Last week Pastor Bryan opened our new series, “If My People Pray…” by explaining the importance of prayer. He showed us how we have a direct line to the Creator of the universe. Amazing, right!?
Now the question is, 'what are you going to do about it?'
This Sunday, we’ll be looking at the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:1-4. The purpose is not to memorize this prayer verbatim (although that wouldn’t hurt), but instead to see the pattern for praying that Jesus used to teach his disciples.
In Luke’s account in Luke 11:1-4, the disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray….” That was the only time the disciples specifically asked Jesus to teach them a spiritual discipline. It wasn’t how to preach. It was't how to do miracles or walk on water. It was how to pray!
It seems that prayer does not come naturally. Prayer is a learned discipline that develops as we practice praying.
Jesus then laid out a pattern for the disciples to pray from. Once again, it’s not about saying these specific words verbatim. This is a pattern that guides our approach and our attitude in praying to God. Below is Matthew’s account of the Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Notice how the first half of the prayer has to do with the greatness of God as our loving Father who is not of this world and dwells in heaven. This should lead us to pray with praise on our lips, honoring the Name above all names. How often do you jump right into asking God for something and completely bypass acknowledging Who you’re talking to?
The next part speaks of the perspective we should have when we pray and how it’s about God’s will being done, not ours. How often do you find yourself praying your own agenda into your prayers? I know I’m guilty of that.
The last few lines finally give us a pattern for how we are to approach God for our daily needs, confessing our sin, forgiving others, and protecting us from the evil one. This prayer is packed with elements of praise, adoration, reverence, Kingdom perspective, confession, petitioning God, loving and forgiving others, and much more.
Do your prayers resemble this pattern? Or do your prayers skip the first few elements and go straight to petitioning the Lord for what you need (or think you need)?
My encouragement to us all is to be people that practice this pattern of prayer. There’s no legalistic formula here but it is helpful to see how Jesus recommends we talk to the Father. Start by praising Him. Adore Him. Thank Him. Then align your heart with His and pray His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Then move into asking Him to provide for your needs. Confess your sin. Confess any unforgiveness in your heart and ask the Lord to heal you and restore you. Pray for protection from the evil one.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Oswald Chambers quotes: “Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work”.
Now, stop reading and practice praying. Seriously! There’s no point in reading about prayer and not practicing it. Go!
I look forward to seeing you all Sunday and practicing prayer together as well.
For His Kingdom,