“This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one,
for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Amen.” (Matthew 6:9-13)
What more can I say than what Jesus said here?
Jesus was talking to an educated congregation. The average Jew listening to this sermon would have been raised on the Pentateuch. They knew scripture. They knew to sacrifice, and to pray, and to go to their Temple to talk to God. This was not only religious, but cultural. The Jewish people were God’s chosen people and they knew His words… though they often didn’t follow them. Jesus was giving an example of how to pray, but he was not giving the only way to pray. Throughout scripture, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, we find countless mentions of prayer.
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.
When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “You made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:
‘Why do the nations rage
And the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers gather together
Against the Lord
And against his Anointed One.’
Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
A few minutes revealed these references to prayer, a few more minutes study reveals many more. In Romans 12:12, Paul tells us to “persist in prayer”. There are so many mentions of prayer that it’s hard to wrap your head around them all, but the easy thing to understand is that we must pray. We are followers of a living God and we must talk to God. He knows what we are going to say, he knows what we are going to ask for, he knows what the motivation for our prayer is; we still have to pray.
On Monday, I put a poll up about spiritual disciplines, that’s because I’m going to start digging a little deeper into them here. I want you to understand what the Word teaches us about these disciplines and why they are important. I want to see men from around the world rising up in private, in public, with their brothers, sisters and families. I want to see us make a change in our society, and God speaks to us when we call out to Him. That is why prayer is important. God speaks to us as we speak to Him. God answers every prayer we lift up to Him. God will never ignore your request, though he may tell you no.
Let me share a few notes from some smart men. Jonathan Edwards once said, “The substance of religion is conscious communion with God.” Richard Foster tells us in Celebration of Discipline, “Of all the spiritual disciplines, prayer is the most central because it ushers in perpetual communion with the Father.” In Vintage Jesus, Mark Driscoll shares “Prayer is how we mere mortals talk to God…” DC Talk’s Live like a Jesus Freak features one of the strongest statements, Angie Kiesling shares, “Prayer is power. It’s supernatural firepower that wages war in the invisible realm – the reality that’s beyond this temporary world we live in.”
Time and time again I am reminded that we are to use prayer to talk to our Father. We are to spend time in His presence, sharing our thoughts and desires with Him. We are to put Him first last and always. We are to be in constant communion.
Let me give a suggestion and a challenge. Any time you find yourself thinking about what to do about anything, say a silent prayer. Any time you meet with other believers, pray together to open and close your time, even if it isn’t a religious meeting. Start and end your day with prayer. Pray by speaking to Him. Here are a few prayers that I might say in one day:
“I’m glad you’re with me, because it feels like the world is against me.”
“Help me to feel your presence today.”
“Take this temptation away from me God; it’s wearing down my defenses.”
So know that you have an idea of what I am talking about, I challenge you to fill your days with prayer.
Until the Whole World Knows,