Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Lead us not into Temptation

Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one”
Every element in Jesus’ model prayer is focused on God and His glory. When we say “Father,” we acknowledge Him as source. When we say, “Hallowed be Thy name,” we acknowledge Him as sacred. When we say, “Thy kingdom come,” we declare Him as sovereign. When we say, “Thy will be done,” we regard Him as superior. When we say, “Give us our daily bread,” we acknowledge Him as our supplier. When we say, “Forgive us our sins,” we confirm Him as savior. Finally, we come to the last petition, “Lead us not into temptation,” which acknowledges Him as our shelter.
   The word “temptation” has a two-fold meaning. First, it can mean to tempt with the goal of causing one to sin. We know from James 1:13 that this kind of temptation never originates from God. James says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he himself tempt anyone.” Second, the word “tempt” can mean a test to prove one’s validity of faith. James addresses this issue in Chapter 1:2-3, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”
   David, the anointed of the Lord, was running from the grips of King Saul. He searched for a hiding place, a cave, a rock, a fortress, a place of safety and security. No permanent place was found. He finally came to realize that the only secure shelter was in God Himself. He expresses his faith in Psalm 62, “My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken.” (vv. 5-6)
   Who do you turn to when temptation and testing comes? Is the Lord Jesus Christ your solid rock? Do you hide under his covering wing? Jesus said to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, you are my place of refuge, my rock, my fortress.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Forgive us our Debts

Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer
“Forgive us our debts, as also we have forgiven our debtors”
In our model prayer, after we have asked God for provision, we ask for pardon. “Forgive” follows “Give.” These two requests for daily bread and forgiveness are linked together by the simple conjunction “and.” In so doing, the need for food is placed on the same level with forgiveness.
   Praying for forgiveness of wrong doing – sin is paramount to an admission of guilt. Many falsely assume that being saved means – no more sin and no more need of forgiveness. Nothing could be further from the truth.
   In the Apostle John’s writing to believers he says, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9)
   Not only are we told to ask forgiveness for sins we have committed as believers, but we are to forgive those who have committed wrongs against us.
   Corrie Ten Bloom relates her experience on forgiveness in her book, “The Hiding Place.”
   When she met one of her jailers all the memories and vengeful thoughts ran through her mind. As he extended his hand, she found herself unable to lift her arm. She tried to smile. She felt no warmth for him. NO charity. She silently prayed, “Jesus I can’t forgive him. Give me your forgiveness.” As she finally took his hand an incredible thing happened. A warm love for the man sprang from her shoulder and traveled down through her arm to her hand that almost overwhelmed her. She realized that when Jesus tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.
   William Barclay paraphrases the petition to read: “Forgive us our sins in proportion as we forgive those who have sinned against us.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to forgive others to the same extent that you have forgiven me. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Give us our Daily Food

Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer
“Give us our daily bread”
   The first three requests in Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer deal with God’s glory (“Your name,” “your kingdom,” and “your will”; whereas, the last three requests deal with the family (“give us, forgive us, and lead us.)”
   The prayer request “Give us our daily bread” brings to mind the situation in regards to the children of Israel during their march through the wilderness of sin. They grumbled against Moses because of a lack of food.
   Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction.” (Ex. 16:4)
   They were being tested to see if they would trust God for their daily needs. No refrigerators or ice chests to preserve the “manna.” If they tried to gather more than one day’s portion, it would rot and grow maggots. God established rules for them to live by.
   Did you know that every kitchen and dining room table has rules? I definitely remember some rules my parents set down. We were to say, “Please pass the _____ followed by the words “thank you.” Another was “don’t leave the table until your plate is clean,” and have asked to be “excused.”
   My favorite table story is about the father with nine sons. The rule of his kitchen table was simple: Dad gets the last piece of chicken. If he doesn’t want it, the fastest fork wins. One night, as all ten eyed the final piece on the plate, a thunderstorm caused an electrical blackout. There was a scream in the dark, and when the lights returned, the dad’s hand was on the chicken platter with nine forks sticking in it.
   It was a wise practice at our table to all hold hands while thanking the Lord for the food. This prevents anyone from cheating. Watch out when you hear Amen!

Prayer: Dear Lord, how I thank you for continuing to supply our daily food!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thy Will be Done

Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer
“Thy will be done”
We are instructed to pray for the person of God, that His name be hallowed; for the program of God, that His kingdom will come; and for the purpose of God, that His will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven.
   We are asking that God’s will be done in our lives and in the world. Unfortunately, our prayers don’t always follow those principles. Instead, we pray for our own self-interests, and ignore God’s purpose. We ask God to change the world so we can get what we want.
   To truly pray “thy will be done” is to seek the heart of God. God has gone to great lengths to reveal His will and plan to us.
   Consider how He dealt with the two dispirited disciples on the road to Emmaus. These two guys made three mistakes that Jesus graciously turned into principles to help them determine His will.
   Mistake #1 – They disregarded the words of their fellow disciples. God often reveals His will through a community of believers. He speaks to one member of the church through another member.
Mistake #2 – They disregarded the Word of God. Jesus corrected this mistake by coming alongside and giving them a Bible study through the prophets. He revealed his will and purpose through the scripture. Doesn’t he do the same today?
Mistake #3 – They walked with God but didn’t recognize Him. The key to knowing God’s will is to spend time in his presence. When the two disciples finally recognized Jesus for who He was; he disappeared. They said to each other, “It felt like a fire burning in us when Jesus talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us.”
   Do you want to know God’s will and see His will done here on earth? Follow these three principles in prayer.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to spend time in your presence in prayer.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Your Kingdom Come

Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer
“your kingdom come”
In our first request we asked God to cause that “his name be believed, feared, obeyed, and glorified.” Now in our second request, Jesus says to pray “THY Kingdom come.” Who’s kingdom is Jesus referring in the word “THY?”
   There are three kingdoms to consider. (1) The kingdom of this world, (2) The kingdom controlled by Satan (Eph. 2:2), and (3) the kingdom of God. A study of history will reveal that the first two kingdom rise and fall, but the third kingdom is permanent.
   Ancient history records that Egypt was once a powerful kingdom, but it fell. The same can be said of Syria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Historians tell us there were 21-22 great world civilizations that have come and gone.
   The Scriptures reveal that God is the author of history – it is His story. The history that he is writing ultimately leads to the return of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who will rule in righteousness when the kingdom of this world becomes the kingdom of our God and His Christ. (cf. Rev. 11:15)
   All through his earthly ministry Jesus preached about this spiritual kingdom to come. In Luke 4:43 Jesus said, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.” The word “also” indicates that preaching the kingdom of God was the central factor in his ministry.
   What are we asking God to do when we pray, “Thy kingdom come?” I believe we are asking God to cause his kingdom to grow both spiritually and physically. His kingdom grows in numbers “one soul at a time.” He has chosen believers to help in this process. His kingdom advances also as we increase in our submission to Christ.
   Do you daily pray, “THY kingdom come?” Are you increasing in your submission to Christ? Time is of an essence? Jesus is coming soon – come Lord Jesus. (Rev. 22:20)

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to be diligent in praying souls into the kingdom of God.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Hallowed be Your Name

Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer
“Hallowed be Your name”
In the model prayer, Jesus taught the disciples to say, “Our Father in heaven, HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME.”
   What’s in a name? The Jewish people chose names for their children in hopes the name would embody the personality or character behind the name. Early American Puritan followed the same practice. They gave their children names like Silence, Charity, Hope, Love, and Patience. Today, Christians give their children Biblical names such as Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, etc. with the hope their child would live up to the name. Even Jesus followed this practice as he changed the name of Simon to Peter. Simon was a shifty, impetuous, unstable, unlearned fisherman; whereas, Jesus wanted him to become Peter (meaning a “rock”).
   The words, hallowed be Your name,” are a reference to God’s character and person. To hallow means “to sanctify, to set apart, to make special.” The opposite of hallow is “to profane, to disgrace, to besmirch the name.” When we pray, “hallowed be Your name,” we are not only expressing reverence to God and calling upon Him to be God to us, but we are recognizing that he is Holy.
    Our focus on God’s character and holiness should be reflected in our inner life and in our prayers for others. Our prayers for others should not be limited to their deliverance from sin, but also that they would come to know who he really is – the God of holiness, grace, and righteousness. Once they fully understand who He is, they will hallow His name.
    The question is: will you allow God to be God in your life? Will you honor and reverence Him not only in your prayer life, but your behavior as well?

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to live a life of holiness that honors and reverences your name – “hallowed be your name” in heaven and here on earth. Amen!      

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Jesus' Blueprint for Prayer

Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer
With the second phrase, “who IS in heaven” Jesus emphasizes the necessity of a firm foundation. The basis for this foundation is the character of God.
   The character of God is clearly seen in His dialogue with Moses at the burning bush. It is first seen when Moses sees a bush burning with fire, but is not consumed. Then God tells him to remove his sandals because he is standing on holy ground. Next, we see His character when God says to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM…” (Ex. 3:14) The “who is” and the “I AM” refer to the same person.
   We see in other Scriptures that God’s character is closely associated with establishing a solid foundation. The Psalmist said, “He established the earth upon its foundation, so that it will not totter forever and ever.” (Ps. 104:5) To Job God said, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (Job 38:4) Solomon stated, “God marked out the foundation of the earth” (Pr. 8:29)
   When Elaine and I built our first house on a hillside outside Hermann, Mo., we make doubly sure that the footing (foundation) for the house was laid well below the frost line. The entire weight of the superstructure rested upon that foundation. Thirty-six years have passed and the house is still standing.
   Our prayer life is not only dependent upon the character of “who God is,” but also upon the fact that he is firmly established in heaven ruling the universe. Nothing happens that escapes his attention. He knows all and sees all. It is assuring to know and believe that our God “who IS,” is in full control of all that takes place in heaven and on earth.
   Is your prayer life firmly established upon the character of God?  Just remember he is the God is the present tense.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you that we can begin our prayers with “Our Father who IS in heaven.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Our Father

Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer
After following Jesus for two years, watching him perform many miracles, listening to him teach and preach, spending time with him alone, and hearing him call on His Heavenly Father in prayer, they came to him and asked, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1)
   Jesus gathered them around him and gave them a prayer model or format to follow. He told them that a good way to begin prayer is to address God as “Our Father…”
   To a Jewish person who adhered strictly to the Law, the words “Our Father” would seem foreign, maybe even blasphemous. At no time during the Old Testament period would your ever hear a Jew using those words. Yet, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection , we are instructed over 275 times in the New Testament to address God as “Our Father.”
   The term our -- speaks of ownership. When you go to buy a car and pay the price, you become owner of the car. That’s what Jesus did for us on the cross. He shed his blood to purchase our redemption and we now belong to him. He is the owner of our soul.
   The term father – speaks of the personal relationship we have with the owner.  During my boyhood years when I needed consolation, comfort, or help with a problem, I went to my father. As my earthly father he loved and took care of my needs. Now as a believer I can go to my Heavenly Father in my hour of need.

Prayer, Dear Lord, thank you for making it possible for me to address you as Our Father.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Jesus' Blueprint for Prayers

Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer
“Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1)
If you follow this series of devotions on my Facebook page, you will learn in what manner you, as a follower of Jesus, should approach the throne of God, and what should be included in your daily prayers.
   After spending two years with Jesus, witnessing his miracles, listening to him teach and pray, they came to him one day and said, “Lord teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” I find this a remarkable question! What would I have asked if I were in their place? Would I have asked, Lord teach me to preach like you do, or Lord teach me how to do ministry? Not the disciples! They wanted Jesus to teach them how to pray.
   Fascinating! Isn’t prayer one of the easier tasks for a believer? Haddon Robinson in his study guide on “Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer” said, “Frankly, prayer has proven to be the most demanding discipline of my life. At different times I have found it strenuous, boring, frustrating and confusing. Over the years a solid prayer-life has been more intermittent than persistent.” I can certainly echo Mr. Robinson’s admittance.
   Jesus’ disciples had a tremendous advantage. Oftentimes when Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, they were with him. They listened to him pray in the garden, on a hillside, in front of thousands of people, in the wilderness, in the desert, and on a boat. Most if not all of Jesus’ prayers were done outside. We find no evidence of Jesus praying in a house or in the temple.
    I have found over the years that my most intimate prayer times have been outside walking along mountain trails, or sitting on a bank fishing, or up in a tree stand during hunting season waiting for daylight to arrive. The quietness and stillness bring a sense of solitude where man and God can meet.
   Is prayer high on your priority list, or just a mundane religious duty?

Prayer: Dear Lord, teach me your blueprint for prayer.