Bible Lesson 61

PRAYER 3 IN SERIES
Matthew 6:9-13

Prayer, the entrance of the creature into the presence of the Creator, is a privilege and a blessing that we should take advantage of every day and every moment that we are awake and aware. Most of us have become gospel hardened by the shallow belief systems that are being preached in so many churches around the world. We have organized and systemized every aspect of our “supposed belief system” to the point that we can even work ahead of our worship and never think anything at all about our relationship to the world and our nodding relationship with God. If you think that I am wrong in my assessment of current day religion, take time to stop and jot down every time you read your Bible and how long you devote to that, then jot down every time you pray, thank, and praise God. Then compare that time to the time that you devote to things like work, pleasure, TV, and the like.

Now ask yourself, if you were God would you be satisfied with that’ If you were not spending more time than that with your husband or wife, would they be satisfied with that’ I’m sure that you are now upset with me because I raised the question. Before I asked the question, you were satisfied with your little charade of religion, but now you are upset with me in all probability.

Am I your enemy because I have told you the truth (Galatians 4:16)’ We have just confronted the problem with untold millions of people, who have been taught by the visible church, things like, ‘we are all in the same boat, and we just need to do the best that we can, God is going to work out His plan in the end, and therefore a loving God would never send anyone to hell’. I would ask you to reread that statement and ask yourself if that doesn’t sound familiar to you.

The problem is that we don’t get to make the rules, God has already laid down the rules and we don’t get to ignore or change any of them. Now, you may wonder what this has to do with prayer and our individual prayer lives; and I tell you that it has everything to do with it! Most church members today do not have a prayer life.

Oh, they know that there is supposed to be some heavenly bell-hop that has to give us anything that we want when we say that we have prayed; but it doesn’t go much past that. If you think that I don’t know what I’m talking about, look back at your accounting that I asked you to do at the beginning of this lesson.

Dear people, we have bought a pig in a poke, a grab bag that we do not know the contents of when it comes to the most important issue that human beings have to deal with while they live here on this earth. We stake our eternal lives on a bowl of pottage. Esau gave up his birthright for a bowl of stew that was supposed to be venison, but we have given up heaven in many cases for a bowl that doesn’t have any meat in it.

I’m sure that most of you who read this have some degree of prayer life; however, there is only one kind of person who can truly pray and that is the person who has been reborn by God. It takes the Holy Spirit in any person who gets a prayer to God. We can kneel and speak words into the air, but that is not real prayer and God doesn’t deal with that.

What has to happen for any person to be heard in prayer by God, is that the one praying must be a child of God. I know that many think and love to say, ‘We are all God’s children’, but that is a lie! Look at John chapter eight and verses forty-two through forty-seven. We are all God’s creatures, but only the truly saved are His children. Notice I did not say all church members are God’s children. We cannot get to God except by His Lamb, Jesus Christ, (John 6:44), and we cannot get to Jesus unless and until the Father draws us to Him.

We have left off the reality of salvation and we now think that joining some denominational church saves us. We have forgotten that there is a dying, a new birth, cleansing and repentance with Godly sorrow, an indwelling of the Holy Spirit in every salvation. God did not send His Son Jesus Christ to the cross to suffer our sins, to free us to do as we please. Those who are truly saved ‘are’ led by the Holy Spirit and if we do not have the Spirit to lead us, then we do not belong to God (Romans 8:9,14; 1st Cor. 3:16).

I know that there are millions of people who do not agree with those Bible verses that I have just quoted to you; but that doesn’t change God’s mind, because whatever God says is wrong or sin, is wrong and whatever God says is right is right. Wrong, is wrong when everyone is wrong; and right is right when nobody is right, it’s that simple. We may think that because we belong to a mega-church with thousands on the roll and a denomination that counts millions of members, that we are safe in numbers; but that does not influence our sovereign, and there is going to be a judgment when God will summarily dismiss all who have disagreed with Him into hell.

Those who are not truly saved, blood-bought, reborn, and obedient to the law of God, cannot reach God in prayer, (See John 14:21-24; John 15:13-14). Not only are you not saved unless you have been radically changed for the better by God, but you are not loved and you are not even the friend of Christ.

I realize that dealing with those truths is hard and that it makes the cheese a little binding, but we have to deal with what God has said to us. We have no reason to believe that God has sent His Only Begotten Son to die for those who would believe in Him, just so we could be free to sin and not expect a correction. How many Christians do you know who pray’ I don’t mean pray ‘for’ things or pray to ask God to cure some illness or remove some problem that we have; but pray to adore God, to tell Him how much we love Him and need Him and depend upon Him for life and well being’ I have never known anyone who prayed like the ‘Apostle of Prayer’, John (Praying) Hyde.

It is said by those who knew him that his prayer closet was like unto the Holy of Holies in Moses Tabernacle, it was Holy Ground and no one but the High Priest in all of the Nation of Israel could go there and then only one day out of three hundred and sixty-five, and then only under the blood.

Does that sound like your prayer closet, the place where you solemnly meet with the Almighty’ I expect that the best of us do not come up to that level, although we should’ It is interesting to note that John Hyde did some work in India, before the separation of Pakistan from India, and from what I read He worked around the territory where I am currently working on-line with a Christian Pastor, a native Pakistani; and I wonder if this man who puts his life on the line every day to lift Christ, has ever heard of Hyde. I will ask him.

We needed to say most of that to have a place where we can begin our study of Prayer. It does no more good to talk to a lost person about prayer than it does to talk to a fool about God. Remember, the fool has said in his heart, there is no God, so a fool will not have much confidence in prayer since his prayer has no object. There are plenty of people, and most of them call themselves Christians, who do not know the first thing about prayer.

They know that people normally say something when they pray; but then so do robbers who go into a bank with a note that says, this is a stick-up. Christians are knowledgeable people, who are instructed by the Word of God. Salvation comes only to those who know God (Romans 10:17). Christ meant for us to know something about prayer, and so in Matthew chapter 6, He gave us a pattern to instruct us about the structure of our prayers. In Matthew chapter 6 and verse 9 we find who our prayers are addressed to, and it is ‘Our Father which art in heaven’.

With that said, let me add, that only those who are truly saved and obedient can call God their Father. This is the key to prayer, and if we are going to pray we must deal with the fact that we are speaking to our Creator, our Sustainer, and our Savior. This mindset will ensure that we approach the throne of Grace with sufficient preparation and with an awe of our great God. Does it impress you that a mere creature can enter into commerce with the only God, Jehovah God’ The reason that I have been so careful to identify those who can gain a hearing from God in prayer, is that we have been careless in our profession of Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man (1st Timothy 2:5).

It is useless for someone who is not truly saved to attempt to gain a hearing at the throne of Grace. Does that mean that anyone is barred from gaining salvation’ Absolutely not! God has already elected some, before the foundation of the World; but he did not reveal whom He elected. Perhaps you were one of them and if you can come to Christ the way that Christ says that you must come, then you can be saved (Luke 14:26-35).

It is not in my power as one called by God to preach and teach His word, to offer the assurance of salvation to anyone, other than what God has said; and God has not given any of us that authority, so don’t depend upon your friends, family or pastor for that assurance. If you are saved, the Holy Spirit of God will give you the absolute assurance of His presence. Then and only then can you pray, ‘Our Father, which art in heaven’.

Now, if you can call God your Father, the next step in prayer is to petition God. There are seven petitions in the model prayer and they fall into two groups, the first three relate to the cause of God and the other four relate to our daily concerns, so we petition God that ‘His Name be hallowed’.

Hallowed means sanctified, set apart for sacred use. The name of God means God in His fullness, and we are asking that God would cause His name to be held in high reverence. Our prayer is asking God to, by His overriding providence, direct and dispose of all things to His glory. That should remind us that all too often when we think we are praying we are thinking of ourselves and our felt needs, instead of the glory of God. Then the second petition of our prayer is, ‘Thy Kingdom come’, which speaks of the means of hallowing God’s name, and that is in the coming of His Kingdom, that kingdom that involves the hearts and minds of those who truly know Him.

The Kingdom of God is the same for the Father and the Son. Jesus Christ holds the mediatorial office of King by virtue of His Father’s appointment and establishment (Luke 26:29; Psalms 2:6). When the Kingdom is seen as the reign of grace set up in the hearts of God’s people it is called the Kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is entered only by regeneration. Our next petition is for ‘Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven’.

That petition speaks of the Christian’s desire that God’s Kingdom would fully come and that all would be obedient to the word and will of our God. It is worse than useless to call God our King and our Father if we do not obey His commandments. Jesus Christ said in Luke 6:46, ‘Why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say” Just think about how peaceful and productive and good this world would be if all who call themselves Christians (part of the Kingdom), would strive to obey God’s commandments. Some may ask, can anyone obey all of God’s commandments’ I say to you on the authority of the Word of God that all Christians can keep the commandments of God, (John 14:15; Philippians 2:13).

Those three petitions’.’ Hallowed be Thy name,’Thy Kingdom come’ Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven’ are the petitions that speak of our love and concern for God and His name and His Kingdom.

The next four petitions deal with our immediate concerns for ourselves. First, give us this day our daily bread. That indicates a concern for our physical needs. We must be physically fit to maintain a healthy spiritual vigor in performing our duties to God. We have to have sustenance, and I believe this covers more than simply food and would include general health, clothing, and things that enable us to live within the world. Proverbs 30:8-9 says, ‘Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny Thee, and say, Who is the Lord’ Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain” We must not ask for the things of life that are more than our needs.

If God gives them, we are thankful and we use them for His glory; but we must not ask for them. 1st Timothy 6:8 says, ‘And having food and raiment let us be therewith content’. We are to ask for our daily bread, and we earn that by the sweat of our brow. The next petition begins with ‘and’ to show a close relationship to the one before in which we ask for our daily bread, then we petition ‘And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors’.

This shows that forgiveness of our debts is tied to our asking for our daily bread. We can look to a man condemned to death in a prison cell. He is well fed and cared for, but the very best of food and clothing is worth nothing to him; because he is under the sentence of death. We as unforgiven sinners are under the sentence of death as surely as if we were in prison with a number for a name.

We are here asking God to forgive us of the sins that accrue to us as debt. Remember Romans 6:23 that says that ‘The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’ Our old sins are forgiven and under the blood of Christ; however, our present and future sins are not remitted unless and until we repent of them, so we ask God daily to forgive our sins and they will be forgiven.

The next petition is, ‘and lead us not into temptation’, and because this one begins with the word ‘and’, we know that it connects to the last one where we ask for forgiveness for our sin and we ask for the grace to prevent us from repeating them. In the prior petition (forgive us our debts) we asked for the remission of the guilt of sin, and in this one, we ask for deliverance from its power. This concerns sanctification and as we keep our focus and faith, on and in God, we can know that we are being sanctified.

We are asking our Father to lead us not into temptation and as we do that we recognize His sovereign power over all things on the earth both good and evil. God tempts His people either objectively or permissively by Satan, to reveal our weakness and our deep need of His grace. God also tests us to teach us our need of watching and praying, since most of us are so hardheaded and unbelieving that we learn only from hard knocks. Our Father also subjects us to trials to cure our slothfulness. We and many of us have been in the military, and we know from experience that learning what the commander wants from us is demanding and physically hard; but it takes that to make us a cohesive unit, God does the same with His family.

The next and last petition is ‘.’ But deliver us from evil’. So far, we have prayed for providing grace (give us), pardoning grace (forgive us), preventing grace (deliver us), which reminds us that our prayers are not for me or me, but us, for all the household of faith (Galatians 6:10). God’s children are to pray for His deliverance from evil; because only God can so move occasions that we are delivered from sin.

The Savior, Jesus Christ prayed for our deliverance in His High Priestly prayer in John chapter 17 and verse 15, when He prayed ‘I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil’. I would remind you that when we pray we must believe that God will answer those prayers that are in His will. In other words, if you pray for rain, carry your umbrella, and if you pray for food have a bucket handy.

Prayer takes many forms but always begins with adoration and praise of God, and then we ask for the things that God has said He will provide, and then we intercede for others. Since we all depend upon God for our needs in this world, we must of necessity, pray.

So practice and develop a sound prayer life, and keep reminding yourself of who you are and who God is. Our prayer life is not to be glib but natural and mindful of whose presence we are in. It is not sufficient for the Christian, to speak of God when he seldom speaks to God. That kind of thing will lead to idol worship, so make sure that you have not practiced a stunted prayer life. When you pray make sure that God is the center of attention.

Until next time,

may God bless and keep you

This is Bro. Bob