And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, you will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts as we have also forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
– Matthew 6
In Matthew, the Lord’s prayer is given in contrast to how the gentiles pray. The gentiles heap up empty words hoping to get the attention of their gods. Later, after the prayer and an interlude on fasting, he comes back to the gentiles again: they worry about tomorrow, what they shall eat and drink and wear. Instead of being like that, don’t worry about tomorrow. Seek his kingdom and his righteousness and all the rest will follow. This is remarkably similar to the content of the prayer taught earlier.
The Lord’s prayer opens by petitioning for the coming of the kingdom. It then asks for the needs of today, just today. Finally it covers matters of righteousness. And that’s it. Kingdom, needs of today, righteousness.
If we are trying to figure out how to fit all the things that we normally pray for into this framework, it doesn’t work. It leaves one wondering how that prayer helps us learn to pray. But if instead we think of it as a lesson in what is worth praying about, it makes sense. It dovetails neatly into the teaching later in the chapter.
Even when we pray, we should be focused on kingdom and righteousness. Job concerns, health problems, travel mercies — those should not be the focus of our prayers. Those are the things the gentiles worry about. God knows what we need. He knows how to take care of us. What he wants to hear us ask for is kingdom and righteousness.