Episode 70: Our Lord's Personal Model for Praying, Part 3

Peace to Live By Episode 70: Our Lord's Personal Model for Praying, Part 3 - Daniel Litton
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       Today we are going to be finishing up our discussion on the Lord’s Prayer, or the Disciple’s Prayer, as some have called it. We’ve been moving through this prayer over the last couple of weeks and I think we’ve covered quite a bit. We reminded ourselves of how God’s name is hallowed, discussed God’s kingdom and will, and talked about our daily necessities, our daily needs. And last time we even discussed confessing our personal sins to God, so that he might forgive them and we then have the best relationship with God possible. Thus, we’ve covered quite a bit, and today we are going to complete the prayer.

       Now, last time we left off at the part of the prayer where it says, “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” We went over the first part of this, that is, God forgiving our sins that we’ve committed and confessed to him, wanting to turn from them and seek to live in a better way. Today, we are going to start at the phrase, “as we also have forgiven our debtors,” and my, there is much to cover here. And note only that, but this is a pivotal part of the prayer, and one section we certainly don’t want to go over quickly, or misunderstand.

       Before we get started, let’s read the passage in Matthew chapter 6 one more time, where we find our Lord’s Prayer. So, turn in your Bibles, or tap in your Bible apps, to Matthew chapter 6. Starting in verse 9, the passage reads:

“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

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Now, I do want to note quickly that some of your Bibles, including the ESV version here, exclude the last sentence there of the Lord’s prayer, “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.” However, we are going to include it here, since traditionally it has been included, and I believe it probably should be included in the Biblical text. My argument for that is because it was included in the text in most Bibles until modern times. And so I would rather error on the side of thousands of years verses, say, the last 50 years. God could have gotten rid of the phrase long before, if he had wanted to, and he did not.

       Okay, so let’s start at verse 12, which says, “and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Since we discussed the first part of this section of the prayer last time, again, we are going to start at the second part of it.

       Have we forgiven our debtors, those people who have sinned against us, whether in our current day or in the past somewhere? Indeed, this question is very important for us to answer correctly. All of us, at different points in our lives, have and will experience deep rejection from certain individuals. It’s just a statement of fact. It’s the way life works, unfortunately, in our fallen world. And, then, of course, there are the smaller offenses that occur, the minuscule things that people have done against us. Maybe it was a small insult at work, or perhaps someone said they would help you with something, and then they backed out of helping you. Perhaps someone lied to you, and you caught them in the lie. Whatever it is, offenses are bound to happen to each and everyone of us. Just as we all will offend others at various times in various ways, so will others offend us.

       What the Lord Jesus Christ wants us to understand, though, is that it is very necessary for us to forgive other people who have done us wrong when we go to prayer with God—as we put the Lord’s prayer into practice in our daily lives. It’s important for multiple reasons. Number one, it’s beneficial because it allows us to express to God what has happened, if we haven’t already, and then to forgive the person and move on. It’s good for our psyches, our brains. It’s also good because it allows us to stop thinking about the personal offense. We lay it out before God, perhaps needing to give it him if it was a larger offense and still bothering us, and then we move on. Number three, and most significant, by forgiving others their offenses against us, it allows God to forgive us our offenses. Yes, you have that right. Jesus tells us that we must forgive others first if we want to be forgiven by God of our offenses. Now, this is pretty humbling and mind-blowing at the same time.

       Jump down in Matthew chapter 6 to verse 14. We’ve already read this, but let’s read it again. Jesus said, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Now, there are probably many out there who are saying right now, “But I thought that Jesus forgave all of my offenses against God at the cross?” And, of course, the correct answer to that is, “Yes, he did.” Then you might say, “Then how is it that God will not forgive my offenses if he’s forgiven them already?” Well, first, we have to understand this concept of daily confessing our sin to God and being forgiven of it. It is true, in a big picture view, that all of us who accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior have been forgiven of all of our offenses against God, which obviously would include those offenses against others, since these also are really offenses against God. However, it is also true in a ‘small’ picture view that in order to maintain fellowship with God, we need to have a clear conscience. We should have everything laid out before him, having confessed all of our known sins and have nothing against anyone in our hearts. Now, I know, that seems like a tall order.

       I can remember a long time ago when I was a younger Christian and I had this question. And I recall that Pastor Jim Custer taught me the answer to this question. He went to Matthew chapter 18, to the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. Now, we’re not going to read this parable in full, but I recommend you do that on your own time, but jump down to verse 32, and let’s pick up there. We read:

“Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart” (32-35, ESV).

Ah, ha! Here lies the answer.

       Have you ever had a day when you just can’t seem to get over a troubling thought that keeps reoccurring in your mind, and it involves something someone has done against you? (or something you perceive someone has done against you?). Perhaps you’ve prayed to God about it throughout the day, but you can’t seem to overcome the thoughts in your head. You forget about it for a while, but then it seems to come back to you at no moments notice. When this happens, chances are you have unforgiveness in your heart toward the person who has offended you. God has released you to the tormentors, as the the King James version puts it, and he is allowing a demonic spirit to torment your thoughts because of the unforgiveness in your heart. I know that’s a lot to take in, and an uncomfortable thing to think about, but that’s at the heart of the issue.

       You see, forgiveness is so close to the heart of God because Jesus came to the earth and died on the cross for all of our offenses against God. He paid the penalty for all of our sins. He has forgiven us of everything wrong we’ve ever done in our lives. When we, then, won’t forgive a fellow person a little, measly offense, it greatly offends God because he has forgiven us all of our offenses. So, we expect God to forgive us everything, all the wrong thoughts we think, incorrect actions we do, and terrible words we speak, and yet, we won’t forgive our fellow man a small offense. That’s pretty insulting to our Heavenly Father. Now, I understand, as so does God, that there are certain things people can do to us that are on a more grander scale, and when that happens it may take a more concerted effort on our part to forgive the person whose has done your wrong. But we have to work at forgiving the individual.

       One thing I would recommend to you is that when you realize you haven’t forgiven a person of something, to just speak the forgiveness out loud when you are by yourself. Say, “I forgive this person of the offense against me. And I will no longer hold it against him.” When we speak this out loud, it makes it more real for us. And, if we have to, we can keep speaking it until it settles into our heart, until our minds gain realization of this truth and accept it. Bottom line, it’s good for us to verbalize our forgiveness, as that makes it so that there is nothing hidden between us and God.

       The reality is, we let outside things, the problems in life, offenses from other people, etc, bother us only as much as we choose or want to. That is, just because bad things may be happening at a particular time in our lives, that doesn’t mean we have to let our minds be a slave to those things. The Apostle Peter told us more than once to be sober-minded. He said we should do this so we can pray. We need to have sober minds if we want to be close to God and focus on him. Having a mind that is saturated in a problem or problems can wreck our fellowship with God. We can’t even focus on him because we are too wrapped up in a problem we have. We need to learn to forgive others as soon as we possibly can so that offenses are not weighing down on our minds and causing us to be clouded and upset, not really able to focus on anything with one hundred percent effort. Learning to quickly forgive and not let the offense set into our minds can be of great advantage to us.

       The next sentence in our Lord’s prayer reads, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

       Okay, so what does Jesus mean by “lead us not into temptation.” There are actually three avenues of temptation that I want us to think about today. First, turn over to James chapter 1. If we go to verse 13, we read the following:

“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:13-15, ESV).

So, James, very poignantly, gives us some keen understanding here. We have discussed many times how we all, as humans, have the sin-nature within us. We are born with it, and we will have it until the day we die. Now, the unbeliever has no freedom to choose not to sin, while the believer, by God’s power and the fact he is a new creation, does have the freedom not to sin, but really this getting off topic. What I want us to see here is that because we have evil desires in our flesh, those desires can in fact lead us into temptation as we want what is not allowed. And if we don’t cast down the wrong desire, we end up sinning. So, God does not tempt us with things in order to see if we will sin or not. God already knows before the temptation comes what our response will be (see Matt. 26:34, 75). He can see our hearts, as he knows us.

       Secondly, though, God can and will at times lead us to be tempted by Satan, just as he did with the Lord Jesus Christ when the Bible tells us that the Spirit of God led Jesus into the wildnesses to be tempted by the devil. But God wasn’t the one doing the tempting, it was Satan who actually was doing it. With Jesus, it was a little bit different, because he didn’t have a sin-nature. He did have human flesh, and the weaknesses that comes with our flesh, but he didn’t have a sin-bent nature. God led Jesus to be tempted for his own glory, his own purposes, so that he might be tempted and yet shown guiltless. For the same reason we may be undergoing a series of temptations from Satan, which try and test our character to see where we stand in our own personal growth. We do know that when we speak back God’s Word, and put our trust in God, that we can and will endure through trials and temptations and come out on the other side just fine.

       Thirdly, Satan and his demons can tempt us with different things even without God’s leading as I’m sure we are all familiar with and deal with on a daily basis. Satan tempts us because he wants to mess up our relationships with God, our fellowship with God, and he tempts us because he wants to mess up our lives, and cause us to lose good things, good gifts, from God, and our own personal peace. Satan’s way of doing something is never better then God’s way of doing something. Like, for instance, Satan wants people to engage in sexual relationships outside of marriage. However, people who do that lose God’s best for them. God tells us to wait to have sex until marriage. He tells us to marry the person we love, who also knows him, and then enjoy the gift of sex that he has given to us. That’s what will give us long-lasting, true happiness. Practicing fornication will only bring us death, and lead us to wanting more. It won’t satisfy our souls.

       Now, let’s discuss the part where Jesus says, “but deliver us from evil.”

       In the most basic sense, it is true that Satan has some bad plans for us. He has some bad things he has prepared for us and he wants to accomplish his plan. God has a different plan, and Jesus is wanting us to ask God to deliver us from Satan’s plans so instead we get to experience God’s plans. Satan’s will only hurt us, it never helps us. Recall what the Apostle Peter has told us, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world” (1 Peter 5:8, 9, ESV). We should not be surprised when evil is trying to come upon us, as if something strange were happening to us, but we should realize that our other brothers and sisters in Christ experience the same kinds of attacks. Realizing this can encourage us to stand firm.

       Satan has evil planned for us in different areas of our lives, whether it be for us individually, or our families, or even our church collectivity. For the individual, Satan wants to warp our minds into thinking wrong thoughts, lies, so that we will not progress in our Christian growth, our character development, but instead be downtrodden and unmotivated in life. Satan wants to saturate our minds in evil. If he can mess up our minds, then our speech and actions are toast. For married couples, Satan attacks them with his evil plans hoping to tear them down and overtime eventually lead them into divorcing. He loves to destroy marriages and families. We know from Scripture that God hates divorce. And divorce will also damage the children’s lives who are involved. Divorcing can incorrectly model to the children that marriage really isn’t that important—that it’s a disposable thing. And finally, Satan wants to tear the body of Christ apart by causing division based off of different things, like people’s individual prosperity, or even cliques, political beliefs, or people’s personal educational levels. If he can divide the church, he has accomplished his evil.

       We must remember that Satan is a supernatural being. His demons are supernatural beings. That means they have supernatural powers, and therefore they can have great influence on the minds of individuals. When we find ourselves being in conflict with unbelievers, for instance, we must realize that there is a spiritual power, a negative and evil spiritual power, behind the ungodly positions they hold. As the Apostle Paul told us, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, ESV). So, people are not our problems, demonic forces are our problems. And while the unbeliever has no power or control over these demons who influence their lives, the believer in Jesus Christ does have the power to ward off this evil. In other words, once more, Satan only has as much power and influence over us, as believers, as we allow him to have. Because Jesus defeated him at the cross, we have the capability to say no to Satan and believe what is good, right, and true.

       Theoretically, God has already delivered us from evil in a sense. Our capability to choose good instead of being bound by evil is reality for the Christian. To review again (I want you to get this), we know that all unbelievers are slaves to sin—they really don’t have the ability to choose not to sin. That is, they cannot do good on their own accord. They can do seemingly good things, but at the heart of those good things will always be some other motive, some other power and influence controlling that decision. We, as Christians, are delivered from evil by knowing what the ‘truth’ of the Bible actually is, and by putting that truth into practice. The Bible is wholly truth, and when we follow what it says, we work through God’s power to make our lives better and to do good things for God. We can live the life God wants for us.

       Now, let’s consider the final sentence of the Lord’s Prayer: “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.”

       So, let’s consider first, ““For yours is the kingdom.” As discussed last week, we know that Christ is going to rule on the earth for 1,000 years in the Millennial Kingdom. As it stands right now, as believers in Jesus Christ belong to God, all believers comprise God’s kingdom. But it’s also true that God owns the world we see around us, even though Satan has great power and control over it. God is going to take back rule when Christ descends to the earth at his Second Coming, at The Battle of Armageddon. Recall, when Jesus was here on the earth, he said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting” (John 18:36, ESV). Our current world system then is not from God, but rather it is from Satan. Let’s review quickly what the Apostle John has taught us. He said:

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17, ESV).

So, God’s is the kingdom, but not this current kingdom—this current setup—but the setup to come in the future.

       So, just to make sure everyone is on the same page, let’s review the current setup in the world. Number one, God owns the world; it is his. He created it and it belongs to him. Number two, the current world systems (governments, societies, and cultures) are under the power and influence of Satan, and it’s not God’s intent to make all the current systems good (though good can be practiced and displayed). He is going to make a new system when he establishes the Millennial Kingdom. Number three, Satan rules in the hearts and minds of all unbelievers, any person who does not believe or know Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior. Number four, God rules in the hearts and minds of believers, and they have freedom to choose his ways of living, the right ways. So, think of it like this: just as the current world is passing away, we know that our current bodies, as humans, are passing away. Well, God is going to make a new world, just like he is going to give us, as Christians, new, resurrection bodies.

       Let’s examine ““For yours is… the power.”

       While, as we’ve touched upon, Satan does have power and control in this world, God has the ultimate power and control. He is sovereign even over our present world. If he was not sovereign, he would not be in control, or be in complete control. We know that God has complete providence over everything. God rules over the universe, the sky, the earth, and everything he has created. Anything God sets out to do, or promises, he always accomplishes. Satan, demons, or even unbelievers can never prevent God’s unconditional will and promises from being accomplished. Only conditional things in God’s will can be prevented. Even we as believers can prevent God’s goodness from flowing in our lives through disobedience, through not doing the right things, not making the right choices.

       Now, God obviously let’s certain things happen in our lives and in the world as he chooses, and those things are for, and fit into, his own ultimate plan and glory. So, evil then is allowed by God for the praise of his glory, as uncomfortable as that may be for us to think about. Sin is part of God’s all-encompassing plan, but he is not the author of sin, for then he would not be good. He just created the possibility for evil and sin to exist in his creation. Really, if you stop and think about it, that’s the only way for true freedom to exist. Lucifer (Satan’s name before he fell) originally had freedom. Adam and Eve originally had freedom. People are not born as blank slates, or in freedom, by which they then choose to be good or bad people. All people born into the world are born enslaved to sin. So, all by default choose to sin, but they do not have the right to sin. No one ever has the ‘right’ to go against God, just the ability. To say a person has a ‘right’ indicates the person has ‘freedom.’ True freedom does not exist for the unbeliever, only the freedom to choose Christ, when enlightened by the Spirit of God, which will give a person real freedom.

       Let’s understand ““For yours is… the glory.”

       Hopefully by now, we know that to God belongs that ultimate glory. God is the one being in all of existence that really matters. And all glory belongs to him. He is perfect, and there is no fault in him. He has never done anything wrong, and he never will. To him belongs the glory. The Apostle Paul would put it this way, when he said in Romans chapter 11:

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33-36, ESV).

God is our life. His ways are the right ways. He owns it all, and everyone is subject to him. He holds everything together by all his power. As the psalmist David has said:

“Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness”
(Psalm 29:1, 2, ESV).

So, to him belongs all the glory, all true glory, and that forever.

       Before we finish, there are two more words from Jesus for us to consider: “forever,” and “Amen.”

       Again, remember, to God there is no beginning, and there is no end. He is from everlasting to everlasting. His is the kingdom, the rule, the power, the ability and capability, and the glory, the awesomeness and praise. As the Lord Jesus Christ told us, in closing the Bible, he said: “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:12, 13, ESV). And obviously, we agree with God, and so we say, as Jesus did at the end of the Lord’s Prayer here, ‘Amen.’

       In finishing, perhaps you've been listening to this final discussion today—about the Lord’s Prayer, about how God is holy, righteous, and good. Perhaps, as you've listened, you've believed that God really is real. Well, no matter who you are, no matter what your status in society is, no matter how important or unimportant you may think you are, I am here today to tell you that God is offering you His free gift of salvation that He offers to anyone who would believe in Him. God wants everyone to accept the truth, to accept Jesus' death on the cross as a payment for their sins. All that matters, in reality, for us individually, is whether or not we are in right relationship with God. All that matters is whether you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. You cannot earn God's favor. You can't bargain with God—you can't say, “God, if I do this for you, will you do this for me?” That's not the way it works. You can have much, much more than that.

       If you will come into a personal relationship with God, He will give you eternal life, and a new life, starting today. He will forgive you of your sins, and eventually, as you seek to please Him and follow Him, he will give you, according to His will, the desires of your heart. God wants people to be at peace, to have joy, to be happy. Now, that's very counter to our society because our society says that obtaining things or people—whatever it be—that's what our society says will make you happy. But that's not true. The truth of the matter is what will truly fulfill your life is being reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, knowing that your sins are forgiven, and that you are now in right standing with God in a personal relationship with Him. God isn't just wanting to save you from Hell—though that is very important—God wants to be part of your life. He wants you to surrender your life over to Him, so that He can give you true life. There is nothing to lose, at all, by knowing God. All there is, by knowing God, is gain.

       So, if you believe that you would like to have a personal relationship with God today, and accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, then follow my lead in this simple prayer:

God, I have sinned against you throughout my life. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and that on the third day He rose from the dead, and forgives me of everything wrong that I have ever done so that I might have a new life. And I, God, want to surrender my life to you now, so that you may be Lord of my life because, Father, you know what is best for me. Please, Father, come into my life, and start the transformation process, so that I become like you want me to be, so that I become pleasing to you. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

       Let's pray:

       Heavenly Father, I thank you for today. I thank you for the opportunity to look at the Lord’s Prayer—to study and examine it—so that we can have a better understanding of how we are to come to you in our daily prayer time, and understand what is pleasing to you. I pray for those who accepted your truth today, who accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior: I pray that you would help those people to overcome any issues in their lives, and that they would seek to be pleasing to you, in their actions, thoughts, and what they do, so that they can become more like Jesus.

       I pray for those of us who have been in right relationship with you for awhile now, that we would be continuing to become more like Jesus, that we would not going the other direction, away from you, but that our actions, our thoughts, our behaviors, that we would be seeking to align those with your truth. Help us, Father. It can be such a struggle at times, as our inner sin natures try to pull us away and make us not like Jesus. Help us to look at different areas of our lives in light of what we have learned today, and how we can be more pleasing to you, and more helpful and thoughtful of those around us. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

-Daniel Litton