Sermon – July 29, 2018
Today we are finishing our sermon series on prayer where we started it some two months ago. We started this time of looking at prayer with Jesus’ words of wisdom for us from the Sermon on the Mount. There, we found the reason for our prayers; today, we find the model of our prayers – what our prayers, in their various forms and foci, should look like. The model prayer provides a simple basis for our prayers, yet allows us to build on that basis prayers that fit our various trials and tribulations, times and circumstances.
Praying for our objectives
When we pray, Jesus underscores the necessity of our praying corporately. Our objectives are wide and massive, covering the entirety of the world and time – they are much too large to just spend time praying for our own needs. Therefore, we are to pray for one another, for the church at large, and for the world. Further, we pray both to one who is our Father, and one who is in heaven. Let our prayers never be so intimate that they are flippant, and never be so formal that they are impassionate.
We are to first pray for God’s name to be kept holy. This means, first and foremost, that God’s people would rightly carry his name, representing him correctly to the world. Secondly, to pray that the Kingdom might come. This kingdom is the Kingdom of God in heaven, which in Jesus Christ has infiltrated the kingdom of Satan and the world, which is tied to the good news. Thirdly, we are to pray that God’s will is done here, as it is in heaven. Each of these three things are closely tied together – you cannot have one without the other.
Praying for our obstacles
We are weak and frail creatures, and if we are to want to see the Kingdom come in this world, we will need much from God to play our role. Here, we ask simply for the sustenance both in body and spirit that we need to get through each day. Just as God provided the manna in the wilderness, now he provides for our everyday needs in our wilderness.
We are never to forget that it was our sin that gave the kingdom of the world to Satan in the first place, and our sin is still an issue. So we must always pray that God, through Christ, might forgive our sins. But, knowing how great our sin and debts are before God, we should always be quick to forgive others, whose sin against us is but a drop in the ocean of our debts to God.
Our faith is often weak as well. So, like the wilderness generation that saw the great provision of the manna in Exodus 16, we are prone to quickly wonder if God is still among us, as that generation was in Exodus 17. Our prayer here is that God not place us in such a place where we are led to question his presence or his goodness. Such questioning of God is sinful, and is the very trap of the evil one.
As we try to better our prayer lives, especially through taking in the prayers of the saints throughout Scripture, we are reminded of two main themes: first, we must know the type of God to which we pray. Knowing who he is both changes what we ask for and how we ask for it. Secondly, we are reminded that our prayers are meant to change us, for our own good, and for our reward. Let us stop praying for small things, and focus on the things that change the world: the coming of the Kingdom, the doing of God’s will, and the world-wide acknowledgement of the holiness of God.