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Lord, Teach Us To Pray - Part 3

Tom Pennington Matthew 6:5-15


Matthew 6: We have begun our study of this incredible passage, the teaching of our Lord. When I was in college, I read for the first time a biography of a famous British Christian by the name of George Mueller. Perhaps you're familiar with the man and his ministry. Mueller was truly a remarkable man. He traveled some 200,000 miles, now remember this was in the late 1800s, if you are not aware when he lived. He traveled some 200,000 miles in 17 years of worldwide evangelistic efforts. He went to some 42 different countries and preached to over 3 million people. And all of that happened from the age of 70 to 87. Mueller was one of the founders of the Brethren Movement. He pastored the same church for 66 years. But he was best known, as you may remember him, for his orphanages. He started five of them.

During his lifespan more than 10,000 orphans were cared for by those five orphanages. Three thousand of those kids professed faith in Jesus Christ as they grew into maturity and adulthood. George Mueller preached his last sermon on March 6th, 1888. It was on Isaiah 6, that great vision of the greatness of God, the holiness of God. George Mueller, when he preached that sermon was 92 years old. Four days later his maid found him in his room, dead. He had survived two wives. And he was buried in Bristol and tens of thousands of people lined the streets for his funeral. A well-known story, that you may have heard at some point, indicates the kind of life this man lived, the depth of his devotion to Christ, the intensity with which he believed God in prayer.

One morning, at one of the orphanages, the helpers set the table with the plates, and the spoons and the cups, but there was no food, and there was no money to buy food. George Mueller, as the children stood there waiting for their morning meal, George Mueller said, "children, I know it's time for you to be in school," so he lifted his head and his hand toward heaven and he said these words, "Dear Father, we thank thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat." As soon as he said amen, there was a knock at the door. It was a baker. This baker said, "Mr. Mueller, I don't know why, but I just couldn't sleep last night, I just had this feeling that there wasn't going to be enough food for the children today, and so I got up at 2 am this morning to make bread for the orphanage." George Mueller, of course, thanked him gratefully and as soon as he had finished that, there was another knock at the door, it was a milkman.

Coincidentally, this milkman's milk cart had broken down right in front of the orphanage full of cans of milk. And he said, "I don't know if you have any need for this milk or not, but I need to load it off of my cart, so that I can repair it, and if you can use it I want you to have it."

It is absolutely true that our God answers prayer. As I thought about that this week, I was reminded of my own life and a number of instances. One particular came to mind. It was in February of 2003 that I decided that the time had come for our family to leave Grace Community Church and for me to pursue the senior pastorate. Now Sheila had come to that full conclusion, but we told absolutely no one. But we began to pray. We prayed obviously that God would direct us to the place to the church where I could serve Him, I could serve the kingdom. But I added this specific prayer request. I said, Lord, you don't owe me this, and we believe this is the path you have regardless, but, it sure would be encouraging, if before anybody else but You and Sheila and I know, if a church would contact us and express some interest in my becoming a pastor. It was within a month later, that two churches had called. The first call was from the Countryside Bible Church pulpit search team. As I think about that I just am reminded of God's incredible faithfulness in prayer.

Perhaps you have had similar circumstances; similar occurrences where you have prayed and you have seen in dramatic form God answer those prayers. What disappoints me about myself and what probably disappoints you as you think about it that, in spite of the fact that we have seen those kinds of responses from our God, we still aren't consistent like we should be in prayer, and we still don't really grasp the importance of this amazing privilege, this great spiritual duty and privilege to come before our God in prayer. That's why we begin this new year with a kind of New Year's resolution, both me personally and us as a church, we have committed ourselves this year to deepening ourselves in the issue of prayer, of going deep and learning what it means to grab hold of the heavenly throne of our Father, and pray for those things that matter.

Last week we turned our attention to Matthew 6. In Matthew 6 we find the most complete of the two versions of our Lord's Prayer that occur in Scripture, one of them of course in Luke 11, the other here in Matthew 6. Let me read it for you in its context. You follow along as I read Matthew 6 beginning in verse 5.

"When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, [and when you have shut] … your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees … in secret will reward you. And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So, do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him.

Pray, then, in this way: "Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.'] For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions."

Now the theme of this is obviously prayer. This paragraph is about this all-important issue of approaching our God in the reality of prayer. Specifically, though, our Lord is teaching us how to pray. As we saw last week Jesus begins by addressing the "motive" of prayer. In verses 5 - 8, the motive of prayer. And He outlines here two wrong motives for prayer. He says don't pray in order to gain reputation with others. Don't pray in order to sort of enlarge yourself in other people's thinking and make them think well of you. If that's what you are after in prayer, then by the time you've said amen you've gotten everything you're going to get. And He says don't pray, secondly, to gain merit with God. Don't think that something you do in prayer, whether it's the length of your prayers, or the words you use, or how often you say them, is somehow going to earn a right for God to respond to that prayer. Don't pray for those reasons.

So, what is the right motive, or what are the right motives for prayer? Well, we discussed them last week, let me just remind you of them. We are to pray, number one, to bring ourselves in line with God and His plan. I love that illustration from Richard Baxter; he describes prayer something like casting your hook from a boat, casting your fishing hook into the bank. Now none of us do that on purpose but it does sometimes happen, accidentally. And he said the results seem to be that you're pulling the bank to yourself, but, in reality, you're pulling yourself to the bank. That's how it is with prayer, when we pray. Prayer doesn't so much change God as it changes us. It brings us into alignment with the will and plan and purpose of God. We'll see that as we get into the first petitions of this prayer. So, we're to pray in order to bring ourselves in line with God and His plan.

Secondly, we're to pray with the motive of "cooperating with God in His eternal plan by the request that we bring." You see, the same God that decreed the ends, decreed the means, and He has decreed that prayer would be a part of that eternal plan, so that when you pray, and God responds, you are cooperating with what God planned to do, but you have a part in that. He decreed that you would be able to participate with Him in that great plan.

There's a third motive for praying and that is "to express our utter dependence on God," that we depend on Him for everything in this life and everything for eternity. That's why we pray. So, Jesus deals with the motive of prayer. And today we come to the prayer itself. I want us to begin to examine this amazing prayer from the mouth of our Lord.

Now, before we look at the individual parts, we need to back up and sort of look at the prayer as a whole. There's been considerable debate throughout the history of the church about how this prayer is to be used. And the profound expression of the genius of the Holy Spirit, this prayer occurs in two different places in the Scripture and in both cases Jesus' introduction of the prayer is different and gives us His own picture of its intended usage. In His own words He tells us exactly how He intends for it to be used. Notice here in Matthew 6:9 He begins simply, "Pray". Now as I mentioned to you before it's something important for all of us to grab onto that Jesus expects that all of His disciples will pray. Notice back up in verse 5, "when you pray," verse 6, "when you pray," verse 7, "when you are praying". Jesus expects that we all will pray. It is as natural to the spiritual life as breathing to the natural life. Christians pray.

But Jesus also in this passage commands us to pray. Here in verse 9 He begins with an imperative. It's a command from our Lord Himself. No matter how busy or how distracted we are, there is no option here, our Lord says "pray." Verse 9, He continues, "Pray then." Now "then" is the normal Greek word that's usually translated "therefore". This is the logical conclusion of a point He's just made. Well what's going on here? Well, Jesus has just told us that the content of our prayers, back in verses 7 and 8, the content of our prayers is not to be meaningless repetition. It's not just to be throwing out words, thinking that somehow that's going to impress God and He's going to listen.

So, if that's not to be the content of our prayers, what is to be the content of our prayers? "Pray, therefore in this way." Now with that little phrase "in this way", Jesus is making it clear that He is not saying every time you and I pray we should say only these words. Rather, He is saying that He is about to provide us with a model, a pattern after we can fashion all of our prayers. It's like a skeleton on which we hang the meat of our own prayers. It's like a road map that directs us to the throne of God.

Just like the Ten Commandments are an outline of all of God's law. Those aren't the only commands that matter to God; those are outline points reminding the children of Israel of everything God had said. All of God's law condensed in ten Hebrew words that even a child could easily memorize. In the same way this prayer, The Lord's Prayer, condenses everything that should ever be a part of our prayers into a small package that you and I memorized, those of us who grew up in the church, as children. It provides us, if you will, with all the categories of prayer. Listen carefully to this, every word of every prayer in Scripture is summarized and outlined in these brief words of our Lord here.

Cyprian, the Bishop of Carthage in the 200's AD, says,

"what matters of deep moments are contained in The Lord's Prayer, how many and how great briefly collected in the words but spiritually abundant in virtue, so that there is absolutely nothing passed over that is not comprehended in these our prayers and petitions. It is," he says, "a compendium of heavenly doctrine."

Trotulian, the church father of the 160s and following AD says, "it is a new outline of prayer." Hugh Latimer, the great English reformer and martyr eventually for his faith, he said that this prayer is the sum and abridgement of all other prayers; all other prayers are contained in this prayer. If you can remember The Lord's Prayer, then you always have a structure for your own prayers. So, the Disciple's Prayer Jesus tells us, is a pattern: "Pray then in this way;" like this.

But turn to Luke 11. In Luke 11 Jesus introduces the prayer a little differently. And it gives us yet another usage of this prayer. In Luke 11, we looked at this a few weeks ago. Verse 1, you remember one of the disciples comes to Jesus after Jesus has been praying and he says, Lord, teach us to pray. Verse 2, Jesus begins, and He says this to them, "When you pray, say this…." Or we could paraphrase it like this, "When you pray, use these words." So, not only is the Lord's Prayer a model, a pattern; it provides a skeleton, a grid, a framework in which all of our prayers can express themselves. But it is also absolutely acceptable to use these exact words both in private and in corporate prayer, as long as we don't violate the command the Lord just gave us back in Matthew 6, as long as our minds are engaged, and we don't allow the words to become meaningless repetition.

In fact, Martin Lloyd-Jones, whom many of you know is a great mentor of mine, although I never met him. His books have framed so much of my philosophy of ministry, of my thought. He writes this, and by the way, he writes this in the book that is really the book, and if you've never read Martin Lloyd-Jones, that I would encourage you to read. It's in a book called The Sermon on the Mount. It's simply an exposition, it's a series of his sermons on the Sermon on the Mount, and it is a timeless classic. It will change your life. But in this book he writes this commenting on The Lord's Prayer,

"It seems to me that we can never remind ourselves too frequently of this particular form, that is of prayer, and for myself I have always been comforted by this thought that whatever I may forget in my own private prayers, as long as I pray the Lord's Prayer I have covered all the principals, on condition of course that I am not merely mechanically repeating the words, but am really praying from my heart and with my mind and with my whole being."

So, it's appropriate then to use this great prayer both as a model, as a pattern, as well to actually pray it in private and together as a church. In fact, in a few weeks I've asked Seth, we're going to sing it together, as an expression, as our worship to the Lord. I think that's perfectly appropriate that we do that from time to time.

Let's look for a moment back at Matthew 6. Before we look at the specifics, let's look at again the prayer as a whole in its structure. The structure of the prayer is fairly straight forward. You have a "preface," "Our Father who is in heaven;" you have a "conclusion" down in verse 13, "For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen." And in between you have the meat of the prayer, or "the petitions." Now as far as how to handle those petitions there've been two basic approaches through the history of the church.

Augustine, and following Augustine, Martin Luther divided verse 13 into two different requests, so that they made "do not lead us into temptation" one request and "deliver us from evil" another request. So, when you divide it that way you actually come up with seven petitions. But I agree with the many commentators, perhaps most commentators, who follow the pattern of John Calvin. This view understands verse 13 to be only one petition, so that means then you have a "preface, you have six petitions or categories of prayer, followed by a brief conclusion."

Now in our study this morning I want us to examine what is usually called the preface, or the invocation. It comes in the simple, beautiful profound words: "Our Father who is in heaven." Most biblical prayers share this in common. They begin with a recognition of the person, the greatness, or the goodness of God. From beginning to end the Scripture is filled with recorded prayers, and you will find this same pattern throughout all of Scripture. I'm just going to give you a couple of examples, a mere smattering of what the Scripture says on this issue. Turn with me first to 1 Kings 8, 1 Kings 8. This is Solomon's dedication of the Solomonic temple, his prayer of dedication. First Kings 8:22.

"Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven. And he said, "O LORD, the God of Israel, there is no God like You in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart, who have kept with Your servant, my father David, that which You have promised him; indeed You have spoken with Your mouth and fulfilled it with Your hand as it is this day.'"

What a beautiful beginning, and yet Solomon didn't offer those words because they were beautiful; it was a recognition as he began his prayer of the person to whom he was speaking, of the greatness and the majesty and the goodness of that person. You see the same pattern if you turn over to Daniel 9 under much different circumstances. Daniel of course, with God's people in captivity, he comes to understand the Scripture in Daniel 9:1and 2. Verse 3,

"So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. [And here is what I prayed," he said; verse 4,] "Alas, O LORD, the great and awesome God who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments." [He begins his prayer again with that recognition of who God is and what He's like.]

Turn to the New Testament in Acts 4. After the disciples were released from the council. Verse 23 of Acts 4

[and] When they had been released, they went to their own companions, and reported all that the chief priest and elders had said to them. And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and this is what they said, "O Lord, it is YOU WHO MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA, AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM, who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of your father David your servant said … [these things,]" and he goes on to quote from Psalm 2.

This is the beginning of their prayer; it's an acknowledgement of who God is, of His greatness and of His goodness.

Now let me ask you, what lesson can we learn from the fact that biblical prayers usually include this same kind of preface or this same kind of invocation? Well, if you're like me, you often find yourself in a hurry. You're in a hurry to get up in the morning, you're in a hurry to get some exercise, you're in a hurry to spend some time with the Lord, you're in a hurry to get breakfast, you're in a hurry to get out the door, you're in a hurry to get to school or to work or whatever the day holds for you. In addition to that sort of general hurried state of our lives, when we come to prayer there are often very serious concerns on our hearts: a doctor's diagnosis, a disobedient child, a family member's spiritual condition, a job for a spouse, or a host of other crucial issues that are on our minds. And if we are not careful, we find ourselves, not occasionally, but as a habit of life, rushing into the presence of God. And if I can say this without being disrespectful, we offer a kind of cell phone or instant message prayer to God. It goes something like this: "Father, hello yeah, I need some help, uhhm I'm specifically asking that You help with Aunt Susie's surgery, hope that goes well, okay well thanks so much for taking care of it, talk to ya later, bye."

But the fact that biblical prayer, including the model prayer that Jesus gives us here, usually begins with an invocation reminds us that we must not, as a pattern of life, rush in and rush out of the presence of God. It's not that prayers of interjection are not acceptable to God. You see those occasionally reflected in Scripture. But we're to take God seriously. Think about it. You wouldn't talk to the important people of our world that way. You wouldn't talk to President Bush that way, even if you were good friends. You wouldn't dial up the President's cell phone, if the President in fact has one, and say, "hello Mr. President, yeah could you please work on getting some tax relief down here in Texas. Well thanks so much, got to run now, bye." Why not? Because his position demands more respect than that.

Martin Lloyd-Jones makes the point that throughout the history of the church the great saints have all agreed on this, the first step in prayer should always be what has been called through the history of the church, recollection. What exactly is recollection? Well, Martin Lloyd-Jones defines it this way; he says,

"There is a sense in which every man when he begins to pray to God should put his hand upon his mouth. As strange as it may seem to you, you start praying by saying nothing. You recollect what you are about to do, just stop for a moment, and remind yourself of what you are going to do. Take any of the great prayers that are recorded in the Old Testament or the New. None of them is what we might call this business-like kind of prayer which simply makes a petition known to God and then ends. Every prayer recorded in the Bible starts with an invocation."

While I may not fully agree with his last point, there are a few prayers of our Lord's that aren't, don't begin with invocations, but as a whole, he's absolutely right. That is the tone and tenor of Scripture, and his point is well taken. That's the lesson that we can learn from the fact that there is an invocation or a preface. We must be very careful and thoughtful in how we approach our great God. And then when we begin to take apart this preface that our Lord gives us here, we begin to look carefully at its content. In the marvelous way the Holy Spirit does, He tells us here exactly how we are to approach God. Jesus, in these few words "Our Father who is in heaven," teaches us that there is a particular mindset with which we are to approach God.

Specifically, Jesus prescribes three attitudes that should permeate all of our prayers. Three attitudes that should be a part of every prayer you pray. This is how to approach God.

The first attitude is as a member of a family, as a member of a family. Notice the very first word: Our Father. The very first word of The Lord's Prayer reminds us that genuine prayer is always plural. Now that runs absolutely cross grain to our culture. We live in a nation of rampant individualism, and moreover we live in a state that is characterized by its rugged individualism. It's all about me and what I want and my way. Most people have no real sense of a responsibility that they owe to the community at large in which they live, or to the nation in which they live. When we hear in our culture, in JFK's words, "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," we hear it as sentimental, outdated rhetoric.

And this sort of rugged individualism that's only out for what I can get has infiltrated the church of Jesus Christ. Most churches are filled with people who think themselves as individuals, islands, there to get something for themselves. There's no sense of "I'm here to serve the Lord and these other people around me."

Listen, no believer is an island. If you waltz into church every Sunday, and you come just for what you can get, and then you get what you can get, and you waltz out, and you never really give attention, you never sense a responsibility to those around you, then you are ignoring most of the New Testament. The most common image the New Testament uses for the church is a body, an organism, with parts all working together for the good of the whole. I love the image in Ephesians 2:19 where Paul says the church is the household of God. He says we're God's family. That's how we're to think of one another, we're a family. Nowhere is that more true or more neglected than when we kneel to pray. This is as Phillip Reikin calls it, a family prayer. Our Father. Now what exactly does it mean to pray as a member of the family? We take that apart a little bit and begin to look at it, what do we mean by pray as a member of the family?

Well there's several specific observations we could make here. If you're going to pray like that then first of all you need to pray for others. You need to pray for others. Praying is plural, not only does He say, "Our Father," but look down in verse 11, when He gets to the petitions, give us our daily bread, verse 12 forgive us our debts, verse 13 don't lead us into temptation, deliver us from evil. There is only "us" and "our". Notice in this prayer there is no "me" and "my".

Now, that doesn't mean that it's inappropriate to pray specifically for yourself. We can pray for ourselves, our Lord did that. But it means that the bulk of our prayers and the attitude with which we approach prayer is not to be individualistic; we are to include others. Do you pray like that? Is that what characterizes your prayer? If we could type up your prayers and throw them up here on the overhead behind me, on the screen behind me, is that what your prayers would look like? Or are they very self-focused, are they very individualistic? Let me tell you something, this is a clear barometer of your spiritual maturity.

Think about how this works in the family. One way, in a family, you can measure the maturity of one of the family members is by how concerned they are for others. You take that pretty little baby that you just brought home from the hospital. That's a cute cuddly little thing isn't it, so attractive, but let me tell you something, that baby doesn't give a rip about you. That baby doesn't care that its mother isn't feeling well, that baby doesn't care that you got no sleep the night before. He wants what he wants, and he wants it now.

As the child grows, you see little faint glimmers of hope. You know, they begin to have some concern for their siblings, but admittedly this is even skewed often. You know you hear a request like this, "Mommy, Susie would like some dessert." You think, ahhhh, they're beginning to, they're beginning to get this whole point, the point of being selfless and concerned for others. And then they finish as they walk away with a little, you know, nonchalantness, "And oh, and I'd like some too," and then you understand what was really going on.

But as the child reaches adulthood and maturity, you begin to see that maturity in how they are genuinely concerned for others in the family. It's the same in the spiritual world. Spiritually mature people are genuinely concerned about the needs of others in their spiritual family. If all we pray for is our own needs and our own wants and our own desires, it shows us that we have a lot of maturing to do. To pray as a member of a family means that we must pray for others.

But there's a second nuance of this praying as a member of a family, not only praying for others, but pray with others. Pray with others. Scripture is filled with examples of joining others to pray. Let me give you a brief survey of what life in the early church was like. Turn to the book of Acts. Acts 1. Let me just walk you through this briefly. The early church was committed to praying together, to praying with other believers. Certainly, private prayer should occupy our daily lives, just as it did with our Lord. But we should also pray with each other.

Notice this as we walk our way through the book of Acts. Acts 1:14. They're here in the upper room and this 120 that had gathered there were all with one mind continually devoting themselves to prayer. They were praying together. Chapter 1:24. Part of what they prayed for was the replacement for Judas, and they prayed together and said these things. You go over to chapter 2-:42, after Pentecost. The church of Jerusalem has been formed. They're now at least 3000 people, or 3120 that are part of that great church. And what do they devote themselves to? Verse 42, they were continually devoting themselves to prayer. Chapter 3:1, Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, it was the hour of prayer. You see they had learned in Judaism that there was a time to pray together, and the church continued to do that. Chapter 4:31, I already read you the prayer that they prayed, or part of it anyway that begins in verse 24, after the disciples were released from the council they prayed. Verse 31 says, "when they had prayed the place where they had gathered together was shaken." They were together praying.

Turn over to 12 :12. You see at the imprisoning of Peter, they have gathered together, verse 12 tells us, at the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark where they were gathered together and were praying. They could have said, well we'll just each pray in our own houses, and obviously they did that, but they also had a time where gathered to pray. Chapter 13:;3, when the church in Antioch is trying to decide who to send out on missionary work they fasted, this is the leadership, they fasted, and they prayed. Chapter 16:-25, here are just two disciples of Christ, the Apostle Paul and his traveling companion Silas. They find themselves in a terrible circumstance. At about midnight Paul and Silas were praying together. Chapter 20:36, continues along this same vein, 20;36, here Paul has just spoken his farewell address to the Ephesian elders where he has served so many months. "And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all."

Then he moves on in verse 5 there, of chapter 21, he moves on to Tyre, and verse 5 says "And when our days there were ended," in Tyre, "we left and started on our journey, when they all, with wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city. After kneeling down on the beach and praying together, we said farewell to one another." You get the feel that the early church prayed together?

We should be praying together as a church, with our spouses, with our families, as leadership of the church, as men, as women, as young people, in our home fellowships. Prayer is to be a crucial part of our lives as believers and as the life of the church. Let me ask you a question, how much time have you spent over the last couple of weeks in prayer with other Christians? Let me challenge us all on this front. Let me challenge you to do something that I'm going to commit to and I encourage you to commit to, over the next several weeks while we're studying prayer; let's commit to each other to get together with another believer maybe just another believer, maybe your spouse, maybe a member of the same sex to get together to pray; or perhaps in a group, or whatever works best, but with other believers.

Make a commitment to spend one hour a week over the next several weeks, getting together with some other believer or group of believers and praying for our church, praying that we would become a church of prayer. Praying that we would be evangelistic in our outreach to our community, that we would grasp these great principles that are contained in the Lord's Prayer. Will you consider doing that? We're to pray with others.

But even if we are completely alone we can still pray with others. What do I mean? As you and I pray privately we are always to keep before our minds that we are intimately connected to others. We are a part of a family. Our Father. By beginning His prayer with the word our, I think our Lord meant also to stress something else, not only are we to pray for others, not only are we to pray with others. This is a very fascinating thought; we are to pray with Christ as our older brother. We are to pray with Christ as our older brother. Because He includes Himself here in the word our, He is the unique one-of-a-kind Son of God, a Son by nature if you will. But we are sons as well, sons and daughters not by nature, but how? By adoption. John 1:12, as many as received Christ to them he gave the authority or the right to become children of God. If you are in Christ this morning you are a son of God. Just as surely as Christ is; differently than Christ is, but as surely as He is. If you're a woman here this morning, and you're in Christ, you are a daughter of God and a sister of Jesus Christ. What an amazing reality. This makes Jesus our older brother.

And the Scripture makes a lot of this by the way, turn to Hebrews 2. Hebrews 2:11. Here the writer says, "for both He who sanctifies." Who is that? That's a reference to Christ as you'll see in a moment. "And those who are sanctified." That's us. So, both Christ and all of us, "are from one Father, for which reason He" [that is Christ] "is not ashamed to call us brothers, saying I will proclaim your name to my brethren." Amazing reality: we are brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ. Now how does this apply to the Lord's Prayer? Well, Jesus Himself, our older brother, prays this prayer with us and for us.

Think about the earthly ministry of Christ for a moment. Think about His own prayers. "Our Father who is in heaven." How did Jesus normally begin His prayers when he was here? By addressing God as His Father and acknowledging that He was in heaven. Luke 10:21, "At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit and said, 'I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth.'" Jesus was also always concerned about His Father's name and it being hallowed or set apart. In John 12:28 he says, "Father, glorify Your name." In John 17:1, "Jesus spoke these things and lifting His eyes up to heaven He said 'Father, glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You.'" Jesus constantly prayed that God's kingdom would come or that His kingdom would advance. In John 11:41, "Jesus raised His eyes and said 'Father, I thank You that You have heard Me,'" [this is at the raising of Lazarus] "'I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me, but because of the people standing around, I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.'" Jesus is saying "Lord, let them believe that You sent Me. Let Your kingdom advance in their hearts and their lives."

Turn to John 17. You see Jesus praying that the kingdom of God would be advanced. John 17, the great high priestly prayer of our Lord, down in verse 20: He's just prayed that His disciples would be sanctified, verse 17, and in verse 20 He says, "I do not ask on the behalf of these alone," in other words, "I'm not just talking about the 12 or the 11, Father," [Judas of course is gone at this point], "but for those also who believe in Me through their word." Now you tell me, who has believed in the disciples through their word? That's us. We have embraced the writings of the apostles in the New Testament. We have believed. Jesus was praying that the kingdom of God would advance not only in the lives of His disciples, but in the lives of all those who would eventually hear and believe as a result.

It was Jesus' persistent concern that God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven. You remember of course His famous prayer in the garden, Luke 22:42 saying, "Father, not My will, but Yours be done." He prayed regarding the needs of this life. Take food for example. Jesus always prayed at mealtime, addressing gratitude to God for that food, and also expressing His utter dependence on God in His earthly life and experience; for God's provision. While Jesus never needed to pray for forgiveness for His own sins, because He had none, He did pray for the forgiveness of others. You remember of course on the cross, in Luke 23, He said, "Father forgive them." Forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing.

He prayed for the spiritual help and protection from evil and the evil one of His disciples. You remember in Luke 22, He prays for Peter and He says, "Peter, behold Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith fail not." In John 17:17 Jesus prays, "Father, sanctify them through the truth, let them be preserved from evil and let them grow in holiness." When you and I pray in these categories, we join our prayer with our Lord Himself, because these were and are His concerns. His prayers were filled with the same petitions, and He taught us to pray the same way He prayed.

Now let me give you something else to think about. Right now, right now Jesus in heaven continues to offer the same petitions for you and for me. Turn to Romans 8, Romans 8:34. "Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God; who also intercedes for us." He prays for us. Hebrews 7 makes the same point. Hebrews 7:25, "Therefore He," [that is Christ,] "is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." Your salvation and its future are guaranteed, because He continually makes intercession for you. Hebrews 9:24, "For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands." [In other words, not an earthly temple,] "a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." Jesus takes these petitions that He has taught us to pray and He offers the same prayers of concern for you and for me today. And so, when we pray these words, we are praying with our older brother, "Our" Father.

When you approach prayer, make sure you have the right attitude. An attitude of a member of the family and by that we mean praying for others, praying with others, and praying with Christ for the same things. There are two more crucial attitudes to bring to God in prayer. Not only are we to pray as a member of a family, we're to pray as a child to a Father, and as the subject of a sovereign. We'll look at those next week, Lord willing.

Let's pray together.

Our Father, we do calm our hearts before we come into Your presence, reminded of Your greatness, of Your power. We're reminded, Lord, that your Word is truth. And it's through understanding this truth that our minds and our lives are set free. Thank you for this teaching of our Lord.

Father, I pray that you would help us to take our approach to you seriously. That we would remind ourselves of what it is we are about to do before we rush mindlessly into your presence. And Father, I pray then that you would help us to pray with the right attitude, beginning, as we have learned today, with the Spirit, remembering we are a member of a family, that you are "our Father". Lord, help us to pray for one another. Help us to pray with one another.

And Lord, we praise you and bless you that as we pray, our Lord Jesus Christ, our older brother, prays with us as well, in your very presence on our behalf. Lord, we thank you for what you're teaching us. Our hearts cry out that you would teach us to pray.

Father, I pray for anyone here this morning who cannot pray to you as "our Father" because they are still alienated from you. They are not part of the family. They have not been adopted by you because they have never turned from their sins and embraced our Lord Jesus Christ as their own. Father, I pray that today would be the day that you would draw them to yourself. That as they see you as Father, they would cry out to be adopted into your family.

We pray it in Jesus' name and for His great glory. Amen.