Friday, January 10, 2020

Bible Boot Camp: Prayer

Communications: Prayer

Taught by the Teacher Luke 11:1-13

Luke  11:1. And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

Have you ever placed yourself among the disciples that asked this question?  What an opportunity, to ask Jesus the best way to pray!  If anyone would know how to reach the Father it would be the only begotten son, Jesus Christ.  

We were not there in person to ask the Master to teach us to pray but thanks to the Holy Spirit's work through Luke and the other gospel writers we can still learn the same lessons about prayer Jesus taught his first disciples.   And there is nothing lost in the translation, either, God's word is as pure and right in the Bible you hold as it was in the ears of those who listened to Him almost 2000 years ago.

So, are you willing to learn from Jesus Himself?  Are you willing to listen with an open mind and open heart as the Holy Spirit reshapes our conceptions of prayer and deepens the relationship between God and his people through prayer.

Platform for Prayer

 Luke 11:2  And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. 3  Give us day by day our daily bread. 4  And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

            Let's begin by looking at the model for prayer that Jesus gave to his disciples. Technically, this is not the Lord's prayer. He did not pray it to His Father. The Lord's Prayer is really found in John 17, when Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane. This prayer is really a platform or framework upon which we should build our own personal prayers.  It is very simple in construction, as any framework should be.  It leaves room for us to raise up our own places of prayer where can we meet with God.

Relation: To the Father from His Child 

 Our Father which art in heaven
            Look at the beginning of the prayer.  What is the first thing you notice, Who is the prayer to?   The prayer is to Our Father in Heaven.  Jesus used a child's word for father, equivalent to our "daddy" it is the same word used in Romans 8:15 "Abba, Father". 

What does this tell us about the relationship of those who pray? 
They must be children of God, they must be saved.  It also tells us that in prayer we are to understand God as our Father, a very personal, intimate relationship.

So, how do you think of God when you approach Him in Prayer?
Do your prayers reflect an understanding of who God is to you?  Do they have warmth and intimacy or do they sound somewhat distant or routine? 

Would you talk to your earthly father in the same way you pray to your Heavenly Father?  

What are some ways in which my prayers should change and deepen along with my understanding of God as my Father? 

  Adoration: Praise before Petition

 Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

The next phrase brings us another portion of the platform upon which to build, yet it is often the most undeveloped part of modern prayer.

 Jesus in his model prayer said, "Hallowed be Thy name."  What does this mean? 

 The word "Hallowed" is the verb form of the word holy.  In the case of the model prayer is an acknowledgment of the holiness, the sanctity of God's name and thereby God Himself.  The phrase in this abbreviated model is a place for worship and praise to the One we are praying to.

In our own house of prayer this room is often absent or very empty.  We are so eager or programmed to ask things from God in prayer that we neglect time spent with God in prayer.   To praise God during our prayer is to honor Him, commune with Him, and render to Him what is due as the Creator of the Universe and the only one who can intervene in time and space to help us.

Let's look at some examples of prayers from the great men of the Bible and mark how their prayers are filled with praise and worship.

David - Psalm 86:1-15
Bow down thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy.  Preserve my soul; for I am holy: O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee.  Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily.  Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.  For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.  Give ear, O LORD, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications.  In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.  Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works.  All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name.  For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.  Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.  I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore.  For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.  O God, the proud are risen against me, and the assemblies of violent men have sought after my soul; and have not set thee before them.  But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.

Daniel - Daniel 9:3-7
 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:  And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;  We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:  Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.  O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.

Peter and the early church - Acts 4:23-31
 And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.  And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:  Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?  The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.  For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,  For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.  And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,  By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.  And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

The example of raise in the presence of God is seen in the processional Psalms 100. Since prayer is entering into the presence of God, then the praise should proceed our petitions.

Psalm 100:1-5
 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.  Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.  Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.  Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.  For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Submission: to God's Rule and Will 

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

The next part of the model prayer deals with submission.  Jesus constructed it in two sections, God's Kingdom and God's Will.

 "Thy kingdom come" had a very real and obvious meaning to the disciples of Jesus. The prophets had promised a kingdom of God ruled by the Messiah. God's kingdom was first and foremost that promised kingdom. It was not established yet or Jesus would not have told them to pray for it to come. It was however; on it's way and would someday be established over all the earth with Jesus Christ as King. This petition would fill the Roman dominated Israelite with hope as he endured the rule of another. For us this is a place of both petition for a future reality and a present attitude. 

When I pray is there a place in my prayer for the return of Jesus to establish his kingdom? Is there an attitude of hope that permeates my prayer because I look for this to happen? Do I realize that no matter how difficult it may be now, under the rule of Satan in this world, that someday Jesus will reign and all will be right? 

Next Jesus told the disciples to pray, "Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven." "In heaven" is the qualifying statement for describing how God's will was to be done. In heaven, uncountable armies of angels carry out God’s will instantaneously. Since angels aren't earthly creatures, who is to do God's will here? 

The Dedication of Jonathan Edwards.

 I claim no right to myself- no right to this understanding, this will, these affections that are in me; neither do I have any right to this body or its members-no right to this tongue, to these hand, feet, ears or eyes.

 I have given myself clear away and not retained anything of my own.  I have been to God this morning and told Him I have given myself wholly to Him.  I have given Him every power, so that for the future I claim no right to myself in any respect.  I have expressly promised Him, for by His grace
I will not fail.  I take Him as my whole portion and felicity, looking upon nothing else as any part of my happiness, His law is the rule of my obedience.   I will fight with all my might against the world, the flesh, and the devil to the end of my life.  I will adhere to the faith of the Gospel, however hazardous and difficult the profession and practice of it may be.

 I receive the blessed Spirit as my Teacher, Sanctifier, and only Comforter, and cherish all admonitions to enlighten, purify, confirm, comfort and assist me.  This I have done.

 I pray God, for the sake of others, to look upon this as a self-dedication, and receive me as His own.  Henceforth, I am not to act in any respect as my own.  I shall act as my own if I ever make use of any of my powers to do anything that is not to the glory of God, or to fail to make the glorifying of Him my whole and entire business.

If I murmur in the least at afflictions: if I am in any way uncharitable: if I revenge my own case: if I do anything purely to please myself, or omit anything because it is a great denial: if I trust to myself: if I take any praise for any good which Christ does by me: or if I am in any way proud, I shall act as my own and not God's.  I purpose to be absolutely His.  -Jonathan Edwards.

 If I add this room to my prayers, how will it change my prayers?  How will it change my life? 

Recognition: Of God's Power for Daily Life

Give us day by day our daily bread.

The next phrase asks God for daily bread.  Certainly this includes our food which ultimately comes from God, but within the framework of this model prayer it goes much further.  

Bread was the "staff of life."  It was the most important part of the Middle Eastern diet.  Meat, fresh vegetables and fruit were luxuries at most tables, but bread meant they would live another day. 

"Daily bread" to us then is that which is necessary to sustain our lives each day.  It means we stand upon the promises of God to care for his children and provide for their needs.  It does not presume upon tomorrow except to believe that God will as always provide for us once we are there. 

 This room is not a license to ask for the luxuries of life, it is an affirmation of God's promise for the necessities of life.  It is praying from faith not want. It is recognizing that it is God who must supply life itself.  It is the realization that but for God I would not draw another breath or my heart go on one more beat.

Look at the following verses in which God gave the first daily bread to his people of the Exodus.

Exodus 16:15-18
 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.  This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.  And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less.  And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating. 

Deuteronomy 8:3
 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

What was the lesson of the manna to the Israelites?

What is the lesson of the manna to us? (Notice what Moses said in Deut 8:3.)

Reconciliation: Repentance toward God and Forgiveness of Others

And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.

            Now Jesus instructs that each prayer should have a place in which forgiveness is asked from God and because of that forgiveness we also forgive those who have sinned against us.
            Very few prayers omit asking for forgiveness but few include granting it.  It should be noted that forgiveness is given by God based upon what Jesus has done.  No work or righteousness which we do can has redeeming merit from God.  Yet we must not ignore the fact that these two acts of forgiveness are tied together.  It should be impossible to us, who have been forgiven all our sin through Jesus Christ, to be unable to forgive someone else a hurt or an offense. 

Read the following parable by Christ. - Matthew 18:23-35
 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.  And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.  But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.  The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.  Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.  But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.  And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.  And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.  So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.  Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:  Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?  And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.  So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

After I have experience the new birth, forgiveness from God may be hindered if I cannot forgive others.  It is sinful to harbor feelings of resentment and bitterness toward another when God willing forgave me and made me his child.   What offense could be greater than my rebellion against God that caused His own Son to die on the cross?

  Humiliation: a Cry for Deliverance

And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

The final phrase that the disciples were instructed to pray dealt with temptation and deliverance from that temptation.  The word temptation can mean both temptation to sin and a testing.  Indeed a temptation to sin is a test of a moral kind.  Jesus is not however saying that God tempts man to sin.  Read James 1:13 James plain shows that God does not tempt the way Satan tempts. 
The model prayer expresses an attitude; it began in petitioning God for His kingdom to come and proceeds with our submission to his will.  Now within that submission to whatever God brings into our life, we turn to the One into whose hand our entire being has been placed and ask Him to remember that we are human and dependent upon Him. 
“Lord, Keep us from temptation for we are weak, and easily swayed.”  This room in the prayer is one of humility that is entered from the previous room of submission to God.

I believe Paul is operating in this attitude when he wrote
1 Cor. 10:13   There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].

What is the way of escape?
Please notice Jesus words in John 14:6 "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." Temptation is not avoided by looking for another door or path to take around it, it is overcome by The Way just as salvation was in Him so all of our spiritual battles must be overcome through and only through Him.

Without humility my prayer is a sham.  I must recognize that I am incapable of anything unless God intervenes to keep me from evil.  Humility is not weakness, it fact true humility is the key to real strength.  For God's strength is not given to the proud but only to the lowly.  His strength is mine when I realize my own weakness.


No army can win battles unless it can communicate with its leaders. Nor can any Christian expect to have victory in our life, if we do not talk to our Captain.In the Bible we receive His order and in prayer we seek His help and encouragement. Being lax in one is a detriment but being lax in both is a guaranteed defeat.

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