We return in our study of the Word of God now, to the 11th chapter of the gospel of Luke; Luke chapter 11. And as we begin to look at this 11th chapter, the subject is prayer. Prayer is the theme of the opening portion of this chapter. In fact, from verse 1 through 13 our Lord instructs us about prayer. And it is in response to a question that is asked in verse 1. "It came about that while He was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, 'Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.'"
“How are we to pray?” was the question. "Lord, teach us to pray." That prompts this whole section on prayer. In verses 2 through 4 you have the Lord's instruction on prayer. In verses 5 through 8 the Lord's eagerness to hear prayer. In verses 9 and 10 the Lord's certainty to answer prayer. And in verses 11 through 13 the Lord's desire to give the best to those who pray. Here then is wonderful instruction about the matter of prayer. This is going to be one of the most rich and one of the most practical, one of the most helpful sections in all of our study of Luke's gospel. It is not one that we should hurry through. It is one that we need to grasp with all our minds and all our hearts because it opens up for us all the treasures of heaven through the means of prayer. How are we to approach God in order to receive those things which are needful for us? Obviously, one of the greatest privileges, certainly I suppose if you consider them all, the greatest of all privileges that belongs to believers in this life is to have access to everything necessary for the fulfilling of God's will in our lives, the promise of prayer is monumental for us, all our needs, all of our desires brought before God and He always responds with limitless, available grace when it is best for us and for His glory. The reality of personal access to God Himself on an intimate level to receive what it is that our hearts long for is indeed the greatest of all benedictions.
Now as we look at this prayer in verses 2 through 4, if you're reading in an NAS, you're going to see some of the lines that are familiar to you left out. If you're reading in a New King James you're going to see some of them included because those two are based upon differing manuscript families. The best way is then to go back to the original Lord's Prayer, or disciples' prayer, to get the full picture of what should be understood in this prayer, and that is to go back to Matthew chapter 6. And I want to do that. I'm not going to teach you out of Matthew 6. We'll stay in the Luke passage, but I'm going to bring in what our Lord said in Matthew chapter 6 when He there gave this same prayer. And the reason I'm going to do that is because I want all of you to understand the fullness of this prayer. It is so important. Most of you were not with us when we went through Matthew's gospel many, many years ago, when we went through the disciples' prayer, as I titled it then. We spent weeks and weeks going through that prayer carefully, all the details of it so that we would fully understand it. But that's been many, many years ago. And those of you who were here have likely forgotten all the richness of it.
Luke gives us a bit of an abbreviated prayer and if you take the manuscript families upon which the New American Standard and the NIV and the ESV is based, it is even more limited. Rather than debate all of those issues with regard to manuscripts, if you do have a King James or New King James rather, you will notice in the margin it says, "NU omits this and NU omits this," and it just means another manuscript family doesn't have them, on which the NAS text is based. Rather than try to sort through all of that, the best thing to do is to take the most comprehensive elements of the prayer that we draw actually out of Matthew where the prayer is most complete and then we'll get it all. Now I also want to say, because it's important at the outset, that the occasion in which Jesus gave the prayer in Matthew 6 is a very different occasion than here. Matthew 6 is the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus preached that sermon in Galilee. There He gave the pattern for prayer without being asked. There was no incident like the incident here. No one asked Him to teach us how to pray. It was part of His own instruction against the background of the hypocritical praying that was going on in the nation Israel led by the scribes and Pharisees at the time, a very different occasion in Galilee at a much earlier time. This is many months later, the Galilean ministry is over, He is now in Judea. He is in the last few months of His life headed for the cross and here again a question is asked of Him, the query is made about how to pray. And Jesus goes back to the same instruction which He had given earlier in the Sermon on the Mount and perhaps on number of occasions other than that which are not recorded in the New Testament. So you have two distinct events at two separate times in which the Lord gives essentially the same pattern for prayer. What that tells us is that the framework for praying is fixed in the mind of the Lord Jesus. This is very important to understand. This is not just a prayer to be prayed occasionally. In fact, the question in verse 1 is not, "Lord, teach us a prayer." And Jesus doesn't say, "Here is a prayer you should pray." Jesus says, "When you pray, say..." and then gives us this prayer.
What we have then here is a second time, at least, when Jesus instructs in similar fashion to the way He instructed in the Sermon on the Mount. Not everything that was there is here, but they are very, very parallel and if we combine the two we get the whole picture of how to pray. It may well be that on this occasion Jesus even gave more, but Luke was only inspired to record what he recorded, and even then there are variations in the manuscript. We don't know how much a scribe may have added to make it parallel to the Matthew account and how much was original. But this we do know, if we bring the Matthew prayer into this one, we get the full picture. And so we're going to do that because it's critical that you understand the fullness of this wonderful prayer. And, of course, in the inspiring ministry of the Holy Spirit, He knew that the full prayer would be available in Matthew 6 and this would be an echo or a reflection of that and the reader could go back and read the complete prayer; all that simply to say I'm going to cover the fullness of the prayer because of its wonderful richness.
But just a little bit of background. It says in verse 1 that Jesus Himself was praying, which He did all the time. And that's something you see in the gospel of Luke repeated again and again and again starting in chapter 3 and all the way to chapter 22 and with all kinds of points in between. We see Jesus continually, constantly in a pattern of prayer. We don't know when this was or where it was because it just says He was praying, which He did every day. He was praying in a certain place. We have no more detail than that. But it was on that occasion that He was praying that His disciples, those who were following with Him, were listening to Him. And after He had finished, they were patient enough to wait until He had completed the prayer, one of His disciples, no doubt speaking for the rest, said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples."
They wanted to know how to pray. And they wanted to follow the example of Jesus. And so He said to them, "When you pray, say this, 'Our Father, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us and lead us not into temptation.'" And as I said, the New King James adds some other phrases that may have been added later by a scribe to make it consistent with the Matthew text, which includes them, but we're going to take the whole picture.
Now I want you to grasp the overview here. I can't...I wish I could get into the prayer but I need to give you some teaching and put on my professor's hat this morning, if you don't mind, and give you a little bit of background, OK? Basically at this time in Judaism, true prayer had been lost to the Jewish people. And I want to tell you a little bit about why that had happened.
Here's a disciple of Jesus who isn't sure he knows how to pray because what he's basically been taught is wrong. And I think at this particular time he realizes that. He's listening to Jesus pray and it's very different than the prayers that he hears the scribes and the rabbis pray, very different than the prayers he's heard the Pharisees pray, very different than the kind of prayers he's heard in his own synagogue, very different. He has a certain understanding of prayer that's been inherited by the...by the tradition and the custom of prayer that he's been exposed to and so with the rest of the disciples. And so, when they hear Jesus pray, which they must have on many, many occasions because they were intimately involved with Jesus and He prayed all the time, finally it reaches a point where he's feeling the difference, sensing that Jesus prays in a way that's not like the way that he normally hears people pray. It's not the way he's been taught to pray.
In fact, if you want to see a contrast, go back to Matthew chapter 6 because Jesus provides that contrast Himself. In Matthew chapter 6 Jesus is indicting the phony, hypocritical religion of Judaism, which is basically led by the Pharisees and the scribes, who tend to dominate the people, the priests and the rabbis who are a part of that system. And in Matthew 6:5 Jesus says, and here He defines and indicts this kind of prayer, "When you pray you are not to be as the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogue and on the street corners in order to be seen by men." They had ceremonial prayers, ritual prayers that they repeated again and again and again and again, multiple times a day. And in order to appear self-righteous and to appear holy and virtuous, they would stand in very public places inside the synagogue and on the street corners where there was more foot traffic in order to be seen by men. They were parading their ceremonial religion. And He says, "Truly I say to you they have their reward in full." In other words, their full reward is they're seen by men. That is to say God provides no reward for that kind of praying.
Verse 6 He says, "When you pray, go into your inner room and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret. Your Father who sees in secret will repay you." Don't pray to put yourself on parade. Pray in secret. Get rid of the hypocrisy. And then, by the way, verse 7, "Also not only do it in secret but don't do it the way Gentiles do it in meaningless repetition." The Jews had literally developed Gentile-style prayers of vain repetition over the same words again and again and again and again. "Do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose they'll be heard for their many words." You know, if you just repeat it enough times, enough times, enough times, enough times, God will hear it.
So what you had was ceremonial repetitious, pointless, empty, hypocritical praying. So they were used to these formula prayers, these memorized prayers that were recited over and over again in very public places as a parade of one's supposed spirituality. When Jesus prayed, it was very different. The...The meaningless repetition was not there. It wasn't the reciting over and over and over the formula prayers and the hypocrisy wasn't there because Jesus went in the private place, the quiet place. You remember, He would often go to the Mount of Olives or seek a quiet place and there He would pour out His heart to God. And the things that Jesus said were so different than what he heard people say, what the other disciples heard people say. And so, probably this one disciple, whoever he is, is speaking for the rest and he says, "Lord, teach us to pray.” And we've got a hint of how we should pray from one person who also has taught his disciples to pray, John. You see it at the end of verse 1. "Teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples." John the Baptist...John the Baptist, the last of the Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist had taught his followers to pray. In fact, in Luke 5 a most interesting comment is made by the hypocritical prayers, by the scribes and Pharisees. Luke 5:33, "They said to Jesus, the disciples of John often fast and pray." The disciples of John often fast and pray. So the Pharisees and scribes, the phony prayers who have sort of defined prayer for the populous, they recognized the John and his disciples often fasted and prayed.
Now this is a very important insight because John has sort of survived without corruption. He is not a part of the religious establishment, right? He is the voice of one crying in the wilderness out in the desert wearing those bizarre clothing and eating locust and wild honey, clothed with camel’s hair, he is out there in the wilderness away from the establishment. He is preaching repentance. He is calling the religious establishment snakes trying to flee the wrath to come, and calls on them to bring forth fruit of true repentance. I mean, he's counterculture. He's against the society. He confronts the religious establishment. And John has maintained a true attitude of prayer. He is a holdover from pure Old Testament praying. He has survived and is teaching his disciples to pray because they too needed to be corrected. If you just sort of grew up and bought into the prayers of the system, you didn't know how to pray. It would be like being raised in a Jewish family today and having nothing but recited prayers, or being raised in a Catholic environment today and knowing no prayers but the Hail Marys and the other prayers that you recite as mechanical forms, or any other environment where you have that kind of praying. But John knew how to pray. He was a true saint of God. He was a true Old Testament prophet and he had taught his disciples to pray the right way. And so here comes the disciple of Jesus on behalf of the others saying, "We want to know how to pray the way John taught his disciples to pray. And, of course, the way we hear You praying."
So, folks, here is one of the great sections of all Holy Scripture. Here you will learn how to pray and you will learn how to pray the way Jesus prayed. They didn't say, "Teach us a prayer." You can recite this as a prayer. We sing it as a prayer and sometimes recite it as a prayer, that's fine. But it was never to be limited to that. I think it's critical to memorize it and memorize it in its fullness, not just so you can recite it as a prayer, but because it becomes the framework of all prayer. It's a skeleton for prayer. It's a framework for prayer. And that's why it's so very, very important.
Now let me go back a little bit to the way God taught people to pray in the Old Testament because this prayer is really an Old Testament prayer. We haven't gotten to the cross yet. We haven't gotten to the grave, the open grave, the resurrection, the ascension, the coming of the Spirit, the birth of the church. We're still living pre-cross here. What Jesus is saying here is really a reaffirmation of what the Old Testament taught about prayer, but it's also what the New Testament praying should be like with the addition of the elements of the cross and the resurrection and the truths concerning Christ and His work. This is a reaffirmation not what the Old Testament taught.
Now in the Old Testament...Follow me now. This is really important foundation. In the Old Testament there was a sense in which God was unapproachable. In the building of the tabernacle a veil separated the Holy of Holies from the holy place and then the holy place separated from the area where there were the altars and the place of sacrifice and then the outer courtyard, of course, were the people. So there were degrees of separation. God was in the inner place where no man could ever go; only the high priest could go in there once a year. And if he wasn't prepared and hadn't made appropriate confession of sin and sacrifice for sin, he could be killed in there. It was a frightening place. When God came down on Mount Sinai, there was lightning and there was thunder and there was smoke and the people were told not to touch the holy mountain or they would die. God was truly what Hebrews 12 calls Him, a consuming fire. There was a sense of...of the far off God, the God who cannot be touched, the God who cannot be approached, the unapproachable one, the holy one. Even Moses was told you can't see My full glory and survive, you can only see a little of My back parts, Exodus 33. So the Jews had this sense that there was an inapproachability concerning God.
But at the same time, that they were separated from God and they knew that and they did not have immediate access into His presence. Only one did and only once a year, the high priest on the Day of Atonement. Still the Old Testament was clear that while they couldn't come into the presence of God, they...they could still reach God through their prayers. It was as if they couldn't go to see Him but they could make a phone call. There was a way to get to God and that was through their prayers. The holy ones, said... ”The Holy One,” said the rabbis, “yearns for the prayers of the righteous.” And they were right. Psalm 50 verse 15 says, "Call on Me in the day of trouble. I will rescue you and you will honor Me." And that was a promise that if you call on Me I'll hear you and I'll come to your rescue. Psalm 91:15, "’When he calls to Me,’ the Lord says, ‘I will answer him.’" Psalm 145:18, "The Lord is near to all who call upon Him." He is far in one sense, He is unapproachable in one sense, but in another sense He is accessible through prayer. In the 18th Psalm and verse 6, "In my distress,” writes David, “I called on the Lord and cried to my God for help. He heard my voice out of His temple." There He is way up there, in a sense, transcendent, hidden behind the veil in His holy temple but I cried and He heard my voice and my cry for help came before Him into His ears. And that was the view of prayer in the Old Testament. They believed that prayer was also a mighty weapon. They didn't doubt its power. The rabbis used to say that all are equals when they pray before God, women and slaves, sage and simpleton, poor and rich. Psalm 65:2 says, "Oh Thou that hearest prayer, unto Thee shall all flesh come." Everybody has access and God hears those who come.
In fact, Psalm 65 has a commentary, a midrash written on that psalm, in which the rabbis said, "A human king can only listen to two or three people at the same time. He can't hearken to more. God is not so, for all men may pray to Him and He hearkens to them all simultaneously. Men's ears become satisfied with hearing a few, but God's ears are never satiated. He is never wearied by men's prayers, no matter how many there are.” So we can all go to God and He sorts it all and hears it as if it's all singular.
Prayer, they taught, the rabbis did, was greater than sacrifice. Prayer should be constant. One rabbi, writing in the Talmud said, "Honor the physician before you have need of Him. Pray when you're in prosperity, before misfortune comes, anticipate and pray." So they taught that prayer was not an emergency act, not an emergency appeal that comes up in the trauma of life, but a continuing unbroken conversation toward God. So they taught in the Old Testament that prayer was to be unceasing. “Pray without ceasing” is not limited to the New Testament. And if you go to the Old Testament, and I won't take time to go in detail, but you will see the following elements in the prayers of the Old Testament, those that are written in Scripture.
One, they were characterized by adoration, by adoration, love and praise. Psalm 34, "I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth." And there are dozens of other prayers like that. “Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall flow with thy praise.” Again, praise and adoration was an element of Old Testament praying and not some recitation of a formula but rather the praise and adoration and love that flows out of the heart in the words that the mind forms to capture the heart's passion.
Secondly, Old Testament Jewish praying was characterized not only by adoration, but by thanksgiving. You find many prayers in the Old Testament that were prayers of gratitude, prayers of thanksgiving. I think usually of Jonah chapter 2 verse 9. Jonah says, "I will sacrifice to Thee with a voice of thanksgiving." Many, many prayers in the Old Testament expressed thanksgiving. And the rabbis used to say that one day all prayers will be discontinued, except the prayers of thanksgiving. And we will spend forever continually offering those to God. Prayers of adoration, prayers of thanksgiving were offered in the Old Testament to God.
Thirdly: the element of recognizing God's holiness, recognizing God's holiness. Many of the prayers refer to Him as holy. They refer to Him as the glorious God, the One who's high and lifted up, the One who is almighty, the One who is Lord, and on and on and on, recognizing God's transcendent glory.
And there is also an element of submission in the prayers of the Old Testament. There is a desire to please God affirmed in those prayers, a desire to obey God. You just take Psalm 119. You have 176 verses. In most of those verses there is an affirmation of obedience. "My tongue will sing of Your Word for all Your commandments are right." This is the attitude of one who is desiring to be obedient to whatever it is that God says. You have it 175 times out of 176 verses.
So when you look at Old Testament praying, you find adoration, you find thanksgiving, you find recognition of the glory and holiness of God, and you find affirmation of one's desire to please and obey God. Then you find confession. Psalm 32, Psalm 51, Psalm 26 says, "I will wash my hands in innocence and go about Thine altar, oh Lord..." Here comes the penitent prayer wanting to be cleansed and purified. You have many, many such prayers in the Old Testament. There's always that element of confession of sin and cleansing of heart in coming to God in prayer. "Who shall ascend to the Lord?" Psalm 24:3 and 4, "He that has clean hands and a pure heart." The rabbis even said that one should come in tears of penitence. "The gate of tears," they wrote, "is never shut." If the people can bring nothing else, then let them weep their way into God's presence.
And sixthly, in my little list, prayer was collective. Prayer was collective. When the Jews prayed, they tended not so much to pray for individuals as to pray for the community. They... They embraced their people, they embraced their nation. They prayed for the salvation of Israel. They prayed for the preservation of Jerusalem. They prayed for the protection of the people of God. They prayed for deliverance from their enemies. They prayed for triumph in their battles. They prayed for what was needed of food in the midst of their trouble and famine. Their prayers tend to be for all Israel to be redeemed, for all the promises and covenants to Israel to come to pass. They prayed to receive the fullness of the blessing of God on them as a people. And so their prayers were collective.
And then number seven in my list, Old Testament praying had a tone of perseverance. They prayed in a continual way. Moses prayed and prayed and prayed, you remember, prayed for the mercy of God. In... In Deuteronomy chapter 3 he kept praying for the mercy of God and God responded and said to him, "Enough from you. Speak no more to Me of this matter." There was a relentlessness to their prayers. There was a persistence. There was an importunity to their prayers. And it was after, you remember, the sin of the golden calf that Moses interceded to God on behalf of disobedient Israel and didn't just do it for a...for an afternoon. He interceded according to Deuteronomy 9, he interceded for forty days in relentless intercession on behalf of the sin of his people, pleading with God.
Also their prayers had a note of humility in them. They very often prayed for the will of God. They very often prayed, "May it be Your good pleasure, God," to do so and so and so and so. So that's a little overview of the kind of praying that you see in the Old Testament, characterized by adoration, gratitude, recognition of God's glory and holiness, commitment to obedience, confession of sin, and penitence. Prayer was collective, embracing the people of God and in that sense it was unselfish. It was persistent and with a note and a heart of humility. All of those elements are in the true and the pure Old Testament praying. That was their approach. That's how they prayed. And you can see it in particular all through the Psalms.
Now we're going to see exactly those same elements in this prayer. We're going to see adoration. We're going to see gratitude involved in this. We're going to see a recognition of the holiness and the glory of God. We're going to see a desire to submit here, a willingness to be obedient. It's all going to come out in the disciples’ prayer. And so what I want you to understand is this. In this prayer Jesus is reestablishing the original, divine formula for prayer. And as I said, it had been lost in Israel. Hypocrisy had taken over and they were a...they were a false and superficial and shallow people. If anyone questions that, all you have to do is remember that they were led to scream for the blood of their Messiah and He was executed by the Romans as an expression of the will of the people. They were a fickle, superficial, hypocritical people led by leaders of such characteristics. And what Jesus is doing is going back to what the Old Testament taught. How you approach God has always been the same. You come to Him with adoring praise and love. You come to Him with gratitude and thanks because He's the source of everything. You come to Him pursuing His glory. You come to Him submitting to His will. You come to Him confessing your sin. You come to Him unselfishly embracing all who are within the framework of His holy purposes. You come to Him humbly and you come to Him persistently.
The Jews even used to say that there was an element of prayer that was necessary. They called it kawana, kawana. That's almost an untranslatable word. It means to possess intense devotion. It means to possess intense passion, or focus on God so that the mind and the heart are fixed on God. The Jews used to say you come to God with your head bowed down but your heart lifted up. You direct your heart toward God in awe, in fear and shaking, or trembling. This is how they were to pray and they prayed this way. By the time you get to Jesus in the New Testament age, that's gone. That's gone. It's been replaced by prayers adapted from the Gentiles, mindless repetition of endless phrases strung together in ceremonial fashion without any heart at all. Their praying is also a way to boast and parade themselves in public, rather than to cry out to God in private. Their prayer focuses on the people watching, not on God hearing. And that's why the disciples are saying to Jesus, "We need to learn how to do this. We've been raised in this culture. We don't know how to do this."
And so, here Jesus gives us a framework for praying, a framework for praying. This is not just a prayer to recite. In fact, this is never repeated by any group of believers anywhere in the Scripture, in the book of Acts or the epistles. It is really a model for prayer. It's a model. It's a...it’s a skeleton. It's a framework on which you put the rest of the flesh. For example, I guess it's like sermon notes, you know. I have in my hand some notes which I write down and bring into the pulpit. Do I read those notes? No. Are those notes vital to me? Absolutely. They're the framework. If I were to read them, we'd be out of here in ten minutes. Don't think of it. It’ll never happen. But that's a framework and I put the flesh on the framework, sometimes a lot of it. But that's just the skeleton and that's what the Lord gave us in this. You could just say this prayer and it would be a prayer, but you'd miss the point if that's all you did. This is a framework. It’s a framework on which you can put so much. You can use this as a framework for a very short prayer. You can use this as a framework for a very long prayer. You could pray your way through this in five minutes. You could pray your way through this in five hours. You can pray your way through this in five days and five weeks. This prayer contains everything. It is applicable to all of God's people in all of times. And isn't it interesting that John the Baptist was a survivor of Old Testament praying and he had to teach his disciples how to pray also because the kind of praying they learned from their culture was not God's kind of praying. And John was a true Old Testament saint. He knew how to pray. He taught his disciples how to pray. The scribes and Pharisees, as I noted in Luke 5:33, recognized that John had a different approach to it and he taught his disciples how to do it and they did it all the time because John was a survivor from the pure, true Israel who knew how to pray out of the Old Testament.
And so the disciples want to know, how do we pray? And this is the way Jesus prayed. Jesus is going to teach us His...His formula, His framework, His pattern for praying. It is a magnificent model. It teaches us, first of all, that prayer is to be biblical. Your prayers flow up out of the text because here's the text, "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name," and so forth, so forth. That's how you pray. You learn that scripture and you use that for the framework for your praying. And you could take "Our Father" and pray for hours around that glorious concept. "Who art in heaven" and pray for hours about all the heavenly glories and all that that means. And so you could work your way through. This is the framework. This is the framework of prayer that Jesus used. And if you think you've prayed this prayer because you've recited it, you've missed it. You've left it at its lowest level. You’ve just read the Sermon outline and you haven't really gotten into the meat of it. It teaches us that prayer rises out of the Scripture. It doesn't rise out of my human experience. It rises out of a framework which God has given to me. And the reason you want to know this and the reason we sing it occasionally and recite it occasionally is so that you have it memorized because if you have it memorized then it's your framework. It's so rich.
Here's just some sample ways you can approach this prayer. You can say "Our Father" and then stop and pray your way through everything you can think about, about what it means to be a child of God. That's all inherent in "Our Father." And then you could say, "Hallowed be Your name," and you can pray your way through everything you know about the sacredness of God, the holiness of God, and how you as a worshiper are privileged to come before Him and worship Him. Or you can pray "Thy kingdom come" and you can affirm in your prayer all the glories of His sovereign kingship. And then you can pray your way through what it means to be a subject to His authority. Or you can pray "Thy will be done" and talk about Him as the Master and you as the servant. Or you can pray "Give us our daily bread" and talk about Him as the benefactor and you as the beneficiary and talk about all of the things that He provides for you. Or you can pray "Forgive us our trespasses" and then you're catapulted into everything about Him as the Savior and you as the sinner. You can pray "Lead us not into temptation" and you can pray then about all it means that He's your guide and you're the pilgrim following His leading. I mean, it goes on and on. This is the skeleton from which your prayers are launched.
You can also find here the right attitudes for prayer. Not only the right relationships, father/child, deity/worshiper, sovereign/subject, master/servant, benefactor/beneficiary, Savior/sinner, guide/pilgrim, as I mentioned, but you can find the right attitude in prayer. When you say "our" you're expressing an unselfish spirit, not just "my Father, give me," but "our Father, do what is best for us." You find here as well a family spirit, “Father” talks about intimacy, personal life given to you by Him. You find here a reverent spirit, "Hallowed be Thy name," a loyal spirit, "Thy kingdom come," a submissive spirit, "Thy will be done," a dependent spirit, "Give us our daily bread," a penitent spirit, "Forgive us our trespasses," a humble spirit, "Lead us not into temptation," a confident spirit, "Yours is the kingdom," a triumphant spirit, "And the power," a joyful spirit, "And the glory," and so it goes with all the attitudes and all the relationships summed up in this incredible, amazing economy of words. We learn how to pray.
And it flows up out of the text, up out of the text. The richest times of prayer, certainly for me, are in the midst of the study of the Word of God because it's what rises out of the text that catapults my conscious mind into praise and adoration and thanks and confession and affirmation of God's glory and intercession on behalf of the purposes of God in the world. I find myself far more stimulated to pray from the text of Scripture than any other place, even the most dramatic of human experiences.
Now you will also notice that the first elements have to do with God and His glory and the second have to do with man and his need. Prayer starts from the Word of God and it starts with the glory of God. And then it comes to human need only after God has been set in His prime place. Prayer then is not an attempt to bend the will of God. It's not an attempt to change the will of God. It's not an attempt to get out of God something you have a right to demand from Him. It's not the foolishness of trying to speak things into existence, whether or not God wants them as the word-faith movement would lead poor, deceived people to think. It is simply praying from the text of Scripture, from that formula or that framework given to us, setting God in His rightful place of sovereign glory and submitting your life to Him and to His purposes. This prayer is a summary of all other prayers. It covers all our earthly needs, all our spiritual needs and gives expression to all our heavenly aspirations. To learn to pray from this prayer is to grasp every possible desire of the praying heart, to embrace all the world of spiritual requirements, to gather into your arms every divine promise, every human sorrow, human need, every Christian longing. It's all here in this prayer. And it's all for the glory of God. That's why Jesus said, "If you ask anything in My name, I'll do it that the Father may be (what?) glorified." We're not informing God. We're not forcing God. We're not agitating God. We're not conning God. We are bringing ourselves into a place where He can display His glory. That's why the prayer begins, invocation, "Our Father who art in heaven," and ends benediction, "For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen." It begins and ends with the supremacy of God. And even the middle focuses on God, "Father," as God as our source, "hallowed be Thy name," God as sacred, "thy kingdom come," God as sovereign, "Thy will be done," God as superior, "Give us our daily bread," God as supporter, "Forgive us our sin," God as Savior, "Lead us not into temptation," God as shelter, everything comes to the supremacy of God.
That's how Jesus prayed and that's how they heard Him pray. And they had even met with the disciples of John. Back in Luke 7:18 to 24, the disciples of Jesus had met with the disciples of John and the disciples of John must have told them that they were learning how to pray differently than the way they grew up hearing people pray.
Finally, the question is posed to Jesus, "Will You teach us to pray?" Well He's going to teach them and He's going to teach us also. And this will be the greatest lesson you will ever learn about prayer. You will never be able to see this prayer again or recite it in the same way. And next time we'll begin with "Our Father who art in heaven." Let's pray.
Father, as we close our service now, we...we have been led, as it were, up to this fountain to drink the refreshing water of truth regarding prayer. Now we have to wait a week to drink. And so increase our thirst until we gather again together in Jesus' name. Amen.
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