Secrets of Spiritual Growth, Part 2

Secrets of Spiritual Growth, Part 2

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Your grace is enough and we are thankful for it because we need it each and every day.
Grace to help in time of need. Now we pray that You will bless as we open Your Word because
we want to grow spiritually. We want to succeed in our walk with You. And as we look at Scripture
help us to discover truths, secrets even for some, that would help us to get closer to
you and hear You say to us one day, “Well done good and faithful servant.” So we commit
this time of Bible study to you now. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. Hey let’s turn in our Bibles to Ephesians
chapter 6 and Luke chapter 11. We are going to look at both of those passages in a few
moments. Ephesians 6 and Luke 11. And the title of my message is, “Secrets of Spiritual
Success Part 2). Now here is a question. Why is it that some
Christians succeed while others who make that profession of faith miserably fail? Why is
it that some seem to run the race of life and cross that finishing line with flying
colors and others just collapse in a heap? Why? Because of choices. Choices that people
make each and every day. It comes down to this. We make our choices and our choices
make us. And you know what? Life is filled with choices. From the moment you get up in
the morning till the time you lay your head down on your pillow you have made hundreds
maybe even thousands of choices. That is why it is hard to go into some restaurants.
You ever go to Cheesecake Factory and try to figure out what to order. Their menu is
like a telephone book. It is too long. There are too many options. That is why I like In-N-Out Burger you know.
Here are your options. Hamburger. French Fries. A soft drink. Maybe a malt. Pretty much that’s
it. Now for those In-N-Out aficionados there are some variations on the order. You can
order your regular burger. You can order it with cheese. You can order it protein style
which means no bread wrapped in lettuce. Or you can use some of those In-N-Out secret
orders like order it animal style. Now that means that an animal has pre-chewed your burger.
It is a little gross, but it digests better. Check it out. No. I am kidding. Animal style
means that they cook the patty with some mustard on it. Ok. Now I am doing to give you a secret
secret all right. How many of you have had animal style In-N-Out? Ok. Here is the next
level. Are you ready for the next level? Let me restate that? Are you ready for heartburn?
Here it is. Animal style with chopped chili peppers. Yeah. That’s what I am talking
about. Ok and then you can get double-double. Then you can get 4×4. And I heard you can
even get 8×8. That is weird. But I would like to see someone eat an 8×8. Eight patties of
meat. They call that the heart attack special I am sure. Simple choices that don’t mean a lot. Other
choices mean a whole lot. So here is the thing. If you want to grow spiritually you will.
If you don’t want to grow spiritually you won’t. If you want to succeed you will.
It is not the luck of the draw or something that only happens randomly. It is because
people made the right choice to do the right thing. Here is what it comes down to. We are
either going to go forward as a Christian or we are going to go backwards. We are either
going to progress or we are going to regress. We are either going to gain ground or we are
going to lose ground. And if you stand still you will lose ground. So this is the kind
of a commitment where day I should be seeking to grow spiritually. To progress. To learn.
Not just to hold my own. Not to just hold my position. But to gain ground in my relationship
with Jesus Christ. Spiritual growth. We all need to commit ourselves to it. And there are things that impair that growth.
And there are things that help that growth. So what we want to do is live lives that will
honor the Lord and stay away from things that will drag us down spiritually. 2 Timothy 2:22
says, “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Follow anything that makes
you want to do what is right. Pursue faith and love and peace.” Listen to this. “And
enjoy the companionship of those that call on the Lord with pure hearts.” You see spiritual
growth is based on doing what is good and not doing what is bad. All right. So we have discovered a couple
of things together. Number one. We realize that if we want to grow spiritually we must
love, study, and read the Word of God. That is essential. It is a no-brainer. It is Christianity
101. You have to love the Word of God and you have to study the Word of God. Joshua
1:8 says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate
in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in
it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Now this is what is amazing to me is there
are people I will meet who are floundering spiritually. And I will say, “Let me just
ask you a couple questions? Do you read your Bible every day?” And they will look at
me like, “What? I carry my Bible. I have a lot of beautiful Bibles to select or choose
from rather.” “But do you read your Bible every single day?” And in most cases when
someone is struggling spiritually the answer is no. I am not saying reading the Bible will
make your problems go away. But I am saying I you are going to grow spiritually you need
a regular diet of the Word God in your life. But that’s not all. You also need to pray.
And that is what we are going to focus on in this message before us now. To be a successful
Christian I must have a prayer life. Now what is prayer? Well prayer simplified is hearing
from and communicating with God. There of course are different kinds of prayer that
are identified in the Scripture. Ephesians 6, our first text, in verse 18 says, “Praying
always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with
all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” Notice that it says all prayer.
So it is saying we should be people of prayer. And listen. You can pray publicly. You can
pray privately. You can pray verbally. You can pray silently. Any position is acceptable
for prayer. You can pray kneeling, standing, sitting, lying down, and even driving. But
always keep your eyes open of course. It is a funny thing. We make a big deal about
closing your eyes for prayer. Right. Let’s bow our heads and close our eyes you know.
We are teaching our little granddaughter Stella to pray and we will say, “Stella let’s
pray. Close your eyes now.” And so she closed her eyes. I opened my eyes to see if she was
doing it and she was reaching for food with her eyes closed and eating it you know so
technically she had her eyes closed. But have you ever been in a gathering of people
praying. You know everybody has their head bowed and so forth. And you are kind of looking
around and someone else is looking around and you see each other. You are sort of embarrassed
and you close your eyes really quick. Almost like you cheated and that prayer is not valid. There is some value in closing your eyes.
Sort of you know removing the distractions from life. But in reality you can pray with
your eyes closed, with your eyes opened, on your back, on your stomach, sitting down,
standing up, running. Whatever position you are in you can pray any time anywhere. I think sometimes we may think that our prayers
will be quickly heard by God if they are offered in a place of worship. For instance if I pray
here today we think maybe the Lord might hear that more than if I were to pray somewhere
else. Well not necessarily true. God hears our prayers wherever we offer them. Look at
some of the places people prayed in the Bible. Daniel prayed in a den of lions. David prayed
in a cave and also in the wilderness. Peter prayed on top of and in the water after he
sank. And our good buddy Jonah prayed from the stomach of a whale. So it seems to me
that wherever you are God will hear your prayer. The key is that we should pray frequently.
In fact this phrase in verse 18 “with all prayer” speaks of the frequency of prayer.
You should pray in the morning. You should pray in the afternoon. You should pray in
the evening. For the Bible says, “Pray without ceasing, for this is the will of God in Christ
Jesus concerning you.” Daniel the prophet was known to be a man of
prayer. He was a godly man. He was influencing the king. And so as it turns out he had been
so effective and successful at what he did his enemies hated him. They wanted to bring
him down. But the problem in their eyes was Daniel had no weak spots. He was a man of
complete integrity. So they reasoned, “We cannot bring this guy down unless we find
something concerning him and his God. So what does Daniel do that we can get him on? “Ah,”
they thought, “This guy is always praying. Three times a day he goes into his house,
he opens up his windows, opens up his shutters, and kneels down and faces Jerusalem. We ill
get him in that area.” Isn’t it a great thing to be known as a person of prayer? So they went to the king and he unwittingly
signed a decree that condemned to death any person who would pray to any God except him.
Daniel was made aware of this fact. Daniel you can n o longer pray. Now let me ask you a question. What if a law
was passed tomorrow that said public prayer is no longer allowed. If you pray publicly
it is against the law? In fact if you pray in your home it is against the law? Would
you stop praying? Here is what Daniel did. We read in Daniel
6:10, “When Daniel learned the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual
in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a
day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to God.” It didn’t cause him to change
one bit. He prayed. And I love this. Because the Bible tells us
in 1 Timothy 2:8, “People should pray everywhere lifting up holy hands.” Pray everywhere. Should I ask the blessing
of God on my meal when I am out in public? Absolutely. You know that awkward moment when
you are out dining with maybe family or others that are not believers and the food comes
and you wonder, “Should we pray.” Because normally you as a Christian family would pay.
But now there are nonbelievers present and you don’t know if you should pray or not
so, “Well I don’t.” You know what I say? Pray. Pray. And I will initiate it. I
will say, “Let’s pray.” I don’t say, “Do you mind if I pray?” I will just say,
“Let’s pray.” I figure they can just watch me as I pray if they want to. You know
and here is the cool thing about prayer. When you pray you have the floor. By that I mean
when you are praying other people will generally listen. And so you can say, “Let’s pray.”
And so everyone bows their head. And they are not all believers. And you can say, “Lord
thank You for this food. You have provided it. And thank You for the relationship we
have through Jesus Christ and that He came and died on a cross and rose from the dead.
And hey while our heads are bowed and our eye closed and we are just praying maybe somebody
at this table needs Jesus. If you would like to accept Christ why don’t you just lift
up your hand? God bless you.” No. I don’t suggest you do that. But that would probably
be pushing it. Here is something you might be surprised to
hear me say. When you pray for a meal, keep your prayers short. You know why? We want
to eat. Nothing is worse than having the food right there. I know it is men clapping. Not
women. Because here is the thing with a man. You need to know this about a man. When you
put food in front of a man it is like a dog with food in his dish. The dog eats the food.
The man wants to do the same. All right. We are not that complex. Trust me. And why do
we have to pray these long prayers over a meal. You don’t have to pray for all of
the missionaries around the world. There is another time to do that. Let’s just give
thanks and eat the food. Here is something to consider. In the Bible
you will find that prayers in public were longer and prayers in and excuse me prayers
in private were longer and prayers in public were shorter. A lot of times we pray long
prayers in public and short prayers in private. But it ought to be the other way around. And
so pray and give thanks for what God has given you. Wherever you are. I want you to notice something else about
Daniel. When he found out this decree had been signed that no one could pray to any
God or they would be cast into a den of lions we read that Daniel prayed. Now what did Daniel
pray? Did he says, “God help me” or “God deliver me” or “God save me from this
fate.” No. We read that “Daniel prayed giving thanks to God.” I love that. You
see Daniel reminded himself that God was on the throne, that God was in control of his
life, and that God was good. And he gave thanks to the Lord. That is a great thing to get
everything in perspective. Lord you are in control. Now sometimes we have the luxury of taking
our time and praying like Daniel had. And other times we only have a moment to throw
up a quick prayer. This is illustrated in the story of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was the cupbearer
of the king when the Israelites were captives of Babylon. To be the cupbearer meant that
you were in close proximity to the king all the time. A cupbearer was basically a person
who would taste the king’s food before he ate it and taste what the king was going to
drink before he drank it. So if anyone was going to poison the king you would die first.
And the king would say, “I won’t be eating that today.” You were sort of the king’s
guinea pig. But more than that you also because of your close proximity were a confidant of
the king. Sometimes even a counselor to the king. So one day the king noticed that Nehemiah
was sad. And Nehemiah didn’t want to say why he was sad. But here was the deal. Nehemiah
was a Jew and he heard that his fellow Jews were in distress because Jerusalem was lying
in ruins and it was burned out and so forth. And so we read that Nehemiah 2:5 that the
king asked him, “Why are you so sad?” And we read, “Nehemiah, replied, with a
prayer to the God of heaven, ‘If it pleases your majesty and you are pleased with him
your, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.’” See he
didn’t have the time to go to his house and open the windows like Daniel. He just
offered a quick prayer to heaven. And sometimes we are in a situation and something
comes up and you have like a moment and you say, “Lord help me.” You can say it with
your eyes opened. You don’t even have to verbalize it. You can say it out loud if you
want to. But just, “Oh God help me right now.” Someone is asking you that question. You are
praying, “Lord give me the wisdom right now to answer this question.” You get that
call. “The boss wants to see you. “Oh God help me. Don’t let me get fired. Don’t
let me get fired.” You get a call from the principal. You get a call from the Oval Office.
I don’t know where that call is going to come from. You are going to go and appear
before a person of influence. “Lord give me wisdom. Give me the right words.” The
main thing is pray. Here is what you need to know. Prayer can
be continuous all day long. The Bible tells us that Elijah went into the court of King
Ahab, a wicked man, and says, “As the Lord God lives, before whom I stand. Elijah was
aware of the fact that wherever he went he stood in the presence of God. Listen. You are never alone. Wherever you
go God is with you. And you can commune with Him and fellowship with Him and pray to Him
and hear from Him. That is the idea of continuous prayer. Being in fellowship and communion
with the Lord. So let’s address a couple of questions.
Why should I pray? Short answer. Because Jesus told me to. Because told me to. Jesus said
in Luke 18:1, “Men ought always to pray and to not give up.” And He not only told
me to pray, but He left me an example of prayer. Jesus was constantly praying. Here was God
in human form walking our planet, breathing our air, and yet feeling the need to be in
constant communion with His Father. It was not uncommon when the disciples were praying;
excuse me, sleeping, to see the Lord praying. We know while He was there in Gethsemane He
prayed, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.” As He hung on the
very cross of Calvary His first statement was, “Father, forgive them for they know
not what they do.” Later He prayed, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me.”
When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead we read that He spoke first to His Father in
John 11 saying, “‘Father, thank You for hearing Me. You always hear Me.’ But He
said it out loud for the sake of those that were standing here, ‘So they will believe
that You sent Me.’ Then He shouted, ‘Lazarus come forth.’” When He fed the 5000 people
we read that He looked up toward heaven and asked God’s blessing on the food. We read
that the mothers brought their children to Jesus so He could lay His hands on them and
pray for them. So here is my point. If Jesus felt the necessity
to pray constantly how much more should we. Pray all the time. Pray about all things.
He has given us that example to follow. And we too need to be people of prayer. Now that brings me to number two. Why should
I pray? Number one. Because Jesus told me to. Number two. Listen. We should pray because
prayer is God’s appointed way for obtaining things. Prayer is God’s appointed way for
obtaining things. Now that is not the only reason we pray. Though that may come as a
surprise to some. I think some think prayer is just a time of bringing your needs before
God. And there is a place for brining your needs before God. But that is not the primary
purpose of prayer. I will identify that in a moment. Having said that, prayer is God’s
way of giving things to you that you need in your life. We are told over in James 4:2,
“You have not because you ask not.” I suggest to you that there are things that
God may want to give to you. Things that God may want to do for you. Things that God may
want to say to you that have not been given, that have not been done, that have not been
said, because you have not asked. You have not because you ask not. Maybe you are saying, “Why is it I never
know the will of God for my life?” Could it be you have not because you ask not? “Why
is it that I am never able to lead other people to Christ?” Could it be you have not because
you ask not? “Why is that I am always struggling financially just barely scraping by?” Could
it be you have not because you ask not? “Why is it that I am ill and this sickness has
continued on or this problem?” Could it be you have not because you ask not? Now I am not suggesting to you that God will
always give you every thing that you ask for. And I am not saying that He will heal every
person who asks for a touch. But at the same time I am saying He will heal some. And what
if there was something God wanted to do that had not yet happened because you simply had
not prayed about it. What have you got to lose? I mean maybe the Lord would say no.
But what if he says yes. You have not because you ask not? So we need to pray. Number two. Prayer is the way by which. Excuse
me. Number three. Prayer is the way by which God helps us overcome our anxiety and worry.
Again. Number three. Prayer is the way by which God helps us overcome our anxiety and
worry. Life is full of troubles. We have concerns. About our future. About our health. Our family.
Our finances. The list goes on. There are things that happen that scare us. Sometimes
even terrify us. It has been said, “If your knees are shaking kneel on them.” So I have a suggestion for you. Instead of
worrying pray. How many of you worry? Raise up your hand. How many of you never worry?
Liar, liar, pants on fire. Ok. Then you are not alive. Everybody worries a little. And
we all have that anxiety. I admit that I worry. And I don’t say that proudly. I worry. No.
It is not a virtue. It can be a sin where we really are failing to trust in God. There
are things that concern us. Things that alarm us. Things that cause us to be filled with
anxiety. So what should we do? The next time you are tempted to worry pray. Here is what we are told in Philippians 4:6,
“Don’t worry about anything; pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank
Him for all He has done. If you do this you will experience God’s peace, which is far
more wonderful than the human mind can understand.” Listen. His peace will guard your hearts and
minds in Christ Jesus.” Now notice what that verse says and what it
does not say. “Don’t worry about anything; pray about everything and God will take your
problems away.” Is that what we just read? No. It says, “Don’t worry about anything;
pray about everything and the peace of God that passes all human understanding will guard
your heart and mind in Christ Jesus” you see. Maybe God will take your problem away. That
is possible. But maybe He won’t. Because sometimes you pray and the problem is still
there. But here is what happens is you get perspective. You get perspective on what is
going on and you see God for who He is and thus you see your problem for what it is.
If you have a big God you have a relatively small problem. But if you have a big problem
it might be that you have a small god. In other words you are not seeing God in His
glory and what He can do. No. Your problem may not go away. The disabled person will pray and then when
their prayer is done and they open their eyes the disability is still there. The parent
of the prodigal will pray and when their prayer is completed the prodigal is still gone. The
parent of a child or a husband or a wife or anybody who has lost a loved one when they
pray the problem is still there. I mean I am in anxiety quite often because
I will just be hit by the reality still of my son not being with me. It is still in some
ways incomprehensible to me. And I am overwhelmed at times. And I pray. So what do I pray? “God
bring him back.” I don’t think that is likely. So here is what I pray. “God help
me.” It is like the psalmist said, “When my heart
is overwhelmed lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” I will tell you what God
does for me. He gives His peace and He gives me the strength to get through what I am dealing
with. And He will do the same for any person that will call upon Him. I need prayer to get through the day. I need
prayer to get up in the morning. I need prayer to get through the afternoon. And I need prayer
to go to sleep at night. I am not ashamed to say that. I need to pray. Because I need
God’s help. And He gives it to me. And He will give it you as well. Number four. Prayer is one of the ways in
which we make ourselves ready for the return of Jesus Christ. Again. Prayer is one of the
ways in which we make ourselves ready for the return of Jesus Christ. In Luke chapter
21 verses 34 to 36 Jesus says this. This is from a modern translation. Listen. “‘Be
on your guard. Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and
drinking and shopping. Otherwise, that Day is going to take you by complete surprise,
spring on you suddenly like a trap, for it’s going to come on everyone, everywhere, at
once. So, whatever you do, don’t go to sleep at the switch. Pray constantly that you will
have the strength and wits to make it through everything that’s coming and end up on your
feet before the Son of Man.’” Jesus told us of that day and hour of His
return no man knows. Only the Father. “Take heed, therefore,” he says, “And watch
and pray.” So we need to be people of prayer. Prayer is so important. If you want God to
speak to you, you pray. If you want Him to provide for you, you pray. If you want help
with your worry, you pray. If you want to be ready for His return, you pray. But sometimes we pray and we don’t like
the answer. We say, “God never answers my prayer.” Really? What do you mean by that?
“Well I have prayed for this and it didn’t happen. God doesn’t answer my prayers.”
Hold on. No is as much of an answer as yes is. Isn’t it? But we don’t like that answer.
“I prayed and God said no.” That is answer. Don’t say He didn’t answer your prayer.
Say you don’t like the answers that God gives to your prayers. That would be more
accurate. But listen. Here is something to consider
when you are praying. If the request is wrong God will say no. If the timing is wrong God
will say slow. If you are wrong God will say grow. But if the request is right and the
timing is right and you are right God will say go. You want to hear that again. Listen.
If the request is wrong, God will say no. If the timing is wrong, God will say slow.
If you are wrong, God will say grow. But if the request is right and the timing is right
and you are right, God will say go. So here is the question. Is there something
we can do to cause God to say go more often? Is there something we can do to see our prayers
answered more often in the affirmative? My answer to that question is yes I think there
are some things that we can do. Let’s see if we can discover them together
in the most well-known prayer in all of the Bible in Luke chapter 11. Turn there with
me if you would. We call this the Lord’s Prayer. It is a beautiful poetic prayer that
probably is one of the most well-known statements from the Scripture. One that many have committed
to memory. In a way the Lord’s Prayer is not a completely accurate description of it
because the bible never calls it that. We call it that. I don’t know who came up with
it first. But this is not a prayer Jesus would have ever prayed. Because one of the parts
of it says, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us.” Jesus
would never have prayed a prayer like that. It wasn’t a prayer He prayed. It was a prayer
He gave in request or in a response to the request of the disciples who asked Him, “Lord,
teach us to pray.” If you want to read the real Lord’s prayer if you will go over to
John 17 and there you will read the prayer that only Christ could pray. So a more accurate description of the prayer
we are about to read might be we could call it the disciples’ prayer because it is really
our prayer. But for reference we will continue to refer to it as the Lord’s prayer. But
I just wanted to mention that. Let’s read it now. Luke 11. Verse 1. “Now
it came to pass, as Jesus was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, one of His
disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.’”
You might underline that phrase “teach us to pray.” I will come back to it “So He
said to them, ‘When you pray, Our Father in heaven,       Hallowed
be Your name.       Your kingdom come.       Your will be done       On
earth as it is in heaven.        Give us day by day our daily bread.       
And forgive us our sins,       As we forgive those who have sinned against us or
are indebted to us. Lead us not into temptation,       But
deliver us from evil (or more literally from the evil one.’” And another gospel says that He then said,
“For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” The Lord’s Prayer. Beautiful words. But
I notice I want to point out to you that that they said, “Teach us to pray.” They didn’t
say, “Lord teach us a prayer. Lord teach us the prayer to pull out when things get
really bad.” And that is how some people treat the Lord’s Prayer. When crisis hits,
“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name.” Sort of like we could put
it behind glass. In case of emergency pray this prayer. There is nothing wrong with praying
this prayer verbatim. It is a beautiful powerful prayer. But it wasn’t given merely as a
prayer to pray. It was given as a model for prayer or a template for prayer. Another gospel
tells us Jesus said, “After this manner therefore you should pray.” So it is a structure
for our prayers. So how should I pray? I should pray, “Our
Father who art in heaven.” When I approach God in prayer I am speaking to the all-powerful,
all-knowing creator of the entire universe. However notice that it does not say, “This
is how you ought to pray. Our creator in heaven.” It is that. But that is not how Jesus told
us to address Him. How about, “Our sovereign who art in heaven.” God is indeed our sovereign.
But that is not what Jesus taught us to pray. Or even, “Our God who art in heaven.”
Though He is our God. That is not what Jesus said. He said, “After this manner therefore
you should pray, ‘Our Father who art in heaven.’” Do you realize what a revolutionary idea that
was for a first century Jew to hear? You see the Hebrew people would be raised with a great
awe and respect for God. They would approach God through the high priest. They would offer
the animal sacrifice on their behalf. To think of calling God Father was unthinkable. In
fact one of the reasons they crucified Jesus was because He called God His Father. But
now Jesus, the Lamb of God, who has taken away the sin of the world and has died in
our place has opened up a new relationship between us and God the Father and now we too
can call Him Father. After the Lord was risen He said to Mary Magdalene, “I ascend and
I go to My God and your God and to My Father and your Father.” He is my Father now. I
can call Him that? Why? Because I have been adopted into the family. That is why. The Bible tells me in Romans, “I haven’t
received a spirit of bondage again to fear, but one of adoption whereby I cry, ‘Abba,
Father.’” And that even takes it a step further because there in Romans Abba Father
means daddy or papa. It is a more affectionate term. So it is not just Father. It is Daddy.
Papa. Father. There is tenderness. There is intimacy there. And some of us struggle with this. Because
I don’t know what kind of dad you had or have. Maybe you had a father that was distant
or cold and maybe harsh. Never affirmed you. Maybe some of you had fathers that were mean
and austere. Maybe even some were abusive. Others of you never had a father to speak
of. He basically abandoned you. So when you think of your Father in heaven it is hard
because you sort of attach the qualities or the weaknesses of your earthly father to your
heavenly Father. But we need to think differently. God the Father is not like your earthly father.
God the Father loves you unconditionally. God the Father will be there for you no matter
what. He will never abandon you. God the Father loves you with an everlasting love. He is
my Father who art in heaven. Know that about God. “My Father who art in heaven. Hallowed be
Your name” I am taught to say. What does that mean? That means set apart be Your name.
May Your name be glorified. Hallowed be Your name. To say that means that in my life and
character as a follower of Jesus I want to set Jesus Christ apart and I want to live
a holy life. And therefore I need to ask myself if my interests and ambitions and pursuits,
“Is this for His glory?” Can I write Hallowed by Thy name over what I am about to do? Can
I write Hallowed by Thy name over my career choice? Or the choice of a boyfriend, girlfriend,
husband, or wife? Can I write Hallowed by Thy name over the programs I watch on TV or
the movies I go to or the music I listen to? Can I write Hallowed by Thy name over the
things that I am engaged in? If not, then I should change. Notice before a word personal petition is
offered I consider I am speaking to the almighty God. “Our Father who art in heaven. Hallowed
be Your name. Now this brings us to principle number one
on how to have your prayer answered in the affirmative and also we are shown the purpose
of prayer. The primary purpose of prayer. If you want to see your prayer answered in
the affirmative, if you want God to say yes more often, here it is. You must pray according
to the will of God. You must pray according to the will of God. “Our Father who art
in heaven. Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done.” Sometimes God will answer our prayers differently
than we thought He would. I heard the story of three men who were hiking through a forest
and they came to a large raging violent river and they wanted to cross over. So they decided
to pray. The first man prayed, “God give me the strength to cross the river.” And
suddenly poof God gave him big beefy arms and he dove in and swam across. Almost drowned
twice, but he made it to the other side. The second man watching this. This is a true story
by the way. No it isn’t actually. Second man said, “God give me the strength and
the tools to cross the river.” Poof. His arms became large and muscular and also a
little canoe was provided. And he climbed in and paddled across the river. He capsized
twice but he made it to the other side. The third guy watching all of this said, “Lord
give me the strength and the tools and the intelligence to cross the river.” And poof.
He became a woman. I am not done. He checked the map, walked 100 yards upstream and walked
across the bridge. But here is the thing. What is the primary
objective of prayer? Here it is. To line my will up with the will of God. True praying
is not overcoming God’s reluctance. It is laying hold of His willingness. Listen. Prayer
is not getting my will in heaven. It is getting God’s will on earth. So here is the goal. “Lord what do you want?
I want to pray according to your will. “Because I am told over in the book of 1 John chapter
5 verse 14, “This is the confidence we have in Him, if we ask anything according to His
will He hears us and we have the petitions desired of Him.” Listen. Nothing outside
the reach of prayer except that which lies outside of the will of God. So here is how I pray. I pray for what I think
is right, but I always add, “Nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done.” I actually
heard a preacher say, “Never pray, ‘Not Your will but mine be done.’” (should
be not my will bur Yours be done.” And then the preacher said, “Instead you should pray
my will be done.” Ok. You go ahead and do that. And I will stand here and watching lightning
strike you some day. What? Are you crazy? The Bible teaches me to prayer, “Not your
will, excuse me, not my will but Yours be done.” And listen. When you have lived a
little bit you begin to realize God knows more than you. And after you have lived awhile
you will actually thank God for unanswered prayers. Or another way to put it you will
thank God that He said no to you at an earlier time because you realize with 20/20 hindsight
you didn’t know what you were talking about. And now you say, “Lord that thing I didn’t
want was the best thing for me. The thing I did want was the worst thing for me. I get
it now. Thank you now. Your kingdom come. Your will be done.” Don’t ever be afraid
to pray that. Sometimes a person might come and they are
you know have a need. And they are sick or something else is going on. They say, “Pray
for me.” I will say, “Let’s pray.” And I will pray, “Lord touch this person
and heal this person right now. We ask this in faith.” But then I will always add, “But
Lord You might have a purpose we don’t know about so nevertheless but not our will but
Yours be done.” “That is a copout some would say.” That’s
not a copout. That is an acknowledgement that I don’t know everything but God does. And
I am asking Him to use executive privilege and do what He wants to do where He wants
to do it because God’s will is better than my own. Having said these things, now we come to personal
petition. Verse 3. “Give us this day our daily bread.” If we wrote the Lord’s prayer,
here is how it would look. “Our Father who art in heaven. Hallowed be Your name. Give
us this day our daily bread.” Sort of a, “Hello God. How you doing? Here is what
I need. Let’s go. Here is my grocery list.” Nothing wrong with bringing your petitions
before God. But that is not how the prayer is structured. “My Father who art in heaven.
Hallowed be Your name. Set apart be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth
as it is in heaven. Now Lord give me this day my daily bread.” Here is what we sometimes wonder. Why is it
that this all-knowing, all-powerful, omnipresent God who created the entire universe would
care as you and I as individuals? As Job said in chapter 7 in verse 17, “What is man that
you make so much of him? That you give him attention?” Why would God care about my
needs and even my wants? Why would He commit Himself to providing my daily bread?” Many reasons could be cited, but let me just
throw out one that is significant. Why? Because He loves you. That is why? He loves you. And
guess what? He loves to bless you. Our God is generous. He is not stingy. Maybe you had
a stingy dad. “No. You have to earn it. Did you do your chores?” No. “Go do them.”
God says, “Ah here. Ah here is a little more. Take a little more.” What? I don’t
deserve it. “I know but I love you.” God loves to bless you. And I think the picture might better be of
a grandparent over a parent. This is not to put parents down. But it just means that grandparents
well we just tend to overindulge a little bit don’t we? We take the kids and we are
watching them. When we give them back to mom and dad they are all wired on sugar and they
have a new toy. “You shouldn’t have done that.” “I know but here you go. Bye.”
No. But you know the analogy breaks down pretty quickly. But here is my point. It is not hard
for me to do something for my children. Nor is it hard for me to do something for my grandchildren. It is my delight. Jesus said, “It is your
Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” And in the same way when you go God, the Lord
says, “I want to pour my blessings out upon you so you won’t have room enough to receive
it. Let me show you my love.” But here is an interesting thing. I am taught
to pray, “Give me this day my daily bread.” Notice it does not say, “Give me this month
my monthly bread.” If God provided for you monthly you would probably call upon Him monthly.
“Give me this day my yearly bread.” No. “Give me this day my daily bread.” God
arranges things in such a manner where I will have to be dependent upon Him on a daily basis.
Here is something else that prayer is acknowledging. It is acknowledging that everything that I
have comes from God. Sure you can work hard. You can save and invest wisely. And you can
buy your own food and clothes and pay for your house or your car or whatever else. But
here is what you need to remember. It all came to you from God. No matter what. It came
to you from God. We need to remember that. Deuteronomy 8:18 says, “Remember the Lord
your God. It is He that gives you the ability to produce wealth.” So the point is simply
this. Hey God gave you all those things. So acknowledge that.
“Lord give me this day my daily bread.” In doing so I am saying, “Lord this food
on the table. That came from You. Everything that I have. It is from you. My health. From
you. My children. My family My grandchildren. My career. Anything else. It is all from you
Lord. Thank You for it. I give You the glory for it. And now Lord will You keep providing
for Me.” That is what you are really praying. “Give me this day my daily bread.” Prayer. If you want to grow spiritually it
must be a vital and regular part of your life. So stop worrying and start praying. Praying
about everything. Communicating with God through the day. And the night. When you get up in
the morning. When you lay your head back down on that pillow. Pray. It is a privilege of
the believer. Having said that let me close by pointing
out that a nonbeliever can offer their prayers but only a Christian can truly pray. See prayer
is privilege. Privilege given to those that have relationship with God. A lot of people
will offer their little prayers. Maybe prayers that they learned as little children. You
know we will put our kids to bed at night and we will say, “Pray this little prayer
with me. Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die
before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” Is that a good prayer to teach a
small child? “Honey you might die tonight in your sleep. So as you pray if I should
die before I wake. Oh by the way honey don’t let the bed bugs bite. Good night.” The
light goes off. You are freaking your kids out here. That is not a biblical prayer. I
mean if you are doing that prayer it is time to move on. Ok. But here is the thing. We have our little
prayers that we have been taught to pray. And we will pull them out here and there.
I will pray this little prayer here. Now this is a really good prayer to pray in these circumstances.
Here is another. No. No. That is not how it works. It is not littler prayers. It is prayer.
It is communication. And that is only for the believer. See until you have a relationship
with God there is a wall that separates you from Him and your prayers will not go far.
Isaiah 59 says, “Behold the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor
is His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your sins have separated you from God.”
So here is the point. You need to get that barrier removed so you can communicate with
the Lord and start talking to Him and hearing from Him. The only way to do that is by admitting your
sin and realizing that Jesus Christ the Son of God died in your place on the cross so
you could come into this relationship with God and have this prayer life and more. So in closing if you have never asked Jesus
Christ to come into your life, if you have never asked for His forgiveness, you can do
it right now as we close in prayer and you can begin a whole new life of following Him. Let’s pray now. Father thank You for the
privilege of prayer. Thank You that we can talk to You right now with confidence that
you hear us. And I pray for any here or those that are listening who may not yet know You
Lord help them to see their need for You. Help them to come to You this day we pray.
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