Turn with me to Matthew 6:9-12. Today marks the last Sunday of our sermon series focused on prayer. I hope that these last two months have been a worthwhile investment within our Church, and when I say investment I mean it. If you recall Mathew 6:6, Jesus says, “And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” My desire is that God has and will reward you when you pray with a right understanding and a right spirit. As I have stated time and time again, prayer is not optional for a true Christian. It is expected and it is crucial. With that said, let us look at our text for today, pray, and then see what final thing God has to teach us about prayer from the Lord's Prayer.
You can see this right out of the gates. In verses nine and ten, Jesus teaches us that prayer is first and foremost about God's Glory, not our Glory. Jesus tells us that the right place for us to start when praying is on your knees exulting the God of the Universe. Your prayer should place Him in the center of your heart and your mind. Therefore, we are taught that prayer is not a personal wish-list, it is to be an act of worship.
Next, we see Jesus then teach us how we should pray for ourselves. First, He tells us to pray for bread. Which is just another way to tell us to pray for the necessities of life. Second, he tells us to pray for forgiveness. Why? Because we are sinners and we need God's Grace through Jesus Christ to have eternal life. Third, he tells us to pray for protection in our lives, “deliver us from evil.”
The Lord's Prayer is made up of six petitions. Our Master, Jesus Christ is telling us that these are the six greatest need in our lives: God's Glory, God's Kingdom, God's will, food to live, forgiveness for our sins, and protection from evil.
Do your prayers look anything like the Lord's Prayer? Each night, or before meals, or early in the morning when you are alone with the Lord, do any of these things cross your heart and your lips? They should. Jesus is giving us the keys to joy. He is telling us point blank what our greatest needs are. We should trust him and his teaching and implement his structure of prayer into our life. By this I don't mean vainly be reciting the Lord's Prayer over and over again, but with longing and affections for these things to come into your life like a waterfall drenching you with God's Grace.
My challenge to all of you is to implement a six minute Lord's Prayer. Every day, pray for each of the six petitions of the Lord's prayer for one minute. Spend on minute praying for each of these things. For example pray that God's name would be hallowed in your life. Pray that God would be glorified in your marriage. Pray that you would cause His name to be feared in your workplace. Pray that God would give you boldness to spread His Holy name in your neighborhood. After a minute or so, move to “Your Kingdom come” and so on and so forth. Imagine the ripple effect if our small little Church took the Lord's Prayer seriously. As James 1:22 says:
So the answer is clear, God does not tempt us with evil. God's hands are always clean. God is a good, righteous and Holy God and he is not to blame for my sin, I am to blame for my sin. My sin is because of something inside of me that lures me to make decisions that are against God's will.
Having said that, this does not mean that God will not allow you to be tempted, or to be tested or to be tried, by your circumstances and/or Satan. Here are some Biblical examples of God allowing temptation:
In my opinion, this is extremely helpful in our Christian walk. Let's be honest, life is hard. Every day we are assaulted with temptation and trials. Isn't it comforting to know that God is sovereign over all those temptations. God is not a pathetic little God who is caught off guard by our struggles, but that he is intimately aware of what is going on in our lives. That Satan is merely a dog on a leash, and God can yank it back whenever he wills. It gives me great peace to know that God has authority over my struggles.
I want us now to turn our attention to the second half of the prayer “Deliver us from evil.” This is what I want us to focus on for the remainder of the time, because this, I believe, is the heart what Jesus wants us to pray.
To begin, let us understand the word “evil.” If you use the New International Version, you will see that there is a difference. It says, “deliver us from the evil one.” The English Standard Version, which I am using just says evil, your foot note most likely says “or the evil one.” It is my belief that both fit, but I think Jesus had in mind the evil one when he said the Lord's Prayer. The reason I believe this is John 17:15. In John 17 we see Jesus praying, and he prays this for his disciples:
So who is this evil one? I am guessing that all of us know this answer. The evil one is Satan. Jesus is teaching us that one of the six requests that we should be making to God in prayer is protection from Satan. We should pray for food, forgiveness, and now protection. How often do you do this? How often do you start your day praying that God would protect you from the devil as you walk out your door? In fact, how often do you even think about Satan?
In this day in age, I worry we don't think about him enough. It is not in vogue to go around speaking his name. In fact, it is a great trick of Satan to convince you that he does not exist. He is a master of hiding. His is the not only the Father of lies, but he is the Father of guerrilla warfare. In his first temptation in the Garden of Eden, this Angelic being, who before His fall stood in the presence of God disguises himself as a little old snake so as to set the trap for Adam and Eve. Likewise, we are told in 2 Corinthians 11:14,
Too often we forget that we are in the midst of war, that is until we become a casualty. Since the beginning, God has been warning us of the reality of evil in our lives. Listen to what God said to Cain in Genesis 4:7.
The question is why don't we care about this powerful enemy? Why don't we pray, “Deliver us from evil” every single morning before we step out into the battlefield of our lives. The answer is because we are arrogant. We think we have within ourselves the capacity to win the battles of our lives. Peter is a great example of this arrogance.
Let me ask you, do you think Peter was was happy the night he denied Jesus? Do you think he enjoyed when Satan devoured him? Absolutely not.
The result of Peter's sin was bitter weeping. He exchanged prayer for sleep, and joy for tears. And this is the core of what we are talking about. We are undermining our joy, we are undermining our purpose, we are undermining our relationship with our Father in heaven when we lose the daily battles against Satan's schemes.
It doesn't have to be this way. Jesus is telling us that the answer is simply to ask God to deliver us, and he will.