Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on June 29, 2014.
Turn in your Bibles to Matthew 6:9-13. Today we continue our examination of the greatest prayer ever spoken, the Lord’s Prayer. As I have stated several times over the last four weeks, it is our desire to go deep in this prayer, and to mine it for the riches that are hidden behind each word. My hope is that for each of you, you will never pray this prayer the same again. That it will never cross your lips in vanity, but from your heart you will speak these words with the weight they deserve. With that said, let us read our text, pray, and see what God desires to show us.
Before we get into the specifics of verse 11, I want to take a macro view of the second half of the Lord’s Prayer; the half that focuses on the “us” aspect of the prayer. “Give us this day our daily bread…forgive us our debt…lead us not into temptation.”
These three prayer requests cover all of our needs: They cover our physical needs, our relational needs, and our spiritual needs. The bread is for the body, forgiveness is for our relationship with God and others, and deliverance is for our spiritual well being. These three aspects of our life are literally everything, they are comprehensive.
We need to remember that this prayer is not an excerpt form a prayer book written by man. It is the suggested prayer of Jesus Christ, the Author of Life. This prayer is a window into the mind of the Potter and what He sees as fundamental to our existence, fundamental to our life. And I think we would all agree with Jesus if we were to strip life to the bare bones, this is what life is all about. Our body, our soul, and our spirit.
In addition to this, the “us” portion of this prayer not only speaks to the completeness of ourselves, but it speaks to the completeness of our lives in history: past, present and future. It speaks to our past in regards to the forgiveness of our sin. It speaks to our present in regards to our need for sustenance to survive. And it speaks to our future in regards to the evil that is crouching at our door waiting to devour us. Jesus provides a prayer that is unmatchable. Only God himself can provide us with such a simple prayer that is simultaneous deeper than we could ever imagine.
With this said, let us examine the first part of the three aspects of the “us” portion and look at verse 11, “Give us this day, our daily bread.” Some people desire to make this verse say more than it does. The reason is because of the overall style of the prayer. The tone of the prayer, at first glance seems to be merely spiritual in the sense it speaks of hallowing, God’s Kingdom, forgiveness of sins, and evil. I have to admit that I use to be one of those people. I believed that the Lord ’s Prayer was merely about the spiritual bread that comes from the Lord. There may be some truth to this, but I think this prayer request is primarily about the physical.
The second reason people try to make more of this than there is, is due to the fact that the word for “daily” is somewhat mysterious. The word for daily is “epiousios.” This is the only time that this word is used in the Bible. There is no other usage of it in all of scripture. On top of that, this word, “epiousios” cannot be found in any other Greek literature. It was believed to be found, on a piece of papyrus that was a grocery list, but there is now even controversy over whether the grocery list says “epiousios.” Now because of this shroud of mystery around this word, people have attempted to make it say something more than it says.
For example, many people have wrongly been taught that what Jesus was encouraging in this prayer was a prayer to receive the daily Eucharist of the Catholic Church. We can thank a guy by the name of Jerome for starting this current problem. He gave the word “daily” a somewhat divine meaning due to it uniqueness.
To make this prayer about the Catholic Eucharist just doesn't fit the context of this prayer, nor the personality of Jesus. First, the Lord’s Supper would not be implemented for approximately 2-3 years. To give the disciples a prayer that would be obscure and meaningless for 2-3 years just doesn't connect. Second, having his disciples pray for the participation of a ritual is not at all how Jesus of the Bible operates. Jesus is not about pomp and circumstance. He does not encourage men to pray for a daily ceremony. Jesus is a God who speaks to the heart, not to rituals.
With that said, what is Jesus encouraging us to do when we are to pray “Give us this day, our daily bread.” This may seem simplistic, but Jesus is telling us to ask God for food. Jesus is encouraging us to pray for sustenance. To pray for the necessities of life.
This should go without saying, but without food we die. No food means no heart beat. We are dependent on food. God created us to live by eating, and not only to eat one time a day, but three times. God created us to be very needy people. So right out of the gates when we start to pray about ourselves, we put ourselves in the proper place before God. We are the creatures and He is the Creator.
For many of you, this prayer request falls of deaf ears because you have never experienced the feeling of desperation that comes from poverty. If I were to walk into your home and open up your cabinets I would find boxes and boxes of food. In fact, in 2012 a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council stated that Americans throw away ½ of their food every year. So for every plate of food you eat you throw away an additional plate straight to the garbage. This equates to $165 billion dollars worth of food a year that is thrown away in the United States. Here in America we are swimming in food, and because of this we take food for granted, and this is exactly why this portion of the Lord’s Prayer is so important for us to take to heart. We are told in 1 Corinthians 10:31.
When we pray to God to give us bread, to give us sustenance, to give us the basic necessities of life, we are saying that God is the giver of bread. We are saying that He is the one that has the storehouse of grain at his disposal and he will distribute it as he pleases. Not you, not your employer, not Wal-Mart, not the Government…God. God alone is the Giver of bread. Jesus has spoken to this reality already in the Sermon on the Mount. Flip back to Matthew 5:45.
By us praying for bread from our Dad, we are already answering the prayer we started, “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name.” For when we ask the giver of all things for provisions we are exulting him above ourselves, the wisdom and labor of man, and proclaiming a truth in our life that the fallen world rejects. Praying this reality produces two God ‘glorifying realities in our life: intimate dependence and God glorifying contentment.
The issue of man is sin. It is the biggest problem in this world. We have talked about this before. Another way you could describe sin is independence. God has designed us to live in relationship with Him. This is what our soul most deeply longs for, whether you accept it or not. Sin is a declaration to live a life separated from God, a life independent of Him.
The parable that best fits this is the the prodigal son in Luke 15 where the son takes the inheritance of his dad and wants to live independent of Him. We all know the story, the son squanders everything and ends up in the gutter of life, broken, hungry and hanging out with pigs. In this moment he then has a moment of clarity. He decides to return home and once again, be dependent upon his father.
Praying, “Give us this day our daily bread” is a declaration of dependence. It is a request that springs forth from a heart that recognizes that God is our provider and asking for the provisions of our day creates a deep intimacy with our Lord. For each morning we are looking to Him to give us what we need, to live, breath, and have our being.
AS a Father of four kids I am starting to better understand what Jesus meant when he said we must become like child to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Children are dependent. In fact because of my sin, there dependence at times drives me crazy. I find myself longing for the day that they can cook, clean, and make their own money. God is not like that, he never says live independent of me, in fact he says the complete opposite, he says abide in me. I am the vine you are the branches. God desires for your prayer life to be a childlike one. One that starts each morning with, “Dad, may I please have some breakfast.”
Second, God glorifying contentment. Charles Spurgeon said this, “If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.” If we recognize that God is the First Giver; that He sovereignly provides to each and everyone one of us according to His will, then we should accept whatever He provides, whether that is abundance or whether it is nothing. Listen to the wisdom of Job at the pinnacle of his anguish:
Likewise, Paul was a man who had days of hunger, however, listen to what he says in Philippians 4:11-13.
We must not let this sentence pass you by. It is immense in your daily walk with the Lord. So we can say, “Whether you eat or drink or what you do, do all to the Glory of God.”
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on June 22, 2014
Today we will, once again, be examining the Lord ’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. As most of you know this has become the summer of prayer for us at Cornerstone Church. Today marks our forth week studying how Jesus teaches His disciples to pray. It is interesting; when you focus on one thing for an extended period of time you tend to see it everywhere.
For example, at our Wednesday Bible study group that meets during lunch in Anamosa we have just begun studying the book of Acts and last Wednesday we examined the first Church meeting after the ascension of Jesus. So before we get into our main text, I want us to listen to Acts 1:12-14.
With that said, lets quickly review what we have learned so far about prayer through Jesus teaching on how to pray.
In doing this, I feel that I should mention that it is never my goal to cover a lot of ground and race through the Bible as quickly as I can. It is my goal to mine the riches of God's Word, and sometimes that requires looking at only four words, which is what we are going to do today. I want these four words to sink deeply into your hearts. I want these four words to ring in your ears, not just for the next 30 minutes but the next 30 years. Therefore, let us read out text, pray that God’s will would be done in this moment, and then examine our text.
The first thing I want us to understand is that these four words are the most dangerous words in the entire Bible. These words have the ability, the capacity, to utterly wreck your life. In fact, I want to start this sermon with a word of warning, if you pray these four words from your heart, “Your will be done”, you should expect the months and years to come to a glorious tragedy in the eyes of of the world.
Why are these words the most dangerous words in the Bible? Because they fly in the face of our nature and our world. Last week we talked the first part of verse 10, “Your Kingdom come.” The reality is that until the Kingdom of God comes into our life through faith in Jesus our King, we are servants of another ruler.
When the Kingdom of God comes into our life, and we accept Jesus as our King, we stop following Satan, and start following Christ. As we said last week, as Psalm 2 says, we kiss the Son. We kneel before him by faith and give our allegiance and trust and our life to Jesus the Messiah.
However, let us be fair to ourselves and fair to the scriptures. When we pledge our allegiance to Jesus as our King, we become his eternal people, it is a guarantee. We are told that God will never leave us nor forsake us. However, on this side of the cross and before the return of Jesus we live in a Kingdom realm of what is called “Already, but not yet.” I have mentioned this phrase before at Cornerstone, but I want us to become familiar with it. “Already, but not yet” means that we live in two worlds, an overlap of worlds if you will. Yes, Jesus is King. Jesus has been ushered in, inaugurated, anointed as King, but his Kingdom has not been fully consummated, or brought fully about. We still live in what Paul calls “this present evil age.” Living in the realm of “already, but not yet” recognizes the overlap of these two ages. Jesus is King, yet Satan still rules the World.
This reality of “already but not yet” is true both in the world, which has both followers of Christ and followers of Satan, and in our own personal lives. Even though we are followers of Christ, and true faith is an enduring faith, we still struggle with sin. No matter how long you have walked with the Lord, you will always be a sinner as long as your alive, or until Jesus Christ returns.
As I mentioned, praying these four words, “your will be done” can wreck your life. For the will of God is not health and wealth. Let me give you a couple examples of God's will. First let us look at the disciple Peter.
The second example is Paul. In this text we see Jesus sending Ananias to Paul to lay his hands on him right after Paul was converted to Christianity.
Last example, the greatest example, Jesus. The Son of God. Prior to coming to Earth he was perfectly satisfied in the presence of His Father; basking in His glory and being glorified in return. Yet he obeyed His Father and came to earth, and the night before his arrest we see the Jesus himself implementing his own teaching on praying “your will be done.”
The list could go on and on. It is near impossible to find a Hollywood “happy ending” in the Bible. The saints were hated in this world. This is what is so abhorrent about the prosperity Gospel that is preached by people like Joel Osteen. It is just not in the Bible. The will of God is that His people would face trials and tribulations. This is why Jesus tells people that you have to count the cost before you follow him, because when you submit to the will of Christ you are guaranteed persecution.
Yes, praying this prayer is very dangerous, and this is why very few people actually pray it. Instead they pray for their own will to be approved by God. We lay out our wish list before him and say make it happen. Give me a new job, a new house, a new husband, a new family. We covet things in this world and we, like spoiled little brats, say “Daddy, If you love me you will get it for me.” Listen to what Jesus says in Luke 9:23-25.
Many of you may be saying, “But doesn't God want us to be happy?” Oh yes he does. God desires you to be happy far more than you realize, and this is the beauty of having God wreck your life. The prayer “your will be done” is actually a prayer for joy. Listen to what Peter says about suffering and joy in 1 Peter 4:12-12
So let us today chose whom we will serve. Let us pray that God would convict our hearts to be living sacrifices holy and acceptable to him. Let us pray that God cause us to pick up our cross and follow Him. Let us pray that we will commit our lives to do his will above all things, all for His Glory and all for our joy.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on June 15, 2014.
Open your Bibles to Matthew 6:9-13. Today marks our third week focusing on the Lord's Prayer. If you are interested in how long we will be in this text, I believe the answer will be three more weeks, but this may change depending on how the Lord directs me. Therefore, God willing, we will spend a grand total of six weeks focused on prayer.
In reality, this is not nearly long enough. For prayer is vital to our relationship with our Father, and I fear that we have a tendency to miss the mark in our prayer life. I fear that when we do pray, which is not nearly enough, we are praying wrongly, or at least out of line with God's will. However, my hope is that over these six short weeks God will move in our hearts by the power of His Word and cause us to be a people of prayer whose hearts resemble Jesus'.
With that said, let us turn to Matthew 6:9-13 and read our text. Pray that God open the eyes of our hearts, and then examine our text
To being, I think it is important that we understand our terms. The phrases “Kingdom of God” or “Kingdom of Heaven” are frequently mentioned in the New Testament. Both of these phrases mean the same thing. In Matthew alone we see the phrase “Kingdom of Heaven” mentioned 32 times. Here are the times Kingdom language is used prior to the Lord’s prayer in Matthew.
Let me ask this: in order for there to be a Kingdom, what is necessary? A king and subjects. You cannot have a Kingdom without both of those things. Lets start with the King. Who is the King of God’s Kingdom, and why is he not yet on his throne?
The answer to that question is obvious to us. The King of God’s Kingdom is His Son, Jesus. This idea that Jesus would be the King was first revealed to humanity implicitly in the Garden of Eden but was first expressly stated in 2 Samuel 7, when God promised King David that some day God would raise up an eternal King and He would establish His throne forever. This is the first time we see an explicit foreshadowing of Christ the King. From that point on, this forever King is all over the Bible. Listen to what God says about Jesus in Psalm 2.
As I said, Psalm 2 is just the tip of the iceberg, throughout the Old Testament we find a number of verses declaring to humanity that the King is coming. Here are two more, just to get a taste of it.
This text is where we get the phrase “Son of Man” that we so often see in the New Testament when referring to Jesus, the Son of Man. This Son of man is given the dominion and glory of an eternal Kingdom.
This Old Testament text is the one that the three wise men used to understand the arrival of Jesus. They knew that the King of the Jews would be born in Bethlehem. Which we know occurred. Once again we see the phrase “whose coming forth is from of old, the ancient of days” meaning that God has declared it.
In the Gospels, Jesus starts to connect the dots. He begins to bring the Old Testament declarations into the present by talking about the arrival of the Kingdom and of course the arrival of the King. Here is a direct example, a very familiar text that we read every year at Palm Sunday.
With this said, we have answered the first question, who is King, but we have not answered the question, when does he sit on his throne? We know that God has decreed it, but when does it manifest itself? When does Jesus begin to reign? The answer to this question is that Jesus begins to reign after His death and resurrection.
This leads us to the next question. Why? Why is the path of Kingship the cross? Why must Christ die, to reign? Remember earlier, we stated that there are two parts to a Kingdom, a King and His people. Without a people, a King is just a lunatic running around in a robe. The definition of a King is one who rules over a people. So how does this help?
Let me ask, what does the cross achieve? What is the purpose of Jesus dyeing? It is to save us. It is to atone for our sin, so that we can be reconciled to God. The death of Jesus is for the purpose of ransoming a people from every tribe, language, tribe and nation? It is to pay the dowry for the bride. It is to adopt the elect. To bring in the sheep. It is to give eternal life to those whose names are written in the book of life of the lamb who was slain?
The cross is necessary because until our sin is paid for, we are not servants of the King, we are separated from God and we are followers of Satan.
With all this said, lets come full circle and remind ourselves why we are talking about the Kingdom of God. Remember, Jesus is teaching his disciples how to pray, and He is telling them to pray that the Kingdom of God would come into this world. This is the second thing Jesus tells us to pray for. It comes right after Jesus tells us to ask that God's name be hallowed. Therefore, before we pray for our sicknesses, our finances, our stress, our family, we are to pray that the Kingdom of God would come into this world. He is telling us to pray that Jesus Christ wold take his rightful place in the hearts of humanity. Jesus is telling us to pray for the salvation of souls.
This of course begs the question, do we do this? Are we praying for people to be saved, to be born again? Are you praying that your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and people throughout the world would would accept Jesus Christ as their King? If not, why not? Why aren't we concerned about the end of Pslam 2 that says, “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled.” Why doesn't that bother us? It should. We should be pleading with God to that he would draw people to his Son, the King.
As usual, the Apostle Paul is one of those who understood praying for God's Kingdom to come. He gives us a good example. Listen to these text.
Just as we asked last week, imagine what would happen if we regularly prayed “Your Kingdom come in Cascade, your Kingdom come in Monticello, Your Kingdom come in Wyoming, Your Kingdom come in Anamosa, Your Kingdom come in Worthington, Your Kingdom come in Farley. Your Kingdom come in my work place, Your Kingdom come in my home, Your Kingdom come in our schools. Once again, I have to believe if we prayed like Jesus tells us to pray, not with vain repetitious words, but authentically, from our hearts, we would see great Mountains moved in the hearts of man.
We must recognize that it is God would brings His Kingdom, not us, and we must turn to Him and plead with our Father to do a work in our world. Who knows, perhaps you will be the answer to your own prayer and you will be given an opportunity and a boldness to proclaim the Gospel in your corner of the Earth.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, Iowa on June 8, 2014.
Today we find ourselves in Matthew 6:5-9. Today marks the second week in our four or five week sermon series on prayer. We have a lot to cover, so let’s get right to work.
Having said that, how often have you taken your prayers and lined them up to the Lord’s prayer? As I stated earlier, prayer for Christians is assumed. If you are a true child of God, you will pray to him. You should pray without ceasing. When you pray, are your prayers “like this” or like something else? If not, why not? Are you praying wrongly? Perhaps.
With all of that under our belt, I want to work through the Lord ’s Prayer verse by verse and word by Word. Therefore today, we are going to examine on verse 9.
The next word that I want us to meditate on is “Father.” This word has become empty to us as it relates to God. In the days of Jesus, this was not the case. Calling God Father was highly unusual, prior to Jesus. Only a handful of times in the Old Testament is God referred to as Father. However, when Jesus comes onto the scene that changes dramatically. Father becomes the primary way that the Christians address God. To us this title is second nature, but to the Jews during the days of Jesus, it was enough to start a war. Jesus coming into the reality was the tipping point to this transition. Why? Because it is only through the blood of Jesus Christ that we have the right to address God as Father. It is his blood that signs our adoption papers.
When we begin our prayer with “Our Father” we are saying something overwhelmingly profound and wonderful . With these two words we are placing ourselves on the lap of our Father, and this is by far the greatest gift we can fathom. The Almighty, Sovereign God of the Universe, is our Dad, and he wants us speak to Him with this on our lips and on our hearts.
With this said, what does God want us to request?
Next, what does it mean to hallow. Hallowed means to be sanctified; to be holy.. To set apart as not common, sacred. What does that look like. It looks like Isaiah 6.
When Jesus says, “Hallowed be Thy Name,” it is not a statement of fact. It is a petition. It is a request. Jesus is saying, “Father, make your name hallowed. Father, make your name Holy. Father, let your majesty, your authority, your glory be seen and revered. Father, cause us to see you high and lifted up and cause us to worship you! This is what “Hallowed be your name” means, and this is the first request that Jesus tells us to pray to our Father.
I want us to think about something for a second. This prayer is Jesus' example of how we are to pray in the midst of life. Let that sink in. Life is a mess. Life is full of trials and tribulations. Life consists of cancer, broken hearts, financial stress, deaths, loneliness, anxiety, stress; the list goes on an on. Life is broken, and Jesus is not oblivious to this. In fact, Jesus is more intimately aware of this than an of us. He gets your pain, and with that in mind, Jesus says to start with God's Holiness. This is to be first on your heart, despite the storm of your life.
Why? Why would God put our pain on hold, for the hallowing of his name? Perhaps he knows something we don't. In fact, what are we told in verse 8?
When we approach our Father with tears in our eyes and brokenness in our hearts, and crawl up on his lap and seek His face, what we need more than anything in that moment is to feel the sovereign, all powerful, arms of God wrapped around us. We need to know that our Dad is an awesome God. We need to recognize that there is nothing that is outside His control. That he is able. We need to feel his love and his strength. The hallowing of God in your life, puts everything into its proper perspective.
When we do this, when we hallow the name of God in our lives we, we find joy in the midst of our suffering. We find peace in the midst of the storm. We find contentment in the midst of all circumstances. We are able to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, for God's rod and his staff comfort comfort us.
The hallowing of God is the foundation of our lives. We are designed to stand upon the foundation that is the Holiness of God. Too often, instead of planting our feet upon the rock of God's sovereignty we seek the quick fix of the removal of the thorn.
Here is the question that I will leave all of us with today, do you believe it? Do you trust Jesus in the example that He gives? Do you believe that your greatest need is the hallowing of God's name in your life? Do you believe that the deeper you go in the hallowing of God's name the higher he will lift you above the waves crashing against your boat?
We are told not to put God to the test, but we are told to trust Him. So I say to you today, trust Him. Change how you pray, put God's glory upfront where it belongs.
Preached at Cornerstone Church In Cascade, IA on June 1, 2014
Open your Bibles to Matthew 6:5-8. Today we are beginning a sermon series within a sermon series. This morning we are embarking on a five part sermon series on prayer. This could not come at a better time, for as you can see from our announcements, I desire to start heavily promoting our Wednesday Night Prayer meeting at Cornerstone Church.
The reason for this is because I believe, based on God’s Word, that the rise and fall of Cornerstone Church is deeply connected to our hearts being stirred to pray. Every Wednesday Night a small group of us meet from 6:00-7:30 to pray. I would love if this group went from small to large, not because I care about numbers for numbers sake, but because I want us to be a people of prayer.
My prayer this week and for the next five weeks will be that God’s Word and His Spirit would draw you into a new or renewed prayer life with God.
After assuming that all Christians will pray, Jesus warns his followers not to pray wrongly. Yes, I said wrongly. There is, in fact, a right way and a wrong way to pray. Jesus says so himself.
In the days of Jesus, prayer was very prominent in the Jewish nation. It was standard practice for the Jews to pray in the third, sixth, and the ninth hour of the day. This equates to 9:00 a.m., noon, and 3:00 p.m. It was part of their routine. At those times, there may have been a call to prayer, and no matter where you were at you prayed.
The intention behind this was to be a people of prayer. Just like we have a designated prayer meeting on Wednesday night, they had designated times during the day to pray. What is important to understand, is that the routine was not the issue, the issue was the heart of those who participating in the routine.
Let us now examine we should not to pray. The first group of people who prayed wrongly were the ones who prayed to the wrong audience.
The issue that Jesus was addressing was when people would conveniently position themselves in places of prominence at the time of the call to prayer. They would show up at busiest corner in town, or when they knew certain leaders would be at the Synagogue so that when the call to pray came, they could strut their religious stuff for people to see. Their prayer was a performance for men. Their desire, their heart was to win the approval of sinful man.
Isn’t it amazing to see how sinful humanity is? God has graciously given us the ability to approach him in prayer. An infinitely Holy and Sovereign God allows men to make requests, and what do we do? We take this great gift and use it against God to exult ourselves and not Him. It is definitely true that nothing good comes from our flesh, we are sinners through and through.
In my opinion, this admonishment hits home most for pastors, elders, deacons, small group leaders, directors of women’s ministry, and AWANA commanders, those who have a leadership role within the Church. There is a pressure to maintain a perception of holiness and piousness in front of your students and your peers. Sometimes we sinfully rehearse our prayer in our head while others are praying so that we don’t mess up. The irony is that when we do this, when we are rehearsing our prayer, we are already messing up before God.
Why do we do this? Because we are sinners and our flesh craves to be worshiped, and we tend to use all the gifts of God against His glory and for our own, including prayer. This is not what pray is to be about. It is not an opportunity to flout your theological feathers.
Many of you are now thinking, this does not apply to you, because you have never prayed in public. However, depending on why you have never prayed in public, you may be equally guilty, but just on the opposite end of the spectrum. Why? For the same reason as the hypocrite, they are worried about what people think. They are trying to maintain a certain level of respect from others and they worry if they don’t quite pray right, people will think they are not holy, or not pious, or religious. Whether you are praying to be heard, or not praying to not sound silly, the issue is the same, you are focused on the wrong purpose of prayer. Prayer is about speaking to God, not about impressing men.
Jesus also mentions a second wrong way to pray.
Here is the irony of this warning. Following this warning not to pray with empty words, comes the Lord's prayer. Sadly, the Lord's pray is by far the most frequently empty prayer prayed around the world.
Many people have been trained to pray the Lord's prayer over and over and over and over again. They are told just to rattle it off, and the implication is that God will be pleased with you if you heap up more and more of the Lord's prayer. The irony is that we have turned the Lord's prayer into vanity. Into nothing. Instead of dwelling upon the words, and making them come from our heart, they have become merely mindless chatter. God does not want mindless chatter. This is not what prayer is about.
The Lord's prayer is just one example. How many of you pray before meals or bedtime, hopefully all of you. But how many of those prayers become generic? As you pray before every meal and before going to bed you find yourself in a prayer rut, you know you should pray before eating, so you quickly close your eyes and spit out some words. When you do this, you view pray as an obstacle to eating, so you fulfill your religious obligation with the equivalence to spiritual white noise. Is this what God wants? Absolutely not!
Why do we pray wrongly? Why do we have a tendency to pray to man and to heap up empty words? Because we are sinners and we forget what the purpose of prayer is.
Now before we move past this, let us dwell upon this for a moment. God, whose power is beyond measure. Who spoke the Heavens into place. A God who gives life and death, allows you and me to speak to Him. How wild is this? He is the King of Kings, and at the drop of a hat, we can be in the midst of His throne room in prayer. Not only does he allow it, but he desires it. He encourages us to pray, and not just before meals and bedtime. He wants to pray all the time.
This is what so many people don't get, God desires us to be completely dependent on Him. He is not bothered by us picking up the phone and calling him on trivial matters. Nothing is trivial. He wants us to trust Him so deeply that all decisions are run by Him.
So how are we to do this thing called prayer?
When you do this, you need to shut everything else out. If you are able to get away into a quiet room and pray, great, but make sure when you do, you are focused on who you are talking to. If you are praying in a room full of people, you must forget about them, and at times, forget about yourself. Close the door to your random thoughts. Shut the door to listening to the noise in the room. Be completely focused on speaking to the great and Awesome God. This is what God wants from us, deep and authentic intimacy with Him.
Prayer is not about information. Jesus tells us this, “for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “ The point of prayer is not to fill God in and what is going on in your life. The purpose of prayer is to be in the presence of God, one-on-one, and to display your faith by making your requests known. When you pray to God, you are proclaiming to Him your trust.
When we do this, Jesus promises, that God will see us, and not only see us, but reward us. He will give us exactly what we need, no more and no less. These are words that should send shivers up our spine that when we pray rightly, when we seek the Lord in prayer, and place our faith in his Wisdom, God will not disappoint us.
These words should draw us more deeply into prayer. Knowing that our prayers are not bouncing off the ceiling, if we are praying the right way, from our heart, and recognizing that we are speaking to our Father who loves us.
With this said, I want all of us today, to make a commitment to be people of prayer. Not in the sense of heaping up empty words, but a people who long for one time with their Father. A people who are entirely dependent on the Lord, seeking His will and trusting in His Grace.