Summary: Understanding Prayer through the teaching of Christ’s model prayer
THE PURPOSE OF PRAYER
I love the prayers of children. They are so honest and thoughtful. Maybe you’ve heard some of these letters written to God by children.
Dear GOD, Instead of letting people die and having to make new ones, why don’t you just keep the ones you have? -Jane
Dear GOD, Maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each other so much if they had their own rooms. It works with my brother. -Larry
Dear GOD, If You watch me in church on Sunday, I’ll show you my new shoes. -Mickey
Dear GOD, I bet it is very hard for you to love all of everybody in the whole world. There are only 4 people in our family and I can never do it. –Nan
Dear GOD, Are you really invisible or is it just a trick? -Lucy
Dear GOD, Is it true my father won’t get in Heaven if he uses his golfing words in the house? -Anita
Dear GOD, Did You mean for the giraffe to look like that or was it an accident? -Norma
Dear GOD, I went to this wedding and they kissed right in church. Is that okay? -Neil
Dear GOD, Did you really mean "do unto others as they do unto you"? Because if you did, then I’m going to fix my brother. -Darla
Prayer is a vital part of our Christian experience. God is not afraid of our honesty. In fact, He desires it. He desires us to be more child-like in our faith than we are. Jesus said “Do not forbid the children to come to me, for such is the kingdom of God.” Paul encouraged the Ephesians church to “Be imitators of God as little children” (Eph 5:1)
Last week I talked to you about the Process of Prayer, that is, how prayer is not an action as much as it is a process OF SHAMELESS PERSISTENCE BASED ON FAITH IN GOD’S NATURE THAT RELEASES THE POWER OF GOD’S KINGDOM. However, the PURPOSE of PRAYER is even broader than that. Prayer affects us on many levels.
In our passage today, Jesus gives us what many call “The Lord’s Prayer” or “The Model Prayer”. I think it is important to remember that Jesus does not say “Now pray these words”, but rather “Pray in this way”. The elements of the Model Prayer give us real insight into the purpose of prayer. Today I would like to share with you FIVE purposes of prayer.
I. TO HONOR GOD’S NAME – 9
A. The first and primary purpose of prayer is to bring “holiness” to the name of God. “hallowed by Your name”
1. “Hallowed” means to “make holy”
2. “Name” is equivalent to His character and reputation
3. Therefore, prayer should have the reputation of God’s name as its highest goal.
B. Honoring God’s name is part of the worship of prayer.
1. Too often we race into the throne room of God and dump our shopping list of needs at His feet, but never linger to long enough to acknowledge His presence.
2. We must have a sense of the “Otherness” of God.
a. He is “IN HEAVEN” while we are on earth
b. We are the PETITIONER, while He is the PETITION GRANTER.
Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman had been holding meetings in England, but the attendance had been disappointingly small. Then he received word that John Hyde, who became known to the world as Praying Hyde, a Presbyterian missionary to India, was going to pray down God’s blessing upon him and his work. As a result of Hyde’s powerful praying, the tide soon turned and the meeting hall became packed with people. At Chapman’s first public invitation, fifty men received Christ as their Savior.
Chapman writes, “As we were leaving I said, ‘Mr. Hyde, I want you to pray for me.’ He came to my room, turned the key in the door, and dropped to his knees, and waited five minutes without a single syllable coming from him lips. I could hear my own heart thumping, and his beating. I felt hot tears running down my face. I knew I was with God. Then with upturned face, down which the tears were streaming, he said, ‘O God.’ Then for five minutes at least he was still again; and then, when he knew that he was talking with God, there came from the depths of his heart such petitions for me as I had never heard before. I rose from my knees to know what real prayer was." Roger F. Campbell, You Can Win!, SP Publications, 1985, pp. 17-18.
II. TO RELEASE GOD’S POWER – 10
A. The focus of our prayer must be on God’s plan
1. “Your Kingdom come”
a. The fulfillment of the Kingdom – future