Certainly we ought not pray, as the Pharisees, to be seen of men and to try to impress them with our supposed spirituality. Rather, prayer is perhaps our most precious privilege as a child of God, to pour out our hearts to our loving Heavenly Father concerning anything and everything that concerns us.
Prayer should not be used as a cover for sharing our needs with others, hoping they will hear and help us. God alone is our source of supply. David in Psalm 62:6 said about prayer, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.” The writer of Hebrews in 11:6 said about faith and prayer, “without faith, it is impossible to please God; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”
Prayer is trusting God alone with all our burdens, needs and desires. I Peter 5:7 encourages us to “cast all our burdens on Him, for He cares for us.”
Prayer does not necessarily need to be with words. God, who reads our minds and our desires, can hear and answer those prayers. Two hundred years ago, James Montgomery wrote the hymn “Prayer is the Soul’s Sincere Desire” As you read this wonderful old hymn of the church, ponder the words and be blessed.
“Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, unuttered or expressed,
The motion of a hidden fire that trembles in the breast.
Prayer is the burden of a sigh, the falling of a tear,
The upward glancing of the eye when none but God is near.
Prayer is the simplest form of speech that infant lips can try,
Prayer the sublimest strains that reach the Majesty on high.
Prayer is the contrite sinner’s voice returning from his ways;
While angels in their songs rejoice and cry “Behold he prays.”
Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath, the Christian’s native air,
His watchword at the gates of death. He enters Heaven with prayer.
The saints in prayer appear as one in word and deed and mind;
While with the Father and the Son sweet fellowship they find.
Nor prayer is made by man alone; the Holy Spirit pleads.
And Jesus on th’ eternal throne for sinners intercedes.
O Thou by whom we come to God, the Life, the Truth the Way,
The path of prayer Thyself hast trod. Lord, teach us how to pray,”
As Jesus spent hours with the Father alone, so we need times of intimacy with God alone.
We who are married need to spend times of intimate prayer together with our spouse.
Parents need to spend time praying with their children, using a vocabulary and praying about things that concern them. Share specific requests with your children and rejoice together when the answers come.
We also need to take advantage of the blessings of praying with fellow Christians in our church prayer meetings. What a blessing it is to join our hearts together in prayer for common concerns and to praise Him together when He answers.
God commands us to pray always, day or night.
See that command in Luke 18:1, 7 and I Thessalonians 5:17.
Colossians 4:1 encourages us to pray and watch for and expect answers.
I Timothy 2:1-4 commands us to pray for all men, especially for those in public office that we may live quiet, peaceful lives in freedom.
I Samuel 12:23 reminds us that when we fail to pray for one another, we sin.
Don’t be too anxious to go into debt for your needs, when God may be working in your life to provide that need debt free. Learn to wait on the Lord.
James 1:5 and 4:2 teach us that we receive from God by simply asking. If you don’t receive it; perhaps you didn’t really need it.
God sometimes uses unusual instruments to meet out needs. He used ravens and a destitute widow to meet Elijah’s need and to bless the widow. Read I King 17 to read the interesting stories about this.
Read in Philippians 4:19 of the blank check on the Bank of Heaven that God gives you as a Christian. Read in John 16:24 of the joy that comes from receiving directly from God in answer to prayer. Proverbs 10:22 tells of an added bonus we receive with answered prayer. When we grasp for things, pain and sorrow are sometimes attached to them. When God gives, He adds no sorrow to it, Proverbs 10:22 promises.
Prayer is the key to victory over sin Ephesians 6:16 promises. In II Chronicles 7:14, God promises revival to any one who will earnestly seek Him. Churches can claim that promise also.
The Unjust Judge
Now read Jesus’ story in Luke 18:1-9 and learn what Jesus promises in answer to prayer. He tells the story of a widow who had an adversary. To add insult to injury, this poor widow had to deal not only with her adversary, but also with an unjust judge who finally gave in to her importunate pleading; though he didn’t want to bother with her. God of course is contrasted with the unjust judge. Unlike the unjust judge, He is glad to hear our requests and solve our problems.
Of course, we can apply this story to ourselves, remembering that Satan, according to Ephesians 6:10-20 is our sworn adversary. I Corinthians 6:19 warns us that with the open doors of service to us as Christians, come many adversaries. That has been proven to me repeatedly through over fifty years of pastoral service; but those adversaries only encourage me by proving I am right where God wants me, doing what He has called me to do. Praise God, that in Heaven we will no longer face our adversary, the devil. He will be cast into the Lake of Fire for eternity.
We all have our feelings hurt from time to time and need a sympathetic friend; but some immature Christians spend a lifetime nursing grudges and lose out on enjoying a lifetime of blessings from God, because they are so focused on their grudges and hurt feelings.
Why do Christians faint?
Some, like Esau in Genesis 25:29-34, faint because they have no desire for spiritual blessings, so focused they are on seeking material blessings. They lack stamina to keep on keeping on doing right. Someone has said, “When the going gets tough, the tough keep going.” Basically, these faint-hearted lack faith in God.
How can I have the necessary faith to not faint?
The answer is simple. As Luke 18:1 says, Keep on doing what you ought to do, PRAY! When we pray, we are strengthened not to faint.
Read God’s Word. Take every opportunity you can to be in church. Those who feed on the Word become strong Christians, unshaken by adversary. From the Word we gain strength to do what we ought to do. .
As we wait for the return of Christ when He will settle scores, II Peter 3:11 challenges us that we ought to live holy lives. As we faithfully serve the Lord, waiting on Him in prayer, He gives us the strength we need to persevere. Isaiah 40:28-31
Galatians 6:9 promises that we will reap if we faint not.
Luke 18:8 reminds us to make sure Christ finds us strong in our faith in Him when He returns.
Remember this little saying. Memorize it, putting the emphasis on the words in bold print.
I’m ONLY ONE.
But I AM one.
I can’t do EVERYTHING,
But I can do SOMETHING
And what I CAN do I OUGHT to do.
God created us for His glory and for His pleasure. He delights to commune with us and share His heart with us and He has done that by giving us His holy, inspired, infallible Word, the Bible. He has also given us His Holy Spirit to live in every true believer. Romans 8:9 "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." He also delights in hearing from us. He invites us to share our hearts with Him in prayer.
Psalm 65:2 "O Thou that hearest prayer, unto Thee shall all flesh come."
Jeremiah 33:3 "Call unto me and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not."
Psalm 51:17 "The sacrifices of God are a broken heart: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise."
Matthew 7:7-11 "Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh, receiveth and he that seeketh findeth and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone, or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in Heaven give good thing to them that ask Him?"
Philippians 4:6-7 "Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Prayer can be as short and simple as a cry for help or a thank you to God. As we grow in Christian maturity, we share the burdens of others in intercessory prayer. An example is given to us of intercessory prayer in Colossians 4:12. "Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God."
From time to time we will add further thoughts from God's Word on prayer.
What A Friend We Have In Jesus
What a friend we have in Jesus; all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptation? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged, Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness, Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge. Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer.
In His arms He'll take and shield thee, Thou wilt find a solace there.
What a privilege is ours to be able to enter into the very presence of the Creator and Sustainer of the universe! What a privilege to know Him intimately as our own personal Heavenly Father. What a privilege to be able to pour out our hearts to Him, knowing that He hears and answers us! It would be great to have an audience with the President of the United States, but to think of having an audience with God is infinitely more awesome. And to think, we can approach Him through our relationship with Jesus anytime and anywhere!
In the first stanza of that well known hymn, What a Friend we Have In Jesus, Joseph Scriven describes prayer as an amazing privilege. Most of us really don't recognize it as a privilege. Witness the low attendance in prayer meeting in most churches. Oh, I know we are all busy or we are tired from a day of hard work and that if we could find the time and energy, and desire, we would be there. I know how you feel, for I often feel the same way.
But I don't feel like praying!
Prayer is not something we feel like doing; at least we don't feel like it- UNLESS we are facing a crisis! Then we are glad for the privilege.
I'm too busy or too tired to pray!
I am one for getting to a task right now. It is my nature to be impatient and to get started immediately. But no sooner do I get started, when my work comes to a grinding halt. Burdens and concerns are crowding in to fill my mind with confusion. I lack clarity of thought. I sense my need of dependence on God and breathe a prayer of HELP to Him. Sometimes we have to make a big mess of things and fall flat on our faces before we become aware of our need to pray.
God helps us in our weakness.
Thank God for His faithfulness. Though we are unfaithful, He is always faithful to us. II Timothy 2:13 Our resurrected Saviour, the Lord Jesus, sits in Heaven making intercession to the Father for us. Hebrews 7:25-27 He invites us to draw near to Him with a true heart in full assurance of faith, for He is faithful who promised. Hebrews 4:14-16 and 10:11-23
His Holy Spirit dwells in the hearts of every believer and He is there to help us pray. Sometimes we are speechless with grief or confusion but as we attempt to pray to God, the Holy Spirit takes our feeble groanings, reads our hearts and makes our prayers intelligible to God. See Romans 8:26-27
In the midst of our busyness, let us draw near to God in hushed silence and praise to Him. One reason we don't pray as we should is because our minds and our lives are too noisy and cluttered. They are too cluttered with our self-importance, our self-righteousness, our self-interests. Yes, we are often too self-centered to pray. So when we do actually pray, our prayers are selfish. Listen to the Psalmist as he invites us to be still and approach God in praise and prayer. Psalm 65:1-4 Psalm 4:4 Are you facing some turmoil or fear in your life? Dear brother or sister, read Psalm 46 and calm down.
What right do we have to approach Almighty God?
We Americans think we have the right to approach God as our "good buddy". After all, we are a "Christian nation". right? We sing God Bless America, especially after a national crisis such as the 9/11 catastrophe. But then we go right back to living our own lives, doing our own thing and ignoring God and His Word.
Dear Friend, in your sins, you cannot approach God. He will not hear you. He is your enemy and you are His enemy. You want nothing to do with Him. You want nothing to do with the Bible. In your sins you are lost and bound for Hell when you die.
But I have good news for you who are willing to admit you are sinners. God loves you and He showed it by sending His Son, Jesus, to be your Saviour. Romans 5:8 Jesus, God in human flesh, went to the cross two thousands years ago and died to pay the full penalty for all your sins, past, present and future. Trust Jesus as your Saviour. God will cancel your sin debt and declare you perfect in Christ. God did it for Old Testament saints such as Abraham and David who looked forward to the promise of the coming Saviour, the Lord Jesus. Read carefully Romans 3 and 4. God will save you the same way as you look back to what Jesus did for you on Calvary. Trust His sacrifice for you. Romans 4:23-25
But I'm not perfect.
I know that. Neither am I. In fact, if we thought we were perfect, we would be deceiving ourselves and calling God a liar. See I John 1. But God declares me perfect through my faith in the sacrifice of His Son. That's called justification. Furthermore, God is perfecting those who are saved through the work of His indwelling Holy Spirit. That's called Sanctification. As the Spirit of God convicts you of sin, confess it as sin and turn from it. When unconfessed sin is not hindering, God will hear and answer our prayers. Psalm 66:18
Not only are we privileged to approach God and spend time with Him in prayer, but we have an obligation to do so. I encourage you to read Psalm 65 and learn reasons for this obligation.
As a father gives gifts to his child, and waits for expressions of gratitude and delight, so God, our Heavenly Father, waits for us to respond in appreciation to Him for His gifts to us.
Why should we praise and thank Him?
1. We should praise and thank Him because He has saved us. Though we are born, helpless defiled sinners unworthy to stand in God's presence; Psalm 65:3-4 teaches us that He has provided salvation, including forgiveness and cleansing from sin, through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. Those who trust Jesus have the right to approach the Father in praise and prayer and worship. Through salvation we are privileged to dwell in His courts; that is, to enjoy intimate fellowship with Him. But more than a privilege, we have an obligation to spend time in His presence and get to know Him. We can best do that by spending much time in His Word and by faithfully attending a church where the Bible is faithfully preached.
By reading the articles on this web site with your Bible, you will get a good idea of what to look for in a church and be warned of false teaching that could harm you spiritually.
2. We have an obligation to approach God, because He is sanctifying us if we are Christians. Psalm 65:4-5 Salvation begins the moment we trust Christ as our Saviour. We are instantly justified and declared righteous and fit for Heaven through the righteousness of Christ imputed to us. See Romans 3 & 4 and II Corinthians 5:21
Having justified us, He immediately begins a life-long process of sanctifying us. That is, we grow in holiness and become like Jesus. That process will never be perfected until we arrive in Heaven and are free of our sin-cursed body with its fleshly appetites.
God sanctifies us through the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit as we spend time reading and meditating on His Word, the Bible. John 17:17 The Holy Spirit teaches us and convicts us of sin as we read God's Word. As we confess that sin, we are cleansed and drawn into closer fellowship with Christ. II Corinthians 3:18
God sometimes has to allow us to suffer in order to get our attention and to draw us to a closer walk with Him. Psalm 65:5 I Peter 1:5-8 and 5:10. Read Psalm 119: 67, 75 and learn that suffering brings blessing to those who seek to know God.
3. We have an obligation to draw near to God because of what He does in the world around us. Psalm 65:7 He stills not only the storms of life, but also the tumult of His enemies. Civilization owes its stability to the power of God.
4. Finally, we have an obligation to draw near to God because of His material blessings. They are beautifully summarized in Psalm 65:9-13.
Can you not see your obligation to draw near to God in prayer and through reading His Word? Again, it is not only a privilege, but an obligation.
Since God is holy, He cannot look on sin. He cannot and will not listen to those who despise His Word and reject His Son. He will not listen to the prayers of those who harbor grudges and malice towards others in their hearts. He will not listen to anyone who has hidden, unconfessed sin. Psalm 66:18; Proverbs 1:24-23; 28:9; James 4:3 He will not listen to the prayers of married couples who are not living together in love and harmony. I Peter 3:7
These are the prayers God hears and answers.
God hears and answers the prayers of anyone who honestly seeks to know God and know the Truth. The problem is no one seeks after God. Romans 3:10-19. In our natural condition we are all enemies of God and reject His salvation in Christ. Ephesians 2:11-18 God seeks after us. We must seek Him while He may be found. Isaiah 55:6-7 Those who desperately want the Truth will find it. Cornelius, a Roman centurion did. Read the amazing story in Acts 10 of how his prayer was answered. Read in Acts 8:26-40 the story of how an Ethiopian eunuch who was seriously seeking for truth from God’s Word, came to know Christ
1. God hears and answers the prayers of a repentant sinner who asks God to save him and who puts his trust in Christ. John 1:12
2. God hears and answers the prayers of a Christian who confesses his sins to God and who asks for forgiveness and cleansing. I John 1:9; Proverbs 28:13
3. God hears the prayers of any Christian at any time and about any concern if that Christian is surrendered to the will of God and controlled by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Matthew 18:19-20; John 15:16; John 16:23-24; Romans 8:26-28
When God says NO to the request of a surrendered Christian, it is because God in His great wisdom and love has something better for him. II Corinthians 12:7-10
It is dangerous to insist on having your own way. God may allow you to have your desire, but you will be sorry the rest of your life. Psalm 106:14-15 On the other hand, when one delights himself in God, God rewards him with the desires of his heart. Psalm 37:4
Prayer can be in private. Matthew 6:5-6 and it can also be in public. It is a great encouragement to others as we join together in united prayer. Acts 12:12 That’s the main reason for our midweek prayer meeting. It is often the most blessed service of the church and it is the source of power for ministry to others. .
Let us always remember that God does not hear us because of our righteousness.
We have no right to approach God except through the righteousness of Christ imputed to us. That’s why we come to God through Christ and in His name. John 14:14
My prayer for you, dear reader, is Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church. I encourage you to read Ephesians 3:14-21 Take time to read this prayer and pray it for yourself and then for others.
THE LORD’S PRAYER
Matthew 6:9-13 Luke 11:1-4
We want God to help us in times of crises, but do we know Him as our Heavenly Father and have we developed a daily walk with Him that keeps us in right relationship with Him to receive His help? We’re not ready to face the crises that come to each of us, unless we are walking in an intimate relationship with Christ.
Establishing a personal relationship with God
A right relationship with God can only be established through saving faith in Christ. Do you know God as your own loving Heavenly Father? Do you know His Son Jesus as your own personal Saviour? If not or if you are uncertain of this, please settle this matter before you proceed any further in this series on prayer. Go to the SALVATION link and discover the peace and joy of knowing your sins are covered and that you approach God clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
Now as a Christian you can begin your walk with God. You can begin to discover the joy of daily intimate fellowship with Him as you spend time reading and meditating on His Word, the Bible. If you are married and your spouse is a Christian also, spend time together in prayer each day and share your hearts with God and with one another.
If you have children at home, find a time to gather together for at least a short time of reading and discussing God’s Word together and sharing together in a time of family prayer. Make sure you keep this time geared to the age level and attention span of your children.
Expand your relationship with other Christians.
With your Bible, read the articles on this web site together and discuss them. Find a church in your community where the Bible is recognized and preached as the inspired, infallible Word of God and where Jesus is recognized as God in human flesh and that we are saved from our sins and given the gift of eternal life through faith in His shed blood.
If there is no such church within driving distance of your home, ask God to help you establish one by gathering friends and neighbors together for regular home Bible studies. Devote time to praying with your family and friends as part of your Bible study. Ask God to use you to lead others to Christ and to help them get established in God’s Word. When you have several families who share your burden for planting a church, contact a trustworthy organization or Christian school to help you find a faithful, trained pastor. There are several good, trustworthy sources I could recommend. These would be at the top of my list.
Bob Jones University and Seminary http://www.bju.edu
Independent Fundamental Churches of America http://www.ifca.org
Heavenly resources for prayer
Understand that if you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit of God lives within you to help you understand spiritual truths, to comfort you, to convict you of sin, to empower you to do God’s will and to help you in prayer. He does not pray instead of you. but He prays with you and through you as you pray. Romans 8:26-27
We learn to pray as we observe Jesus in the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. As you read these accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus, take note of how he prepared Himself for ministry by spending much time in prayer with His Heavenly Father. Remember, He is your Father also if you are a Christian.
Note in the following references that prayer was a regular part of Jesus’ day. He prayed early in the morning, Mark 1:35 at His baptism, Luke 3:21 sometimes all night, Luke 6:12. Listen to Him pray for us in John 17. Listen to Him pray in the Garden of Gethsemane before He went to the cross. Luke 22:39-46
We also learn to pray by observing the Apostles praying. As you have time, make a study of the following passages. Acts 1:13-14, 24, 2:42, 3:1, 4:31-33, 6:4-6, 9:40, 10:9, 12:5, 12-16, 13:2-3, 14:22 16:16,25, 20:36, 21:5 28:8 Romans 12:12 I Corinthians 7:5 II Corinthians 1:11, 10:3-4 Eph. 3:14-21, 6:18, Philippians 4:6, Colossians 4:2-3, I Thessalonians 5:17, II Thessalonians 3:1, I Timothy 2:1,8, 5:5, Hebrews 13:18, I Peter 4:7 Jude 20
Though we can learn from the Apostles, we do not approach God through the Apostles or through Mary or through any saint. Rather, we approach God directly through Jesus our only Mediator. I Timothy 2:5-6
These are just some of the passages in God’s Word that teach us about prayer. Certainly reading the Psalms is a wonderful way to learn to pray. It covers the gamut of all our emotions from anger and discouragement to praise and thanksgiving.
What does prayer do for us?
It allows God to transform our goals, desires and passions, making us men and women after God’s own heart. II Corinthians 3:18 We make ourselves available for God to use.
Learn to pray.
Prayer involves a learning experience. That’s why the disciples asked to learn to pray. Basically, we need to learn to pray as children. Pray simply as a child to his father.
Talk normally to God. Forget the so-called holy tones when you pray.
Don’t pray long prayers in public. In private, spend as much time as you desire.
Don’t recite memorized prayers consisting of vain repetition and fingering prayer beads as the heathen do. Matthew 6:7
Speak clearly to God. Don’t use trite meaningless phrases that ask God for nothing.
Ask Him for the things you need.
Be direct and to the point.
Ask in faith, trusting God to hear and answer. Matthew 7:7-11, 18:19-20, 21:22, Mark 11:24 John 14:3
Deal with sin immediately as the Holy Spirit convicts you, confessing sin as sin, and not merely a weakness or mistake.
Surrender to His Lordship, allowing nothing to come before Him.
Learn the habit of praying without ceasing as you drive (but keep your eyes open) or as you are washing the dishes or taking a walk or as you are lying in your bed at night, unable to sleep.
Above all, learn to conform your life to the will of God instead of asking God to conform to your will.
Our Father who art in Heaven
Though God created one human race, one human family, ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden and fell from their perfect estate; there have been two families on earth: God's family and Satan's family. The key verse to the whole Bible is Genesis 3:15. God is speaking to Satan "I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her Seed. He shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise His heel"
In that one verse God summarizes human history. He is saying, "Satan, because you led the human race into sin and rebellion against Me, I am declaring war on you and those who follow you as their spiritual father. A virgin woman will one day bear My Son, Jesus. You will hate Him and My family and do much damage to them, but eventually I will destroy you and your family forever."
Ever since that fateful day there have been two and only two spiritual families on this earth: those who follow Satan as their spiritual father and those who have been born again into God's spiritual family. There has always been tension and even enmity between these two families. Satan's family has caused much pain and suffering to God's family, even to the point of killing Jesus, the Seed of the Woman.
However, God supernaturally raised His Son from the dead three days later and because of that, Jesus and those who belong to God's family through faith in Jesus are going to be victorious. Christ will eventually crush Satan's head. Satan and those who follow him will be cast into the eternal Lake of Fire. That is a summary of the Bible from Genesis through Revelation.
Read the story in Romans 5:12-19 of two key men: Adam and Jesus. Note that through only one man, Adam, the entire human race fell into sin and was cursed. Perhaps you are thinking, "That just isn't fair that I should be counted a sinner just because of one man's disobedience thousands of years ago." Alright, hold that argument. I'll agree with you that until you hear the full story, that sounds as though God is unfair. Now let's go a step further.
As one man, Adam, led the entire human race into sin and death, so one Man, Jesus, through His death and resurrection, leads all those who trust Him into eternal life. That is the simple, wonderful explanation of God's grace in this Romans 5 passage.
You see, the question is not how good or how deserving are you to go to Heaven. None of us are. We are all cursed sons and daughters of Adam. In our natural state we would all follow Satan and spend eternity with him in the Lake of Fire.
But God, in His love, has intervened. He has provided salvation to anyone who will trust His Son, Jesus, who died for our sins.
The question is not, are you a Catholic or a Protestant? Are you a Jew or a Muslim? Are you a religious person or an irreligious person? The ultimate question is are you still in Adam's cursed family, or are you in God's blessed family through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus for your sins? John 1:12 says, "As many as received Him,(Jesus) to them gave He the power to become the Sons of God, even to them who believe on His name." Jesus said to those religionists who rejected Him, "Ye are of your father, the devil." John 8:44
If you have never put your trust in Jesus, your spiritual father is still Satan.
If you have put your trust in Christ, God is your spiritual Father.
If God is your Heavenly Father, Ephesians 2:18 teaches you have access to Him in prayer. You and I can gratefully approach the Father in prayer through our relationship with His Son, Jesus. John 14:6 Hebrews 4:14-16
“Hallowed be Thy Name” is the first of seven petitions in the Lord’s Prayer. The first three petitions concern our Heavenly Father and the last four concern our own needs. This teaches us that when we pray we are to always put God’s concerns before our own. That is, we should consider God’s will and desires over our own will and desires. When we pray this request, we are recognizing that the glory of God is the ultimate purpose and goal in life. All other requests must be subordinate to this one. We cannot pray right unless the glory of God is dominant in our desires. We must not ask God for anything that would contradict His holiness and His revealed will in His Word.
What is the Meaning of the word Hallowed?
The word Hallowed means sanctified or set apart for sacred use. “Hallowed be Thy Name” is a command of God to us as well as a desire on our part as Christians to hallow His name.
We are instructed in Exodus 20:7 in the Ten Commandments that God’s name is never to be taken in vain. Certainly it is never to be used as a curse word, nor is it to ever be used casually or carelessly as a joke. Christians are never to bear His name thoughtlessly. There are people who call themselves Christians, but they bear His name with a “so what” attitude. They have no interest in the Bible, nor in faithful church attendance or Christian fellowship.
Many Christians enjoy an exciting “worship experience” and love to sing about Jesus, but do not have any interest in studying and obeying His Word. Such Christians fail to understand that according to Psalm 138:2, God’s Word is to be magnified over Jesus’ name. The person who does not love God’s Word doesn’t really have much love for Jesus.
What is the Meaning of God’s Name?
If I am to Hallow His Name, I had better know His Name. God has many names and we learn those names and the meaning of them as we study the Bible. Psalm 5:11 “Let them also that love Thy Name be joyful in Thee.” Psalm 20:1 “The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee.” Proverbs 18:10 “The Name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run into it and are safe.”
Exodus 34 gives an account of Moses going up into Mount Sinai to meet God. Starting with verse 5 we read, “And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the Name of the Lord. And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and upon the children’s children unto the third and to the fourth generation.” The next verse tells us how Moses responded to the knowledge of God by bowing to the earth and worshipping Him.
When we say we would like to know someone, what we mean is, I would really like to know his character and personality. I would like to know what he stands for. I would like to know him intimately as a friend. The name is synonymous with the person. The names of God found in the Bible are a study in themselves. Let me list some of those names.
1. Elohim – Almighty God, Creator.
2. Jehovah – The God who reveals Himself to us.
3. El-Shaddai – God blesses us.
4. Adonai – He is our owner and master
5. Jehovah-Jireh He is our provider
6. Jehovah-Rophe – He is our healer
7. Jehovah-Nissi – Our banner in warfare
8. Jehovah M’Kaddesh – Who sanctifies us
9. Jehovah- Shalom – Our peace
10. Jehovah-Tsidkenu – Our righteousness
11. Jehovah-Rohi – My Shepherd
12. Jehovah- Shammah – Is there with us.
13. Immanuel – God with us.
14. The Lord Jesus Christ – God in flesh to save us.
As we pray “Hallowed be Thy Name” we are praying that God will hallow and sanctify His Name, His character and His reputation before the world as people observe and get to know those of us who belong to Him. We are praying that we will do nothing to dishonor or disgrace His name.
Towards the end of Israel’s Old Testament history, the prophet Malachi showed the people that they had despised God’s name. Malachi 1:6- 2:2
John the Baptist teaches us how to magnify God when he says, “He must increase, I must decrease.” John 3:30 The more genuinely humble we are as Christians, the greater Christ is magnified in our lives.
That’s why Christ raised up His Church; that regenerated Jews and Gentiles together might bring glory to God’s Name. That is the purpose of the Church. Acts 15:14 Read Jesus’ prayer in the Upper Room just before He went to the cross John 17.
How many Christians live a horrid testimony and bring shame and disgrace to the name of Christ! Remember, if you are a Christian, you bear Christ’s name everywhere you go and in whatever you do or say. Colossians 3:17
Can we really hallow God’s Name?
Not really. His name is already hallowed. A child cannot make his father’s name honorable if it is not already honorable by the father’s own character. But if his name is already honorable, the child can magnify and enhance that name and reputation by his own attitude and conduct as it reflects on his father. Or a child can bring shame to his father by his own rebellion and misconduct.
So when we pray “Hallowed by Thy Name” we are asking God to help us to live our lives so that we bring honor and glory to God.
We are not just praying to God. We are preaching to ourselves and warning ourselves to live our lives in such a way that we bring honor to God.
To hallow God’s name is to give God the supreme place in our thoughts, affections and in the way we live our lives.
Our desire is just the opposite of the builders of the Tower of Babel recorded in Genesis 11:4 “Let us make a name for ourselves.”
“Hallowed be Thy Name” is not just my request. It is the requests of all true Christians everywhere.
Why is this request first in the Lord’s Prayer?
It is so basic and so important that until it is settled, there is no reason to continue praying to God. If God’s honor is not important to you, don’t waste your time praying for your own requests. Your requests don’t matter. God is not interested in you and will not listen to you. Isaiah 1:11-20
You honor God first with your life and He will see to it that all your needs are met, Matthew 6:33 “Seek ye FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Let us not just honor Him with our lips. Let us make sure our life backs up what we say.
Whenever we repeat the Lord’s Prayer, we pray for Christ’s Kingdom to come and for Christ’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Is that really our heart’s request or do we just mutter those words thoughtlessly?
We will desire His Kingdom to come only if God is truly our Father through trusting the merits of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. We will desire His Kingdom only if we truly hallow and reverence His name. We will desire His kingdom only if we are living today in the light of eternity.
His present Kingdom and the Future Kingdom
When we pray “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done” we are praying about two aspects of His Kingdom. His present Kingdom in our hearts and His future Kingdom over the whole earth.
His present Kingdom in our hearts
In Luke 17:21 Jesus explained the internal nature of His Kingdom. He reminds us we do not seek for an external political kingdom; rather He explains, “The Kingdom of God is within us.” Christ reigns in our hearts. Paul in Romans 14:17 teaches us that Christianity is synonymous with Christ’s Kingdom. This Kingdom begins the moment we receive Christ as our Saviour from sin and surrender to Him as our Lord. When we trust Christ as our Saviour, God our Father “delivers us from the Kingdom of darkness and translates us into the Kingdom of His dear Son.” Colossians 1:13 If you are a Christian, God has already translated you into the Kingdom of Christ.
Christian, don’t fight Christ’s Lordship!
For you to insist on having your own way and doing your own thing and ignoring God’s will for your life will insure a life of misery and failure for you. If you are a Christian and living in Christ’s Kingdom, the right thing to do is to surrender to His Lordship and to seek first His Kingdom. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus promises us that God will see to your happiness and fulfillment and to the supply of all your needs. That’s His business. Our business is to live only for His purpose and glory.
What are the practical implications of living in His Kingdom?
Peter explains in I Peter 2:9 the purpose of living in Christ’s Kingdom. “We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession that we should show forth the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Beginning with verse 11 of this same chapter, Peter reminds us that as we live in the midst of Satan’s Kingdom of darkness on this earth, we are pilgrims and strangers. As citizens of Christ’s Kingdom, we are to be personally pure and submitted to the laws of our nation, for we have a dual citizenship. Verse 16 reminds us that as Christians we are free, but we must not misuse our freedom, presuming on the patience and grace of God by continuing to live in sin.
First things first
The truths of prophecy, including Christ’s coming Millenial Kingdom, are secondary in importance. If you go to my series of studies in prophecy you will learn prophetic truths concerning Christ’s Millennial Kingdom that will bless you; but first and foremost, make sure Christ is your King right now. According to II Timothy 2:12, your surrender to His Lordship now will determine your position in the Millenial Kingdom.
The Kingdom Truths of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount are not only for Jews during the Millennium. They are, I believe, even more pertinent to Christians today as we live under the dominion of our Lord Jesus Christ. To learn more about Christ’s present Kingdom on earth, go to the BEATITUDES link.
Matthew 6:33 teaches Christians to seek first the establishing of Christ’s Kingdom in our hearts and in our conduct, then God will provide all that we need for this life. Christ’s Kingdom concerns must become our concerns. That’s why we pray, “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done.”
It is a terrible affront to the Lord Jesus Christ to insist on having our own way while at the same time piously and hypocritically praying “Thy will be done.”
Is not God’s will always done?
We might wonder why we are to ask such a request. Isn’t God’s will going to be accomplished regardless of whether we pray for it or not? That question is answered by considering which Greek word for WILL is used here. There are two Greek words for WILL.
Theleema is an entreating, desired will.
Boulomai is an insistent, determined will.
God’s determined will is always accomplished. Whether we fulfill His entreating, desired will is up to us, though of course, God in His omniscience knew from before the foundation of the world, what our choice would be.
We are free to obey Him or disobey Him.
Note from Scripture how God has always given us a free will to obey Him or disobey Him, to trust Him or reject Him.
Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden were commanded by God not to eat fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was His entreating, desired will that they obey Him, but God did not overrule their will. They chose to disobey God and He allowed it. In Adam each of us have inherited his sinful nature. God, of course, knew the decision Adam and Eve would make and He provided salvation from sin for them and us from before the foundation of the world.
God delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage to enter the Land of Canaan He had promised them. It was His will for them to go to Canaan. They refused to believe God and as a result the older generation died in the wilderness and the new generation entered Canaan forty years later.
Marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship with His Bride, the Church. His will is clearly spelled out in Ephesians 5:22 that a wife submit herself to her husband, just as it is His will that we, His Bride, submit ourselves to Him. He does not expect husbands to force their will on their wives just as He does not force His will on us. The only obedience that pleases Christ is our glad, willing obedience and submission to His will. We still have the freedom to rebel against Christ if we are foolish enough to accept the consequences.
Jesus came to earth to fulfill His Father’s will.
Jesus did not come to fulfill His own desires as a man, but to do the will of His Father in Heaven.
“Thy will be done,” Jesus prayed to His Father in Gethsemane. Matt. 26:42
“My meat is to fulfill the Father’s will”, He explained to His disciples in Samaria. John 4:34
It is His desired will that we pray for in Luke 11:2. We should pray that His desired will and purpose will be worked out in our lives and in the lives of others for whom we pray.
God’s Will and our Salvation
Don’t ever forget this! God is “NOT WILLING that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance.” II Peter 3:9 It is God’s desired will to save the lost. Matthew 18:11-14 makes it clear that Jesus came to seek and to save those who were lost. To be saved we must desire to trust Christ. The last invitation in the Bible is found in Revelation 22:17 “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
At the same time we must understand the other side of God’s will as it applies to our salvation. In John 1:12-13 we learn that our salvation does not originate with our will, but with God’s determined will. In James 1:18 God makes it clear that is was “Of His own determined will (boulomai) that we were born again when we believed and received His Word of Truth.
“We love Him because He first loved us.” I John 4:19. To put it another way, We chose to trust Him as Saviour because He first willed or determined to save us. Nevertheless, don’t blame God if you are not saved. It’s your choice. John 5:40 “Ye WILL NOT (ye desire not) to come to Me that ye might have life.”
You don’t understand how God can determine to save a sinner from before the foundation of the world and at the same time give him a free will about the matter? Neither do I. I simply gratefully receive His gracious Gift of salvation and leave the hidden things that I do not understand to Him. The Apostle Paul, after dealing with this doctrine of election in Romans 9,10 and 11, concludes the matter in 11:33-36 with a doxology of praise to God for His unsearchable wisdom. I am thankful that my God is so great and awesome that I cannot begin to fathom the depths of His love and wisdom
God’s Will and Our Sanctification
I Thessalonians 4:3 teaches that it is God’s desire and will for Christians to be sanctified. That is, when a person is saved, it is God’s will for Him to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and to become like Him. True, we will not be perfect as He is until we are in Heaven. But this is the direction of our life as a Christian. Romans 12:1-2 shows us that it is God’s will and desire for us to be fully surrendered to His control. Everything God allows in our lives is His will and desire for me. I Thessalonians 5:18
For Which Will are We Praying in the Lord’s Prayer?
In both Luke 11:2 and Matthew 6:10 it is God’s desired will for which we pray. It is clear that God wills all be saved. It is also obvious that all men have not chosen to be saved. So God’s desired will is limited by man’s choice.
It is also clear that God wants all Christians to progress in sanctification. It is also obvious that many Christians are not progressing in sanctification. For many, the idea does not ever cross their minds for they are in rebellion to the will of God.
HOWEVER, God’s desired will is going to ultimately be accomplished in the lives of those who are truly His, in spite of a Christian’s rebellion. Our bridegroom, Jesus, is still going to use whatever tools are necessary in our lives to bring us through the process of sanctification. He promises to one day present us, His Bride, to Himself without spot or wrinkle. Ephesians 5:25-27 If necessary, He will use chastening and suffering to accomplish His will. Hebrews 12:5-8 I Peter 5:10
Two parallel facts are true of every Christian.
1. God’s determined will MUST be fulfilled in our lives.
2. Yet WE must surrender to Him to experience it. Romans 12:1-2
So when we pray “Thy will be done” we are rejoicing that His desired will shall be accomplished in us; but we are also praying that we will surrender our lives to Him to allow Him to work out His desired will in our lives.
What can we do to see our prayers answered concerning His will in our lives?
First, we can reject the will or desire of Satan to influence and control us. James 4:7
Second, we can renounce our flesh nature. I Peter 4:1-2 With Jesus we can pray, “Not my will but Thine be done.” Matthew 26:39
Third, we can beg God for wisdom to know His will and then search His Word to find it. Proverbs 2:1-6
Fourth, we can ask God to incline our hearts to do His will. Psalm 119:33-36
Fifth, we can ask God for strength to do it. Philippians 2:12-13, 4:13 Hebrews 13:20-21
What is our standard for doing His will?
Perfection! “On earth as it is in Heaven.” As His will is fulfilled perfectly in Heaven by the saints and angels, so we are to pray for that kind of obedience while here on earth. His will is not to be carried out hypocritically, reluctantly or sullenly.
How are we blessed for doing His will?
1. Those who do His will know His Truth. John 7:17
2. He hears and answers our prayers. John 9:31
3. We prove we are in His family. Matthew 12:46-50
4. We prove to ourselves that His will is perfect. Romans 12:1-2
Let us pray for ourselves and for others the prayer of Colossians 1:9-13
The best prayer we can pray for another is the prayer of Epaphras in Colossians 4:12
May God help us to pray with understanding and submission to Him whenever we pray “Thy will be done.”
We’ve dealt with the first three requests in the Lord’s Prayer, requests that concern God’s interests and glory: that His name be hallowed, that His Kingdom come to earth and that His will be done on earth, including, in our own lives as Christians.
Now we come to the requests that we are prone to put first in our lives: the need for daily bread, the need for forgiveness, protection from temptation, and our deliverance from evil.
Note their order. It’s not that we are to pray for God’s concerns first so that we can “get to the good stuff” and pray for all the things we want. For a small, immature child Christmas is all about “What I am going to get!” As we grow in love and spiritual maturity, Christmas becomes far more a matter of what we are going to give others. So as we become spiritually mature in Christ, our desire for God’s glory far overshadows and overpowers our own desires. We live only for God’s glory. His glory becomes the theme and purpose of our life; not our glory. Psalm 37:4-5 Proverbs 3:5-6. The personal stuff we desire is seen as vanity. Life is empty and meaningless if Christ is not our life. Psalm 137:5-6
Note the order of the personal needs for which we are to pray.
1. Daily bread
2. Forgiveness of sins
3. Protection in temptation
4. Deliverance from evil.
Note that the need for bread comes first. Why?
Why physical needs first?
Because we live in physical bodies, physical needs must come first. I MUST have my necessary food and water to eat and drink and I must have my necessary air to breathe; otherwise I am in no condition to concern myself with spiritual needs. If I am to worship God and serve Him, I MUST have my food and drink and I MUST have my necessary sleep at night. So our loving and wise God meets our physical needs first, so that we can give attention to our spiritual needs.
At this time, God has gotten me through 73 years. He has graciously met every need of my life. I have never suffered the loss of food or drink. He has met every physical need of my life, including the money I need to pay my bills. If He can get me through 73 years, I have confidence to believe He can take care of me through whatever time I have left on this earth.
Why pray for just Bread?
The term bread here is a generic, signifying all the necessities of life; including our necessary food, clothing and housing. We are taught to pray for our necessities and not for luxuries. Most of us here in America live in luxury by the standards of the rest of the world. Let us be thankful for whatever God gives us or enables us to afford. It’s all of His grace and mercy. Lamentations 3:22-24
Is it not selfish of us to be praying for more than the necessities of life? Would it not be better for us to ask God to lead us in using the extra resources He provides us for helping to meet the needs of others? Read and consider Isaiah 58 and Psalm 41:1-3
Thank God for the necessary food He provides us and for the nourishment, health and strength it provides us.
Learn to pray the following balanced request for neither riches or poverty. Proverbs 30:8-9 Learn to be content with what you have. I Timothy 6:8-9.
The blessings of poverty
I am absolutely honest and sincere when I affirm that I am so thankful that God blessed my wife and me with poverty in the early years of our marriage. I also pity young couples starting off their lives together who are able to afford every material thing their hearts desire; or worse, buying everything they desire on credit and starting out married life in debt up to their ears. Why am I thankful for starting out in poverty?
Lamentations 3:26-27 teaches us that “it is good for a young man to bear the yoke in his youth.” That is, it is good for a young man and his wife to bear heavy burdens in their youth. It is good to struggle to pay your bills, to cut your grocery shopping to the bare essentials.
For one thing you learn to rely on God for all your needs.
You learn to appreciate what you have.
You learn to distinguish between needs and unnecessary cravings.
You quickly learn not to waste anything. When you are poor you don’t fill your plate with food and then throw half of it in the garbage.
Because we learned these lessons as a young couple and have lived by them through the years, today we are better off financially than we would have been had we not learned those lessons. One of the secrets of financial success is not so much finding increased income, but to cut the waste and all unnecessary spending. I have been the bread-winner in our family, but my wife has been just as much a part of our financial success because she has been extremely careful in the spending by searching out and finding the best bargains.
Why are we to pray for daily bread when we already have a full pantry and a full freezer?
First, note that we are not to pray, “Give ME my daily bread; rather give US
our daily bread. When we pray, let us not just consider our own needs, but the needs of others.
Also consider that although today our cupboard is full, we could be wiped out over night. As Israel in the wilderness learned to trust God for one day at a time, so we need to learn to trust Him daily. Though we may be well off and lack nothing, sometimes God has to remind us to trust Him daily for our needs. Proverbs 27:1 and Matthew 6:34 warn us to learn to trust Him for one day at a time.
Remember, GOD is our source of supply, not some rich uncle or a good job or excellent investments. Learn to trust God; not the secondary causes. Be grateful to Him for His faithfulness to you. It is God who gives us the ability to prosper. Be concerned with the needs of others. Ask God for His blessing on you so that you can be a blessing to others.
Before we look at the request for forgiveness found in the Lord's Prayer, we need to understand some basic facts about forgiveness and salvation. When we trust Christ as Saviour we are forgiven from all our sins and through God's act of justification Christ's righteousness is imputed to us. Romans 3:14-26. God can rightfully forgive us our sins because Christ has paid the penalty for our sins through His death on the cross. II Peter 1:9 When we pray the Lord's Prayer we need not ask forgiveness for our sins of the past which God has already forgiven. Those sins are blotted from His memory and it would be well for us to forget our past forgiven and forgotten sins. Isaiah 44:22 Jeremiah 31:34
It is true that our sins were all in the future when Christ paid for them and all those who trust Christ stand justified and forgiven. Yet the fact that all Christians continue to sin is clearly taught in I John 1:6-10 and Romans 7:12-25. Those sins need to continually be confessed to God so that we may be forgiven and cleansed.
A Most Dangerous Request
We've come in Luke 11:4 to what can be one of the most dangerous requests Christians ever pray. Many Christians hold resentment and unforgiveness towards others. What audacity it takes to ask God to forgive us our sins when we refuse to forgive those who have offended and hurt us! What audacity it takes to ask God for daily bread and yet refuse to deal with our unforgiving spirit! If we have unforgiving hearts, what good is the bread and the other material blessings of life?
Daily bread and forgiveness
As we look to God daily for the supply of all our material needs, so we need to come to Him daily confessing our sins and finding His forgiveness. Daily we need to forgive others who offend us. That starts with forgiving our spouse or our children or our parents who offend us. Remember that God will not hear our prayers when we refuse to confess our sins to Him. "Behold the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, that He will not hear." Isaiah 59:1-2 "Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have witholden good things from you." Jeremiah 5:25 "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." Psalm 66:18
Our understanding High Priest
Thank God that we have a great high priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, who has taken care of our sins through His death on the cross. Because He experienced what it was to be human, He fully understands us. Because He is God in human flesh, He has experienced the temptations of Satan and has come out spotless without sin. Therefore, we can come boldly before His throne of grace and find grace to help in our times of need. Hebrews 4:14-16
A common sin of Christians
The sin of refusing to forgive others not only hinders our prayer life; it hinders the progress of sanctification in our lives as Christians. It is the only sin mentioned in the Lord's Prayer.
Refusing to forgive others has all sorts of serious consequences. Not only does God not hear us, but when we go to church, it keeps us from receiving anything from the message or from our own personal Bible study. It hinders us from God's blessing on our lives. It makes us absolutely miserable and unhappy whether we are alone or around other Christians.
An Ugly Sin
Unconfessed sins lead to bitterness and hatred. It spills out through our eyes, and leaves a scowl on our face. A beautiful Christian is turned into an ugly person. Whereas, Christ beautifies the meek with salvation, bitterness and hatred make ugly those who were once beautiful. All the expensive spas and beauty treatments cannot cover up and hide the ugliness of bitterness. All the positive books and lectures can't remove a bitter spirit. Bitterness and hated drain us emotionally and physically and can destroy our health. To hold a grudge is one of the most foolish things to which we can cling. This sin fills us with stress and stress leads to our immune system being weakened and compromised. When that happens, anything and everything bad can happen to us physically. We can't enjoy food. We can't sleep at night. We toss and turn in misery. We become slaves to the people we hate. Our hatred holds us in their grip.
The cure for unforgiveness and bitterness
There is no cure but confession and asking God's forgiveness for this ugly sin and then going in humility and brokenness to the person for whom we are holding a grudge and asking his forgiveness. Whether he forgives you or not becomes his problem. If you have done what you can to make things right, God asks nothing further from you, but to keep praying for him and loving him.
The story of two debtors
When teaching forgiveness to His disciples, Jesus told the story recorded in Matthew 18:21-35 of two debtors. One debtor owed the king what in our currency would be millions of dollars, a debt he could never possibly pay in his lifetime. The king to whom He owned the debt graciously forgave him, stamping his debt PAID IN FULL! Later this same man, freed from his oppressive debt found someone who owed him a small debt, equivalent to about $10.00. He grabbed the debtor by the throat and demanded him to pay up instantly or he would have him thrown into the debtor's prison until he had paid his debt. Later the king learned of how his forgiven debtor had treated the man who owed the small debt. He was furious and delivered the unforgiving man to the tormentors until his huge debt was paid in full, which, of course, was humanly impossible.
Can you or I honestly ask God to forgive us our sins in the same way we have forgiven those who have hurt or offended us?
As we’ve proceeded through our study of the Lord’s Prayer we’ve considered the first three requests that concern God’s glory. This should be our chief concern as we approach God in prayer. These first three requests include our desire that God’s name be hallowed, that His Kingdom be established first in our lives and then ultimately in the world and that His will be done first in our lives and ultimately in the world.
Then we turn our attention to our daily needs. Our most obvious need is for daily bread, which includes all our daily physical needs. A second daily need we all have is for God’s forgiveness for our sins. There is seldom a day that we do not need to confess sin to God. I wonder how many Christians do this? Linked to that request is a third request, the need for us to forgive those who offend and hurt us. In this request we are asking God to forgive us our sins in the same way that we forgive others who offend us. A fourth request is that we not be led into temptation. Let’s consider this matter of temptation.
Who is tempted?
James 1:14-15 teaches us that everyone is tempted. When Adam and Eve listened to Satan in the Garden of Eden; they fell into sin and rebellion to God. They passed on to the entire human race a sinful, rebellious nature. Romans 5:12 With sin came death.
This lost, sinful human race is in bondage to Satan and Hebrews 2:14-15 reveals that we spend our lifetime in bondage trying to find freedom and the meaning to life. Romans 6:16-18 teaches that the lost are servants of Satan. Everything a sinner does is sin for he is in rebellion to God. Proverbs 21:4 teaches that even when he is plowing his field he is sinning.
Because Satan has sinners in his dominion, he gives no attention to them. His only concern for them is to keep them from the sound of the Gospel and from being saved. The whole world lies under his power and dominion. I John 5:19 tells us.
Satan does not spend any time tempting sinners. He already has them. They are already bound for hell. Satan ONLY tempts Christians. The Lord’s Prayer is only for Christians. Only Christians need ask God for deliverance from temptation. Sinners can only ask God for His mercy and salvation. That’s the only prayer God hears from a sinner.
What is temptation?
The word means to entice or draw into evil and rebellion against God. Satan is the only ultimate source of temptation. God cannot and will not tempts anyone to sin James 1:13 clearly affirms.
What is the purpose of temptation?
There are two purposes for temptation: Satan’s purpose and God’s purpose.
Satan’s purpose is to weaken us by enticing us to defy God.
God’s purpose in allowing Satan access to Christians is to strengthen us by allowing us to go through Satan’s temptations to teach us our weakness and show us our need of trusting God. James 1:2-4, 12.
For example, Satan’s purpose in mercilessly attacking Job was to bring him to despair so he would curse and dishonor God. God’s purpose in allowing Satan’s attack on Job was to bring Job to the end of himself and cast himself fully on God and in so doing, bring honor and glory to God. The last chapter of Job shows that God won the contest with Satan over Job. God was glorified and Job was blessed beyond anything he had ever experienced before.
I Peter 1:3-8 and II Corinthians 12:7-10 teach that God allows diverse trials and temptations, including difficulties, disappointments and seeming reversals in our lives in order to strengthen us spiritually and bring greater glory to God.
John 4 tells of how God allowed Satan to tempt Jesus in the wilderness and Hebrews 4:14-16 explains the reason for those temptations; that we would have a Saviour who fully understands our humanity and our temptations so that we could find our strength in Him in our times of temptation.
In Luke 22:31-34 we have the explanation of why Jesus allowed Satan to tempt Peter. Jesus allowed Satan to sift Peter so that he would be fully aware of his own weakness and come to the end of his own pride and self confidence. Only then was God able to use Peter to be a fire brand for Him as the early church was established in the Book of Acts.
Christ encouraged the church in Smyrna in Revelation 2:10 and the church in Philadelphia in Revelation 3:10 by promising deliverance in the times of trial.
Don’t ever forget I Corinthians 10:13 which shows us that God is always in control of the thermostat when it comes to how much of Satan’s temptations come upon Christians. Satan is limited in his strength and knowledge. God is omnipotent and omniscient. That is, God is all powerful and all knowing.
II Corinthians 4:4 states that Satan is the god of this present fallen world system
Why? Because sinful man who has rebelled against God finds himself enslaved and under the dominion of Satan. There are no other masters. We are either slaves of Satan or bond servants of Jesus Christ. No man is master of his own destiny, even though he thinks he is. The rebel to God is at the mercy of Satan and Satan has no mercy. When Satan is through with a sinner, he chews him up and spits him out. Satan has no love for a sinner.
Romans 8:22 teaches us that the whole world of nature, including animals, groans under the curse of sin put upon sinful man. Because of the curse of sin, this world reels under the fury of storms and other natural disasters; but here is a wonderful truth we need to understand. Psalm 76:10 teaches us that God only allows what brings praise to Him. Everything else God restrains. God has His hand on the thermostat of Satanic evil.
We Christians need not be in despair when we're tempted to sin or when tried to the limit by circumstance beyond our control. God is sovereign and in full control. In I Corinthians 10:13 He promises us that He will allow no temptation or trial beyond our endurance, but will with the trial provide a way for us to bear it.
Tests provide opportunities for blessing
In Genesis 22 we read of a severe trial God allowed Abraham to bear. In that trial God also provided a wonderful solution. Then in verses 15-18 we read that because of Abraham's faith in God, God poured out His blessings on him.
In Genesis 37 and continuing to the end of the book we read the interesting story of Joseph. Joseph was tried by God, and because he passed the tests, God blessed him by making him prime minister of Egypt and in that position he was able to be a blessing to his family, as well as to the entire nation of Egypt.
In Luke 22:31-32 Jesus warned Peter he was about to be tested. He assured Peter that He was praying for him that his faith would not fail. Jesus did not pray that the testings would not come; but that he would be strengthened through the testing. Jesus prayer was answered. Though Peter failed the test, he repented and God used him mightily to preach the Gospel and help the church get started at Pentecost.
Let us remember this lesson. When God allows testing in our lives, He is preparing to bless us and give us opportunities to be a greater blessing to others.
We are sanctified through tests.
Keep in mind that God uses tests to accomplish His work of sanctification in our lives. Sanctification is God's process of taking a Christian and making him a saint. All Christians are called saints, but most of us do not live saintly lives. For a clearer understanding of sanctification, go to the SALVATION series of messages.
Sanctification is God's will for every Christian. I Thessalonians 4:3. God planned our sanctification from eternity. II Thessalonians 2:13 He works this out in our lives as we read the Word, and as we listen to the preaching of God's Word by faithful Bible teaching preachers. As we are convicted of sin in our lives, we are cleansed from the guilt and given power to be victorious. In so doing, we gradually become saintly. Being a saint has nothing to do with self-righteousness. The true saint is humble. Self-righteousness is repulsive to him.
Be consistent in your prayer life.
We can only truly pray "Forgive us our sins and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" as we seek God's strength to live a victorious life over sin. Otherwise we are being hypocrites when we pray.
So when the tests come and you are tempted to be in despair, count it all joy that God has seen fit to allow the trial, knowing that God is in the process of sanctifying you and He is getting ready to bless you beyond your wildest dreams.
So as we pray to be delivered from this present evil world system, "Thy Kingdom come" "Deliver us from evil" "Even so come, Lord Jesus." let us consider some practical things we can do to strengthen us for the testings that will come.
Read, memorize and meditate in the word of God. Psalm 119:9,11
Watch and pray lest we enter into temptation. Matthew 26:41
Be sober and watchful for Satan's wiles. I Peter 5:8-9
Be humble. The proud fall. I Corinthians 10:12
Welcome sufferings and difficulties. Psalm 119:67,71
Submit to God. THEN you can resist the devil. James 4:7
Flee from temptation to sin. Proverbs 1:10-33 4:14-15 5:3-11 7:5-10
I Thessalonians 5:22 II Timothy 2:22
Don't be stupid!
It is folly and plain stupidity to think that we are any match for Satan and that we can whip him by ourselves. I Corinthians 10:12 We are not to arrogantly think that we are "tough guys" who can handle the devil.
It is perfectly right for us to seek God as our hiding place. Today, if you need to be delivered, ask God for His deliverance and seek the strength of His indwelling Spirit to endure whatever you must face. As James 1:2-4,12
and I Corinthians 10:13 teach us, let us gladly welcome the temptations that draw us to Christ and to His strength, knowing that we will never be called to face temptations beyond our endurance, but that with the temptation God will provide a way for us to bear it.
We’ve come now to the final request, “deliver us from evil”. Have you noticed that in all these request the plural pronoun us is used? Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:18 to pray for one another as well as for our own needs. We ought to continually be aware of the physical and spiritual needs of others and uphold them in prayer. Certainly we as husbands need to carry the burdens of our wives on our hearts and we as parents need to carry the burdens of our children on our hearts and we as pastors need to carry the burdens of our congregations on our hearts as the Old Testament High Priest carried the names of the twelve tribes of Israel in the ephod over his heart.
From what evils are we to ask deliverance?
Satan is the chief enemy of every Christian. Before we were saved we were not even aware of his danger. He ignored us for we lived in bondage to him and we thought we were living in freedom. The moment we put our trust in Christ and became His, we were immediately confronted by Satan. Satan hates us because we belong to Christ and he hates Christ. In Ephesians 6 we learn of the need of wearing our spiritual armour in order to face the attacks of Satan. That armour is basically the Word of God and our personal relationship with Christ.
Sin itself is an evil from which we need deliverance. Paul, as a Christian, writes in Romans 7 of his ongoing struggle with sin. The Christian who thinks he has had an experience with the Holy Spirit that has freed him from the power of sin for the rest of his life is very misguided and is deceiving himself. It’s a very dangerous position to hold for the Bible warns, “Let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”
When a person is saved, he receives a new nature, but he still has his sinful flesh nature. The flesh nature does not refer to his physical body. There is nothing sinful about our physical bodies. They are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14 Yes, we all bear the marks of the curse of sin with our aches and pains and impending physical deaths. Because we have fallen in Adam, we all have a sinful nature, saved and unsaved alike. When we are saved through faith in Christ, we do not lose that sinful nature just as we do not lose our sin-cursed bodies; but we are given a new nature through the indwelling Holy Spirit. He gives us a desire to do right and to please God. As for our sin-cursed bodies, they will be changed and glorified at Christ’s return.
These two natures are opposed to one another and therefore, we find ourselves in a constant struggle between the desire to do wrong and the desire to do right. In Romans 7:25 Paul concludes the description of his struggle by explaining how we can have victory over sin. We learn that whenever our minds are under the control of the Holy Spirit, we have victory. Whenever we give in to the desires of our flesh nature, we are defeated. The life of victory begins when we surrender to the control of the Holy Spirit. As long as we stay surrendered to Him and feed on God’s Word, we have victory. Whenever we allow the flesh nature to control, we are defeated. The decision is ours. Psalm 119:9-11 teaches us that the more time we spend reading and hearing and meditating on God’s Word, the stronger we become to resist temptation.
This present world system
The world of God’s creation is wonderful, though even it has been damaged by the curse of sin. One day when Christ returns, this whole world will be restored to Edenic perfection.
The world system, led by sinful, fallen man; is corrupt. The world system includes everything contaminated by sin: the entertainment industry, the news media, the public educational system, the anti-Christ religious system, the political system and anything else controlled by sinful men. The whole world system lies under the control of Satan. I John 5:19 So we pray in the Lord’s Prayer to be delivered from evil.
In the meantime
Although Christians have been delivered from Satan’s Kingdom of Darkness and translated us into the Kingdom of Christ; God still allows Satan to wield his oppressive power to molest and harass us, as he did in Job’s case.
We are not immune to Satanic persecution. John 15:18-21 John 16:33 Persecution for Christ brings blessing to the Christian. Matthew 5:10-12
We are not immune to lustful images every day. It is impossible to escape them; not just lustful images, but inordinate desires. Colossians 3:5-8.
God does not deliver us from this sinful world system until we die. But John 17:15 encourages us by letting us know that Christ is praying for us that we be delivered from the evil of the system.
Temptation is a necessary part of our sanctification. However, don’t seek out temptation by going to an X or R rated movie and praying that you will be delivered. Don’t seek it out by going to a casino and praying that God will deliver you from gambling. That is as dumb as a dare-devil driver trying to prove what a good driver he is by driving as close as possible to the edge of a cliff without going over.
Practically, how can we be delivered from evil?
Let us not mock God by praying this prayer and trifling with sin.
Let us be watchful. “Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation.”
Let us submit ourselves to God. Then we can resist the devil and he will flee from us. James 4:7
The more our character and conduct are controlled by the Word of God, the more we will overcome evil with good.
Let us set our affection on things above and not on the things of this earth.
Then we can pray sincerely, “Deliver us from evil.”
Having laid our requests before God, we cease focusing on our needs and concerns and turn our attention to God Himself. In the Matthew 6 account of the Lord’s Prayer, we conclude with a doxology to God, “For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever, Amen.”
We pray to God who alone has wisdom and power and authority to answer our prayers in such a way that our needs are met and He is glorified.
Let us not deceive ourselves. As long as we are concentrating on our needs and our concerns, it is impossible to truly worship Christ. It’s only when we have laid our burdens on Christ that we are free to praise and worship Him. We cast our burdens on Jesus and He gives us rest. There is no further need for worry or fretting.
In this prayer we learn that worship and praising God are always fitting when making requests of Him. We see this truth as we study the prayers of Old Testament saints. The Psalms are filled with prayers of praise to God.
In the New Testament Paul’s prayers echo this praise to God. A good example is his prayer for Christians found in Ephesians 3:14-21. Read this prayer and note how he bursts forth into a doxology of praise to God. Jude concludes his brief epistle with a doxology to Christ. “Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” Worship is essentially our praise and gratitude to God, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We exalt Him for who He is and for what He has done for us. Worship involves more than praising Him with our lips. It involves the surrender of ourselves to Him and it results in the enjoyment of intimacy with Him.
Dr Harry Ironside, a well known Bible teacher I heard as a child, tells this story, “My wife and I stood one day looking down on Niagara Falls. How our hearts were stirred as we watched that mighty cataract pouring its tremendous volume of water over the great cliff unceasingly. Soon we noticed that from below a mist rose up that actually reached the point where we stood on the ledge above the Falls. I said to my wife, ‘This is like worship- God’s mighty love and grace pouring down upon us; then our love and praise rising up and ascending back to Him, the source of all our blessings.”As we receive God’s spiritual and material blessings from day to day, it is as natural as the mist rising from the Falls for our worship, adoration, thanksgiving and praise to rise to Him.
We bless God by surrendering our lives to Christ, who is our Lord and King and submitting to His authority, “for Thine is the Kingdom.”
We bless God by coming to Him in our weakness and confidently depending on His strength. “for Thine is the power.”
We bless God by coming to Him in humility as we live our lives for His glory and by ascribing to Him all the glory for what He is doing in our lives. “for Thine is the glory.”
In Heaven we will worship God perfectly, even as we desire to worship Him perfectly now on earth. Revelation 4:11 and 5:12 describe that Heavenly worship of the saints.
Only as we magnify Christ and give Him the preeminence in our lives do we truly worship Christ. All else is empty emotionalism and vanity. Revelation 22:13 teaches us that Jesus is the Alpha and Omega (the A to Z ) of our lives. Any experience we have is less than worship if it does not result in our total surrender to Him.
Christ is our Saviour through faith in the sacrifice of His shed blood.
He is our life, our purpose in living. Colossians 3:3-4
He is our King and we bow before Him. The more we read and study His Word, the more to come to know Him. The better we know God, the more effective our prayer life and the more genuine our worship and the more we are blessed. True worship is grounded on knowing God through His Word.
The more genuine our praise and worship, the more He blesses us. When are we blessed? Psalm 67:5-7 answers that question. When people praise and worship God THEN God blesses. When God’s people are blessed, then we impact the world for Christ.
Because He is Almighty, He has the power and the ability to do whatever He pleases. There is nothing too hard for Him. We recognize and bow to His sovereignty, power and authority to do whatever He pleases through us.
What encouragement for us to pray!
As our Heavenly Father, He loves us and cares for us.
As our Almighty King He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we could ever ask or think, according the power that works in us. In contrast to the earthly kingdoms that have risen and fallen throughout time; consider the perpetuity of Christ’s Kingdom which goes on forever. Psalm 89:2 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
Amen indicates our faith in God and our fervent desire for the fulfillment of these requests. May God take the things we have learned from the Lord’s Prayer and from the prophetic series on the Kingdom and make them so precious to us that we pray this prayer with joy and understanding. May we never again mumble the Lord’s Prayer as a thoughtless, meaningless ritual.
"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice:
but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn."
GOD OF OUR FATHERS
Daniel C. Roberts
God of our fathers, whose almighty hand
Leads forth in beauty all the starry band
Of shining worlds in splendor through the skies,
Our grateful songs before Thy throne arise.
Thy love divine hath led us in the past,
In this free land by Thee our lot is cast;
Be Thou our ruler, guardian, guide and stay,
Thy Word our law, Thy paths our chosen way.
From war's alarms, from deadly pestilence,
Be Thy strong arm our eversure defense;
Thy true religion in our heart increase,
Thy bounteous goodness nourish us in peace.
Refresh Thy people on their toilsome way,
Lead us from night to everlasting day;
Fill all our lives with love and grace divine,
And glory, laud, and praise be ever Thine!
We thank you that we can call you our Father because we come to you through the merits of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who died and rose again to save us from our sins.
Thank you, Father, that you invite us to come before Your throne of mercy with all our burdens that we may find grace to help in time of need.
We thank You that America was founded by men who honored You and Your Word. We thank you for the way You have led us through difficult times when our nation was almost destroyed by hatred and division from the Civil War to our present time.
We thank you for brave men and women who have fought and sacrificed their lives to defeat the enemies of freedom. Almighty God, as you fought on behalf of your people in Bible times, we look to you now to strengthen us in our war against devilish terrorism. Bless the people of Iraq and other nations of the Middle East with Your peace and with the freedom of self-government. Rid this world of tyrants now as you helped us rid the world of Hitler and other tyrants of the past. Thank you for helping us rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein. Bring peace to the Middle East. By Your might, bring the reign of terrorism to an end that the world may know that You are God and beside You there is no other. Speed the day when our service men and women may return home safely to their families.
We pray for our President as he leads our nation and as he appoints judges and other office holders. May there be cooperation in Congress and may good men and women be confirmed to their offices. Remove from office those who have godless agendas and rebel against Your Word.
We pray for the godless of our nation who want nothing to do with You or Your Word and who bitterly hate those who love You. Cause them to come to the end of themselves and fall on their faces before You and see themselves as Your enemies, headed for eternal destruction. Cause them to see that their only hope is Jesus Christ. Father, allow whatever it takes to bring people to see their desperate need of You.
We rejoice that You are still sovereign and one day Jesus will return to this earth to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We thank You that we who trust and love you are on the winning side; that soon we will be in Your presence, free of sin and war and terrorism.
We offer these requests with thanksgiving and praise to You, our almighty , all wise and loving Heavenly Father through the merits and in the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ. AMEN
In I Timothy 2:1-4 "Paul exhorts therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the Truth." Paul was requesting prayer for Nero, the wicked Roman Emperor. God is the One who in His sovereignty according to Daniel 2:21 "removes kings and sets up kings.".
Thank God for many today in leadership positions who are seeking God's will for the direction of our nation in these troubled times.
Pray for our President and Vice President that God will protect them and give them direction and courage to do the right thing. Pray for the President's Cabinet and for all his advisors.
Pray for Congress as they make the Law of our Land. Pray that God may be glorified and Satan may be defeated in the decisions they make.
Pray for our Judicial system from the Supreme Court down to our lowest courts that our judges may conduct themselves honorably under God and that justice under God may be meted out.
Pray for our Governors and for state legislators, our city mayors, city councils, our police officers and firemen. Pray for their protection and for wisdom in carrying out their responsibilities.
Pray that God will raise up godly, charactered leaders and that He will remove from office those who dishonor Him.
Pray for our men and women in the military. Pray for wisdom and direction for those involved in Homeland Security. Pray for God's hand of protection upon us as a nation as we take whatever steps are needed to protect ourselves and other freedom loving people around the world. Pray that they may be aware and encouraged that a grateful nation supports them and honors their heroic efforts.
Pray for the citizens of our nation that we may recognize our dependence on God and our responsibility to honor and obey Him.
And while you are praying for America, don't forget to pray for Iraq and for other nations who are discovering the joy of freedom and self-government.
Praise God that Christ's Kingdom is coming and one day HIS WILL will be accomplished on earth as it is in Heaven.
PRAYER OF REPENTANCE
A decade ago, Pastor Joe Wright prayed this now famous prayer in the Kansas House of Representatives in Topeka, Kansas. God give us more politically-incorrect preachers to help steer our nation in the way we should go.
“Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and seek your direction and guidance.
We know your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good,” but that’s exactly what we’ve done.
We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values.
We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of your Word and called it moral pluralism.
We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism.
We have endorsed perversion and called it alternative lifestyle.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building esteem.
We have abused power and called it political savvy.
We have coveted our neighbors’ possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us O God and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.
Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas, and have been ordained by You to govern this great state.
Grant them your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of your will. I ask in the name of your son, the living saviour, Jesus Christ.
"Thou bottomless fountain of all good,
I give myself to Thee out of love,
for all I have or own is Thine,
my goods, family, church, self,
to do with as Thou wilt,
to honour Thyself by me, and by all mine.
If it be consistent with Thy eternal counsels,
the purpose of Thy grace,
and the great ends of Thy glory;
then bestow upon me the blessings of Thy comforts;
If not, let me resign myself to Thy wiser determinations."
This is just a portion of one of the prayers prayed by the Puritans who laid the spiritual foundations of our Republic. These prayers are challenging my own prayer life. I recently bought my own leather-bound copy of about 300 prayers from http://www.banneroftruth.org .