Stephen Caswell © 2005
How should we pray? In Luke 11:1 the disciples asked Jesus Christ that very question; they said, Lord teach us to pray. In response Christ taught them the Lord’s prayer. This prayer contains just 66 words, yet it’s so profound. My parents sent us to school to get an education to help prepare us for life. We were taught the 3 R’s, Reading, Writing and Arithmatic. Somehow I think the spelling of that is wrong. In Matthew 6 Jesus’ the Master Teacher shares the 5 R’s of prayer with His disciples or learners; Relationship, Reverence, Requests, Reconciliation & Rescue.
a. New Father Matthew 6:9: In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven.
Firstly, prayer is based on our relationship with God. Jesus taught the disciples to address God as their Father. In fact the word Father is used 10 times in the first 18 verses of Matthew 6. Prayer is really a family matter. How can we obtain the privilege of being God’s children? By being born again. Jesus was the first to teach us about the new birth. John 1:12-13: But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. When we believe that Jesus Christ is God’s Son who died for our sins we receive Him into our hearts. The Bible says we are born again. The Holy Spirit brings us into a new relationship with God.
The parable of the Prodigal Son describes God’s love for sinners. The younger son asked for his inheritance straightaway. His Father reluctantly gave it to him. The son soon left for another country where he wasted his inheritance on loose living. After his money ran out his friends left him. Whilst feeding pigs for a living the son realized how foolish and sinful he had been. He said I will return to my father and say I have sinned against heaven and against you take me back as a hired servant. The Father was watching and waiting for His son to come home. The Father ran to him, forgave him, clothed him, and celebrated His lost son’s return. God wants to be our Heavenly Father not our judge.
John 3:16-18 God wants to be our Father and bring us into the family home. After His resurrection Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene. John 20:17: Jesus said to her, Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God. Romans 8:14-15: For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba, Father. The word ἀββᾶ, means Daddy.
Through faith in Christ we become God’s children. Parents love their children and provide for them. They protect us, take care of us. God cares for His children and wants us to trust Him. God loves us like this but in an even greater way. Because God is our heavenly Father; His love & care for us are eternal. His family will never be separated from His love, not even by death. Jesus says when we pray to call God our Father.
b. New Freedom Matthew 6:9b: Our Father in heaven.
The Queen of England is a very important person. Because of this, I couldn’t just walk into the Palace and see her majesty whenever I wanted to. I would first need to receive a royal invitation. Royal Guards ensure that no unauthorized person comes before the Queen. But this restriction doesn’t apply to everyone. The queen’s children can obtain access to see their Mother at almost any time. As members of the royal family they were born with this freedom. This is what it’s like for God’s children. We have access to our Father’s throne at any time. Christians are born into royalty, for our Heavenly Father is also the King of the universe. He is greater than any president or king. He is powerful, wise, generous and loving. Hebrews 4:16: Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
c. New Family Matthew 6:9b: Our Father in heaven.
Little Johnnie was saying his bedtime prayers a week before his birthday. In a loud voice he listed all the things he wanted. Do not pray so loudly, his mother instructed. The Lord is not hard of hearing! Maybe He isn’t, admitted Johnnie, but Grandma is. Some of our prayers are like Johnnie’s. We just pray for our own needs. Selfish prayers.
Secondly, Jesus taught the disciples to be mindful of our family. We are not alone in God’s family. The pronouns Christ used are plural, ie us and our. Jesus said Our Father, our daily bread, our sins, and our deliverance from evil. We mustn’t just pray for ourselves. Christ wants us to be mindful of others when we pray. James 5:16: Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. Paul’s letters contain many prayers he offered up for the saints. He prayed for their needs; primarily their spiritual needs. When we pray, let us be mindful of the needs of our brethren, not just our own. Let’s pray for our brothers and sisters and neighbors.
a. Sanctify God’s Name Matthew 6:9c: Hallowed be Your name.
The 5th Commandment requires children to honor their parents. Even more so we should reverence God. Why? Because our Heavenly Father is holy. Sometimes we rush into God’s presence with a long list of needs. When really we ought to remind ourselves of God’s majesty, purity, glory and holiness. It’s worth noting, that the Lord’s prayer begins and ends with God’s glory. The kingdom, the power and the glory belong to our God. And rightly so! God wants us to be committed to His name, His kingdom and His will.
The word hallowed, ἁγιάζω, means to set apart, sanctify or make holy. God’s name must be held in reverence. His name is holy because He is holy. The 3rd Commandment tells us not to take God’s name in vain. The Jews respected God’s name so much so that they wouldn’t even say it. Today there is little respect for the Lord’s name. So many use God’s name as a swear word. Do you pray that His name will be held in reverence?
b. Seek God’s Kingdom
Matthew 6:10a: Your kingdom come.
Christians should also pray that God’s Kingdom will come to earth. When the kingdom of God comes the Lord will be worshipped by all men. God will rule over the world and abolish all evil. Revelation 11:15: Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever! God has prepared the Kingdom for those who love Him. Luke 12:32: Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. We can also work for the kingdom by preaching the Good News.
2 Peter 3:11-13: Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Are you praying for God’s kingdom to come? Or are you praying for your own kingdoms?
c. Submit To God’s Will
Matthew 6:10b: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
George Mueller – God’s Will
I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter. 90% of the trouble with people is just here. 90% of the difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the Lord’s will, whatever it may be. When one is truly in this state, it is usually but a little way to the knowledge of what his will is. George Mueller
Jesus commands us to pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Robert Law has said, Prayer is a mighty instrument, not for getting man’s will done in heaven, but for getting God’s will done in earth. If we truly want God’s will done on earth, then we will submit to His will in our own lives. Our prayers should be offered according to God’s will. We have no right to ask for ourselves anything that would harm another member of the family. We have no right to ask God for anything that will dishonor His name, delay His kingdom, or disturb His will on earth.
1 John 5:14-15: Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
Our children often come to us with requests for something that they would like. We listen to their requests and then give them an answer. Often we have to say No!! Children don’t always know what’s best for them. They ask for things that might be harmful. Playing cricket on the road might be fun but it’s also dangerous. If we giving our children all they ask we will spoil them. This is why we should ask that God’s will be done whenever we pray. God knows what’s best for us. He wants us to share our gifts with others. Our Father has promised to meet our daily needs not our greeds.
James rebukes believers for selfishness in James 4:1-3: Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Let’s ask God to help us to pray according to His will.
Matthew 6:11: Give us this day our daily bread.
Father’s provide for their children out of love. Our Heavenly Father knows our needs and loves us. The word give, δίδωμι means, to give as an expression of generosity, to donate, grant or bestow. Our Heavenly Father has unlimited resources, ie the cattle on 1,000 hills. Matthew 6:31-33 says: Therefore do not worry, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
If this is the case, then why pray? Because prayer is God’s appointed way to meet our needs. Our Father wants us to trust Him to meet our needs. He cares about us. 1 Peter 5:7: casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. The Greek word cares μέλω means to be anxious or concerned about. Our individual needs are a concern to God. Prayer turns our hearts to God. Sincere prayer helps us to keep our priorities right. Elijah trusted God to meet His needs at the Brook Cherith. God didn’t fail him but sent ravens to feed him bread and meat every day. Elijah simply focused on obeying the Lord.
At Bible College the Lord met our needs. We looked to Him and He was faithful. We received more than $25,000 during our 3 years there. God met our needs in different ways; food parcels, cheques in the mail, money banked into our account, credit on our college account. We continued to give offerings to the Lord during our college years.
Philippians 4:6-7: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Food for All
Mueller rented Number 6 Wilson Street, and on April 11, 1836, the doors of the orphanage opened. Twenty-six children were immediately taken in. A second house soon opened, then a third. From the beginning, Mueller refused to ask for funds or even to speak of the ministry’s financial needs. He believed in praying earnestly and trusting the Lord to provide. And the Lord did provide, though sometimes at the last moment.
The best-known story involves a morning when the plates and bowls and cups were set on the tables, but there was no food or milk. The children sat waiting for breakfast while Mueller led in prayer for their daily bread. A knock sounded at the door. It was the baker. Mr. Mueller, he said, I couldn’t sleep last night. Somehow I felt you didn’t have bread for breakfast, so I got up at 2 A.M. and baked some fresh bread. A second knock sounded. The milkman had broken down right in front of the orphanage, and he wanted to give the children his milk so he could empty his wagon and repair it. Such stories became the norm for Mueller’s work. During his ninety-three year life, Mueller housed more than ten thousand orphans, prayed in millions of dollars for this and missions, traveled to scores of countries preaching the Gospel, and recorded 50,000 answers to prayer.
a. God’s Forgiveness Matt 6:12: And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
When our children are disobedient our relationship with them is strained. That is until we deal with it. Then everything is okay again. So too with our heavenly Father. We must ask for His forgiveness for our sins. We offend the Lord whenever we sin. If we want to have close fellowship with God we must honestly deal with our sin. Our spiritual health requires regular confession of sin. Just as we need daily bread for physical health we need daily cleansing for spiritual health. The word and links v12 to v11. Jesus tells us to ask for God’s forgiveness of our sins, daily. The word forgive, ἀφίημι means to dismiss, to send away, to pardon, to cancel a debt, to let go. Like untying a horse to free him.
Psalm 103:12: As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. Our Heavenly Father wants to forgive us our sins. But we must ask Him to; it’s not automatic. How can a Holy God forgive us our sins? for Jesus’ sake? Because Jesus asked His Father to forgive us when He hung on the cross. Jesus took the punishment for our sin, that’s one side of it. To be released from our sin and have a clear conscience we too must ask to be forgiven. That’s why Jesus included this in the Lord’s prayer. The Apostle John brings out the same thing in his epistle.
1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we don’t confess our sins God won’t forgive us and cleanse us. Our ongoing fellowship with God requires Christ’s constant cleansing. 1 John 1:7: But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. Confess, cleanse and walk are all in the present continuous tense. God won’t ignore our unconfessed sin.
As you and I know Christians sin and need to deal with it. 1 Corinthians 11:28-32: But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
Paul commands us to examine our hearts before partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Where we find sin we must confess it. There is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, but there is conviction of unconfessed sin. Condemnation leads people to hell. Therefore God judges us and chastens us so that we won’t be condemned with the world. If we don’t confess our sin we will become weak, sick and can die prematurely. Un-confessed sins won’t put us out of God’s family but out of His fellowship. Such Christians become spiritually weak. They have no real interest in the kingdom of God. They are miserable because they can’t cleanse their guilty conscience. Jesus tells us to ask for forgiveness.
b. Forgiveness for our Brother
Verse 12 links God’s forgiveness of our sin to our forgiveness of a brother’s sin. Our Heavenly Father wants His children to get along with each other. It doesn’t mean we ignore sin committed against us but rather that we graciously challenge our brother about it. Luke 17:3: Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. Jesus said that His disciples would be known by their love for one another. Love compels us to forgive. Love keeps no record of wrongs and suffers long. Every believer will need to forgive or be forgiven by another sooner or later. Reconciliation is so important Jesus repeats it in v14 & 15. He warned that God can’t forgive us if we don’t forgive others. Luke 6:37: Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
We reveal the true condition of our hearts by the way we treat others. Ephesians 4:32 says: And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. When our hearts are humble and repentant, we will gladly forgive our brothers. If we don’t forgive others, we are only imprisoning ourselves and causing our own torment. Some of the most miserable people I have met in ministry are people who won’t forgive others. They live only to imagine ways to punish the people who have wronged them. But they’re really punishing themselves. Granting forgiveness frees both persons. Sadly some carry around grudges and burdens for years.
An Unforgiving Spirit
An elderly Pastor I know said that gossip will destroy a Church faster than anything else. I personally believe that this is true. Second to this sin I believe is an unforgiving spirit. I know some folk who are holding on to grudges that go back 25 years. In fact one lady told me that she could never forgive those who hurt her. When they see these offenders at the supermarket they quickly duck into the next aisle. They would cross over to the other side of the street just to avoid contact with someone they didn’t get on with.
I refuse to play that kind of game. I will talk to people and greet them, no matter what they have done to me. I refuse to become bitter. I ask the Lord’s help to forgive people and love those who have hurt me or are still hurting me. The Bait of Satan is a good book on forgiveness.
Offenses happen; this is simply a fact of life. Some are real and some are perceived. Regardless of what type they are, God commands us to forgive. Christ prayed for our forgiveness while we were still sinners, in fact while we were nailing Him to a cross. Some Christians can’t even talk to other believers. They ignore them on the street or hide from them at the shops. Are you carrying around offenses with you because you won’t forgive? Are you bitter, full of vengeance, malice or anger? God says we must forgive!
a. Deliver Us
Matthew 6:13a: And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Finally, we should ask our Father to rescue us from temptation. Again verse 13 is linked to verse 12 & 11 showing this should be done daily. The word deliver, ῥύομαι, means to preserve, to save, rescue or snatch from danger. Colossians 1:12-13 shares how God has done this for us. Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.
God wants us to conquer our sin. Jesus has made this possible through His work on the cross. Temptation can’t be completely avoided, but it can be conquered through prayer, God’s Word and the armor of God. We must pray and ask for God’s help to conquer it. 1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
Many times we are overcome by temptation simply because we don’t ask God for His help. In the Garden the disciples trusted in their own strength and failed dismally. Matthew 26:40-41: Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. We must never place our confidence in the flesh. In Ephesians 6 Paul talks about taking up God’s armor he also emphasizes prayer. Verse18: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.
b. Deliver The Kingdom
Matthew 6:13: 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.
The kingdom belongs to God not Satan. One day soon He will deliver the world from sin, bondage and corruption. This is the only hope for this poor world wrecked by Satan and sin. Jesus Christ the King of Kings will return and claim the Kingdom from Satan who usurped it from Adam. We can and should pray for that day to come. When Christ reigns He will vanquish sin, death and suffering. At this time God’s people will be delivered from evil forever. Amen. Romans 8:19-21: For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Do you ask God to help you overcome temptation? Or do you try and do it in your own strength? Are you praying God will deliver this world from sin?
Prayer is really a family matter. This morning we have looked at the 5 R’s of prayer, Relationship, Reverence, Requests, Reconciliation & Rescue. Five essentials that focus our attention on our Father’s Sufficiency for every situation. The Lord doesn’t want us to say these words like a parrot. Jesus didn’t say, pray these words but, pray after this manner. Follow these principles not these words. Let us talk to our heavenly Father as children, obedient to Him, honoring Him, trusting Him. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21: Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.