Lord, teach us how to pray [3]   Leave a comment

Prayer

Prayer

This, then, is how you should pray:Our Father in heaven,hallowed be your name,your kingdom come,your will be done,on earth as it is in heaven.Give us today 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 the evil one.” Mat. 6:1-13

This model of prayer is in essence the main contents of our prayers. It is a privilege that we receive from God Himself this model of prayer. Of course, since we have our own way of expressing ourselves, we are not expected to pray strictly in this manner.

How to pray

1. Our Father in heaven

This short phrase brings forth this desire God has to have fellowship and relationship with humans as a father would with his son.  This reduces to naught the concept that we cannot have an intimacy with God. While working as trainee in the government, I was told that I should use the word “Honorable Minister” before mentioning the name of the politician (even in his absence). A kind of respect and fear was instilled in the mind of the employees to honor the ministers.

The Hebrews feared of pronouncing the name of God YHWH because it was God’s holy name. The high priest would pronounce the name Yahweh once a year when he entered the holy of holies.

Jesus has given the disciples a new name by which they could address themselves to God. This name is not one which would cause additional fear but a name that would indicate by itself an appeal for fellowship. “Our Father” Jesus said. Not only the Father of the Jews but the Father of all (Eph. 4:6). The term Father is of course in relational sense and not biological. This is the kind of relationship Jesus had with God the Father. He wanted His disciples to be partakers of the same kind of relationship He had with the Father. He actually prayed for it:

 “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you…Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17:20-25

God is not like our earthly fathers who have flaws but is the perfect model of a father. He is the holy Father in heaven. We respect our earthly fathers even if they are not flawless. Our Father in heaven is God almighty and He deserves also the honor of worship.

When you pray, come to God with confidence as the author of the epistle to the Hebrews said:

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Heb 4:16

2. Hallowed be your name

Father may your name be kept holy. There’re several interpretations which suppose that Jesus taught that we are to sanctify God’s name. God’s name is already holy and Jesus instilled this reverence in His disciples.

May all creatures acknowledge the holiness of your name. Whenever your name is uttered may it be from a pure heart and undefiled lips. If it were possible, when insults are made unto your holy name by evil hearts may you be kept from hearing them.

Let us also acknowledge when we pray that we’re addressing ourselves to the greatest Being. God is not a puppet or genie to whom we can give orders. Yes He is a Father but this does not mean that we can permit ourselves to abuse on this relationship. Our righteous Father in heaven corrects and reprehends. His name is holy and He will not tolerate the sins of those who call Him Father. Let us therefore be careful when we pray that we do not try to fool God.

Jesus said: Why do you call Me, Lord, Lord, and do not practice what I tell you? Luke 6:46

In the book of Malachi we read:

A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty.“It is you priests who show contempt for my name.” Mal. 1:6

When we pray, let us examine our heart before we declare that God’s name is Holy.  For if we declare that God’s name is holy and we come with sin in our heart we are denying what we confessed.

3. Your kingdom come,your will be done,on earth as it is in heaven.

 The creation and believers await that the Son establishes His reign. It is like a sigh and groaning:

Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering” Rom. 8:20-23

In Revelation 22:20, John expressed these words “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Paul used the word Maranatha in 1 Cor. 16:22 to express “Come Lord !

If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord

Right now, the world is under the dominion of the prince of this world. On earth, God’s will is being ignored but in heaven God’s reign is wholly established.

When is it O Lord that all creation will submit to your authority and cease to rebel? My soul longs to see you be exalted here on earth but because of your love for humanity you’re being patient. Because of your grace and mercy, you’re awaiting man to come to the knowledge of the truth and repent  (1 Tim 2:3)

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

When we pray, let us bear in mind that God’s reign in heaven is established. This acknowledges God’s Sovereignty.

3. Give us today our daily bread

After we acknowledged God’s holiness, sovereignty and gave Him due respect, we are called to make our petitions.

Jesus put lot of emphasis on not worrying about tomorrow and here He taught Give us TODAY our DAILY bread. Let us not worry about tomorrow but let us ask for today’s bread. Bread is no luxury but its provision is a sufficient gift from above. When God gave manna to the Israelites, He provided it on a daily basis. Those who worried about tomorrow and kept some stock for tomorrow found all their food rotten (Exodus 16). God knows if we need to keep some stock or not. For example, He allowed the Israelites to keep some extra food on the 6th day for the 7th day(sabbath). The food did not get rotten then.

When we come to God in prayers, let us not worry about tomorrow. We should come with faith and not anxiety. Let us ask for our DAILY bread and not for TOMORROW’S bread.

4. And forgive us our debts,as we also have forgiven our debtors.

We are still in the flesh and sin. It is therefore necessary to ask God for forgiveness when we pray. When we are asking God to forgive our trespasses, it is a prerequisite that we have beforehand forgiven those who offended us. Man has nothing to pay to cancel his debts. It is only God’s act of mercy and grace that can cancel these debts. Without forgiveness from God, these debts remain for eternity.

Jesus told a story about a man who owed a fortune to his master. He pleaded to receive forgiveness and his debts were cancelled. However, he also had a servant who also owed him less money and he threatened him. He did not cancel the debts as his master did.

Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?” Mat. 18:32-33

We cannot expect that God will grant forgiveness if we withhold it to others. So when we come to God in prayer for forgiveness, let us examine if we owe forgiveness to others.

5. And lead us not into temptation,but deliver us from the evil one

It is a plea made to God that temptations do not reach us. When we are tempted, God is faithful to preserve us from yielding to it. He will not allow that these temptations lead us to sin. He will show us a way out but it is still our choice to decide if we’ll obey God or satisfy the desires of the flesh.

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 1 Cor. 10:13

As James mentioned, God does not tempt anyone. We are tempted by things our flesh desires and this is why we are tempted differently.

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong,and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away” James 1:12

 Our petition to God is to deliver us from the evil one who tries to take advantage of our weaknesses to tempt us.

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Posted October 19, 2014 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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