Pray Then This Way

This is Chapter Two of my PhD Dissertation on The Lord’s Prayer


Key Word Analysis
οὕτως οὖν προσεύχεσθε
Each key passage in this work will be examined from the perspective of the original words and language used by the original writer or speaker. This analysis will begin the insight into the intended meaning of the passage.
The initial words of Jesus in this passage were an introduction to the passage. There are three primary word/phrases: pray, then, and in-this-way. Each of these Greek word/phrases was commonly used in the New Testament of the NASB in many places. Pray/ προσεύχεσθε is used here as a verb. It is used ninety times in eighty two verses in the New Testament.
In this passage, Pray is a very general word meaning “to pray.” It is the same word used in passages about both the life of Jesus and Paul, as well as the community church. Jesus used this form of the word to show his personal prayers in the morning (Mark 1:35), in the evening (Matthew 14:23), on a mountain (Mark 6:36), as he was baptized (Luke 3:21), in the wilderness (Luke 5:16), and just before his death (Mark 14:32) as well as many other times. Prayer was clearly part of the regular pattern of his life.
This same form of the word was used by Paul in his advice to believers to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) In his writings Paul encouraged believers to follow the example of Jesus in exercising constant prayer. “Without ceasing/ ἀδιαλείπτως” is a phrase used only in the New Testament in reference to prayer. This encouragement to engage in this activity without stopping or continuously, is not used to describe any other activity suggested to followers of Christ. The use of these words, along with the multiple examples of prayer in the life of Jesus make a powerful case for prayer as not just a communication activity, but as a way of life or way of living.
“Then/οὖν” is a common particle used four hundred and ninety nine times in the New Testament to connect parts of a phrase. It is commonly defined as one thing following another. It indicates that Jesus not only suggested to his followers to pray, but would then give them instruction on the proper methods.
“In this way/ οὕτω(ς)” is also a common phrase in both Old and New Testament, occurring nineteen times in total. “Way” in this form is extremely common, occurring almost six hundred times in both the Old and New Testaments. Its use is very consistent with Jesus’ choice of common, easily understood common words to introduce this passage.
The combination of these three words from Jesus, indicate that his desire is that this activity become a common part of the life of a believer. Pray without ceasing and do so in this common manner. Make this activity common in your daily life.
Historical Theology Analysis
Each key passage in this work will be examined from the perspective is historical theology, or how the culture present at the time of the writing may have influenced the thinking of that period.
As Jesus spoke these words, he did so from the perspective of a typical Jewish upbringing. He would have studied prayer in the context of the Old Testament and that would have had impact on his teachings on prayer. As an adult, he had “a biblical mind-set that immeasurable affected His spiritual life.” The historical record of Old Testament prayer is long and varied.
Here are some examples of prayer in the Old Testament that Jesus may have studied or
worked to understand as a young man growing up:
Abraham’s prayer for an heir. (Genesis 15:2-3)
Abraham’s prayer for Ishmael. (Genesis 7:17:18)
Abraham’s prayer for Sodom. (Genesis 18:23-32)
Eliezer’s prayer for Issac. (Genesis 24:12-14)
Jacob’s prayer for a blessing. (Genesis 8: 20-22)
Jacob’s prayer for deliverance. (Genesis 32:9-12)
Moses’ prayer for Aaron. (Exodus 4:14-17)
Moses’ prayer for Israel. (Exodus 5:22-23)
Moses’ Prayer for Israel. (Exodus 32:31-32)
Moses’ prayer for Canaan. (Exodus 33:12-13)
Aaron’s prayer for a blessing. (Numbers 6:27)
Moses’ prayer for his journey. (Numbers 10:35-36)
Moses’ prayer for his burden. (Numbers 11:10-15)
Moses’ prayer for his people. (Numbers 11:21-22)
Moses’ prayer for Miriam. (Numbers 12:13)
Moses’ prayer to spare Israel. (Numbers 14:13-19)
Moses’ prayer for judgment. (Numbers 16:15)
Israel’s prayer for forgiveness. (Numbers 21:7)
Moses’ prayer for a new leader. (Numbers 27: 16-17)
Moses’ prayer to go into Canaan. (Deuteronomy 3:24-25)
Moses’ prayer for Israel. (Deuteronomy 9:26-29)
Joshua’s complaint. (Joshua 7:10-15)
Joshua’s prayer for a command. (Jusoua 10:12)
Israel’s prayer for guidance. (Judges 1:1)
Gideon’s prayer for revelation. (Judges 6:13)
Israel’s prayer for deliverance. (Judges 10:10)
Jephthah’s prayer for vicgtory. (Judges 11:30-31)
Manoah’s prayer for directions. (Judges 13:8)
Samson’s prayer for victory. (Judges 16:28)
Israel’s prayer for guidance. (Judges 20:23)
Israel’s prayer for guidance. (Judges 20:28)
Israel’s prayer for revelation. (Judges 21:3)
Hannah’s prayer for a son. (1 Samuel 1:11)
Hannah’s prayer of gratitude. (1 Samuel 2:1-10)
Saul’s prayer for guidance. (1 Samuel 14:37)
David’s prayer for guidance. (1 Samuel 23:2)
David’s prayer for revelation. (1 Samuel 23:10)
David’s prayer for revelation. (1 Samuel 30:8)
David’s prayer for revelation. (2 Samuel 2:1)
David’s prayer for revelation. (2 Samuel 5:19)
David’s prayer for fulfillment. (2 Samuel 7:18-19)
David’s prayer for forgiveness. (2 Samuel 24:10)
Solomon’s prayer for wisdom. (1 Kings 3:6-9)
Solomon’s prayer of dedication. (1 Kings 8:23-53)
Elijah’s prayer for resurrection. (1 Kings 17:21-21)
Elijah’s prayer for fire from Heaven. (1 Kings 18:36-37)
Elijah’ prayer for death. (1 Kings 19:4)
Elisha’s prayer for his servant. (2 Kings 6:17)
Hezekiah’s prayer for deliverance. (2 Kings 19:15-16)
Hezekiah’s prayer for a longer life. (2 Kings 20:3)
Jabez’s prayer for land. (1 Chronicles 4:10)
David’s prayer for Solomon. (1 Chronicles 14:11)
Asa’s prayer for victory. (2 Chronicles 14:11)
Jehoshaphat’s prayer for victory. (2 Chronicles 20:6-12)
Ezra’s prayer of thanksgiving. (Ezra 7:27-28)
Ezra’s prayer for forgiveness. (Ezra 9:5-15)
Nehemiah’s prayer of confession. (Nehemiah 1:5-11)
Nehemiah’s prayer for judgment. (Nehemiah 4:1-6)
Nehemiah’s prayer for help. (Nehemiah 6:9)
Nehemiah’s prayer for help. (Nehemiah 6:14)
Nehemiah’s prayer for help. (Nehemiah 6:14)
Israel’s prayer of confession. (Nehemiah 9:5-38)
Nehemiah’s prayer for blessing. (Nehemiah 13:14)
Nehemiah’s prayer for blessing. (Nehemiah 13:22)
Nehemiah’s prayer for judgment. (Nehemiah 13:29)
Nehemiah’s prayer for blessing. (Nehemiah 13:31)
Job’s prayer of thanksgiving. (Job 1:20-22)
Job’s prayer of complaint. (Job 7:17-21)
Job’s prayer for relief. (Job 9:25-10:22)
Job’s prayer for life. (Job 14:13-22)
Job’s prayer for a fair trial. (Job 23:3-5)
Job’s prayer of confession. (Job 40:3-5)
Job’s prayer of repentance. (Job 42:1-6)
David’s prayers in Psalm, over fifty examples.
Unknown psalmist’s prayers. (Psalms 124-138)
Asaph’s prayers to God. (Psalms 74, 79, 82, 83)
Moses’ prayers. (Psalms 90)
Ethan’s prayers for rememberance. (Psalms 89)
Isaiah’s prayer for cleansing. (Isiah 6:5)
Hezekiah’s prayer for deliverance. (Isaiah 37:16-20)
Hezekiah’s prayer for healing. (Isaiah 38:3)
Jeremiah’s prayer of confession. (Jeremiah 1:6)
Jeremiah’s prayer accusing God. (Jeremiah 4:10)
Jeremiah’s prayer for judgment. (Jeremiah 10:23-25)
Jeremiah’s prayer to question God. (Jeremiah 12:1-4)
Jeremiah’s prayer for help for Judah. (Jeremiah 14:7-9)
Jeremiah’s prayer for Judah. (Jeremiah 14:20-22)
Jeremiah’s prayer for judgment. (Jeremiah 15:15-18)
Jeremiah’s prayer about captivity. (Jeremiah 32:17-25)
Jeremiah’s prayer for judgment. (Lamentations 1:20-22)
Jeremiah’s prayer for consideration. (Lamentations 2:20-22)
Jeremiah’s prayer for judgment. (Lamentations 3:55-66)
Jeremiah’s prayer for Judah. (Lamentations 5)
Ezekiel’s prayer of protest. (Ezekiel 4:14)
Ezekiel’s prayer for the remnant. (Ezekiel 9:8)
Daniel’s prayer for forgiveness. (Daniel 9:1-19)
Daniel’s prayer for revelation. (Daniel 12:8)
Amos’s prayer for forgiveness. (Amos 7:2)
Amos prayer for help. (Amos 7:5)
Sailor’s prayer for mercy. (Jonah 1:14)
Jonah’s prayer for deliverance. (Jonah 2:1-9)
Jonah’s prayer for death. (Jonah 4:2-3)
Habakkuk’s prayer for action. (Habakkuk 1:1-5)
Habakkuk’s prayer for judgment. (Habakkuk 1:12-17)
Habakkuk’s prayer for revival. (Habakkuk 3:2-19)

In nearly two hundred examples of Old Testament prayer, Jesus and the Jews of his day had examples of many of the most revered Old Testament leaders as well as some unknown persons praying for almost every imaginable result. Prayers for relief from torment, judgment, forgiveness, help and action are just a few of the subjects. There is a long and significant historical foundation for prayer in the life of a believer. There are few significant Old Testament leaders who are not cited in prayer in scripture. Prayer as a normal part of the life of the believer is solidly established.
Prayer was not only normal but required in the homes of religious Jews in the days of Jesus. The Shema passage from Deuteronomy 6:4 was likely recited several times a day in the house of Joseph and Mary as a prayer and declaration of their faith in the Father. Jesus would have seen prayer as not just a form of communication or declaration but as a normal, routine part of daily living.
The results of the word analysis of this passage along with the clear historical significance of prayer both strongly support the idea that Jesus was not only beginning a passage with instructions on how to pray but also how to live the believer’s life. His words indicate prayer as a needed common Christian practice and the history up to that time also supports the central thesis.

Contemporary Theology Analysis
Each key passage in this work will be examined from the perspective of contemporary Christian theology, seeking to keep the original meaning and doctrine while attempting to make the message more understandable to the modern, contemporary reader. There are two applications for the contemporary believer from this passage. The first is to pray. The second is to pray “in this way”. Believers are told what to do and how to do it.
The life of Jesus is an indication of the need for prayer in the life of a believer, in the life of one dedicated to living like Christ. Understanding the common activities of Jesus in his time on Earth is a clear pattern for Christian living. Jesus told his believers to pray not just in his words but in the activities of his life. The life of Jesus is not only the life of a savior, but a teacher. His intentions were not only stated by his words, but by his actions.
Here are New Testament examples of prayer in the life of Jesus:
Speaking to Jewish leaders. (Matthew 11:25-26)
Prior to walking on the water. (Matthew 14:22)
Before feeding the 4000. (Matthew 15:36)
For little children. (Matthew 19:13-15)
At the Lord’s Supper. (Mathew 26:26)
In the Garden of Gethsemane. (Matthew 26:36-46)
On the cross. (Matthew 27:46)
While healing. (Mark 14:22)
At his baptism. (Luke 3:21-22)
After healing. (Luke 5:15)
Before choosing his disciples. (Luke 6:12-13)
Before speaking with Peter. (Luke 9:18)
At the Transfiguration. (Luke 9:28-29)
With the seventy. (Luke 10:21)
Before teaching the Lord’s Prayer in Luke. (Luke 11:1)
For Peter. (Luke 22:31-32)
On the cross. (Luke 23:34)
Just before dying. (Luke 23:46)
After his resurrection. (Luke 24:30)
For his disciples, just before his Ascension. (Luke 24:50-53)
Before feeding the 5000. (John 6:11)
Before raising Lazarus. (John 11:41-42)
To glorify the name. (John 12:27-28)
For himself and his disciples. (John 17:1-26)

The prayers of Jesus can also be seen by their general circumstances. In these
circumstances he presented himself as an “inspiring example for believers.” His demonstrated the “consistency of his prayer life” to his disciples though his entire ministry. He prayed consistently in many different circumstances.
He prayed alone. (Matthew 14:23)
He prayed in public. (John 11:41-42)
He prayed before meals. (Matthew 26:26)
He prayed with his face on the ground. (Matthew 26:39)
He prayed before decisions. (Luke 6:12-13)
He prayed before healing. (Mark 7:34-35)
He prayed after healing. (Luke 5:16)
He prayed to do his Father’s will. (Matthew 26:36-44)
He prayed for himself. (John 17)
He prayed early in the morning. (Mark 1:35)
He prayed for others. (Matthew 19:13)
He prayed with others (Luke 9:28)
He prayed alone. (Luke 5:16)
He prayed in the wilderness. (Luke 5:12)
He prayed on a regular basis. (Luke 5:16)
He prayed with persistence. (Luke 18:1)
He prayed for the will of God. (Matthew 26:39

The life of Jesus taught his believers to pray, both those in his lifetime and to those who follow him today. He prayed for many different things at many different times. He prayed continuously throughout his life. He prayed in many different circumstances. One cannot use the life of Jesus as an example for living without including prayer. His life is was a living example of “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) The contemporary applications are clear and easy to follow. Pray alone and with others. Pray for yourself and for others. Pray regularly and never give up. Believers ought to pray before, during or after any circumstance thought to be significant.
In the remainder of the Matthew passage, Jesus would go on to fulfill the phrase “in this way”. He had presented the idea of prayer in his words and life and would now present to his disciples a pattern for successful prayer. This introductory phrase sets the stage for the great ideas and words to come. These words would be studied and repeated by millions of followers for thousands of years after the day this passage was recorded.

Chapter Summary
The introductory words of this passage, “to pray then in this way” illustrate both the wisdom soon to come as well as the perspective if Jesus in regards to prayer. Prayer for all issues, in any circumstances and done consistently were characteristics of his life he sought to influence his followers to copy with this passage. Jesus knew that “the bending of our lives toward God does not come naturally” and that his followers would need effective tools and methods to achieve that goal. Contemporary Christians have those same needs.

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