iPray Series Sermon 4
~How iPray~Tyson Graber, Herscher Christian Church
May 22, 2011 ~ (Friend Day)
How do iPray? Too often I pray selfishly, repetitiously, about very little and sometimes with doubt. Sadly enough, not very much like Christ. So, today we are going to examine how to pray by focusing on how Jesus prayed.
We’re going to look at the Lord’s prayer. My assumption is most of you have heard it. Many of you have probably even memorized it, but do we live it?
Turn with me in your Bibles to Matthew 6:9.
Jesus gives us a great glimpse into how to pray by simply giving us an example of how to pray.
[Read the Lord’s Prayer]
Prayer is simply speaking to God and listening to God. It is conversation to build the relationship, and Christian prayer is to be humble, respectful, sincere, heartfelt and personal. Like you are talking to your dad.
And here is what Jesus says, ‘When you do pray, pray like this.’ The end of verse 9. “Our Father in heaven.” Those words establish the basis of prayer. If you don’t know who God is you will have a very confused prayer life. If you know who God is, prayer actually will be quite easy. It’ll be instinctual. It’ll be natural.
Our who? God is who? 'Our Father.' This is amazing! We can go before God as our father.
Jesus says, “Pray like this. ‘Our Father.’” Now the word here is ‘Abba.’ It means dad. Dad. This to me is amazing. God’s not impersonal, he’s personal. He’s not a force. He has a name. He’s not angry. He’s loving. He’s not far away. He’s close. He’s not negligent. He’s involved in the life of his children.
For some of you, this will be a struggle because you have had a dad who is a Jerk. Maybe you have never even known your dad.. Maybe he is a deadbeat dad and you hate the thought of a dad..., any dad.
In the Psalms God says, ‘I’m a father to the fatherless.’ So maybe you don’t even have a dad. Forty percent of kids will go to bed tonight without a dad. But you still have God as your father. And rather than saying, “My dad was a jerk; I guess God is a jerk,” say, “God is wonderful. There’s no excuse for my dad to be a jerk. He’s ruining the name, the title ‘father,’ ‘dad,’ that he shares with God.”
As Christians, God is our dad. And prayer is talking to Him. If you forget everything I say, remember that.
Last week I shared a little about ‘Daddy Time’ with my boys and me. These are Special times when I give one of my sons my undivided attention, and I try and make it special by letting them choose how we will spend the time. HOP, Hey Dad . . . Hey Dad . . . Please Dad . . . .Overwhelming at times.
God, the Father’s love is perfect. When I serve my kids, I only have so much time, energy, and money, but God has inexhaustible resources. Sometimes I can’t be with my kids. God is always available to be with his kids. And I can only be in once place doing one thing at a time. And God can be everywhere, helping everyone at the same simultaneous moment because he is God.
I really appreciate Jesus saying, “When you pray, pray like this, ‘Dad’.” That’s how my kids start their requests. “Dad....,”
Please get this truth. If you understand God is dad it’ll revolutionize your prayer life. You won’t feel like you’re going to middle manager with a clipboard who’s keeping score hoping to fire you. God’s not like that. You won’t feel like you’re coming before an angry judge. God’s not like that for the children of God. God is a loving dad.
You can make requests of him. That’s okay. He always hears and answers prayers. Sometimes yes, sometimes no, sometimes later. And for those of us who are daddies, I’m gonna ask us all to partner together and covenant with one another that we will treat our kids in such a way that when they hear God is a dad it’ll make sense. It’ll make sense. They’ll think, “Oh, well, then he loves me; and he cares for me; and he protects me; and he provides for me; and he listens to me; and he talks to me; and he wants to be with me; and he enjoys me; and I enjoy him; and we love each other.” That’s what a dad is.
One of the worst things a Christian father can do is dishonor the office of father, and in so doing, raise children who - when they hear God is dad - they get the wrong idea of what that means. That’s tragedy. I’m not a perfect dad, but my goal as a dad is that I would represent the name dad well. I’m the 'little d' dad and God the Father’s the 'big D' Dad.
God the father - your heavenly dad - loves you and will listen to you. Once you begin to look at Him as He is - the perfect father, your Dad in Heaven - your prayer life will begin to grow and be changed forever.
Since Jesus uttered this prayer, prayer has never been the same in the history of the world. Abba, or Daddy,
So the first part of prayer is a prayer of Adoration.
“Our Father in heaven.” That means we are saying He is above us and He rules, He reigns. Our Dad’s the king. How cool is that? Our Dad’s the king. He rules over all nations, all kings, all kingdoms, all races, all genders, all religions, and all political affiliations. He rules over all times, all places, and all peoples. There is no one and nothing that is not under the authority of our Father in Heaven. So there’s nothing you can’t talk to Dad about. Our God and Father deserves to be adored.
This all means that God is sovereign. He is ruling and reigning above and overall. Sometimes people get goofy ideas, like I get people that ask me this all the time. “If God is sovereign why should we pray?” Answer. Because God is sovereign. It’s like saying, ‘My Dad’s in charge, why would I talk to him?’ Because he’s in charge. He could actually help.
Because our Dad’s in charge is why we should pray. It shouldn’t be any discouragement to pray. “Our Father in heaven.” The first is a prayer of adoration. Thanking God for who He is. You can do this as well. ‘God, thank you for being loving and merciful, kind, patient, and compassionate, living and loving, attentive and affectionate. Thanks for being my perfect father!’
The Second Part of prayer is Worship.
“Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Here’s what Jesus is saying. There are two kingdoms that are currently at war on the earth. The Kingdom of Darkness and the Kingdom of Light. They represent Death/life. Lies/truth. Sin/holiness. Disobedience/obedience. They are the kingdoms of Satan and God. There are two kings and two kingdoms at war.
This prayer is an acknowledgement that our Father is a king and He’s got a kingdom. In that kingdom there is peace. In that kingdom the oppressed get justice; the hungry get fed; the sick get healed. And because we love our Dad and because we’re citizens of his kingdom we want to see his kingdom show up here on the earth more and more and to fulfill His will for us. We want to see love and peace, mercy, justice, and compassion given to people. So we work and pray for the kingdom to show up here on the earth. “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth” – here today – “as it is in heaven.” So that your name, Lord God, Father, Dad, would be glorified. So that people would know who our dad is and they’d get to live a new life as members of his family, the church. The key to the kingdom of God begins individually with you and me praying, “Your will be done.”
Now let me press this point on you. Do you ever pray that? Do you ever pray it and mean it? This prayer is so familiar we just roll through it like routine. “Your will be done.”
Most people go to God telling him what to do. ‘God I want this. I want this. I want this. I want this. I want this.’ It’s not a sin to go respectfully to Dad, to make a humble request. His answer will be yes, no or later. But prayer ultimately is not about making God do something. You need to get this. Worldly prayer is about trying to make God do something.
Prayer is not about making God do something. Prayer is about you and I aligning our will with God’s will, aligning our lives with God’s. And being able to trust him enough to say, “Your will be done.” You may get cancer. You may lose your job. You may struggle. You may suffer. You may be abandoned. And when you’re in the middle of it..., it’s okay to say, “God, please fix it.”
But you always need to end with, “Your will be done.” Meaning, “God I will receive whatever it is that you will for my life.” Had Jesus not prayed like that he would have never gone to the cross, never atoned for sins and we’d all go to hell. It’s a good thing to pray, “Your will be done. God I love you. I trust you. If you want something I accept that.”
Prayer is not so much about making God do something as it is changing us. Those who pray, change.
Some people don’t pray because they don’t want to change. Those who pray Biblically change.
So prayer does move the hand of God. He does hear and answer prayer. But prayer primarily changes the person who prays. That’s a prayer of worship. “God I will obey you. I will honor you. I will accept your will for my life.” Prayer is Adoring God for Who He is and Prayer is worshiping no matter what and prayer is praying for provision
The third aspect prayer is about praying for Provision.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” This is praying, not for spiritual, but for physical needs. Some people tend to think that prayer is just all spiritual. It’s also physical. We can pray for healing. James says that the elders should pray for healing for those who are sick. You could pray for food and provision. What I would say is this: when you go to Dad, bring your need not your greed. Bring your need not your greed. Do you need a car? Ask Dad for a car. You need a job? Ask Dad for a job. But too often we have what we need, so we pray out of greed, and that dishonors Dad.
Praying for provision reminds us that literally all that we have comes from God. Some of you would say, “No, no, no. I went to college. I studied hard. Then I got a good job and I worked hard, and I earn my own food.” I would say God gave you life and breath, intellect and opportunity, an education, a job, and a capacity. The Bible says that he makes the sun rise and he makes the water fall and he makes the plants grow. So, at the end of the day, everything is still a gift. In praying for provision we are acknowledging that God is a giver; that our Dad gives stuff to his kids. And we thank him for it.
So, prayer is of Adoration, Worship, and Provision
The fourth part of prayer is Confession.
“And forgive us our debts”. This is naming our sins. Jesus never prayed a prayer of repentance for personal sin because he never sinned. It’s one of the only prayers Jesus never prayed, and it’s the one we have to pray all the time. So, here Jesus is teaching us to pray about our sins. Now, let me explain sin.
Jesus is speaking of sin in terms of debt. Most of us don’t understand sin, but most of us understand debt because we have been in it. We have all owed someone.
Most of us tend to be keenly aware of our financial debt, because every month you get something in the mail that tells you exactly how bad it is. Right? Your mortgage company. Your credit card companies. Whatever debtors you have. “Oh, man, I’m in debt!” We tend to get very anxious about our financial debt. Meanwhile we don’t seem to have keen awareness of our spiritual debt. What Jesus is saying, every time you have a sin, you are accruing more debt to God. You owe him.
Imagine if every month God sent you a statement. “This is your spiritual debt.” “Man, I am way behind!” And every month it gets worse.
We are in debt to God. Sometimes we’re just not aware of it because we don’t see it in terms of debt. Now, what he’s saying is here, “Forgive us our debts.” is that Jesus IS our payment. Jesus is God. He comes to live a life without sin in our place. He dies to pay our debt to God. The wage for sin is death. He rises to give us salvation, forgiveness and new life. This means if you come to Jesus all your past, present and future debt is canceled. It’s forgiven through His sacrifice on the cross.
This is amazing. How many of you wish that your credit card company and your mortgage company were like God the Father? Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could call them and say, “You know, I was reading here in the Bible Jesus forgives debt. How about you guys?”
They’d say, “Sorry, wrong number. We don’t forgive debt. We gain interest on debt and then we seize property and vehicles. We’ll bankrupt you. But forgiving debt is not something we do.”
Because God is the perfect father, and because Jesus is the big brother who pays our debt, we as the sons and daughters of the living God get to have our debts to God forgiven. That’s wonderful.
So what this means is we should confess our sins to God, receiving canceled debt forgiveness. We believe in grace; that God in Christ cancels, forgives our debt.
The Fifth part of prayer is Intercessory Prayer.
Not only is there the prayer of confession, there’s also the prayer of intercession where we pray for other people, and their needs as well. “As we also have forgiven our debtors.” Here’s the truth. We all sin and we’re sinned against. When we sin we need to confess our sins to God and thank Jesus that he cancels our debt. When we’re sinned against we need to forgive. We need to forgive. In the Greek here it literally means to ‘let it go.’
Let me explain this. When we forgive someone who’s sinned against us, this doesn’t mean that we’re denying that they’ve sinned against us. This doesn’t mean that we’re accepting the sin that was committed. This doesn’t mean we’ve overlooking it. This doesn’t mean we’re diminishing it or denying it in any way. This doesn’t mean we’re saying, “Oh, I’m fine,” or, “That’s okay,” or, “I understand. ” In choosing to forgive what we are saying is this: “I wish God’s best for you. I give up my right to seek revenge and justice. God will take care of it.”
Now, in saying this, it doesn’t mean if they’ve committed a crime that you don’t call the cops. It doesn’t mean if they’ve molested a child that they don’t get arrested and go to jail. And, it also doesn’t mean that you reconcile with them necessarily. You see, forgiveness takes one person. Reconciliation takes two. You can forgive someone, but you can’t be reconciled until they confess and repent and change.
Let me give you an example. A man’s wife commits adultery but he tells her, “I love you. I forgive you.” He has forgiven her, but they’re not reconciled because she hasn’t stopped what she’s doing. She hasn’t come to him and confessed her sin to him or the Lord and she hasn’t had a heart change and a life change, which is repentance. They won’t be reconciled until she really stops sinning against him, dumps her boyfriend, gets Biblical counseling, and figures out what’s wrong in her heart.
So, in forgiving we’re not even reconciled. Do you understand that? Your dad beat you. Has never said he was sorry or changed. He doesn’t get to be the grandpa who babysits the kids. Doesn’t work that way. You’re not reconciled. But you can forgive.
Now, why do you forgive? There’s a couple reasons that we are to forgive. One is because God forgives us, so we forgive others so that they would see the gospel of Jesus Christ through us. Additionally, forgiveness preserves us from being bitter.
Bitter people are very sad, lonely people. If you harbor all of your bitterness, your anger, your frustration you’ll become a very unpleasant and unlovely person. That’s how it works. Aren’t you glad that God isn’t bitter against you? Aren’t you glad that God isn’t in heaven finding ways to get his vengeance against you?
The Bible says, "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ." Through Christ you were adopted into his family, the church and God is your Father. Everything’s been taken care of spiritually speaking by Jesus your big brother. And as God has forgiven you, you get to forgive others.
Who are you bitter against? Who do you need to forgive? Some of you say, “Well, what they did was wrong.” I totally agree. “They should have never done that.” Totally agree. But let’s not talk about them, let’s talk about you. Its time to forgive and see what happens.
Forgive them. That’s what Paul tells the Ephesians, “As God in Christ forgave you.”
Jesus then concludes with a prayer of protection.
The final part of prayer is the Prayer of Protection
“And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”
I love you, so I want you know this. There is evil in this world that will destroy you before you even realize it. Not all people are good. Not all things are true. Not all experiences will grow you in relationship with our Father in Heaven. The world is filled demons, evil, and darkness, and you need to run from it.
There’s evil. There’s real evil. We believe in Satan and demons. There’s real evil in this world. If you’re naïve and foolish you’re going to get led into all kinds of temptation to sin and participate in evil ... if you aren’t careful ... If you are not protected by your Father, you will be destroyed.
And here Jesus is teaching us to pray. “Dad, I don’t want to go in to temptation. I want to get out of temptation. I don’t want to go into evil. I want to get out of evil. I don’t want to go in to sin. I want to get out of sin.”
There’s a big debate here. How could Jesus pray, “Lead us not into temptation”? Does God lead us into sin? No. James 1:13-14 says, “God does not tempt anyone to sin.” He doesn’t. This is a heartfelt prayer saying, “God I agree with you. God I don’t want to be led into temptation so deliver me from evil. God I don’t want to walk away from you. So keep me close to you. God I don’t want to get into trouble. I want to obey. I don’t want to dishonor, disobey, disrespect, disregard my Dad. Dad help me out. Sometimes I’m stupid and I wander right into being tempted. Help me Dad. Let me see it coming. And if I’m in it, help me get out.” That’s the prayer.
Too many people pray only after they sin. “God I’ve blown it. I’m sorry. Help.” If you sin and you’re in trouble, yeah, cry out to God for help. And Dad will help his kids. But it’s good to pray in advance before you’re tempted. It’s good to pray in advance, before you’re into evil.
Pray offensively. Pray before. Pray before. Pray before you’ve blown it. Do you pray in advance? Do you know that there really is evil. Do you pray for protection for yourself? For your children?
Daily I pray for my kids, that they would be protect from the enemy. Many of you have never prayed for protection from evil, church family and friends ... Its time to start.
If you forget everything else I say, remember that God is your Dad. When you know this, I am sure you’ll pray better. You’ll pray more frequently, more earnestly, more humbly, more repentantly, and more joyfully.