Series: Sermon on the Mount
Title: Disciples Prayer
Matthew 6:5-15; 7:7-11
July 1, 2018
Rev. Sandy Johnson
Prayer: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen.
“Our Father, who does art in heaven, Harold is His name
“Give us this steak and daily bread,
“And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.”
The Lord’s Prayer can be confusing sometimes.
This is week four in our series on this monumental sermon, the Sermon on the Mount. I’ll bet you’re glad that I don’t preach sermon’s as long as Jesus did!
Jesus continues preaching and moves his attention to how and why we should pray.
Jesus begins this segment reminding us that like our giving, our praying should be done in private. We are cautioned against making a spectacle out of our conversations with God. I remember years ago I was in a hospital bed, waiting for my turn to go into surgery. I had asked my pastor to come and pray with me. The previous procedure I had left it to JJ and he was more interested in trying to make me laugh than offering what I considered a “sincere” prayer. He was just trying to cheer me up! Ugh!
So, my pastor came and when it was time she began to pray. And she prayed, and she prayed, and she prayed. She prayed for me, for the doctors and nurses, for the equipment, for the medication, for the hospital administrators, for the people who had made the hospital gown, you get the idea. As my attention waned, I began to think that may be JJ’s approach was pretty good after all!
Jesus says, don’t keep on babbling! You don’t get heavenly credit for each word prayed! God understands what’s on our hearts, even before we say a word. He wants us to share, to let it all out in His presence.
God doesn’t care what type of language you use either. There is no need for formalized language, “O Great Heavenly Father, thy great and omniscient One. Grant that this holy day our request…” how about, “Good morning, Papa. Thank you for this day.”
Then Jesus continued, saying that we should pray in this way: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
There’s a lot there, let’s look at this Disciples Prayer one bite at a time. First, I’d like to share that we must avoid saying the Lord’s Prayer in a rote or routine matter, words just falling off of our lips, without much thought. That was not Jesus’ intention in sharing this prayer with us. For it to have meaning, we must pray it each time as if it is brand new, a petition to God from our heart, not simply words that hold no meaning.
“The first three petitions of the prayer have to do with God and with the glory of God; the second three petitions have to do with our needs and our necessities. You see, God is first given his supreme place, (Our Father in Heaven, holy is your name) and then, and only then, we turn to ourselves and our needs and desires. It is only when God is given his proper place that all other things fall into their proper places. Prayer must never be an attempt to bend the will of God to our desires; instead, prayer must be an attempt to submit our will to the will of God. “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Ah, sweet surrender.
“The second half of the prayer invites us to deal with three essential needs that we have. First, it asks for bread, which is necessary for the maintenance of life, and brings the needs of the present to the throne of God. Second, it asks for forgiveness and thereby brings the past into the presence of God. Third, it asks for help in temptation and thereby commits the future into the hands of God. In these three brief petitions, we are taught to lay the present, the past, and the future before the throne of God’s grace.”
“Not only is this a prayer which brings the whole of life to the presence of God; it is also a prayer which brings the whole of God to our lives. When we ask for bread to sustain our earthly lives, that request immediately directs our thoughts to God the Father, the Creator, the Sustainer of all life. When we ask for forgiveness, that request immediately directs our thoughts to God the Son, Jesus Christ our Savior and Redeemer. When we ask for help for future temptation, that request immediately directs our thoughts to God the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Guide, and the Guardian of our way.
“In the most amazing way this brief second part of the Lords’ Prayer takes the present, the past, and the future, the whole of our life, and presents it to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, to God in all his fulness. In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus teaches us to bring the whole of life, to the whole of God and to bring the whole of God to the whole of life.”
Our very lives are prayer. Everything we do, every time we speak, every conversation we have, every act of kindness, every work out, every golf game or trip to the grocery store. We have the opportunity to make all we do prayer. When you imagine that everything you do is a prayer, it changes your view of the world, it changes the view of our day to day activities. We are encouraged to pray without ceasing.
Yesterday, nine of us from church participated in the March for Children that was held here in Boulder City. The March was in response to the humanitarian crisis on our southern border where families that had crossed the border were separated, children going one place, the parents into custody.
Regardless of your personal conviction about our current immigration laws, hurting children is wrong. Our Christian faith dictates that we respond to oppression and injustice. The nine of us walked down Nevada Way, carrying signs encouraging our leaders to respond in kindness and compassion. It was our prayer, demonstrated by our signs and our movement, inviting God to help us share our message.
Continuing on in our scripture, Jesus reminds us that forgiveness of others who sin against us, is key to our being forgiven. It literally means, “forgive us our sins in proportion as we forgive those who have sinned against us. In verses 14 and 15 Jesus says in the plainest possible language that if we forgive others, God will forgive us; but if we refuse to forgive others, God will refuse to forgive us. It is therefore quite clear that, if we pray this petition with an unhealed breach, an unsettled quarrel in our lives, we are asking God not to forgive us. Human forgiveness and divine forgiveness is intimately intertwined”
Whatever unforgiveness you are holding onto, get rid of it! Offer forgiveness to the one who has wronged you because your very lives depend on it. If we hold any hope of being forgiven, Jesus says we must be the first to offer forgiveness. Jesus knew how detrimental unforgiveness is on our hearts and souls. Unforgiveness festers and grows, until we become bitter and unrecognizable as children of God.
In a few minutes we will pray the prayer together, offer the forgiveness and receive God’s forgiveness today.
In the last section for today, Jesus reminds us how God will respond to our prayers. “Jesus’ argument is very simple. No father ever refused the request of his son; and God the great Father will never refuse the requests of his children. If a son asks for bread, will his father give him a stone? If a son asks for a fish, will his father give him a serpent? This is not God’s way.
“God will never refuse or mock our prayers. God answers prayer in his way, and his way is the way of perfect wisdom and perfect love. Often if he answered one of our prayers as we desire it, it would be the worst thing possible for us, for in our ignorance we often ask for gifts which would be our ruin. This saying of Jesus tells us, not only that God will answer, but that God will answer in wisdom and in love.”
As we pray this disciples prayer together, Let’s take a few moments to remember those who we need to forgive and ask God ow to do just that. Let us now pray the words as if you are praying them for the first time, with meaning and intention.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,