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A Simple Way to Pray

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
October 2, 2022 12:01 am

A Simple Way to Pray

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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October 2, 2022 12:01 am

For Christians, learning to pray is a lifelong pursuit. Continuing his exposition of the gospel of Luke, today R.C. Sproul examines Jesus' model prayer and challenges us to pray with the priorities that Christ has conveyed.

Get R.C. Sproul's Expositional Commentary on the Gospel of Luke for Your Gift of Any Amount: https://gift.renewingyourmind.org/2103/luke-commentary

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Today on Renewing Your Mind… Like what we expect from God. Lord, we cry, Help me because I'm sad, or I'm frightened, or I need to be rescued. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with crying out to God like that. Scripture is filled with people pleading with God in similar ways. But I find myself whispering those kinds of prayers a lot more than asking that God's will be done.

As we'll hear from Dr. R.C. Sproul today, the Lord understands our frail humanity and gently corrects us as He teaches us to pray. This morning we're going to continue with our study of the gospel according to St. Luke, and it's another red-letter moment because we're going to start a whole new chapter, chapter 11. And this morning I'll be reading chapter 11, verses 1 through 4, which is one of the most familiar passages in all of the New Testament for you, inasmuch as here we have Luke's account of Jesus' teaching regarding the Lord's Prayer. Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. So He said to them, when you pray, say, 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, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us, and do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Again, as I've said before, that familiarity breeds contempt. We are so familiar with this model prayer that Jesus gave to His disciples that it is easy for us to allow it to slip through our fingers and miss the sense and profound importance of the priorities that Jesus gives to us in teaching how we should pray. But again, this morning we've heard this word from the Lord Jesus Christ provided for us through the superintendence and inspiration of God the Holy Spirit.

Please receive it with all of God's authority. Let us pray. Certainly, O Lord, there is no time in our lives when we are more feeble and less accomplished than when we bow before You in prayer. There is perhaps no lesson we have learned so poorly than this one for our instruction. So we ask that in this hour you would renew our understanding of how it is we should pray. For we ask it in Jesus' name.

Amen. His name was Peter. He had a barber shop in a small town. And one afternoon when he had one of his regular customers in his chair and he was trimming his hair, he looked as the front door of the shop opened and he noticed instantly that the man who was entering his barber shop was a notorious outlaw and that this outlaw was wanted by the authorities dead or alive.

And a princely sum had been instituted as a reward for his capture. And when the barber was finished with the customer in his chair and he left the shop, the outlaw stepped forward and sat down and asked the barber for a haircut and a shave. And so Peter lathered the man's face and his neck. He stropped his razor and applied it to the man's face and then to his neck. And as he had the sharp edge of the blade pressed against the throat of this outlaw, Peter knew that all he had to do was exert a simple amount of force and he could slit the man's throat, kill him on the spot, step forward, and claim the reward.

But the last thing that was in Peter's mind was the idea of killing the outlaw. Because though he was wanted by the authorities, this man was Peter's hero. Not only his hero, but his mentor in spiritual things. The man, of course, in the barber chair was Martin Luther in the town of Wittenberg. And while Peter was shaving the great reformer, he took this opportunity to ask him a spiritual question. He knew of Luther's reputation not only as being a brilliant theologian and courageous reformer, but of being a titan of prayer, giving himself to prayer every day for two to three hours. And so he said, Dr. Luther, could you please teach me how to pray?

The same question that the disciples asked of Jesus when they noticed the obvious connection between Jesus' life and Jesus' prayer. And so Luther said to Master Peter, the barber of Wittenberg, certainly I will teach you something of this matter. And after his shave and his haircut, Luther went back to his study and he picked up his pen and he wrote a small booklet, not for the world, but simply for his barber, and he titled it, A Simple Way to Pray. You know, every year in this church Jeff Cooper leads a study for our people on this very question, a simple way to pray that we may be instructed and become more advanced in our own abilities of coming before the Lord in prayer. Well, in any case, that little book, A Simple Way to Pray, is still available.

We can all read it. We can be instructed by it. But to profit from it, as Luther indicated to his barber, first we must take the time and the discipline to memorize three portions of Scripture. We need to memorize the Ten Commandments, we need to memorize the Apostles' Creed, and then we need to memorize the Lord's Prayer. And the reason for this, as Luther pointed out, is that these three portions of Scripture can guide us in our seasons of prayer. And for illustrative purposes this morning, I'll restrict my attention to the third portion that is to be memorized, namely the Lord's Prayer, because that's the text we are dealing with. And before I explain how Luther used it in prayer, let me make two observations. First of all, when Jesus gave this model prayer, He didn't say to His disciples, when you pray, pray this. It's not that He was giving us a mandate simply to recite this prayer over and over and over again, as is our custom.

Now, there's nothing wrong with that, of course. But what He was saying is that when you pray, pray like this. This is the model I'm giving you. This is the example to show you how you should pray. Now, as we look at the preaching of Jesus, we notice that at the center of His preaching was the proclamation of the kingdom of God. When we look at this model prayer, we see at the center of its concern is the kingdom of God. When Archie Parrish visited us several years ago and gave some instruction to our nascent congregation on how to pray, he taught these principles of what he has called kingdom-focused prayer. That is to say that when we are engaged in prayer, the chief concern that we bring before God are not the simple matters that are plaguing us on a daily basis, but that the main business of our prayer is to pray for the success and the extension of the kingdom of God. Well, let's look for a moment at this prayer that Jesus gave.

I'm not going to give an exposition of it. I did that in some detail when we looked at the version given by Matthew. But I want to give you the lesson that Luther gave Peter when he said, when you pray, use the Lord's Prayer, for example, as a guide to direct your prayer. And what he meant was something like this, that when you pray, you get on your knees and you say, oh God, you who are from everlasting to everlasting, you who are immortal, invisible, the only wise God, you are the one who are his attributes, infinite, eternal, simple, immutable, omniscient, omnipresent. You are all of these magnificent things, oh God, and you transcend us by your majesty to such a degree that we are absolutely overwhelmed that we can come into your presence and say, Abba, Father. And though your being fills every corner of this universe and that there is nowhere that we can flee from your presence, that you are here and there and everywhere at every moment, yet your natural habitat, oh God, is not this world, for you dwell in heaven. We're of the earth, earthy, but you are of heaven, heavenly. And of course that part of the prayer is merely the address. It contains no great petition, the first petition of the Lord's Prayer that Jesus gave to his disciples. The number one priority that Jesus gave for us to pray for is what?

Oh God, that your name may be regarded as sacred, holy, treated not only with respect but with reverence and with adoration by every creature on heaven and earth, but oh God, we live in a world that is profane, where your name is blasphemed every hour, privately and publicly. Let me take a moment to illustrate my wife's favorite television shows are these makeover programs where people's homes are redecorated by professionals while they are away and waiting to see the handiwork of the craftsmen who come in and redo the dwelling places. You've seen these programs.

Vesta's addicted to them. If I leave the room, she says, please push 229, which is DirecTV's channel for these makeovers. And so after you watch all of the improvements going on and then the time comes for the owners to come back and see the transformation, and you watch them come in and you see the surprise and the shock and the glee and the light on their faces, you realize that at least 80 percent of them respond with the same words, oh my God, they say. And if there's ever a time that I come infinitesimally close to understanding Jesus' feelings when He was on the cross, when He says, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do, my spirit sinks within me when I hear these people use the name of God in a flippant manner and never give it a thought. I want to say to them, don't you know that God will not hold you guiltless for using His name in this cavalier way, but it's part of our culture. Some terms few, but there are some that are still bleeped out on broadcast television, but not these blasphemies of the name of God.

We are a nation who has no fear, no respect for God. Now I know, I understand that Christians are capable of any sin, murder, adultery, all of us, we know that. And I know that Christians without thinking in a thoughtless manner can use the name of God in a disrespectful way. I know Christians can do that, but I have to be candid with you. I really don't know how.

I don't know how you can have any love and reverence for God Himself and be so irreverent with the use of His name. Again, I guess it's possible. I just don't know how. And if you're examining your own life and your own soul, and this is something that you do regularly, this may be your first clue and best clue about the state of your salvation.

You may be dreadfully lost and not aware of it. Jesus said, it's not what goes in a man's mouth that defiles a man. It's what comes out. Now again, I realize in our culture this isn't a big deal. It's not all that important. But Jesus made it the number one priority for our prayer. God, give us a sense of reverence for who you are, that your name may be hallowed because you are holy and we are not. And Jesus said that we might pray, oh God, we live in a democracy. Kingdoms are a thing of the past. We elect our leaders.

Sovereignty is foreign to us, and we are altogether allergic to it. That's who we are. But give us, oh God, a love and a hunger and a thirst for a kingdom. You've given us the King, and He is our King.

But the world is blind to His kingdom. We pray that that kingdom that is so hidden from the eyes of fallen humanity, that oh God, you will make it known that your kingdom will come here like it already is manifest in heaven. Oh God, that your will will be done on this earth by people who are as zealous to obey you as the saints in heaven are every hour.

So we pray that your kingdom would come and that your will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. Do you know our needs? You know we can't survive without the basics and the necessities of life. Every day, oh God, we need our breath. We need those things that sustain us, every one of which comes from your gracious hand.

Every piece of breath, every drop of water comes from your hand. And we ask that you would continue to sustain us and that you would take away our anxiety, that we may not be anxious about what we should eat or what we should drink or what we should wear, but give us the capacity to look at the lilies of the field who neither spin nor sow, and you array them with such glory. Father, make us ever grateful for these necessary gifts that you bestow so liberally upon us. And now, Father, we come to you, acknowledge that we have rebelled against you and we have committed cosmic treason. We have defied your law.

We have asserted our wills over yours. And the only way we can possibly stand in your presence is if you would forgive us. And we thank you that you have made us just, not by our achievements, not by our merit, not by our righteousness, but we've been clothed by the righteousness of Jesus. You have given the gift of that righteousness to us. You've covered our sinfulness and our sins that are as scarlet have been made white as snow.

And though they were crimson, you've made them like wool. Father, it's against you and you only that we've sinned. And so we ask that you would blot out our transgressions. Purge us with hyssop.

Make us clean. Let the bones which you have broken rejoice, because as far as the yeast is from the West, you have removed our transgressions from us. But though we have been free in receiving your grace and mercy, we have been loathed to extend it to others.

We have not forgiven the debts against us, as we have asked you to forgive our debt against you. And we also know, oh Father, that you are so holy that you are completely incapable of ever enticing us to sin. Rather, you call us to flee from sin, to come out of the darkness and into the light. And so we know that you would never tempt us to sin in the sense of an enticement. But we ask that you would never put us in that place where we are naked and exposed to the wiles of the devil. Don't put us in the place where we are subjected to the test of our obedience or of our fidelity to you.

But like Job before he was attacked, oh God, put a hedge around us and protect us, not just from the world and the flesh and the devil but from ourselves and from our own evil inclinations and deliver us from Satan, from the enemy, the one who goes about as a roaring lion seeking to devour whom he will, the one who disguises himself as an angel of light that he may deceive us and accuse us and bring us into despair and to ruin, deliver us from Poneros, the evil one, the prince of darkness. For yours, oh God, is the kingdom. We live in it. We love it. We enjoy it.

We reap the benefits of it. We share in the inheritance and the legacy of the King. It's not ours.

It's yours. And in and of ourselves, we have no power. All power resides in you and in you alone. Any power that we have is borrowed.

It's received. And so forgive us when we boast of our own strengths as if we ourselves were the source of them. And glory, glory, what glory do we have? Our feet are clay. Our frames are dust.

Nor of the earth, earthy. We come to you with nothing in our hands. But all glory, laud, and honor belong to you and to the Lamb who is worthy to receive glory and power and honor and dominion now and forevermore. You see how easy it is to use the Lord's Prayer as a framework, a jumping-off place for a much greater fullness of prayer. And when you're finished with that, thou shalt have no other gods before me, and you can take off on that.

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, and take off on that. I confess to you I use this method frequently. I love it, but I have never once in one season of prayer made it all the way through the Ten Commandments, the Apostles' Creed, and the Lord's Prayer. There's just too much there to incite our souls to pray. So what Luther did for his barber, Jesus did for us. He taught us how to pray. He taught us how to pray like he prayed, and he taught us how to pray for the things he prayed for. That's what godly prayer is all about, that you pray with the mind of Christ, that you pray like Kevin prays on Sunday morning during the pastoral prayer, where his prayers are filled with Scripture and with the Word of God. If you really want to learn how to pray, immerse yourself in the Psalms of the Old Testament, because there you have Spirit-inspired prayer.

I'm sure Jesus wasn't opposed to that. So if you want to add to the Lord's Prayer, the Apostles' Creed, and the Ten Commandments, fill your soul with the Psalms. Our church will only be as strong as our prayers. And so I pray that we will hear today the Master teach us to pray. Learning how to pray is at the very heart of the Christian faith, isn't it? Jesus showed us how to submit to the Father and humbly request His help and provision. The Lord's Prayer has been our focus today here on Renewing Your Mind as we have continued our verse-by-verse series through the Gospel of Luke.

Dr. R.C. Sproul spent more than 50 years studying and teaching Scripture, and his careful insight is so evident in the message we just heard. We return to this series each Sunday, and our resource offer today will be a helpful study companion for you throughout the rest of the series. Contact us today with a donation of any amount, and we will provide you with a digital download of R.C.

's commentary on Luke. It's an opportunity to learn from a trusted teacher and theologian as he leads us through God's Word. You can request this resource with your donation of any amount when you go to renewingyourmind.org. I want to thank you for being with us today, but I also want to remind you that we are not the church. We hope that you're a member of a Bible-believing church there in your local community. Connecting ourselves to the body of Christ is vital to our growth as Christians, availing ourselves to the means of grace and placing ourselves under the accountability of elders, God's undershepherds. Our goal here at Ligonier Ministries is to come alongside the local church and provide you with resources that help you in your understanding of God. Renewing Your Mind is the listener-supported outreach of Ligonier Ministries. Again, thank you for being with us, and I hope you'll make plans to join us again next week.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-28 23:35:45 / 2022-12-28 23:44:17 / 9

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