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



Blogger Andii said...

Thanks for putting this online. I've picked it up and commented ,a href="">here,/a>

7:52 AM  
Blogger Betty Newman said...

Thank you Andii, I really appreciate your comments. It reminded me that I forgot to add a note about what the next set of "P's" would be!

(I posted this very late last night after a long and tiring day - so I just forgot!)

Since I only have about 25 minutes max of "teaching" time during this study, I had to break up the prayer into two parts. The next study involves "Part 2 - Things God gives us" which is where the petition part comes in.

That introductory section, telling how I came up with the title, is merely what came to my mind (immediately) as I read that scripture. Obviously, when we study and ponder on it, the additional depth becomes more visible.

Thank you again for your comments and for linking to it on your blog.


8:43 AM  

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