Summary: An 8 week series examining and understanding the heart of the Lord's Prayer
Bent into Shape – His Person
Have you ever seen someone lose it? You know… get so absolutely bent out of shape they can hardly see straight. The phrase bent out of shape is an idiom for getting so angry you lose all sense of decorum/restraint. When I think of someone losing it this badly, I’m reminded of a hilarious scene from the show Malchom in the Middle!
If that’s bent out of shape, then what does it mean to be bent into shape? Over the next few weeks, I want us to consider what it means to be molded/formed into person God has called us to be. In the Sermon on the Mount, we learn from Jesus that getting bent into shape begins w/ prayer. And in just some 56 words, Jesus taught us to pray. (Recite LP)
So what exactly is prayer? The simple answer is prayer is talking/listening w/ God. It’s personal communication and conversation w/ the Creator. But in all honesty, such a simple answer (while correct) can often be misleading.
As we get started, let’s begin by talking about what prayer isn’t. Prayer isn’t projecting your wishes/whims/will on God expecting Him to yield His sovereignty to your desires. It’s not asking God to alter His plans to satisfy your plans or expecting Him to do things He is unwilling/incapable of doing.
Prayer is far too important to be predicated on what we think, want, and desire; and yet this is our struggle. We get frustrated w/ God when He doesn’t do as we want/think He should. We’re appalled/even hostile when He doesn’t attend to what’s vital to us.
My heart broke when a Newnan teen died of complications from the flu. Her grieving dad said:
I believed in God until this and that’s honest. I woke up and prayed every AM – and now I’d like to have gloves and meet Him to pop Him in the mouth. There’s no way you take a child who’s willing to give anything to anybody. You don’t take children like that. If there’s a God, where is He?
While I hurt for this man in His loss – I can also appreciate His sentiments. Meg/I pray every day for the healing of our son, and after 10 yrs of praying, God hasn’t seen fit to heal him yet. Why? I don’t know! But I can assure you we won’t stop asking, seeking, knocking, and hoping.
The power of prayer isn’t in how much we pray but in how much our prayers are in alignment w/ God’s will/Word. Nee
While there’s no one definition that satisfies, I think prayer involves our personal pursuit of God to align our lives w/ His heart/will in anticipation of Him releasing His power/provision in our lives.
Where do we begin? I think this is the question the disciple’s asked Jesus so long ago. How do we pray?
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 others. I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard b/c of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “This, then, is how you should pray: 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. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:9-13
Like most of the aspects of their religious lives, praying too had been corrupted by the rabbinic tradition so that prayers like the Shema (Hear O Israel the Lord our God is one) and the Shemoneh esray had become ritualized/prescribed – and the result was people would recite them in public b/c they thought it was spiritual, but in actuality it was an affront to God b/c it missed the point – prayer is about communing w/ God – not putting on a show.
Scary – many Christian traditions have done the same thing w/ this prayer – and they’ve misunderstood that what God’s desire is our relationship and not for us to recite rote prayers.
Knowing their dilemma, Jesus said – use this prayer as a pattern to connect w/ God and not as a substitute. Use it to get face-to-face/bent into shape… and here’s how you start.