How Shall We Pray?
“Lead Us…”
Matt 6:9‑13

Matt 6:9‑13
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: 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

By way of review, we have learned to locate God in our minds, as we pray, as seated on His throne in heaven. We have considered His Holiness, which pervades all things and is to be honored both with our devotion and our obedience. We looked at the issues of His kingdom and our commitment to the doing of His will with the same quality of obedience and joy as is shown by those in heaven who are called upon to serve Him. We have studied the issue of our need for forgiveness and the important of keeping daily account with God concerning our sins. Last week we considered the issues of forgiveness as we deal with others, especially those who may sins against us. We learned both our duty to forgive as well as the scriptural call to be wise as we deal with reconciliation.

Today we come to a passage that troubled me for a long time as I sought to understand how to deal with it and use the principles of it in my daily prayer. In the beginning, it looked to me like a daily request that God not lead me into temptation and that was all there was to it. I questioned why Jesus would make this issue a prominent part of His teaching here concerning prayer.

Then, I remembered something I had learned in school concerning the Greek language and our Bible. Now, I am not a Greek scholar and do not pretend to be but there is an issue which is fairly clear and well understood concerning the Greek texts of our scripture from which our English Bible is translated. The oldest of the manuscripts were written in what is called ‘Uncials’ which is just a fancy word for saying that they were written in all capital letters. Not only that but there were no spaces between the words, no paragraph breaks and no punctuation: No comma, no period, no parenthetical brackets, nothing. Now, you will notice that your English Bible does have punctuation marks, sentence breaks, and some of them even have paragraph divisions. This is all added by men, which means that they are not necessarily inspired.

I thought, “what if we moved the punctuation marks in this sentence?” What if the primary thought is “lead me,” and the rest is secondary? It would read “lead me, no, not into temptation, deliver me from the evil one.” And, then, what would the issues be relating to “lead me?”

When that thought became the primary one for me, I began to consider all of the passages of scripture that speak of either the Lord leading us or of us following Him or of ‘walking,’ which is an often used Biblical euphemism for how we live.

Rom 6:4
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. KJV

Rom 8:1‑4
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. KJV

Rom 8:14
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. KJV

Gal 5:16
16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. KJV

Gal 5:18
18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. KJV

And, of course, the most famous one of them all.

Ps 23:3 …..he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. KJV

This is the one that I focus on particularly, “please lead me in paths of righteousness.”

The life we live is compared in scripture to a path, a road, or a ‘way.’

Matt 7:13‑14
13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. KJV

Each day, as we begin it, lies before us as paths to be chosen, roads to travel, each of them composed of the choices that we make.

Some people, deliberately and consciously, make a series of choices that are destructive, wicked and corrupt. It is, for sure, a ‘way’ that leads to destruction for them. So long as they continue in this path, the wrath of God will abide upon them and certain judgment will loom in front of them.

Others just let life determine for them the choices they make. They have no real direction at all, they just drift with the current, take the easy paths and react as things happen to them. They forget that almost nothing, ever, ‘drifts’ in a good direction. Drifting almost always brings one into a hurtful path. This last week the US Coast Guard sank a ship that had been drifting toward the continent since the tsunami in Japan last year. The reason they did is that they knew that left alone, it would possibly drift into the path of another ship or into a port and cause damage. ‘Drifting’ in life is almost never a conscious evil, nor is it driven by a purpose to do evil. But it surely creates evil in many lives. And the path one ends up on, the ‘road’ that he ‘walks’ will not be a road of righteousness.

Many others make choices but they are choices that only serve their own desires, goals, wishes and purposes. Again, there is often no real evil intent that is conscious. The problem is that living and serving one’s self is contrary to the teaching of scripture and, so, actually is evil.

Then, there are a few, such a very few, that begin each day looking to God to lead them “in paths of righteousness.” They may appear to be making the same choices that others make. They get up, get showered, fix breakfast, get the kids off to school, and head for work. But in their souls there is a purpose to be guided in what they think, what they say, how they do what they do, by the teachings of scripture and by the Spirit of God.

1 Cor 10:31
31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

To the degree that they are faithful to their purpose, understand the Word of God, and are living faithfully to the scriptures, they are “led by the Spirit of God” “in paths of righteousness.”

But this never happens accidentally. One never drifts into this mode of living. And, every day is a fresh and new challenge to renew one’s commitment to this style of living. This is what Christ would have us do.

This is the design of this portion of the prayer, to cause us, provoke us, encourage us, to choose deliberately and consciously to be righteous, to live godly, and to cry out to God to be led in that direction.

Jesus spoke of this path in another way as well, as an issue of taking up a cross and following Him.

Matt 16:24
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. KJV

On this Easter Sunday morning, we give particular emphasis in our lives to the Work of Jesus Christ, His death, burial and resurrection. The cross plays a central role in that emphasis for it was there that He suffered and died before He was buried and then rose again.

Physically speaking, everyone in the Roman empire knew what was going on when they saw a person going down the street carrying a cross. He was headed for death. He was being executed for some crime that was so serious that the penalty was death.

The decision to be led of God, to ask to be led, to volunteer for Him to guide us through our day, is compared to a person voluntarily going to the Roman authority and asking to be allowed to carry a cross out to the execution site and there be crucified.

Rom 6:11‑13
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. KJV

He/she who undertakes at the beginning of the day to commit himself/herself to being led by the Spirit of God, who appeals to God for that leadership saying “lead me,” must necessarily consider that he is not available for sin. He must set aside the “lusts” of his “mortal body” and yield himself, consciously and deliberately to God, actually giving his body, his “members,” to Him as instruments to be used to perform righteous acts that day.

The mechanism that makes this possible for the believer, as Paul has mentioned here in Rom. 6, is the cross of Jesus Christ and our union with Him in that work. Since our “old man” was actually crucified together with Him, we can effectively “reckon” it dead and ourselves as alive unto God.

Gal 2:20
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. KJV

Notice that Paul links “the life which I now live” with the reality of his union with Christ in His resurrection.

He makes the same linkage later in the book concerning the spiritual lives of other believers.

Gal 5:22‑24
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. KJV

And, again.

Gal 6:14
14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. KJV

It is because of the cross, because of what occurred there and what was accomplished there, that we, as believers, actually have an option for the day. The one who is not a Christian has many options at the beginning of his day, many things he could do or not do. But the believer actually can set aside his natural and carnal desire and actually ‘put on’ as if it were a set of clothes, a new, regenerated and godly set of desires, purposes and motivations.

Eph 4:21‑24
21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. KJV

The challenge of this issue is to Live out Easter rather than merely celebrate it.

The cross, the burial, and the resurrection are essential issues in being led by God.
To take up one’s cross and follow Jesus is the very same thing as being led by Him. Every person who follows Christ follows Him down the same road. It is a road that is walked carrying a cross, a road that takes them out to Golgotha there outside of Jerusalem. It leads them to submit to crucifixion, death and burial. And, then, it leads them to resurrection and newness of life.

Rom 6:4

4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. KJV

This ‘newness’ of life is that which was given to us when Christ, holding us in union with Himself, took up his life again after He had laid it down.

John 10:17‑18
17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. KJV

When He took it up, those who were in Him were infused with that same life that raised His body from the grave. It is for sure a life what will last forever and ever but it is also a life which, here and now, has the power to set aside the Old Nature and take up the New, a life that both desires and is able to be led by the Spirit of God and it is a life which desires to be so led.

So, then, every morning you and I have the option to take up the cross, follow Christ to death, rejoice in our resurrection with Him and yield ourselves to be led by Him in paths of righteousness.

In my prayer life, it goes something like this:

“I believe that Jesus Christ is exactly Who John said that He was.”

John 1:1‑3
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. KJV

“I believe that He is Deity from All Eternity Past and that He is the Creator of all things”

John 1:14
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. KJV

“I believe that this Word, this Deity, became flesh and dwelt among men, that we know Him as Jesus Christ.”

“I believe that He took me into union with Himself, caused my guilt to become His and bore my sins, actually and literally, in His own body.”

1 Peter 2:21‑24
21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. KJV

“I believe that I was crucified with Him so that this carnal self was rendered dead and powerless and I believe that I was raised with Him to walk in newness of life.” (Texts already given)

“Therefore, I yield myself to Him as one who has risen from the dead and I give my body to Him to be used in His service.”

In saying “Lead me,” then, I am literally seeking to live the reality of Easter, the reality of the risen and living Savior in my daily walk.