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How To Pray (2)

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The Disciple’s Prayer

We see the
Luke 11:1–4 ESV
Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”
We see the specific setting of the disciple’s prayer – usually called the Lord’s prayer, except this is the prayer the Lord gave to us. Jesus was praying. When He stopped, one of the disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, as John the Baptist taught his disciples. records an abbreviated form of the prayer found in .
Luke 11:1–4 ESV
Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”

Warning Against Engaging in Non-Prayer

Matthew 6:5–13 ESV
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “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, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
matt 6 5
Jesus sets the context by beginning with two warnings.
Luke 11:1–4 ESV
Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”
First, we not to pray like religious hypocrites, who only pray so that other people see them.
Second, we are not to pray like pagans, who utter repetitive, superstitious prayers.
As to the religious hypocrities, Jesus says,
Matthew 6:5 ESV
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
matt 6
This is not a prohibition against praying with other people or in a group, it is a prohibition against praying with the sole goal of being noticed and praised by others. This is not prayer at all. It is a speech that invites congratulations and applause.
Instead, Jesus says,
Matthew 6:6 ESV
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
We must remember that prayer is essentially a personal appeal to God. Some say that prayer is a conversation with God. That’s only true if God’s part of the conversation is His Word, the Scriptures. He speaks in His Word, and we respond in prayer according to His promise, and He works according to His perfect will.

Praying According to the Will of God

You know, there are people who react negatively when someone mentions praying according to the will of God. There is a lot that could be said, but I’ll just say this. If someone thinks that the will of God is a problem or an obstacle to faithful, believing prayer, then they don’t understand His nature and character. Not only is His will not an obstacle to prayer, it is the only means by which we could ever expect an answer to prayer!
As to the pagans, Jesus says,
Jesus then goes on to say,
Matthew 6:7 ESV
“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.
“Heap up empty phrases” is a single word in the Greek text, and it means to repeat the same words over and over and over. Many religions do this, of course, and some even use the Disciples’ prayer in this way, which is about as rebellious a response as someone could have to the Word of God.
Hundreds of years before Jesus spoke these words, the prophet Elijah challenged the prophets of the false god Baal. Both would set up a sacrifice. The prophets of Baal would call out to him; Elijah would call out to Yahweh. Whichever one answered with fire would be recognized as God.
The prophets of Baal spent an entire morning crying out, “Oh Baal, answer us!”, with absolutely no result. After being provoked by Elijah, who suggested that perhaps Baal was on a journey, or asleep, or in the bathroom, they intensified their efforts, cutting themselves until the blood ran all over them, and raving until late afternoon.
a warning not to heap up empty phrases like the pagans. That phrase is a single word in the Greek text, and it means to prattle, to stammer, to repeat the same words over and over again, to speak aimlessly, to babble.
When Elijah’s turn came, we read,
The Prophets of Baal
The Prophets of Baal
Hundreds of years before this took place, the prophet Elijah had a spiritual showdown with the prophets of the false god, Baal. They set up a simple experiment. Elijah would prepare a sacrifice; so would the prophets of Baal. They would appeal to their respective gods – Yahweh, for Elijah, and Baal, for his prophets – to receive the offering with fire. The prophets of Baal went first. They prayed all morning, “Oh Baal, answer us!” It’s very sad, really; they worshiped a false god, but they were convinced Baal was the true God. This was Baal’s moment to shine, his opportunity to prove himself. At noon Elijah mocked Baal’s silence: maybe he’s daydreaming; maybe he is in the bathroom; maybe he’s on a journey; maybe he’s asleep. And so the prophets of Baal doubled their efforts, continuing to cry out, cutting themselves until the blood flowed, and raving like madmen all afternoon.
1 Kings 18:29 ESV
And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.
How incredibly tragic. There was no voice. No one answered. No one paid attention. It’s not that Baal failed to answer their prayers to send down fire; it’s that they had utterly committed themselves to a god which was nothing more than a demonic lie.
What a contrast when Elijah prepared his sacrifice, and prayed one time:
1 Kings 18:36–38 ESV
And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
1ki 18 36-37
God does not require endless repetition from us; He doesn’t have to be persuaded to answer; He doesn’t tease us by making us fulfill some mysterious condition. He commands us to ask, and then trust Him to do what glorifies His name and achieves His purpose. We are to persevere in prayer, which is not a reference to heaping up empty words, but returning daily with the same concern. Prayer is not pulling on some cosmic slot machine, believing that if we pull the handle enough times we’ll get lucky, but calling out to our Sovereign, All-Mighty, All-Powerful God to act according to His will and glory and purpose.
; or like pagans, who, like the prophets of Baal, went on and on and one.

The Prayer Itself

The Disciples’ prayer itself is an excellent model for prayer.

Our Father in heaven

Jesus teaches us to direct our prayer to God the Father. But notice something else. The Father is OUR Father, not simply MY Father. Prayer, by its very definition, is personal between us and God. But Jesus tells us that, at the same time, no one can claim a special, unique, exclusive relationship to God the Father. He is OUR Father.
Let me also point out that there is not a single first-person singular pronoun in the Disciples’ prayer. We see our, us, and we, not my, me, and I. As each of us prays, we pray for all of us. Give all of us our daily bread; forgive all of us our debts; lead all of us not into temptation but to deliverance.

Hallowed be Your name

Hallowed means holy, and holy means separate, untouched by sin, uncontaminated. To say that God is holy is to say that He is separate from His creation, even while He is present at all places at all times. He is untouched and uncontaminated by sin. No matter what we do – even if every human being were to shout curses at His name and commit the worst possible sins – He is never anything but who He is.
His perfection is the source of tremendous hope. He never lies, He never gets it wrong, He never acts in any way apart from His own perfect, flawless nature.

Your kingdom come

There is a period at the end of these words in the Greek text. You all know that as we recite this prayer “Thy kingdom come” and “Thy will be done” get thrown together without a space, but we really ought to separate them. One day Jesus is going to establish His kingdom on earth, and no other earthly kingdom will be allowed to stand. He is not going to use the best human government or nation that He can find. They are all corrupt, all wicked, all rebellious, all opposed to Him. They will all crumble into dust.
When we pray for His kingdom to come, we are asking for that exact thing. We agree that no earthly kingdom – ours included – can compare to His, or should be allowed to stand in permanent hostility toward Him. More than that, we shift our loyalty from the kingdom in which we live to the kingdom He will bring.

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven

The will of God is His intended purpose and desired outcome. Asking for His will to be accomplished is to surrender our own will in favor of His.
We need to recognize that God has decreed all things that take place on earth, and that nothing happens apart from His will. says,
Psalm 33:10–11 ESV
The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.
That is, He has the power to block and and redefine every human desire, but nothing blocks or redefines His will. He is truly sovereign over all things. We pray to Him as the One who is sovereign over every circumstance of life.
The Scripture calls us to surrender to the will of God when Peter writes,
1 Peter 3:14–17 ESV
But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
1 Peter 2:21 ESV
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
1pet 3 14-
1pet 2

Give us this day our daily bread

The prayer now turns to our pressing needs. We are physical beings, and we have physical needs. The word give means give freely, give without cost. It does not simply mean deliver, as in “we’ll work for the right to receive, and ask that You deliver what we deserve.” It means “give us what we need each day because You are God-our-provider.”
When God sent manna from heaven, He didn’t drop it into their mouths, or even into the containers they had prepared. They had to go and gather what He provided. The same principle continues today; we must gather what He provides, each according to his or her own abilities.
What also has not changed is that we are to remain close by our God, because He remains close by us. We don’t need to ask for enough for a lifetime, but enough for a day, because He won’t be here today and gone tomorrow.
We don’t need to ask for enough for a lifetime, but enough for a day, because He won’t be here today and gone tomorrow.
Asking for our daily bread keeps us close to the Lord, aware not only of His provision, but of His promise to be our God forever.
Luke 12:18–20 ESV
And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’
luke 12 18
Asking for our daily bread keeps us close to the Lord, aware not only of His provision, but of His promise to be our God forever.

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors

Forgiveness of sin is a big deal in the kingdom of God. We can’t enter His kingdom unless our sins have been forgiven and we have been born again. Even a single act of the smallest sin is enough to condemn a human being to hell – Adam and Eve are proof of that. And we are flooded with sin and unrighteousness; “we all stumble in many ways,” as James says.
As we continue to live, we continue to sin, and so we must continue to recognize our sin, confessing it, repenting of it, not simply in general, as in “forgive my sins,” but specifically as we know them, “forgive THIS sin, and THAT sin.” Confession means naming our sins before the Lord.
And we have a never-ending picture of both the ongoing existence of our sins, and the offense that they cause to God, because He allows others to sin against us, just as we sin against Him. He bore the cost of our forgiveness; we must bear the cost of forgiving others.
There are many significant differences between us and God. He is holy; we are not. He is righteous and just; we are not. He has the power and authority to actually punish sin; we do not. But there is at least one similarity. His forgiveness of our sins is based upon Jesus’ death on the cross for us, and OUR forgiveness of the sins others commit against us is based upon Jesus’ death on the cross for us.
God forgives us because Jesus died for us.
We forgive others because Jesus died for us.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil

It shouldn’t sound strange that we ask the Good Shepherd not to lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil and the evil one. Over and over again we see God give unrepentant people over to sin, that their pride would be broken and they would humble themselves before Him. He has the power and authority to lead us as He wills.
It shouldn’t sound strange that we ask the Good Shepherd not to lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil and the evil one. Over and over again we see God give unrepentant people over to sin, that their pride would be broken and they would humble themselves before Him. He has the power and authority to lead us as He wills.
This is a prayer for God to spare us painful discipline, but we see that it comes light of our confession of sin, and our forgiveness toward those who have sinned against us. If we will not confess our sin, if we will not forgive others, we can’t expect our Savior to leave us wallowing in our sin and bitterness.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forevermore

These closing words are probably not part of the original text, since they are lacking from a number of early manuscripts, but as a doxology they are perfectly true and fitting.
This entire prayer is built upon the reality of God’s coming kingdom, His Almighty power, and the glory of His being.
We long for His kingdom, we trust in His power, and we pursue His glory.
We ask what we believe conforms to the kingdom He will bring.
We ask believing that nothing is too hard for Him, that He does what He pleases.
And we ask that His glory would be manifested in every breath of our body and every beat of our heart.
Stand with me, and let’s close our service with the prayer the Lord Jesus taught us. Let’s truly pray these words, and not merely recite them.
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