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NUMBER ONE REQUEST - Part 2

Last week's blog focused on the request of Jesus' followers to have Him teach them how to pray. Jesus' disciples saw that prayer gave Him the wisdom to teach, the power to preach, compassion to heal, to perform miracles, courage to deal with His persecutors, ability to lead, to reconcile, to forgive and to die for our sins.

Are you ready for His lesson on prayer? Do we have that inner compulsion to learn to pray under the tutelage of Jesus?

The prayer that Jesus taught His disciples is really a template on conversing with God. It is not a standardized form, ritual or program. Rather, it is a guide or a pattern for us to use in our conversations with God. The Lord's Prayer is quite simple, but oh so profound and truly amazing. It begins with the words: "Our Father". Jesus draws ALL of us disciples into a deep family relationship with God. We can converse with our personal heavenly Father who knows us so very well - our every weakness, strength, fear, needs, concern and desire. This is our Father in heaven who comes after us when we are lost, who dines with us when we are lonely, who welcomes us home after we've squandered our resources, and who keeps us wrapped up in His love, mercy and grace, helping us to be "more than conquerors". (Romans 8:37 - NIV)

Jesus calls on His followers to know, believe and confess the holiness of the Father. "Hallowed be Your Name". His name is set apart, sanctified and like no other name. We must be very careful of our attitude and language concerning God's name! The Jews did not even say His name since they regarded it with such reverence and awe, referred to as the Tetragrammaton. We are never to take His name in vain, a clear commandment from God Himself. (Exodus 20:7 - NIV) "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain." The word "vain" means: having no real value or significance, worthless, empty, hollow, without force or effect, futile, unprofitable, etc. We never entertain the abuse of the name of God! His name is to be held in the highest and holy esteem, reverence and worship!

Jesus also teaches His disciples to pray for His "kingdom to come". There is some confusion as to what the "kingdom" means. Some believe the kingdom of God is only in the hearts of believers. Others think it refers to the church. And still other Christians regard it as heaven. But, according to the Bible, it is none of these! In Scripture, the "kingdom" most often refers to the royal reign of Jesus (i.e. the Millennium) rather than to a specific territory over which He rules. His royal reign does not happen at a single moment in time. It means that Jesus' reign is set up on planet earth, bringing all evil, all sin, and all rebellion against God into submission to His authority and rule. It is when He puts all those who refuse to submit to Him "beneath His feet". (Psalm 110)

Jesus tells His followers to pray for God's "will to be done on earth as it is in heaven". God's will is to have no rival! This means for us to confirm in our prayer exactly what God desires. We are to acknowledge God's right to rule supremely. It demonstrates our trust that God knows and does what is right, just, holy and best. It is our statement of submission to God's ways and His plans. We are to ask for our will to be conformed to HIS!

"Give us our daily bread". Bread was a staple food for the Jewish people in the Old Testament as well as in the days of Jesus. We understand bread to be representative of our very basic needs. So, in the petition of the Lord's Prayer, Jesus is teaching His followers to come to God in a spirit of humble dependence. We are asking Him to provide what we need and to sustain us from one day to the next. We are commanded to make our needs known to Him, trusting that He will faithfully provide.

Jesus instructed His followers to pray regarding the avoidance of sin and overwhelming trials. "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil". We know that God does not cause us to sin or to be tempted to sin. (James 1:13) Requesting God to help us to avoid temptation and to reject sin is one of the primary concerns of the Christian life. In the Book of Psalms, we find definitive pleas for God to lead us in His ways (Psalm 5:8; 27:11, etc.) by His truth and righteousness and in "the way everlasting". (Psalm 139:24) Jesus taught that we should earnestly desire to avoid sin altogether. The phrase "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" is probably best understood in the sense of "permitting". So Jesus taught us to pray: "Do not allow us or permit us to be tempted to sin". This tells us that God has ultimate power over the tempter (the devil) as to save us from his power and influence (temptations) WHEN we call upon our Heavenly Father and rely on the Word of God (the Bible).

Let us remember, according to the guidance of the Scripture and the teaching of Jesus: 1) We pray to The Father, 2) IN the name of Jesus, (John 16:23), and 3) through the Person of the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 6:18)

One closing thought I have. It is valuable and important in our prayer life to be clear in our wording and understanding. For one example to illustrate my point, we might say in our prayer: "Thank you, Father, for dying on the cross and shedding your blood for my sins". Note this: It was not the Father (but Jesus) who died on the cross and shed His blood for my sins. Careful wording and understanding, in my opinion, enhances and enriches our life of prayer.

We can carefully examine the Lord's Prayer and probably never exhaust the depth of its meaning and significance! The important thing is to seek, as best we can, the meaning and depth of His prayer, but also to PRAY! Jesus told His disciples 'WHEN' you pray; not IF you pray! So, then, let's PRAY!

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God has blessed me with a long and fruitful ministry! I have over 40 years in pastoral ministry, retreat speaking, Evangelism, teaching and Christian Radio broadcasting.

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