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How should I Pray?

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Most of us Christians struggle with the issue more then we would let on, yet the Bible and Jesus are not silent on this topic. In Matthew 6:5 Jesus says that it is important that we don’t pray with a wrong motivation, as did Pharisees whom were hypocrites. Then in Matthew 6:6-8 Jesus gives three keys to effective prayer, and for the sake of memorization they all start with the letter “S”:

Three Keys to Effective Prayer:

1. Verse 6: SECRET: This verse carries two ideas

in regards to secrecy.

A. First, it should be private. That is not to say that

a person ought not to offer any public prayers

but that, most of our time of communion ought

to be private. The word for “room” here is used

for a storeroom where treasures were kept. It is

in this private place where we are less distracted

by the outside and are assured that we won’t

pray in order to be seen by others.

B. Secondly, it says “your Father.” Thus, they ought

to be personal. Again the idea here is that we

come to our Father personally. He is our Father.

2. Verse 7: SIMPLICITY: Solomon said  in Ecc.

5:2 “…God is in heaven, and you on earth;

therefore let your words be few.” We don’t

need to convince God of what is best for us for

He knows. All we need to do is confess what He

already knows to be true. Then thank Him for

His answer, which is always going to be for our

best interest and for His glory. Most prayers in

the Bible are very short so a person does not

need to spend hours on their knees every day

repeating the same thing over and over. Just sit

down before Him, open your heart to Him and

be concise. Prayer is NOT an information time

where you are telling God something that He does

not know.

3. Verse 8: SINCERITY: What ever we say to the

Lord we ought to be sincere. For He knows

what we need before we ask. Take some time

as you enter into prayer and ask the Holy Spirit

to show you your own heart. Then ask Him to

show you what you already posses in Christ.

Most the time we ask god for things that we

already posses in Christ.

As you look at all the prayers of the Bible they are made up of three things, worship, intercession and petition and this model prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 has these same three things:

It begins and ends with worship.

A. It intercedes for God’s kingdom.

B. It petitions for out daily needs.

You will also note that this model prayer deals with our past, present and future, as well as dealing with our need for provision, forgiveness and guidance. When summing this all up, this prayer contains anything and everything we will ever be concerned with all within 65 words which take only 30 seconds to utter. It is amazing how complicated we make prayer. I have read the classics on prayer: The seven book series by E.M. bounds which consists of some 1,063 pages; as well as the classic Andrew Murry book entitled “Christ in the school of Prayer” which consists of 252 pages. Yet here all that we need is contained in 65 words.

Three Observations of the Prayer

Here are some observations of the whole of the prayer:

1. No singular pronouns: As you will read through this prayer you will notice the absence of all singular pronouns, “I, Me, or my’s.” It is all “us and ours.” Prayer is by it’s very nature others centered, yet still concerned with our cares, just not ours alone.

2. This is all there is on prayer: This is not the only time that this prayer is recorded in the Bible you will find it mentioned again in Luke 11:2-4. What is not clear because of cross-referencing is that the prayer in Luke 11 did not happen at the same time as this one in Matt. 6:9-13. In fact, it happens some two years later. Stop and think about this for a moment. Jesus, at the beginning of His ministry, takes these disciples up on a small mountain and teaches them all about prayer. Then, two years later after having observed Jesus in action, watching Him pray, seeing that prayer was the source of all that He did here on earth, they ask Him “Lord, teach us to pray…” Now you would think that there would be some advance coarse of prayer. Jesus did not say; “Well, two years ago I taught you all the basics, now let me give you the real stuff that prayer is made of.” Simply put this is all of the “stuff” on prayer.

3.   This prayer reminds us of what is already

our in Christ: Everything we need is in Christ. It all

starts with our relationship to Him through Jesus and

then recognizing what is ours through that relationship.

A. Verse 9 God’s person

B. Verse 10 God’s purpose

C. Verse 11 God’s provision

D. Verse 12 God’s pardon

E. Verse 13 God’s protection

F. Verse 13 God’s pre-eminence

Verse 9 Petition

What we have before us is what many called the invocation. The prayer starts out with the truth of relationship. Every word that will be said depends upon the significance of that relationship stated in the words “Our Father.” If a person has no relationship with God then they have no right to call on Him.

A. The word, “Father,” is a very interesting word in

light of the names of God.

1. Elohim: The strong One

2. El Shaddai: The Might One

3. Yahweh: The covenant name, which means,

“I am that I Am.”

Jesus uses none of these names here; instead He uses the word “Abba.” It is the word best translated “Daddy or Papa.” Is He no longer powerful, might, God spoken by the words above? Has He now somehow changed? No. He has no changed; He still has that character and nature. What has changed, is our heart toward Him.

Now there are a great many people today who they say they know God, but is He their Daddy? A son can walk right up to his father and say, “Dad I’m hungry,” and get something to eat. But a stranger can’t do that. Why? Because he does not know him. Again He is not “my Father” He is “our Dad.” That is, He is the Dad of all who know Him personally; not just the Dad of Calvary Chapelities.

B. Note His location, “in heaven.” Actually the word heaven here is in the plural form and should read in the “heavens” He is far beyond all of what we are conscience of. He is far above yet everywhere at once. He is reigning in glory. I relate to Him because He is my Dad, yet I reference Him because of Who He is. There is that great line in C. S. Lewis’ book the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe where the children are asking about Aslan the Lion. They ask if He is safe and the answer comes back, “No, but He is good.” that is what is pictured by these words “in heaven.”

C. Now that we have established that, everything hinges upon this relationship, notice the next thing about “our Dad.” “Hallowed be Your name.” This is not a word that we use today in our language but it means to “make holy” or “let Your name be made Holy.” Names use to always stand for the character of the person, in other

words people were named for their character or attributes. We need to remember that or Dad’s essential character is Holy.

When we say these words “hallowed be Your name” it reminds us before we start asking God for things that ultimately we represent Him!

Verse 10-12 Intercession

Now we move from the person and character of God to His purpose: “Your kingdom come.” “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This is the second of six petitions in this prayer. The first three affirm God’s glory:

1. Verse 9: His holiness

2. Verse 10: The coming of His kingdom

3. Verse 10: The obedience to His will

The right kind of prayer ought to always have the greatest amount of passion for God’s glory and agenda. His Name, His kingdom, His will should always be our greatest desire. G. Campbell Morgan says this; “Prayer is not first of all a means by which we get something for ourselves; it is rather a method of helping God to get something for Himself.” Pastor Chuck Smith says; “True prayer begins with us seeking to line up with God’s purposes; never trying to change what He wants to do.”

Verse 11: Now we move to our personal needs, where we again see three petitions for our good. Again notice that there are no personal pronouns, it is not “Give ME MY bread” it is “Give US OUR bread.”

1. Verse 11: Bread for our bodies

2. Verse 12: forgiveness for our souls

3. Verse 13a: Protection for our hearts and minds

There is nothing wrong with prayer that lifts up our need to God. Notice though Jesus does not say give us our monthly or yearly bread.  That is how a great many of us pray, always fretting about something that has not happened yet. Bread here no doubt refers to our daily provisions. Yet with that said Jesus is the bread of life, (John 4:32-34). He alone meets my deepest hunger. It is great that God would have us be dependent upon Him daily for our provisions.

Verse 12: Here we come to another great need we all have “Forgiveness for our souls.” It would appear by this passage that we only are forgiven based upon our forgiving of others. But the order of this clearly shows that forgiveness of others can only occur as we have been forgiven. Eph. 4:32 tells us, “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving on another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” That is the picture of forgiveness, we forgive because of what Christ has forgiven in us not the other way.

If you want to know what the difference between Christianity and all other religions is it found on the basis of how we are forgiven. Only in Christianity is a person forgiven on the works of another. All other religions it is based upon our own works.

Verse 13a: Protection for our hearts and minds. Here is the last of our petitions for our personal needs. Temptation here does not mean to be drawn into sin but rather testing. Also, of note is the word “lead” which can be rendered “leave.” So to put this another way it could read “leave us not in testing.” Simply put, bring us there but don’t keep us there. We are week creatures full of failure, there is a lot of wisdom in praying, “Lord don’t leave me in testing.” Notice as well that we have an enemy we need to be delivered from, Satan.

Verse 13 Worship

Verse 13b: Notice in this ending a threefold ascription of praise:

1. Kingdom

2. Power

3. Glory

The Prayer Personalized

Perhaps it might help to look at this prayer if it was paraphrased and personalized:

Verse 9: “In this manner, therefore; pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” “Heavenly Holy Dad, You are holy, and You always do right in all Your words and ways.

Verse 10: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” “Holy Dad, I only want to be in Your presence and for Your presence to be felt here in the world. Confirm my life to Your plan, I yield to You.”

Verse 11: “Give us this daily bread.” “Give me only those things this day which cause growth in my life with You; spiritually, emotionally and physically.”

Verse 12: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” “Holy dad, I give You all those things that would hinder me from growing closer to You and I let go of anything others owe me, as this would hinder Your love from operating through me.”

Verse 13: “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” “Holy Dad, keep me from the things that would stumble me and render me in bondage to the devil. For all I desire is for You to be glorified in my life, and for Your power to work through me for Your glory forever. So be it.”