Summary: How prayer helps us with two enemies that threaten our security.
We as Americans have a new enemy to fear. I’m talking of course about Osama bin Ladin, the prime suspect in the September 11 terrorist attacks. The son of a Saudi billionaire, bin Ladin has been on the FBI’s most wanted list since 1999. Bin Ladin has been targeting his terrorist actions against our nation since the early 1990s because of American support of Israel and because of our role in the Gulf War against Iraq. Osama bin Ladin is also the prime suspect in masterminding the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen last year and also the bombing of two American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998. When we see the face of Osama bin Ladin, we as Americans see the face of evil.
So now this Saudi born millionaire joins a list of enemies in whom we’ve encountered incredible evil. He joins a list of names like Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, and Adolf Hitler. We tend to see these faces as the very incarnation of evil itself. You see, we in our nation aren’t used to having enemies. For most of our lives, the closest we get to an enemy is someone who treats us badly. Perhaps a boss who’s unfair or a former friend who betrays our trust. In extreme cases, perhaps someone who violates us with violence or who steals something precious from us. We really don’t know how to handle enemies like the one we’ve met this month. We’re tempted to completely and totally demonize our new enemy, as if this person were the very incarnation of evil itself. We’re tempted to miss seeing that we live in an evil world, with enemies of good all around us.
Today I want to talk about two enemies we often overlook. These two enemies threaten our security far more than Osama bin Ladin, because they’re enemies we often don’t think about. These are two enemies that move about undetected, secretly working their power of destruction.
We’ve been in a sermon series through the Lord’s Prayer, that prayer Jesus taught his followers to pray. Today we finish our series, as we get ready to launch our new Saturday night service on Saturday and start a new series called "Deepening Your Life With God." In our first week through the Lord’s Prayer, we learned that prayer begins with adoration. When Jesus told us to pray, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name" he was inviting us to a relationship of adoration. He was inviting us to approach God as sons and daughters who’ve been received into God’s family through our faith in Jesus Christ. We found that this prayer also ends with adoration, in the doxology, "For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever."
But then we moved from adoration to affirmation, as we learned to pray, "Your kingdom come, your will be done." Here we learned to affirm God’s kingdom will in prayers, as we learn to express our trust in God’s will. We affirm our commitment to God’s kingdom above all other governments, our commitment to God’s will above all other wills, even our own.
Then we talked about praying for our needs in the phrase, "Give us today our daily bread." We looked at the kinds of needs we can bring to our Father in prayer, the big needs and the small ones. We found that we can bring these needs to our Father and he will respond out of love and compassion.
Then last week we talked about our forgiveness in prayer when we talked about the phrase, "Forgive us our sins as we forgive everyone who sins against us." We talked about how we receive forgiveness from God in prayer, and that we’re also expected to extend forgiveness to all those around us who hurt us. We talked about what forgiveness is and is not, and about the connection between our experience of God’s forgiveness and our willingness to forgive those around us.
Today we finish our series by talking about our security in prayer. We come to the phrase, "Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one" (Matthew 6:13). In this last part of this model prayer Jesus gave us as a kind of prayer template. In this final petition we find two enemies that threaten our security and how in prayer we can respond to these enemies.
1. Security Against Our First Enemy
The first enemy is the enemy that exists within each of our own hearts. It’s like that old saying, "We have met the enemy and he is us." We find the first enemy implied in the phrase, "Lead us not into temptation." Maybe you’ve seen that bumper sticker, "Lead me not into temptation, I can find it for myself." There’s a real truth in that bumper sticker, because all of us have an inner propensity to seek out temptation in our lives.