This morning we return once again to our study about prayer. This week the Spirit has led me to focus on a prayer found in the Bible that we all are very familiar with. It’s the prayer we often call – ‘The Lord’s Prayer.’
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. 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. KJV (ref Matthew 6:9-13)
1) “As Jesus Was Praying”
a) Disciples noticed the time Jesus invested in prayer
If you have ever studied the gospels, you know that Jesus spent a lot of time praying. Before Jesus chose His twelve apostles, He spent the entire night in prayer. Other portions of scripture tell us that oftentimes Jesus arose long before daylight so that He might have the opportunity to spend some solitary time in prayer. During His earthly ministry, the average day for Jesus began at daylight and extended into the night. Often there were thousands of people, calling out for His attention and help. Therefore Jesus had to get up very early in the morning if He was going to have any time for meaningful prayer. The Bible also seems to indicate that Jesus prayed spontaneously and constantly. On one occasion Jesus said – “the Son can do nothing by Himself, unless He sees the Father doing it. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” (John 5:19 BSB) In other words, Jesus stayed in constant contact with His Father, watching to see what His Father was doing and then following His lead. No wonder the ministry of Jesus was powerful and effective.
Not only did the disciples notice that Jesus was always prayer, they also noticed that whenever Jesus prayed, something significant happened.
b) Disciples noticed that something significant happened whenever Jesus prayed
The disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. It’s not as though they had never heard someone pray. The Jews prayed religiously three times a day. Perhaps that was the problem: the disciples had been taught how to pray religiously, but now they wanted to be taught how to pray with reality. What was it about the prayers of Jesus that moved mountains?
2) “Lord, Teach Us How to Pray”
Therefore they came to Jesus and said, “Lord, teach us how to pray.” Teach us to pray that is real and meaningful. In response to their request Jesus said –
Luke 11:2 … 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.
As with many things, the church seems to go to one of two extremes when it comes to this prayer. Some churches say this prayer every Sunday as a part of their worship. The bad thing about that is, even this important prayer can become a ritual. The other extreme is, because it can become a ritual, some churches never say this prayer. Yet we must keep in mind that this prayer is the answer to the disciples’ request to learn how to pray.
Some call it the Lord’s Prayer because it is the Lord who first gave it. Yet others believe a better title for the prayer would be – ‘The Disciple’s Prayer.’ Jesus did not pray this prayer. Jesus never had to pray – ‘Forgive Me of my sins.’ I think an even better title for this prayer would be – ‘The Pattern Prayer.’ Jesus did not say that we should pray this prayer and this prayer only – word for word. Jesus gave us this prayer as a framework for us to use to build our prayers.
3) Two Major Parts to This Prayer
The third thing I want to say about this prayer as a way of introduction is that there are two major parts to this prayer:
a) Two Parts:
Part A – about God
Part B – about us
This is not two prayers – it’s one prayer. These two parts are not in contrast to each other – they are complementary to each other. They go hand in hand together.
I think that we should also say that there is a reason for why Jesus laid this prayer out in this format. There is a sequence in this prayer.
b) Our Approach to Praying
Even though this is a simple prayer, I have struggled at times to understand it. Jesus tells us to begin by calling God –‘Father.’ Therefore if I was laying out this prayer, I would make it flow like this –
“Our Father, which art in heaven, give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our sins and deliver us from evil.” In other words, this prayer would be about – ‘Me.’
There are two ways to approach praying:
i) We Are the Center of the Universe
If we would be honest, often we pray with ourselves sitting at the center of the universe. Prayer is about ourselves and those we love.If we were formulating this pattern for prayer we would say – “Our Father, which art in heaven, forgive us our sins and give us what we’re asking for.” Often that’s pretty much the totality of our prayers.
There are at least two great problems with praying in that kind of way:
I) We Will Most Likely be Inconsistent in Our Praying
If I don’t need God today – there’s no need to take the time to pray.
II) Some of Our Prayers May Not Be Answered
As we will see in future studies on prayer, we have the privilege to pray about anything and everything. However, the Bible also gives us another very important principle about our privilege to pray –
1 John 5:14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
Prayer is not about making God become a genie in a bottle whom we can call upon whenever we need Him. Prayer is about a relationship with Creator whereby He is able to work in our lives in accordance to His will. Again, consider what Jesus said –
“the Son can do nothing by Himself, unless He sees the Father doing it. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” (John 5:19 BSB)
One of the reasons Jesus prayed so much was because He was completely dependent upon the Father to reveal to Him His will
ii) God is the Center of the Universe
The other approach to prayer is that God is the center of the universe and that we exist for Him. That’s one of the important truths Jesus was trying to teach us in this pattern prayer.
What happens when we make God the center of the universe?
I) We Seek to Honor Him With Our Prayers
II) We Have Confidence and Boldness Because We Are Praying in His Will
III) We See Him Answering Our Prayers
* * * * *
I. Prayer is About Our Relationship With God
Jesus begins prayer by teaching us to say – “Our Father which art in heaven…” Who can call God their Father and why is it important to do so?
A. Who Can Call God Their Father?
Who can call God their Father? Can everyone do so? There are some who think so. There are some who think that all of mankind are the children of God and that regardless of who you are or what you believe, God is going to take care of you.
It is true; God is the Creator of all there is. Paul said to the men on Mars Hill that in God we live and move and have our being. (see Acts 17:25) There is a sense in that all of mankind has been created in God’s image and that He loves each and every individual. However, the Bible also teaches us that there must be a spiritual new-birth that must take place before we can call God – ‘Father.’ There was a time when Jesus actually addressed the religious leaders of Israel as being ‘children of the devil.’ (see John 8:44) In Colossians 3:6 Paul addressed non-believers as being ‘the children of disobedience.’ In Ephesians 2:3 he refers to them as being ‘the children of wrath.’ Though God has given life to all mankind, all mankind does not know God as their heavenly Father. In order for that to happen there must be a spiritual new-birth.
John 1:11 He (Jesus) came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right (authority) to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. NKJV
The prayer that Jesus is teaching us is for the man or woman who has come to Christ and received Him as their Savior and thus been born-again and made a child of God. Then and only then can we call God – ‘Father.’
B. Why Is It Important That We Call God – Father?
Why is it important that we call God – ‘Father?’ I think that there are a couple of reasons:
1. Continual Reminder of the Specialness of Our Relationship With God
When I pray, I am not an ‘it’ praying to some unknown ‘thing.’ I am someone whom God loves very much and cares deeply about. I am His child and He is my Father and every good father is going to take care of His children. Look down in our passage to verses 9 and following –
Luke 11:9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
2. Continual Reminder of the Sacredness of Our Relationship With God
“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.”
II. Prayer is About Our Reverence For God
God is my Father, but He is my ‘heavenly’ Father. What does that mean?
A. God is God and I Am Not
God is God and I am not. Jesus said that we are to pray – ‘Hallowed be thy name.’ To hallow God’s name means to treat it as holy or sacred. We know that God takes great offense to whenever someone misuses His name. The 3rd Commandment says – “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Exodus 20:4) We know that it is sinful to use God’s name as a curse word. We should also note that it is sinful to use God’s name as slang such as the popular – O.M.G. To go even deeper, we need to recognize that the word ‘vain’ refers to something that is worthless or useless. Therefore I believe that it is also sinful to throw God’s name around in an empty kind of God. He’s not the man upstairs. He’s God Almighty.
There’s even a deeper level that we should go in this. What name of God is Jesus referring to here? Is Jesus referring to the title ‘God’ or ‘Father?’ As I have prayerfully meditated on this, I wonder if Jesus was referring to the name God used when He spoke of Himself. Moses asked God, ‘If the people ask me what is the name of this God who has sent you to deliver us, what name am I supposed to use? What is your name?’ To which God replied – ‘I AM THAT I AM.’ (see Exodus 3:13-14) That name has been translated as ‘Yahweh’ or sometimes as ‘Jehovah.’ The Jews believed that the name Yahweh or Jehovah was so sacred that it should not even be spoken or written. Whenever they came to the name Jehovah in the Old Testament, most of the time they wrote – capital LORD.
So, is Jesus saying, “Pray that the name Jehovah will be revered?” Are we praying that no one will ever take God’s name in vain? Perhaps, but I think that it goes deeper.
I AM THAT I AM means that God is eternal and self-existing. “I am and will always be who I have always been.” In other words, I am God.
But perhaps Jesus is also reminding us of the importance of our praying to God in a spirit of submission.
B. Pray to God in a Spirit of Submission
1. ‘Thy Kingdom Come’
What is a kingdom? A kingdom is the realm where a king reigns. What is the realm of God’s kingdom?
a. ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ in This World and Throughout the Universe
Regardless of what you believe about the sequence concerning the end of this world as we know it and the establishment of God’s kingdom over heaven and earth, we all agree that there is a kingdom to come and every true child of God is longing for that kingdom.
Peter tells us that we should be ‘looking and longing for the day when Christ comes back to set up His kingdom.’ (see 2 Peter 3:12) A kingdom Peter describes – ‘wherein dwelleth righteousness.’ (see 2 Peter 3:13) The last prayer in the Bible is – ‘Even so, come, Lord Jesus.’ (Revelation 22:20) It should be the constant prayer of the believer that our Lord will come and set up His righteous kingdom.
b. ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ Within Your People – the Church
On the one hand the church is the kingdom of God. God’s kingdom is not just something physical, but something spiritual as well. Unfortunately the church is not always living under kingdom authority. Sometimes we get very selfish and self-centered in the church. Sometimes God’s people are praying more about their own kingdom than God’s kingdom.
c. ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ in Me
There’s a third way I pray this prayer. “Thy kingdom come in me.” Before I can expect God’s kingdom to come in the church or in the world, it needs to first come in me. I need to be praying and living under God’s kingdom of authority and actually I believe that’s one of the primary reasons for prayer. Prayer realigns us with the authority of God.
2. ‘Thy Will Be Done’
a. The Will of God
As I study this I paused to take a deeper look at the word – ‘will.’ What do we mean when we refer to the will of God? The word means:
i. Desire “Lord, may what you desire happen.”
ii. Pleasure “Lord, may what happens bring you pleasure.”
iii. Plan and Purpose “Lord, may your plan and purpose be accomplished.”
b. Why We Should Learn to Pray for the Will of God
Why is it important that we learn to pray first and foremost for the will of God? Let me give you a couple of reasons:
i. It’s Going to Affect How We Pray for Ourselves
ii. It’s Going to Affect How God Responds and Answers Our Prayers
III. Prayers is About Our Responsibility to God
Here is something important that we need to know. Jesus expressed all three of these prayers as ‘Imperatives.’ What does that mean?
A. A Command to Pray This Way
If we skip over the first part of the Lord’s Prayer, we are failing to follow the example Jesus gave us. Jesus said, “When you pray, pray in this way.” It is our duty as God’s people to pray in this way.
B. A Necessity to Pray This Way
A Greek Imperative can refer to something that is a command, but it can also refer to something that is an absolute necessity. Let me ask you a question – in the end, when it’s all said and done – what is going to be the best-
– that our will was done?
– or, that His will was done?
I think that the answer to that question is pretty obvious.
C. A Urgency to Pray This Way
By making these prayer requests imperatives, Jesus could have meant that these are commands or necessities. But an imperative is sometimes used to indicate something else. A Greek imperative is used to express urgency. These are not simple little phrases that we use at the beginning of our prayers. These are the cries of our hearts.
I close today by asking us some penetrating and probing questions:
1) Am I seeking the will of God in my prayers?
Am I seeking His will in my life?
Am I praying for His will in this church?
Am I longing for His will to be done on this earth?
2) Am I willing to submit my life to Christ the King?
Some of you need to submit to Christ and be saved. Some of you need to submit to Christ and follow Him in believer’s baptism. Some of you need to submit to Him and start taking your Christian walk seriously. Some of you need to make some lifestyle changes.
3) What might happen if we as the members of the body of Christ began seek God earnestly in our prayers?