Sunday, March 21, 2010

Jesus Teaches Us To Pray

Jesus Teaches Us To Pray

Intro.: I had a professor in seminary who told the story of aunt that died.
  1. He had the hardest time trying to figure out how she died -
  2. One person suggested she died by drowning
  3. Another told the family it was from a heart attack
  4. And then then came the real story – she died from drowning.
  5. Coincedently – all three were right.  You see the aunt had a heart attack, lost control of her car as traveled home near a lake or stream, and drove into the water and drowned.
  6. We have four gospels describing the events of Jesus' life – each one from an individual who saw that life from a different perspective. 
  7. That the Lord's Prayer is slightly different in each of the two gospels in which it appears should not alarm us.  It may mean that the two writers heard different versions of the same story – or Jesus may have quoted the prayer on two separate occasions.

Read:  Matthew 6:9-15


T.S.  Today, I want to look at three lesson that we can draw from the Lord's prayer.
  1. Lesson #1:  Jesus encourages private and corporate prayer.-
    1. Last week we looked at Jesus' introductory preaching on prayer.
    2. Bottom line in those introductory remarks – “Don't be like the hypocrites who pray to be heard, but pray in private and God will hear you.”
    3. But I neglected to mention something last week.  Jesus, as He is speaking, is on a hillside, preaching to his disciples and the crowd that followed him.  He is in the midst of the “Sermon on the mount.”
    4. So what does Jesus do – immediately after telling His followers to pray in private, he begins to pray, “Our Father Who art in heaven...”  “Our Father”?  It does not sound like a private prayer.  I sounds like a corporate prayer.  A private prayer might better begin, “My Father Who art in heaven.
    5. But there is a second point here – the audience was full of spiritual elite, in fact the church leaders probably were not there, unless it was collect evidence to convict Jesus later of heresy. No, the people on that hillside that day were ordinary people. People like you and me – people who had struggle with relationships, people who had to struggle with health, people who had to struggle with family problems with no easy answers.
    6. It is to these people that Jesus says, “Pray in private” and pray “Our Father ...” together.  It was to you and me that Jesus was saying, “Pray in private” and pray “Our Father ...” together.
(Ill.)  Someone has said prayer is much like an iceberg - 88% of our prayer life should be private, personal prayer, unseen by others.  And, like an iceberg, only 12% of prayer life should be seen by  others.[1]  I don't know how accurage these percentages are – but the author did acknowledge that as believers we cannot only pray in private and our only prayers cannot be when we are with others.
    1. As believers, we will be having private, personal time with God. And we will have time in which we are praying with other believers.
  1. Lesson #2:  Our prayers will focus on God 
    1. If you read through or listen to the Lord's prayer, you will find that it naturally divides into two basic parts.  
    2. The first part draws our attention to God:

Our Father, who art in heaven,

   hallowed be thy name.

   Thy kingdom come,

   thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.[2]

    1. Though he is speaking to ordinary, common people, the model prayer that Jesus presents does not focus on them or their needs. Rather it focuses on God.  
    2. It stands in stark contrast to a version of the Lord's prayer written by a man insensitive to the things of God:

Our brethren, who art on earth,

Hallowed be our name.

Our kingdom come, our will be done

On earth, for there is no heaven.

We must get this day our daily bread;

We neither forgive nor are forgiven.

We fear not temptation,

For we deliver ourselves from evil.

For ours is the kingdom and the power

And there is no glory and no forever.


    1. As I look at this prayer, I feel helpless and hopeless.  If my whole future, if the future of this world, depends on me, we are in great trouble.  I cannot give this world what it needs.  Forgive me if I say the same is true of you.  
    2. But the prayer that Jesus gave us, does not leave me feeling helpless and hopeless.  The prayer allows us to turn to an all-loving God that loves even myself or yourself more than we love ourselves.  The prayer allows me to turn to an all powerful God that is able to respond to every need that I have.  The prayer allows me to turn to a God that knows me better than I know myself.  

Our Father, who art in heaven,

   hallowed be thy name.

   Thy kingdom come,

   thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.[4]
  1. Lesson #3:  I can bring my own needs to God.
    1. There is a close connection between Lesson 2 and Lesson 3.  We have an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God – and the amazing truth is allows us to bring our needs to Him.
    2. That of course is the basic underlying truth of the last part of the prayer.  
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
   as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
   but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
    1. It would be a sad world if we served an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God that did not care for us.  
    2. But, instead, he says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.[6]
    3. Today we baptized little lily – in doing so we cannot forget the words of Jesus to the children, Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”  And he laid his hands on them and went away.[7]
    4. We cannot be like the pastor in Boston who did not quite underlying importance of the Lord's Prayer --

(Ill.)A minister parked his car in a no-parking zone in a large city because he was short of time and couldn’t find a space with a meter. So he put a note under the windshield wiper that read: “I have circled the block ten times. If I don’t park here, I’ll miss my appointment. Forgive us our trespasses.”

              When he returned, he found a citation from a police officer along with this note: “I’ve circled this block for ten years. If I don’t give you a ticket, I’ll lose my job. Lead us not into temptation.”[8]

    1. The Lord's Prayer is not a way to manipulate God – but it is a model of how we are to come to Him.  The model allows us to acknowledge who He is and recognize our dependence on Him.



[1]Green, M. P. (1989). Illustrations for Biblical Preaching : Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.


[3]Lyman Abbot as quoted in Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.



[6]Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)

[7]Matthew 19:14-15 (ESV)

[8]Green, M. P. (1989). Illustrations for Biblical Preaching : Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

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