Leader’s Introduction & Background:
In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus’ teaching of the Lord’s Prayer comes to us in the context of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). The Sermon on the Mount opens with these words: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” In the verses that follow, those who listen to Jesus come to realize just what He means by “poor in spirit.” On our own, we are unable to live holy and righteous lives and keep God’s commands. In our relationship with our Heavenly Father we bring nothing to the table and are in desperate need of God’s grace and mercy in our lives.
Thus, as children of God, poor in spirit and unable to bring anything to God, Jesus teaches us to pray. He teaches us to pray as disciples who must rely on our Father in heaven for everything, including our daily bread.
Furthermore, we do not pray to our Father who is uncaring or unaware of our needs or ignorant to our plight as humans. As the Sermon on the Mount continues, Jesus reveals that our Heavenly Father to whom we pray knows what we need (Matt. 7:32) and is eager to give us good gifts in accordance with His will (Matt. 7:7-11)
The Lord’s Prayer as found in Matthew 6 can be divided up into 2 parts. The first part includes the introduction/address and petitions 1-3. The second part includes petitions 4-6/7 petitions. The first part addresses God’s rule and reign in this world. The second part addresses the present needs of God’s people living in this world. The structure of the text points the reader first towards God’s saving work in the world now (see Luther’s explanation in the Small Catechism) and the culmination of that work on the Last Day. Only then does the disciple praying this prayer begin to address his/her immediate needs in life.
Luther writes in his Large Catechism, “…nothing is so necessary as to call upon God incessantly and to drum into his ears our prayer that he may give, preserve, and increase in us faith and the fulfillment of the Ten Commandments and remove all that stands in our way and hinders us in this regard. That we may know what and how to pray, however, our Lord Christ himself has taught us both the way and the words…”
Thus, the goal of this study is simply to encourage students and leaders to pray as Jesus has taught His disciples to pray, acknowledging that not only are we “poor in spirit” but that we are also not worthy of any of the gifts our heavenly Father so graciously gives to us.
Download a PDF of the three-part Bible study on The Lord’s Prayer.
 Kolb & Weingert, 440-41