Pray With Jesus: Prayer For Our Needs (Matthew 6)

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There was once a single man who prayed and prayed for a spouse but without avail. Eventually he realized that his prayer life was becoming selfish and not focused on God’s purposes for his life. So, he started to pray for others and began to find new joy. He prayed for his church to be blessed with spiritual unity and impact in the community. He prayed for coworkers to discover faith and get saved from their sins. He prayed for the advancement of world missions and God’s protection upon the persecuted church. He also prayed for his faith witness to his own family members. Then he prayed for his mother: “O God, please help my mother in her old age to have strength and overcome her ailments. God, help me as her only child to take care of her. And also, help her to find a gorgeous blue eyed blonde hair, wealthy daughter in-law.”

It is easy for our prayer lives to have misplaced priority. Today’s message will help us better understand things to pray for in petition to God.lords prayer_logo

EXAMINE                       Matthew 6      Praying With Jesus to Petition Our Needs
So far in the Lord’s Prayer we have been learning:

  • Jesus’ modeling of prayer motivates my prayer life.
    • Prayer is a priority to rely on God and not our own resources.
    • Prayer is the difference between the best we can do and the best God can do.
  • Jesus’ instruction to pray invites my intimacy in prayer.
    • Prayer is about relationship not religion with God. Do you love God – how’s your prayer life? Seriously?!?
    • Prayer is devotion and dialogue with our Heavenly Father.
      • In 1952 a Princeton doctoral student asked Albert Einstein a question: “What original dissertation research is left?” Einstein responded: “Find out about prayer.”[1]
  • Jesus reveals our Heavenly Father has a kingdom purpose that will never fail.
    • Prayer is submitting our will to God’s will.
      • hallowed be God’s name
      • God’s kingdom come
      • God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven
    • Prayer shapes our perspective that we not only talk to God about our problems but we also talk to our problems about God.

In the midst of the privilege of prayer is a paradox that we struggle for how and what to pray. We often do not want to come off as begging, helpless, or needy. We may feel like if we have to pray then we are powerless, vulnerable, and weak. Yet, this is precisely what prayer is meant to create in us – a loving dependence upon our Heavenly Father.

The Lord’s Prayer provides us 3 areas of life where we must daily depend upon God.

  • We can pray to God for provision of bread (material needs).

“Give”

We are invited to ask God to give us things in prayer. This form of prayer is called petition or supplication.

Ask… seek… knock (Matthew 7:7)

“What do you want Me to do for you?” (Luke 18:41)

“You do not have, because you do not ask” (James 4:3)

God is good and gracious to meet our needs and not our greed’s; yet we are invited to ask. Prayer requests express faith and trust in God to provide for material needs.

“us/our”

The plural pronouns remind us not to be self-focused and how God often answers our prayers through the blessings of others; we are blessed to be a blessing.
“daily bread”

The prayer for daily bread was literal. Then, as well as parts of the world today, live day to day. Today about 20% of the world’s population lives on less than $1/day and half the world (2.8 billion people) survive on less than $2/day.[2]

Bread is known as a staple diet in both ancient and modern world (cf. Genesis 3:19), so it stands for all of life’s necessities and the means of supplying them. Thus, “bread” covers all food as well as the provision – shelter, clothing, employment – to survive.

In the OT (Exodus 16) following the Exodus, God gave the Israelites manna to eat each morning. If the people gathered surplus and the bread spoiled and stank. Later in the NT, Jesus will feed people and tell them “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

This 4th Petition of the Lord’s Prayer is quite a transition – moving from God’s name & kingdom to requesting food. What does this tell us?

  • Everything is spiritual. Life is not compartmentalized into secular & sacred.
  • Food is needed for human strength to accomplish divine purposes.
  • Food and material provision are realistic needs, but prayer shows the full dependence upon God, our Creator & Sustainer. This is a significant application from our modernized independent, self-sustaining culture.
  • Jesus cares for food.
    • (Gen 1-2) God provides food from every tree
    • (Exodus 12) God instructed Passover meal of a lamb as memorial
    • (Exodus 16) God provides manna for 40 years
    • (Gospels) Jesus is seen eating & drinking with religious & rebellious
    • (Gospels) Jesus feeds 4k & 5K
    • (Gospels) Jesus gives Lord’s Supper as memorial
    • (Revelation) Jesus speaks about great banquet in heaven
  • Jesus is teaching us how to view the physical.
    • Our human bodies and physical needs are not preeminent but they are a priority. We should not idolize or deify our bodies – health, physique, beauty to make them into ends of themselves. However, nor should we neglect them (1Cor 6:19-20; 1Tim 4:8).

à PRAY about use of your body for God’s glory (physical health, emotional health, intellectual, moral – sexual purity).

à PRAY thanksgiving for all the little things we so often take for granted.

  • Me tempted to complain at pantry clutter then remember many don’t have pantries!
  • At meals pray thanksgiving for specific food – bananas, biscuits, sausage, steak, spaghetti

à What “bread” type requests do you need prayer? Nothing too small or too big to petition God.

We can pray to God for pardon for sin (spiritual needs).

“and forgive us our debts”

Since God is preeminent in prayer, forgiveness of sin is fundamental to understand in our prayer relationship with God. Forgiveness is needed for our “debts” (οφειληματα = obligation owed; sin requires payment). In other words, when we pray we do so with humility and contrition over our sin.

  • My dermatologist encourages me to examine my flesh regularly for any pre-cancerous mole spots that he can remove them as needed. Likewise, we must examine our life for sin to confess and repent.
    • 1Chronicles 28:9 “The Lord searches every mind and understands every plan and thought”
    • Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”
    • 1Corinthians 2:10 “the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God”
  • à PRAY repentantly through God’s forgiving grace.
    • This is necessary because our petitions ask with wrong motives
      “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly to spend on your passions” James 4:3
    • In the gospel we are protected from sin’s darkness & depression because we have been declared righteous. God has provided our salvation and once and for all forgiveness, but our repentance restores our fellowship and renews our focus with God.

“as we also have forgiven our debtors”

Jesus assumes and implies that those who have received forgiveness will forgive others. Those who have been forgiven cannot help but forgive because they understand forgiveness is a great grace gift by God. If you withhold forgiveness from another then that implies you do not understand forgiveness from God.

Further, sin short-circuits God’s presence and power among the body of believers. Unresolved anger, bitterness, conflict, and grudges will harm church unity and hinder God’s answers to prayer.

Matthew 6:14-15 14 “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. 15 But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.

Matthew 18:21-3521 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus said to him, “but 70 times seven. 23 For this reason, the kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who wanted to settle accounts with his  slaves. 24 When he began to settle accounts, one who owed 10,000 talents was brought before him. 25 Since he had no way to pay it back, his master commanded that he, his wife, his children, and everything he had be sold to pay the debt. 26 “At this, the  slave fell facedown before him and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you everything!’ 27 Then the master of that  slave had compassion, released him, and forgave him the loan. 28 “But that  slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him 100  denarii. He grabbed him, started choking him, and said, ‘Pay what you owe!’ 29 “At this, his fellow  slave fell down and began begging him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ 30 But he wasn’t willing. On the contrary, he went and threw him into prison until he could pay what was owed. 31 When the other slaves saw what had taken place, they were deeply distressed and went and reported to their master everything that had happened. 32 “Then, after he had summoned him, his master said to him, ‘You wicked  slave! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And his master got angry and handed him over to the jailers until he could pay everything that was owed. 35 So My heavenly Father will also do to you if each of you does not forgive his brother from his heart.”

à Is there forgiveness you need to seek? Is there forgiveness you need to extend?

à Pray for relationships in our church to be filled with God’s forgiving grace and Christ-like love.

 

 We can pray to God for protection from evil & pursuit of righteousness (moral guidance).

“And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil”

A third and last petition for our human needs is in the area of temptation. The prayer is for God’s discerning guidance through life’s decisions. God does allow temptation – the idea of God testing individuals is biblical.

  • Abraham with Isaac (Genesis 22)
  • Job
  • Jesus
    • at infancy there was massacre by Herod (Matthew 2:17)
    • before public ministry in wilderness (Luke 4)
    • in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46; Luke 22:39-46)
      • Jesus told the disciples “watch and pray that may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)
    • Judas betrayed (Matthew 26:47-50; 27:9)
    • at the cross (Matthew 27:45-50)
  • Paul
    • 2Cor 11:24-28, 12:7-10

However, God’s testing is not intended to lead us into sin but to grow us in sanctification (James 1:2-15). Therefore, to pray for deliverance from evil should result in the pursuit of righteousness. Replacing wrong thinking and behavior will only be effective as the implementation of new and right thinking and behaviors. So, Jesus is teaching us to pray for both protection from evil and pursuit of good.

Many Christians have a motto: “God does not give us more than we can handle.” First, this saying is not in the Bible, nor is it biblical. God will frequently give us more than we can handle that we might learn to prioritize prayer and pursue His purposes – so we are not building our own kingdom but His!

APPLY/THINK

God’s plan for your life is comprehensive. These 3 prayers cover all of life – in the present, past, and future.

  • Provision for bread (material needs) – the present
  • Pardon for sin (spiritual needs) – the past
  • Protection from evil (guidance in daily living) – the future

God’s plan for our life refines us of ourselves.

  • What are you relying on?
    • For salvation you need God’s hope.
      • Prayer does not save you, God does. God only hears the prayers of those who have trusted in Jesus.
        “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” John 15:7
  • For a life of spiritual growth you will face hardship.
    • “this is to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” 2Cor 1:9
    • “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ my rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2Cor 12:8-10
  • For the help and hope of others.
    • Pray… James 5:13-16
    • Prayer is the difference between the best we can do and the best God can do.

[1] Quote from Mark Batterson, Draw The Circle, 12.

[2] http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/briefingpapers/food/vitalstats.shtml

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