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Posts Tagged ‘Lord’s Prayer’

The Sacred Quest

September 9th, 2014

“Your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:8 NKJV.

Spiritual attainment requires serious intention.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the sacred quest.”

A meaningful Christian life is not found by curious or casual inquiry. Any serious pursuit of God requires sincerity and priority. God is neither elusive nor is the path to Him concealed, but the opposition to your doing so is intense, internally and externally. There is a sacred path reserved to those for whom life without God is not enough; it is a path for the decisive and determined.

When Jesus’ description of suffering and sacrifice fell unpleasantly upon the offended ears of those who looked only for easy paths, the crowds dwindled and Jesus asked His disciples if they would also turn away. I love Peter’s prompt response, “Lord, to whom shall we go, for You only have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68. What you believe to be of inestimable value and for which there is no suitable substitute is worthy of whole hearted passion.

David pledged, O God, You are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for You . . My soul follows hard after God.” Psalm 63:1 NIV/8 KJV. Spiritual attainment requires serious intention. Things of spiritual value do not come cheaply; their very cost measures their eternal worth. God Himself described David as, “a man after My own heart who will do all My will.” Acts 7:22.

In Jesus’ story about earnest, undiscourageable persistence, He defined the heart’s quest as a simple, progressive process. Read Luke 11:5-10. (1) “And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you . . for everyone that asks receives.” Asking is an elementary step for a life that desires God’s best. Jesus said, “Your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him.” Read Matthew 6:8-13. Prayer is the process of uncovering your real needs and discovering God as their true source of supply. Asking is not to persuade God to be benevolent; asking prepares you to be receptive.

(2) “And I say to you . . seek, and you will find . . he who seeks, finds.” There is a natural progression in your earnest pursuit of God that is both purposeful and passionate. Here the element of effort is included. As you persist, the Spirit examines your true desires and faith. Of yourself, what are you willing to give, or give up, in your quest for God?

(3)“And I say unto you . . knock, and it will be opened unto you . . to him who knocks, it shall be opened.” A further progression of spiritual intensity involves the element of perseverance. Persevere in prayer and faith; if you can be distracted or discouraged, you will be. “And you will seek Me and find Me when you will search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12-13.  This is Jesus’ reasoning, “If you then know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

David’s personal affirmation and expectation was, “You are my God; earnestly I seek You . . My soul will be satisfied!” Psalm 63:1/5 NIV. The soul which is content and confident in God will be satisfied with God.

Today, my prayer for you is to seek the Lord wholeheartedly, whatever sacrifice that requires.

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Prayer and God’s Supremacy

March 12th, 2014

“Our Father . . Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” Matthew 6:13 NKJV.

If God were not sovereign, prayer would be mere words thrown into an empty heaven.

My thoughts and comments today are about “prayer and God’s supremacy.”

In life, it is important to know who is in charge. Most of us like to think that we are, but that would be inaccurate. There is One who is supreme and rules and reigns in the affairs of men. Until you recognize His rightful place, life will not work out well for you. In the Lord’s Prayer, we have considered the “Pattern for Prayer, God’s sovereignty, God’s kingdom, God’s providence, God’s forgiveness, and God’s reinforcement.” Let’s look at prayer’s majestic conclusion.

Prayer is noblest when acclaiming who God is. When you know who God is, you learn who you are in Him. Jesus taught His disciples, “[When you pray, say], ‘Our Father . . Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’” Matthew 6:13 NKJV. If God were not sovereign and supreme, prayer would be mere words thrown into an empty heaven. If He were not Lord and King, why would anyone bother to pray? Prayer humbles one’s self before an omnipotent, all wise God. Purposely, the Lord’s Prayer begins and ends with recognition of the Kingdom of God and His will, as ought every prayer to rest on those enduring truths. Only between such encompassing truths can your own needs be properly addressed.

“Our Father, Yours is the kingdom . .” Prayer extends the righteous rulership of God and His Son. Prayer claims borders and boundaries for the Kingdom of God and pushes back the intrusions of darkness, “pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God . .” Read 2 Corinthians 10-3-5 NKJV.

“Our Father, Yours is the power . .” Prayer asserts the incomparable power of God. Using the example of Elijah, the Bible says, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.” James 5:16-18 NLT. Prayer aligns your heart and faith with the purposes of God and releases the power of God into even the most desperate, long-standing circumstances.

“Our Father, Yours is the glory forever . .” Prayer concerns itself with achieving the glory of God. David avowed God’s supremacy, “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is Yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; You are exalted as head over all.“ 1 Chronicles 29:10-13 NIV.

“Our Father . . Amen!” Prayer aligns your desires with God’s will. “Amen” is so much more than a religious formality to conclude your prayer. The word triumphantly agrees with God and affirms your conviction, “Make it so!”

Again, let me share from a collection of prayers by the Puritans, “Let me know that the work of prayer is to bring my will to Thine, and that without this it is folly to pray. I can only succeed when I pray according to Thy precept and promise, and to be done as it pleases Thee, according to Thy sovereign will. When Thou commandest me to pray, it is because Thou wilt give me the thing promised, for Thy glory, as well as for my good.” (The Valley of Vision).

My prayer for you today is that your prayers overflow with acclamation and adoration.

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Prayer and God’s Reinforcement

March 10th, 2014

“Our Father . . don’t let us yield to temptation.” Matthew 6:13 NLT.

Prayer is a preemptive strategy against evil in any form.

My thoughts and comments today are about “prayer and God’s reinforcement.”

With self-mocking humor, a person confessed, “I can resist anything except temptation.” Seriously, temptation is exactly what you must resist. Temptation has a potential far beyond what you first assume. I have never heard of temptation referring to things noble, charitable, or sacrificial. Temptation always refers to being lured into conduct or conversation harmful and shameful.

In answer to the disciples request that Jesus teach them to pray, Jesus set forth a pattern in what is commonly called, “The Lord’s Prayer.” Read Matthew 6:9-13. “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father . . don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:13 NLT.

There are moments and situations when your will and best efforts need spiritual reinforcement. “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” James 1:12-14 NKJV. Here is the problem; you can too easily be enticed by wrong desires if not vigilant. Read Romans 7:15-25 NKJV.

Prayer is preemptive. Your first defense for temptation is aversion and avoidance. To His disciples, Jesus’ was clear, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 NKJV. Jesus’ words apply to you as well. Your humanity is vulnerable; prayer is among the greatest of means whereby you weaken the flesh and strengthen the spirit within you. Prayer keeps your focus where it needs to be. “Since you have been raised with Christ, set your heart on things above, where Christ is . . and not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:1-2 NIV. Prayer sets your thoughts and emotions firmly on what is holy, rather than things base and carnal.

Prayer reinforces resolve. The battle is fiercest in the midst of temptation. “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 NIV.

Prayer fortifies reinforcements. “For in that He himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted.” Hebrews 2:18 KJV. “Succour” is an old English word, rich in significance, translating a Greek word meaning, “to come hurriedly at one’s call for help.” Prayer marshals the reinforcements and resources of Heaven to your defense, relief, and aid to, “Deliver [you] from the evil one.” Read Luke 4:1-13 NKJV/Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV.

My prayer for you today is: in temptation, you will stand strong in Christ and His Word.

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Prayer and God’s Forgiveness

March 7th, 2014

“Our Father . . forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive . .” Matthew 6:12 TEV.

For good or bad, you get what you give, but in multiplied measure.

My thoughts and comments today are about “prayer and God’s forgiveness.”

Thus far in our study of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), we have examined, “The Pattern and Practice of Prayer,” “Prayer and God’s Sovereignty,” “Prayer and God’s Kingdom,” and “Prayer and God’s Providence.” Prayer also involves the practice of receiving and extending forgiveness.

Living without forgiveness results in soul-damaging condemnation, a heavy burden you were never meant to bear. Who has not needed to be forgiven by God and man? The Bible is clear; “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” See Romans 3:23-26 NKJV. This truth offers bad news and good. We all need to be forgiven; we all need to forgive. See Mark 11:25 NIV.

Here’s how the process works: conviction of sin, confession of sin, cleansing from sin, or condemnation due to sin. “If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.” See 1 John 1:8-10 NKJV. Be warned. If confession is not made, the Accuser imposes condemnation which worsens as confession is delayed. David suffered greatly when he failed to deal with his sin. His testimony is: “When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable . . Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me . . Create in me a pure heart, O God.”  Psalm 32:1-5/51:1-4/10-12 NIV.

In Jesus’ model prayer, He taught, “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father . . forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us.’” Matthew 6:12 TEV. The word, “wrongs,” is correctly and variously translated as, “debts or sins.” Elaborating further on His words, Jesus said specifically, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matt 6:14-15 NIV. Whether described as debts, sins, or wrongdoing, they come large and small.

Forgiving is neither optional nor easy, but is essential for spiritual health and growth. The measure and nature of your treatment of others determine what comes back to you – from others and from God. “Stop criticizing others, or it will all come back on you. If you forgive others, you will be forgiven. If you give, you will receive. [What you give] will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving – large or small – it will be used to measure what is given back to you.” Luke 6:37-38 NLT. Let me simplify Jesus’ words, “For good or bad, you get what you give, but in multiplied measure.” Unforgiveness of others is an unkindness you impose on yourself. Read Matthew 18:22-35 NIV.

The ability to forgive others flows from your experience of lavish, unmerited forgiveness from God. “In Him we have . . the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding . . Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” Ephesians 1:7-8/4:32 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you will embrace and extend God’s forgiveness.

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Prayer and God’s Providence

March 5th, 2014

“Our Father . . give us our food for today.” Matthew 6:11 NLT.

With providence, God provides sufficiently for daily needs.

My thoughts and comments today are about “prayer and God’s providence.”

We are such worriers; having enough for today, we still prefer a little extra to be more sure we will have enough tomorrow. So how much is enough? Since you cannot know what tomorrow will bring, you really cannot know what tomorrow will require. There is wisdom in balancing spending with a little savings. My Dad’s advice to me about finances was both practical and to the point, “Trust God’s provision; give generously; spend sensibly; save wisely; never spend all that you earn.” I do not recall my Dad spending foolishly nor worrying needlessly. Our family never had much, but God provided all we needed and my Dad set aside a little extra as he could.

Jesus addressed needless worry about material things. “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink or . . what you will wear . . your Heavenly Father knows that you need them.” Read Matthew 6:25-33 NIV. Providence is a great word describing, “the foresight of the care and provision of God.” You cannot foresee tomorrow, but God does. With providence, God provides sufficiently for each day’s needs – spiritually, physically, emotionally, and financially. The way your God does so is by prayer, not presumption. Prayer is trusting each concern to God’s providence, without worry or doubt. Jesus said, “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father . . give us our food for today.’” Matthew 6:11 NLT. Jesus’ words may seem so simple but are profoundly significant. 

There is a spiritual progression in Jesus’ model prayer. First, prayer acknowledges God, elevates His Name, and submits to His authority and will. Only then does your prayer rightly turn to your needs, all well-known in God’s providence. Prayer celebrates the appropriate trust of an intimate relationship. Here are some observations about prayer. Prayer invites God’s provision, not informs Him of your need (Matthew 6:8 NKJV). Prayer asks, not assumes (1 John 5:14-15 NKJV). Prayer acknowledges God as source, not yourself (Philippians 4:19 NIV). Prayer asks for what sustains, not what is frivolous. (James 4:3 NKJV). Prayer asks for enough, not excess – “our food for today.”

The Psalmist remembered when God, “rained down manna for [Israel] to eat; He gave them the grain of Heaven . . He sent them all the food they could eat.” Psalm 78:23-25 NIV. According to Moses’ instruction, each family was to gather only enough for each day, “some gathered much, some little . . he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.” See Exodus 16:14-26 NIV. Whatever they gathered was enough; nothing extra they gathered lasted beyond that day. On the sixth day, their trust was further tested and proven. Only then were they to gather enough for that day and the Sabbath as well.

Maybe there is a lesson here for those who want to have more than enough for the day, needing no further faith. Your needs are new each day, as must your faith and prayer be. Here is why you pray, “Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed . .  Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask . .” 2 Corinthians 9:10/Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV.

My prayer for you is that you come confidently to your Father with your needs today.

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