The Discples’ Prayer (Matt 6:9-13)
Men’s Meeting: June 22, 2015
Perhaps one of the most impossible tasks I have ever been asked to do, is to teach on the subject of the Disciples’ Prayer found in Matthew 6:9-13, in one lesson. One lifetime would be insufficient to do justice to this passage. It has been recited for centuries. Today it seems like meaningless babble against the backdrop and the incongruities of our age. This prayer is not a talisman. It is NOT a good luck charm. It is a model prayer.
Throughout this study unless otherwise noted, I will use the New International (NIV) version of the Bible. You may prefer another translation or paraphrase.
As Wiersbe, Warren W. (1989). The Bible Exposition Commentary. Colorado Springs, Co.: David C. Cook Publishing. Said: “It is worth noting that there are no singular Pronouns in this prayer; they are all plural. It begins with “OUR Father.” When we pray, we must remember that we are part of God’s worldwide family of believers.”
To misquote Sister Sledge (“We are Family”) . I got all my [brothers and] sisters with me.” We don’t think of ourselves as family. God designed interdependence into faith. Do you know of any “Lone Ranger Christians?” They probably aren’t walking in faith any more. Interdependence, a yearning to not be alone, is built into the very essence of mankind. What was the first thing that was pronounced as “not good” in the Bible? We don’t have to turn far. Genesis 2:18 provides the answer: “The Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” We were built for relationships. The prayer begins: “Our Father in Heaven.”
Hallowed be your name. Hallowed. We might think of Lincoln’s “hallow[ed] ground” from his Gettysburg Address.. Hallow is NOT the first part of Halloween! Hagiastheto in Greek. Holy. Sacred. Set Apart. Revered. God’s name is set apart. It is not something to be taken glibly. It is a name we speak with our lips. James tells us: With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth! (James 3:10 The Message). Our mouths communicate what is in the heart. Do you realise that our hands, our very hands, have handled “The Words of Life.” Our hearts, our minds, our thoughts, our actions, our speech, our lives ought to reflect a reverence for God’s holiness. God tells us in Hebrews: without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14b NIV) Our ambition should be to pursue holiness. Not just mumble a prayer we have said a thousand times. We should stand in awe, that we are part of God’s family. We get to speak His name. We get to say: “Abba. Father.” (Mark 14:36)
Your kingdom come: As simple as it is, complex. By saying this, we acknowledge that we are subject to the rule of a King. The Kingdom of God, is NOT a Democracy. There are no Democrats or Republicans. Get over it! We eagerly anticipate the time when God will establish His rule and dominion over the new heaven and a new earth. (Rev 21:1) God makes the rules. Somewhere in Richards, Larry O. (1990). The 365 Day Devotional. Wheaton, Il.: Victor Books, he quotes someone as saying: “A Christian’s eyes gaze deep into eternity. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV). Our focus is not here. Our rewards are not on this rotating ball of boredom. Our focus is not earth bound. It must be shaped by a deep gaze into eternity. God’s kingdom will surely come. The poignant question is: are we prepared? Are we prepared today, to have God’s kingdom enter our lives, transform our hearts, and begin to share His love, mercy and compassion with others? Your kingdom come means we as a church, must by nature, be evangelical. We must extend the invitation God’s living word gives, to ALL.
Your will be done: Did you notice something in this prayer. There is no me-ism in in this model prayer. We are not here to “do our own thing.” We are here to glorify God in all that we do. God’s will. Not mine. God must have the singular priority in our life. There is no room here for self-sufficiency. We are subjects of the King. We take our orders from Him.
On earth as it is in Heaven: as above, so below (Matt 6:10 The Message). We affirm God’s authority over the earth, as His home in Heaven. There should be no difference what we do here on earth, since we are subjects of a King not of this world. As Richards, Larry O. (1990). The 365 Day Devotional. Wheaton, Il.: Victor Books, aptly put it: “God does not want us to isolate ourselves from the people of this world. He simply wants to inoculate us against its values.” Our goal is Heaven. That is where our hearts, our treasure and where our King resides. Be a reflection of God’s mercy and compassion to other people. We are the only Gospel someone may experience. We MUST stand out amidst the growing apostasy of this world, and be set apart.
Give us today our daily bread: As the song from Godspell says: “Day by day Oh Dear Lord. Three things I pray. To see thee more clearly . Love thee more dearly Follow thee more nearly Day by day.” Proverbs says it best: “Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord? Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonour the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:7-9 NIV). Necessities NOT luxuries. Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” (Hebrews 13:5 NASB). Sure, I’d like a new car. But you know, my 20 year old Buick works fine. I am content, with what I have. Contentment and delay of gratification, are 2 of the hardest things to learn, not only as a child, but as an adult.
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. (2 Cor 416 NASB). Our walk is daily. It is not sitting in a pew one hour a week, and listening to the Pastor preach. We are to walk with God, every day. Our dependence is on God alone for our daily needs. God give us day by day, what we need. Nourish not only our bodies, but our souls and our spirit, that we may be quick to act at your command.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.’ Forgiveness. It almost implies a work. It doesn’t. It means, that we are to forgive those who sin against us, the very same way that God, has already forgiven us. There is some bad theology going around that says: Forgiven means Forgotten. NOT! (ibid Richards, Larry.) As Chuck Swindoll says: “Forgiveness means God chooses NOT to hold our past against us.” We must do the same. Matt 5:24 (NASB) says: “leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” For further study: Matthew 18. 1 John 1:9 tells us confidently: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (KJV)”
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matt 6:13 NIV): God does not tempt anyone. 1 Cor 10:13 is very clear: No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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 endure it. (NIV) This petition is that we that we would not go down the path of temptation. How do we do this? Proverbs 3:5-6 is the answer: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” (NASB)
I have a friend who struggles with pornography. He said: “I just find myself going into the store to look. I can’t help it. I am weak.” He is right. But sometimes the solution is as simple as finding a new way home so he avoids going near the store. That means extra time and effort on our part. Another important aspect of avoiding temptation, is accountability. Small groups provide a safe environment, so that we can obtain the support, help and prayer that we need.
Right now you are asking, what is accountability? Why, then, criticise your brother’s actions, why try to make him look small? We shall all be judged one day, not by each other’s standards or even our own, but by the standard of Christ. It is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God’. It is to God alone that we have to answer for our actions. (Romans 14:10-12 JB Phillips)
I like this from Chuck Swindoll on accountability:
What do we mean by accountability? In the simplest terms, it is answering the hard questions. Accountability includes opening one’s life to a few carefully selected, trusted, loyal confidants who speak the truth—who have the right to examine, to question, to appraise, and to give counsel.
People who are accountable usually have four qualities:
Vulnerability—capable of being wounded, shown to be wrong, even admitting it before being confronted.
Teachability-–a willingness to learn, being quick to hear and respond to reproof, being open to counsel.
Availability—accessible, touchable, able to be interrupted.
Honesty—committed to the truth regardless of how much it hurts, a willingness to admit the truth no matter how difficult or humiliating the admission may be. Hating all that is phony or false.
That’s a tough list! As I look back over those four qualities, I am more than ever aware of why accountability is resisted by the majority. Those with fragile egos can’t handle it. And prima donna types won’t tolerate it. They have a greater desire to look good and make a stunning impression than anything else. I mean, “the very idea of someone probing into my life!”
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not suggesting for a moment that accountability gives the general public carte blanche access to any and all areas of one’s private life. If you will glance back a few lines you will notice I referred to “a few carefully selected, trusted, loyal confidants.” They are the ones who have earned the right to come alongside and, when it seems appropriate and necessary, ask the hard questions, to serve in an advisory capacity, bringing perspective and wisdom where such may be lacking.
In our society, where privacy is a reward of promotion and a life of virtual secrecy is the prerogative of most leaders, a lack of accountability is considered the norm. This is true despite the fact that unaccountability is both unwise and unbiblical, not to mention downright perilous!
Today we need others to hold us accountable. Sometimes an objective opinion will reveal a blind spot. Sometimes we may simply need a sounding board to help keep us on target. Just remember—not one of us is an island. We need one another.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power the the glory forever. Amen. (NASB)
John H. Sammis in 1887 said it best:
Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.
But we never can prove the delights of His love
until all on the alter we lay;
For the favour he shows, for the joy he bestows,
Are for them who trust and obey.
This prayer is NOT about me. It is about the Kingdom. It is wilfully submitting to the Lordship of Christ in our live. Perhaps you have not trust Christ as saviour. He will come into your life, if you open the door to your heart. “Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you. (Rev 3:20 The Message)
Mediation on the Lord’s Prayer
Lord, I cannot say “Our”…
if my religion has no room for other people and their needs.
Lord, I cannot say “Father”…
If I fail to resemble You in the way I live my daily life.
Lord, I cannot say “Who art in Heaven”…
If my attention is focused only on earthly things.
Lord, I cannot say “Hallowed by the name”…
if I who am called by your name am not holy.
Lord, I cannot say “Thy Kingdom come”…
if I fail to acknowledge your sovereignty in my life.
Lord, I cannot say, “On earth as it is in Heaven”…
unless I am truly ready to serve You here and now.
Lord, I cannot say “give use this day our daily bread”…
without doing an honest day’s work, and without considering the needs of those less fortunate.
Lord, I cannot say “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”…
If I harbour a grudge against my brother or sister.
Lord, I cannot say “Lead us not into temptation”…
If I deliberately choose to remain in a situation where I am likely to be tempted.
Lord, I cannot say “Deliver us from evil”…
If I am not prepared to take a stand against injustice in my society.
Lord, I cannot say “Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory”…
If I do not submit to Christ as King, if I fail to trust You to act in my life, or if in pride, I see my own glory.
Lord, I cannot say “Amen”…
unless I can honestly say, “Come what may this is my prayer.”
Adapted from “Lamplighter,” Speedway Christian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana
Richards, Larry O. (1990). The 365 Day Devotional. Wheaton, Il.: Victor Books, page 648.