The first petition in The Lord's Prayer is worded "Hallowed be Thy name." It is
interesting that although the word "hallow" has completely dropped from modern
English, modern translations of Scripture still use it. That is because we have no
modern equivalent. It is to recognize God's name as holy, and sanctify His name in our
hearts. That means to recognize Him as the ultimate good. This is close to the Latin
phrase Sunam Bonum. It was generally thought of as that which is an end in itself. Only
God is the end in Himself. Have you ever heard anyone complain, "I served God and
sacrificed for Him and what did it get me?" For the person who says that, whatever they
wanted was what they were worshiping. That is what Satan accused Job of before
God. "He only serves you because you have put a hedge around him." In other words,
"He doesn't love you. He loves what you give him."
Prayer should begin with this request because it recognizes that God Himself is the
ultimate good. When we get this right we recognize God as the source of all good. That
is necessary to prayer.
This comes before asking for forgiveness because if other things are your highest good
they won't forgive you. If your job or your success or that particular relationship you
desire is your god, it will never forgive, when you fail it.
Now I am not sure I have given a good enough argument for this. That is because of my
poor writing and thinking skills. But let me suggest something that will convince you. Try
it. Start beginning every prayer with an extended time of praise. It will transform your
prayers and radically change your life.
Let me point out one other crucial element of this foundation of prayer. I said earlier that
this is the first petition in The Lord's Prayer. This is a request. It is a prayer for God's
name to honored in the world. It is a prayer for every knee to bow and every tongue to
confess that Jesus is Lord. He alone is the ultimate good, the highest blessing.
But this is also a prayer for my own heart. It is asking God to work in my own heart so I
will give Him that highest holy place in my desires, in my life.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
In Ephesus 5:14-15 Paul writes, "For this reason I bow before the Father from whom Every family in heaven and earth derives its name."
The Lord's Prayer does not simply teach us to say the words, "Our Father which art in heaven." Jesus is calling us to bow our hearts to our Heavenly Father. The privilege of coming to God as our father represents ultimate intimacy and majesty. I remember my sister and I running out to meet my father and throwing ourselves around his legs as he came home from work. Jesus is telling us we have that kind of relationship with the God of the universe, the God beyond the universe who created heaven and earth.
In Matthew 23:9 Jesus told us we have one father who is in heaven. He is the source of our spiritual DNA. We are born again in Him. Have you ever seen a child who reflected his father's appearance? God is working in the lives of His children making us more and more like Him, like Jesus.
I also remember my father's deep quiet voice teaching and encouraging me. He did not always do it perfectly, but my heavenly Father does. God teaches and guides His children.
My father worked hard to provide for the needs of our family. But even my father's provision was given us by God. God provides our every need. In His arms we are blessed, satisfied and comforted. He alone knows our deepest needs.
There were times when my children knew I was afraid. But I do not ever remember my father being afraid. I could not imagine being afraid when I was with him. If he was there we were safe. God is our ultimate rescuer. He is our Savior. More than a dozen times in Scripture we have the phrase, "God our savior." These of course include Jesus as God the Son. Titus 2:14 speaks of "our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ." Jude 25 reads, "To the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time now and forever. amen"http://daveswatch.com/
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
I have begun a series of blog entries on the foundations of prayer. And I think The Lord's Prayer is a logical place to start. Last week I discussed approaching God as father. This week I want us to note that Jesus told us to address God as "Our Father." This whole prayer is plural. "Give us our daily bread." "Forgive us our trespasses." "Lead us not into temptation."
I am always stirred by the prayer in Acts chapter 4 that is preceded by the words, "They lifted their voices together to God." The power of God is mightily unleashed as we pray together. In Matthew 18 Jesus gave us a special promise when we agree in prayer. He gave us that in the context of reconciling with someone who has sinned against you. And He made such reconciliation a matter that concerns the entire church. In such situations we must pray together. But his statements about His being with us when we come together in the church and when we pray together seem to apply to many situations.Our prayers should also be in tune with God's love for all persons. I often think of Samuel's word in 1 Samuel 12:23. "God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you." It is sin for us to neglect praying for others God has brought into our lives. And that includes people we may think are less important. God is no respecter of persons. I pray daily for a family who has an autistic child. My heart is stirred every time I pray for that boy. God seems to be reminding me that He longs for that boy to come to repentance quite as much as He cares for his parents. I believe God can use that boy with his handicap quite as easily as He can use the most gifted person I know of. And even if He does not use him mightily, God loves him every bit as much as He loves me.
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Last week I concluded by saying I was going to ask God to put His loving arms around everyone I met that day. Frankly, I found that more difficult than it sounds. It took me the whole week to get into that groove. But I also found this to be a greater blessing on my prayers than I had suspected.
(The Foundations of Prayer 1)
This week I am beginning a series on the biblical foundations of prayer. We will start with The Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6. Its first words are, "Our Father."
Coming to God as our father is essential to Christian prayer. There are people who come to God as if He were their employer. They seek God to give them what they have earned by their sincerity or their righteousness. "I've been good or I will be good, so reward me, God." But coming to God as our father means we trust His fatherly love.
Coming to God as our father assums a special relationship. No one can approach the President or Prime Minister or a King in the middle of the night for as small a thing as a drink of water, but his child. Again and again Jesus urged us to bring audacious requests to God. As His children we can ask Him for anything. And of course that means we trust Him not to give us that which would harm us. Have you ever thanked God that He did not answer your prayers exactly like you prayed. I have.
As children we know we don't understand everything our parents know. We may resent or resist that fact, but we know it is true. Coming to God as our father is to rest in His understanding above our own. And yet we know He who is all powerful loves us with an infinite and everlasting love.
If I am taking The Lord's Prayer word for word, I skipped the word, "our." Next week I will deal with that little word. I am to pray not only to my father, but to our father.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
I took a break from my blog during the month of August, 2015. And I told you I would see you in September. Well, it is September. And I am back as I said I would be. I pray for God to speak to each of you in these entries.
I am so blessed to have people whom I love and love me on daily prayer lists. I am not sure anything cultivates my love for them like prayer. I also have the names of people on prayer lists who are hard to love or even like. Exercising kindness toward them is necessary for feeling and growing my love for these people. But these actions must begin with and be carried out in prayer.
FORGIVENESS AND PRAYER
I have people on prayer lists who have wronged me, or worse, harmed people I love. God clearly impressed me to put these people on prayer lists. But I do often find it difficult to pray for them. Praying in general helps me understand and apply the truth of God's grace to them. God's forgiving love begins to rub off on me. Especially as I put forgiveness into words by asking God, even against my will, to forgive them.
PATIENCE AND PRAYER
Interestingly enough I often need more patience with people who are closer to me than those I have trouble loving. They are sinners, and I am a sinner. We sin against each other. I thank God that prayer brings me into contact with God's patience. Despite what the devil accuses I can go to God in confession immediately after sinning. I am still His child even after I sin. Praying in that grace opens my heart to patience with others even when we rub each other the wrong way.
HUMILITY AND PRAYER
I am not sure anything is as necessary to love as humility. And nothing cultivates humility like access to God by grace in prayer. I do not deserve the privilege of prayer. The Son of God had to die on a cross to purchase it for me. I did not just need a little more righteousness to see the kingdom of God. I had to be born again. And I am no more deserving of God's grace than that person I find it difficult to love.
Today I plan to pray specifically for God to show His great love to everyone one my prayer lists and people I come in contact with all day.
Next week I intend to begin a series of blog entries on the Foundations of Prayer