This is the second week for us to look at the Lord’s Prayer. And it’s the richest single source in the entire Bible of information on how to pray. Not the only place where prayer is taught but it the richest place to go for teaching on prayer. The Lord’s Prayer is but 38 words in its original form in Luke’s gospel but Matthew has a longer version that is 57 words in the original. Again, 38 words that change the very way we understand God, ourselves, and the world.
Anyone who is serious about Jesus will want to grow in prayer. And I want to help all of us develop a powerful prayer life. It’s during these summer weeks, I want to encourage you by showing you that God hears prayer. The most influential religious leader in the history of the world was once asked, “How do you connect with God?” And He gave us the Lord’s Prayer. “This is how you connect to God.” Think of it: what prayer can have greater power with God the Father that a prayer the comes directly from the lips of Jesus.
Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say:
“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread,
4 and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.” (Luke 11:1-4)
Intro to Lord’s Prayer
For some, prayer has become more duty than delight. It feels more like pulling weeds in your flower beds and less like the expectation you feel knowing your favorite TV show is coming on soon. Still others, prayer often comes when we find ourselves in a mess and we want God to get us out of it. Usually about the time that we’ve shared with God what we want, we’ll later remember those who are hungry and perhaps even the homeless. One of the things I love about this prayer is that it doesn’t pretend there aren’t real problems around us. It confronts the real needs in the world – pain and hunger. The Lord’s Prayer is designed to change our priorities and to reverse our thinking. You’ll find the words of the Lord’s Prayer have a peace and joy to them. The prayer is short and simple so it can be quickly learned. It’s so simple that you can pray these word when you’re inexperienced and when you’re tired. You can pray these words when you are ignorant and in times of trouble. I hope you fall in love with these words for they are like an old friend from childhood that grows with us through the years.
Jesus Made Prayer a Habit
Hallowed Be Your Name
Heaven Comes to Earth
1. Jesus Made Prayer a Habit
I made a discovery this week in Jesus’ life. The only recorded request where the disciples ask Jesus to teach them anything is when they ask Jesus to teach them to pray. Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1). Think of it: Nowhere else is it recorded where the disciples ask Jesus to teach them anything but this one time. There’s no record of anyone asking Jesus to teach them to heal others or preach. There’s no record of the Disciples asking Jesus to them how to cast out demons or even counsel others. Again, the disciples only ask Jesus to teach them to pray. Why? Because Jesus made prayer a habit.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Jesus praying as we’ve journeyed through Luke together. Luke loves to show Jesus praying as he records Jesus praying nearly a dozen times. Luke shows us Jesus praying in places and times when no other gospel writer does. We see Jesus in prayer from His hometown of Galilee up to the very end at Jerusalem. The Bible shows Jesus praying 25 times while He was on the earth.
What Do We Learn from Jesus’ Prayer Life?
1.1 No Physical Posture Guarantees Results
Jesus knelt in prayer (Luke 22:41) and fell on His face to pray (Matthew 26:39). Jesus even prayed while lifting up His eyes and fixing His stare on heaven (John 11;:41; 17:1) So there’s no physical posture that guarantees results.
1.2 No Recitation of Certain Words Guaranteed Results
Jesus praised God the Father during prayer (Matthew 11:25) and gave thanks for what He had before feeding the multitudes with the fish and the loaves (Matthew 15:36). Jesus asked God for strength and guidance (Matthew 26:36-46). And He prayed for His closest friends, the Disciples, and their ministry (Luke 22:31-32;John 17). Jesus prayed in private (Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16) and in moments of crisis (Matthew 27:46). Jesus prayed before big decisions (Luke 6:12-13). And Jesus made it a habit to pray both before and after miracles (Matthew 14:22-23; Luke 9:18) And even prayed while hanging on the cross (Luke 23:34, 46). Again, Jesus made it a habit to pray.
Jesus taught His Disciples to pray for their enemies: “bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:28) Jesus taught His Disciples to pray for people to share the gospel: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2) Jesus taught His Disciples to always pray no matter what: “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1) Jesus taught His Disciples to pray to avoid evil: “Pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Luke 22:40). Even at His death, Jesus instructed the Twelve to pray: “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Luke 22:26).
Jesus believed that prayer works. Jesus prayed alone and He prayed with others. He prayed before meals and Jesus offered thanks. He prayed before making important decisions and Jesus prayed for his disciples. Even today, Jesus continues to pray for us. Now if Jesus needed to pray, how much more do you need to pray? All of this is what the disciples saw when they asked Jesus: “Lord, teach us to pray....” (Luke 11:1b)
1. Jesus Made Prayer a Habit
2. Hallowed Be Your Name
The prayer can be broken down into two halves. The first half of the prayer is this: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.” (Luke 11:2) While the second half: “Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation” (Luke 11:3-4). Remember, this is a model to give shape and form to your prayers. Because the Bible gives us two versions of the prayer (one in Matthew and another in Luke) we see that it is not crucial that we prayer these words verbatim every time but the themes of the prayer are important as the versions show strong continuity. This prayer works like a tuning fork where we can see if our prayers are on the right pitch.
There’s five parts to the Lord’s prayer (six in Matthew’s version – depending on how you count them). You’ll see the five parts to the prayer when you note the verbs: Hallowed, come, give, forgive (twice), and lastly lead not. And the very first thing Jesus tells us to prayer for: “Father, hallowed be your name” (Luke 11:2). The very first request is that we beg God to make His name holy. If we were left to ourselves, our prayers would begin and end with ourselves. Our default mode is to be self-centered. Yet, the beginning words of the Lord’s Prayer compel us to remember that God is bright and pure and infinitely holy.
“Hallowed” means to honor as holy. Holy is the Bible’s word for all that makes God different from us. The very first words of this prayer tell us of God’s complete perfection. He is the most uncommon and extra-ordinary being there is. In His presence, the very angels cover their faces and their feet (Isaiah 6:2).
2.1 The Sun in its Orbit
The point of prayer is to get the heart back into its true orbit, to center on God. The heart’s true orbit is to worship, glorify, and center on God. That’s what prayer the purpose of prayer is. If the moon would leave its true orbit, it would crash and burn. And if the heart leaves its true orbit of centering everything on God, the same thing happens, only spiritually and cosmically we crash and we burn. The point of prayer is to make God central again.
2.2 The Importance of God’s Name
“Father, hallowed be your name” (Luke 11:2a). In the ancient Jewish culture, a person’s name was the virtual equivalent to the person. To put it in modern terms, a name gives us “a mini personality profile.” Today, we live in an age of police checks and credit ratings. Those living in biblical times did not have these things. They could only go on the basis of the name. Nabal, for instance, means “fool” and if you read his story in 1 Samuel you see how magnificently he lives out his name. Isaac means “laughter” and if you read his story in Genesis you find yourself entering into the delight his parents had in his miraculous birth. Peter means “rock”; when you read his story in the Gospel you enter into the process by which shifting sand is transformed into solid rock.
The first part of this prayer, fifty percent of the prayer Jesus gives us is all about God. There’s nothing you need more than to not look at your needs. Jesus says the primary goal of all prayer is to plunge yourself into God, to think about who He is until your heart is dazzled.
One more thing before I go to the next point… While many of the parts of this prayer will be useless in heaven, this first part will not. Think of it… we will not prayer “Give us each day our daily bread” and “forgive us our sins” in heaven. We will not pray “lead us not into temptation” in heaven. But we will pray “Father, hallowed be your name” for all of eternity.
1. Jesus Made Prayer a Habit
2. Hallowed Be Your Name
3. Heaven Comes to Earth
Notice here in our prayer we learn first who God is, and here’s “Give us …” Right? We all want to say, “Okay, okay, I praised him, now give me.” Wait a minute. There’s something in the middle. Do you see what it is? “Your kingdom come.” (Luke 11:2)
Matthew’s version adds these words: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). “Your will be done.” You are not allowed to say, “Give me this” until you first pray, “Your will be done.” Isn’t that interesting? You are not allowed to say, “I need these things” until you first say, “But you know what I need.”
It’s important to see how this prayer is arranged and ordered. Notice directly after the words “Your kingdom come” is the words “Give us each day our daily bread.” His will comes before “Give us each day our daily bread.” His will comes before “Give us.” Why is that important? It shows that the purpose of prayer is not that we would bend God’s will to meet our will. That’s not the purpose of prayer. Instead, it’s so that our will would bend to meet His will. It’s so that our wills soften and melt into God’s will. And this is huge. The acid test if you are believer is can you pray this prayer – not my will but your will. Jesus tells us to pray: “Father, make your kingdom come in my life. Make me obedient to your wishes and desires.”
3.1 The Kingdom of God
Now the kingdom is the reign of God. Praying for His kingdom to come and His will to be done is praying for the day when God will fully bring His kingdom to earth. It’s praying for the day when He will show the full justice that we long for. It’s praying for the day when there’s no more jealousy and where there are no more losers. It’s praying for the day when there are no more hospitals because there’s no more disease. It’s praying for the day when there are no more courtrooms because there’s no more crime. “Bring it on! Bring on your revolution. Reverse the effects of sin. Restore broken people. Come and reign without rival in all the earth!” But when you pray “Your Kingdom Come” is also demands that you start with yourself.
3.2 I Believe in Prayer
I want to fire you up to pray. I believe in the power of prayer because I believe in the power of God. God can move mountains. And prayer moves God. Prayer does change things, all kinds of things. But the most important thing prayer changes is us. Again, prayer is powerful because prayer connects us to the ultimate source of power – God. Prayer is a simple act to link an infinite God to finite man. When we pray, difficult situations change. And unexplained miracles occur. Prayer has been instrumental in victories over fire, air, earth, and water. Prayer opened the Red Sea and brought water from the rock. Prayer called bread down from Heaven and made the sun stand still. Prayer brought fire from the sky on Elijah’s sacrifice and prayer overthrew Sennacherib’s army. Prayer has healed the sick and prayer has worked to save men’s souls. I want to fire you up to pray.
Let’s pray to bring heaven down.
There are only two kinds of people in the world. There are those to whom in this life they have said to God, “Your will be done.” And there are those who have refused to do this so that on Judgment Day God will look at them and say, “Okay, your will be done. You wanted life without me? You wanted things but not me? I’ll give it to you.” And that’s what hell is.