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Some Helps On Prayer - Part 1 of 3. 
December 17, 2009
Dr. Allen Barber

The Model Prayer

Matthew 6:5-15

5 "And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 

8 "Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name. 
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done 
On earth as it is in heaven. 
11 Give us this day our daily bread. 
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors. 
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. 

14 "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 

The Lord's Prayer

John 17:1-26

1 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. 6 "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 7 Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. 8 For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. 9 "I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. 10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. 20 "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. 24 "Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."

A Reader's Request

At the request of a reader who asked for some advice on prayer, the following are some of the things I have learned about prayer over a 40-year ministry. It is in no way the only way to pray or that there is any guarantee all your prayers will be answered if you follow my advice. Each believer must find his or her own method of praying by seeking the leadership of the Holy Spirit.  All true prayer begins with the Holy Spirit and must be prayed in His power and guidance.

The reader's comments were typical of all young and old Christians (old in the faith) and I immediately identified with her situation as well as had to laugh at some of her comments for I have felt and said the same things. Her dilemma is one of boredom and repetition to mean that we can get into a rut and find ourselves praying the same way and for the same things each time we kneel to pray.  Her honestly in stating her case is what made me smile like; "God must be bored with my prayers for I am." When I attempt to pray, He must say, "Oh no, there she is again."  (I'm paraphrasing). There have been times in my life when I stopped praying for a while because I grew tired of the way I was praying. The disciples knew they did not pray the way Jesus did and asked Him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1).

There are all kinds of prayer - prayers of intercession; prayers of petition; prayers of praise and thanksgiving; spiritual warfare praying; commanding prayer, etc. This last one is not well known in the Church and the least understood (some groups misinterpret commanding prayer and use it to fulfill their lusts).  Probably the best way to learn how to pray effectively (have your prayers answered) is to study the prayers of the Bible (I have given two examples above and will comment further about them). The Psalms are a good place to start although there are other Old Testament books that contain the prayers of the prophets and saints such as Deuteronomy, Daniel, etc. Until you learn to follow the Holy Spirit in prayer, a good way to pray is to pray the prayers in the Psalms - believe it or not, God enjoys hearing His Word prayed to Him.  Make them personal by praying in the first person as though you are the author.  This is not plagiarism so don't feel guilty praying this way. 

Psalms 23 is a favorite of all Christians; another favorite of mine is Psalms 119 for it is all about the Word. I love to read this Psalms and pray sections of it back to God. When you need comfort, the prayers of David in the Psalms are without equal.  David went through a lot of adversity in his life (much of it his fault - he was a lousy disciplinarian and his family paid a great price) and his prayers reflect that. Perhaps no one in the Bible understood the mercy of God more than David. When he sinned, as he often did, he cast himself on the mercy of God for he trusted God to deal with him in a just manner. One thing about David, he never hid his sin from God once it was revealed to him. He quickly repented and put the sin behind him when he knew God had forgiven him. There is a lesson here for all of us.  Many believers including yours truly, continue to dwell on our sins once we repent and ask God to forgive us. That is an insult to God for in doing that we doubt God has forgiven us and actually make Him out to be a liar. This will greatly hinder our prayer life for one cannot pray in the Holy Spirit if the conscience is not clear.

Before I share about the highest manner of praying (Part 3), let's discuss the two prayers above - The Model Prayer and the Lord's Prayer.  Once when I was teaching a large Bible Class of divorced Christians in a Baptist Church in East Texas (they preferred to call it the Formerly Married Class), I mentioned that the prayer in Matthew 6 was not the Lord's prayer, but that John 17 was the real Lord's prayer. You would have thought I insulted their mother for they got  very upset as they had been taught Matthew 6 was the Lord's prayer. The Catholics in their ritualistic religion often quote the Model Prayer as a kind of catch-all prayer for all occasions. I do not believe that is what Jesus had in mind, for in Verse 7 He says we are not to pray using vain repetitions.

The prayer in Matthew 6 is simply a guide or pattern of "one" way to pray.  It also does not mean we have to pray in the order Jesus gave it. Jesus was teaching that when we pray, we should at least cover the basics of prayer such as giving praise and glory to God in all prayer, which is a good way to begin praying; however, depending on our spirituality and the circumstances, sometimes we need to confess our sins first (Why? Isaiah 59:1-3) or deal with a pressing matter. If you are in dire straits and need God's immediate attention, you are not going to follow any method of prayer rather will you cry out to God for deliverance. God is an intelligent being (the most intelligent of all) as well as having a lot of common sense and He looks more on the motive of prayer than the method or ritual we use.  If I have a emergency and need God's help, I am going to cry out to Him and tell Him my situation not bother with trying to remember the chronology of the Model Prayer. 

Other aspects of the Model Prayer are important such as supplying our needs (daily bread); actually, this petition is to be understood in the further revelation of the New Covenant where that is promised to all the saints:

Philippians 4:19

19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

We no longer ask God to supply our daily needs rather we thank Him that He has promised to do so and stand on that promise: "Father, I thank You that today, all my needs are met according to Your Word in Philippians 4:19."  Notice, it is "needs" not wants.

Then we are to confess our sins to God and ask His forgiveness as well as forgiving others who have sinned against us. Notice that Jesus concludes the Model Prayer by a warning to always be forgiving if we want the Father to forgive us. Does that mean God will not forgive my sins if I hold a grudge or am unwilling to forgive someone who has done me wrong - absolutely for our forgiveness is based upon the righteous blood of Jesus, which has removed our sins as far as the East from the West. Now let me be clear here less you misunderstand; at the moment we are born-again and become new creations in Christ, all of our sins in the old Adam - past, present and future are put away, that is, the penalty and judgment of our sin (singular or sin nature) with the final verdict of eternal punishment. True believers are washed clean in the blood of Jesus and will never be judged and sentenced to hell and the Lake or Fire. Jesus took our sins and punishment upon Himself so we could be forever forgiven and placed in right standing with God.  What it does mean concerns our day-to-day, moment-by-moment relationship to God and our fellow man. If we are unforgiving of our Christian brothers as well as the lost, it will cause us to lose fellowship with God and our prayers unanswered. It has other consequences as well. Until we confess our sins of unforgiveness and make things right with others (as much as that is possible), God will not forgive that sin. The result is that we arrive at the Bema Judgment and experience lost of rewards. Our salvation is not affected.

The phrase that we are to ask God not to lead us into temptation but to deliver us from evil (actually the evil one) is an unfortunate translation for common sense tells us that God has no desire to lead us into temptation. James 1:12-16 says God  cannot be tempted by evil. We are tempted by the devil and drawn into lusts resulting in sin when we yield to the tempter - Satan.  Actually James 1:14-15 says Satan comes on the scene after we are already being drawn into sin by our own lusts. What does this tell us about our own sin nature?  It is capable of much sin without the aid of Satan.  Where did the sin nature come from - the devil, so it naturally does what its father the devil does - sin!  This is why we cannot overcome sin without the aid of the Holy Spirit. Salvation does not eradicate the sin nature rather it gives us a new power for overcoming sin - the Holy Spirit.

I John 1:8-9 says that when (not if) we confess our sins (those committed after salvation), God is faithful to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Again, once we humbly and genuinely confess our sins before God (not a ritual or some form of catechism), He forgives us and puts them away. Then don't bring them up again to Him, yourself and others.  I once knew a man who converted from Catholicism to genuine Christianity (am I saying that Catholicism is not true Christianity - Yes I am with no apology) and he would always begin his prayers with, "Father, I am a sinful man," then elaborate on his sins.  I asked him why he prayed that way and it was how he was taught in Catholicism. I showed him how that was wrong and what it meant to be the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (II Cor. 5:21). While we are to confess our sins always, we are to be more righteous conscious than sin conscious. It is not necessary for believers to sin every day. In fact, it should be a rarity that we commit covert sins. Believers can have periods of carnality when they deliberately commit sins, but know one thing, that such will bring the discipline of God (God will take you out behind the barn and give you a thrashing on his whipping post; I have been there many times) in order to get your attention to stop sinning.  Habitual sin opens the door wide for Satan to establish ground as well as demonic invasion. Am I implying believers can have demons? No, I am saying they can and do!

Concerning dealing with the evil one, the Apostolic letters teach us how to conduct spiritual warfare including prayer against the devil (See Ephesians 6: 10-18).  Hint, you must suit up for battle or you will be defeated. 

Finally, Jesus says we are to pray for the Kingdom of God to come to the earth. Notice the Model Prayer begins and ends with the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is a subject all to its own. It is both spiritual and literal although some believe it is only spiritual. Now, why would Jesus tell us to pray for the Kingdom of God to come to the earth if it was only spiritual (within us)?  Common sense dictates that to enter the Kingdom of God, one must be a Kingdom person, which begins with the new birth. The sermon on the Mount is all about being a Kingdom person. To the amazement of those who think the Kingdom is only spiritual, Jesus will return in a body of spiritual flesh and rule this earth and the surviving nations from His throne in the New Jerusalem. The Kingdom of God is to be understood in its difference from the kingdoms of this world ruled by Satan. That is what Jesus meant when He told Pilate that His Kingdom was not of this world (this world system ruled by Satan and evil people). Jesus will bring His Kingdom to this earth, which will be vastly different than the wicked Kingdoms of the world.

In summary, we are to pray the basics of the Model Prayer, which forms the basis of our overall praying; however, it does not mean we are to pray in rote or ritual and not even in the order it was given.  It simply means our prayers should have these elements  - giving glory and praise to God; praying for His will and Kingdom to be done on this earth as in heaven; praying for our needs or thanking Him for meeting our needs; asking forgiveness of our sins as we also forgive others who sin against us; asking God to strengthen our spirits so we can resist the evil one (the way we do that is to always be prayed-up, confessed-up and read-up while maintaining a forgiving spirit toward all); and finally praying for the Kingdom of God to come to the earth.  Jesus will come went the Church gets serious and in unison prays for the Kingdom to come.  The Holy Spirit is already laying on the hearts of the overcomers to pray for the Kingdom to come and it will.

This is all I have time for today.  Part 2 will discuss the Lord's Prayer in John 17 and Part 3 will be about the highest form of praying.

Hope this series helps your prayer life to be more productive for there is a wrong and right way to pray.

The Lord bless you.