May 15, 2011

Prayer for Real Disciples

Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray. Listen to this message about a familiar prayer that may just change your prayer life and perspective on our Father forever.

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Sermon Notes: Luke 11:1-13, 18:1-8
Not so much Lord’s Prayer but disciples’ prayer. For instance, Jesus couldn’t pray and ask for forgiveness.

Vertical dimension

Father

Only 14x in OT and with reference to nation of Israel and God. The Jews would not even speak His name, inventing instead the word “Jehovah.” Compare that to Jesus’ use of Father. ALL His prayers addressed God as Father. More than 60x in the gospels!
Not just a formal fatherhood, but Abba. The great German NT scholar Joachim Jeremias said every instance of Father that Jesus used was Abba, with one exception, My God, on the cross (and then he was quoting Psalm 22). He reverts as his last words, “Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit.”
Not only did the Jews not use Father for God in personal prayer. They would never have used Abba! Blasphemous!
Jesus never asked the disciples to pray to Him.

“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:13-14)
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” (John 15:16)
“In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23-24)

“There is nothing like this in all the world’s great religions. Jesus’ call to address God as Father abounds with relationship, intimacy, and security.” ~ Kent Hughes

We have the joyful privilege of praying and proclaiming the Fatherhood of God for and to a world that thinks it has been orphaned.

2. Hallowed
Set apart, to treat with reverence, to esteem. Naming different for us than for the Jewish culture. It spoke to character. 3rd commandment speaks to the misuse of God’s name. When we pray, we bend our hearts and our petitions first to the sincere desire that God’s name and fame be esteemed in our own lives and works.

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world.” (John 17:6)

3. Kingdom come
Both now and later. With Jesus, the kingdom of God is “in our midst.” (Luke 17:21) It is the kind of prayer that longs, literally longs, for God’s will to be done without resistance or hindrance. It surrenders our own will and asks for growing obedience, growing submission, and growing worship. Matthew 6:33

Horizontal dimension
In teaching us to pray Jesus taught them it was not about each but about all. There is a humbling corporate nature to prayer. We must remember that anything God does in one life is intended to be a blessing or lesson for others.

1. Daily bread
Literally, our bread for tomorrow. I believe it looks back to the Exodus experience when God gave His people manna (Exodus 16:13f). They were to gather in the morning what they needed for that day. Anything they tried to keep would rot. It spoke to their need not to accumulate for their own provision but to trust the Lord and depend upon Him completely.

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven.” (John 6:51)
2. Forgive
Serious stuff. There is certainly an element here that assumes that we will lack experiencing forgiveness if we don’t give forgiveness. How can we for who Christ died withhold grace from anyone? It’s preposterous. In fact, we’ve been given the ministry of reconciliation, which is to say, we’ve been given the joy of helping people learn that they can be forgiven in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:18)

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
“There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.” (James 2:13)
“Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
“That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters[a] from your heart.”(Matthew 18:32-35)

Charles Spurgeon said, “Unless you have forgiven others, you read your own death-warrant when you repeat the Lord’s prayer.”

If you’re struggling in this area, please submit your heart to do more reading, study and seek counsel. Forgiveness is crucial for your experience of it. It does NOT mean pretending that you were not wronged.

3. Temptation
James 1:13 – God does not tempt us.
1 Corinthians 10:13 – God is a faithful escape provider
Temptation is only bad if we give in to it. On the other hand, temptation proves and reveals our faith! Resistance to it refines us and prepares us. Our refusal to bend to other gods makes beautiful our bowing before the One True God.
This is not a request asking the Father to help us have a temptation-less life. Rather, it’s a request for strength that we may not drive the car of our life into the tunnel of temptation. We rely on His strength, not our own, to resist temptation. And when we feel its hot breath on our neck, we quickly begin looking for God’s provided way of escape.

The Parable of Shameless Persistence (v5-8)

Ask… Seek.. Knock… increasing intensity. Asking is just presenting the awareness of our need. Seeking is combining action with our request to find an answer. Knocking is the persistence that the answer is attainable and available.

What kind of prayer is this? It’s not our typical, unengaged, doesn’t-matter-if-it-happens kind of prayer. No, this is biblical, passionate prayer that moves the heart of God!

Jacob wrestling with an angel (Gn 32.22-32)
Hannah praying for a son (1 Samuel 1:14-15)
Ezra “I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God and prayed.” (Ezra 9:5-6a)
Nehemiah prayed and wept over Israel’s walls (1:4)
Josiah weeps when book of law found (2 Kings 22:19)
Epaphras was “always wrestling in prayer for you.” (Colossians 4:12)

It was the example of Jesus… who spent all night in prayer before selecting His disciples (Luke 6:12-16) and sweat drops of blood in Gethsemane when wrestling with the Father over His will. (Luke 22:44) He is the one who “offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save Him from death.”

Luke 18.1-8 (the parable of the unjust judge or the persistent widow) is like this. It urges us to come before God and realize that we are his children. We are in relationship with Him. And He loves us. Come before Him with shameless, desperate dependence with your requests. And do not give up.

An argument about absurd parenting (v11-13) … Snake. Reminds us of the incredible relationship we enjoy. It is the basis for our prayer. Relationship. That’s why we begin our prayers directed to “Father.”

“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” (Romans 8:32)
Conclusion
Why did the disciples get this lesson on prayer? Because they asked for it. Because they witnessed Jesus’ prayer life.
Jesus pointed the disciples His entire life to the love relationship that He came to give them with His Father. The Father sent Jesus because He loved the world, and Jesus wanted the whole world to know His Father’s love. He gave His life to reveal it.

That love is made tangibly real through our lives of prayer. Do you ever wonder if God loves you? Begin to pray as He taught us. Do you ever wonder why you never hear His voice? Begin to pray in the name of Jesus to the Father. Jesus is our door to the Father. He is our intercessor.

A prayerless church is a powerless church. A prayerless person cannot experience or know the full love of God for his or her life. The Lord delights in giving His children good things… through prayer. He does not want to air drop them before you ask. He wants the joy of seeing your face when you see that He has responded directly to your request.
When you open a present in the presence of the giver and delight over it, it is a joy and a praise to the giver.

May we grow in prayer. Oh how He loves us!