How Shall We Pray?
“After this manner therefore pray ye…”
9 …Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. KJV
We have been just a little over three months in this study of the Model Prayer and I bring you the concluding message in this part of our study.
It is my interest today to remind you of the important issues contained in this section of scripture and exhort you to pay serious, regular and passionate heed to what we are taught here.
This passage is important and significant to us because it is our Lord, Jesus Christ, teaching His disciples how to pray and prayer is one of the most important issues of the Christian faith.
It is so important that Jesus Himself frequently took time apart for Himself to speak earnestly with His Father in heaven.
On that last night before He was crucified, Jesus had established the Lord’s Supper for His disciples. Then the left and Luke describes it this way.
39 And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. KJV
39 And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. NAS
Jesus, according to Luke, customarily withdrew to the Mount of Olives to pray when He was in Jerusalem. We know that He kept up the routine while in other places as well.
35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. KJV
In the early days of the church there was a great number of widows who needed help and who were being assisted by the church. At first, the only officials of the church were the 12, but soon the needs became too much for them. Peter made an interesting address to the church on the matter.
1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. KJV
Prayer was such an important and fundamental issue to the apostles that they insisted that men be appointed to take care of the work of the church so that they could give themselves to it and the ministry of the word.
The great heroes of the Christian faith have differed from one another in many, many ways. But there is one thing they universally had in common, they were people of prayer.
So, let me give you the conclusion of the matter at the beginning of this message lest you grow sleepy and miss it.
Pray. Pray daily. Pray intentionally, deliberately, passionately. Make time to pray. Schedule time to pray. Move whatever needs to be moved, rearrange whatever needs rearranging. Use this prayer and the principles in it as your model to begin your prayers, then expand them as needed to cover all in your life that needs the special attention of God. Make plans for extended and unusual prayer events, whether staying up late or rising early to have solitude for meditation and communion with God.
From your side of the equation there is no more important, essential nor useful element of your walk with God than prayer. Nothing will substitute for it. Reading good books, listening to messages, hearing religious music, fellowshipping with the saints, even the reading of the Word of God itself (while important as well), nothing, can replace nor do the work of daily, faithful, prayer.
Remember to begin your prayers in worship.
Remember Who it is to Whom you are addressing your prayers. He is on the throne of heaven, high and lifted up, ruling and reigning over all of His creation. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was the work of the Godhead that Jesus came to be born of the virgin. And it was all the Work of God and none the work of man that paid the penalty of our sins on the cross. It was of the Father that the prophet (Isa. 53:11) said “He shall see the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied.”
It is by His grace that you have the privilege of prayer. It is He Who set you to be born in a place and a time in which you might hear the Gospel message and be saved. It is He Who touched your heart, changed your mind, gave you life, faith, and repentance of sins. He opened the door of the Kingdom to You and ushered you into to Everlasting Blessing.
It is into His throne room that you come when you pray. This Majestic God, “dwelling in the light to which no man can approach,” is pleased to give attention to the cries of your heart but it is your duty to give Him due honor for His Glory, His Indescribable Wonder, and His Grace, the unimaginable mercy by which He has chosen to visit you with spiritual life.
Worship Him. Adore Him. Give attention to His Works and to the enormous privilege of communing with Him.
Do not demean Him or diminish Him by making it seem as if He is your servant or that you may come casually into His Presence. He is God and there is no other,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: KJV
This is Your God, the One Who allows you to tread His court and the One Who turns a listening ear to the cries of your heart.
Remember that it is His Will that is Supreme and His Kingdom that we serve.
Our God is Sovereign. He has an eternal plan, as Isaiah said. He has not placed us in charge of either heaven or earth.
Regardless of what we might petition Him, no matter what we might ask, our wills must forever be subordinate to His and we must be clear about that as we open our prayers to Him.
His Revealed Will is contained in our scriptures and give us the overview of what He might be pleased to hear from us. Our asking must be in line with His revelation, otherwise our prayers are discounted and worthless. His Secret Will we cannot know in advance.
Yet His power is limitless. There is nothing too difficult for Him, nothing too large and nothing too small. He might take a little oil and a little meal and make and endless supply of it for a widow and her son because His prophet is staying with them. And, then, He may send fire from heaven to destroy a city or to consume the sacrifice of a prophet. He may send destruction on Sodom and then send a mighty revival on Nineveh under the prophet Jonah.
So, we are encouraged to ask mighty things of God and to prevail upon Him in prayer.
17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. KJV
And, then, we are encouraged to bring the closest concerns of our hearts to Him in the assurance that He love us.
1 Peter 5:6‑7
6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. KJV
But always, at the end of the day, it is His Kingdom that must prosper and His Will that must be done.
We are to be encouraged to think that Our God, Our Savior, has made spiritual provision for every day in a similar way that He provided manna for the ancient Jews in the wilderness.
Yet, He would has us ask for those provisions just as He had Israel rise early each day and gather the manna.
He makes provision but He makes it on a day by day basis. Today’s mercies are not sufficient for tomorrow’s troubles. Yesterday’s grace will not meet the challenges of today.
This He does to help us learn the discipline of daily communion with Him for there is no spiritual prosperity without it.
He would have you know, dear soul, that you cannot get enough of anything on any Sunday to carry you to the next Sunday. There is no preacher, no church, no program, nothing that can get you by day by day except for His manna.
He is surely willing to dispense it freely, but He has so ordered the universe that it is best for us to ask and receive His mercies on a daily basis. He would keep us close to the throne, never more than a day’s walk away, always within the sound of His voice. He would have us live the spirit of that old Southern Gospel song, “Come home, come home, it’s supper time.”
“Give us this day our daily bread,” is far more than a formal request. It is the cry of the heart that has learned by bitter experience that it cannot survive spiritually on any day without His assistance. It comes from one who has attempted and failed to live on his own and has finally surrendered the fight, owned his need, and come humbly to the feet of His God saying, “please, Lord, grant me what I need for the day. I cannot make it today without you and I don’t want to.”
He would also remind us that there is a daily need for forgiveness.
Paul taught us the futility of life apart from Him in Rom. 7 and the glory of life with Him in Rom. 8. But on this side of the grave there is no perfection for the believer.
Better than anyone in the universe, God knows the great damage that sin does to the human soul. And, He knows the damage that days, weeks, months, and years of guilt create, the havoc that it works on mind, spirit and body.
He would have us to be refreshed, day by day, with a new visit to the “fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel’s veins” when “sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.”
Once we sin, we cannot remove the damage to our souls. We must have it removed by confessing it to Him and receiving, once again, the cleansing that was worked for us on the cross.
1 John 1:9
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. KJV
He would also have us remember that those who receive mercy are also to show mercy by releasing those who sin against them from their debt.
Just as sins creates havoc in the life until confessed and forsaken, so bitterness, anger, resentment, and unforgiveness devastate.
Not only that, as we saw in the parable of the man forgiven a massive debt, unforgiveness demonstrates lack of understanding and appreciation for the great mercy that we have received from God.
Our God would have us live in peace.
He would also have us seek His leadership for every day.
But He would have us remember that He only leads “in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”
We must know that on any day that we make the decision to walk a different path, his ‘leading’ will be toward discipline and chastisement, not comfort and peace.
He would have us learn to surrender our wills and minds to His leadership, His direction as expressed in His word and confirmed in our souls by His Holy Spirit and turn away from all wickedness and every unclean thing.
1 Peter 3:10‑11
10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. KJV
We must also remember that we have an enemy who would destroy every good thing in our lives if he had the chance.
1 Peter 5:8‑9
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. KJV
Satan and his work as Destroyer is no joke, no figment of someone’s imagination. One need only look about him, sometimes within our own families, to seek the hideous, vicious, devastating and destructive work of Satan in the lives of people who failed to seek God’s help for their lives.
Some of them, at one point or another, had some semblance of faith. They may have even ‘trusted Christ’ and ‘got saved,’ were baptized and joined the church. But something happened. Something went terribly wrong. They were not sober nor vigilant and the ‘roaring lion’ has devoured them, stolen away their faith, carried them captive to their old sins and the present state of their lives is worse than it has ever been.
We are to remember, every one of us, that this is potentially our story. This thing isn’t over yet. People who began better than us have been overthrown. We survive only under the gracious hand of God.
And, we should be frightened of the consequences of careless living even as a believer. Some faith is temporary. Some faith does not save. Some faith is counterfeit. The faith that saves is the faith that obeys and we might also say that the faith that saves is vigilant faith.
Finally, the Lord would have us remember Who Owns What.
We looked last week at the words, “Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen.”
The genuine Christian belongs to God, we learned, on three counts: Creation, Redemption, and Personal Surrender. He made us. He bought us with His Own Blood. And, we have given ourselves back to Him as servants in gratitude.
These things all being affirmed, the saint is now ready to pray.
He is ready to affirm His confidence in the Finished Work of Jesus Christ, to put off the Old Man and put on the New, and to put on the Whole Armor of God.
Once finished there, he is prepared to lift up the needs of those around him to the throne of God. There are those who need Christ, those who need repentance, those who need Awakening and Revival, those who need healing, comfort, grace, assistance of a thousand kinds.
There are missionaries, pastors, churches, and individual saints who stand in need of God’s provision for their lives.
Or, as Paul said:
2 Thess 3:1‑5
1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:
2 And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.
3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.
4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.
5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. KJV