Summary: God is generous and invites us to pray for our needs.
Over the last four weeks, we have been focusing on the Lord’s Prayer as Jesus’ model for our prayers through our series, “Lord, Teach Us to Pray.” So far we have looked at three areas of prayer: relationship, honoring, and yielding. In fact repeat these after me [say them again]. Prayer is about a relationship with God, “Our Father who art in heaven.” Prayer is talking with God our Father. We begin our prayers by honoring God, “hallowed be thy name.” We honor God by praising him, telling God how great he is, we appreciate God for what he has done in our life. Next we yield to God in prayer, we submit to God, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We ask God to bring his kingdom on earth just as it is in heaven, and the way God does this is by using his people, so we are asking God to use us to accomplish his purposes, therefore we submit or yield ourselves to God. As God uses us, our life, our family, our community begin to reflect God’s kingdom in heaven. This week we are looking at the fourth area of prayer: petition, “give us this day our daily bread.”
One time there was a guy hiking through the woods looking at the beautiful trees that had changed color (he probably wasn’t trudging through snow while he did it) when suddenly he noticed a bear running toward him, not being familiar with bears and what to do he jumped up and began to run. Of course the worst thing you can do is run from a bear because that caused the bear to chase him even faster. Worse yet he had begun running up hill not knowing that a bear runs best up a hill because of his strong hind legs. The bear began to gain ground on this guy, so in desperation the guy thought perhaps I should pray and ask for God’s help and so he prayed, “God please make this bear a Christian bear!!” Amazingly, at that very moment, the bear stopped dead in its tracks, knelt to the ground and began praying, “Dear Lord, Please bless this food that I am about to eat! Amen!”
Be careful what you ask for. God does enjoy caring for all of his creation, and all of the creatures therein, providing for their needs. However as we have seen thus far in the Lord’s Prayer the focus has not been on us or our needs, it has been on God and God’s will. “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
The reason we focus on God first is so we can get God’s perspective before we ask for anything so we are praying for the things God wants to answer. We want to make sure our motives our good when I ask God for a need I think I have.
NIV James 4:3 "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."
We tend to be pretty self-centered, even when it comes to our prayer life. If we rush into prayer first with our “needs” or even the needs of others, we might not be praying with wrong motives. We might be praying for a want rather than a need, or we might not be focusing on where God’s heart is. If I come to God and pray for the Tigers to win the World Series, it might not be what God had in mind for me to pray for. It is possible I could even be praying against God’s will.
Let me give you a real life example. Many of you have noticed that we don’t have children yet, we have struggled with not having children. My pray has been, “God may you bless us with our own children so we can honor you through these lives.” But we have come to notice, this might not necessarily be God’s will. It’s not that God does not want us to have children, but rather we are sensing that perhaps God’s desire is that we adopt children. As we spend time with God, and as we observe the circumstances of our struggle with infertility we have sensed God leading us in a different direction and so my prayer has changed a little. I still ask for God to bless us with children (which is a Biblical request) but I allow God to provide the means. I try to pray according to God’s will, again this is where submitting ourselves to God comes in. This is why Jesus said: