The Greatest Prayer Ever Prayed
The Sermon on the Mount is the greatest sermon ever preached, preached by the greatest preacher who ever lived. And within is this wonderful model of prayer.
It’s a misnomer to call this The Lord’s Prayer…it’s actually the disciple’s prayer and should be a model for our prayers in concept. What I would call the Lord’s prayer is in Jn. 17.
v. 12 In the middle of this great prayer is sin, and the need for forgiveness. This isn’t the Lord’s Prayer…He never sinned.
This prayer is not intended to be recited only. It’s fine to memorize it, but it’s vain repetition if we only say it over and again, w/out applying the principles and structure of it to all our real, sincere praying. It’s a simple outline, a skeleton to put the meat on. We should employ and expand these things into our own personal prayer lives.
This prayer can be divided into 3 parts:
If we wanted to use big words, we’d call it the Invocation, the Supplication, and the Adoration. But I think prayer should be simple…simply me talking to God, so let’s use small words:
A. Prayer is talking.
v. 9 Principle #1--Prayer is like a child talking to his father.
It’s nice that we can call God our Father…but in those days it was a radical new concept. In the OT, God was never referred to as Father…no one in the OT was ever called a “child of God.” Rather, servants of God. And that we are, but now more!
Prayer is just talking. This takes a lot of the mystery out of prayer. Not everyone can look to the heavens and cry out, “Father.” One of the most damnable heresies on earth is the false teaching of the ‘universal Fatherhood of God’ and the ‘universal brotherhood of man.’
“We’re all God’s children,” they say. I know what they mean, but it’s not Biblically correct. And now I’m not politically correct. We are all God’s creation, but not all God’s children. Jesus turned to a group of religious Jews one day and said, ‘ye are of your father, the devil.’
There are children of God and of the devil…what’s the difference? Whether you’ve been born again into the family of God!
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
How would you feel if you saw my son approach me in the lobby and heard him say, “O thou most noble father: could’st thou spare a slight segment of thy illustrious post service chronology, to hear my humble petition, albeit brief? Fein I would navigate to the abode of mine acquaintance, thy servant, Christopher of the house of Lopez, to partake of frozen custard on a stick, flavorized with the product of the cocoa bean.” How many of you would think he was nuts? Truly, he would say, “Can I ask you a question, dad? May I go to the Lopez’s for chocolate ice cream?”
Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. said, “when I go to God with a need in my life, it’s as simply as saying, Pappy, please pass the biscuits.” I’m not saying we should ever be flippant or frivolous…but just like a child to his father.
v. 9 “which art in heaven” This presents a problem in the minds of some, tragically, who had a bad experience w/ their earthly father. Well, our Heavenly Father is different…the best father you could ever imagine.
Principle #2--Prayer is like a subject talking to a King.
v. 9 “hallowed be Thy name.”
v. 10 “Thy kingdom come.”
Every child should be a loyal subject, who respects and reveres his king. Hallowed means to hold in high esteem.
Don’t you hate to hear God’s name taken in vain, or His name drug thru the mud? It’s offensive, and we should shut it down in person or shut it off in our living rooms!
And so, before we ever make our requests, we politely address our King!
“Thy Kingdom come.” We are supposed to pray for the end, which is actually the beginning of God’s kingdom on earth.
Principle #3--Prayer is like a servant talking to his master.
v. 10 In heaven it all happens God’s way…but the god of this world, the devil, has other plans for the earth. We are to pray for God’s will to be done here, despite that.
If you need to be saved, it’s God’s will that you do so. But not Satan’s.
“God is not willing that any should perish…” [2 Pet. 3]
If you need to get right w/ God, it’s God’s will…but will you? I pray so! That’s why we pray for God’s will in all matters, and not our own will.
Notice that this prayer has begun in a God-centered way. How do we pray? Most of us start w/ self-centered asking.
In the Bible, Daniel never rushed into prayer, but worshipped God first w/ adoration. Jeremiah, despite his personal complexity, approached God w/ honor and reverence long before making his petitions.
I’m afraid we often reduce our prayer life to the level of rubbing a lamp to summon our heavenly genie, telling Him our wishes.
Prayer is talking…
B. Prayer is asking.
v. 11 The pronouns now change. It was “thy”, now it’s “us”, several times over.
We see we are to ask for daily needs, daily forgiveness, and daily strength and guidance.
We are created in God’s image, a 3 part being ourselves: body, soul, and spirit…a trichotomy. And these 3 daily requests meet the main needs in these 3 areas. Our bodies have needs, our soul needs forgiveness, our spirits need strength and guidance.
I like the order of the 3…it’s unexpectedly backward. You’d think it would start w/ the spiritual, but not so…rather, the physical. Really, it makes good sense. I need to stay alive, or my spirit cannot be helped, and it’s too late for my soul. When a vagrant comes by, cold and hungry, like Jesus did, we minister first to their physical need, and then see what we can do for them spiritually.
Next is the soul, which is my emotional wellbeing. I need cleansed from the guilt and power of sinfulness, and the defilement of the things of this world. Then I can focus on my eternal, spiritual being.
Notice some things:
v. 11 It’s a daily request. Every breath is a gift, every morsel of bread is His provision. And He not only wants to meet our needs, but He also wants to be ASKED.
I hope you pray before meals…though that should be the least of what makes up our true prayer life…it’s a great start.
Ill.—farmer went into city and stopped at a diner / teens made fun of him, how he looked, how he talked / sat down to eat, prayed first / that really got them mocking, “Hey, does everybody out on the farm bow their heads like that before they eat?” / he never looked up, just replied, “Nope, the hogs don’t.”
Also notice the brevity of it in v. 11…just 7 little words. Our tendency is to let our physical needs dominate our prayer lives. But the key is not getting hung up on it. We need not beg God to meet our needs. Greeds?
Notice that this request comes BEFORE the request for forgiveness. God doesn’t meet our needs because we deserve it. He meets our needs because he unconditionally loves us, His children. I am His child when I obey, and when I disobey.
For 40 years God met Israel’s daily needs in the wilderness, though lost in rebellion.
Next is the request for daily forgiveness. And it’s supposed to lead us to forgive others in the way we are forgiven…that is, whether they deserve it or not. It’s a sure proof we truly got saved.
We need the forgiveness of salvation…a once all over bath, but we also need that daily footwashing as we go thru this life.
Ill.—Peter rebuked Jesus from washing his feet. Then Jesus said, ok, but you’ll have no part of me. Then Peter overreacted and said, well then, my head and hands. Jesus said no, you’ve already had that, you just need a footwashing.
So, we’ve asked for physical needs, and our soul’s forgiveness…
v. 13 This is the prayer for daily strength and guidance.
Most of our prayer life is after the fact, trying to clean up what we’ve already done. But even better is to be a problem preventer, not just a problem solver.
“Lord, keep me from going down the wrong path, and help me to have strength to say no to the devil, the world, and my own flesh!”
Prayer is talking, it’s asking, and finally…
C. Prayer is praising.
v. 13b The measure of how close we are to God is who we talk about most. In this prayer, He is the object from beginning to end…and we are surrounded by Him as we ask for ourselves in the middle. We have every right to ask, but that’s short and sweet…what God wants is the talking…just talking to Him…and He deserves our praising of Him.
Let’s go to prayer now…let’s pray about our prayer lives, and then as we pray in the future, let’s take these principles and apply them…putting the meat on these bones as God leads.
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