Peninsula Community Church
Prayer Series: How to Pray
February 28, 2016
Matthew 6:5-8 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Over the last few weeks we have concentrated our attention on this one verse. In doing so we have looked at the when of prayer, the where of prayer, and last week we looked at the who of prayer. This week we will conclude this series by looking at the how of prayer. If we read the text that follows this passage we find that Jesus gives specific instruction on how to pray. The beauty of this is that Christ not only tells us what to do and for that matter what not to do in prayer but He illustrates how to pray effectively.
For me, I love this because I am a hands-on kind of learner. I love reading books to learn about things but I learn best by applying what I have learned in practical ways. I think Jesus had people like me in mind when he instructed His disciples on how to pray. Listen to what Jesus tells them. Pray then like this: 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.
Before we get into the meat of this passage let me make an observation in the form of a question. How many times have we quoted this passage without fully understanding what we are praying? Too often, in reciting the passage we miss the real purpose and true meaning behind the words. So today in the few moments we have let us unpack this passage to the degree we can. To begin with, we find the passage divided into two parts. The first part is focused on God, His Kingdom, and His will. The second part focuses on our needs, our forgiveness, and our deliverance. The first part reaches upward and the second part reaches both inward and outward to touch us where we are.
For now let us turn our attention to the first section of this passage which is focused on God and His greatness. In essence, what Jesus is instructing the disciples to do is to focus on God the Father. Jesus begins by recognizing God as the Father, but He is not just any father, He is Our father. It is noteworthy that Jesus does not just call God Father, but He invites us to do the same because He is also our Father. For that reason he tells us to pray “Our Father!” The word here for father is the word abba. It is a more personal form of the word as it speaks of intimacy.
With that said Jesus proceeds to instruct us on how to pray. He prays “Our Father which art Heaven, Hallowed be your Name!” The idea of hallowing God’s name is to honor, reverence, esteem, and treasure His name above everything else in this world. One’s name in Biblical times meant so much more than it does today. One’s name defined them. In terms of God’s name, when we pray we must remember what God’s name stands for and what His name represents. By hallowing His name we are focusing on the fact that God is holy, eternal, all powerful, every where present, and that He is trustworthy. In essence, by praying this prayer we focus on the grandeur and majesty of God.
Secondly, Jesus invites us to pray “Your Kingdom come.” In essence we pray that the Father of heaven will cause His sovereign rule to be manifested throughout the world. To pray this means we are praying that God’s kingdom would invade our life and our circumstances. We do not pray that His Kingdom would come into existence because it exists already but rather that His kingdom would be revealed and be made known.
Because of the fall of mankind in the Garden, the urge to establish one’s own kingdoms has been an ongoing battle. There is the kingdom of this world which is ruled by sin and wrong thinking. And there is the kingdom of our heart where we want our will to be accomplished regardless of the outcome. But then there is God’s kingdom. In praying this prayer we are saying that we recognize God’s kingdom, we trust God’s kingdom, and we desire that God’s kingdom is revealed in every circumstance of our life. So here is the deal. If I am sick, I pray that the kingdom of God is revealed in the circumstance. If I am dealing with difficult relationships, I invite God’s kingdom to invade those relationships. If I am emotionally wounded I pray for the kingdom of God to come and heal my wounds.
The idea of the kingdom also speaks to us that we do not have to fight alone. We can invite the kingdom of God into center of all that we encounter. The lie of the enemy is that we are alone and we have to fight alone but that is just a lie that continues to be propagated. We have each other but we also have the very presence of God who comes on our behalf to invade our circumstances and to make Himself known. When we invite the kingdom of God to come we have the entire arsenal of heaven at our disposal. How awesome is that!
Thirdly, we pray “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We pray that God’s all-wise, all-just, all-holy will is done all over this world. We pray that God’s will happens in me. There is nothing greater than to have the will of God evidenced in our hearts and manifested in and through our lives. Therefore this reinforces the purpose of prayer which is to align our will with the heart of God. This occurs when we recognize His supremacy and His power. We invade the impossible by surrendering our will to His will.
So in the first part of this prayer we recognize the majesty of God. We pray for His kingdom to be established in us and in our circumstances. We pray that His will is manifested in all we do and in every circumstance of our life. With that said we can now move to the second part of this prayer. The second part of the Lord’s prayer focuses on our needs. You see when we recognize God’s supremacy and the closeness of His kingdom, we are in a better position to focus on our specific needs in a godly manner. By recognizing that He wants to invade our circumstances, we are more apt to pray with faith and trust in God. This weekend one of the speakers at the conference said that too often we pray to get out of a particular situation but we should pray for God to reveal what we can get out of that particular situation. In other words we ask: What is God doing in us? How is He growing us?
The first petition here is “Give us our daily bread.” This is a petition of provision. Bread is a term that is inclusive of all needs. You see in that day bread was one of the greatest concerns they had. They did not need much else but bread to sustain them. So, what is your need? Is it food? Is it healing? Is it relationships? Whatever it is God can and will answer. We pray that God who is our Father will bring the Kingdom into focus in every area of our life and that God’s will is revealed to us. We pray that according to His name, His kingdom, and His will that our needs will be met.
The second petition is “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” This reminds us that we are not only forgiven but we are to be forgivers. You see in light of the grace of God and the power of God I do not have the right to live with a grudge or the guilt of unconfessed sin. You see we pray for forgiveness for ourselves but we pray also for those who hold a grudge against us. In praying this prayer we are praying for forgiveness so that His kingdom can invade that part of our life so that we are no longer held captive by the actions of others.
You see when we pray for forgiveness we are reminded of how blessed we are. We are reminded of the power of God’s grace at work in our lives. We are reminded that we have received so much we do not deserve. That is grace. We receive God’s riches at Christ expense. And we are to give grace to others. Remember in the War Room movie when Clara confronts Elizabeth about her relationship with her husband, Tony. Clara reminds Elizabeth how much God’s grace has been manifested in her life and how unwilling she was to give that same grace to Tony. Real grace is manifested best by giving grace to those who deserve it the least.
The third part states “and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” In essence, Jesus is saying that we should pray that we no longer continue to sin. We pray that we do not become entangled in overpowering temptation. The prayer Jesus prays is that we are delivered from evil. We pray that God would guard our life from the attacks of satan and from his works and his ways in our life. We ask God to help us to walk in His holiness.
I do not think that it is a coincidence that Jesus ends with this part of the prayer. You see when we face circumstances that are beyond our control and that seem bigger than us, we can be in bondage to unanswered prayer. In the end, we pray that the kingdom of God is revealed through us. To have that occur we cannot be entangled with the ways of the enemy. To be entangled places us in a position where we are susceptible to strongholds and to bondage that must be broken. To be entangled we tend to steer away from God’s will and we are intimidated by the ways of the enemy. In essence, Jesus prays that we would not be entangled with unconfessed sin. Not only does this equate to unconfessed sin but it also refers to the past experiences of our life that can continue to effect us and impact us to the degree that we can’t move forward as we need to.
So when we pray, we pray in the secret place to receive answered prayers from an all wise and all powerful God who loves us. In prayer, we recognize and pray from the standpoint of making Him King and Lord. In so doing God’s grace will be revealed.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2015 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom