Desiring God: The Prescription for Prayer

Desiring God: The Prescription for Prayer 

Introduction:
How many
of you received a prescription this week?

Wow, so several of you.  Ok, if you raised your hand, come up on stage and tell everyone what it was for.  Ok, ok, just kidding.  Seriously though, several of us received prescriptions from medically trained personnel.  We took that prescription in faith that the doctor knows what is best in hopes that it would make us feel better.  

Now that is faith.  Right?

Think about it.  We received prescriptions from doctors whose names we cannot pronounce.  We trust them even though we have not fully verified their medical degrees of licensing.  We just trust that they are in good standing.  We take these prescriptions, which no one can read, to a pharmacist.  This pharmacist then takes this illegible note, and gives us pills made up of chemical compounds that we do not understand.  We then travel home and take the pills believing that the prescription that was written to us was filled correctly and that it will make us healthy.  

Faith!

Point:
Why is it that we are willing to step out in faith on a doctor’s prescription but we are hesitant to take the prescriptions of Jesus.  

Jesus gives us prescriptions for health, wellness, fulfillment, peace, happiness, joy, purpose and so much more.  Yet, we often give our personal doctor more creditability than we give to The Great Physician.  

Trust me, The Great Physician Always Gives Great Prescriptions!

Point:
This morning, we are viewing one of Jesus’ great prescriptions.  Today’s prescription is for prayer.  Specifically, how should we model our prayer lives so that they will be most effective and to the point.  Now we will not cover the entire prayer this week, we will just be looking at the first couple of verses. Why? Well, there is a lot going on here that needs to be addressed. 

Background and Context
Speaking of prescriptions, The Sermon on the Mount is full of them.  Most believers, including this one, believes that this is the best, the most practical sermon ever given.  It should be heeded and listened to…well…because Jesus said it.  Last week we discovered that in praying, there is a reward.  That’s right, we receive blessings in various forms when we pray.  We receive God’s presence.  We receive answered prayers and spiritual growth.  

So, what are some of the other prescriptions gives in The Sermon on the Mount?

He gives prescriptions on living an authentic public spiritual life.  He talks about how we can manage anger, lust, divorce, promises, revenge, loving our enemies, giving, and yes…even prayer.  So, let’s read this morning from Matthew 6:9-10.  Jesus gives us the prescription for prayer. 

Matthew 6: 9-10 ESV
9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Follow Jesus’ Prescription for Prayer!

I. Jesus’ Direction vs. 9
Matthew 6:9 ESV
Pray then like this…

Point:
Jesus uses several modes of communication throughout His earthly ministry.  He tells stories.  He uses parables.  He communicated through healing and miracles.  There were times when Jesus communicated where you had to really look through HIs words to find the deeper meaning.  The disciples were often left scratching their heads wondering exactly what Jesus was talking about. 

Well, this is not one of those times.  Jesus cuts straight to the point.  No dancing.  No parables.  No miracles.  Jesus gets to the heart of the matter.  “Pray then like this…”. Jesus does not say, “if you pray” or “maybe you should start praying like this”.  No.  He says “pray then like this”.  I love the fact that Jesus says “pray”.  This is a command that we are to follow.  We, as believers in Christ, should be praying.  

We should pray at home.

We should pray at work.

We should pray at the gym.

We should pray at school.  

I think that it is funny that we believe that the government has taken prayer out of school.  The other day, Jack told me that he prays before lunch every day and that he leads his classmates in prayer for the blessing.  

Jay told me that he prays before every quiz and every test.  Trust me, there is plenty of prayer still in school.  

Do you pray?  How often?  Is prayer a priority for you?  If not, why not?  Jesus tells us that prayer is not an option.  It is our mission.  Everything we do should be connected to prayer.  Every decision should be prayed over.  Yes, every decision.  Jesus does not give us the option of not praying.  

Quote:
"To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing." - Martin Luther 

I Thessalonians 5:17 ESV
Pray without ceasing…

Follow Jesus’ Prescription for Prayer!

I. Jesus’ Direction vs. 9
II. Our Admission vs. 9
Matthew 6:9 ESV
Our Father in heaven…

Illustration:
Two men were walking through a field one day when they spotted an enraged bull coming straight toward them. Instantly they darted toward the nearest fence. The raging bull followed in hot pursuit and it was soon apparent they wouldn’t make the fence in time to reach safety. Terrified, one shouted to the other, “Put up a prayer, John. We’re in for it!” John answered, “I can’t. I’ve never made a public prayer in my life.” “But you must!” implored his companion. “The bull is catching up to us.” “All right,” panted John, “I’ll say the only prayer I know, the one my father used to repeat at the table: ‘O Lord, for what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful.”

Point:
Well, I am thankful for God.  He has been good to us, better than we deserve.  Let me explain. 

Point:
So, Jesus says that we should pray.  We should pray His way.  Now Jesus gives us the subject of our prayers.  For many of us, we have thought that prayer is about us.  We take to God all of our problems, our requests, our issues.  However, prayer is not about us.  It’s not.  

Prayer is about God, our Father. 

Prayer that is focused on us is prayer that is out of focus. Certainly we need to bring our needs and the needs of others before God, but that isn’t the essence of prayer. As we heard so often when we discussed the book, The Purpose Driven Life, it isn’t about us, it’s about God.

Point:
In this simple statement from Jesus, we have a clear understanding that God is not one of us.  He is different.  He is special.  He is above us in both terms of understanding and geography.  God is our Father.  Our Father has a deeper understanding of everything.  Our Father, is not bound by our temporal geographic location. His home is in Heaven.  God, our Father, has already arrived if you will where we want to be.  He is the Creator.  He is the Sustainer.  He is…well…God.  

Point:
But He is OUR Father.  This is particular good news for us today.  The Greek word used by Jesus is “Abba” or Ἀββᾶ.  We might say it is congruent to the English word “Daddy”.  Jesus is using a term of loving endearment towards the Creator of the Universe.  Sure, God is God, but He is also our loving Father.  The word means that we are dependent on God for our life.  Much in the same way a child is dependent on their Father for food, clothing, and shelter.  God, our Abba, our Daddy, looks to meet our most basic needs.  He loves us, cares for us, even though He is above us and different than one of us.  

Point:
This term became real for me when we adopted Jett.  I am not like Jett.  We come from different places and we do not share the same race.  Jett, before he met me had nothing.  Truly nothing.  He had no possessions. He had no family.  He was on his own.  Jett’s story was very sad.  However, I became Jett’s Abba Daddy.  I stepped into Jett’s world, much like God stepped into mine, and provided for him his most basic of needs.  The transformation from alone and scared is pretty remarkable.  



Arn’t you glad that we have a Father, an everlasting, all knowing Father who we have access to? Isn’t it exciting that God is loving, wants to be our Daddy, and that He is aware of our needs?

Jeremiah 33:3 ESV
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

Follow Jesus’ Prescription for Prayer!

I. Jesus’ Direction vs. 9
II. Our Admission vs. 9
III. Our Appreciation vs. 9
Mathew 6:9 ESV
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Illustration:
Have you ever heard this expression, "It’s enough to make a preacher cuss." It reminds me of story about little boy trying to sell a lawn mower. The local pastor walked up and he was able to persuade him to buy the worn out lawn mower. The pastor pulled on the rope several times to make sure the mower would start, but nothing happen. Not even a spit or a sputter.

The boy told the preacher that he would have to kick the mower and say a few cuss words before the mower would crank. The preacher said, "Son, I can’t do that. It’s been years since I said a cuss word." 

The little boy replied, "Just keep pulling and it will come back to you."

Point:
Our words are powerful.  There are great things that we can use words for and there are damaging ways that we can use our words.  Well, there is power in names as well. 

Point:
So, we should pray.  Gotcha.  Next, we should pray to God.  Prayer is about God, not us.  Thankfully, God is our Father. Our Abba so we can bring our requests to Him.  He knows our needs and meets our needs.  Not Jesus tells us that His name should be hallowed.  

Point:
When we use the name of God, we aren't talking about the peanut farmer down the road. We're not talking about the person who picks up our trash, nor even our father and mother. Trivialize the names of those people if you will, but don't trivialize God. Flippantly invoke the name of a mere human being if you must, but do not flippantly invoke the name of God.

Point:
So what is God’s name if we are to keep it hallowed?

Point:
So what is God’s name?  How am I to hallow God’s name if I do not know it.  Well there are literally hundreds of names for God.  However, names for God does not mean that it is God’s name.  For instance, to some in this room I am Daddy.  For one in this room, I am husband.  For some of you, I am pastor or preacher.  Yet, I have a given name and that name is Stuart.  

So, what is God’s given name?  Well in Exodus 3:14 God introduces Himself as “I AM WHO I AM”.  The Hebrew word for I AM WHO I AM is Yahweh.  Hebrews would call this word The Unutterable Name.  They believe that God’s name is so Holy, so revered that it could never be said out loud.  In Hebrew, the word is spelled YHWH.  We call this the Tetragrammaton.  

For the ancient Jew, for the Jew today, Yahweh is a big deal and no joking matter. 

So, what doe it mean to keep God’s name hallowed?  What is Jesus saying?

In hallowing God’s name, we keep it holy and therefore set apart.  Hallowing God’s name means that when we pray, we do not overuse His name or use it flippantly.  We certainly do not use His name in a curse or in a derogatory way.  

In the Old Testament God’s “name” stands for His person and is honored by His people. His name is often described as holy:

Psalm 30:4 
"Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holy name."

Psalm 97:12
"Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holy name."

Psalm 111:9
"He has sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever; holy and awesome is his name."

Holiness is the prime characteristic of God.

Exodus 20:7 ESV
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Follow Jesus’ Prescription for Prayer!

I. Jesus’ Direction vs. 9
II. Our Admission vs. 9
III. Our Appreciation vs. 9
IV. Our Submission vs. 10
Matthew 6:10 ESV
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Point
I love Lord’s prayer.  I really do, but I could build an entire sermon around this one 13 word sentence.  I really could.  I won’t.  But I could.  So Jesus tells us something really important here.  We should be praying for the advancement of God’s Kingdom.  We should be praying that God’s will be done in our lives.  We should be reminded that there is something beyond this earth.  There is a real, literal heaven that we should love to be a part of.  

Let’s tackle the first part of this statement.  “Your Kingdom come”.  Friends, let me share with you a very simple and evident truth.  We are all kingdom builders.  I say kingdom with a little k.  A little k kingdom is our kingdom.  We, all of us, everyone in this room has been consumed at some point in their lives with building a kingdom for themselves.  A kingdom to rule.  A kingdom to receive applause and fame.  A kingdom where others serve and we are the most important.  

Parent’s you recognize this truth when you tell your kids that the universe does not revolve around them.  You recognize that your children are trying to build their kingdom and assert their authority.  As parents we get angry at our kids because we do not want to allow their little k kingdoms to trump our little k kingdoms.  We do not want to submit to them, instead we demand that they bend to our will.  

You might be sitting there thinking that you have never tried to build a kingdom.  Sure you have.  You have tried to build a kingdom in your wallet.  You have tried to build your kingdom at home and in your marriage.  You have tried to build your kingdom here at the church.  All of us have.  

Jesus reminds us, the disciples, and the Pharisees that God does not care about our little k kingdoms.  God is about His Kingdom.  

So, what does God’s Kingdom look like?  That is a difficult question to answer.  However, I know where God’s Kingdom starts.  God’s Kingdom starts when He sits on the throne of our life and rules.  You see, God’s Kingdom is in each one of us.  When Jesus says that God’s Kingdom should go, it replaces our rule with His rule.  We give up our desire to be in charge and we install God in His rightful place as ruler.  

That’s why Jesus says, “your will be done”.  Not our will.  Not someone else’s will.  His will.  

Jesus displays this prayer in His own life in the Garden just before his death.  

Luke 22:42 ESV
"Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine."

Jesus did not want to die, He didn’t.  However, Jesus laid aside His desire for the rule of the Father.  In that moment, God’s Kingdom was brought to earth.  

That’s right.  If you want to see God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, then we must obey Him.  Our obedience to God’s commands transfers His Kingdom to earth.  

Point:
So, we pray.  Jesus told us to.  When we pray, we understand that our prayer is not about us, it is about God.  We respect Him, hallow Him.  We profess our dependance on Him and long to see His name made famous among the nations.  We lay aside our desire to be in control and we long to bring Heaven to Earth by our obedience.  

Friends, this is the prescription for prayer.  Remember…

"True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that - it is spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth." - Charles Spurgeon


Don’t Delay…Pray!

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