Secrets of Spiritual Growth, Part 2


Uploaded by HarvestTV on 17.09.2009

Transcript:
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2 2 2 ¶ 2 2 2 ÿÿÿÿ Let’s pray. Father Your grace is enough and we are thankful for
it because we need it each and every day. Grace to help in time of need. Now we pray
that You will bless as we open Your Word because we want to grow spiritually. We want to succeed
in our walk with You. And as we look at Scripture help us to discover truths, secrets even for
some, that would help us to get closer to you and hear You say to us one day, “Well
done good and faithful servant.” So we commit this time of Bible study to you now. In Jesus’
name we pray. Amen.
Hey let’s turn in our Bibles to Ephesians chapter 6 and Luke chapter 11. We are going
to look at both of those passages in a few moments. Ephesians 6 and Luke 11. And the
title of my message is, “Secrets of Spiritual Success Part 2).
Now here is a question. Why is it that some Christians succeed while others who make that
profession of faith miserably fail? Why is it that some seem to run the race of life
and cross that finishing line with flying colors and others just collapse in a heap?
Why? Because of choices. Choices that people make each and every day. It comes down to
this. We make our choices and our choices make us. And you know what? Life is filled
with choices. From the moment you get up in the morning till the time you lay your head
down on your pillow you have made hundreds maybe even thousands of choices.
That is why it is hard to go into some restaurants. You ever go to Cheesecake Factory and try
to figure out what to order. Their menu is like a telephone book. It is too long. There
are too many options.
That is why I like In-N-Out Burger you know. Here are your options. Hamburger. French Fries.
A soft drink. Maybe a malt. Pretty much that’s it. Now for those In-N-Out aficionados there
are some variations on the order. You can order your regular burger. You can order it
with cheese. You can order it protein style which means no bread wrapped in lettuce. Or
you can use some of those In-N-Out secret orders like order it animal style. Now that
means that an animal has pre-chewed your burger. It is a little gross, but it digests better.
Check it out. No. I am kidding. Animal style means that they cook the patty with some mustard
on it. Ok. Now I am doing to give you a secret secret all right. How many of you have had
animal style In-N-Out? Ok. Here is the next level. Are you ready for the next level? Let
me restate that? Are you ready for heartburn? Here it is. Animal style with chopped chili
peppers. Yeah. That’s what I am talking about. Ok and then you can get double-double.
Then you can get 4x4. And I heard you can even get 8x8. That is weird. But I would like
to see someone eat an 8x8. Eight patties of meat. They call that the heart attack special
I am sure.
Simple choices that don’t mean a lot. Other choices mean a whole lot. So here is the thing.
If you want to grow spiritually you will. If you don’t want to grow spiritually you
won’t. If you want to succeed you will. It is not the luck of the draw or something
that only happens randomly. It is because people made the right choice to do the right
thing. Here is what it comes down to. We are either going to go forward as a Christian
or we are going to go backwards. We are either going to progress or we are going to regress.
We are either going to gain ground or we are going to lose ground. And if you stand still
you will lose ground. So this is the kind of a commitment where day I should be seeking
to grow spiritually. To progress. To learn. Not just to hold my own. Not to just hold
my position. But to gain ground in my relationship with Jesus Christ. Spiritual growth. We all
need to commit ourselves to it.
And there are things that impair that growth. And there are things that help that growth.
So what we want to do is live lives that will honor the Lord and stay away from things that
will drag us down spiritually. 2 Timothy 2:22 says, “Run from anything that stimulates
youthful lusts. Follow anything that makes you want to do what is right. Pursue faith
and love and peace.” Listen to this. “And enjoy the companionship of those that call
on the Lord with pure hearts.” You see spiritual growth is based on doing what is good and
not doing what is bad.
All right. So we have discovered a couple of things together. Number one. We realize
that if we want to grow spiritually we must love, study, and read the Word of God. That
is essential. It is a no-brainer. It is Christianity 101. You have to love the Word of God and
you have to study the Word of God. Joshua 1:8 says, “This Book of the Law shall not
depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe
to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous,
and then you will have good success.”
Now this is what is amazing to me is there are people I will meet who are floundering
spiritually. And I will say, “Let me just ask you a couple questions? Do you read your
Bible every day?” And they will look at me like, “What? I carry my Bible. I have
a lot of beautiful Bibles to select or choose from rather.” “But do you read your Bible
every single day?” And in most cases when someone is struggling spiritually the answer
is no. I am not saying reading the Bible will make your problems go away. But I am saying
I you are going to grow spiritually you need a regular diet of the Word God in your life.
But that’s not all. You also need to pray. And that is what we are going to focus on
in this message before us now. To be a successful Christian I must have a prayer life. Now what
is prayer? Well prayer simplified is hearing from and communicating with God. There of
course are different kinds of prayer that are identified in the Scripture. Ephesians
6, our first text, in verse 18 says, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in
the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all
the saints.” Notice that it says all prayer. So it is saying we should be people of prayer.
And listen. You can pray publicly. You can pray privately. You can pray verbally. You
can pray silently. Any position is acceptable for prayer. You can pray kneeling, standing,
sitting, lying down, and even driving. But always keep your eyes open of course.
It is a funny thing. We make a big deal about closing your eyes for prayer. Right. Let’s
bow our heads and close our eyes you know. We are teaching our little granddaughter Stella
to pray and we will say, “Stella let’s pray. Close your eyes now.” And so she closed
her eyes. I opened my eyes to see if she was doing it and she was reaching for food with
her eyes closed and eating it you know so technically she had her eyes closed.
But have you ever been in a gathering of people praying. You know everybody has their head
bowed and so forth. And you are kind of looking around and someone else is looking around
and you see each other. You are sort of embarrassed and you close your eyes really quick. Almost
like you cheated and that prayer is not valid.
There is some value in closing your eyes. Sort of you know removing the distractions
from life. But in reality you can pray with your eyes closed, with your eyes opened, on
your back, on your stomach, sitting down, standing up, running. Whatever position you
are in you can pray any time anywhere.
I think sometimes we may think that our prayers will be quickly heard by God if they are offered
in a place of worship. For instance if I pray here today we think maybe the Lord might hear
that more than if I were to pray somewhere else. Well not necessarily true. God hears
our prayers wherever we offer them. Look at some of the places people prayed in the Bible.
Daniel prayed in a den of lions. David prayed in a cave and also in the wilderness. Peter
prayed on top of and in the water after he sank. And our good buddy Jonah prayed from
the stomach of a whale. So it seems to me that wherever you are God will hear your prayer.
The key is that we should pray frequently. In fact this phrase in verse 18 “with all
prayer” speaks of the frequency of prayer. You should pray in the morning. You should
pray in the afternoon. You should pray in the evening. For the Bible says, “Pray without
ceasing, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Daniel the prophet was known to be a man of prayer. He was a godly man. He was influencing
the king. And so as it turns out he had been so effective and successful at what he did
his enemies hated him. They wanted to bring him down. But the problem in their eyes was
Daniel had no weak spots. He was a man of complete integrity. So they reasoned, “We
cannot bring this guy down unless we find something concerning him and his God. So what
does Daniel do that we can get him on? “Ah,” they thought, “This guy is always praying.
Three times a day he goes into his house, he opens up his windows, opens up his shutters,
and kneels down and faces Jerusalem. We ill get him in that area.” Isn’t it a great
thing to be known as a person of prayer?
So they went to the king and he unwittingly signed a decree that condemned to death any
person who would pray to any God except him. Daniel was made aware of this fact. Daniel
you can n o longer pray.
Now let me ask you a question. What if a law was passed tomorrow that said public prayer
is no longer allowed. If you pray publicly it is against the law? In fact if you pray
in your home it is against the law? Would you stop praying?
Here is what Daniel did. We read in Daniel 6:10, “When Daniel learned the law had been
signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open
toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks
to God.” It didn’t cause him to change one bit. He prayed.
And I love this. Because the Bible tells us in 1 Timothy 2:8, “People should pray everywhere
lifting up holy hands.”
Pray everywhere. Should I ask the blessing of God on my meal when I am out in public?
Absolutely. You know that awkward moment when you are out dining with maybe family or others
that are not believers and the food comes and you wonder, “Should we pray.” Because
normally you as a Christian family would pay. But now there are nonbelievers present and
you don’t know if you should pray or not so, “Well I don’t.” You know what I
say? Pray. Pray. And I will initiate it. I will say, “Let’s pray.” I don’t say,
“Do you mind if I pray?” I will just say, “Let’s pray.” I figure they can just
watch me as I pray if they want to. You know and here is the cool thing about prayer. When
you pray you have the floor. By that I mean when you are praying other people will generally
listen. And so you can say, “Let’s pray.” And so everyone bows their head. And they
are not all believers. And you can say, “Lord thank You for this food. You have provided
it. And thank You for the relationship we have through Jesus Christ and that He came
and died on a cross and rose from the dead. And hey while our heads are bowed and our
eye closed and we are just praying maybe somebody at this table needs Jesus. If you would like
to accept Christ why don’t you just lift up your hand? God bless you.” No. I don’t
suggest you do that. But that would probably be pushing it.
Here is something you might be surprised to hear me say. When you pray for a meal, keep
your prayers short. You know why? We want to eat. Nothing is worse than having the food
right there. I know it is men clapping. Not women. Because here is the thing with a man.
You need to know this about a man. When you put food in front of a man it is like a dog
with food in his dish. The dog eats the food. The man wants to do the same. All right. We
are not that complex. Trust me. And why do we have to pray these long prayers over a
meal. You don’t have to pray for all of the missionaries around the world. There is
another time to do that. Let’s just give thanks and eat the food.
Here is something to consider. In the Bible you will find that prayers in public were
longer and prayers in and excuse me prayers in private were longer and prayers in public
were shorter. A lot of times we pray long prayers in public and short prayers in private.
But it ought to be the other way around. And so pray and give thanks for what God has given
you. Wherever you are.
I want you to notice something else about Daniel. When he found out this decree had
been signed that no one could pray to any God or they would be cast into a den of lions
we read that Daniel prayed. Now what did Daniel pray? Did he says, “God help me” or “God
deliver me” or “God save me from this fate.” No. We read that “Daniel prayed
giving thanks to God.” I love that. You see Daniel reminded himself that God was on
the throne, that God was in control of his life, and that God was good. And he gave thanks
to the Lord. That is a great thing to get everything in perspective. Lord you are in
control.
Now sometimes we have the luxury of taking our time and praying like Daniel had. And
other times we only have a moment to throw up a quick prayer. This is illustrated in
the story of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was the cupbearer of the king when the Israelites were captives
of Babylon. To be the cupbearer meant that you were in close proximity to the king all
the time. A cupbearer was basically a person who would taste the king’s food before he
ate it and taste what the king was going to drink before he drank it. So if anyone was
going to poison the king you would die first. And the king would say, “I won't be eating
that today.” You were sort of the king’s guinea pig. But more than that you also because
of your close proximity were a confidant of the king. Sometimes even a counselor to the
king. So one day the king noticed that Nehemiah was sad. And Nehemiah didn’t want to say
why he was sad. But here was the deal. Nehemiah was a Jew and he heard that his fellow Jews
were in distress because Jerusalem was lying in ruins and it was burned out and so forth.
And so we read that Nehemiah 2:5 that the king asked him, “Why are you so sad?”
And we read, “Nehemiah, replied, with a prayer to the God of heaven, ‘If it pleases
your majesty and you are pleased with him your, send me to Judah to rebuild the city
where my ancestors are buried.’” See he didn’t have the time to go to his house
and open the windows like Daniel. He just offered a quick prayer to heaven.
And sometimes we are in a situation and something comes up and you have like a moment and you
say, “Lord help me.” You can say it with your eyes opened. You don’t even have to
verbalize it. You can say it out loud if you want to. But just, “Oh God help me right
now.”
Someone is asking you that question. You are praying, “Lord give me the wisdom right
now to answer this question.” You get that call. “The boss wants to see you. “Oh
God help me. Don’t let me get fired. Don’t let me get fired.” You get a call from the
principal. You get a call from the Oval Office. I don’t know where that call is going to
come from. You are going to go and appear before a person of influence. “Lord give
me wisdom. Give me the right words.” The main thing is pray.
Here is what you need to know. Prayer can be continuous all day long. The Bible tells
us that Elijah went into the court of King Ahab, a wicked man, and says, “As the Lord
God lives, before whom I stand. Elijah was aware of the fact that wherever he went he
stood in the presence of God.
Listen. You are never alone. Wherever you go God is with you. And you can commune with
Him and fellowship with Him and pray to Him and hear from Him. That is the idea of continuous
prayer. Being in fellowship and communion with the Lord.
So let’s address a couple of questions. Why should I pray? Short answer. Because Jesus
told me to. Because told me to. Jesus said in Luke 18:1, “Men ought always to pray
and to not give up.” And He not only told me to pray, but He left me an example of prayer.
Jesus was constantly praying. Here was God in human form walking our planet, breathing
our air, and yet feeling the need to be in constant communion with His Father. It was
not uncommon when the disciples were praying; excuse me, sleeping, to see the Lord praying.
We know while He was there in Gethsemane He prayed, “Father, if it is possible, let
this cup pass from Me.” As He hung on the very cross of Calvary His first statement
was, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Later He prayed, “My
God, My God, why have You forsaken Me.” When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead we
read that He spoke first to His Father in John 11 saying, “‘Father, thank You for
hearing Me. You always hear Me.’ But He said it out loud for the sake of those that
were standing here, ‘So they will believe that You sent Me.’ Then He shouted, ‘Lazarus
come forth.’” When He fed the 5000 people we read that He looked up toward heaven and
asked God’s blessing on the food. We read that the mothers brought their children to
Jesus so He could lay His hands on them and pray for them.
So here is my point. If Jesus felt the necessity to pray constantly how much more should we.
Pray all the time. Pray about all things. He has given us that example to follow. And
we too need to be people of prayer.
Now that brings me to number two. Why should I pray? Number one. Because Jesus told me
to. Number two. Listen. We should pray because prayer is God’s appointed way for obtaining
things. Prayer is God’s appointed way for obtaining things. Now that is not the only
reason we pray. Though that may come as a surprise to some. I think some think prayer
is just a time of bringing your needs before God. And there is a place for brining your
needs before God. But that is not the primary purpose of prayer. I will identify that in
a moment. Having said that, prayer is God’s way of giving things to you that you need
in your life. We are told over in James 4:2, “You have not because you ask not.” I
suggest to you that there are things that God may want to give to you. Things that God
may want to do for you. Things that God may want to say to you that have not been given,
that have not been done, that have not been said, because you have not asked. You have
not because you ask not.
Maybe you are saying, “Why is it I never know the will of God for my life?” Could
it be you have not because you ask not? “Why is it that I am never able to lead other people
to Christ?” Could it be you have not because you ask not? “Why is that I am always struggling
financially just barely scraping by?” Could it be you have not because you ask not? “Why
is it that I am ill and this sickness has continued on or this problem?” Could it
be you have not because you ask not?
Now I am not suggesting to you that God will always give you every thing that you ask for.
And I am not saying that He will heal every person who asks for a touch. But at the same
time I am saying He will heal some. And what if there was something God wanted to do that
had not yet happened because you simply had not prayed about it. What have you got to
lose? I mean maybe the Lord would say no. But what if he says yes. You have not because
you ask not? So we need to pray.
Number two. Prayer is the way by which. Excuse me. Number three. Prayer is the way by which
God helps us overcome our anxiety and worry. Again. Number three. Prayer is the way by
which God helps us overcome our anxiety and worry. Life is full of troubles. We have concerns.
About our future. About our health. Our family. Our finances. The list goes on. There are
things that happen that scare us. Sometimes even terrify us. It has been said, “If your
knees are shaking kneel on them.”
So I have a suggestion for you. Instead of worrying pray. How many of you worry? Raise
up your hand. How many of you never worry? Liar, liar, pants on fire. Ok. Then you are
not alive. Everybody worries a little. And we all have that anxiety. I admit that I worry.
And I don’t say that proudly. I worry. No. It is not a virtue. It can be a sin where
we really are failing to trust in God. There are things that concern us. Things that alarm
us. Things that cause us to be filled with anxiety. So what should we do? The next time
you are tempted to worry pray.
Here is what we are told in Philippians 4:6, “Don’t worry about anything; pray about
everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. If you do this you
will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.”
Listen. His peace will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Now notice what that verse says and what it does not say. “Don’t worry about anything;
pray about everything and God will take your problems away.” Is that what we just read?
No. It says, “Don’t worry about anything; pray about everything and the peace of God
that passes all human understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus” you
see.
Maybe God will take your problem away. That is possible. But maybe He won’t. Because
sometimes you pray and the problem is still there. But here is what happens is you get
perspective. You get perspective on what is going on and you see God for who He is and
thus you see your problem for what it is. If you have a big God you have a relatively
small problem. But if you have a big problem it might be that you have a small god. In
other words you are not seeing God in His glory and what He can do. No. Your problem
may not go away.
The disabled person will pray and then when their prayer is done and they open their eyes
the disability is still there. The parent of the prodigal will pray and when their prayer
is completed the prodigal is still gone. The parent of a child or a husband or a wife or
anybody who has lost a loved one when they pray the problem is still there.
I mean I am in anxiety quite often because I will just be hit by the reality still of
my son not being with me. It is still in some ways incomprehensible to me. And I am overwhelmed
at times. And I pray. So what do I pray? “God bring him back.” I don’t think that is
likely. So here is what I pray. “God help me.”
It is like the psalmist said, “When my heart is overwhelmed lead me to the rock that is
higher than I.” I will tell you what God does for me. He gives His peace and He gives
me the strength to get through what I am dealing with. And He will do the same for any person
that will call upon Him.
I need prayer to get through the day. I need prayer to get up in the morning. I need prayer
to get through the afternoon. And I need prayer to go to sleep at night. I am not ashamed
to say that. I need to pray. Because I need God’s help. And He gives it to me. And He
will give it you as well.
Number four. Prayer is one of the ways in which we make ourselves ready for the return
of Jesus Christ. Again. Prayer is one of the ways in which we make ourselves ready for
the return of Jesus Christ. In Luke chapter 21 verses 34 to 36 Jesus says this. This is
from a modern translation. Listen. “‘Be on your guard. Don't let the sharp edge of
your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping. Otherwise, that Day
is going to take you by complete surprise, spring on you suddenly like a trap, for it's
going to come on everyone, everywhere, at once. So, whatever you do, don't go to sleep
at the switch. Pray constantly that you will have the strength and wits to make it through
everything that's coming and end up on your feet before the Son of Man.’”
Jesus told us of that day and hour of His return no man knows. Only the Father. “Take
heed, therefore,” he says, “And watch and pray.” So we need to be people of prayer.
Prayer is so important. If you want God to speak to you, you pray. If you want Him to
provide for you, you pray. If you want help with your worry, you pray. If you want to
be ready for His return, you pray.
But sometimes we pray and we don’t like the answer. We say, “God never answers my
prayer.” Really? What do you mean by that? “Well I have prayed for this and it didn’t
happen. God doesn’t answer my prayers.” Hold on. No is as much of an answer as yes
is. Isn’t it? But we don’t like that answer. “I prayed and God said no.” That is answer.
Don’t say He didn’t answer your prayer. Say you don’t like the answers that God
gives to your prayers. That would be more accurate.
But listen. Here is something to consider when you are praying. If the request is wrong
God will say no. If the timing is wrong God will say slow. If you are wrong God will say
grow. But if the request is right and the timing is right and you are right God will
say go. You want to hear that again. Listen. If the request is wrong, God will say no.
If the timing is wrong, God will say slow. If you are wrong, God will say grow. But if
the request is right and the timing is right and you are right, God will say go.
So here is the question. Is there something we can do to cause God to say go more often?
Is there something we can do to see our prayers answered more often in the affirmative? My
answer to that question is yes I think there are some things that we can do.
Let’s see if we can discover them together in the most well-known prayer in all of the
Bible in Luke chapter 11. Turn there with me if you would. We call this the Lord’s
Prayer. It is a beautiful poetic prayer that probably is one of the most well-known statements
from the Scripture. One that many have committed to memory. In a way the Lord’s Prayer is
not a completely accurate description of it because the bible never calls it that. We
call it that. I don’t know who came up with it first. But this is not a prayer Jesus would
have ever prayed. Because one of the parts of it says, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive
those who have sinned against us.” Jesus would never have prayed a prayer like that.
It wasn’t a prayer He prayed. It was a prayer He gave in request or in a response to the
request of the disciples who asked Him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” If you want to read the
real Lord’s prayer if you will go over to John 17 and there you will read the prayer
that only Christ could pray.
So a more accurate description of the prayer we are about to read might be we could call
it the disciples’ prayer because it is really our prayer. But for reference we will continue
to refer to it as the Lord’s prayer. But I just wanted to mention that.
Let’s read it now. Luke 11. Verse 1. “Now it came to pass, as Jesus was praying in a
certain place, when He ceased, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to
pray, as John also taught his disciples.’” You might underline that phrase “teach us
to pray.” I will come back to it “So He said to them, ‘When you pray,
Our Father in heaven,       Hallowed be Your name.       Your kingdom come.
      Your will be done       On earth as it is in heaven.        Give
us day by day our daily bread.        And forgive us our sins,       As we
forgive those who have sinned against us or are indebted to us.
Lead us not into temptation,       But deliver us from evil (or more literally from
the evil one.’”
And another gospel says that He then said, “For Thine is the kingdom and the power
and the glory forever.”
The Lord’s Prayer. Beautiful words. But I notice I want to point out to you that that
they said, “Teach us to pray.” They didn’t say, “Lord teach us a prayer. Lord teach
us the prayer to pull out when things get really bad.” And that is how some people
treat the Lord’s Prayer. When crisis hits, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed
be Your name.” Sort of like we could put it behind glass. In case of emergency pray
this prayer. There is nothing wrong with praying this prayer verbatim. It is a beautiful powerful
prayer. But it wasn’t given merely as a prayer to pray. It was given as a model for
prayer or a template for prayer. Another gospel tells us Jesus said, “After this manner
therefore you should pray.” So it is a structure for our prayers.
So how should I pray? I should pray, “Our Father who art in heaven.” When I approach
God in prayer I am speaking to the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the entire universe.
However notice that it does not say, “This is how you ought to pray. Our creator in heaven.”
It is that. But that is not how Jesus told us to address Him. How about, “Our sovereign
who art in heaven.” God is indeed our sovereign. But that is not what Jesus taught us to pray.
Or even, “Our God who art in heaven.” Though He is our God. That is not what Jesus
said. He said, “After this manner therefore you should pray, ‘Our Father who art in
heaven.’”
Do you realize what a revolutionary idea that was for a first century Jew to hear? You see
the Hebrew people would be raised with a great awe and respect for God. They would approach
God through the high priest. They would offer the animal sacrifice on their behalf. To think
of calling God Father was unthinkable. In fact one of the reasons they crucified Jesus
was because He called God His Father. But now Jesus, the Lamb of God, who has taken
away the sin of the world and has died in our place has opened up a new relationship
between us and God the Father and now we too can call Him Father. After the Lord was risen
He said to Mary Magdalene, “I ascend and I go to My God and your God and to My Father
and your Father.” He is my Father now. I can call Him that? Why? Because I have been
adopted into the family. That is why.
The Bible tells me in Romans, “I haven’t received a spirit of bondage again to fear,
but one of adoption whereby I cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” And that even takes it a step
further because there in Romans Abba Father means daddy or papa. It is a more affectionate
term. So it is not just Father. It is Daddy. Papa. Father. There is tenderness. There is
intimacy there.
And some of us struggle with this. Because I don’t know what kind of dad you had or
have. Maybe you had a father that was distant or cold and maybe harsh. Never affirmed you.
Maybe some of you had fathers that were mean and austere. Maybe even some were abusive.
Others of you never had a father to speak of. He basically abandoned you. So when you
think of your Father in heaven it is hard because you sort of attach the qualities or
the weaknesses of your earthly father to your heavenly Father. But we need to think differently.
God the Father is not like your earthly father. God the Father loves you unconditionally.
God the Father will be there for you no matter what. He will never abandon you. God the Father
loves you with an everlasting love. He is my Father who art in heaven. Know that about
God.
“My Father who art in heaven. Hallowed be Your name” I am taught to say. What does
that mean? That means set apart be Your name. May Your name be glorified. Hallowed be Your
name. To say that means that in my life and character as a follower of Jesus I want to
set Jesus Christ apart and I want to live a holy life. And therefore I need to ask myself
if my interests and ambitions and pursuits, “Is this for His glory?” Can I write Hallowed
by Thy name over what I am about to do? Can I write Hallowed by Thy name over my career
choice? Or the choice of a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife? Can I write Hallowed by
Thy name over the programs I watch on TV or the movies I go to or the music I listen to?
Can I write Hallowed by Thy name over the things that I am engaged in? If not, then
I should change.
Notice before a word personal petition is offered I consider I am speaking to the almighty
God. “Our Father who art in heaven. Hallowed be Your name.
Now this brings us to principle number one on how to have your prayer answered in the
affirmative and also we are shown the purpose of prayer. The primary purpose of prayer.
If you want to see your prayer answered in the affirmative, if you want God to say yes
more often, here it is. You must pray according to the will of God. You must pray according
to the will of God. “Our Father who art in heaven. Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom
come. Your will be done.”
Sometimes God will answer our prayers differently than we thought He would. I heard the story
of three men who were hiking through a forest and they came to a large raging violent river
and they wanted to cross over. So they decided to pray. The first man prayed, “God give
me the strength to cross the river.” And suddenly poof God gave him big beefy arms
and he dove in and swam across. Almost drowned twice, but he made it to the other side. The
second man watching this. This is a true story by the way. No it isn’t actually. Second
man said, “God give me the strength and the tools to cross the river.” Poof. His
arms became large and muscular and also a little canoe was provided. And he climbed
in and paddled across the river. He capsized twice but he made it to the other side. The
third guy watching all of this said, “Lord give me the strength and the tools and the
intelligence to cross the river.” And poof. He became a woman. I am not done. He checked
the map, walked 100 yards upstream and walked across the bridge.
But here is the thing. What is the primary objective of prayer? Here it is. To line my
will up with the will of God. True praying is not overcoming God’s reluctance. It is
laying hold of His willingness. Listen. Prayer is not getting my will in heaven. It is getting
God’s will on earth.
So here is the goal. “Lord what do you want? I want to pray according to your will. “Because
I am told over in the book of 1 John chapter 5 verse 14, “This is the confidence we have
in Him, if we ask anything according to His will He hears us and we have the petitions
desired of Him.” Listen. Nothing outside the reach of prayer except that which lies
outside of the will of God.
So here is how I pray. I pray for what I think is right, but I always add, “Nevertheless,
not my will but Yours be done.” I actually heard a preacher say, “Never pray, ‘Not
Your will but mine be done.’” (should be not my will bur Yours be done.” And then
the preacher said, “Instead you should pray my will be done.” Ok. You go ahead and do
that. And I will stand here and watching lightning strike you some day. What? Are you crazy?
The Bible teaches me to prayer, “Not your will, excuse me, not my will but Yours be
done.” And listen. When you have lived a little bit you begin to realize God knows
more than you. And after you have lived awhile you will actually thank God for unanswered
prayers. Or another way to put it you will thank God that He said no to you at an earlier
time because you realize with 20/20 hindsight you didn’t know what you were talking about.
And now you say, “Lord that thing I didn’t want was the best thing for me. The thing
I did want was the worst thing for me. I get it now. Thank you now. Your kingdom come.
Your will be done.” Don’t ever be afraid to pray that.
Sometimes a person might come and they are you know have a need. And they are sick or
something else is going on. They say, “Pray for me.” I will say, “Let’s pray.”
And I will pray, “Lord touch this person and heal this person right now. We ask this
in faith.” But then I will always add, “But Lord You might have a purpose we don’t know
about so nevertheless but not our will but Yours be done.”
“That is a copout some would say.” That’s not a copout. That is an acknowledgement that
I don’t know everything but God does. And I am asking Him to use executive privilege
and do what He wants to do where He wants to do it because God’s will is better than
my own.
Having said these things, now we come to personal petition. Verse 3. “Give us this day our
daily bread.” If we wrote the Lord’s prayer, here is how it would look. “Our Father who
art in heaven. Hallowed be Your name. Give us this day our daily bread.” Sort of a,
“Hello God. How you doing? Here is what I need. Let’s go. Here is my grocery list.”
Nothing wrong with bringing your petitions before God. But that is not how the prayer
is structured. “My Father who art in heaven. Hallowed be Your name. Set apart be Your name.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Now Lord give me this
day my daily bread.”
Here is what we sometimes wonder. Why is it that this all-knowing, all-powerful, omnipresent
God who created the entire universe would care as you and I as individuals? As Job said
in chapter 7 in verse 17, “What is man that you make so much of him? That you give him
attention?” Why would God care about my needs and even my wants? Why would He commit
Himself to providing my daily bread?”
Many reasons could be cited, but let me just throw out one that is significant. Why? Because
He loves you. That is why? He loves you. And guess what? He loves to bless you. Our God
is generous. He is not stingy. Maybe you had a stingy dad. “No. You have to earn it.
Did you do your chores?” No. “Go do them.” God says, “Ah here. Ah here is a little
more. Take a little more.” What? I don’t deserve it. “I know but I love you.” God
loves to bless you.
And I think the picture might better be of a grandparent over a parent. This is not to
put parents down. But it just means that grandparents well we just tend to overindulge a little
bit don’t we? We take the kids and we are watching them. When we give them back to mom
and dad they are all wired on sugar and they have a new toy. “You shouldn’t have done
that.” “I know but here you go. Bye.” No. But you know the analogy breaks down pretty
quickly. But here is my point. It is not hard for me to do something for my children. Nor
is it hard for me to do something for my grandchildren.
It is my delight. Jesus said, “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
And in the same way when you go God, the Lord says, “I want to pour my blessings out upon
you so you won’t have room enough to receive it. Let me show you my love.”
But here is an interesting thing. I am taught to pray, “Give me this day my daily bread.”
Notice it does not say, “Give me this month my monthly bread.” If God provided for you
monthly you would probably call upon Him monthly. “Give me this day my yearly bread.” No.
“Give me this day my daily bread.” God arranges things in such a manner where I will
have to be dependent upon Him on a daily basis. Here is something else that prayer is acknowledging.
It is acknowledging that everything that I have comes from God. Sure you can work hard.
You can save and invest wisely. And you can buy your own food and clothes and pay for
your house or your car or whatever else. But here is what you need to remember. It all
came to you from God. No matter what. It came to you from God. We need to remember that.
Deuteronomy 8:18 says, “Remember the Lord your God. It is He that gives you the ability
to produce wealth.” So the point is simply this. Hey God gave you all those things. So
acknowledge that. “Lord give me this day my daily bread.”
In doing so I am saying, “Lord this food on the table. That came from You. Everything
that I have. It is from you. My health. From you. My children. My family My grandchildren.
My career. Anything else. It is all from you Lord. Thank You for it. I give You the glory
for it. And now Lord will You keep providing for Me.” That is what you are really praying.
“Give me this day my daily bread.”
Prayer. If you want to grow spiritually it must be a vital and regular part of your life.
So stop worrying and start praying. Praying about everything. Communicating with God through
the day. And the night. When you get up in the morning. When you lay your head back down
on that pillow. Pray. It is a privilege of the believer.
Having said that let me close by pointing out that a nonbeliever can offer their prayers
but only a Christian can truly pray. See prayer is privilege. Privilege given to those that
have relationship with God. A lot of people will offer their little prayers. Maybe prayers
that they learned as little children. You know we will put our kids to bed at night
and we will say, “Pray this little prayer with me. Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray
the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to
take.” Is that a good prayer to teach a small child? “Honey you might die tonight
in your sleep. So as you pray if I should die before I wake. Oh by the way honey don’t
let the bed bugs bite. Good night.” The light goes off. You are freaking your kids
out here. That is not a biblical prayer. I mean if you are doing that prayer it is time
to move on. Ok.
But here is the thing. We have our little prayers that we have been taught to pray.
And we will pull them out here and there. I will pray this little prayer here. Now this
is a really good prayer to pray in these circumstances. Here is another. No. No. That is not how it
works. It is not littler prayers. It is prayer. It is communication. And that is only for
the believer. See until you have a relationship with God there is a wall that separates you
from Him and your prayers will not go far. Isaiah 59 says, “Behold the Lord’s hand
is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor is His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But
your sins have separated you from God.” So here is the point. You need to get that
barrier removed so you can communicate with the Lord and start talking to Him and hearing
from Him.
The only way to do that is by admitting your sin and realizing that Jesus Christ the Son
of God died in your place on the cross so you could come into this relationship with
God and have this prayer life and more.
So in closing if you have never asked Jesus Christ to come into your life, if you have
never asked for His forgiveness, you can do it right now as we close in prayer and you
can begin a whole new life of following Him.
Let’s pray now. Father thank You for the privilege of prayer. Thank You that we can
talk to You right now with confidence that you hear us. And I pray for any here or those
that are listening who may not yet know You Lord help them to see their need for You.
Help them to come to You this day we pray. â
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