Summary: The underlying attitudes/orientation taught in the Lord’s Prayer are examined.
Attitudes for Effective Prayer
Our subject this morning is prayer. Do you have questions about prayer? What needs to happen so that our prayers get answered? What do we need to do differently? What are we doing right? What is the right way to pray? Let’s begin exploring those questions by listening in on a discussion concerning prayer. This discussion focused on posture to be taken during prayer.
It’s entitled “The Prayer of Cyrus Brown.”
“’The proper way for a man to pray,’ said Deacon Lamuel Keyes,
’and the only proper attitude is down upon his knees.’
’No, I should say the way to pray,’ said Reverend Doctor Wise,
’is standing straight with outstretched arms and rapt and upturned eyes.’
’Oh, no, no, no!” said Elder Sloe. ’Such posture is too proud.
A man should pray with eyes fast closed and head contritely bowed.’
’It seems to me his hands should be austerely clasped in front,
with both thumbs pointing toward the ground,’ said Reverend Doctor Blunt.
’Last year I fell in Hodkin’s well, head first,’ said Cyrus Brown.
’With both my heels a-stickin’ up, my head apointin’ down.
And I made a prayer right then and there, the best prayer I ever said,
the prayenist prayer I ever prayed was astandin’ on my head.’”
Have you had any experiences like Cyrus Brown? Have been in any situations where at least metaphorically your heels were a-stickin’ up, and your head was apointin’ down? I’ve done some of my best praying in positions like that. One of the most effective prayers Peter ever prayed was only three words, “Lord, save me!” Remember when the disciples were in a terrible storm. Their boat was about to sink. Then they saw Jesus walking on the water. Peter got out of the boat and started walking. But when he started looking at the waves he began sinking into the sea. That’s when he prayed that powerful prayer, “Lord, save me.” We know it worked because that’s exactly what Jesus did.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught about prayer. Probably the best known portion of that teaching was what we now call “The Lord’s Prayer.” Follow with me as we read Matt 6:9-13 "This, then, is how you should pray: ‘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 today our daily bread. 12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ (NIV)
I usually teach the Lord’s Prayer by focusing on the content of each verse outlined by Jesus. It begins with worship (“hallowed by thy name”). Then you assert kingdom authority (“thy will be done”). Then you make your petitions (“Give us this day our daily bread”). You ask for forgiveness of sin (“forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us”). You ask for protection against temptation (“Lead us not into temptation”). And finally you close with praise (“For Yours’ is the kingdom and the power and glory forever”). That is a very helpful way to teach The Lord’s Prayer and I affirm it this morning. How many of you were exposed to Larry Lea’s teaching on the Lord’s Prayer during the 1980’s. That’s the way Larry approached it and it was very useful. Most people think Larry originated that teaching; but I have read authors who wrote in the 1800’s who were saying essentially the same thing.
Today I want to approach the Lord’s Prayer from a different angle. I want us to see that in his teaching of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus is mostly talking about an attitude of the heart. God looks upon the heart; and Jesus is telling us what kind of mindset or orientation we should have when we pray. Six attitudes that facilitate effective prayer:
I. Acceptance (“Our Father in heaven”).
The most foundational aspect of prayer is relationship. It’s never about manipulating God by pushing just the right buttons to make things happen. It’s always about coming to your Heavenly Father and interacting with Him. Prayer is essentially a child talking to his or her daddy. John 1:12 “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Rom 8:15-17 “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
The first thing that must be established is our relationship with God. Have you been born of the Spirit? Have you surrendered your life to God and received the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ? If that has happened, then God’s Spirit confirms to your spirit that you’re a child of God. Have you been born again? If the answer is “yes” then approach God as your Heavenly Father.