In part one, we discussed the importance of prayer but also just touched on the fact that if you truly do pray, commune and communicate with our Heavenly Father, then it WILL create a change in you due to your getting closer to Him and getting to KNOW Him on a truly personal level.
We did discuss that though many who are in the limelight such as those in the news or celebrities say they pray, there doesn’t seem to be an evidence of a change in their character or interactions with others.
I want to share with you first Jesus’ example of prayer that He shared with His disciples and remember, this was not given as a rote prayer, something to say over and over again as the preceding verses emphatically tell us. This is not to say however that there isn’t some use and even power in praying the Scriptures, but we must remember this was given as an EXAMPLE or pattern for praying!
5-8, “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”
9-13, “In this manner, therefore, 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 this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 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.”
Notice how Jesus when speaking about HOW to pray, He starts out by sharing with His listeners how NOT to pray, and the motives behind prayer. I have said this often before that learning can be achieved with not just positive instruction, but also by revealing the negative aspects of behavior as well. So, do not misinterpret these Scriptures either, Jesus is not saying there is no need for communal prayer, but rather, what He is pointing out is the motive BEHIND praying openly. The Pharisees used to love long, drawn out prayers to demonstrate their supposed piety and yet the Lord saw right through their motives into their hearts!
Jesus reminds us that prayer is meant to be a time of personal communion with our Heavenly Father. It is a time to develop that relationship that I have been speaking about. Our Heavenly Father already knows each of us individually, intimately. He knows our needs AND desires in advance, but His Heart motive is to have that relationship with each of us in a very loving and Fatherly manner.
Also remember, just as you might commune or communicate, talk, with your earthly parent, you don’t continually repeat yourself. You express yourself in a steady conversation. You share your thoughts and you give your loved one time to share their thoughts as well. Communion, as a way to communicate is a back and forth process. So it is when we are developing an open, intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father and again, don’t forget, He already knows your heart, much like your parents know you, so does our Father know us only in a deeper spiritual sense. There actually should be a lot of assurance that when we approach the Father in boldness and confidence, as a loved one who is loved by Him, He does know us deeply.
It opens up the path of trust that because He loves us even with our weaknesses and flaws and our deepest secrets and concerns are NOT hidden from Him, we are able to commune with Him in the boldness of truth! He WANTS and desires us TO trust Him and relate to Him in total love and surrender. We can’t always get that type of perfect love in our relationships with our natural parents, but we most assuredly can with our Heavenly Father!
Of course then after sharing with us exactly what our Heavenly Father is NOT looking for in communication and communion, Jesus goes on to give us the example, again an EXAMPLE, of HOW to pray and commune with the Father.
I want to add something here as a side thought; it is important to read our Bible and there are times that is what I do like so many others. I just read it and allow the same Holy Spirit Who inspired its writings to also share with me points of interest and such. But when I read it, I read it for the joy of what is written. But there is so much more.
The Apostle Paul wrote to his protégé Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:15. Now to be honest with you, when it comes to this verse, I do appreciate the older translation of the King James Version, though in the original language the meaning is the same. It just seems to state a bit more emphatically the importance of getting into the Word of God.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV). STUDY to show yourself approved unto God, a vessel, someone working for God, Himself, who doesn’t need to be ashamed of his knowledge of the Word because he has spent the time rightly seeking and searching out and coming to a conclusion its true meaning! Okay, you can see why I am not a translator because I would use way too many words, but you get the point, I hope. The Apostle Paul wasn’t telling Timothy to just READ the Word of God to demonstrate himself approved unto God, but rather to study, which implies so much more than JUST reading it. This was written to Timothy, yes, but it was put down as an inspiration from the Holy Spirit to ALL who read it!
I have come to realize that due to our lives in this day and age, there is so much to distract us from what is eternally important. I understand that. I am no different and no better than my neighbors, my brothers and sisters around me. I watch TV, I listen to music, I read books that are sometimes secular writings. All these things can take us from the Word of God. But just LIKE prayer, we HAVE to get to the point where we re-evaluate our priorities and maybe just cut back on some of these other things. I’m not saying to do away with them, but just cut back so that we DO have more time to spend relating to spiritual issues. After all, we might be on this earth for 70 to 80 years at most dealing with the natural side of things, but when we DO step over that threshold into eternity, there will be NO time as we know it and the spiritual will last forever and ever and ever, into infinity!
Okay, I took a side-step to lead you to this point; when it comes to what has become known as the “Lord’s Prayer,” to many have taken it as the prayer itself. As I said, I believe it is good in certain verses to also pray those verses because they can say something that we can’t quite formulate ourselves, but remember, our Heavenly Father ALREADY knows what we need even before we ask, He just wants us to talk with Him. When you actually STUDY, the “Lord’s Prayer,” you can easily see the points that are pretty much outlined in it.
First, Jesus made it clear we are praying to our Heavenly Father. Remember, Jesus came so that we might KNOW the Father THROUGH Him. Jesus’ relationship with the Father has been clearly stated in Scripture that Jesus doesn’t say or do anything unless the Father is the One Who tells Him to do or say them. Jesus is our example, that is why He came and that is why He suffered to Redeem us. We aren’t redeemed to Heaven. Heaven is just another place. A spiritual place and a glorious place, but an abode. Jesus came to Redeem us to the FATHER!! So Jesus is telling us as He also showed us with example after example, you pray to the Father.
Second, you give God Almighty, our Heavenly Father, the Glory and Exaltation He rightly deserves. Remember, we CAN go before His Throne, we CAN enter into His presence boldly (Hebrews 4:16), BUT, He is still and always has been and always will be, Holy and Just! Do you think that you would be able to enter into the West Wing of the White House to meet the President and have the attitude, “Hey, what’s up Bro?!” I don’t think that meeting would go over so well and it would be the same with any other state or foreign dignitary. Well, God, our Heavenly Father is so above any of them, so we should show Him that much more reverence even though we can go boldly. Going boldly means with confidence and assurance and not disrespectful or slovenly!
Third, we remember that God’s Kingdom is one of order and righteousness. Holiness and purity mark the character of the Heavenly Kingdom. This is what we pray for when we remember the Heavenly Kingdom. We pray that we might be Holy as He is Holy, that we might walk in righteousness as He is righteous and Just. This is not asking that the location of the Kingdom of Heaven come to dwell on earth at this time, but rather that the Character of His Kingdom come to earth in the hearts and ACTIONS of those who BELONG to this Kingdom. Remember, we are heirs to THAT Kingdom when we abide in Christ and He abides in us!
Many foreign countries do not like American tourists because we go to them with a haughty and superior attitude. We should be visiting other countries with the values and morals that make America a great place to live. The same is implied in the statement, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” We are pilgrims here on earth when we have been spiritually reborn and we should exemplify those Character traits of the Heavenly Kingdom with Holiness, purity, righteousness and Just-ness! God’s will is so much more wise than our own. We should desire His will be complete here on earth as it IS fulfilled in Heaven. When we can accomplish that, others will want to know what makes us so different from the rest of mankind.
Fourth, remember that the Father already knows our needs, yet because He loves us so and wants and desires our love, Jesus states, tell Him we desire Him to supply our daily NEEDS. Don’t forget, daily bread is a reference to our needs to live, not just the things we want and desires. God also knows we have desires of other things, but He is ALWAYS concerned and ready to meet our daily needs whether it is food or clothing as was taught in the Beatitudes! Jesus is reminding us of that, right here.
But I have to add something and continue on right here because of the way that Jesus phrased this next part, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Period. End of sentence. YET – He continues on with the implication of continuing that sentence with AND. “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” So, if you meditate on this prayer, and you consider what Jesus is saying and not just skim over it, He is stating that we are to ask our Heavenly Father to “give us our daily needs, AND at the same time to forgive our trespasses, sins, wrong-doings, those things that indebt us to others AS, in other words, please do it BECAUSE we also forgive those who have trespassed, sinned, done wrong, etc., against us!” That puts a little more spin on just asking for our daily needs. It comes with a condition. Supply our needs AND forgive us AS we forgive others. Why? Because forgiveness is as much a daily need as eating and drinking is. We are no longer just natural creatures. Our spirits have been reborn. Our being forgiven and forgiving others is a spiritual necessity as much as it is to be fed and clothes and so is put on the same importance a level as food, drink and being clothed is!
Then fifth, and this sometimes causes such controversy and yet it is so simple, “And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.” Some would like to tell Christians that God leads us into temptation and so we must ask Him not too. The Apostle James wrote about this because even back in the early church there were some who tried to proclaim this error. “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” – James 1:13-14.
When Jesus told us to ask God to “not lead us into temptation,” it was in essence asking our Heavenly Father to help us keep FREE of temptation. You can understand this when you read the WHOLE verse, “but deliver us from the evil one.” It is the evil one, the devil that tempts and we are to petition, to ask our Heavenly Father to help us steer clear, avoid or actually be delivered from being tempted. In other words, “Help us Lord not to be overcome by our own will and desires, but again allow Your will to be done!” This is in conjunction with the previous verse that asks God to allow His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. James tells us we are only tempted when we desire our will above God’s. When we do desire our will to be accomplished above God’s will, we in essence, open ourselves up to the wiles and deception of the enemy of our souls. That is why surrender to God is such an important characteristic in the Bible.
Finally, the sixth point is to again acknowledge, just as in the beginning of prayer, to recognize that God’s Kingdom, His Character, His Nature is perfect and acceptable to us and we are surrendered to it and we recognize that He IS Sovereign and the Power and Glory of All is His to claim. That includes our surrendering to His will. The fact that we are surrendered demonstrates by our actions, just as the example of Jesus demonstrated surrender to His Father, so it is with us. God is glorified by our surrender to Him and Kingdom principles! We acknowledge that His Glory, His Power, His Sovereignty, even His Kingdom are not just for the here and now but forever and ever. We surrender to it now, in this natural realm, by overcoming the natural with the reborn spirit and we become heirs of His eternal Kingdom that will never end!
Jesus tells us to end this with the emphatic, “Amen,” which means “So be it! Let it be so!” Now remember also, this was given as an example while Jesus Himself walked this earth, but in conjunction with this, remember all that He said about prayer; in Matthew 21:22 “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Mark 11:24).
Many, especially since Christ Jesus has ascended to the “Right Hand of the Father” and stands as an Advocate and Intercessor for us (Romans 8:34), like to also end our prayers “in Jesus’ Name” due to what John wrote in His Gospel about a statement Jesus made; “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” – John 14:13-14. Actually this is pretty straight-forward, yet there are some today that tell you it is not necessary, for we do indeed pray to the Father, as Jesus instructed. But understand this, we can only GO to the Father THROUGH Christ Jesus, so using His Name is recognizing His authority and that we approach the Father through His (Jesus’) Redemption and Blood and nothing that we credit ourselves with. Remember this also, praying “in Jesus’ Name” is not some magic formula that we attach at the end of a prayer. It IS however, a Spiritual Principle recognizing the truth that we approach the Throne of God boldly with confidence BECAUSE of the authority Christ Jesus has given those who have accepted and surrendered to HIM!
When we approach our Heavenly Father AS a Father Who loves us unconditionally and we go through the WAY, that He presented for us, Christ Jesus, we get to know Him in a deeper more intimate way that can do nothing BUT change who we are and that into a more close likeness of Christ Jesus and the Father. There is power in having a close, intimate relationship. There is confidence and assurance in knowing we are unconditionally loved and heirs of His Kingdom and its principles. You cannot get closer to Holiness, Purity and Righteousness without that same Holiness, Purity and Righteousness rubbing off on you. We are transformed just by loving Him Who loved us first and THAT is the way, He planned it to be!