The Lord’s Prayer
I would like to finish up this series on prayer this morning; by no means have we exhausted the topic of prayer. There have been many different books, sermons, and articles on prayer – Amazon has over 13,000 books listed on prayer. Some of those books have been on the best sellers list. Over 50% of American’s have said that they pray daily and ever Sunday Christians across the world recite the Lord’s Prayer. You will find a blank sheet of paper in your bulletin will you take a few moments to write the Lord’s Prayer on it.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
There have been many sermons on the Lord’s Prayer – and maybe the best known is the acrostic ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication
I heard this sermon a while back and it caught my attention because it was a different approach to the Lord’s Prayer. As you look at this passage you will see that this prayer has 4 different flows to it just like acrostic ACTS spells out.
Jesus shows His disciples then and now how to pray so that their prayers will be effective, and from this passage there are 4 specific points: Prayer is:
Focus, Fellowship, Forgiveness, and Freedom
- Focus: Who do we first focus on when we pray? We need to first focus on God the Father -- not ourselves. “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name …”
- When we pray, we are coming into the very throne room of grace - the very presence of the One who created the Universe - and our focus needs to be on God - not ourselves.
- Prayer is not primarily about us – it is first and foremost about God, then others and then us. Certainly we can lift up our needs and we will see that in a moment. But the initial focus is on God.
- Far too often we come to pray just to “get it done” and move on with our other activities including Bible Study time. God requires that we come into a prayer time with reverence, with compassion, and with understanding that we are communicating with God the Almighty.
- Praying to God ought to be something done often and done faithfully.
- When we focus on the One who sits on the Throne, we take the focus off of us. We must look to God our Father for leadership, for rebuke, and for training. Christ specifically calls Him Father. You can hear Christ’s intimacy when He prays.
- Father in this case is a term of intimacy - We aren’t praying to some far out of the way deity.
- Jesus did not pray “Oh great and mighty omniscient designer outside the realm of time and space.” He prayed “Our Father…”
- But just because we have this intimacy; we must never become flippant about it. We must never forget His creativeness and His holiness. “Hallowed” means holy or reverent. We need to set apart as special God’s name and the people and things of God.
- David Jeremiah wrote in “Prayer the Great Adventure,” “The writers of the Old Testament had a much different concept of their relationship to God than we do today. When the scribes who copied the Old Testament scriptures wrote the word for God, Yahweh, they would throw away their pen, never to use it again. They reasoned that once it had written the word, Yahweh, the pen was disqualified to write anything else.”
- We need to have a sense of that holiness.
- When we focus on God, He is able to communicate with us.
- We were created to commune with God - we were the ones who decided to rebel - and we are the ones who needed a Savior to be able to communicate with God again.
- His mercy, His understanding, His love is what we need more of -- and praying faithfully and intently is one of the primary ways we will get it.
- We focus first on Him, and then He provides for us in Fellowship.
- Fellowship - “Give us our daily bread …” Our daily bread is not just the food we put into our stomachs -- it is also the Word of God!
- Jesus when tempted said that man does not live on bread alone, but on the Word of God.
- Each day we need to have time with the Lord, each day we need to be filled up on the Word and commune in fellowship through prayer. Jesus was teaching how to pray, but He not only taught it, he practiced it.
- Mark 1:25 says “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
- Jesus was not the type of teacher who gave folks the old “Do as I say and not as I do.” Very early in the morning, he arose to spend time in prayer and commune with God. Jesus wanted to be in complete fellowship with the Father - and the only way He could do that was to have a time of devotion with Him.
- When we gather for church services, dinners, or meetings, we have fellowship because we are gathered together for a common cause -- but that should NEVER replace the communion we MUST have with God the Father.
- If you want to measure your spiritual level - simply look at your prayer life. If the only praying you do is on Sunday morning praying along with me, I can safely say that your prayer life is severely lacking and while you might call yourself a Christian I wonder about your fellowship / relationship that you have with God.
- But we must never forget that we do have physical needs so it is appropriate to ask for the physical needs. The third part of praying is asking and granting forgiveness.
- Forgiveness - Notice that Jesus instructs us to ask for forgiveness. This means you have to come to terms and understand what your sins are, and then confess them. Unspoken sins are not confessed!!
- Even though God knows the areas we need to confess; He wants you to talk about it and get them out in the open
- We need to confess / admit those sins. If when you are praying and a sinful area in your life pops up in your mind God is reminding us that we need to ask Him for forgiveness.
- If he gives you a thought in your mind about a past sin, you need to confess it! Get it out in the open, and get it dealt with
- Some of the best times of prayer I have had have been allowing God to clean me up and direct me on how I should live - try it, you won’t regret it!
- Next, we are to ask forgiveness for those who have offended us. I believe there are 2 parts here: Asking for God to give us the love and power to forgive others. And then we need to go to the one that has hurt us and let them you have forgiven them. When we clean up things with God, we must clean things up with the other person. Sins between Christians are to be reconciled! (James 5:16)
- Holding bitterness in your heart against someone else is called -- SIN!
- This confession of asking forgiveness of those who have sins against us cleans us out to be receptive for that conversation with our brother or sister. If there is something today that need to ask forgiveness for, we need to get it done. It does not matter how long we have held onto that sin, confess it and get rid of it!
- When we do not forgive others (get this now), WE are NOT forgiven. Jesus tells us to forgive our brother over and over again!
- Matthew 18:21-22 says “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
- Without forgiving others – we cannot be forgiven! We must be clean before each other as well! (Matt. 6:14-15)
- When we pray, and we get our hearts right with God - we have to protect them. Praying and having God do heart surgery on you leaves you open, and now you have to fill it up with God stuff. This comes from reading the Word, and having God assist you in your walk.
- Freedom - What we are asking for when we pray “and lead us not into temptation” is to have and possess freedom from temptation! The moment we get our hearts right, the moment we clean ourselves out, the devil is going to come knocking to mess you up. It is a guarantee that devil doesn’t want to feel good about ourselves and our relationship with God. “The closer you get to the Chief the more arrows are going to come your way.”
- If our heart is clogged with sin today - if our mind is filled with images that should not be there, we are NOT a threat to the devil and we are not ready to work for God. Sure, we are loved … but we are ineffective!
- If we are living with all kinds of sin in our lives, the DEVIL has us exactly where he wants us. We are living against God’s desires and plans for our lives. (Jeremiah 29:11)
- Once we get our heart right -- once we focus on the Father – we then need His guidance and love to keep us from temptation. We need God’s instruction in our heart to focus our mind on Him. When we focus on God - when our prayer life is solid, the devil will have no power over us.
Focus, Fellowship, Forgiveness, and Freedom.
(Adapted from Prayer Is 4 Things ... by TJ Conwel – Sermon Central)
Please click here for attached slides for the sermon.