Lesson 12 - The First Local Church cont.

In our last study we considered the "Requisites for Prayer" as laid down in our Lord's teaching. Having considered what is necessary to successful praying, we now proceed to take into account

3 What to pray for

a) Generally

Matt. 21:22 - "And all things, WHATSOEVER ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye sha11 receive."
John 14:13 — "And WHATSOEVER ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son,"

John 15:16 — "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that WHATSOEVER ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you."

1 John 16:23 - "WHATSOEVER ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you."

b) Specifically

In any consideration of our Lord‘s teaching about prayer, we must give considerable attention to that prayer which He gave His disciples as a mode1. It is commonly referred to as "The Lord's Prayer." However, it may more accurate1y be termed "The Discip1es' Prayer," as it was composed for their use.

Coming from the lips of our Lord, we may think of this prayer as a pattern to guide us in all our praying. It contains six specific petitions, the first three having to do with the honor and g1ory of God, and the final three dealing with our needs as His disciples. It is to be feared that we often reverse this order.

i "Hallowed be Thy Name (Matt. 6:9)

Wey. - "May thy Name be kept holy."

His Name is Himself, as He is made known to us. The 'Name' of God, here and elsewhere in the Bible, stands for that manifestation of Himself which He has been pleased to give, whether partial and preparatory as under the old covenant or final as under the new." The final revelation of God is in Jesus Christ. Old Testament saints prayed in terms of God's revelation of Himself to their fathers while we in the New Covenant pray in terms of God's revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ. We pray in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our first petition is, that our wonderful revealed God shall be loved, obeyed, and revered. For, while He walks with us in the midst of our earthly life with all its problems and needs, we must ever see Him as "high and lifted up." This is a prayer that all men may recognize the distinctive claims of our holy Lord. It is also a prayer, that we as His disciples may at all times live worthily of our God who has revealed Himself as "the Holy One."

ii "Thy Kingdom Come" (Matt.6:1O)

The word "kingdom" means "the domain of the king." It was while Jesus was describing the nature of His kingdom that He gave His disciples this "Model Prayer." All who have been born into, and know the blessings and benefits of this kingdom, pray for its extension. May it "come" evermore and more in our own lives as His subjects. And may those yet outside of the loving and benevolent reign of Jesus Christ be brought into saving relationship to Him, that His kingdom may "come" to them. And, in accord with the promise of the word, we pray longingly for the "coming" of the King who shall usher in the blessed reign of righteousness.

iii "Thy Will be Done on Earth as it is in Heaven" (Matt. 6:10)

"Heaven is God's dwelling place" (1 Kings 8:30). His "throne" is there (Psa. 11:4). We have knowledge of what God is like from the revelation of Himself in the Scriptures and in the Person of Jesus Christ. We can conclude then, that heaven is characterized by holiness, love, peace, and order, which comes from complete, loving and willing obedience to the Sovereign. Every true disciple has received a foretaste of the heavenly life, and so finds it normal to pray for the heavenly to be realized "on earth." Having been delivered from the "disorder" of sin, the praying disciple desires to see others brought into the joy of His will, and looks forward to the day when the accumulated prayers of the redeemed shall be answered in the establishment of "the new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
"Thy Name, Thy Kingdom, and Thy will" should always be our first concern when engaging in prayer!

iv "Give us this Day our Daily Bread" (Matt. 6:11)

Now we turn to our personal needs. The first is for our necessary food. There are two Greek words for "bread," One means cornbread, and the other is a wider word, standing for food in general. It is the latter word that is used here. "In order to serve God it is first of all necessary that we live." The true disciple recognizes his complete dependence on God. He is not only "our Father which art in heaven", but our Father who is very much involved in our earthly needs, providing our daily food. The attitude of heart and mind which this petition implies is altogether wholesome, keeping us from carnal pride in human accomplishment, and thanking God for every provision of life.

It is well to note also, that this is the only "give" petition in the whole pattern prayer. "To many of us, prayer is altogether a matter of "give". However, according to the model, only one petition in six has to do with getting.

v "Forgive us our Debts, as we Forgive our Debtors" (Matt. 6:12)

It is "debts" in Matthew and "sins" in Luke. They mean the same, for a sin against God was considered as a debt to God, not rendering to God His due (Matt. 22:21).
Remember, this is a prayer for disciples who are in God's family, and address Him as "Father." How can we expect our Father to forgive us when we will not forgive other members of the family, or anyone else who asks for forgiveness. This is clearly taught in Matthew 18 where our Lord first speaks of our relationship to one another in the church (vs. 15—17). Peter on this occasion was concerned with how much forgiving he was required to do - "Would seven times be enough?" (JBP). To which the Lord replied, "No, not seven times, but seventy times seven." He then told Peter and the disciples the parable of the servant who would not forgive his fellow servant even though he himself had been forgiven a much larger debt by his master (Matt. 18:23—25). If God can forgive our sin against Him, can we not forgive those who sin against us?

vi "Lead us Not into Temptation, but Deliver us from Evil (Matt. 6:13)

JBP - "Keep us clear of temptation."

Again we are indicating our utter dependence on God. God has promised to "supply all our needs," yet we do not hesitate to express our complete dependence on Him by praying "give us this day our daily bread," Also, we know that "God is faithful, who will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that we may be able to, bear it" (1 Cor, 10:13). This does not keep us from praying in terms of His provision - "Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil." When Jesus found His disciples sleeping in Gethsemane, He urged them to "watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matt. 26:41). Watchfulness sees temptation coming; prayer gives strength to withstand it. Without the help of God received through prayer, we are no match for temptation, so we cry - "Deliver us from evil!" All kinds of evil is here intended, including the "evil one."

vii For "your enemies"

Matt. 5:44 (ASV) "Love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you."

This is a hard (difficult) saying. In fact, it is opposed to the whole thrust of our human nature. However, we are not talking about "human nature" here, but rather "divine nature" We are to be "perfect, as our heavenly father is perfect" (vs, 48). We are to have our father's attitude to our enemies and those who persecute us. This cannot be accomplished by human determination, but by holy dedication. We will only be able to pray in the love of God as we live in the love of God, This is not the performance of a single act, but the manifestation of a total attitude. We will never be able to deal properly with out enemy until we have dealt Scripturally with ourself, It is humanly impossible to pray for enemies, but divinely impossible not to. To the degree we manifest the nature of our Father, to that degree will we conduct ourselves as "the children of our Father."

viii For the "Harvest"

Matt. 9:37-38 (Amp.)- Then He said to His disciples, the harvest is indeed plentiful, but the labourers are few. So pray the Lord of the harvest to force out and thrust labourers into His harvest."

Our Lord makes prayer basic to the gathering in of the soul "harvest." Every generation has a human harvest to be reaped. It is the Lord's harvest and He is in charge of bringing it in. Much aimless and destructive work would be averted if only we would consult the "Lord of the Harvest" as to what He wanted done, and when He wanted it done. See the harvest through His eyes as "plentiful." Recognize His Lordship in the reaping of that harvest. Then pray that He will "send forth labourers." He may send others through your prayer, and He may send you! There is no better place to find out than before His Presence in prayer!

ix For Strength to Endure Suffering

Luke 21:36 (JBP) - "You must be vigilant at all times, praying that you may be strong enough to come safely through all that is going to happen, and stand in the presence of the Son of Man.

God's people are ordained to testing and suffering. This is part of their training and education, Such experiences are intended to cause us to maintain a close prayer fellowship with God and become mature Christianst The Scriptures teach, that before the coming of the Lord there will be an intensification of tribulation, It is this to which our Lord here refers, To be forewarned is to be forearmed! As the storm gathers, and we understand its import, we give ourselves to pray for strength of character and purpose to enable us to "endure to the end."

STUDY QUESTIONS FOR LESSON #12

  1. Is there anything about which we cannot pray?
  2. Are there things for which we should specifically pray?
  3. What things shouid we pray for accordihg to the prayer our Lord taught his disciples?
  4. what should be our prayer attitude to our enemies?
  5. Does prayer have ahythihg to do with evangelism?
  6. What does prayer have to do with suffering?