As we travel through Lent – the season of preparation for Easter - we’re thinking about Prayer. We’re spending 5 weeks in Jesus Christ’s school of prayer here in Luke 11:1-13. Last week we saw that the foundation of all prayer is just one word ‘Father.’ We’ll come back to that. Today we’re looking at the framework for prayer that Jesus gave us - The Lord’s prayer. Probably the most spoken form of words in the history of the world. And yet it’s not just a formal prayer to be said by rote.. but a framework that takes us into the world of prayer.
Prayer is a struggle – sometimes we don’t desire to pray, or our prayers seem to go unanswered so long that we lose heart. We don’t know how to pray. We don’t know what to pray.
Jesus gives us a framework for prayer. More crucially there are deep reasons to pray within the framework. Thousands of books written on prayer to help us pray. One of the most prominent recently was spiritual writer, Anne Lamott’s book on prayer entitled. Help, Thanks, Wow: The three essential prayers.
Jesus’ pattern of prayer is a little different. And, good as Lamott’s writing is, Jesus’ is the pattern worth following.
Jesus’ pattern is WOW, sorry, please
The first element of Jesus’ pattern for prayer is PRAISE. Wow!
Hallowed be your name!
Your Kingdom Come
Hallowed means Holy. Holiness is a rather alien concept in our culture it speaks of God’s otherness his greatness, his goodness, his glory. Holy is your name! It’s an expression of Praise. You are amazing! Kingdom refers to God’s Lordship his government of lives which brings life and transformation. Don’t you want relationships to be mended, don’t you want hatred to cease don’t you want injustice to end, don’t you want poverty to be a thing of the past, no more stabbings on our streets, don’t you want peace on earth? That’s what we pray when we pray your kingdom come.
When you meet people who just desperately need praise all the time - it’s not great is it? It’s kind of all about them and their insecurities. God seeks our praise for precisely the opposite reason. He is supremely worthy of all Praise. Constant praise. It’s for our good and our wholeness that we praise him. If we don’t praise him we live completely out of kilter with reality, with the way things are. If we don’t praise him the rocks will cry out!
Last week we saw that prayer begins with the foundational principle that God is Father. There is a sense in which all human beings, made in God’s image are God’s offspring, his children. But Father describes a relationship that is not there by nature. By nature we self destructively reject God with all our beings. We cut ourselves off from God and his life. For God to become our Father meant forgiveness won at the cost of his own life. He sent his Son to his enemies to become one of us - united with humanity Jesus died for our sins and rose to establish our life. United by faith with Jesus the Son we can know God as Father. God would rather lose his own life than lose us. Such is his kindness, such is his love and when the reality of Father touches your heart. You must cry out in praise
Hallowed be your name! Your kingdom come! Your will be done!
Prayer starts with God not with my needs. My needs are important to God but he wants me first. Prayer is about relationship. About growing in relationship with God. Prizing God over all things. Wanting him for him. Not for him meeting my needs or the things that he can give me.
Prayer is always firstly about God. It is God centred.
See If you think that prayer is asking God for things (and getting frustrated and angry when he doesn’t give them). the presumably you believe that it’s these things that you so want that will give you the signifcance satisfaction and security that we all need.
But the Lord himself IS our ultimate and only need. He is the source of all signifcance, satisfaction and security. The gospel of his love and power tells us that and encourages us to first and foremost enjoy Him. Rest in his fatherly care. spend time with him to get him not the things that you can get from him!!
Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these other things shall be given to you.
praise spreading - the kingdom
The second element of Jesus’ pattern for prayer is CONFESSION - sorry Lord, I’m sorry.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
saying sorry is not easy and it’s not popular in our culture. I think that’s why sorry does not feature as one of the three essential prayers in Anne Lamott’s book. Sorry humiliates us, admits our failings, sorry might get us into trouble - we’ve admitted we were to blame, sorry puts us in a place of weakness before the person we’re apologising too, sorry might make us depressed..
But we are to say sorry to God all the time. NOT to wallow in our failings and NOT because our forgiveness hangs in the balance or is constantly in doubt. NO - we, if we trust in Jesus, we have been forgiven once and for all through Jesus’ death on the cross for us. We are right with God not on the basis of our performance but on the basis of Christ’s performance. And we are right with him by trusting in Jesus Christ. We say sorry to God every day not to get forgiven but to constantly remind ourselves that we are people who need forgiveness and to remind ourselves that we AREpeople who have received forgiveness!
Remembering this is very powerful for our lives. It produces both happiness and humility.
When you remember that you are forgiven it makes you happy. Some of us have an MP3 playing in our heads that says ‘I hate myself I’m really rubbish, I always mess up.’ That music weighs us down. But forgiveness changes the record to ‘I’m forgiven and loved and accepted by God just as I am.’ That gives you a joy, a happinness in your life. it frees you from self accusation and guilt. Enables you to live differently.
And when you remember you are forgiven it makes you humble and able to forgive others who wrong you. The reason we don’t forgive is we think we’re better than someone else. We say to ourselves ‘they’re bad I’m good.’ But forgiveness reminds us that we can’t say that because we do wrong things. We ourselves need to be forgiven. And if God has forgiven us our wrongs shouldn’t we forgive those who wrong us? Shouldn’t we let go of bitterness and grudges? That person who wronged you years ago well you can let that go, you can forgive.
If we are to live joy filled and humble lives free from guilt and bitterness we need to remind ourselves every day, bring it to mind, every morning say to ourselves ‘I am a forgiven sinner pardoned by God through the cross of Jesus Christ.’
WOW - SORRY
and the third part of Jesus pattern for prayer
PETITION - please
2 parts to this
Give us this day our daily bread
Lead us not into temptation
We do ask God for things. For help. We do depend on him.
Do you remember we said last week that being united to Jesus the Son and drawn into the Father-Child fellowship of the Trinity means that Christian maturity is not becoming stronger, more self sufficient. It’s to become more dependent more aware of my weakness and therefore more and more in prayer
Give me today my daily bread
Notice that we are to pray for our needs not our wants, it’s our daily bread not our daily caviar. And notice also we are to pray for daily bread that is daily provision like the Israelites who were provided with manna to collect each day in the wilderness. We are to look for today’s needs to be met. not for tomorrow’s needs to be met today so we don’t have to pray tomorrow. Money, food or whatever else we need today.
Someone might say but i don’t even have the wisdom to know the difference between my wants and my needs. Many of my longings have gone unanswered and i feel paralysed to know what to pray. John Calvin is helpful here in his treatise on prayer in his magnum opus the Institutes. Pray with restful trust and yet pray with confident hope. God loves you and he knows what’s best for you. He’s not gonna give you something that’s bad for you. When you pray your heart must always be saying like we’re told to here and as Jesus prayed in the garden ‘yet not what i will but what you will be one. Your will be done’ We can rest in the will of God. And yet we should pray with confident hope. pour your heart out to God. Sometimes we don’t receive because we don’t ask.. and God sometimes will not give things without our asking because he doesn’t want us to think we did it, we don’t need God! God wants to hear our requests because he will gives us what we most need.
Martin Luther saw a social dimension to this prayer as well. For all to get daily bread, there must be a thiving economy, good employment and a just society. Therefore to pray ‘give US this day our daily bread’ is to pray against wanton exploitation in business trade and labour which crushes the poor and deprives them of their daily bread’
Give us today our daily bread.
And lead me not into temptation
But deliver me from evil
We are all tempted. But this is a prayer to not be LED INTO temptation but instead be delivered. It’s the danger of entertaining and considering giving in to sin. It might be prosperity that I am led into pride - the sin of thinking that i don’t need God. Or in adversity that I am led into despair - losing all hope and becoming angrily estranged from God. Seductions and trials come on us like a storm and can knock us off our feet. Please give us strength and grace to stand firm in them.
The life transforming, world transforming privilege of prayer. Knowing God, loving him, receiving the assurance of his forgiveness, depending on our Father utterly.
It’s a costly wonderful gift - access to God our Father. It cost God the suffering and death of his Son. Jesus was forsaken with our sins that we might be welcomed in. Jesus was rejected that we might accepted. God would rather lose his own life than lose us. You are worth that much to Him. How much he must love you. How much he must want to get to know you and bless your life.