Last night we continued our study of the Bible’s practical teaching on how to live the Christian life by looking at how we are taught to pray as Christians. Here are the notes:
1. What Jesus taught us to pray for (Matthew 6:9-13)
- Talk to God. Out loud (or in your heart).
- Acknowledge him as God and ask to get on his wavelength (v.9-10). Evidently, a main thing we need is to remember that our thoughts are not God’s thoughts, and that we need to get our thinking and our emotions adjusted to match his.
- Ask for what you need. (v.11). In other words, acknowledge God as the giver of everything you need, and not something or someone else. This is how we “put our trust in God.” If I won’t ask God for something, it means I’m depending on something else to get it to me, whether myself or another person or thing. And that means I’m trusting that other thing, and not God. So I become a person of faith by asking God for the things I need. This goes for everything from the food I need every day to the empowering I need to serve the Lord. And if I don’t feel like I need to ask God for something, because it’s just so definite that I just know I’ll get it—I need to think about what Jesus teaches here. “To ask for such bread today is to acknowledge our dependence on God for routine provision.”
- Talk to him about those who are “indebted” to you (v.12). What are these debts? In Luke 11:4 we see that Jesus also taught to pray “forgive us our sins,” and in v.14-15 the word “trespasses” is used, which tells us that this is not supposed to be thought of as monetary debts. Also notice that it is the people we’re claiming to forgive in 6:12, not the debts. So this is about praying for forgiveness from God, and acknowledging our duty to be forgiving people ourselves. So, ask for forgiveness from God when you need it, and remember your duty to forgive others as well.
- Ask to avoid temptation (aka “testing”) in the future. (v.13) (So ask for forgiveness from past sin and protection from future sin.) What are tempting situations you have? Pray about those. What about all the unknowns in our future, and the possibilities of trials coming our way? Pray about those.
- What Christian pray for. (This section was a bunch of verses on Power Point. Here are the verses: Pray for other Christians: James 5:14-15, Acts 28:8, Mark 9:29, Acts 12:5 & 12, Philippians 1:9-10, Colossians 1:9, Colossians 1:10; Ephesians 1:17, Ephesians 3:14, 18-19, Ephesians 1:16, 18, Colossians 1:11; Ephesians 3:16, Ephesians 1:16, 18-19, 2 Thessalonians 1:11, Colossians 1:10. Pray for yourself: Luke 11:13; Ephesians 3:19, Ephesians 6:17-18, Ephesians 6:18-19, Acts 4:29, Acts 16:25-26, James 1:5, Pray for the accomplishment of God’s mission in the world: Luke 18:7, 2 Thessalonians 3:1, Romans 10:1, Acts 4:29-30, Acts 9:40, Acts 14:23, Matthew 9:38, Acts 13:2-3, Romans 15:30-31, John 17:20-21.)
2. How to pray:
- Pray with other Christians. (Matthew 18:19-20, Acts 2:42) This has always been a major part of the Christian life.
- When you’re praying alone, pray secretly. (Matthew 6:5-7)
- …knowing He’s your father
- …knowing he sees and hears everything
- …don’t pray empty repetitions, respect God’s personal-ness.
- Pray “in Jesus name” (John 14:13-14, 16:24). Pray on the basis of who Jesus is, not who you are. We can pray because of his righteousness, his death, and his resurrection. And because he told us to pray, and to use his name.
- Pray in the Spirit. (Romans 8:26) That is, pray while you consciously depend on the Holy Spirit’s help.
- Pray all the time. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) This means there will be all different kinds of prayer.
Christians: If we won’t pray, what does it say about us? God will educate us in how to use this important part of the Christian life. Jesus knew it wasn’t “natural”—that people weren’t born knowing how to pray. SO he taught us. Part of being his follower is embarking on a life-long journey of learning how to talk to God and how to depend on him by praying to him, all the time.
Non-Believers: What do you depend on in life, for your ultimate safety, and as the ultimate guarantee you’ll be taken care of in the end? Who’s there for you? The God who made you, and the Lord who died for you, are calling out to you—God commands everyone everywhere to turn from depending on themselves and trusting in other things, and to look to him as their provider and their sustainer. The bible calls this faith. If you trust him this way, he’ll be your Father. Anyone who refuses to trust him is called out for being a worshipper of idols. The bible is that cut and dry. God calls you to come under his authority and protection. He sent his son to die for us to prove once and for all his love, even for those who are sinful.