Thursday, February 28, 2008

Psalm 9 commentary and prayer

When I sent this as my weekly devotional (the prayer only) I titled it "For your struggle today" for seldom is there a day without some sort of struggle - some more difficult than others, to be sure - but as Glida is famous for saying, "It's always something!"

So also for any reader of this blog - in whatever struggle you find yourself today, may I recommend Psalm 9.

Since January 1, 2008, I've undertaken a study of the Psalms by doing 1 Psalm per week. (I know, I know... this is a minimum of a 3 year study - but hey, what else am I gonna do with my time!?)

Anyway, the study for this Psalm came during week 9, hence Psalm 9. As I began the week I noticed that there weren't many notes in my Bible on this one, indicating that I hadn't studied it much.

As I began the study, it was a little difficult to grasp, but I stuck with it. (Let me know if you'd like info on how I'm going about this, and what it's producing...)

An "issue" early in the week opened new insights into this Psalm. I learned that verses 9-10 became an "anchor" to hold on to in the midst of a storm.

Oh - one more thing... let me recommend a radio station (if you're in the East Tennessee area) 95.3fm or online at BBN Radio . This is good stuff - wonderful old hymns, and joyful praise. Don't fill your mind with the "garbage" of the world. Put good stuff in there!

It really spoke to my heart this morning with a beautiful version of "Great is Thy Faithfulness!"And now, Psalm 9...

Psalm 9: 1-20 NASB

Psa 9:1 For the choir director; on Muth-labben. A Psalm of David.
I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders.
Psa 9:2 I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
Psa 9:3 When my enemies turn back, They stumble and perish before You.
Psa 9:4 For You have maintained my just cause; You have sat on the throne judging righteously.
Psa 9:5 You have rebuked the nations, You have destroyed the wicked; You have blotted out their name forever and ever.
Psa 9:6 The enemy has come to an end in perpetual ruins, And You have uprooted the cities; The very memory of them has perished.
Psa 9:7 But the LORD abides forever; He has established His throne for judgment,
Psa 9:8 And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.
Psa 9:9 The LORD also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, A stronghold in times of trouble;
Psa 9:10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.
Psa 9:11 Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion; Declare among the peoples His deeds.
Psa 9:12 For He who requires blood remembers them; He does not forget the cry of the afflicted.
Psa 9:13 Be gracious to me, O LORD; See my affliction from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death,
Psa 9:14 That I may tell of all Your praises, That in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in Your salvation.
Psa 9:15 The nations have sunk down in the pit which they have made; In the net which they hid, their own foot has been caught.
Psa 9:16 The LORD has made Himself known; He has executed judgment. In the work of his own hands the wicked is snared. Higgaion Selah.
Psa 9:17 The wicked will return to Sheol, Even all the nations who forget God.
Psa 9:18 For the needy will not always be forgotten, Nor the hope of the afflicted perish forever.
Psa 9:19 Arise, O LORD, do not let man prevail; Let the nations be judged before You.
Psa 9:20 Put them in fear, O LORD; Let the nations know that they are but men. Selah.


Verses 1-2 gives us a statement of faith in the face of trouble. It is obvious when we read further in the Psalm, that he is in the midst of a struggle, but he begins with what it is that keeps him going - “I will… I will… I will… I will…”

Verse 3 is also a statement of faith in what “will” happen, because of what “has” happened in verses 4-6. Verse 3 is future, verses 4-6 are the past. They are examples of what the Lord “has” done before. So, there is no reason to think that He will not so act in the future - in “this” situation.

Verse 7 is again, a statement of faith of God’s dependability - of God’s faithfulness. And that faithfulness is fulfilled in how God will act in verse 8 - that is, with righteousness, justice, and fairness for all peoples.

Then verses 9-10 are the anchor to which all is tied. “Those who “know” (intimately) Thy Name… You will not forsake…” This brings on the faithful cry of verses 11-14.

Again the technique of “recalling the past to give ground to the hope of the future” is used in verses 15-16, then 17-18.

And the Psalm ends with the cry of petition in verses 19-20.

It can be diagramed like this: 1-2 faith, 3 future, 4-6 past / 7 faith, 8-9 future, [9-10 the anchor and 11-14 faithful cry] 15-16 past, / 17-18 hope/future, 19-20 petition.

The Prayer of Psalm 9

Oh God! I will lift up thanks to You with all my heart; with all that I am and ever will be; I lift to You. I will tell always of Your wonderful works, of Your miracles - both “explainable” and not (as the “world” looks at them) but I know, they are from You. And every memory triggers yet another, as I think of Your presence and Your providence in my life.

I will rejoice and take great pleasure in lifting up Your Name, and I will sing - always be singing, praises to You, oh my Father. No matter what else is going on in my life…

Oh God, when this present “struggle” is over (and I know it will be, in time) I will be able to look back and see how You worked it through for me. You have always worked, always been faithful, always have been in control.

For all the “works” that I am thankful for, there are a thousand more that I’m sure I’ve forgotten. The memory of that particular struggle is just gone… You have erased it.

But You Lord! You are ALWAYS there. You will ALWAYS be the only One to Whom we can turn. You are always “right.” You are always “just.” You ARE my place of refuge. There is no other place; there is no other One to Whom I can turn.

You are my “cleft in the rock.” You are my “shelter in the storm”. You are my “life raft in the shipwreck.” You are my salvation - my only salvation. And I “know” You Lord, or better yet, I am “known” by You. I have cried out, seeking, searching, and You have not ever left me alone; not ever! I can sing, with affirmation and arms uplifted, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand… all other ground is sinking sand!”

I will call on the whole world to praise You. I will be a witness every where I go. You ARE GOD! And You will not forget, nor neglect the cry of Your children.

I cry in the midst of this struggle, Oh Lord. You know what I am facing, what I have faced. Please use this so that I may have even more stories to tell of Your faithfulness.

I know Lord, the “enemy” cannot prevail. Your Word teaches that “whatsoever we sow, we will reap.” And that goes for evil as well as good. “He” or “it” will not prevail… it will not always be like “this.” I cry to You, I hold to You, You will put the “enemy” in his place…

I pray with the assurance of Your Holy Word, and in His Name - Amen.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Study on Prayer - week 4

As we come tonight to the 4th of our studies on Prayer, we’re taking a completely different track by looking at what is called “The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus” found in John 17. In my studies of this chapter, I really wish we’d done a 4 week study of this chapter like we did of Luke 15. There’s just so much here that we won’t have time to get into. So, this is going to just be an overview of the chapter.

As I told someone the other day - my desire in teaching is to give people the “want-to”! I want you to “want to” read and study God’s Word!

To understand what and why John wrote, you have to know when, and to whom he was writing. The gospel was written around 85 AD., about 10 years before John would be exiled to the island of Patmos. It was written in an era not so different from our own.

To the mostly Gentile-Christian men and women living in the (so-called) “modern” world around the Aegean Sea, the Temple in Jerusalem was just a pile of rubble. Fifty years, 500 years, or 2000 years - old fashioned is old fashioned, and the past is the past and they didn’t see how any of that related to them.

F.F. Bruce in his book “The Message of the New Testament” says, “The climate of opinion by which this generation had its thinking moulded was not greatly concerned about historical fact: eternal truth was the important thing. Historical fact was tied to time and place… and an insistence on historical fact obscured the universal relevance of eternal truth.”

In other words, “why do I need to know that Bible history stuff? Just tell me about Jesus!” Sound familiar?

That’s why John wrote. He said, in effect, “You DO need to know that “stuff.” John’s Gospel was very particular about the things it included. Many people feel that it is just a ‘fill-in” of the things the other gospels left out. No, everything written in it is there for a reason.

In John 20:30-31 he writes, “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (Emphasis added)

This prayer that we’re studying tonight is called the “High Priestly Prayer” of Jesus. Do you know why? Do you know the function of a High Priest? Do you know what the “Day of Atonement” is?

We don’t have time to get into all that tonight (that’d make a good study in itself!) But, we do need to know a little. True, we can just read the scripture and see that Jesus is praying for Himself, His disciples, and for us, but unless we understand what His words mean, most of it won’t make sense to us.

On your handout I’ve included scriptures from Leviticus which explains what happens on the Day of Atonement, and from Hebrews which explains how Jesus is that Great High Priest. (By the way, it’s been said that Leviticus is the most “New Testament” of the Old Testament, for what it teaches about Jesus, and Hebrews is the most “Old Testament” of the New Testament for what it teaches of the fulfillment!)

Anyway, this is it in a nutshell - everything about the Tabernacle or the Temple in the Old Testament is just a “pattern” or you might say a “scale model” of Heaven. Everything about…everything, represents some aspect of God’s Holy City - the priests, the Levites, the utensils, the sacrifices, the altar, the incense, the veil - everything is a “likeness” of what will be. I don’t understand it all yet, I just know that it is.

In the Old Testament, the high priest offered the blood of the offering to God for the forgiveness of sin - his own as well as everyone else’s. He “interceded” for the people. And it was on-going.

In the fulfillment of this, Jesus is the High Priest, one completely without sin, interceding for the forgiveness of sin - done once and for all.

In this prayer, Jesus prays for that fulfillment in His own restoration to the Glory of Heaven, (it’s like He can’t wait to get home!) And He intercedes not only for the 11 disciples who are there with Him, but He also prays for us as well. And we’ll look briefly at just what He prays for (which, by the way, gives us an excellent model of how we are to pray for others!)

To set the scene for you…

It is Thursday night of Holy week. Jesus and 11 of His disciples have left the Upper Room in John Mark’s house, and are making their way toward the Kidron valley where they will cross over to the Mount of Olives where a garden with an olive press, called a “gethsemane”, is located (Instead of “The Garden of Gethsemane” it should be “The garden of the gethsemane - it’s a “thing” not necessarily a “place.”…). Jesus often stays here when He is in Jerusalem…

While they were in the Upper Room, they had participated in the Passover meal, what we call The Last Supper, and had their feet washed by Jesus, and then after that Judas left out, but the other disciples didn’t know why. After they sang a hymn they all left out. It was around midnight….

As they walked along, Jesus shared many things with them. He talked almost nonstop - like He has so much to say, in such a short amount of time… and indeed He does.

Then all of a sudden, as they come to the edge of the Kidron Valley, I think Jesus just stops! He lifts His hands toward heaven and just starts praying! I think it caught them off guard. Have you ever been around someone who just, all of a sudden, started praying? And not only that, but as He prays, He is praying for them!

Have you ever had someone pray, specifically, for you? How did it make you feel?

This is a prayer that was meant to be heard. Don’t let anyone tell you that Jesus taught against public prayer. He taught against “showy” public prayer. He taught against “insincere” public prayer, but against public prayer, just because it’s public? No, He never taught against that. There were several times when He prayed that He meant for the prayer to be heard!

Listen to the words of this prayer (read chapter 17) And imagine you’ve been walking with Jesus, listening to His words, and then He stops and begins praying…

I really wish we had time to study this prayer in depth - there is so much here! So we’ll just do a quick overview. First of all we can see that it has 3 parts.

~The first part (verses 1-5) has to do with Jesus’ relationship with the Father. The perspective of the prayer is like it’s from “the other side of the cross.” In other words, He is praying like it’s a “done deal” - like it’s already happened. In fact, if you didn’t know better, you’d think that it was being prayed after the Resurrection! But it’s not… and in just a very few moments we’ll find Him in the Garden on His face begging the Father to let this cup pass…

But that’s not so far-fetched… how many of us have been in situations where we knew the outcome was going to be victorious, but the meantime was hell? The worst part about losing my Mother was not her death, but the 6 weeks prior to that…

Second, Jesus prays for the disciples. Verses 6-19 gives us His intercession for them as He asks God to “keep them” - keep them (verse 11) in unity; keep them (or give them) (verse 13) joy; and keep them (verse 15) safe, or “from the evil one.”

And why does Jesus pray these things for them? (Verse 18-19) that they may be sent into the world, sanctified in truth…

Third Jesus prays for us. Verse 20 says “I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word, that they may be one...”

“…that they may be one…” Jesus also prays for our unity. One writer said that all the disciples were different, and all believers are different. He said there is a difference between unity and uniformity. Unity shows its best in diversity, but uniformity is threatened by diversity.

John Wesley said “The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion. Therefore a man must find companions or make them.”

Then, in order to attain that “oneness”, Jesus prays for us to have the “glory” that He had. “What is Jesus’ Glory?”

First, Jesus’ Glory is the cross. Remember, Jesus never talked about being crucified; He spoke of being “glorified…” Therefore, our “cross” is our “glory.” Whatever it is that is our cross, is the thing that shows forth our glory. Now, we don't pray for difficult times, situations, or circumstances, but “when” they come (and they will come), then as Christ works in us, we show the glory that is Him in us.

Second, His Glory is His obedience to God. Philippians 2:8 says He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

And third, His Glory is His relationship to God. He prays in verse 24 that “they may be with Me where I am, in order that they may behold My glory…” In other words, He wants us in Heaven - in Paradise - with Him…

~Another thing we can see in this prayer is how it follows the model that He gave us in the Lord’s Prayer.

In the opening phrases of the prayer, we see Him coming to God as Father in heaven and hallowing His name. In verse 6 He says that “I manifested Thy name” which means that He taught the disciples about God’s character and authority.

In verses 2-4 we see Him declaring “Thy will be done - on earth as it is in heaven.”

And in verse 14 we see Jesus asking for God to protect them from the evil one…

And in the closing verses we see Jesus affirming, “Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever…”

~And lastly, we see in this prayer of Jesus’, the model of how we are to pray for other believers. This prayer seeks the glory of God, even when the price is personal suffering. It affirms that whatever brings God’s glory is ultimately for our good - actually for our “best.” If you have a question about whether you should do something, ask yourself, “Does it bring God Glory?”

This prayer asks for divine protection not from suffering, but from Satan, from spiritual opposition, and from defeat. It seeks a greater unity among true believers, and looks ultimately for a reunion with our Lord.

When we pray for one another, in the way that Jesus prayed for us, we will have unity, we’ll have joy, and we will arrive safely in the Father’s arms - and that’s exactly the answer to Jesus’ prayer.

In closing, I want you to think about the hymn “In The Garden” because our next study will be Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane. I want you to think about this week’s prayer and where it was that Jesus prayed it - just outside the Garden - just before taking on all the sin, of all mankind, of all eternity…

Study of Prayer - Week Four
Jesus’ “High Priestly” Prayer
AKA “The Real Lord’s Prayer”

Key statement: When we pray for one another, in the way that Jesus prayed for us, we will have unity, we’ll have joy, and we will arrive safely in the Father’s arms - and that’s exactly the answer to Jesus’ prayer.

John 17 (read it every day - in different translations if possible)
Leviticus 16:3-34 (especially verse 30)
Philippians 2:9-11
Hebrews 4:14-16
Hebrews chapters 8-9 (most important)
Hebrews 10:11-12
(Actually - it would be very helpful if you read the whole book of Hebrews. Read it in an easily understood version such as The New Living Translation.)


Do you understand why this is called “The ‘Real’ Lord’s Prayer”? Do you understand why it is called “The High Priestly Prayer”?

Have you ever just “stopped in your tracks” (or dropped to your knees) and started praying? Have you been around someone who did?

How does it make you feel when you are in the presence of someone praying specifically for you?

Do you see portions in this prayer which follow the “model” prayer?

Can you see where Jesus is praying for you, individually, in this prayer? (As the song says, “When He was on the cross, you were on His mind…”)

How does it comfort you to know, that as He was on His way to the cross, He was praying for you?

Praying the prayer of Jesus - John 17

Father, as Jesus came to you on this night of His crucifixion, He was more concerned with us than He was with Himself. As He recounted all that He had done; as He was counting down the hours until His death, His eyes were still on Your glory and our protection; on Your manifestation and our understanding of it.

He seemed so anxious for us. He knew how hard it was going to be for us sometimes, but even with that, He didn’t pray for You to take us out of the world, but to protect us from the evil one. He so wanted us to know the fellowship and “oneness” that He had (and has) with You. He wanted it to be real in our lives, so that other lives may be touched as well.

And so, Father, we pray that prayer as well. The “world” doesn’t know You, but we know You through the person of Jesus Christ, and we pray that the love with which You loved Christ may be in us as He is in us.

In His precious name we pray, Amen.


Friday, February 08, 2008

Study on Prayer - week 3

We come now to the second part of our study of the Lord’s Prayer, what I’ve titled, “P’s in a Pod, Part Two: Things We Need God to Give Us”.

Last week we looked at the first part of the prayer in the “Things we need to give God” and we talked especially about the holiness of God. We looked at the first set of “P’s” by looking at God’s Paternity and Placement by saying “Our Father who art in heaven”; we looked at Praise when we say “hallowed be Thy Name.”

And, we saw that His Divine Providence took place when we say “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…”

Praying that part of the prayer is extremely important; spending time in “worshipful” prayer - in a deliberate time of meditation and study - studying the attributes of God, is what gives us the “privilege” of praying this second part of the prayer

But I think, if we’re real honest, we’ll find that our prayers spend much more time in this “second” portion - in “the things we need God to give us” than in the “things we need to give God.” And yet, God is so gracious… and He keeps on giving us so much!

As we’ve noted, this “model” prayer is found in both Luke 11, where the unnamed disciple asked Jesus - in an urgent tone of voice - to teach them how to pray.

And, the “model” prayer is also found in Matthew 6, as a part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, where He is teaching the “attitude” of worship, by teaching about fasting, giving, and praying - what is acceptable, and what is not…

With this study we’ll be focusing on the version found in Matthew as it is closest to what we actually say when we repeat “The Lord’s Prayer.”

(Matthew 6:9-10 “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.”)

Before we go on - think about last week’s handout? Did you “ponder” on those questions? What about the scriptures? Could you see the similarity between the OT prayers and the “model” prayer?

(and then verse 11 “Give us this day our daily bread.”)

And now we come to Provision. What do you think this means? The Message translates it as “Keep us alive with three square meals…” (That doesn’t really work for me…)

The Revised Standard Version says, “Give us to-day bread for the coming day…”

There are many ways to look at what “bread” means here - sorta like “it depends on what ‘is’ is…” There’s the bread of the Lord’s Supper, the bread as Spiritual food, and of course, bread as Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life…”

But, sometimes I think we try to get far too theological in reading the Bible. Sometimes we just have to read it with a simple heart. It means, exactly what it says - provision (whether food, or clothing, or housing, or healing) whatever we need “provided” - today.

One of the reasons the early church had a hard time understanding the meaning was that the Greek word which is used for “daily” is a word that for a very long time was found nowhere else in Greek literature - no-where! In fact, many people thought that Matthew had invented the word. Then, not too long ago a fragment of papyrus was found with this word on it. You know what it was? A woman’s shopping list. The things she needed for that day.

Give us this day our daily bread - give us the things we need for this day. Does that mean we sit back and wait for our provisions to just roll in? No, scripture also tells us that God provides for the birds of the air… but like I’ve always said, He doesn’t throw it in the nest for them…

Also notice Jesus does not teach us to say, “Give me this day my daily bread…” The world’s food problem is not with supply, but with distribution… One writer said, “Only when we’ve prayed the “us” with that as the focus, have we prayed it right…”

(Verse 12 “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” )

If we must understand the Provision of the prayer with a simple heart, then we must understand that the Penitence of the prayer exposes our sinful heart.

The theologian and commentator William Barkley said that “Before a man (or woman) can honestly prayer this petition, he must realize that he needs to pray it…

Now, I believe that most of us would readily agree that we’re sinners… but if pressed, and asked, “What sin did you commit today?” How would you answer? Anyone want to share how they sinned today? :-)

The trouble is, we all agree that the drunkard, the murderer, the burglar, and the adulterer are sinners, but… how do we recognize our own sin? We know that Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. And Romans 5:8 says that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners… but just what is sin? And how come in this prayer I have to ask to be forgiven in the same way that I’m willing to forgive? Ever think about that?

There are 5 Greek terms in the New Testament that relate to sin. Debt which is used here means a moral or spiritual debt or “owing.” Sin means missing the mark. Trespass is falling or slipping - more from carelessness than from intentional disobedience. (Notice that only these three words are used in The Lord’s Prayer.) Then there’s transgression which means crossing the line or going beyond limits prescribed by God. This one is more conscious and intentional. And then there is lawlessness, which is even more intentional and flagrant. It is direct and open rebellion against God and His ways.

Remember we said in the first week that this prayer is given to those who were (and are) already believers; who were (and are) already saved from the judgment, so the debts referred to here are those committed by us when we “owe a debt” to God, or “miss the mark” or “slip up.” And we all “owe a debt”, “miss the mark” and “slip up.”

And we have all been “owed” a debt. And we’ve all had someone “miss the mark” with us, or “slip up” with us…

But, for me, the word “trespasses” has the most impact - “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…” The reason is, when I think of “trespass” I think of “no trespassing” signs. And what that means is “no crossing.”

I may not think of anyone to whom I owe a debt, or against whom I’ve sinned, but I can certainly think of people I’ve “crossed” and especially of those who’ve “crossed” me, and in that regard, the prayer hits a little closer home.

Barkley again says that the literal translation is “forgive us our sins in proportion as we forgive those who have sinned against us. This is the only phrase of the prayer that Jesus gives further details about in verses 14 and 15. But note! This does not affect our salvation! This has to do with fellowship. It is our continued sinning that breaks our fellowship with God, and it is refusing to forgive another person that disrupts our fellowship with them.

Asking forgiveness implies confession. Feet that are not presented to Christ can’t be washed, and sins that aren’t confessed can’t be forgiven, or rather a better term might be can’t be “cleansed.” Our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus, but if we don’t confess them, they can’t be cleansed or removed from us. We will carry the guilt and weight of that sin if it is not confessed.

To confess means to agree with, and when we confess our sins, we agree with God that they are wicked, evil and defiling, and have no part in those who belong to Him. It’s not easy to confess sins. Oh, we might say, “God, forgive me of my sins today.” Or sing the song, “If I have wounded any heart today, if I have caused one foot to go astray, if I have walked in my own willful way - Dear Lord, forgive.” But when it comes right down to naming our sins, not saying “if” I’ve done anything, but “as” I have done something; then it is much harder.

By the way, when I think of that song, I often think, “Yeah, if I have wounded a heart, or caused a foot to go astray, or walked in my own way, I know I can be forgiven, but what of the consequences of my actions? What about the one I hurt? What about the one I caused to falter? Because of my willful way, what’s going to happen to them? The consequences of our sins are extremely far reaching.

The last phrase of the prayer brings us to Protection.

(verse 13 “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]” )

We have just prayed to be forgiven of our sins, and now we pray that we not return to the folly of sin, nor may we be tempted to do it. But, the Greek word for temptation is basically a neutral word, which means it has no connotation of either good or evil, as does our English word “temptation.”

We always think of something evil, or of doing something wrong when we hear the word “temptation” (I’m “tempted” to eat that last piece of cheesecake) but the root word means “testing or proving” which doesn’t have to be doing something wrong. (However, we seldom say, “I’m tempted to help someone today…”)

In Genesis 22, in the KJV it says that “God tempted Abraham.” But in nearly every other translation it says that he was “tested…” Testing something proves how strong it is.

1Co 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

But, I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly want to know how strong I am! And so when we pray, “Lead us not into temptation,” it is an appeal to God to place a watch over our eyes, our ears, our mouth, our feet and our hands - that in whatever we see, hear, or say, and in any place we go and in anything we do, He will protect us from sinning.

We pray that He will not allow us to go there because if we continually allow ourselves to be placed in tempting or sinful areas, it is only a matter of time until we give in.

And then, there’s that “evil one…” Nearly every commentary I read translates “deliver us from evil” as “deliver us from the evil one.” And believe me, there IS an “evil one.” He is not a cartoon character dressed in a red suit with horns, a pointed tail, and a pitchfork. The Bible tells us that he is like a roaring lion going about seeking whom he may devour. He is an accuser, and deceiver, and a liar - and he wants to destroy you…

Paul gives us the way to “stand” against the wiles of the devil - and that is by putting on the whole armor of God found listed altogether in Ephesians 6:10-18 - but really, it’s found all through out the Bible. (We don’t have time to go into what each piece is and how it is used at this time, but I do have an additional handout on that if anyone wants one. Just e-mail me and ask for the “Dressed for the Battle” handout.)

As we finish this part of our study on prayer, I want to share one more thing from the book that I began with, “A Pilgrim’s Guide to Prayer.”

If you pray this prayer seriously, then you see that it is not a “warm and fuzzy” prayer, but actually denotes a struggle, or a conflict.

Listen to the words:
If we pray, asking that God’s Name be hallowed - we are implying and admitting that it is not always so honored.
By praying “Thy Kingdom come” shows that it hasn’t come fully, yet. And sometimes, quite honestly, it looks like it’s not gonna happen anytime soon, either…

“Give us our daily bread” is there because of constant threats to our existence.

And “Forgive us” must be prayed because as David said, “My sin is ever before me…”

Crying “lead us not into temptation” (or testing) shows failure and ruin are out there waiting to get us and without God’s help, we’re bound to lose out in the struggle. And we all beg to be delivered from the evil one…

We saw in our first study that the unnamed disciple said, “Lord, teach us now to pray…” And for “such a time as this” we need to make that same request…

Our Father, teach us now to pray. In Jesus’ Name - Amen.


Study of Prayer - Week Three:
“P’s in a Pod, Part Two: Things We Need God to Give Us”

Key statement: Our prayers spend much more time in this portion than in the “things we need to give God.” And yet, God is so gracious… and He keeps on giving us so much!

Scriptures to read this week:
Deuteronomy 8:3
John 6:31-51
Matthew 18:21-35
Psalms 66:18
Mark 1:12-13
James 1:13-14
Ephesians 6:10-18

Questions to ponder this week:
(*Hint* Take one question a day and “ponder” on it. Jot down your impressions and thoughts to reflect back on them later.)

P - Provision: Why do you think Jesus told us to ask for bread? Do you think He was talking about food in particular?

P - Penitence: Have you ever had to forgive anyone? Do you still hold it against them in your heart?

Which translation helps you understand the verse better - “debts”, “sins”, or “trespasses?”

P - Protection: Do you believe God, does indeed, “lead” us into temptation?

Does saying, “Deliver us from the evil one” make this statement easier to understand?

What do you do to avoid temptation?

Upon Sitting in the Mall Food Court

I see a young black woman feeding an apparently handicapped white man. I am at a distance and can’t tell if he’s blind, or just can’t feed himself - and so, I begin to pray…

Father, bless this young woman in her ministry, her servanthood. May she receive a great blessing from her service.

As I look at all these people, I lift them up. What are their joys, what are their fears? I am old enough to know that within each of their lives, there is some pain - either within their own life, or someone very close to them.

I pray for them, Lord. May they know You and Your care, and Your love.

As I look, I know that You know each one of them. You made them. You know their fears, their joys, their concerns, and most importantly, You know their hearts. Do they know You, Lord? Is this young woman’s servanthood out of love to You, or does she not recognize You yet? Has she not responded or even heard Your call yet? I pray that if she hasn’t, she will.

I see a young mother with little children. Do they know You? Are these children being raised in a Christian home, or what kind of environment will they grow up thinking is “normal.”? I pray for this family Lord. If they know You, that they’ll be strengthened for the trials to come as the children grow older. If they don’t, that they’ll hear Your call and come to know Your love.

Father, the colors and nationalities, the physical, emotional, financial and educational differences represented by these Your children are many. Their ages are many and their experiences are many. We are all different, we are all loved by You. And now, may we all love and live to serve You.

In the Name of the One who died for even the least of these, I pray… Amen

Betty J. Newman ©May 2004

Next week: The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus - John 17
(This is the real “Lord’s Prayer”. This is the one He prayed for us!)


Friday, February 01, 2008

Study on Prayer - week 2

Week 2: The Lord’s Prayer - “P’s in a Pod” Part 1 - Things we need to give God

For Christmas, 2006, Joe bought me a Chronological Bible. I had always talked about wanting to read a chronological version of the Bible - one in which all the events are written in the order in which they happened. So he got this for me.

The one I have is set up to be a “one-year” Bible. It’s broken down into daily readings, so that in one year you’ve read through the Bible.

The reading for October 19 happened to include Luke 11 - Luke’s version of The Lord’s Prayer. And as I read this: “Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation” (NIV) it jumped out at me that this was like “Peas in a Pod!”
“Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come” - this is praise;
“Give us each our daily bread” - this is provision;
“Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us” - this is penitence;
“And lead us not into temptation” - this is protection! “P’s in a Pod!”

As I began to study it more in depth, I saw how it could be broken down even further, and we’ll get into that more as we go along, but that’s how this study came to be.

The “Lord’s Prayer”… Luke’s version and Matthew’s version are quite different. Matthew’s is closer to what we pray, but it has been argued by many that neither version was meant to be merely “recited.” As we said last week, there is a difference between “saying” prayers and “praying” prayers - it all has to do with “attitude.”

What is your earliest or your fondest memory of “The Lord’s Prayer”? (For me - as a child, we always prayed the Lord’s Prayer every night beside Mother and Daddy’s bed. Also hearing our own boys pray it for the first time in church.)

It can easily become rote - something that is said strictly out of habit. Now, a habit can be both a blessing and a curse - the “habit” itself, is neutral - it’s what it happens to be that is good or. bad.

A habit can be something that is so ingrained in us that it becomes a part of us; or it can be so ingrained in us that we do it without even thinking about it… I have a “good” habit of always praying every time I hear an ambulance - that’s just a part of who I am. But, I have a “bad” habit of biting my fingernails - I do it without thinking!

As we look in depth at what the Lord’s Prayer is, we also have to look at what it is not. For instance, it is not a “sinner’s prayer”, it is a “child’s or a believer’s prayer.” Jesus makes that very clear in the Sermon on the Mount. Most of chapter 6 of Matthew is spent teaching about “attitudes” of worship, including fasting and giving, as well as praying. This is teaching for the child of God, not someone who has not yet come to Him.

It is also not our Lord’s “personal” prayer. He never needed to ask for forgiveness. But, it IS a “model” prayer, and in that regard, He did model it when He asked for our forgiveness on the cross. And, by the way, we’ll look at other ways He modeled it when we look at the “High Priestly Prayer” in John 17, and Jesus’ prayer in the garden…

The prayer, as it unfolds is like a “funnel” in shape - from the largest (most universal and far reaching) to the smallest (most personal and intimate) and, as we are studying it in this series, it can be broken into two parts - “Things we need to give God”, and “Things God gives to us.”

First (as it should be) “Things we need to give God…”

For this week’s study we’ll be using Matthew’s version of the prayer, (Read Matthew 6:9-13.)

Matthew 6:9b “Our Father who art in heaven…”

This opening phrase says so much. It was scandalous for the Jews, especially the Pharisees and Sadducees, to even think about saying God’s name, let alone call Him “Father.” But this phrase gives us God’s “paternity” or our “personal relationship” in leading us to say “Our Father.” And it calls on our faith in God’s “position” by giving us His “placement” as “in heaven.”

However, the concept of God as “father” was not entirely new. Isaiah 63:16 and 64:8 speaks of God as the Father of Israel. And faithful Jews had known of God as their Father in several ways. They saw Him as Father of Israel, but they also saw Him in an even more intimate and personal way as their Spiritual Father and Savior. You can find that concept first used in Exodus 4:22 when Moses is receiving his call from God. God tells him, “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, 'Thus says the LORD, "Israel is My son, My firstborn.” Well, if Israel is the “son” then God is the Father.

We also see it in the Psalms, such as Psalms 103:13 “Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.”
But over the centuries, because of their disobedience to the Lord, most Jews had lost the sense of God’s intimate Fatherhood. Jesus reaffirmed to them what their Scripture taught and what faithful and Godly Jews had always believed: God is the Father of those who trust in Him.

AND, it is most likely that Jesus, speaking Aramaic used the term “Abba” which is an intimate form of “Father” closer to what we would call “Daddy.”

It’s interesting to note that Jesus used the title Father in all His prayers except the one on the cross when He cried “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” emphasizing the separation He experienced in bearing mankind’s sin.

To be able to go to God as our heavenly Father means many things to us. For example - it means the end of terrifying fear. Remember, the pagans feared their gods. However, the Hebrew word that is translated “fear” when it speaks of the “fear of God” means reverence or worship. It’s an entirely different word than the one that means to be afraid of.

Next, knowledge of God’s Fatherhood gives hope. If an earthly father (“normal” earthly father) will give help and protection to their children, how much more will God love and protect His children.

Also, knowing God as Father does away with loneliness. Everyone else may leave us, but God never will.

Then, knowing God as Father should settle the matter of selfishness. There is not, nor cannot be, anything selfish about this prayer because no where is there a “personal” pronoun. It is “our” Father, give “us” this day “our” daily bread, lead “us” not into temptation, and deliver “us” from evil. It is a prayer for the “family” of God.

As Paul wrote, knowing God as our Father brings us blessing in abundance. (Ephesians 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ”)

And, knowing God as Father settles the matter of obedience. Jesus gave up the riches of Heaven and was obedient, even unto death. Obedience to God is one of the supreme marks of our relationship to Him as His children. “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12:50

Yet in His grace, God loves and cares even for His children who are disobedient. Remember how He provided for Adam and Eve - God gave first! And then there was Cain, and Abraham when he messed up, and Jacob when he was deceitful, and David in his sin, and… well, we could go on and on…

By allowing us, teaching us, and leading us to believe and say “Our Father” Jesus is indicating God’s eagerness to lend His ear, His power, and His eternal blessings to the prayers of His children.

Next: It teaches us “praise” or “priority” when we “hallow” His name.

Matthew 6:9c “…hallowed be Thy name.”

Hallow is an old English word which means holy. God’s people are commanded to “be” holy, but God is acknowledged as “being” (already is) holy. The Good News Bible translates it as “May Your holy name be honored.”

According to the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, the word “name” has a significance in the Bible as meaning “authority” or “character.”

Everything Jesus did on earth manifested, or lived up to God’s name and His authority. When we sanctify Christ (or make Christ holy) in our hearts, we will also sanctify Him in our lives. We hallow his name when we acknowledge that He exists. We also hallow his name when we have and seek a true knowledge about him.

We must also have a constant awareness of His presence. To truly hallow His name and His authority, is to consciously draw Him into every daily thought, every daily word, and every daily action. David said in Psalms 16:8 that “I have set the Lord continually before me.”

We cannot worship or revere a God whose character and will we do not know or care about, or Whose authority we deny. To live in disobedience to His will is the same as taking His name in vain. It’s as bad as if we used the vilest profanity we could imagine.

And then, to hallow God’s name is to attract others to Him by our commitment, to “let our light shine before others in such a way that they may see our good works and glorify our father who is in heaven.”

Psalms 34:3 sums it up, “Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!”

Next, in our “Pod of P’s”, The Lord’s Prayer speaks of calling for His Divine providence in mankind’s existence. Or as John MacArthur calls it, “The Program” and “The Plan.” (Somebody else saw “P’s in this Pod!” :-)

Matthew 6:10 “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Hank Hanegraaff’s book, The Prayer of Jesus” says, “One of the most comforting thoughts that can penetrate a human mind, yielded to the will of God is that He who has created us also knows what’s best for us.”

But let’s face it - whose kingdom and whose will are we most concerned with, most of the time? Our own, of course. How self-centered our prayers usually are, focused on our needs, our plans, our wants.

Even problems and issues outside of ourselves can cloud our concern for God’s Kingdom. It is our responsibility to pray for our families, pastors, neighbors, and worldly issues, but our prayer FIRST should be that God’s will be done in and through those people - that they would think, speak, and act in accordance with God’s will.

The Talmud, which is the book that contains the body of the Hebrew laws, says that “if a prayer does not name the kingdom of God, then it is not a prayer.”

The word “come” (as in Thy kingdom come) in the Greek is in an imperative tense - It could read Come! Thy Kingdom, or “Let Thy kingdom come Now!”

So, how does this kingdom come? It comes by conversion and by commitment.
First, it comes by conversion. As we pray for the salvation of souls, the kingdom grows.

And second, it comes by commitment. Those who already believe should respond to the rule of the Lord in their lives now so that He rules in them as He rules in heaven.

Then there is that matter of “Thy will be done…”

Notice, the prayer doesn’t say, “Thy will be known” it says “Thy will be done!”

It’s almost like saying “Amen” Do you know what the word “amen” means? It doesn’t mean “That’s all folks!” It literally means “so be it” or “may it be in accordance with the will of God.”

But, sometimes we don’t want to say “amen.” We don’t want to say, “So be it.” There is a tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s will. God is sovereign, but He gives us choices. God is sovereign, but He tells us to pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Our prayer should be that every person and thing on earth be brought into conformity with God’s perfect will.

To pray for God’s will to be done, is to stand against the worldly idea that sin is normal and inevitable and therefore should just be accepted. To pray for righteousness is to pray against wickedness. And finally, to pray for God’s will to be done, is to pray (by extension) for Satan’s will to be… undone.

As we end this first section, “Things we need to give God”, we have looked at the first 5 lines of this prayer. Which is most difficult, or demands the most faith from you?


We closed the study again this week with comments and questions, then prayer. And as always, I urge you to e-mail me with your comments and questions.

The following is the handout for week 2. I encourage you to read the scriptures, ponder the questions, and spend time in prayer and meditation with your Heavenly Father. He loves you SO much that He gave His Son to die for your sins!

To God be the Glory!

Next week: The Lord’s Prayer - “P’s in a Pod” Part Two - Things We Need God to Give Us.


Study of Prayer - Week Two:
“P’s in a Pod, Part One: Things We Need to Give God”

Key statement(s): “Only those who received Jesus and believed on His name have the right to refer to God as ‘Our Father’.”

“And, how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he's listening.” 1 John 5:14 The Message

Scriptures to read this week:
Psalms 31 (A prayer of Faith, written by David, probably as Saul sought to kill him.)
Isaiah 63:16
Romans 8:14-17
1 John 5:14-15
2 Chronicles 20:3-12

Questions to ponder this week:
(*Hint* Take one question a day and “ponder” on it. Jot down your impressions and thoughts to reflect back on them later.)

Do you see any parallels between Jehoshaphat’s prayer (2 Chronicles 20:3-12) and the Lord’s Prayer?
(Hint: V:6 - “Our Father, Who art in heaven, and Your will be done”; V:8 - “hallowed be Your name”; V:11-12a “deliver us from evil”; V:12b “Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory…”

Are there parallels between your prayers and the Lord’s Prayer?

P - Position: Does it seem radical to you to call God, “Father”? What about calling Him “Daddy”?

P - Praise: What other names of God can you recall from the scriptures? Do you see “authority” in them?

P - Providence: What does “The Kingdom of God” mean to you, and do you pray for God’s Kingdom to come?

Does it ever frighten you to pray, “Your will be done.”?

Do you see how these are “things we need to give God”?

Prayer: (From the book “One Minute Prayers” by Hope Lyda)

I know your name so well, Lord. I whisper it in times of sorrow. I hold it close when entering a place of fear. I shout its praise during times of celebration. You have carved it on my heart so that I will never forget the Creator of my soul. I do not go anywhere without being covered by your name, for it is powerful.

When I experience doubt, Lord, remind me that, “he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” You are all these things to me, Lord. Let me never to forget to call on You, the One who does not forsake me but leads me to higher places.

Another short prayer: “Oh Lord, Thy Will - nothing more, nothing less, nothing else!”

The Hebrew Names of God

Elohim: Creator - Genesis 1:1
El Elyon: God Most High - Sovereign - Genesis 14:18-20
El Roi: The God Who Sees - Genesis 16:13-14
El Shaddai: The All Sufficient One - Genesis 17:1-8
Adonai: The Lord or “My” Lord - Genesis 15:1-2
Jehovah: The Self-Existent One - Genesis 3:3-6
Jehovah-Jireh: The Lord Will Provide - Genesis 22:14
Jehovah-Rapha: The Lord Who Heals - Exodus 15:26
Jehovah-Nissi: The Lord My Banner - Exodus 17:15
Jehovah-Mekoddisheem: The Lord Who Sanctifies You - Exodus 31:12-13
Jehovah-Shalom: The Lord Is Peace - Judges 6:24
Jehovah-Sabaoth - The Lord of Hosts - 1 Samuel 1:11
Jehovah-Raah: - The Lord My Shepherd - Psalm 23:1
Jehovah-Tsidkenu - The Lord Our Righteousness - Jeremiah 23:6
Jehovah-Shammah - The Lord Is There - Ezekiel 48:35