment of Bible prophecy—proof positive of our Father’s hand in developments as His Kingdom approaches. Praying about prophetic events as they unfold really motivates our prayers; you can find these identified as they occur in Trumpet Brief and on theTrumpet.com on a daily basis.
1. How should you begin the next section of your prayer? Matthew 6:10.
God is a God of love. He hates to see this world suffer. It is His will that His Kingdom come—just like the previous section of prayer covers—so that the world can finally be freed from Satan’s captivity and taught the way to peace and happiness.
2. What must be finished before God’s Kingdom can come? Matthew 24:14; Revelation 10:11.
When we pray that God’s will be done on Earth, we are really praying about this end-time Work; that is where God’s will is done today.
We know that Mr. Armstrong finished the Work of preaching the Gospel around the world as a witness to all nations, but the Philadelphia Church of God has been commissioned to prophesy again. We are meant to add emphasis to the warning part of the message, since this world is closer than ever to the Great Tribulation. In order for God’s Kingdom to come, the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord have to happen first, and God won’t allow those events to occur until the world is properly warned. Thus, in order for God’s Kingdom to come, it is God’s will that we finish His Work!
In this section of your prayer, pray for God’s Work. Pray for Pastor General Gerald Flurry and the ministers around the world. Ask God to protect them and give them inspiration in the messages and counsel they give. Pray for the Key of David program and KPCG.fm. Ask God to open doors for new TV stations so the message can reach more people. Pray for the books, booklets and magazines. Ask God to inspire the authors, give the editors a detailed eye that picks up any and all mistakes, and help the graphic designers make the layout of the publications as eye-catching as possible. Pray for everything that goes on at headquarters, at Herbert W. Armstrong College, and at Imperial Academy.
1. What is the next part of the prayer outline? Matthew 6:11.
In this section of your prayer, pray that God provide nourishment—both physically and spiritually. The request is give “us”—not just “me”—so pray for God’s people. It is God who sustains us, providing our food, water—even the air we breathe. Spiritual sustenance is even more important, and we must request that “daily bread” from Him.
While it is our tendency to automatically want to pray for ourselves first, it is important that we put others before ourselves. That is how God’s way works (Acts 20:35). Pray for others and their trials first, and then pray for yourself.
2. Should we pray for those who are suffering through health trials and other trials as well? 3 John 1:2
The Apostle Paul set an example of praying that the brethren would “prosper and be in health.” There are many examples of biblical figures praying for those who are sick, including Jesus Christ, Elijah (1 Kings 17) and others—many times resulting in an immediate healing. It is God’s will to heal. He does, however, expect you to ask (Matthew 7:7).
3. Who needs our daily prayers most? 2 Thessalonians 3:1.
All of God’s people have targets for Satan, especially Mr. Flurry and the ministry because they are the means by which God nourishes the rest of the flock (John 21:16-17).
4. After praying for God’s brethren, what are some of your personal daily needs that you should pray for? Here is a list of things to pray for:
· Ask God to reveal His purpose for you. What capacity does He want you to serve in? Romans 8:28.
· Ask God to lead you with His Holy Spirit. Luke 11:13; Acts 5:32. As a young person, God’s Spirit does not dwell in you; however, it can and does work with you. You are set apart—holy to God—because of your sanctified parent or grandparent (1 Corinthians 7:14). This can lead you to exhibit the fruit of God’s spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
· Ask God to direct your steps and to help you make decisions. Jeremiah 10:23.
· Ask God for wisdom. 1 Kings 3:9, 12-13; James 1:5.
· Ask God to mold you into the tool that He wants you to be. Isaiah 64:8.
· Ask God to heal any ailments you may have. Isaiah 53:5. In many cases, anointing is necessary (James 5:14). See “When Should You Seek Anointing?” on pcog.org if you are not sure whether to request an anointing.
· Pray that you are accounted worthy to escape the things coming on the face of the Earth. Luke 21:36.
· Pray that you are worthy of your calling. 2 Thessalonians 1:11.
Notice that you are not praying for a break from homework or a new iPhone—most of our requests should be spiritual in nature. It’s not bad to ask for physical things as well—1 Peter 5:7 says to cast all your cares upon Him—but you must seek God’s Kingdom first (Matthew 6:33), and then God will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).
1. After praying for our needs, should we also pray that God forgive us of our sins? Matthew 6:12; 1 Corinthians 6:9. Will God forgive us if we confess our sins to Him? 1 John 1:9.
Our sins must be paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ if we ever want a chance to be born into God’s Kingdom (John 3:16; Romans 5:10). In order to have our sins wiped away, however, we must ask for repentance in fervent prayer. Be specific about your sins, beseech God for forgiveness and ask for His help to change.
2. Should we ask God to reveal problems that we aren’t aware of? Isaiah 58:1; 59:2; Psalm 19:12.
Any sin separates us from God, even if we are sinning unknowingly. We need God to reveal those unknown sins to us so that we can repent of them and be reconciled to Him. Ask God to show you the problems in your everyday life.
3. Should we ask God for correction? Hebrews 12:5-8. Should we also ask that God be merciful in the way that He corrects us? Jeremiah 10:24.
When God corrects us, He is only helping us become more like Him and build His holy righteous character. He shows us love by correcting us. He will also be merciful in that correction if we ask Him to be.
4. If we want God to forgive us, what do we have to do first? Matthew 6:12, 14-15. Does God even command that we pray for our enemies and ask God to bless them? Romans 12:14; Matthew 5:44.
It can be easy to hold a grudge against someone, and if they haven’t apologized for what they’ve done, it’s easy to feel justified in holding that grudge. But Jesus Christ asked God to forgive the people who crucified Him even as they were crucifying Him (Luke 23:34)! If we expect God to answer our prayer for forgiveness, we must forgive others with the same readiness that Christ had.
1. What is next in the prayer outline? Matthew 6:13.
“And lead us not into temptation” can better be translated as “lead us not into sore trial.” God doesn’t tempt us to do evil (James 1:13), but Satan does. The next part of the verse should read, “But deliver us from the evil one”—Satan. Ask God to deliver you from Satan, society and self, and if there is ever a time when Satan does tempt you, ask God for the strength to resist that temptation.
2. Can you ask God to set His angels about you? Matthew 26:53. Can you also ask God to rebuke demons? Jude 9.
If you ask Him to, God will send His angels to camp around and protect you (Psalm 34:7). Claim that promise of God in your prayer, both for you and for God’s brethren.
This isn’t just about physical protection though. In his classic article, “Emotional Maturity,” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote that “… to fulfill life’s real purpose and mission, we must grow up not only physically, but mentally, spiritually, and emotionally” (Plain Truth, August 1978). These are all categories in which Satan can and will attack us; therefore, we should ask God to protect us physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.
1. How does the prayer outline end? Matthew 6:13. Did David set a good example of praising God in prayer? 1 Chronicles 29:10-13.
Our prayers end the way they began: giving praise and glory to the great God of the universe. Thank God for taking the time to listen to and answer your prayers. Thank God for His wonderful plan and the special calling you have to understand it. Remember God’s throne room and its splendor, and praise Him for being the wonderful Creator, Ruler, Sustainer and Father that He is.