Summary: On how Jesus prayed focusing on the Father and warnings that he gave us about prayer
SBC Philippi 10/5/05 am
Rev. Jeff Simms
The Model Prayer1
Primary Purpose: Jesus encouraged us to pray focused on him and to pray for his kingdom
This story about the Lord’s prayer is told in both Matthew and Luke 11:1-4. They differ in what comes before Jesus teaches his disciples to pray. In Matthew’s account, we see Jesus teaching about almsgiving or giving to the poor and then prayer and then fasting. In both giving and fasting, the emphasis is on doing it privately and not to be seen by men. Jesus’ promise in all three accounts is the same, that the Lord will reward what is done in secret. Vs.4,6,18. In Luke’s account, we see the disciples asking Jesus how to pray. So, it’s possible this prayer was repeated more than once. Before Jesus gives us what is commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer” he gives us in Matthew’s account two warnings about prayer that are closely linked with what comes before and after this prayer.
The first warning is against praying to be seen by men. This isn’t a condemnation of public praying, but rather a matter of where the focus was. The Pharisees would pray in the most public places, the synagogue and the crossroads of public squares in order to be seen by men and thought religious. Jesus himself would withdraw to private and lonely places to pray. We are rather to go to private places and pray our personal prayer. We are to understand that God sees what we do and will reward us accordingly.
The second thing that Jesus warned us about is praying with vain repetition. It isn’t repetition that is condemned either, but vain repetition. It means repeating something to God because you think you will be heard by your many words vs.7. The word vain repetition actually means “idle babbling” as if we are trying to convince God to do something he doesn’t want to do or to win an argument with. Jesus tells us that we don’t need to act like that because God already knows what you need before you even ask vs.8. He told his disciples in Matthew 7:11 that the heavenly Father knows much better how to give good gifts to his children that earthly parents. We have to trust that He knows what is best for us at all times. I don’t have to wonder if God wants to give me good things. God is always good.
Jesus then turns to the prayer itself and I want you to notice first where the focus is in this prayer. The personal requests don’t come until halfway through this prayer. The focus instead is on the Father. Jesus uses the word “Our Father”. He could have said “My Father” but he included his disciples. Romans 8:15 says that we have “not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, “Abba, Father””. We have the right to cry out to him as Father. John 1:12 says that “as many as received him, to them gave he power to becomes the sons of God”. We can cry out to him in the intimacy of a family relationship and knows that he hears us and that he cares. Our focus shouldn’t be on ourselves though, it should be on Him.
The next concern of Jesus was that of the kingdom. When he prays that his will is done on earth as it is in heaven Jesus demonstrated that desire by coming down to earth and doing his will on earth as it is in heaven. We cannot pray that pray and then not to be willing to be used by God to do His will. We cannot ask to know him will with the intent that we will decide whether or not we will do it after we find out what it is. God reveals his will to those who are willing to take whatever God will’s and to be obedient no matter what. Charles Allen has said about this statement “They kingdom come” means “I am willing to surrender everything I possess in order to possess God. God demands our all or our nothing at all.” (God’s Psychiatry, Charles Allen, pg.103)
The next three requests have to do with us. First, there is the request for bread. The daily requirements for life. It is not the want, but the needs he is requesting. Then, he asks for forgiveness as we have forgiven. The assumption is made that we are not walking in unforgiveness.
There was a show once called “Amos and Andy” in that show there was a big man who would slap Andy across the chest whenever they met. Finally, Andy got enough of it and said to Amos, “I am fixed for him. I put a stick of dynamite in my vest pocket and the next time he slaps me he is going to get his hand blown off.” (From God’s Psychiatry, Charles Allen, pg.116) What Andy seemed to forget that the man may lose his hand, but Andy would lose his heart. The same kind of damage happens when we hold unforgiveness and bitterness in our hearts. The one who receives the most hurt is ourselves.