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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
February 18, 2007
Praying As Jesus Taught
This morning will be quite different from our normal morning worship services here at Grace Bible Church. While we normally strive to have prayer as an important part of our service, most of our time is usually spent in the proclamation of God’s word and in singing hymns, songs and spiritual songs in praise of Him. This morning we will still have music and I will still proclaim God’s word, but a major focus of our time will be on prayer.
Over the last six weeks we have been looking at the topic of prayer in order to understand it and what God requires concerning it. We have come to understand the definition that John Bunyan gave stating, “Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to His Word, for the good of the church, with submission in faith to the will of God.” We have seen the importance of loving God if we are going to be faithful in prayer and how to restore that first love if it has diminished. We have looked at Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6 concerning prayer and now understand that the proper purpose of prayer is to communicate to God and that prayer given to impress people is not really prayer at all. We have also seen that the proper practice of prayer is to approach God with a confidence that He loves us and will hear and answer the prayer of those who are humble that seek His will. He knows our needs before we even pray so that neither our eloquence, length of prayer or repetition of it are needed to gain God’s attention nor do any of those factors impress Him.
We have also found a proper pattern for prayer in the model that Jesus gave to His disciples in Matthew 6:9-13. It is a model that helps us meet all the other prerequisites to prayer that we talked about last week including being in Christ, for only a Christian can pray, “Our Father,” and praying in righteousness because we have received the righteousness of Christ at salvation and desire to hallow God’s name by living in righteousness. Our motives are corrected as we pray for God’s will to be done and for His kingdom to come instead of our own selfish desires. We come to pray with proper piety because we recognize the exalted position of “Our Father which are in Heaven.” And while we pray earnestly for our needs, we have confidence in the Lord’s meeting those needs because He grants us our “daily bread” as well as protects us from sin through the Holy Spirit. We give thanks for all His blessings to us, but especially His forgiveness of our sins. Our continued weakness causes us to pray with active minds that are sober and directed by sound judgement that we might not be deceived and lead astray. Our great need for God causes us to continually seek Him and pray with devotion, awareness and perseverance.
This morning we are going to try and make the things we have learned in the last few weeks very practical. Nine of our men are going to demonstrate how to use Jesus’ pattern of prayer as a model for your personal prayer time. We will be using each phrase of the Lord’s prayer as the basis for both general praise and petitions related to that phrase as well as the various specific prayer requests we have received.
The first phrase is:
Our Father Which Art in Heaven
This phrase encompasses not only a declaration of our relationship with our God but also a recognition of His position and character. This part of the prayer is one that should prod us into the adoration of God.
We find the element of adoration throughout the Psalms. That is especially true in the Praise Psalms which focus on the character and actions of God. This would include Psalms such as 47, 66, 92, 95-100, 103, 111, 136, etc. But we also find this element in Psalms of petition and deliverance because the request is dependent upon the character of God. Psalm 5:4, “For Thou art not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells with Thee.” Psalm 25:8, “Good and upright is the Lord; Therefore He teaches the humble His ways.” Psalm 36:7, “Thy righteousness is like the mountains of God; Thy judgements are like a great deep, O Lord, Thou perservest man and best.” Psalm 57:10, “For Thy lovingkindness is great to the heavens, And Thy truth to the clouds.” Psalm 72:18-19, Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, Who alone works wonders. And blessed be His glorious name forever; And may the whole earth be filled with His glory, Amen, and Amen.” Psalm 89:14, “Righteousness and justice are the foundations of Thy throne; Lovingkindness and truth go before Thee.” Psalm 115:1, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, But to Thy name give glory Because of Thy lovingkindness, because of Thy truth.” And we could go on and on.
Ed Colón and Mark Klare are going to model this aspect of prayer
To hallow means to make holy, to sanctify, to set apart in a reverential manner, and God’s name is to be hallowed. We strive to do this in word and deed and so emulate the seraphim which surround God’s throne calling out “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isa. 6:3). We do this in the reverent manner in which we come before God, how we speak of Him to others and in how we reflect Him by how we live. God calls us to be holy for He is holy (1 Peter 1:16).
Central in this aspect of our prayer is that the name of our God is honored. This is not something that can be limited to just personal expression, and it is why Christianity is by its very nature evangelical. It seeks to convert others to its belief system so that our God is honored by them. This is to be the motive behind all evangelism and missions efforts. We want others to worship our God because He is worthy of it. Our comfort when others resist is that we know that there will be a day when every knee will bow before Him and hallow His name.
Our tendency is to pray according to what we believe is best for us, but this aspect of prayer demands that we look beyond that and submit ourselves to what is best for God’s kingdom. This can become a very demanding and life changing aspect of prayer for it will affect our major pursuits in life as well as daily decisions and activities. Prayer for such things as a job, career and housing will encompass how they fit in strategically with the expansion of God’s kingdom rather than just asking God to lead you to find something you like to do that pays well and being able to live in a nice place. Praying this way after you think you have career, job and housing settled can lead to changes in any or all of them. It will also affect some of your daily activities because they become part of the strategy to reach particular people with the gospel or strengthen fellow believers in their faith.
The next aspect of the Lord’s model is to pray “Thy Will Be Done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” This removes any pride, arrogance and selfishness on our part. It also requires a submission of your will to God’s will in an active manner. If your submission to God’s will is passive, then you are in danger of falling into fatalism. This is the idea God will do whatever He is going to do and you can’t do anything about it so you will just resign yourself to it and then make the best of it. Too many professing Christians fall into that trap in praying for God’s will.
Jesus taught His disciples to pray for God’s will to be done on Earth and it is in Heaven. How is God’s will done in Heaven? Not just quickly without hesitation, but also actively. The angels stand ready to carry out God’s will at all times. We are to be ready to do the same and that means that we must also be actively looking for it. There are many things the Bible specifically reveal to be God’s will and so I can pray according to those things actively with confidence because I can stand firmly upon God’s promises. There are other things that are not so clear, but I can still pray according to the general principles found in the Scriptures and then humbly yield myself to God’s will and look for how He will answer. That practice allows me to actively praise Him for things of which I would have otherwise been ignorant.
Because we are human, we also have needs and our Lord directs us to bring those to our Father praying, “Give Us this Day Our Daily Bread.” This is not done with selfishness or the motives to “spend it on your pleasures” as James 4:3 puts it. This is seeking God to supply our legitimate needs so that we may praise Him for it. Though the model prayer specifically mentions daily bread, it certainly also encompasses any of the other physical things we need for daily life including drink, clothing and shelter. We know from the promise of Matthew 6:33 that God will supply our needs as we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, but we are never to take those things for granted. This prayer acknowledges our dependence upon Him, and we are to give Him thanks for whatever He supplies whether it be a little or abounding.
One of the most common prayer requests we share with one another are medical needs. I think those requests would fit under this aspect of the prayer as well as under praying for God’s kingdom and will. We need the health necessary to carry out the particular tasks God has given us that particular day. While we may desire perfect health so that we could do whatever is on our hearts, there are those times when our physical abilities are limited by disease, sickness or injury in which we learn to rely even more on the Lord enabling us to carry out His will instead of our own ability to attempt it on our own. I would also put the other needs that we have in living this life on earth that are beyond our various physical needs in this same category. That would include our mental, emotional and social needs. We can trust our Lord to supply all our needs as we need them.
Greater than any physical, mental, emotional or social need we have is our spiritual need to be right with God. For that reason we pray, “Forgive us our Debts as We Forgive Our Debtors.” Our many sins against God has placed us with responsibilities and obligations to Him that we cannot pay. Jesus Christ paid those penalties on our behalf when He died as the substitutionary atonement for our sins on the cross at Calvary. It is His death as the sin sacrifice that we remember and proclaim in Communion, which we will be celebrating in a few minutes.
But in preparation for Communion it is important to make sure that we are approaching it correctly lest we incur the Lord’s wrath upon ourselves for our irreverence and unrighteousness. Paul warned in 1 Cor. 11:28 that we are to examine ourselves first, and so we want to give you that opportunity to consider any unconfessed sins whether they be sins of commission, things you have actively done in violating God’s commands, or omission, things you failed to do in keeping God’s commands. The men will come prepare the table during our next hymn, and then you will be given time to personally go before the Lord.
Ed Colón – Sins of Commission; Ricky Jordan – Sins of Omission
Jesus’ death on the cross did more than just pay for our sins, it was also the ratification of a new covenant that God has made with His followers that includes the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is the abiding of God’s Spirit within us that enables us to follow God from internal motivation instead of an outward code. The Holy Spirit enables us to recognize and avoid sin even without an external list of rules. He is also the one that convicts us when we do sin so that we might confess and be right with God again. It is for those reasons that we can confidently pray that God will not allow us to be subjected to temptation beyond what we are able to resist, but with any temptation there will always be a way of escape that we may be able to endure it (1 Cor. 10:13). We ask God to reveal that way of escape and prod us by the Holy Spirit to use it. We can place before our Lord all our troubles and trials knowing that He will help us through them.
Randy Ryan (thanksgiving for the blood of Christ shed for us)
Our next hymn exalts the Lord by recounting some His attributes.
Thine is the Kingdom, Power & Glory, Forever – Scott Harris will model this aspect of prayer
Praying As Jesus Taught
This is the order of service for the February 18 service. The goal of the service is two fold – 1) Worship the Lord through prayer. 2) Teach the congregation through example how to use the Lord’s Pattern of prayer in their own lives. There will be two men praying for each topic. Two men praying will serve as a better model since people will be able to pick up the differences as well as the similarities. The prayers given are to focus only on the area included in the phrase and not go into the other areas of the prayer – there can be adoration, confession and thanksgiving included with any of the phrases – but those things should be directly tied in with the phrase. I would like each of you to meet with me during the Sunday School hour (except those teaching) to go over the service. I will be giving some of you some printed prayers related to the topic to stimulate your thinking. I want others of you to petition the Lord using our prayer request sheet and relate it to your topic.
There will be two men praying for each topic.Hymn #93 Worthy of Worship – all verses.
Our Father Which Art in Heaven Ed Colón & Mark Klare
Forgive us our Debts as We Forgive Our Debtors Ed Colón – Commission; Ricky Jordan – Omission
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