Episode 69: Our Lord’s Personal Model for Praying, Part 2

Peace to Live By Episode 69: Our Lord's Personal Model for Praying, Part 2 - Daniel Litton
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[Transcript may not match broadcasted sermon word for word, and contains extra material that was cut from the broadcast due to time constraints]

       Last week we started our discussion on prayer—specifically the Lord’s prayer—and this week we are going to continue this discussion. Previously, we discussed the first part of our Lord’s prayer, the first verse actually, which says, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (ESV). This week we are going to pick up where we left off, and continue to discuss this wonderful prayer. Now, we established that this model from our Lord Jesus can be used as a daily prayer for his followers, those of us who know Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. Indeed, if we know Jesus, we love him, and we want to be in close relationship with our Heavenly Father. We want to spend time with him, as this really is our main goal in life—to love God with all of our beings. So, we love spending time in prayer with God.

       Let’s go ahead and read the Lord’s prayer again from Matthew chapter 6. I’m sure all of us have it memorized, probably most of us in the King James Version, unless you are say, under 30 years old. Today, we are going to use the English Standard Version of the Bible, and we will read it from there. Matthew chapter 6, starting in verse 9:

“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. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen”

       So, today, we pick up in verse 10, which says, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

       Wow, there is a lot going on here in this short sentence. There is much we can discuss. I want to note, first, as an overview to this section of the prayer, that in order to be close to God in the most basic sense, as believers, we must love him. Now, in order to love God, we must love his truth—the Bible—his will in what he says is true. If we don’t love the truth, believe it, and practice it, we cannot love God. If we want to be close to God, we must keep God’s Word, follow his Word, and do what he says. Recall in John 14:23, 24 that Jesus said: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words” (ESV). So loving God and believing and studying his truth go hand and hand. One cannot really love God who does not love and obey his truth. In order to really enjoy peace within ourselves and in our lives, we love God and believe what he says. When we are close to God, and believe what he says, we have true internal, spiritual peace. That’s because we know that he loves us, and that he will help us with whatever needs we have. This is true, lasting peace. It is the peace that surpasses all understanding, as the Apostle Paul talked about.

       Let’s go ahead and start talking about the phrase, “Your kingdom come.” Over time, there has been a lot discussed when it comes to what Jesus is referring to here when he talks about God’s kingdom. Some of purposed that he is talking about a kingdom that is off in the future, one that is earthly, that will be here on the earth. And still others have said this to mean that the kingdom of God should come in our hearts, as humans. And still, some even purpose that God’s kingdom has already come since Jesus’ resurrection, and that the kingdom is here now, at least, in part. Advocates of this last belief is that the kingdom of God will make it’s full manifestation when Jesus returns to the earth a second time, at his Second Coming. The main goal I believe under this definition is to be able to explain the seen and noticeable work of God around us—things like miracles and various other work’s of the Spirit of God. Nonetheless, in understanding what Jesus is saying here in the Lord’s prayer, I personally prefer the first understanding of this that I mentioned, and that is that Jesus is asking us to pray for God’s earthly kingdom to come, his 1,000 year reign that he has specifically promised to the Nation of Israel, and of which we who, as Gentile Christians, will also be a part of.

       Remember, if you’ll go back through the Old Testament, you will find that God promised the Nation of Israel an everlasting kingdom. As a matter of fact, most of the Old Testament is God’s dealings with the Nation of Israel, the Jewish people, those whom he chose to be his. And, of course, we know that when God makes a promise, he what? Well, he always keeps his promise. God cannot lie, and he does not change what he says. He did not transfer the promises of Israel to the church after the Jews rejected Jesus. That’s not the way God works. God doesn’t promise something and then transfer it. So, the promise to King David, outlined in 2 Samuel chapter 7, still holds true, even to this day. And recall, Christ himself was part of David’s lineage, and is the fulfillment to the promise God made to David. Christ is to reign as King over Israel in the everlasting kingdom, the 1,000 year reign.

       This 1,000 year reign of Christ, the Millennial Kingdom as we have learned to call it, will take place here on a renovated earth. It occurs after the times written about by the Apostle John in the first 19 chapters of The Book of the Revelation. So, of course, this will be an actual, physical kingdom here on the earth. All people living on the earth during this time will obey Christ. All will be obedient to him. Whatever he says will go. He will make the law and order, and he will rule the world. There will be no more sin in the world, and if sin were even to crop up, it would be dealt with immediately with judgement from Jesus. We, who are believers now, will take part in this 1,000 year period of earth history. We will have varying roles whereby we participate. But the kingdom is really for the Jewish people. They will be earthly, fleshly Jews, who will live on the earth during the 1,000 year reign. They will likely have families, baring children just like we as humans do today under our current system of life (see Zechariah 8:4-8). What is great about it, however, is that no one will have the sin-nature within their flesh. All will be like Adam and Eve were in the garden before they sinned. Pretty interesting and cool stuff to think about.

       Getting back to the Lord’s prayer, then, this is what we, as Christians, are to be praying for—that God’s kingdom will come, will be established, for the Nation of Israel. So, when we say to God, “Your kingdom come” this is primarily what we are talking about. This works in conjunction with the next two phrases. “Your will be done” speaks to the fact that this is God’s will—this is what he wants, and truly, as I’ve mentioned already, it’s what he has promised. So, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” then completes the sentence by noting that God’s will is to establish his kingdom so that his will can in fact be done. This is two-fold. It’s so his promise to Israel will be fulfilled, and it’s also that there will be no more sin on the earth. There is no sin in Heaven, and God wants there to be no sin on the earth. Now, it should be noted that there are sinful beings in Heaven right now, like Satan who accuses us as believers individually of sin before God, and there are fallen angels at times with him (see Revelation 12:8), but there is no sin in Heaven. God’s will is accomplished in Heaven, and he wants it to be that way someday here in the near future on the earth.

       So, while we understand then the primary purpose of Jesus’ phrase here, I think it’s also good to note that the sentence, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” can also mean for God’s kingdom, his will, to be accomplished in our individual hearts, as people, and his will to be accomplished on the earth right now. Of course, while we as believers are future-focused, we are also concerned about our current lives, and our current surroundings, and I think this part of our Lord’s prayer can speak to that as well. We want God’s kingdom to continue to come in our hearts. That is, we want God to continue to gain rulership over the various parts of our lives, our hearts, as we die to sin and live to righteousness. As we continue to grow into becoming more and more like Christ, as we go along on our Christian journey, we continue to identify new areas where sin exists in our lives, in our flesh, and we seek to eliminate that sin, thus making ourselves better Christians in the process. Our Christian lives are ones of constant growth, as I believe each of us will be growing, or should be growing, if we allow God to grow us, until the day we die. Plus, don’t forget, and this is important, that as we grow into becoming more like Christ, we are gaining for ourselves eternal rewards that will be given to us when we reach the kingdom of God in Heaven.

       When we talk about God’s kingdom being on earth, then, we have to be careful because while we want the best experience for ourselves here on the earth, we have to realize that God’s kingdom isn’t for this current world setup. Let us remind ourselves that Jesus told Pilate, right before he was delivered to be crucified, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world” (John 18:36, ESV). Jesus, in his first coming, wasn’t coming to establish his kingdom, like he will be doing when he comes his second time, but he was coming to die for the sins of the whole world. He came to make a way for us, as humans, to be restored into personal relationship with God. The Pilgrims, when they came to America, almost it seemed, wanted to establish God’s kingdom here on the earth. Now, while I think their hearts were good and right in this endeavour of wanting to have a God-centered government and society, it’s true that Jesus said his kingdom is not of this world. Satan is still ruler of this world in the lives of those who don’t know God.

       But another aspect of “your will be done” also includes prayer for the lost, those around us, who do not know Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior. Indeed, I believe it is important for us to spend a good amount of time in our prayer time with God praying for lost people—those who we know in our lives mostly. I think it’s good when we have ‘standing,’ as I call it, in praying for a lost person. What I mean is that just like in the legal system in our country, a person should have good legal standing when going to court with another person or business. Well, I believe the same to be true in our prayers with God in that I believe our prayers have more of an impact when we have ‘standing’ in who we are praying for. We should be praying for our lost family members, friends, and even acquaintances. Now, this is not to say we cannot or should not pray for the salvation of people who don’t personally know, but I just think that our prayers could be more effective with those we do, since we actually have contact with the person. Remember, God has Christians in the lives of those we don’t know, and it will be up to them to witness Jesus to those people.

       In discussing praying for those we know who are not saved yet, one thing I think that can be good for us to do is the speak God’s word to the benefit of the individual who we hope God to save. We learned over a month ago the advantage and benefit that speaking God’s Word can be to us, as believers. When we speak the Scriptures to God in prayer, I believe we can see powerful things happen. Take Romans 3:23, 24 as an example. It says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” So, we could take these verses and plug someone’s name into them. Let’s say we are praying for Sarah. We could say, “for Sarah has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and she is justified by God’s grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” We can say this to God in prayer, and so practice, as Paul said in the next chapter over, in Romans chapter 4, “call[ing] into existence the things that do not exist” (Romans 4:17, ESV). I believe God likes it when we do this.

       Next, we read the phrase from our Lord Jesus “Give us this day our daily bread.”

       When Jesus was here during his earthly ministry, he told his followers to ask God on many different occasions for the things they needed in life. Recall, later here in the Sermon on the Mount, the sermon of which we find the Lord’s Prayer here, he said in chapter 7: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7, 8, ESV). Now, here in the Lord’s Prayer we are told to ask God for our daily bread, the daily need of food that we have to have to live—to stay alive. But I think there is more to this phrase here. Again, in Matthew 7 Jesus gave no stipulation on what we are to ask God for. So, we can ask God for anything that we need, or really even anything that we think we want in our lives. Now, that doesn’t mean God will give us whatever we ask, but it’s not wrong to ask for something from God, as long as we know our motive is correct in our asking. We shouldn’t ask for things from God with a wrong motive in our hearts.

       Notice how Jesus used the terminology “Give us.” He uses the word ‘give’ here. Indeed, it is true that everything we have in our lives, everything that is good, and everything that we are going to get that is good, is in fact a gift from God. And we also know from Romans chapter 8 that God works all things in our lives together for the good, for those of us who love him and those of us who have been called according to his purpose. So, even bad things that come to us in our lives are worked out for our own, personal good from God himself. Nevertheless, we certainly have obtained a lot of good things in our lives. We have Christ—if we are Christian, the forgiveness of our sins through his shed blood, and a restored relationship with God. We have been made a new creation, given a new life, given the very Spirit of God in our bodies, so that we can have the power to live out a life that God is pleased with and recall his Word in our hearts. We have valuables, rewards, waiting for us in Heaven as we work for God’s kingdom, as we are obedient to God in good works and following that which is good. So God gives us much, and certainly we have much to be thankful for in our lives.

       And speaking of giving thanks to God for the good things that we do have, or are going to have in the future, I think that as we have read through our Lord’s prayer front to back we might have noticed what seems to be an absence of a place to say thanks to God. I really don’t think we see that absence here. Really, when Jesus says, “Give us this day our daily bread,” I think we find ample room under this section whereby we can give God thanks for the good things he has given us. Certainly Jesus wants us to give thanks to God. Remember, in Luke 17 when Jesus cleansed the ten lepers, there was only one of them who came back to Jesus to say thanks to him. Jesus was disappointed by the fact that the other nine did not return to give thanks, but that only one person came back to thank him. The Apostle Paul told the Philippians, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6, ESV). So he noted, as did Jesus also in his sermon here, that we are not to worry about anything but to give everything to God in prayer and supplication. And we are to do this with an attitude of thanksgiving. God definitely wants us to be thankful.

       So while “Give us this day our daily bread” shows that the food we need to live our lives is important, it’s also true that we have a lot of other requests, needs, that we want God to give us, both on a daily basis as well as broader needs. We are to pray then that God will give us the food we need for our day, but we can also note that it is good for us to pray for the other needs that we have. One need, for instance, is daily strength. We can all use God’s strength to help us through our days—to help us be obedient to him and to stay on the right track. So, we can request of God that he give us our daily strength. We also want daily wisdom so that the things we think about and the choices we make are right decisions, ones that are pleasing to God and beneficial for us. On a more broader, grander, or specific scale, we might have requests that pertain to specific people or of which pertain to larger needs we individually have. Like, we might have an ongoing prayer request for a family member that we would like to be saved, and we continually bring this request to God. Or, we might have a personal need, like that we would like to find the right someone and get married.

       Continuing in the Lord’s prayer, we read: “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

       It’s unfortunate, but definitely true that we all fail in our daily lives, and we do find that we have sin regularly that we need to confess to God and ask forgiveness for. It’s interesting to consider how our Lord couples this area of forgiveness with God with giving us our daily bread. Notice how the word ‘daily’ is included here. So, we are to ‘daily’ ask for God’s forgiveness of sin—our debts against him—as we all will sin daily. Some of this sin is just one time occurrences of a certain sin, and some of the forgiveness we need involves ongoing battles we have in our lives, in our minds, as pertain to certain areas. It may be that one day we slip up and tell a lie, but lying may not be a usual problem for us. So, we have to ask God for forgiveness for the lie we told another person. Or, it could be that we have found that we have had a particularly bad day in our combat with lustful thoughts. We have to go to God in prayer and ask for his forgiveness for our bad day in our ongoing fight to be pure. So, some sins that we commit will be just one time occurrences, while others will involve continuing struggles that we have.

       Now I think that most often we know what our sins are as we have compiled an internal list that we are going to take to God when we pray. And sometimes we just ask God for forgiveness on the spot right after we do the wrong. Nonetheless, I think this section of our Lord’s prayer also encourages us to spend time in reflection in our minds to consider any sins we may have committed that we haven’t realized we’ve done, or that we are guilty of. Sometimes as we consider the last 24 hours, or however long it’s been since we’ve confessed sin to God, we notice something that we haven’t noticed before—a way in which we sinned against God or against another person. The Holy Spirit may be bringing this situation to our minds. Meditation, then, on our own personal conduct is a significant part to identifying sin in our lives, confessing it to God, and then seeking to act differently the next time. It is in this way that we improve our lives and become more pleasing to God, more and more like Christ.

       And if we have realized that we have sinned against another person, it may become necessary for us to go to that person to ask the individual for our forgiveness. Recollect, earlier in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told us, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23, 24, ESV). We are to wait on giving any gifts to God then when we realize that someone has something against us, and first go and try to reconcile with that person. That’s what God wants us to do. If we offer our gift to God while knowing a fellow Christian has something against us, God will not accept our gift and it will not count to our benefit. That’s how important it is with God that we are on good terms with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Now, there may be some of you out there saying, “But I know my brother has this [fill in the blank] against me.” Well, if you haven’t tried to makeup with the person, that needs to become a top priority right now because God doesn’t want there to be division within the body of Christ. You need to make it a priority to make up with that person. Now, if the person won’t make up with you, that’s not you're fault, but you need to do everything you can on your end to try to make up.

       We need to have a clear conscience so we can pray. If we feel condemned about something, we need to confess our sin to God so he can forgive us and our fellowship can be restored. However, willingly sinning in our daily lives, continually doing something that we know to be wrong, ruins our fellowship with God, and really our relationship with him. We won’t feel comfortable being close to him if we have willful sin in our lives. We may even try to fellowship with him, but we don’t feel his presence on the other end because we know, deep down, we have not been living in a right way. We will surely feel hypocritical in this instance. And so we must have complete surrender to God in all things. There can be nothing that we hold onto, whether sinful or not sinful, something that we hold as a higher value than God himself. Our love for God needs to be pure. In reality, when you get down to it, nothing matters but God. If you say that to ourselves over and over in prayer, you can enter a deep mediation and closeness with God indeed. This is something I personally practice from time to time and it makes me feel like a million bucks.

       Now, we will finish the last part of Jesus’ model here about our forgiveness toward others, where he said, “as we also have forgiven our debtors” in the final message next week.

       So, in conclusion today, perhaps you have been listening to what I have been talking about, about the Lord’s Prayer, or perhaps what I’ve been discussing has caught your attention. Maybe as you have considered what Jesus has said here, you believed that it is true. But perhaps you do not know God today, you do not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. I am here to tell you that you can have eternal life, and peace with God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. God opens his plan of salvation to anyone who would believe in him. God will forgive you of any and all sins that you may be carrying with you today. If you would like to know that you have eternal life, and you would like to be set free from the overpowering feeling of sin, from the weight that the burden of sin has put on your life—if you want to be set free, there is hope for you today. You can know God the Creator, the One who created the heavens and the earth, and everything in them that is. You can have a personal relationship with him today.

       If you would like that for yourself, all you have to do is pray a simple prayer, something like this:

God, I am separated from you today. I have spent my whole life doing what I have wanted to do, and not what you would have had me do. I have followed my own ways, and not your ways of doing things. But I believe that Jesus came to the earth as a man in human flesh, and that he died on the cross for my sins, to pay my sin debt. I believe that he rose on the third day from the grave, and that he now is with you in Heaven. I do want to count him as Lord over my life. Please, Father, transform my life. Make me like Jesus. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

If you have prayed that prayer today, you can rest assured that you are now part of God's family and that you will be spared from any of God's wrath to come, which includes any punishment after this life in eternal separation from God, the place the Bible calls Hell.

       Let's pray:

       Father, I thank you for the study of your Word in regard to these topics covered in the Lord’s prayer, and how we are to pray on a daily basis in a way that is pleasing to you. I pray Father that anyone who has accepted Jesus today as their personal Lord and Savior would be strengthened by the power of your will, and that you would build that person up, making him or her like the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray for us Christians who already know Jesus, as our personal Lord and Savior, I pray that we would be sensitive to your Spirit, and aware of any ongoing sins in our lives, and that we would take swift action to get rid of that sin which may be lingering in our hearts, and hindering our relationship with you. So, Father, bless us as we go about the rest of today. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

-Daniel Litton