How Should You Pray? Matthew 6b
Stephen Caswell © 2005
Today, there are a lot of different ideas on how believers should pray. Some say, Name it and claim it. Some encourage very formal prayers. How should Christians pray? The disciples asked Jesus the same question. In response He taught them the Lord’s prayer. The things revealed here are the essentials of prayer. Jesus didn’t say, pray these words. He said, pray after this manner. Follow these principles not these words.
Dr. Robert A. Cook often said, All of us have one routine prayer in our system; and once we get rid of it, then we can really start to pray! I have noticed this, not only in my own praying, but often when I have conducted prayer meetings. With some people, praying is like putting the needle on a phonograph record and then forgetting about it. But God doesn’t answer insincere prayers. He wants us to pray from the heart, not just our heads. He wants us to mean what we say, not just say the words we think He would approve of. Today we will see 5 points from the Lord’s prayer; Relationship, Reverence, Reliance, Remission, 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. How did we obtain the privilege of being God’s children? Through 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 in Jesus Christ and receive Him into our lives we are born again. The Spirit of God gives us new life; spiritual life. The new birth marks the beginning of a new relationship with God. He is now our Heavenly Father.
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. Jesus tells to address God as our Father. This is a very intimate relationship. In fact the word used in Romans 8:15 is ἀββᾶ, meaning Daddy. Parents love their children and take care of them. They take care of us for 18 or 20 years or for some lucky parents 30 years.
However, God loves us like this but in an even greater way. God loves us and cares for us. Because God is our heavenly Father; His love and care for us are eternal. His family will never be separated from His love, not even by death. Jesus told the disciples to call no one Father but God. When you pray do you call Him Father? You Should! Jesus says that because of our relationship with God we should call Him our Father.
b. New Family
Secondly, Jesus taught the disciples to be mindful of God’s 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.
a. Sanctify God’s Name
Mat 6:9: In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
Secondly, we must reverence God. We should fear the Lord and respect Him. Why? Because God our Father is holy. Some people rush into God’s presence with a long list of wants. Their attitude is a lot like a selfish child giving their gift list to Santa Claus. It is 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, kingdom and will. Not our own name, kingdom and wills. 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 that they wouldn’t even say it. The word Jehovah or Yahweh was never uttered by the Jews. When the Scribes copied God’s Word they would take a bath before writing His name. 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 hallowed, held in reverence and awe?
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. God has planned the kingdom from the beginning. 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 all 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. When we pray for the kingdom of God to come we are praying according to God’s will.
We can also work for the kingdom by preaching the Good News. John the Baptist, Jesus and the disciples preached that the kingdom of God was at hand. When we pray that God will save sinners we help bring the kingdom in. 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 praying for your own kingdom?
Three Questions In Prayer
We must consider times and seasons. George Mueller used to say that he first asked and settled this question concerning any proposed measure: Is this the Lord’s work? Then, Is this the Lord’s way? And last, but not least, Is this the Lord’s time?
c. Submit To God’s Will
Matthew 6:10b: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Jesus commands us to pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. This prayer begins with God’s interests, not ours: God’s name, God’s kingdom, and God’s will. 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 must submit to His will in our own lives. All of our prayers should be offered according to God’s will. 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.
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 What is God’s will for us?
1. Our Salvation 2 Peter 3:9: The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, but is long-suffering to us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
2. Our Sanctification 1 Thessalonians 4:3: For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;
3. Our Service 1 Peter 4:2: that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.
4. Our Thankfulness 1 Thessalonians 5:18: in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
5. Our Subjection 1 Peter 2:13-15: Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God.
6. Our Suffering 1 Peter 4:19: Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.
7. Our Sincerity At Work Ephesians 6:5-6: Servants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,
These 7 things are God’s will for us all. God also has individual plans for each of us. He reveals His will through the Word, circumstances, open doors and counsel from others. God confirms it by giving us His peace. Christ prayed in the garden of Gethsemane that the cup of suffering might be taken away. Then he finished that prayer with, not My will but Yours be done. We must follow His example. Let’s ask God to help us to pray according to His 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. Do our prayers focus on God’s name, His kingdom and will or on our own name, kingdom and will?
3. Our Reliance upon God
Matthew 6:11: Give us this day our daily bread.
Thirdly, our reliance must be upon God for our daily needs. James condemns selfishness and greed. People who don’t consider God’s will or others needs. 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.
If we put God’s concerns first, then we can bring our own needs. If this is the case, then why pray? Because prayer is the God-appointed way to have these needs met. He’s promised to meet our daily needs not our greeds. We must live a day at a time; our daily bread. 1 Peter 5:7: casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Prayer prepares us to use the answer correctly. God wants us to rely on Him for all our needs. 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.
Matthew 6:31-33: 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.
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; cheques in the mail, money banked in our account, food, 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.
Fourthly, we must ask for remission of our sins. To be healthy spiritually we need a right relationship with God. 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. Forgive, ἀφίημι means to dismiss, to send away, to pardon, let go. Psalm 103:12: As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. We must ask God to forgive us our sins; it’s not automatic.
Ephesians 4:32 says: And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Why has God forgiven us for Jesus’ sake? Because Christ asked His Father to forgive us when He hung on the cross. God can forgive us because His Son asked for it. That is one side of it. To be released from our sin and have a clear conscience we too must ask for God’s forgiveness. 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.
The parable of the publican and the Pharisee also highlight this point. Luke 18:9-14: Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess. And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, God, be merciful to me a sinner! I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
As you and I know Christians sin and need to deal with it. 1 Corinthians 11:27-32: Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 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. Unconfessed 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 pray for forgiveness.
b. Forgiveness for our Brother
For God to forgive us we must forgive others. Jesus explains this in Matthew 6:14-15: For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Jesus warned us that God can’t forgive us if we don’t have humble and repentant hearts. We reveal the true condition of our hearts by the way we treat others. When our hearts are humble and repentant, we will gladly forgive our brothers. But where there is pride and a desire for revenge, there can be no true repentance; and this means God can’t forgive us. The world’s worst prison is the prison of an unforgiving heart.
If we won’t forgive others, we are only imprisoning ourselves and causing our own torment. Some of the most miserable people I have met in my 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 our selves and the other person. Sadly some carry around grudges and burdens for years.
Poison Christmas Card
I can remember a time when we received a returned Christmas Card. I can’t tell you what was on it, except that it hurt at the time. We had always practiced hospitality. By doing this we made many good friends. We invited different folk along. One particular friend got upset that they weren’t invited to a dinner. We sensed a barrier between us and sent them a Christmas card. It was returned with bitter words written over it in red ink. Another couple also received such a card. We sat down and talked about it with the pastor. We prayed about it and let it go. Although it hurt we chose to forgive. I shared this story with you a few months ago when I preached on Matthew 18. was 14 years ago.
Our friend who also got a nasty Christmas card recently saw this lady in the doctor’s surgery. She went up to her and said hello and asked how she was going. The other lady was still bitter. She couldn’t talk but stuttered and finally spat out O why don’t you just drop dead! She said this in front of a whole lot of people who had no idea what was going on. This lady has never dealt with her sin. She’s still bitter. We were able to move on because we let it go and forgave her. 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 and 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 God 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 save, rescue or snatch from danger. 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 because we simply don’t ask God for help. 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 where talks about taking up God’s armor to defeat the enemy 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. 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 for His kingdom to come?
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.