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The Lord’s Prayer - A Pattern for Prayer
December 2014 - Part Two


Matthew 6:5-15, Luke 11:1-4

As we stated in last month's part one of our study on the "Lord's Prayer" it is a pattern given us to follow when we pray.  It is not a prayer to recite, like a magical formula to get God's ear.  If it were a prayer to recite "word for word" why then would the Holy Spirit record the same prayer differently in Matthew 6, and in Luke 11? Therefore; the prayer was NOT meant as many believe, but as a pattern to follow for successful praying.  Andrew Murray tells us that "prayer is not monologue, but a dialogue. God's voice in response to mine is its most essential part." He goes on to tell us that "the greatest thing in prayer is to feel that we are putting our supplications into the bosom of omnipotent love."  Understanding the pattern of the "Lord's Prayer" will reveal to us the reason why we should pray, and how we should approach God for answers. Therefore; it is vitally important that every word be examined carefully, because each word depends on, and is linked to the word before it. Every step in this pattern should be followed without interruption or shortcuts, and should be followed until it is completed.  Your words, requests, petitions, praise will change with every prayer but the pattern remains steadfast.  Understand this is not to say it could not be prayed "word for word" but that your prayer should be personal and central to your specific needs and desires.

        Let us now continue with our study on the "Lord's Prayer."

  FORGIVE OUR DEBTS AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS:        NOTICE:

  1. They are OUR debts no one else’s. These debts are payment for our unholy lifestyles. We had, through choice, earned these debts and we are absolutely required to pay what we owe.  These debts are eternal debts and are to be paid by eternal judgments. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). “Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; (14) whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. (15) Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." (James 4:13-15).

  2. They are only FORGIVEN BY HIM. The only way those debts can be paid is by receiving Christ’ atoning work. They cannot be paid by works, but only by the grace of God. This grace was displayed at Calvary’s Cross. “For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (9) not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1st John 1:7).”
  3. This is a PLEA OF GRACE, not a PRICE FOR MERIT. We can do nothing to receive forgiveness, because it is not based on merit. It is by God’s grace and loving kindness and must be asked for. If we do not ask we do not receive (James 4:2).
    1. Forgiveness is Conditional.  Our sins are forgiven, “AS WE FORGIVE.” With as much forgiveness as we give, we shall receive the same. We must forgive all the wrongs done to us, before we can ask God to forgive us. You cannot gain audience with the almighty if you harbor sin in your life, because we are the image of God on earth. In fact the Bible says, “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men” (2nd Corinthians 3:2).
    2. God sees His own image reflected in us. So how can we ask God to do something for us we ourselves refuse to do ourselves, and still reflect His image?  Wouldn’t that be a major insult to God? In fact an attitude like that brings upon us God’s Divine vengeance. Timothy tells us: “1 desire therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1st Timothy 2:8).” How can we do what Timothy commands while refusing to forgive others?
    3. What does it mean to forgive? “Aphiemi,” in the Greek. It means to lay aside, leave alone, send away, and yield up. The root word “Apo”: First, “Apo” signifies the remission of the punishment due for sinful conduct. The deliverance of the sinner from the penalty divinely, and therefore righteously imposed. Secondly, it involves the complete removal of the cause of offense. Such remission of sin is solely based upon the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ. In other words, we must return to the point BEFORE the offense ever took place. Not just to forget the offense, but forget the punishment associated with the offense. This means to go back to the way life was before the offense ever took place. Micah 7:18 says “Who is a God like You, Pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy.”
    4. Our forgiveness toward others is a vivid demonstration of God’s forgiveness toward us. We cannot truly forgive unless we have first been forgiven; “For who can forgive sins but God alone” (Luke 5:21)? Simultaneously we cannot be forgiven unless we first forgive (Matthew 6:12). Therefore we must acknowledge that forgiveness is not a LEARNED response but an ACQUIRED one. If we had not first received forgiveness from our heavenly father we would not be able to forgive others. Furthermore the responsibility to forgive has now been given to us. Remember 2nd Corinthians 5:18 says: “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us unto Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” God forgave us when we first asked for forgiveness. Only after that could we start to forgive others, and bring the ministry of reconciliation to a lost and dying world. Forgiving others is the evidence that He has forgiven us. God having put in us the condition of forgiveness gives us the ability to forgive.
  4. We ask God to forgive our DEBTS.  Exactly what are Debts?  It means to owe, to be under obligation to, due to a failure in duty, or to be bound in, or guilty of.  The word implies something heaped up, acquired or accumulated. Romans 3:23 says: “For all have sinned (failed in our duty and fallen under the debt of sin) and fall short of the glory of God.” And as we all know “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

  AND:  This conjunctive term again appears to show a connection between our daily dependence on God for bread, forgiveness and now DIRECTION.

 

  LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION:  This is a prayer for guidance.  We must understand in our hearts, as well as in our minds, that alone we will fail. We must come to God with the understanding, and the need, which is generated from knowing that without God we will fail. This understanding also teaches us humility and dependence. While at the same time, shows our need for constant communication with an all knowing and all seeing, majestic, loving father who cares for our every need.

God does not temp us to sin (James 1:13). But, the Lord allows Satan to tempt us so the Lord can teach us Godly wisdom, patience and endurance (James 1:1-4). Therefore when we pray “lead us not into temptation” we are asking God not to allow us to be hurt or to fail in any temptation. But if the situation arises that we do get hurt or fail, He will not prevent us from going through it, because from that hurt or failure God can teach us more about ourselves and ultimately more about Himself. Which, after all, is His ultimate desire and purpose for our existence here on earth (Ephesians 3:9-19)?

  DELIVER US FROM EVIL:   Or as the original Greek puts it; “from the evil one, keep us.” We are asking God to deliver and keep us from the devil, the evil one, the tempter of the brethren, the destroyer of our soul. So that we may not be overcome or overtaken by his assaults or from that evil thing called; SIN. Sin, the worst of evils, the thing that God hates, and what Satan loves men to partake in.

In other words, “Lord, keep us Holy.” This again teaches us HUMILITY, CHARITY, DEPENDANCE, and HELPLESSNESS. Remember Satan is a spiritual being. We can only fight him on a spiritual front. The only spiritual weapons obtainable are given through our faith in God. Because on our own we will loss, and in fact have already lost! That is the reason why Jesus was sent to earth to die. Jesus bought us our victory with His own life and blood. Colossians 1:19-23 says; “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, (20) and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.  (21) And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled (22) in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight (23) if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel...”

Notice that in this prayer there is no “I” or “ME,” but we are praying for only “US!” We are praying: Lord we will inevitably fall into evil (that’s Humility), so please when “WE” (US) (that’s Charity/love) do fall, deliver us so we can escape its punishments, pain, and death (that’s dependence, and helplessness).

  FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM, POWER AND GLORY FOREVER:   Notice whose Kingdom, Power, and Glory forever, it is. It’s not ours, it is God’s.  This part of the prayer is a heartfelt plea.

  1. OUR PLEA – Oh God, thine is the Kingdom, Power, and Glory forever.
    1. KINGDOM - A state that exists, wherever, and whenever, God is present and His will is being done.
    2. POWER - The establishing and keeping of all God’s promises and commands.
    3. GLORY - Where all attention, adoration, and praise are directed toward Him. And His name alone is set apart as the only one, which is worthy of all Glory.  This brings forth His soon and final arrival.

Notice:    The special association Kingdom, Power and Glory have with the first declaration and request of our prayer pattern (Matthew 6:9-10).

  1. KINGDOM:Our father in heaven, thy kingdom come, or in other words establish your kingdom
  2. POWER:  Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven
  3. GLORY:  Hollowed be thy name
  1. PRAISE - Jubilation over the fact that our Father in heaven has all the power and His glory will be shown, and His kingdom is from everlasting to everlasting.  “OUR GOD REIGNS.”

Please notice that our prayer starts and ends the same way, with praise. Praise is the power that can move mountains; shake the foundation of earth itself. It breaks the chains that have us bond and it moves the hand of God on our behalf (2nd Chronicles 20, Acts 16:16-34).

  FOREVER: It always was, it is now, and it always will be. Eternity is His to control. Our plea is that His kingdom, His power, and His glory be established, to operate and to last until time itself stops. Our existence, our jubilation, and our eternal lives are based on this plea.

 

  AMEN:  “So be it” or, “So let it be.”  This is an acknowledgment that every petition, every request, every promise, all His power, all His love, all His glory, and all His will be done forever. It should be our overwhelming response, practice, and absolute desire that He “Let it be done.”Amen, is a final plea that gives us the affirmation and assurance that God has heard us, and will answer us positively. When our hearts and minds are in full harmony with the will of God concerning all these requests the “Amen” is the signet ring, the mark of assurance, the final stamp from the King of Kings that sets all requests into motion. It is the final proclamation of a spirit overflowing with faith, proclaiming loudly and with absolute assurance to everyone, from all the demons in hell itself, to all the angelic beings in heaven, that “IT IS DONE.”

Our lesson on prayer does not end with the “Amen” however. In the next few verses (14-15), Jesus reiterates the principle of “Conditional Response,” found in verse twelve. It contains two immutable principles:

  1. A PROMISE:If we forgive, we will be forgiven.
  2. A WARNING:  If we do NOT forgive, we will NOT be forgiven.

It is vital for us to acknowledge these two principles as absolute truth. Without forgiveness we can never receive any answer to our prayer. Without forgiveness we can never know Jesus as Lord, or God as our father. This personal knowledge of Jesus as Lord puts us into the enviable position of having our prayers answered in the first place. This principle of “Conditional Response” is revealed in the beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12). Also revealed are the principles of, Love, Mercy, Healing, and Giving (Luke 6:38, James 5:16, 1st John 4:19).

Here is a basic outline of what has just been covered.

  1. ACKNOWLEDGMENT - “Our Father who art in Heaven” - Acknowledging God as our Father in Heaven reminds us of whom God is and who we are not.
    1. He is not only my Father but the Father of all mankind.
    2. He is the almighty God who is in heaven.
    3. We are His creation.
    4. He holds our very being and survival in His hands
  1. PRAISE, HONOR, AND GLORY GO TO HIM - “Hollowed or Sanctified be Thy name”
    1. Adoration - Love
    2. Reverence - Respect
    3. Revelation - Knowledge of who He is, and what is truly due Him.
  1. WHOLLY GIVING OF OURSELVES - “Thy will be done on earth, etc.”
    1. Wholehearted obedience, without question or personal input.
  2. PETITION OF NEEDS, NOT WANTS - Necessities not delicacies.
    1. Sobriety
    2. Humility
    3. Temperance                
    4. Charity/Love
    5. Daily dependence  
    6.  God-ward desires
  1. REPENTANCE - “Forgive us as we forgive” - A conditional response.
    1. The need for Grace
    2. The need to forgive
    3. The need for Strength  
    4. The need for Holiness
    5. The need for Protection
    6. The need for forgiveness
    7. The need for God Himself daily
    8. The need for God in everything
  2. IMPARTATION - “Lead us not into temptation, but delivers us from evil.”
    1. Guidance - Lead us
    2. Deliverance - Deliver us
    3. Wisdom - The recognition of evil, and the way of escape.Please note 1st Corinthians 10:12.
      It says: Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
  3. PRAISE ONCE AGAIN - “For Thine is the kingdom, etc.”
    1. I know who you are
    2. I know you can do anything
    3. I know you will help
  4. AFFIRMATION - “Amen” - So be it.
    1. It is done.

Charles G. Finney once said that all “Men ought always to pray, because they always need the influence of prayer.  Consider what is implied in prayer and what prayer does for you.  Prayer bathes the soul in an atmosphere of His divine presence.  Prayer communes with God and brings the whole mind under the hallowed influence of such communion.  Prayer goes to God to seek pardon and find mercy and grace to help in times of need.  How obvious, then, that we always need its influence on our hearts and lives!  Truly, there is no reason to wonder why God wants us to pray always.”

But that is not all that the prayers of holy men do!  They appease God’s wrath, drive away temptations, resist and overcome the devil, procure the ministry and service of angels, overturn the judgments of God.  Prayer cures sickness and obtains pardon; it stops the sun in its course, stops the wheels of the chariot; it rules over all gods and opens and shuts the storehouses of heaven; it unlocks the womb and quenches the violence of fire; it stops the mouths of lions and reconciles our suffering and weak faculties; it stops the violence of torment and of persecution; it pleases God and supplies all our need.  Most importantly, consistent prayer establishes an eternal friendship with the Almighty.

The more praying that takes place the better the world will be and the mightier the force against evil.  In one phase of its operation, it is a disinfectant and a preventive.  It purifies the air and controls the contamination of evil.  Prayer is not to be a sporadic, or a short-lived exercise.  It is not a voice crying unheard and unheeded.  It is a voice which goes into God’s ear and it lives as long as God’s ear is open to holy pleas and God’s heart is alive to holy things.  God shapes the world by prayer.  Prayer is deathless.  The saint’s prayer may be have ceased due to death, the heart that brought forth the plea may have ceased to beat, but those pleas still live before God, and God’s heart is still set on them.  They outlive a generation, an age, and will outlive the world.  Through prayer the earth is changed, revolutionized and God’s policy is shaped as they are more numerous and more efficient.

The secret of success in Christ’s kingdom is the ability to pray.  The one who can wield its power is the strong one, the holy one in Christ’s kingdom.  The most important lesson we can learn is how to pray.  Prayer is the key note of a sanctified life and of the holiest ministry.  He who does the most for God is the one highest skilled in prayer.  Jesus Christ exercised His ministry after the order of prayer, shouldn't we?

The possibilities and necessity of prayer are evident in the purposes of God and in the releasing of His power.  Pharaoh himself was a firm believer in the ability to alter the purposes of God and to set him free from troubles.  When facing the terrible wrath of God, he pleaded with Moses to intercede Jehovah for him.  “Entreat the Lord for me,” he cried.  He repeated it this plea four times when the plagues were plaguing Egypt.  Four times were these urgent appeals made to Moses, and four times prayer lifted the dreaded curses from the stubborn king and his destroyed and doomed land.

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