We recently kicked off a new series at Life Centre Church called, ‘Habits: Means of Grace in Following Jesus’ (you can listen along here: https://apple.co/2KEkNsQ). Throughout this series, we’ll explore habits (often called disciplines) that are beneficial to the life of a believer. These are not merely tasks that we should do; they are activities that God uses as means through which we experience His ongoing grace. I’ll do a summary blog on each, highlighting the main points being with Habit #1 = Praying to God.
Q – What comes to your mind when you think of PRAYER?
Maybe prayer is a foreign idea to you because the idea of a God you can speak to is foreign. Perhaps you find prayer boring. Perhaps you think of prayer as a religious duty. Maybe like me, you have found prayer to something more of a discipline than a delight. Jesus teaches his disciples about prayer in Matthew 6 and particularly in Matthew 6:9-13
9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Jesus’ teaching was in response to his disciple’s request, “Lord, Teach us to pray” (Lk. 11:1). Evidently, they linked Jesus prayer life to his source of life. In response to the disciples, Jesus says, “Pray like this”. The Lord’s Prayer is not simply a prayer to recite but a model to follow. It is how you pray. Let’s consider two parts of the model that shape the rest. Foundation and Adoration. The model of prayer hinges on these two.
1. FOUNDATION – Our Father who are in heaven
Our Father is the basis of our prayer. It’s the foundation upon which all prayer is built. Miss this and you miss everything.
Did you notice that in Jesus model of prayer, he does not teach the disciples to pray in his name as he does elsewhere throughout the gospels? That is because to pray in ‘Jesus name’ is to pray to the Father based on receiving and being in Jesus (Jn. 1:12; Gal. 4:4-5). In other words, only those who have responded to Jesus in repentance and faith can come to God as Father. Tim Keller says,
To pray in Jesus name… means we get to come to God the Father… When you say “Father,” you are coming to him in Jesus’ name. What you are saying, when you say “Father,” you’re saying, “Lord God, Jesus is my sin-bearer and I have received him and therefore, I now have received the status of being a son or a daughter. I now have the God-given and the God-invited audacity and authority to call you Father and to expect that kind of love that a father has.” Tim Keller
How you view God is vital to how you pray? This is why Jesus begins with the foundation of God as Father. Consider the remaining parts of the prayer and how your view of God might shape these?
- Your Kingdom Come, Will be Done – This is a prayer of ‘Submission’. Your view of what kind of King God is, and kind of Kingdom he brings will determine the type of submission you will offer?
- Give us this day – This is a prayer of ‘Petition’ for present needs. Is God able to supply your daily needs? Does God want to provide your daily needs?
- Forgive us our debts – This is a prayer of ‘Confession’ for past deeds. Is God angry with you? Can he forgive you, cleanse and free you from carrying the burden of shame and guilt. Even more important, does he want to?
- Deliver us – This is a prayer for ‘Transformation’. Is God interested in helping lead and guide you on your journey, or does he leave you on your own? Does he want to grow you, mature you, transform you?
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” In the gospel, we learn that we need not be unnecessarily afraid of God or avoid him, but should approach him regularly in prayer (Matthew 6:9–13). God is holy, but we need not run from him! All of our sins are separated from us, and we are seen as Christ is—blameless, holy, and loved. We have a Father who protects us, not a bully who taunts us. We have a King who leads us, not a boss who badgers us. We have a Saviour who keeps us, not a friend who abandons us. God cherishes his children. How you think about God will determine the quality and frequency of your prayers to him. A.W. Tozer
2. ADORATION – Hallowed be your name
To ‘hallow‘ means to treat something as sacred and ultimate. To make it your greatest concern, your supreme beauty, your most sacred and ultimate. ‘Your name‘ refers to a persons character and reputation. Adoration is praying, ‘Holy be your name, God. You be set apart, glorified, above all and ultimate in my life’. It’s praise, worship, adoration.
It is so easy for God to slip down the order of our hearts. Prayer is a means of grace because it helps reorder our hearts towards God and his pre-eminence. It helps us realign our lives, to rearrange things as they should be. Adoration helps us come to God and acknowledge his goodness, gracious and greatness rather than merely coming with a grocery list. If you genuinely pray to your Father in Heaven and ascribe to him his due adoration you will never leave the throne room unchanged in your heart.
“How clearly then is the fundamental duty of prayer set forth. Self and all its needs must be given a secondary place, and the Lord freely accorded the pre-eminence in our thoughts and supplications. Arthur W. Pink
Consider previously that Jesus taught the disciples to not pray like the hypocrites, that pray to “be seen by others” (Matt. 6:5). In other words, what matters most to them is the adulation of others. What they adore most is human affirmation and therefore when do they pray? When they can get that! Thus Jesus teaches his disciples to pray in secret, in their rooms. What is on offer in the quiet of bedroom? God himself. Pray to get God. Pray to be with God. Pray to commune with God. Pray to adore your Father, who is the King of heaven.
The principle is this: Whatever you most adore, determines how, when, and what you pray.
- If the thing you adore most is not God, then you will only pray when your greater treasures are at stake. To have a vibrant prayer life; have God as your treasure.
I’ve learnt this significantly from the Psalms. So many Psalms are prayers. Prayers that begin with pain, petition and questions of God filled with fear, angst, anxiety, doubt. Only for the Psalmist to end with a heart filled with peace, comfort, joy, healing. How? It moved to adoration. Read Psalm 77. It’s an incredible example of our freedom to call out to our Father with all we feel and experience. In all honesty. Moreover, it shows us the freedom that comes when we move to Adore him rather than merely looking at our problems and pain.
Adoration realigns our view of God.
- When we ADORE GOD we see His wisdom and worry begins to wash away
- When we ADORE GOD we see His beauty and coveteousness washes away
- When we ADORE GOD we see His holiness and sinful desires wash away
- When we ADORE GOD we trust His promises and dissappointment washes away
- When we ADORE GOD we see all He has given us in Christ and self-pity washes away
- When we ADORE GOD we see His good sovereign rule and reign and fear washes away
- When we ADORE GOD we see His mercies towards us each and every day and resentfulness washes away
- When we ADORE GOD our problems find themselves in front of the backdrop of God’s greatness and goodness and anxiety, doubt wash away.
Once we acknowledge God as our Father who loves us like His own Son and that He is the ultimate good and our greatest treasure… THEN… how different becomes our
- Submission: Your Kingdom Come, Will be Done on earth as in heaven
One of the significant effects of prayer is that it softens, it melts, it bends our will to God’s.
- Petition: Give us this day our daily bread
You not only pray to God that ‘CAN’ you pray to God that ‘CARES’. Pray in faith!
- Confession: Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors
You can come to your Father King and tell him everything.
- Transformation – Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
Transformation – Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
You can come to God no matter what you experience and ask God, “lead me away from temptation in this experience and towards righteousness. Lead me towards peace. Lead me to joy. Lead me to kindness. Lead me towards you and TRANSFORM ME!”