THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 6-30-02
LESSON TITLE: PRAYER: "HOW MUST WE PRAY?"
Thank you for joining us for the Living Word Program on this wondrous Lord's Day morning. It is always a privilege to have you with us for this time of offering to God. We welcome you to this service for our Creator.
Today, we have the opportunity together to worship and praise our God. This morning we will glorify our Lord through songs of praise and through the study of His perfect Word. Won't you do your part to make this time together acceptable in His sight. Now, let's begin our praise to God in prayer.
It's time to begin with our first song of the morning. So, won't you join in with the brethren at this time as we sing together, "I'll Fly Away."
(SONG # 1)
When was the last time you had a hard time believing in something because you had never seen it with your own eyes. You and I know there are many people who still think that man has never made it to the moon, why, because they weren't actually there to witness it. Many of us reject something as being true, unless we can see it with our own eyes, smell it with our own nose or touch it with our own hand.
However, the fact is, just because we don't see something or don't witness something occurring, doesn't mean that it is not true or that it did not happen. I have never been to some states in the United States, but I have met others who have been to them and who have told me they exist. Just because I haven't personally been there doesn't mean they don't exist.
As Christians, we know that the very foundation of our belief is based in something we can not see, but we still believe it anyway. You and I have never seen God with our own eyes but we still believe He exists and His Word is true.
The Hebrew writer helped us to understand this idea in chapter 11, and verse 1, of his book. There we read, "now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Notice here the idea being presented, faith is believing in something hoped for, without having tangible evidence to support our belief. In other words, we believe it, even though we can't hold it in our hands or see it with our eyes.
So how could this all make sense, why should we believe in things we can't see or confirm with our senses? To answer this question, look with me at what Paul told the Corinthian brethren, "while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal," 1 Corinthians 4:18. You see, we don't base our faith in the physical because the physical is passing away, it is only temporary. However, the things of God are spiritual and better yet, eternal!
Why then is it so necessary to understand this concept of faith. The answer is again found by the Hebrew writer in chapter 11, and verse 6, there it says, "but without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." Without faith we can not please God, thus we must believe in Him and all of His Word to be found worthy in His sight!
This morning we will consider our next lesson in our series on "Prayer." Our specific topic of study today will deal with "How Must We Pray?" So please stay with us through our next song and after that I will return with this study from God's Word. Now it's time to join in our second hymn of the morning, the name of the song, "Home Of The Soul."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
I hope so far you've been able to participate and enjoy the singing and to really be able to accomplish many things together with the help of God as we look to His Word and as well now as we have the opportunity to look deeper into His Word in relationship to prayer. We're going to spend just a moment reviewing again as we get down to the last few weeks now of our discussion on prayer. Again, I think we've had a good discussion in trying to understand what prayer is. Obviously, the primary way that we communicate with God today from our side, having the opportunity to speak with Him and make requests, to let Him know what we have need of, to make supplication as it said in scripture, as well as to thank Him and so on and so forth.
But as we continue to really consider prayer and understand what prayer is, we must keep in our minds that we do pray to the Father. Clearly we've seen this throughout scripture also in Ephesians 5, verse 20, "Praying to God the Father through the Son Jesus Christ." We've looked at other places in Matthew as well as the book of John, those two gospel accounts that really talk about how prayer is something that is done, not to the Son again, but yet to the Father, but yet if we ask whatever we have need of to the Father in the name of the Son that again God will hear and answer those prayers.
We've also been able to discuss not only what prayer is and really who it affects and who is answered, but last week we looked quite a bit at even sinners who pray and how that God does listen and God will even help those who have sincere hearts who aren't even followers who want to know more about Him. Obviously God would help open the door as someone is knocking or to help them to know more about what God would have them to do.
Well this morning we again want to look at an important topic as we answer the question "How must we pray?" Good question again because one of those things to be included in prayer. I know that often we are involved in bringing others to Christ. We teach them about God. The first thing we do is to ask them to lead a prayer or we might in some way put them in a position of leading prayers, or tell them that they need to pray at home. But yet, when do we ever tell them what prayer is all about. I know even as a young child growing up, often I knew that it seemed like at least as far as tradition I was to close my eyes and to bow my head and to fold my hands so that I wouldn't maybe get involved in things that I shouldn't be involved or be looking around. But again the fact was what was I supposed to do in prayer? Well, we learn a lot of that from others as we hear them pray. But what about those who haven't had that opportunity? Well, let's look then this morning at really again what prayer is all about as we remind ourselves of some of the things that we have studied but at the same time we look to examples in scripture, examples that clearly show us that God is not only there listening and hearing prayers, but He is there listening and hearing prayers that are prayed according to His Will. Now some of those things we looked at last week, at least some ideas that might kind of roll over into this concept, in other words, the need to be a believer or to be faithful. We looked at that together and really that has an important part in what we're discussing also today because what good does it do pray at all if we at least aren't showing our faith in God? But usually if we are praying it is because we do have a belief or a desire to strive to do more as He would have us to do.
There's another verse though that I would like us to look at primarily in the book of James. We've looked at one in the book of James for several weeks now as far as the prayer of a righteous man and how that he is heard by God. But look now if you will to James chapter 4. In James chapter 4 here we have another here by James as he was writing to those who were interested in doing God's Will. Notice what he said here in connection to prayer in verses 2 and 3. He says there, "You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight in war and yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and you do not receive because you ask amiss that you may spend it on your pleasures." Notice here that obviously again in the context he is talking about something the people are praying for and asking and he's saying that they were asking for really monetary things, but notice he's not condemning that they were asking for things that they needed or even wanted. He was condemning them because the reason and the way they were asking was amiss, the things that they were doing. See, he says there that you are lusting and coveting. In other words, your heart is really in sin. Your purpose for wanting these things is for the wrong reason. Well you see again when we pray to God and when we speak to God and we wonder how do we pray. Well, we must pray believing with a good, faithful, pure heart in all things. Why? Because God hears the prayer of the righteous again and when we ask in a way that maybe even is sinful or we have really in our heart, the depths of our heart, other motives or ulterior motives, then we know surely that is not how to pray, that is not a part of our prayer especially if we want it to be heard. You see, we must ask. We must ask and know that God is there. When we ask, we must know that He will give.
More specifically besides these things that we've already seen or faithfulness, the need again here as we have clarified that we must ask in the right way with the right heart. Everything needs to be proper before God, at least that we are striving to do our best, not that we haven't made mistakes or that we won't make mistakes or even sin. But the fact that we're doing our best, we're striving to be as much like Christ as we can be.
Well the fact is where do we find examples as to exactly how they prayed in New Testament times? There are two verses that we could look at again in the gospels, and I think that they probably are some of the best. Why? Because it is the words of Jesus specifically that are used here. One is found in Matthew chapter 6 and reallky a parallel is found over in Luke chapter 11 and verse 1. Both of these are often referred to as the Lord's Prayer. The primary difference of the two is really Luke just helps to give a little bit more information. Sometimes he seems because of being more of a professional individual to give more detail and one of the details that he adds here is that the disciples were curious. They were interested into wondering, "How do we pray?" In fact, they asked the question, "Lord, teach us to pray?" They wanted to be better people in their prayers. They wanted to pray more according to His Will. I find that interesting, too, because these were men. They weren't children. They weren't people who didn't know Christ. They had been with Christ for some time now but even at this time they said, "Look, Lord, teach us how to pray." Well, some of us need the same lesson. We need to be taught how to pray and that's the purpose of our lesson today. Let's see what Jesus said in relationship to how we should pray and how really God receives our prayers when we pray in that way.
Notice if you will in Matthew chapter 6, we're going to begin reading, well let's just start in verse 8 where it sets the context just a bit. "Therefore, do not be like them for your Fther knows the things that you have need of before you ask Him, but in this manner therefore pray, 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed it be your name, your kingdom come, your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors, and do not lead us into temptation but deliver us from the evil one for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.'"
Now as we look here together the model prayer, the perfect prayer, the prayer that Jesus says, "Look, here's how you should pray." Let's look at the elements that are involved here in this prayer and really as we can go from the very beginning of time looking at the prayers given in the Bible by different great men of God. David was involved in recording for us several prayers. They all have these elements, these important elements that God desires that we carry out in our communication to Him. Let's look at those desires together if you will.
First of all, we see in verse 8 that really God knows our needs. You might say, "Well, why do we pray?" Well, we covered that in our first lesson somewhat. Well, we still pray because God says we have to pray and that we still need to make requests whether He knows or not, whether we realize that God knows and His Will will be done. We still must pray. We still must ask. We still must do those things that He has asked us to. But notice again that primarily even though He has said, "Pray and speak to God. Communicate. Tell Him from your own lips and your own heart what is in your mind so that you can relate to Him and He might know you better."
Notice here how He first addresses the one whom He prays to. Most of our prayers we hear, "Dear God in heaven" or "Dear Father in heaven." Well here again, we see that that's exactly what Jesus did. He didn't say, "Pray to Me." He said, "Pray to the Father. Pray like this, 'Our Father'" Not just mine, but yours. "Our Father." Where is He? He's in heaven. He says, "Pray to the Father in heaven." And then notice immediately, immediately the praise that is eluded to. He says, "Hallowed be your name. Hallowed be your name." In other words, your name is great. It is praiseworthy. It is wondrous. That's the idea here. We begin in a prayer by addressing who we pray to which only makes sense. When you write a letter, don't you address first off the bat the one that you're writing to so that they might know that it is to them and no one else? Well again, you see we address the one who is being communicated with. "Dear God and Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. You great and almighty..." In fact, David helps us a lot with these types of adjectives and terminology and even nouns at some times that really show us how much he thought of the Creator God, how much he thought of the one who had done so much in his life and again who does so much in our lives. So "hallowed be your name. Wondrous is your name. Creator of all. Magnificent." Those ideas again that show Him first glory, that show Him first honor. Well again I think this is so wonderful as we learn in our prayers to be thankful for who God is, for what He's done for us, to say, "God, thank you so much for what you have done." And we'll see that again in just a moment because it actually includes the things given to God, but how wondrous it is to thank God for what He has done in giving His son and obviously the Bible tells us to be thankful in all things again to the Father in heaven.
But notice also verse 10. He says there, "Your kingdom come." We won't spend a lot of time on this but really here in relationship to the kingdom which is coming. In fact, in chapter 16 of Matthew, the same book, around verses 16 through about 18, he there says, "I will build My church." Then in the next verse He said, "And the keys to the kingdom I will give to you." In fact, it was after Acts 2 that they were being added to the church and Acts chapter 2 and verse 47 and 48 and in that area they were being added to the Lord's church. That day they were being saved.
But not only that but we see that after that that the kingdom was something. In the book of Colossians chapter 3 and verse 13, it says, "We have been taken out of the things of this world, the darkness, and translated into (what?) the kingdom of His dear son." Those there who are being spoken to had been put into a kingdom. Well, here He says, "Your kingdom come." Why? Because it was coming soon.
Mark 9:1 tells us "that some of them would not taste of death, as Jesus said, "until the kingdom came with power and glory." Well again we see that the kingdom now has come but this time He says, "Pray for those things that you want to come about, especially of a spiritual nature. Pray that God's Will might be done and that surely He will bless those things that we are involved in to accomplish His Will." Notice also it says there that "Your Will be done on earth and in heaven." Again, ultimately Jesus understood that the Will of the Father would be done. You might remember as He was there on the cross He was understanding that the Will of the Father would be done. "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." But it was ultimately up to God's Will.
What about the Garden of Gethsemene? He said, "Father, I pray that this cup pass from me that your Will be done." Here again, Jesus understood that we can pray and ask and say all that we want to say but ultimately God's Will must be done. So again, we need to pray in the same way. Ask for what we would and thank God for what we would, but again knowing that everything is going to be done and accomplished according to His Will.
Another request is made next in verse 11 that He give us what we have need of. The daily bread is mentioned here. Feed us. Give us our food and shelter and clothing, the very things that He promised on the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapter 6, those things that He said that "the food and raiment," He said, "Don't worry about it. Have enough faith to know that I will clothe and care for you just as I have clothed and cared for the grass of the fields and the birds of the air." God will provide. Give us this day, our daily bread.
And notice there forgiveness is requested next. He says, "God, forgive us our debts." In other words, we all need forgiveness. Why? Because we are sin. Even as Christians we make mistakes and we need to continually have a penitent heart knowing that we do make mistakes and knowing that God is there to forgive us and the blood will continually cleanse us as the book of 1 John tells us. But not only that, but he says, "Forgive us..." Why? Because we first forgive. Like Jesus, Jesus on the cross didn't say, "Well God, if they ask forgiveness, give it to them." He says, "Forgive them for they know not what they do." In other words, I forgive them even though they are not asking. Well, He says here, "God forgive me. God forgive me even though again sometimes I haven't asked." Well as you read there again it says, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." We must practice what we preach and what we teach according to the Will of God.
Furthermore, He makes the request in verse 14 or verse 13, "Lead us not into temptation." In other words, keep us from the evil one. The book of 1 Corinthians talks somewhat about this in chapter 10 and verse 13, it tells us there that God is not going to allow us to be tempted past what we are able. Well here He says, "Lead us not in to temptation. Keep us away from the temptor, the evil one, and furthermore, deliver us from the evil one." In other words, if we are tempted, keep us from sinning. Well He is giving us the promise that He will do that if our hearts are right, if we are striving to do our best. And then as we ultimately see, He says, "For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever." In other words, yours. He began addressing the Creator. He praised Him, "Hallowed be your name," and then He ends by saying, "Yours is the kingdom. Yours is the power. Yours is the glory." There again we see the great praise and magnificent things said about that wondrous one in heaven who has done everything for us. It doesn't matter again whether you're talking about of a physical nature or realm or whether you're talking about a spiritual type nature because God blesses us with all things, every good and perfect gift comes from where? Comes from God.
So when we pray, let's pray as God has intended. And as we pray, let's address the proper one and let's do it through the Son, the one mediator as we read in the book of 1 Timothy. Let's address Him and know that the Father, through the Son, hears and answers our prayers. What will He answer? Well, those requests that we make. Not only those requests but those supplications that we ask of Him. But at the same time praise and honor Him, giving thanksgiving and let Him know how much we are thankful for what He has. But ultimately with humility. "Father, your will be done. You are the almighty. You are the wondrous one. You make the final decision. It's in your hands. I cast my cares on You," 1 Peter 5:7. Why? Because you care and you're going to do what's best for me. So as we approach "the wondrous throne of God", as the Hebrew writer said, "The wondrous throne of grace," that mercy and that justice, God is there to hear and He answers, and He is there to let us know that those who follow the Word of God, we can pray according to His Will. When we choose to pray according to His Will, the wondrous blessing that we will reiterate again is that He not only hears us, but that He answers us, and when He answers our prayers, what a wondrous thing because ultimately we know it will help to get us to heaven.
(SONG # 3 - "Jesus Is Coming Soon!")
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. I hope and trust, that together we have all benefited from this service to our Lord. Let me also invite you to join us every Lord's Day morning at 7:30 as we give this time to our Creator.
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May we all realize not only how important it is to pray, but that we further know how to pray, so that all of our prayers will be heard and found acceptable in His sight.