Sun, Jul 22, 2001

TEACH US TO PRAY! MATTHEW 6:9-15

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
TEACH US TO PRAY!
MATTHEW 6:9-15
 

Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 6 as we look at what has been called "The Lord’s Prayer." As you are turning there, you may have heard this story of two men who were talking together. And the first man challenged the other by saying, "If you are so religious, let’s hear you quote the Lord’s prayer. I bet you $10.00 you can’t!" The second man responded by saying, "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take." The first man pulled out his wallet and fished out a ten dollar bill, muttering, "I didn’t think you could do it!"

Obviously that is not the Lord’s prayer and in reality, what we have here in Matthew chapter 6 is not the Lord’s prayer, but the Lord teaching us how to pray. And with all the weird, unbiblical stuff that is blowing through churches today regarding prayer, I think we need to get back to the basics of what prayer is all about. Basically, it is communicating with our heavenly Father, sharing what is on our heart, listening to His desire for our life, it is speaking and listening! And prayer does open the windows of heaven for God to work, He is just waiting for us to come to Him. Listen to this story about Charles H. Spurgeon and what he thought about prayer!

Five young college students were spending a Sunday in London, so they went to hear the famed C. H. Spurgeon preach. While waiting for the doors to open, the students were greeted by a man who asked, "Gentlemen, let me show you around. Would you like to see the heating plant of this church?" They were not particularly interested, for it was a hot day in July. But they didn’t want to offended the stranger, so they consented. The young men were taken down a stairway, a door was quietly opened, and their guide whispered, "This is our heating plant." Surprised, the students saw 700 people bowed in prayer, seeking a blessing on the service that was soon to begin in the auditorium above. Softly closing the door, the gentleman then introduced himself. It was none other than Charles Spurgeon.

- Our Daily Bread, April 24

The power of prayer is awesome, and here we are going to see Jesus place it right in the middle of the Kings manifesto or constitution, right in His teachings on the Sermon on the Mount. Why? Because Jesus just got finished speaking about what prayer isn’t! Prayer is not done for the crowds to see so they can come to the conclusion that you are some spiritual giant. Prayer is not done with vain repetitions, like some kind of mantra. Prayer is not long and drawn out, thinking the longer the prayer the more spiritual you are. Then what is prayer? Let’s begin reading in Matthew chapter 6, starting in verse 9, as the Lord teaches us how we should pray!

MATTHEW 6:9-15

Please understand that this is a model for prayer and not a formula. Some repeat this prayer over and over, not even thinking about what they are saying, but just saying it, and that is meaningless. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those that refuse to say this prayer for they see it is a vain repetition, and that too is wrong.

You see, meaningless repetition is wrong but not meaningful. Jesus prayed three times in the Garden for this cup to pass Him by. Paul prayed three times for God to remove the thorn in his flesh. The key, of course, is where is your heart when you are praying. If you are just saying words, like it is some kind of magic incantation, you might as well forget it. That kind of prayer is empty.

Now, as you look at this prayer it starts with a proper perspective, God, His character, and that is important. People pray to all kinds of things and people, so-called saints, even Mary. But those prayers are meaningless. You see, if the object of your faith, your prayers, can’t do anything, what is the point? On the other hand, if the object of your faith can and will respond to your prayers, how powerful do they then become!

Now here is the key as this prayer is spoken, "Our Father in heaven." The word "Father"in the Greek is ABBA and it means "Papa" or "Daddy." It is a intimate term. You see, we are God’s children, He is our Father, and thus, because of that, He will listen to our prayers and answer them. We have been adopted into the family of God as John 1:12 says, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name."

On the other hand, if you are not His child, if He is not your Father, if you have not been adopted into the family of God, then He is under no obligation to hear or answer your prayers. In fact, the only one He will answer 100% of the time is the prayer for salvation, for the forgiveness of sins, to have Jesus be Lord and Savior of your life. That He will answer and it is at that moment that you have been adopted into the family of God and you can say "Daddy!"

Now that does not mean that God doesn’t bless those that are not saved, for Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:45 "...for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." God does bless both the saved and unsaved but He is not under any obligation, as I have said, to listen or to answer the prayers of the unsaved, of those that are not His children!

And God’s position is in heaven, His presence fills the universe, and I think it speaks of His exalted position, as Ecclesiastes 5:2 says, "Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few."

Next we see "Hallowed be Your name" which speaks of being holy, that God is holy or set apart. God should be revered and not us. I am always uncomfortable when someone calls me "Reverend Joe." First of all it tells me that they don’t know me, and secondly, only God is to be Reverend, not man. Only He is perfect in holiness, in righteousness, and we are not even close!

And here that holiness is linked to His name, all that He is. And the way we hallow God’s name is by having true knowledge of Him, and not having the truth about God is not honoring to Him, it is not honoring His name. It is as Origen said, "The man who brings into his concept of God ideas that have no place there takes the name of the Lord God in vain." The call here in hallowing the name of God is summed up for us in Psalm 34:3 which says, "Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together."

The next part of the prayer says "Your kingdom come." And I hope that is your prayer. That God’s kingdom would come quickly and righteousness will fill this land. That our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will rule and reign upon this earth and this earth and all creation will be transformed into beautiful harmony with each other and their creator instead of this survival of the fittest behavior which we see today. It is as Paul said in Romans 8:21-23, "because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body."

But for some, they have a hard time with this petition. They like this world, they don’t want things changed, they think it is not too bad! But think about that for a minute. What is accepted today as normal behavior, such as homosexuality, pornography, drug abuse, alcoholism, adultery, even violence, and-so-on, was something that was looked down upon some 40 years ago or so. They were things that, if they were done, they were done in the closet you might say, but today these immoral activities are flaunted around as part of the normal lifestyle of man.

I don’t want this corrupt world to continue, but my prayer is that God’s kingdom will be established, which leads us into the next petition, "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Some today teach a "Name it, claim it!" or a "Blab it, grab it!" form of prayer or getting what you want, and that is wrong!

I don’t want my will to be done, but His will! There have been things that I thought I wanted, I needed, but looking back I thank God that I didn’t get them. You see, my will is limited in that I don’t know how things will turn out. On the other hand, God’s will is perfect for He knows the beginning from the end, and He knows what is best for our lives!

Now there is God’s perfect will, that which is best for our lives, and His permissive will, that which is not best for our lives, but He allows us to have it because we refuse to receive His perfect will in that situation.

A sad example of what can happen when we reject God’s perfect will and receive His permissive will is seen in the life of the godly king, Hezekiah. In II Kings chapter 20 the prophet Isaiah was told by God to go and tell Hezekiah to get his house in order, for he was going to die. Upon hearing those words Hezekiah wept bitterly, and he pouted and before Isaiah could even make it to the middle court, God sent him back to the king to tell him God will add 15 more years to his life, God’s permissive will, not his perfect will as you will see.

Now some think that is great, but it is not. You see, during those added 15 years he showed the Babylonians all the treasures of the kingdom, which, down the road, would entice the Babylonians to come down and take this wealth from Judah. Also, during those added 15 years he had a son born to him named Manasseh, who became a wicked king and ruled the nation for 55 years, bringing them down to a point, spiritually speaking and physically speaking, that they never fully recovered from until they were finally carried away captive to Babylon for their idolatry. God did and does know better than we do and we need to listen to Him, desiring His will to be done not only in our own lives, but on this earth as it is in heaven!

Also, prayer is not some magical formula but it is speaking to the Father, bringing our requests before Him, not to change His will but to have our own will conform to His will. It is as John said, "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him." I John 5:14-15.

And now we move to our own personal needs, which there is nothing wrong in asking for. The first is "Give us this day our daily bread." Notice there is no concern about tomorrow, next month, a year from now, 10 years from now, but this day! "Lord, what would You have me do this day? Use me Lord for Your glory!" You see, every day we awaken, and I think I can safely say that all of you are awake, living this morning, which gives us another day that God can use us for His glory, may we not lose sight of that fact!

Also, in our daily bread, the providing food for us, we are not to worry about either tomorrow, or the next day, or next week. We are not even to worry about today, but just ask God to provide for us. Why does God do it that way? Because each day we have to depend on Him and not ourselves! God wants us to depend upon Him, to place our faith totally upon Him, and not ourselves, because it is God who supplies all our needs and He does not want us to forget that fact! And think about it, what will worry do for you except cause physical problems! Trust in the Lord, rest in Him, for He will take care of you.

Here is a tough one for most if not all of us. Jesus says, "And forgive us our debts [sins], as we forgive our debtors." You see, the first part is easy, "Lord, forgive me of my sins." And the Lord will, He will cast them into the sea of forgiveness and forgetfulness, to be remembered no more.

But, the Lord links His forgiveness towards us as we forgive others. In other words, God has forgiven you all of your sins, can you forgive another? It is hard for me to understand but there are several people who are Christians but refuse to talk to me or my family because of a disagreement. They won’t even go to the same gatherings that we go to, and if we happen to be there, they are cold and indifferent to us. In fact, one group just past us by like we were not even there, walking on the other side so they would not come in contact with us. Now I am not saying that to put them down, but think about it, apply it to your own life, in all that God has done for you, can you forgive another? You better! It is as Proverbs 19:11 says, "The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression."

And Paul, in speaking to the Corinthian church, said to them, "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?" I Corinthians 3:1-3.

I like the way John MacArthur put it, he says "Forgiving others also delivers us from God’s discipline. Where there is an unforgiving spirit, there is sin, and where there is sin, there will be chastening (Heb. 12:5-13). Unrepented sins in the church at Corinth caused many believers to be weak, sick, and even to die (I Cor. 11:30). But the most important reason for being forgiving is that it brings God’s forgiveness to the believer...Nothing in the Christian life is more important than forgiveness - our forgiveness of others and God’s forgiveness of us. In the matter of forgiveness, God deals with us as we deal with others. We are to forgive others as freely and graciously as God forgives us. The Puritan writer Thomas Manton said, ‘There is none so tender to others as they which have received many themselves, for they know how gently God hath dealt with them.’" May we not forget that!

The next petition we see is "And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." A confusing statement that seems to be saying that God leads us down a path of temptation, sin. But then James 1:13 tells us, "Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.So how can God lead us into temptation? He doesn’t! The word "temptation" is the Greek word PEIRASMOS which speaks of testings and trials.

So the idea here is that the believer is desiring to avoid those things that will cause him to stumble, those things he wants to avoid because of the danger associated with them. And yet, it is trials that test our faith, strengthen our faith, so why would a person want to avoid them?

Think about this for a minute. In a world that is full of wickedness, we are surrounded by evil, we ourselves are inadequate to deal with the problem. The only way to deal with it is to draw close to God, not to go down that path, and as trials and testings do come your way, don’t fight them on your own, ask the Lord to keep you, to help you! That when we are in the middle of these testings, don’t leave us in the middle of them, but see us through them!

I like the way that George Adam Smith illustrated this. He was on a mountain-climbing tour of the Alps and on one particularly high peak, he ran to the very edge and looked out at the awesome view of Switzerland below. Suddenly, a strong gust of wind came up and threatened to blow him over the edge. His guide, several feet away, yelled out to him, "Mr. Smith! On your knees, sir! The only way you’re safe up here is on your knees!"

And George Smith thought, "How true, the only way we’re safe is on our knees because Satan would like to blow us away." You see, we need the protection of our heavenly Father, for trying to stand on our own, we will be blown away! But the Father brings stability to our lives, He is what anchors us down and keeps us safe!

Next we see "For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.We have seen the person of God, that He is our Father. We have seen the purpose of God, that His will be done. We have seen the provision of God, that He provides our daily needs. We have seen the pardon of God, that as He forgives us we are to forgive others. And we see His protection, that from testings and from the evil one. Which now leads us into worship, the worship of God, for that is the reason we were created. Revelation 4:11 tells us, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." (KJV).

You see, that is why we were created, to worship Him, and prayer draws us into that deeper dimension of worship. It is as I Chronicles 29:11-13 says, "Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. Now therefore, our God, we thank You and praise Your glorious name." We are not forced to worship God, but we do it out of love, seeing His beauty, and thus our worship should naturally flow! How can you not worship Him?

Now for many the prayer is now over, but the reality is, Jesus re-emphasizes one of the petitions, as He says "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Now I can try and water this down, saying it really doesn’t mean what it says, but I can’t. If you are having a problem dealing with forgiveness, you better deal with it, because I think the Lord is pretty clear on this one. You see, if you really do know Him, knowing what He has done for you, then you need to forgive others, for what they have done to you doesn’t even compare to what you have done to the Lord! Also, un-forgiveness will hinder your prayers, as Psalm 66:18 says "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear."

This prayer is only some 25 to 30 seconds long, and yet, when spoken from the heart, it is powerful. Prayers don’t need to be lengthy for them to be spiritual, in fact, it seems to me that it is just the opposite many times. Lengthy prayers are mostly said to impress others. Get to the point, God knows what you need, you don’t have to impress Him. Just speak to Him!

Let me leave you this morning with these words about George Muller which will show you the power of prayer and how God is just waiting to open the windows of heaven to bless us:

Things looked bleak for the children of George Muller’s orphanage at Ashley Downs in England. It was time for breakfast, and there was no food. A small girl whose father was a close friend of Muller was visiting in the home. Muller took her hand and said, "come and see what our Father will do." In the dining room, long tables were set with empty plates and empty mugs. Not only was there no food in the kitchen, but there was no money in the home’s account. Muller prayed "Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat." Immediately, they heard a knock at the door. When they opened it, there stood the local baker. "Mr. Muller," he said, "I couldn’t sleep last night. Somehow I felt you had no bread for breakfast, so I got up at 2 o’clock and baked fresh bread. Here it is." Muller thanked him and gave praise to God. Soon a second knock was heard. It was the milkman. His cart had broken down in front of the orphanage. He said he would like to give the children the milk so he could empty the cart and repair it.

May we not lose sight of what God can and will do. As Jesus was teaching His men, He is teaching us how to pray: "...our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen." Matthew 6:9-13.

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