Matt 6:9-15 Lord, Teach Us to Pray 7/13/2003

 

 

 

 

#1. The Lord's Prayer (Matt 6:9-15, John 8:44, Prov 15:8, 28:9)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2. What Is Prayer? (Matt 26:36-44, 2Pet 1:21, Psalm 109:8, 37:4)

 

 

 

 

        Why Should We Pray? (Psalm 50:15, 103:13, Prov 15:29, Isa 65:24, Mat 7:7-8, 21:22, Jam 1:5)

 

 

 

 

#3. How Do We Pray? (Rom 8:26-27, Gen 3:15, Eph 6:18-20)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 11:1 (2X). In this chapter of Luke 11 the disciples asked the Lord Jesus Christ: "Lord, teach us to pray", and that is also the title of our sermon today: "Lord, Teach Us to Pray". What is so special about prayer? Well, we have to ask:

Do we find it a privilege to pray, or do we pray only if we have time for it? Let us see what the Bible has to say about that. We begin to read in Luke 11:1,

Luke 11:1 And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

Luke 11:2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

Luke 11:3-4 Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

Perhaps you recognize that this is an abbreviated form of what is known as "The Lord's Prayer". But is it not remarkable that the disciples asked Jesus: "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples". Where in the Bible is it recorded that John the Baptist taught his disciples to pray? It is not found anywhere else than here in Luke 11:1. And why did the disciples have to be taught by John the Baptist, or by Jesus? Does not everyone know how to pray? We can understand that the unsaved do not know how to pray. But is this also the case for those who have been saved? When we became saved, it means we have become "Born Again", and God the Holy Spirit takes up residence within our souls. Does this not mean that every one who is "Born Again" immediately knows how to pray? Apparently not, because 11 of the 12 disciples were definitely saved, but they needed to be taught by Jesus how to pray. So we can conclude from these words that we need to be taught how to pray. That is why I am preaching today on the subject of "Lord, teach us to pray". Therefore, let us turn to the more expanded form of "The Lord's Prayer". Please turn about 120 pages to your left () to the Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 6:8 (2X). While you look that up, let me read to you what the Lord Jesus said in Matt 6:7. He said, "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking". The Lord Jesus taught His disciples here in Matt 6:7 "not to pray like the heathen do". But have people understood this principle? Today, when we look around we see that the majority of those who call themselves Christians use some kind of "Speaking in tongues gobbledygook" as if they would be heard for their much speaking, or they pray according to the beads of the "Rosary", which are absolutely vain repetitions. Don't people know that Jesus taught against these kinds of prayers? No, they do not know this! They behave like the heathen again, because they listen to what their church teaches them, but they do not read what the Bible teaches them. They prefer the words of fallible men instead of the infallible words of God the Holy Spirit. Is that not incredible? But that is how humans by nature are. Instead of getting our wisdom from the Word of God, we shun the infallible words from God, and we absorb the words of footnotes, written by people who have feet of clay as we have. What a shame! The Lord Jesus said:

Matthew 6:8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Now, here is another important principle, which was already laid down 700 years earlier in Isa 46:10, where God says that He is "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure". God says of Himself that He knows the end from the beginning. God declares the end from the beginning and then He causes it to come to pass. Therefore He said in Matt 6:8, "your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him". This is an important principle, which we must keep in the back of our head when we pray and when we try to understand why we pray, and what we pray for. God knows what we are going to ask Him, God knows what we need, which is probably different from what we are asking Him, God knows what our future needs are, God knows how our lives intermesh with those of others in this world, God knows how our lives are going to affect other people in the future, God knows all details in the lives of everyone else living in this world in the past, in the present and in the future. The most amazing thing is that God not only knows all this, but God says here in Isa 46:10 that He brings it to pass; God makes the history for every human being work out according to His good pleasure, and according to His counsel the way He determined it from before the foundation of the world, and God does it without making every human being a robot. Do we understand that? No! It is beyond our human comprehension. But God said it, and therefore it is true.

Therefore, it is a privilege for us that God allowed us to be partakers of this grand plan that God has designed way from the beginning. Let us now look at this prayer that Jesus taught us to pray:

#1. The Lord's Prayer (Matt 6:9-15, John 8:44, Prov 15:8, 28:9)

Mat 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Matthew 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread. (In Luke, Give us day by day our daily bread.)

Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (End of prayer.)

Matthew 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

Matthew 6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

What is this prayer? Is it a sinner's prayer for salvation? Or is it the prayer of a Saint? We need to decide this from the beginning, because this decision will determine how we interpret this prayer. What were the historical circumstances leading to Jesus' teaching of this prayer? We cannot derive this from this portion of the "Sermon on the Mount", because Matthew, the accountant, has not put things together chronologically, but he has put everything systematically arranged together by topic. That is why we find a thesis like the Sermon on the Mount in three consecutive chapters in Matthew. But in the Gospels according to Mark and Luke we find the historical chronological sequence. There in Luke 11 we have seen that one of his disciples asked Jesus, "Lord, teach us to pray". 11 of these 12 men were saved men. Therefore, this prayer that Jesus taught them is the prayer of a Saint. It is a prayer of a saved person, overflowing with gratitude. It does not mean that we should repeat these same words again and again, like people do when they pray the "Rosary". Then we would be engaging in vain repetitions. But this is the pattern in which we would address God and petition Him for us, and for others. Jesus said, "After this manner therefore pray ye". It means: In this manner, in this way, in this pattern. Let us see how this works out.

Mat 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

"Our Father". To whom do we pray? We pray to the Father. We do not pray to Jesus. We do not pray to God the Holy Spirit. We do not pray to Jehovah. In the NT we have received direct additional information from the Lord Jesus Christ. The OT name Jehovah is used only by people who are still hanging on to the OT Ceremonial Law. But Jesus instructed us that we must pray to the Father. And is that not a great comfort to us? We have no confusion who to pray to, and we know that in praying to the Father we are addressing all three Persons of the triune Godhead. It is an honor that we may address Him as "Father". We should be clear about this that God is not the Father of every human being. In John 8:44 the Lord Jesus said to the Jews around Him who could not understand His speech: "Ye are of your father the Devil". God does not hear the prayers of the Reprobate. God says in Prov 15:8, "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight". God has divided the human race into two groups of people: the wicked and the righteous, which are also called the Reprobate and the Elect. The Reprobate are not drawn by God to the Lord Jesus, and so the Reprobate will not listen to the Word of God. Therefore God says in Prov 28:9, "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination". Keep this in mind when you pray. It is a great privilege to be asked to pray to the Father. But only God knows who the righteous are and who the wicked are. Only God knows who the Elect are and who the Reprobate are. We do not try to figure this out about others. We figure this out for ourselves.

How is it that we can call God our Father? It is because we came to know our condition from the Bible and we believe that we were sinners on the way to Hell. Who was responsible for letting us know that we were sinners, on the way to Hell? God was responsible for that. He gave us the faith to believe that the Bible is the Word of God, and God caused us to believe Him as He has revealed Himself in the Bible as the Sovereign Almighty God who created us for His glory. Then because of the Atonement made by Christ our Lord, He has washed us from our sins and has given us the faith to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, for the sake of Christ, He will hear our prayers as He has promised us in His Word. That is why God considers righteous everyone whom He has made "Born Again", and God will lend a willing ear at any time to each one of His adopted children.

We have read in Matt 6:8, "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him". Is it then necessary that we come to Him in prayer? Well, God made certain promises in the Bible that He will answer our prayers. Please turn all the way to almost the end of your Bibles, to the Epistle of 1John, chapter 5:14 (2X). While you look that up let me read to you what God said in 1John 5:13, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God". God is speaking here to the Saints. They are Saints because they believe on the Name of the Son of God. But what is the Name of the Son of God? Some of you might say that His name is Jesus. But even the Mormons believe that and we know that they are not saved; they are on the way to Hell. So there must be another interpretation. God does not have a name to distinguish Him from other gods. There are no other gods. The Name of the Son of God is "The Word of God". God told us that in Rev 19:13, where He says of Christ, "And His name is called The Word of God". In other words, those that believe on the name of the Son of God are those who believe the whole Bible, from cover to cover, nothing more and nothing less than that. This will agree with Rev 22:18-19, which says paraphrased if anyone adds to the Bible, or takes away out of the Bible he is still unsaved and is headed for the Lake of Fire. It means that the Bible is complete since ~100 AD. This is what we read about prayer in 1John 5:14-15,

1John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

Now, is this not a wonderful promise? All those who have become Saints according to verse 13, have the promise that He hears us in whatsoever we ask of Him. There are many more passages in the Bible that promise the same thing. God will hear and God answers the prayers of the Saints. So, does God need our input, or does He not need it? Can we say, "Prayer gets things done"? No! We cannot say this, because it is a form of manipulating God. God will not allow Himself be manipulated. Things such as "prayer chains", or "all night prayer meetings", or "national day of prayer", or "prayer and fasting", and so on, are all in the category of "manipulating God". We cannot use any of these "formulas" to get things done. Please look again at 1John 5:14, which says, "If we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us". What is according to His will? Does this not refer to the counsel of God, which was completed before the world began? That is absolutely right. God will not do anything that He did not plan to do before the world began. God does not change His mind midcourse in history. In His mind God has stated the end from the beginning, and God will bring it to pass.

So then, does God need our prayers? No! We need it! Prayer changes us, and that is why things change, often for the better. We may not believe that God changes His mind concerning certain things that we pray for. God's "providence", the hands of God, provides for His children all that we need, whether we pray for it or not pray for it. But then, you might ask, "Why do we pray?" and

#2. What Is Prayer? (Matt 26:36-44, 2Pet 1:21, Psalm 109:8, 37:4)

To answer this question we have to turn to the prayers in the Bible. We will look at two examples. Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 26:36 (2X). We have here the prayer of the Lord Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. If you have asked, "Why do we pray?" then here is your answer. If the Lord Jesus Christ, the God-man, the only begotten Son of God the Father, thought it necessary to pray, why should there be any question about the necessity for us mortals to pray? We need to pray even more than the Lord Jesus did. What was His prayer? We read in:

Matthew 26:36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.

Matthew 26:37-38 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

Matthew 26:39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

Matthew 26:40-41 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Matthew 26:42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.

Matthew 26:43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.

Mat 26:44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

Why did Jesus pray? He prayed because "His soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death", even the 2nd death. He was laden with our sins, and now He came to the point in history that He had to begin to suffer for those sins the penalty that was due us: the penalty of the 2nd death. He prayed for relief from those sufferings. He prayed for help from God in one way or another. When we feel sorrowful that is enough reason for us to turn to the Lord in prayer. We need God's help in a big way. But Jesus is God the Son. Did He not know that the Father was going to turn down His request to "let this cup pass from Him"? And yet He found it necessary to pray. What did Jesus accomplish in His prayer? He fell on His face. He showed us that we must humble ourselves when we come before the throne of Almighty God. He showed us that we must not insist on our will, but God's will be done. He showed us that we must watch and pray, that we do not enter into temptation. He prayed many more words in that hour or two, but those have not been recorded for us in the Bible. He showed us that His sufferings for our sins began already here on Thursday night in the Garden of Gethsemane. He showed us that His Atonement for our sins consists of spiritual and physical sufferings. He showed us that He had to endure the wrath of God alone. He showed us that our spirits are weaker than our flesh, so that we are no match for Satan and his demons. And so, what we see is that Jesus' prayer consists of God's instructions to us, and it is a prayer that is prayed back to God.

Now let us consider our second example: The Psalms. The Messianic Psalms are of the same type as Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. What are the Psalms? The Psalms are prayers that God has given to us, through the pens of holy men of old, and these are prayers that are prayed back to God. At the same time God taught us principles in the Psalms, from which we can sharpen our doctrines about God, and about Christ, and about us. From these Psalms we learn the following important principles: The psalmists pour out their heart to God, and they make their requests known to the Almighty. But God has inspired their words to begin with, and so the sovereignty of God is upheld, even though it seems that the psalmists were making up these words themselves, as if they were asking God to change His mind. But God tells us in 2Pet 1:21, "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost". Paraphrased we can say that the words we find in the OT as well as in the NT, are words that are given to us through the pens of holy men of old, whose hands were guided by God the Holy Spirit. That is why these are not the words of men, but these are the words of God. For example, we read in Psalm 109:8, "Let his days be few; and let another take his office". This is a prayer of David, but we know from the NT that God referred here to Judas Iscariot. When Judas was born, the words of this Psalm were on the shelf in the house of father and mother Iscariot. This Psalm was a chilling testimony that God was going to carry out His plan, and that Judas Iscariot was going to do part of the dirty work within that plan. David poured out his heart before God. God answered his prayer with a resounding YES! But God planned to take this action already before the foundation of the world, because already before the foundation of the world it was God's plan to bring Christ to the cross.

This is the character of the prayers of the Saints, like the Psalms. We pour out our hearts before God. In fact, we are commanded to pour out our hearts before God, as if God needed our prayers. Of course, God does not need us; God could have used someone else. But the prayers we pour out before God were prompted in our hearts and minds by God Himself, so that His answers to our prayers seem as if God moved heaven and earth to give us what we asked for. But God already planned to take this action before the world began. Do we unlock the power of God when we pray? Absolutely not! God gave us the privilege to be an instrument of His divine Providence. It is like Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart". First God gives us the desires He wants in us, and then He fills those desires. Therefore:

        Why Should We Pray? (Psalm 50:15, 103:13, Prov 15:29, Isa 65:24, Mat 7:7-8, 21:22, Jam 1:5)

There are literally hundreds of reasons why we should pray. Let me just list a few examples where God commands us to pray.

Psalm 50:15 And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.

Psalm 103:13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.

Proverbs 15:29 The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

Isaiah 65:24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.

Matthew 7:7-8 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Matthew 21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

1 John 3:22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

Now that we have straightened out the doctrines of prayer, we urgently have to spend some time on the practical aspects of prayer. To be practical let me come back to the request: "Lord teach us to pray". You can see that at this rate I will never finish "The Lord's Prayer" within the next two hours. We have not even finished the first verse of this prayer. Allow me to summarize this prayer as follows:

I cannot say, "Our Father", if I live only for myself. I cannot say, "Our Father", if I do not endeavor to live as His child. I cannot say, "who art in heaven", if I do not lay up any treasures there. I cannot say, "Hallowed be Thy name", if I am not striving for personal holiness. I cannot say, "Thy Kingdom come", if I am not doing all I can to hasten that wonderful event. I cannot say, "Thy will be done", if I am not obedient to His Word. I cannot say, "On earth as it is in heaven", if I am not serving Him here and now. I cannot say, "Give us this day our daily bread", if I am dishonest or seeking to acquire things dishonestly. I cannot say, "Forgive us our debts", if I harbor a grudge against someone else. I cannot say, "As we forgive those who sin against us", if I am not active in working out the differences I have with others. I cannot say, "Lead us not into temptation", if I deliberately place myself in its path. I cannot say, "Deliver us from evil", if I do not put on the whole armor of God. I cannot say, "Thine is the Kingdom", if I do not give the King the loyalty due Him from a faithful subject. I cannot attribute to Him "the power", if I fear what men may say or do to me. I cannot ascribe to Him "the glory", if I am seeking honor only for myself. I cannot say, "Forever, Amen", if the horizon of my life is bounded by time. These were 16 points, if you have been keeping tab in this summary of "The Lord's Prayer".

#3. How Do We Pray? (Rom 8:26-27, Gen 3:15, Eph 6:18-20)

Do you know how to pray? Do I know how to pray? No! Even the best of our prayers is like the braying of donkeys in the ears of those who are in heaven. Therefore do not fear when you are asked to give a public prayer. Nobody knows the perfect words to say. God the Holy Spirit must cleanup our prayers before they are submitted before God. That is why God says in Rom 8:26-27,

Rom 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Romans 8:27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

How do we pray? Praying is talking to God, like talking to your Father. Praying is keeping the lines of communication open. God says that we must come boldly to the throne of grace. And since God has honored us by giving us the privilege to speak to Him we come joyfully before the throne of grace. What should we pray for? We can pray for just about anything. Pray for our daily necessities. It is not a sin to pray for our own needs, but it is a sin not to pray. Keep this in mind: Prayerlessness is a sin. Pray that we may become good prayer warriors. Pray without ceasing and pray as much as possible for others, because that is why we are left in this world. Pray that we open our mouth boldly in witnessing for our Lord Jesus. Please turn to the Epistle to the Ephesians, chapter 6:18 (2X). We all know that we are in a spiritual warfare. That is also evident from verses 10-17. We are enlisted in the spiritual army of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why we are being armed with all the spiritual armor that is listed in verses 13-17. But who is doing the fighting? Let us hear that again from Gen 3:15, And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; He (Christ) shall bruise thy head (Satan, dying you shall die), and thou (Satan) shalt bruise His heel (bring Christ to the cross). Who is doing the fighting? Christ has been doing all the fighting for us on the cross! On that Good Friday on April 3, in the year AD 33 the battle for our souls has been finished. If I mentioned in the past that there is a battle for our souls, I must restrict that to the battle for our sanctification. Even in our daily battles our survival is entirely by God's grace, which means that our sanctification is entirely by the grace of God. We do not take on Satan, or any of his demons. The lie spread in the Charismatic churches is that they are continually fighting Satan, and they can cast out demons. But that is a lie. Christ has done all the work of defeating Satan at the cross, and we are called to follow Him. It is our own sinful nature that we are fighting with. And how can we be victorious over our own sinful self? Pray for God's grace and God's Holy Spirit to fill us so that we will overcome our sinful inclinations. That is why we now read in Eph 6:18,

Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Ephesians 6:19-20 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds

that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

We do not fight against Satan. He is way too big for us. But we fight to be good ambassadors for Christ. We fight our sinful nature so that we will be doing those things that are pleasing in God's sight.

Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel according to John, chapter 14:13 (2X).

Why do we end our prayers in Jesus' name? It is because Jesus told us to do so. We read in:

John 14:13-14 (2X), And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

Therefore we say this reverently and slowly: "We pray for this in Jesus' name". We do not say it like it is a magic formula. But we ask the Father boldly "in Jesus' name". Please turn now to chapter 16. John 16:23 (2X). Here Jesus repeats this promise that we must ask in His name, and He will grant us our petitions. We read in John 16:23-24,

John 16:23-24 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

Is it not wonderful that we can ask the Father anything in Jesus' name? Would the Father deny such a request? We have Jesus on our side. Not only can we talk to Him about our deepest needs, but He is also our Advocate before the Father, and we can unload our burdens on Him. We do not have to bear our burdens alone. Then we will sing with the saints of over 130 years ago these words:

        What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!

O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!

        Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?

We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer!

Can we find a friend so faithful, who will all our sorrows share?

Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer!

        Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?

Precious Savior, still our refuge! Take it to the Lord in prayer!

Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer!

In His arms He'll take and shield thee; thou wilt find a solace there.

These are the words of Hymn # 436 that we are going to sing in a few minutes.

Amen. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.