Pastor Bruce Simpkins
Renewal Community Church
Preached: April 25, 2010
I know this is just stating the obvious but Without prayer in our lives, we haven’t got a prayer.
There are about 17 prayers of Jesus recorded in the Gospels. I will be highlighting 7 of those over the next seven weeks.
The most familiar prayer, of course, is The Lord’s Prayer. It was given in the exact middle of Jesus’ famous Sermon On The Mount. The sermon on the mount goes from Matthew 5 -7 so chapter 6 is the middle chapter of the sermon on the mount. And Jesus’ teaching about prayer goes from verses 5-13 which is the center section of the 6th chapter. Prayer is central to Jesus’ teaching, both figuratively and literally. So follow along with me as I read this passage in Matthew 6:5-13. “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 This, then, is how you should pray:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
You see, prayer is the very heartbeat of the Christian life. Prayer is the heart of the individual believer and it is the heart of the body of Christ . . . His church. If there is no heartbeat, you have a corpse. A mortician can make it look pretty good, but it’s still just a shell.
I am afraid there are quite a few corpses walking around our churches. John Eldridge has a book out called “Waking the Dead”. We need to get the heartbeat back. Prayer is the fresh wind that breathes life back into a spiritual corpse through the Holy Spirit. The word “Spirit” in both the Greek and Hebrew means “wind” or “breath”. Prayer breathes a heartbeat back into a spiritual corpse. Prayer is not optional. Jesus never says, “if” you pray, but “when” you pray. And saying, “I can’t find time to pray” is like saying I can’t find time to eat, or pay my bills, or watch T.V. If you don’t eat you will physically become a corpse. If you don’t pray, you will become a spiritual corpse. It needs to be done, and it needs to be done regularly. A good start would be to pray every time you eat. This is not the Lord’s word when I say this, but it is a take off on t he Lords word: Every time you eat, do it in remembrance of Him.
And, if you go to pray privately and are at a loss as to what to say, just quote Jesus prayer slowly, and think about each part of it as you pray it. God already knows what you need, so it’s not the words that matter . . . it’s what is in your heart that matters. The Holy Spirit part of God will interpret what is in your heart and speak your heart more clearly than you could ever say it.
So this prayer is a framework to help us get started.
Before we go on though, I do not want to ignore Jesus’ “Do Nots”.
- Do not pray to show off what a wise and religious person you are. Do it in private. There is a place for public prayer, but that is the exception.
- Do not babble on about nothing in prayer. King James says, “vain repetitions”. Greek: stutter. tedious mindless chatter.
- God already knows what you need, so saying the right words doesn’t impress God.
Don’t be like people that do that. Be real, and pray from the heart intimately with your Father in Heaven.
Okay. Now, we could easily spend the next 7 weeks just unpacking each section of The Lord’s Prayer. And chances are you have focused on each part of the Lord’s prayer before, but it is always good to review the basics and foundation for all of our prayers.
The main purpose of the message today is not to teach you something new, but to remind you of the importance of praying. I have a homework assignment for you. This week I want you to take a few minutes EVERY day to pray through the Lord’s prayer slowly and thoughtfully. And as you do so, be looking for something special the Lord will put on your heart. It might be an insight, or a scripture or a word from the Lord like Fred did last week. Then I want you to share it with us during our God sightings next week.
So, to keep this from being too long, let me just give you some examples of things you might think about each section of The Lord’s Prayer. If you want to review these thoughts, I have a list of people I send my hard copy sermons to every week and it would be easy for me to add your name to the list. My email address is on the bulletin, so just email me and ask for it.
Lets start by noticing the Lord’s prayer begins with a Trinitarian approach. The Holiness of the Father. The Kingdom of the Son. And the Will of the Holy Spirit. Then it addresses our daily needs, our forgiveness, and our relationships with others in the here and now. And it finishes with our unknown future about the traps of life and the unpredictable evil around us.
First He is OUR Father. Every single human being ultimately came from God. He conceived and created everything. And what God conceived was given birth. The heavens, the earth, and everything on and in the earth. He is the Father of all things and people.
Our Father is not confined to our worldly dimensions. The Bible has given us just a glimpse of His dwelling place and it is glorious! As believers, we will some day also be where He is because Jesus told us that He has prepared a place for us there . . . Let your imagination run wild! God is above all things! Pause.
Hallowed be Your name
May the great I AM always be spoken of in reverence for His majestic holiness. It bothers me that we are so quick to tolerate those who would take the Lord’s name in vain. It bothers me more that the same believers who tolerate the Lord’s name being taken in vain will not tolerate the BSU Broncos name being taken in vain. He need to keep our priorities straight. God is the only entirely Holy One and His Holy name should always remain just that . . . Holy.
Your Kingdom come
I submit that His Kingdom has already begun on this earth, but is not yet fully completed. Our King Jesus is on His throne. We just need to behave as loyal subjects to our King.
Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven
We desire to know God’s will and to do God’s will now . . . just as it will be for us when Heaven is complete. We, as the church, using the same Holy Spirit in each of us, have the opportunity to live in God’s will together and be an example to the world of what it will be like in Heaven. That’s why Jesus said, John 13:34-35
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another .
May Northview be known as Jesus disciples because of our love for one another.
Give us today our daily bread
We need our daily food for physical survival, but we need our daily spiritual bread for spiritual survival. We especially need to think of this in the spiritual sense in our country because very few of us can say we don’t have even a piece of bread to eat each day. Lets not take our physical food for granted. Our Holy luck of being born in this country is not our real salvation. Christ body and His sacrifice is our real daily bread and our salvation.
Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors
With our economy as it is today, we understand all too well what it means to be in debt. I can understand what it would mean to me if my house lender said, “Your debt is forgiven. Now go forgive all the debts anyone owes you”. I would come out ahead in that deal! But that isn’t even like a penny, compared to the load of debt that was forgiven for my sins. And if I am forgiven because Jesus paid my price, how much more should I be forgiving of those who have sinned against me? If Jesus endured abuse because of my sin, how much abuse should I endure from men because of their sin? LISTEN, of all of the sections, THIS is the most important and perhaps the most difficult. But the majority of Jesus teachings are about relationships with other people.
People have said to me, “but you don’t understand my situation. You don’t understand the extreme and intense pain this person has caused me”. I am sure I can not . . . but Jesus can. You don’t have to excuse their behavior, but you must release them into the hands of the Father. You are not setting them free . . . you are setting yourself free. Jesus did not excuse the behavior of those who crucified Him, but He did say, “forgive them because they do not know what they are doing. I hope Jesus says that about me. I hope I will be released from the inexcusable things I have done in my life. But Jesus is saying that if we want to be forgiven that way, we must release others by forgiving them for their inexcusable behavior too. Forgive others as you want to be forgiven. Spend MUCH time here in your prayers.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
This section of the prayer is where people spend much of there time because we are all naturally afraid of the unknown. We have all been tempted and failed. But it isn’t until after we have failed that we recognize the evil of it. The evil one is the master of temptation. But temptation and evil are almost always disguised as good and beautiful at first. When Eve was tempted, the fruit looked like good food and would make her more like God. To her, that looked good. When Jesus was tempted in the desert, turning stones into bread looked good. What’s wrong with making bread? Or performing miracles is a good thing. Or ruling the world would be a REALLY good thing. He could rule the world with perfect benevolence. But Jesus was not fooled by the disguises. These are all SELFISHLY good things. There is no such thing as victimless sin. May God reveal the temptation that are set to trap us and deliver us from the evil hook that comes along with the temptation.
So The Lord’s Prayer is like a frame for every prayer we pray. There was a woman who once said The Lord’s Prayer was like her embroidery hoop. It is the embroidery hoop for her soul. You can’t do needlework on a limp cloth and we can’t do God’s will with a limp prayer life.
The Lord’s Prayer keeps our every day prayers stretched and taut so that His will can be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Let me finish by saying, this prayer is not like training wheels for a beginner that comes off after we have learned to pray. This prayer is the foundation of prayer for the mature believer and the mature pray-er.
Would you stand with me and pray this foundation prayer with me to close our service today? We will use the King James words, because that is the most familiar to most of us, but in your private prayers, you may use whatever translation works best for you.
Pray the Lord’s Prayer out loud.