I recently listened to a powerful sermon on missions by Tim Keller. sermons.redeemer.com/missions He drew his text from the prayer of Jesus in John 17. When he came to verses 16-19 where Jesus prayed that His followers be sanctified, Tim Keller asked the question, “What did Jesus put in the hands of the first disciples as He sent them out to change the world?” Did they have manuals on evangelism, or church planting, or even preaching? They did not. They had one thing, holiness. And they turned the world upside down. Surely the Lord’s holiness is something we need to pray for.
How do we pray for His such transformation in our lives? If we take the Lord’s prayer for our guide in this, we might begin with forgiveness.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
None of us is holy before God. We need the Holiness of Jesus imputed into our lives.
Forgiveness also has another side. A major part of transformation into the likeness of Christ is developing forgiveness in our hearts for others. We need to exercise prayers of forgiveness for those who have wronged us. You can pray for God to forgive people who have harmed you. Have you ever prayed like Stephen while he was being stoned,
“Lord, do not charge them with this sin.”
How could you ever pray such a prayer for those who hate you and are harming you? I have trouble praying that prayer for people who love and annoy me. Stephen saw Jesus seated on the right hand of God. If you had such a vision of the majesty of our Lord, you might be able to pray as he did. Hebrews 11:27 tells us Moses endured as seeing Him who is invisible. 1 John 3:2 tells us we will be like Jesus when He returns for we will see Him as He is. We get a glimpse of His face as we spend time with Him in prayer and we are made more and more like Jesus.
In fact, for holiness we need to start earlier in the Lord’s prayer than His word on forgiveness. As Jesus modeled, we need to begin with worship and praise.
“Hallowed be your name.”
As we grow in fellowship with Him we will expand our praise more and more. Such praise gives us a clearer and clearer vision of the glory and majesty of our Lord. And it naturally leads to submission to His will.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Holiness is not simply the absence of sin. It is growing obedience that rejoices in His will.