The Jewish Rabbis were in the habit of teaching the people outline prayers which were known as ‘Index Prayers’. They would gather together a number of short sentences each of which suggested an item for prayer. They would recite one sentence and then, before proceeding to the next, would enlarge upon it, drawing out some of its implications and applications. So, when His disciples sought instruction in prayer, The Lord Jesus Christ gave them an ‘Index Prayer (v.9). ‘This, then, is how you should pray:’
2. The Method of Prayer
The structure of the prayer is a lesson in method. There are three parts:
a. Invocation: ‘Our Father in heaven’,
b. The six petitions:
c. Doxology: ‘For thine is the Kingdom,’ etc.
a. We are not to rush into God’s audience-chamber without wants. We must first meditate upon the love and glory of Him to whom we come.
b. The order of the six petitions is most significant. How often our prayers begin with our own needs and the needs of others! Jesus Christ didn’t teach this. The first petitions are concerned with God’s glory. Only then does the prayer He taught, turn to our needs. We are first to pray that God’s Name may be hallowed, that His Kingdom may come, that His will may be done – all three of them ‘as in heaven, so in earth’. Then, when we have concerned ourselves with God’s interests, we may turn to our own needs and pray in turn about our material needs, our spiritual cleansing and our deliverance from Satan.
c. It is believed that the Doxology was not part of the original prayer but was the response of the early Church to the prayer Jesus Christ had taught. It is well to finish our prayers on the note of praise.