Sunday, January 27, 2008

Do We Know How To Pray, Part 3

I want to continue today to look at "The Lord's Prayer," and what it says to us about prayer. Last time I left off talking about how this prayer teaches us that we are to pray "to the Father, through the Son (that’s why we close prayers 'in Jesus’ name'), by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Too often our prayers are about wishing for all the selfish things we hope would come true in our lives. Our lives are infected with selfishness. And if the Lord’s Prayer tells us anything about ourselves, it tells us that in every culture, selfishness is one of the most common bonds we share with everyone. We are concerned with the question: “What’s in it for me?” And Jesus tells us that it isn’t about us, it is about God and our relationship to God and our relationship with God.

In Matthew 6:8, Jesus reminds us: “For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”/ God knows our needs and wishes. The purpose of prayer is not to be focused on our selfish needs, but to trust God, and be with God, and seek God more deeply. In His travels, Jesus encountered people who only cared about themselves and their own needs. And so in His teaching the disciples about prayer, and in teaching us to pray, Jesus begins the prayer, and continues every petition in this prayer, by directing our focus and attention towards God. Jesus is showing us that we can’t really pray if our focus is wrong.
The Bible is there to remind us that we can’t make it without God. In fact, we were not created to separate ourselves from God, but rather to be in close communion with God. If we spend our lives developing self-reliance from God, ultimately we are not going to make it. We may make it big on earth, according to the world’s terms, but we will lack real purpose and satisfaction in life. We will always have a void, a hole in our lives that won’t be filled, because that hole can only be filled with God’s Spirit. And in that day when heaven and earth as we know them pass away, and only heaven and hell exist, what will we do then? Jesus says it this way in Matthew 16:26- “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
The better our companionship with God, the better our companionship with others will be. That’s what this prayer does, it helps us to focus on God and our relationship with God. We cannot make it all alone. Jesus knew this, and in teaching us to pray the Lord’s Prayer, and in starting the prayer this way “Abba—Father—Daddy,” He tells us that neither does God want any of us to seek to go it alone. God is a perfect Father; one who desires companionship with us, and reliance from us in Him.
As we pray in God's
name, we can know it is a name that we can rely on, and to whom we can speak.