Last week, we explored the idea of the ‘new normal’ for prayer. This was initiated by Jesus’ followers as they observed how Jesus prayed. It was not the type of prayer that was all output with no outcome like the religious elite of the day was so good at doing. Jesus got results when He prayed. They asked Jesus to teach them how to pray the way Jesus prayed…praying God’s way.
Before He taught them ‘the new normal,’ Jesus qualified it with a radical spiritual reality that was new to them. Jesus said, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:8. That is important. Most of the prayers that people prayed in those days were for their own benefit. “Father, I need food, I need a job, make me rich, I need health, please do this or that for me.” They were praying for God to do something for them. They were concerned about their agenda and needs which is natural. They were speaking more than listening. They were broadcasting more than receiving.
The idea that Jesus was conveying to them was their Father, who is in heaven, already knows what they need. After all, God is all knowing. He suggests prayer is more than just requesting stuff from God. Prayer includes requests but is more than requests. Real prayer is hearing from God. Real prayer is two-way communication with the God who not only listens but also speaks. Jesus introduced them to The Lord’s Prayer. In the Lord’s Prayer, God broadcasts and we tune into the God channel and do what He and His word says.
Many of you have heard of and know the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. But let’s look at the story behind the story here. In teaching them then and us today, Jesus introduces them and us to the way He heard the Father tell Him to pray.
Jesus said, “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive our debts (moral debts or sins), as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.’”
The first thing that Jesus does is take us right to heaven where everything starts. Just the way we have an earthly father, we have a heavenly Father. That’s reality. The word that Jesus uses here means this Father in heaven is high and lifted up. He is transcendent. He is all powerful and all knowing. He has no beginning and no end. Our Father rules, reigns and has a Kingdom. This Father is also Hallowed or holy. There is no spot, sin or blemish in Him. That’s His nature and we can’t change it. It changes us.
We also learn that our Father has a mission. Jesus tells us to pray that God’s kingdom will come to earth as it is in heaven. That is God’s will…His kingdom come, His will be done. This is important. When we pray this way, we are praying God’s will, not our will. In other words, we find out what God is doing and pray that way. The old normal was trying to get God to do our will…our kingdom come and our will be done.
Why does God want us to pray His will? God’s will is the best for us. The world will have peace, prosperity and dignity. Any other way will be troubles aplenty.
But if you think our Father doesn’t care for us, you will learn something new next week as we finish with this greatest prayer ever prayed.
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