His apostles in front of them. He prayed God would sustain them. That they would experience the power of God. That they would always know that God loved them and that they were valuable partners in what God was going to do.
Wouldn’t you have loved to hear Jesus pray for you? To take you and His concern for you to our Heavenly Father? It would have rocked your world, wouldn’t it?
Jesus wanted us to know that prayer is between us and God. It is okay to pray for others, but make sure when you pray for someone that you see only Jesus. You are not to present a one sided argument for your friend. You are not to act like you are talking to God when you are really talking to your friend. Don’t do it to draw attention to yourself.
Even in church, prayer is to be to our Heavenly Father. Church is a time that we get to meet with God. What a blessing it is to meet with Him and fellow believers who want to speak to God and hear Him speak to them.
In the Assembly of God churches everyone prays at the same time out loud. Your prayer is to God and with everyone praying you can only know the content of your prayer.
And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations?’ But you have made it a robbers’ den.”
Worship was not a time to show that everyone knew they were praying. They drew attention to the face that they were praying and that everyone in earshot should stop and pay attention. They felt they were special to God and better than anyone else.
It was obvious that they did not know to whom they were speaking. In prayer some want to require God to act the way we want Him to.
Chants Don’t Get God’s Attention
7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
In 1 Kings the worshipers of Baal asked Baal to come down and help, for half a day. In Acts we see that the worshipers of Artemis shouted at Paul– Great is Artemis for 2 hours. The gentiles chanted and screamed, demanding that their gods come down and do what they required them to do.
The Jews should have known better but they prayed thinking that God would be obligated to give them what they wanted. God can’t be bought or manipulated.
Jesus said that it is useless to model the prayers of people who don’t know God. The ineffectiveness of their prayer is obvious. Model your prayer after prayer that addresses God.
Tell Him what you need. Be persistent. Be passionate. If you need God to respond don’t quit until He answers. But never think that He has to jump when you say jump. Prayer puts us in position to receive what God wants us to have. Jesus reminds us that our earthlyl fathers know how to meet our needs with good gives. He reminds us that God is so much more than our earthly fathers. He knows what we need and He knows how to give it. It is always more than we expected.
Never let your prayer fall into your effort alone. We can believe what people tell us prayer is and miss what God wants prayer to be for us. Some will say prayer changes us—not unless God changes us.
Some will say prayer helps us clarify what we need to do– if we have to do is think better why not have a coffee with a friend. At least we can have a dialogue.
Some will say that we just need to have faith that prayer works– based on what? That we said some prayer to something. We must…
Know To Whom You Are Speaking
Luke 6:12 It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.
Jesus went off to speak to God. His Heavenly Father. He had a conversation that lasted all night. Im sure Jesus did not sit there all of that time thinking to Himself and then get up the next and said, “Done! I have this figured out.” Jesus did encourage us to believe as we prayed.
Matthew 21:22 And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
What are we to believe? Not that our thoughts will help us. Not that we will be changed. Not that we want something to happen. We can do a lot of stuff while we are waiting for something to happen.
We are to believe that God is able to respond to our need. Jesus points out two things about God in verse 9 ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
First of all, God can be approached. We ca call Him Poppa, Daddy and Father. He cares for us this way. He loves us and desires us to see Him as we might see our earthly father. Secondly, God is to be revered and reverenced. He is that God of the universe. He has all power. He is holy and righteous. He must be seen as he is in all His power and glory. He is God and we are not.
When I see lions, I think, they are big. They look ferocious but I don’t want to cuddle with them. But, when I see a tiger or ever a jaguar, I think, I would love just to be close to them. To pet them. Wrap my arms around them to feel their fur and their strength. But thankfully someone made me aware that that would be very, very foolish. That is a tiger and that I should respect their power.
When God is described by others and when God is described by Jesus we see both of these aspects of God. We want to approach Him because He has the power to meet our need. We can approach Him because He invites us to call Him Father.
Conform To God’s Authority
Mathew 4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”
Jesus spent 40 days and nights in the wilderness fasting communing with God. Then Satan came to Jesus and said, why don’t you make yourself some bread out of these stones? Jesus said, I have been eating all the bread I need for 40 days and nights. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” I don’t need any more!
Jesus was here for God’s purpose. He did what a God does. Jesus says pray for this to happen in our world.
‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
What are we to pray for? In heaven everyone and everything is perfect and in harmony with God. His desire and will is carried out. We are to pray that this happens here on earth. We pray that people would respond with total obedience to God’s leadership in their lives. We pray people would seek to be like God. We want all around us to be like heaven. It can’t be unless we surrender and submit to God’s law, desires and seek to live in union with Him.
Father, I pray your will and victory be done on earth and please start in my life. I want the kind of relationship with you that gives evidence that I am doing those things that you desire I do. I want to perfectly follow you.
Trust God for Today and Tomorrow
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
We trust God today for what we need. No worrying. No fretting. No panic. No pacing. Ask for what you need. Trust God to provide what you need each day. That doesn’t mean to you don’t shop for a weeks worth of groceries. It doesn’t mean that you don’t save for a rainy day. It does mean that don’t need to lose your focus on Jesus by trying to make sure that you have everything you need to be happy and secure.
I know people that need a spouse and they settle for a louse. Sorry about that. They just settle for less that God wants. They need money and seek it in ways that costs them their family or it costs them the employment that comes from trusting God to provide. For forty years Israel trusted God to meet their needs. He did. Their shoes lasted. They were ready for battle. They learned the art of music as a weapon of God. They knew what their future was and yet they trusted God to prepare the next generation to follow God.
When we trust God daily all of the sudden 10 years down the road we discover the great work that God has done in our lives. We see Him bless our children because we trusted in nothing but Jesus. We worked for Him. We loved our family for Him. We made choices based on our trust in God’s faithfulness.
Forty years in the wilderness. Several years conquering the land they were promised. Settling down in the land God promised them. That is the result of asking God for our daily bread and trusting Him to provide for us.
Oh people, don’t ring your hands wondering if God will take care of your needs. Take your needs to Him. He knows how to give good gifts. Trust Him and see if He wont make your life overflow with His blessings in a million different ways.
Live in the Responsibility of Forgiveness
I said earlier that we need to commit to being perfect in following Jesus. We can commit this but we can’t be perfect. God knows us and lets us know that we can be forgiven even when we fail. He welcomes our repentance. He calls us to come to Him and know we are forgiven.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.|
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]
There is one of the greatest things that we can know. God will forgive us our sin and failure. There is a very close relationship between the devil and sin.
1 Peter 5:8 (NASB)
8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
He tempts us, influences us, accuses us and wants us to not realize that we have been forgiven. He wants to hinder others from coming to Christ as well. When Jesus tells us to pray that we would not be overtaken by sin it is a reminder that we have been forgiven and we no longer need to be slaves to sin. We have been forgiven much. We have been forgiven so much that we spend too much time being like the gentile, (sinner) who went to the temple in Luke 18. He couldn’t even lift his head to praise and pray. He saw himself as a worthless sinner. We need to know that we are sinners but when we are forgiven we need to lift our heads and know that God has forgiven us totally and completely. Forgiveness is awesome. Knowing we are forgiven is life changing.
Jesus reminds us that as we pray we must also be ready to forgive others with the same forgiveness we have received. If someone, who doesn’t know the Lord, has done something to us. I mean when someone has done harm to us personally or hurt us emotionally and with intentionality, we must be ready to forgive them. Why? Why would we need to do that? We need to forgive because we need to live in the responsibility of forgiveness. We have been forgiven. We have been forgiven even though we have ignored God, lied to Him, accused Him of evil, ignored His call in our life and have simply wanted nothing to do with Him. We have been forgiven great sin that we committed in our ignorance of God’s love for us.
If we understand our forgiveness then we must be ready to not only forgive but to seek to reconcile relationships. Forgiveness means that we need to be ready to forgive. That is what it means to live in the responsibility of forgiveness.
Let me go back to “lead us not into temptation,’ for a moment. We have been bought with the price of Jesus’ death and in Romans 6:12 Paul encourages us to not follow our life of sin anymore. We have been bught with a price and we are to bring glory to God through our lives because we are God’s chosen vessel. His holy people. A royal people. Set apart to be used by God for His Kingdom.
Satan wants us to fail. He wants us to give up. He wants us to walk away from our commitment to Christ. We need to flee sin. Flee those things that keep us from following Christ completely. We have received forgiveness and are not to let sin live in us. We are not to let it control us. Sin is what we have been saved from.
We must live like we are forgiven. We follow Jesus and we forgive others because we are His and He wants everyone to come to eternal life.
Challenge: This example of prayer concludes with this powerful statement about who we are speaking to.
[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]
God’s kingdom is a kingdom of power and glory. We have access to God’s power for He’has welcomed us into His kingdom. Prayer is the way we can speak to God and it is through prayer that He speaks to us. Comfort, power, blessings, instruction, understanding, direction, comes to us in prayer. We pray and surrender. Jesus set the example and invites us to come into the very presence of God. Now that is not only Good News. It’s the best news ever!