Monday, July 23, 2012

How Should We Pray?

Reflections: After reading the Psalm and the passage from Deuteronomy, one realizes the challenges of following God consistently, and the many low points in the Old Testament for the people of God. Of course, God was merciful and gracious, but over time the stubbornness of the Israelites and their desire to worship other gods, led to their demise. The psalmist reflects more of his own personal spiritual depression, whereas the Deuteronomy passage speaks more of the national fall from grace. We see that God was both jealous and angry that Israel had so quickly gone to worship after other gods, when God had delivered them in such grandiose ways reflecting His love for them and His purpose to set them apart for His purposes.

Then in our Gospel lesson, we see the greatest antidote toward a bad relationship with God, prayer! The disciples see Jesus praying early and often; and want to learn more about Jesus’ prayer life. We see Luke’s gospel we a strong emphasis on prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit both in Jesus’ life, and the disciples as they begin to do the things Jesus said and did. John’s disciples had taught them how to pray so Jesus’ disciples ask him about it.

Jesus gives them a model for prayer that can be used as a model for us today. Notice when we say model it does not mean that we have to just babble words in a rote way. Just because we have a prayer we might say over and over, it does not mean that it has to lose its meaning. Of course we are not slavishly to pray the Lord’s Prayer as if we could not pray in other ways and using other words. But still, Jesus’ model is good rutter for our prayer life and specifically what we should pray for. If you analyze the Lord’s prayer you will find that it really is quite comprehensive, and covers everything we need both for our relationship with our heavenly Father and our relationships with each other! Importantly the daily use of it encourages how we should live our lives in dependence on God each day!

Recently in my life I have found the joy of praying the Lord’s Prayer each day. You might try if you like writing out your prayers doing a paragraph or more on each petition.

1. Our Father (the word in Aramaic is “abba” meaning “daddy”, a word of affection)

2. Who Art in Heaven – God is our heavenly Father, as opposed to our earthly father.

3. Hallowed Be Thy Name – God’s name is holy and as we acknowledge that we realize who we are and who God is.

4. Give us this day our daily bread – This is reminiscent of the daily bread God provided the Israelites in the desert, but also that God gives us all we need each day: emotionally, physically and spiritually

5. Forgive us our trespasses – As we are honest with God we need to come clean with Him and confess our shortcomings daily.

6. As we forgive those who trespass against us
– the basis for good relationships with others is forgiving others as we have been forgiven. It is not an option. If God has forgiven us a multitude of sins, how can we withhold forgiveness from others?

7. Lead us not into temptation – We pray that we would not be led into temptation, though we know because we live in a fallen world we will be tempted both from within and from without.

8. But deliver us from evil – Or literally from the “evil one”. The source of temptation is not God, but the evil one. He can be resisted, and as sons and daughters of God we have the power and authority to rebuke him when he is tempting us!

9. For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the authority, forever and ever amen. – This is added by some later manuscripts, but most Protestant churches include in the Lord’s Prayer. Of course, we know from the whole teaching of the bible that this is a great way to end the prayer as it acknowledges that God’s kingdom will come, but we pray this prayer in order that it might come through us, both individually and as the Church.

I invite and challenge you to use the Lord’s Prayer as you renew your relationship with God each day! And remember that Your Heavenly Father loves you, and loves it when you come to Him in prayer, praise and thanks. As we seek to be a people God will use in this generation, prayer will be the key to the revival of our Church!

Psalm 88:6-12

6 You have put me in the lowest pit,
in the darkest depths.
7 Your wrath lies heavily on me;
you have overwhelmed me with all your waves.
8 You have taken from me my closest friends
and have made me repulsive to them.
I am confined and cannot escape;
9 my eyes are dim with grief.
I call to you, Lord, every day;
I spread out my hands to you.
10 Do you show your wonders to the dead?
Do their spirits rise up and praise you?
11 Is your love declared in the grave,
your faithfulness in Destruction?
12 Are your wonders known in the place of darkness,
or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?

Deuteronomy 32:10-43

15 Jeshurun grew fat and kicked;
filled with food, they became heavy and sleek.
They abandoned the God who made them
and rejected the Rock their Savior.
16 They made him jealous with their foreign gods
and angered him with their detestable idols.
17 They sacrificed to false gods, which are not God—
gods they had not known,
gods that recently appeared,
gods your ancestors did not fear.
18 You deserted the Rock, who fathered you;
you forgot the God who gave you birth.
19 The Lord saw this and rejected them
because he was angered by his sons and daughters.
20 “I will hide my face from them,” he said,
“and see what their end will be;
for they are a perverse generation,
children who are unfaithful.
21 They made me jealous by what is no god
and angered me with their worthless idols.
I will make them envious by those who are not a people;
I will make them angry by a nation that has no understanding.
22 For a fire will be kindled by my wrath,
one that burns down to the realm of the dead below.
It will devour the earth and its harvests
and set afire the foundations of the mountains.

Luke 11:1-13
Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer

11 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” 2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread. 4 Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’” 5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. 9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. Numbers 21:7

Jesus is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25

Dear Lord, help us never to forget how much you love us and minister to our needs every day. Amen.

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