Life Upside Down 10
Proper Prayer 4
Activity of Prayer (v. 5a)
~ The Repeated Action
~ The Pleasing Aroma
Motivation of Prayer (vv. 5b-6)
~ Reward of Personal Recognition (v. 5b)
~ Reward of Communion with the Father (v. 6)
Content of Prayer (vv. 7-8)
~ Empty Phrases (v. 7)
~ Omniscience of God (v. 8)
Pattern of Prayer (vv. 9-13)
~ Tone of Prayer (v. 9b)
~ Expectation of Prayer (v. 10a)
~ Submission of Prayer (v. 10b)
Today we want to look at the last three petitions in the Lord’s pattern prayer. But take note that there is a difference in the last three petitions over the first three. The first three focus more on our disposition as we come to God in prayer, the last three are more about our spiritual and physical needs before God. Follow along as I read beginning at verse 9.
9 Pray then like this: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen)
The fourth is an interesting request for God’s provision. I refer to this as the request of prayer.
~ Request of Prayer (v. 11)
Give us this day our daily bread,
The construction of this phrase in the original Greek language is very interesting. Literally it says, “Our bread for today, give us today.” The word translated “daily” in the ESV is an adjective to the word “bread.” The request is for today’s bread or bread that I will need today. In other words, we are not praying for sustenance for tomorrow, next week, or beyond, just what we need to today. Though bread can have a spiritual meaning, I believe bread here is the simple reference to what our physical body needs, food for daily life.
For most of us in our American culture we do not understand what it means to pray for a daily portion of food. Most of us have money enough that when the refrigerator is low, we go to the store and buy what we need. We have lost the sense of dependency on God that first century Christians understood all too well. We have the idea in our minds that the food we have on the table is because of our hard work at good paying jobs. We have need of food provided because we worked hard for it. Thus, we have lost sight of the grand picture of God’s provision. But in reality, if we have anything on the table it is ultimately because of God’s provision.
Pretend for a moment that you had to live strictly on what you raised in your garden and the animals you raised in your field. Then, the things you don’t raise yourself, you must go to the market in the city square and trade some of what you raised for other things you need. But then one summer a drought hits and you not only lose your crops, but you have to sell your animals because you have nothing to feed them. You have no freezers to store food, no process of canning food to preserve foods, and winter is coming. Suddenly the idea of praying for daily bread becomes a reality and our dependence on God is strengthened.
In our situation in America, we do not experience dependency in that same intensity. There may be some who are homeless who do, but by and large, we don’t. For many of us we don’t understand the feeling of not knowing where our next meal is coming from. When my wife and I were married, we had very little. She borrowed her wedding dress, people brought in potted plants for flowers, and the wedding cake was made by a sister from boxed cake mixes. But even during those days when we had almost nothing, we still didn’t worry about where our next meal was coming from.
Because of that, I believe we lose something very important; dependency and gratitude toward God. Rather than calling this verse the “Request of Prayer,” maybe I should have called it the “Dependency of Prayer.” We should seek from God our daily provisions, but even more than that, when we have those provisions, we should be so thankful for them because at any moment we could find ourselves in a financial or physical situation where we can’t work to provide that meal on the table.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
Jesus’ pattern prayer includes requesting for our daily needs. If you seem to always have plenty, make sure you thank God that those needs have been met. It may not always be that way. The next part of this pattern prayer is a petition of restoration.
~ Restoration of Prayer (v. 12)
and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors
In Luke’s account of this prayer, the word for sin is used, so we know that the debt referred to here is sin. So, sin against God and others is what this part of the prayer is about. Alexander Bruce said, “The more men desire to God’s will to be done, the more conscious they are of shortcoming. The more conscious of personal shortcoming, the more indulgent [or tolerant] towards the fault of others even when committed against themselves.” Unfortunately, many of us are quick to point out the sins and faults of others and are not so concerned about our sin. Sin is a serious matter. It has ramifications in our life, our relationship with God, and our relationship with others. Forgiveness of sin can only occur through a person’s relationship with God. Other people may try to help with the conviction and guilt of sin, but only in Jesus Christ is there forgiveness and freedom from sin.
Of course, forgiveness always begins with repentance of your sin and an acceptance of the payment for that sin by Jesus on the cross of Calvary. Forgiveness is always founded on God’s love and His grace extended to us through what Jesus Christ did for us. We can never balance our sin with good works, forgiveness only takes place with our faith in Jesus.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
So, if our salvation and forgiveness of sin is by faith alone, what does Jesus mean by saying, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors?” Is my salvation dependent on my forgiveness of others?
In fact, if you look down a couple of verses we find Jesus saying almost the same thing again.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Keep in mind that Jesus is not talking about lost sinners coming by faith to Him seeking to be saved. Jesus is talking about our communion with God the Father in prayer. The forgiveness Jesus is talking about is not the once for all forgiveness that takes place at salvation, this is about our continued fellowship with the Father. As Sam Storms has said, it is “Not the creation of a relationship but the restoration of it. The goal of this prayer is not salvation but the renewal of its joy and power and the spiritually reinvigorating experience of comfort and consolation.”
This part of the Lord’s Prayer is about restoration. What is happening here is really pretty simple. If you are unwilling to forgive someone of sin against you, you are being disobedient to God and thus have broken your relationship with Him.
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Many times, we struggle with forgiving others, but when our eyes are opened to the enormity of our sin against God and His merciful forgiveness, then the small offenses against us should result in our forgiveness of their offenses. Sometime read the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18:23-35. This is a powerful illustration of what we are talking about. A servant who is forgiven an insurmountable debt but goes out and refuses to forgive the petty debts others owe to him.
We must choose to forgive others, in doing so we are being obedient to God and growing closer in our relationship to Him. We are becoming more like Him. If we choose to not forgive others, we are being disobedient to God and we are living in a broken relationship with God. The final portion of the Lord’s Prayer is a request for guidance.
~ Guidance of Prayer (v. 13a)
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
How are we to take this part of our Lord’s pattern prayer? Are we to be concerned about God putting us into a situation where we choose to sin? To put this into perspective I want to remind you of some other verses about God and temptation.
Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
In our pattern prayer, Jesus says to pray like this:
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
I believe the best way to understand these two phrases is not separately but together. We are asking for deliverance from the entrapment of evil. What is stated negatively in the first part is stated in a positive way in the second half. D.A. Carson states it like this, “’Into temptation’ is negated: Lead us, not into temptation, but away from it, into righteousness, into situations where, far from being tempted, we will be protected and therefore kept righteous. As the second clause of this petition expresses it, we will then be delivered from the evil one.”
To me, this is a request to be spared from things that may cause us to choose to sin. Though God never directly tempts believers as we heard earlier in James, He does allow situations where our faith is tested. When we do find ourselves in difficult and trying circumstances, they are never more than we can handle with Christ by our side. In fact, there is an element of joy that we should have in knowing we are being tested. But, we should never pray to enter into these situations, but pray for deliverance from them. Pray for deliverance from the temptation to sin and falling prey to the evil one.
I see this as a prayer of guidance because we need to pray that the path of our life’s journey does not take us to a place where we fall prey to sin and its entrapments.
Pastor Harris tells us that this part of the prayer “actually reflects the other elements in this prayer. God promises to meet the needs of the righteous, yet we are to pray that they are met. God promises to forgive, yet we are to pray that He will forgive us. God promises that He will not allow us to get into a trial that is over our heads, but will “provide a way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it,” yet we are to pray that He will not lead us into a trial that is beyond us.”
Our communion with God the Father concerning these things is not so much about informing God of our tendencies about sin, remember, He already knows about it. It is more about our communion with Him and our ever consciousness of living our lives before Him. Then we are more attentive to temptations and the evil of life that would entrap us. As we stated last week, we are not praying something God doesn’t know about, but as we pray we are submissively aligning our will with His.
Let me make a couple of comments about the doxology of the Lord’s pattern prayer.
Doxology (v. 13b)
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen
The ending of our pattern prayer is not found in all translations of the Bible, simply because it is not found in all the manuscript evidence we have out there. The ESV put more weight on older manuscripts where this phrase is absent and that is why they do not include it in their translation. But that does necessarily mean that it wasn’t in the original manuscripts.
Actually, this closing phrase is very reflective of an Old Testament passage found in 1 Chronicles 29:11.
Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.
So, no matter whether you believe this closing should be include in Matthew 6:13 or not, it is certain biblical and true in its statement. I believe it is a grand way to close such a powerful prayer because this pattern prayer is focused on God, not on us.
If there is nothing else that you get from this series on proper prayer, my hope is that you get that our prayer is to be centered on the heart of God. It is a communion of our heart with Him. The tone of our prayer should exalt and honor our God. Our prayer should show an expectation of His kingdom both now and in the future. Prayer should align our will with God’s will. Requests for our daily needs show an understanding of our dependency on God. Prayer helps us to understand the concept of forgiveness toward others because of the forgiveness we experience in God. Prayer should always include a cry out for guidance in our lives so that we can live godly and avoid sin’s entrapments. Why pray like this?
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen
It is all about Him. What does you prayer life look like? Do you spend time with God? God enjoys listening to you and the communion you have with Him in prayer. Are there some things you could change about your prayer life?