Summary: God calls us to make a priority of Him rather than people; He invites us to realize that God is not the one we pull to ourselves…but the one who we are to be drawn into.

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Imagine being in Stuttgart, Germany in the last days of World War II.

Your own country has been ravaged by the moral atrocities of Adolf Hitler.

Slowly, relentlessly, the mighty Russian army approaches from the east. In the west the Allies

gain more ground every day. Bombs fall day and night as the final German resistance crumbles.

Imagine you are a young pastor who must speak to those who know that their national identity

has been lost… and that the end of their church and even lives may be near. What will your focus

be in the midst of such uncertainty?

That was the dilemma that faced a young pastor by the name of Helmut Thielecke. (Church of

the Hospitallers)

What could speak to them as they faced the oppression of earthly rulers, feeling abandoned,

families torn apart with mistrust, hunger, and the reality of evil’s violence.

He chose one focus over that season…it was the Lord’s Prayer.

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come, your will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from the evil one.

He would later explain:

“The Lord’s Prayer was able to contain it all. There was not a single question that we could not

have brought to it and not a one that would have been suddenly transformed if it were put in the

form of a prayer.” [1]

…“The Lord’s Prayer was able to contain it all.”

In that prayer, Jesus brings together what matters most…how to align one’s soul with God in

all the ways that really matter….for all the seasons of life. [2]

> You may feel that a lot is uncertain…. A lot is falling upon your life.

The Lord’s Prayer offers your soul focus…focus on what matters most.

Jesus put forth these words as a model or pattern for prayer that would serve us well. They are not

theologically as solid a foundation as we could ever know….but they capture not just what is

correct but what is most important for our souls.

So today we are launching a series entitled “Soul Matters - Shaping Life through the Lord’s


We will engage the significance of each aspect of what Jesus included. We will consider the

relevance that it holds for our souls…and for shaping our lives.Today…I want us to hear what Christ said which sets the context for this pattern of prayer in

Matthew’s Gospel.

For the prayer is given as a model of what he declares we all must get right regarding religious


Jesus has a life with the Father…. And he is also looking at the prevailing patterns of

religion… and human nature.

There is something that goes terribly wrong in the midst of religion….something in the human

heart that must be overcome. I want to tell you what you must get right….how you can get it


In these words he tells us we need to do a “reset.”

He addresses two fundamental choices.

The first one has to do with priority… verses 6-7

Matthew 6:5

"…when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the

synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.

Jesus isn’t challenging a place for public prayer per se, but what can become of it.

The formality of the Jewish religion included that of praying while standing with hands stretched

out, palms opened and heads bowed, 3 times each day, at 9 a.m., Noon and 3 p.m., WHEREVER

ONE WAS. [3]

It was easy for a man to be sure that they would find themselves at a busy part of the marketplace

or the top step of the synagogue and there, offer lengthy and demonstrative prayers as a sign of


Even though our less formal manner affords us less opportunity, we all know that we can begin to

care more about appealing to others than God.

Jesus makes clear the how much is defined by this one choice….whether to seek the approval of

others or God.

Matthew 6:5

“I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”

His point is simple… if what you want is the honor of other people… you can have it… but that

will be your ‘reward in full’… that’s all you get. If the audience you want to impress is that of

other people…then that is what you will get…. And ALL you will get.

It’s easy…but it’s empty.

We will just be actors among actors… never able to escape the false selves we have formed.

Brennan Manning describes this all too well…

(Jeffrey Imbach, in The Recovery of Love, wrote…)“Prayer is essentially the expression of our heart longing for love. It is not so much the listing of

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