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What Jesus Thinks About Prayer #4

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
September 24, 2021 8:00 am

What Jesus Thinks About Prayer #4

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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What's a matter with us? That we pray that way? To our Savior? To our gracious God? Have we no concern for fellowship with Him? To recognize and honor Him above our own desires?

What's wrong with us? Last time, Don began teaching what Jesus had in mind when it comes to purifying your practice of prayer. We should avoid meaningless repetition. Secondly, we are to aim for simplicity. On today's program, Don will focus on a third and final point concerning an appeal to God's character. Let's find out more from our teacher as we join him now in the Truth Pulpit. Here's a final way that you can purify your practice of prayer.

We've said that you avoid meaningless repetition, that you aim for simplicity. Thirdly, as you pray, appeal to God's character. Appeal to God's character. I'm going to give you a lot of biblical illustrations on this to help you see this. After showing us what prayer should not be, Jesus teaches us what prayer should be.

That's the point of verses 9 through 13. He gives this model prayer. He gives this pattern of prayer that is to be the kinds of themes that should engage us when we pray. Having just said avoid meaningless repetition, he's obviously not giving us a prayer that we would just repeat over and over again until it became second nature and we didn't have to think about it when we pray.

That's not the point of this. It's to just recite this prayer over and over again. Rather, he's giving us themes in prayer. He's giving us a way to think about prayer.

Look at what he says in verse 9 that I read earlier. He says, pray then in this way. You have to love the negative and positive approach to Jesus' prayer. On a negative side, he says don't pray like this. Don't pray like the Gentiles do, to be noticed by men with a lot of meaningless repetition.

Don't pray that way, but he doesn't leave it there. In his grace, in his mercy, in his genius as a teacher, he says okay now here's how you do pray. This is the way that my disciples pray. I am commanding you, I am directing you to pray in this manner, he says. And for those of us that have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, crucified, buried, and resurrected for our salvation, those of us that have surrendered our lives to him as Lord and said I receive you for salvation, I commit myself to you, your word is now my law, Jesus comes and says this is the way that you pray. This is what I want from you in prayer. And look at what he does in verse 9. He says pray then in this way, our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name. I only want you to see one thing from this verse. I say that and then I'm going to have like a lot of different things to say about it, so I don't know how that works.

But I want you to see this one thing at the beginning of this point. Your primary goal, your primary affection, your primary desire when you pray should be that your prayers that you when you pray would be an agent of the spread of God's glory. You pray so that you would be an agent of God's glory on earth.

You look around, you assess what you see going on, and when you come to prayer, the first thing on your mind, our Father who is in heaven, my loving gracious Father who sovereignly rules from the throne room of the universe, glory be to your name. Hallowed be your name. Let your name be reverence.

Let your name be exalted. And understand this, that is the entrance way into the rest of the teaching from Jesus on prayer. This is what frames the totality of your approach to prayer is the glory of God, to see his name advance, to see his name exalted. And so you pray with always, always, always going back, touching back to the fact, how does this deal with the glory of God? How does this affect the glory of God when I pray?

What is it that I am engaging? Lord, what is it that I most want at the fundamental bottom part of my heart? I want your name to be glorified. And so our Lord Jesus teaches us from the start, in this fundamental foundational teaching about prayer, he teaches us to frame it, frame your praying through God's fatherly love, our Father, his heavenly sovereignty, our Father who is in heaven, reigning over all, and the totality of his character. Hallowed be your name.

His name being a representation of all of his character. That is what frames your prayer, beloved. And for most of us, certainly all of us at one point or another, we need to step back and with contrition and humility of heart, realize and recognize and acknowledge that too often we have come and we've simply come to prayer trying to get God to do what we want him to do for us and to fulfill our desires on earth. I've got this problem, God. Fix it. God, I want this.

Do it. Praying that way without any kind of corresponding sense, any kind of corresponding concern for the glory of God when we pray that way. That is upside down. That is mixed up.

That is all wrong. And it's no wonder when we pray that way that we find that our prayers lack power. We find that it's hard to sustain that because God isn't blessing that selfish approach to prayer. I think we sometimes fall into an unspoken trap of thinking that God exists to further our interests.

What I'm trying to bring to your conscious attention for you to reflect on and embrace in your heart is that it's just the other way around. We exist to be agents of God's glory on earth. And that preeminently starts in the way that we pray. God, my desire here is to see you magnified, to see you honored, to see your principles upheld, to see those that love you and uphold you to be honored and the wicked put in their place. For your sake, Father, not for mine.

And so you start with that fundamental recognition. You empty yourself, as it were, of your selfish ambitions in prayer and say, Lord, the most important thing, as shown by the first thing that Jesus lays out here in this model of prayer, the most important thing is the reverence and the exaltation of your name. That's what I want, Lord. And everything that I say in prayer flows from that is the way that you should approach it. Now, how do you do that then? How do you pray?

You say, okay, I embrace that. I see that as the desire of my heart. How then do I pray when I bring requests to God? How do I pray?

What is it that I ask Him for? Well, the whole rest of the Lord's prayer there through verse 13 is really an answer to that question. I want to just really kind of focus and kind of flesh out this concept in verse 9, hallowed be your name. What does that look like when you pray?

And I want to put it to you this way. You appeal to God's character when you pray. You appeal to God's character as the basis upon which, follow me here, you appeal to God's character as the basis upon which He should be disposed to answer your prayer. This presupposes an awfully lot.

This presupposes an awfully lot. This presupposes that you actually know the character of God as it has been revealed in His Word. It presupposes that you know Him in order to be able to appeal to His character. And your knowledge of Him has to be shaped by an understanding of His Word, not by your own thoughts and reasonings and rationales. You appeal to God's character as He has revealed it in His Word as the basis upon which He should be disposed to answer your prayer. Turn back to the Psalms with me. I just randomly chose some examples, because the truth of the matter is that when you're sensitive to this, it's woven throughout all of the Scripture in the way that men pray, in the way that God's people pray, in the way that God's leaders pray.

It's woven throughout. I just want to stimulate your thinking with a couple of examples and trust the Spirit of God to help you work it out in your own prayer life. Start in Psalm 51, for example. Psalm 51, David's prayer of confession after his sin with Bathsheba. He comes and he frames his prayer of confession with these words. Be gracious to me, O God, according to your loving kindness, according to the greatness of your compassion, blot out my transgressions.

Father, here I am. I come to you burdened in guilt, burdened with the reality of the conviction of my sin, and I ask you to relieve me of that sense of guilt. Why?

Why? Not because I want to feel better, primarily, but Lord, according to your loving kindness, according to your faithful love, according to your compassion, I ask you, based on your faithful compassion in my life, to relieve me of this guilt. He appeals to God's character as he prays right from the start. God, your character is one of faithful love, one of compassion, and I know I have sinned against you, and I ask for relief from my guilt because you are a compassionate and gracious God, not because I have any merit in requesting this at all. I appeal to your character, Lord, as the reason that you should be favorably disposed to respond to my prayer. Turn over for another example to Psalm 57. Psalm 57, verse 1. Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in you, and in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by. I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me. Lord, I appeal to your sovereign providential care over my life as the basis upon which I ask for your help and protection.

I appeal to your character. God, God, you've revealed in your Word to be the protector and the shield of your people. You love us, you're faithful to us, and it's on that basis I appeal to your faithfulness, Lord, to respond to my request in the New Testament, the martyrs in Revelation appealed to the character of God for justice with these words as they prayed. They said, How long, O Lord, holy and true?

Revelation 14, 10, if you want to write it down. How long, O Lord, holy and true, will you refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth? Lord, you're holy and you're true, and wicked people have slain us. How long will you wait until you avenge our blood? I appeal to your justice. I appeal to your holiness. I appeal to your knowledge of this crime against your people.

How long, O Lord, bring about justice? The Lord Jesus Christ even, in Mark chapter 14, verse 36, as he was contemplating the cross, said, Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me.

He appeals to the sovereign prerogative. God says it's all possible for you. Remove this cup from me. I appeal to your character. I appeal to your attributes. I appeal to your power. And I ask you to grant my request. What I'm saying here for you to think through, to appropriate, brothers and sisters in Christ, is this. Is that true prayer, true biblical prayer, following the model of countless examples in Scripture, of which I've only given you the briefest of samples, true prayer takes the time to actually articulate God's character, actually takes the time to say these things. It slows down. It doesn't jump over his character to say, God, let's get down to business.

Here's what I need right now. What an insult to the majesty of God to pray that way, to rush into the presence of the king with no recognition of his majesty and his honor and his character and his goodness and just say, this is what's on my mind today. What's the matter with us that we pray that way? To our Savior? To our gracious God? Have we no concern for fellowship with him to recognize and honor him above our own desires?

What's wrong with us? I ask you. And so what I'm saying is, is that part of your discipline in prayer, this is so much more than saying, okay, 30 minutes.

Please. What I'm saying here is that you discipline your heart, you discipline your mind to think that the character of God and the glory of God is more important when I pray than anything that is happening to me, and I am going to take time to recognize that. I'm going to take time to truly honor that, not to rush through that so that I can get to what I want to talk about because what I want to talk about first and foremost is the glory of God when I pray to him. And so you take time with God's character and you think through God's character and consider whether that would endorse the things that you want to ask for or whether it would contradict it and you shouldn't even waste your time. But you train your mind to appeal to the character of God as it's revealed in the Bible.

And then you bring his own character to him as that which would motivate him to respond favorably to you. For a more extended example of this, turn back to 2 Chronicles 20. We're going to look briefly at the prayer of King Jehoshaphat when his kingdom was about to be invaded by foreign armies and the threat was very severe. Now it came about after this that the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon, together with some of the Myanites, came to make war against Jehoshaphat.

Then some came and reported to Jehoshaphat saying, A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, out of Aram, and behold, they are in Hezazan-tamar, that is, in Jeddah. Jehoshaphat was afraid and he turned his attention to seek the Lord and proclaim to fast throughout all Judah. And so Judah gathered together to seek help from the Lord. They even came from all the cities of Judah to seek the Lord. This was a crisis of national proportions. And what I want you to see is how a good king of Judah, Jehoshaphat, prayed under that distress.

It was not, Lord, we're about to be attacked, help us. Look at how he frames his prayer. Look at how he appeals to the character of God as the grounds upon which God should respond favorably.

Verse 5, Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem in the house of the Lord before the new court, and he said, O Lord, the God of our fathers, are you not the God in the heavens? He's appealing to God's character. He's appealing to God's position as the grounds upon which God should respond to him.

And he doesn't rush through this. Are you not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in your hands so that no one can stand against you. He reminds God of the past history of the nation of Israel. Did you not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham, your friend forever?

They've lived in it. They've built a sanctuary there for your name. Let's skip down to verse 10 for the sake of time. He says, Now behold, now he lays out the problem before God, having recited God's character and power in his history of his dealings with his people.

Now he introduces it. He says, Behold, the sons of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you did not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt, they turned aside from them and did not destroy them. Meaning that Israel didn't destroy them when they were taking over the promised land. Verse 11, See how they are rewarding us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us as an inheritance. O our God, will you not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us.

Nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on you. You read on later in the chapter and you see how God answered the prayer and destroyed those invading armies. Our point for now is how Jehoshaphat prayed to the Lord.

He framed it all by appealing to God's character. He says, God, you're the ruler of heavens and earth. All of sovereignty, all of the nations are in your hand. So you have the power to do this. You made promises to our people.

You acted and you delivered, Lord, in the past. And it's on that basis, the fact that we are your people, that you are all powerful, that you have a history of blessing us, that you promised us this land. It's on that basis, Lord, that I ask you to undertake for our need. And you pray that way. And when you appeal to God's character like that, it is so much different than simply seeking deliverance and help on your terms because it will be more comfortable for you if God helps you. When you take the time and devote the mental effort to recall and recite the character of God when you pray, listen, you have transitioned away from meaningless repetition and you have purified your practice of prayer into something that is acceptable to God, which He will bless and which He will reward. Because it is obvious that God would bless that which is seeking His glory. We all pray for God, those of us that are Christians anyway, we all pray for God to somehow save our loved ones, to save them from sin, to deliver them from hell and bring them into His kingdom.

And it's well and it's good that we should. But what we're talking about here today takes you beyond, Lord, save my loved one so he doesn't go to hell. The way that you pray for your loved ones in light of these things is so much different.

You take the time, you slow down, you trust the Lord and you pray something like this. You say, Lord, you are merciful and gracious. The entire reason you sent Christ into the world was so that He could seek and to save the lost. You sent Him to be the Savior of the world, Father. And you've had mercy on me, oh God, surely, surely in light of your eternal purposes, surely in light of the purpose of the Incarnation, surely you could extend that mercy just a little bit further for so and so. I'm only asking you, Lord, to extend that mercy like you extended it to me.

Just a little further, Lord, just a little more mercy, which is all consistent with what you say salvation and the purpose of Christ was anyway. God, remember your character, remember your purposes. That is the basis on which I pray more than His deserving. I know He doesn't deserve it. I know He's a stench in your nostril.

He's a stench in mine sometimes. But Lord, Lord, look past His sins and look to the purposes of Christ and have mercy. And then, to wrap this up, when you've poured your heart out that way, engaging the character of God, engaging His purposes, and you've poured out your way, in the end, you yield just like our Lord did. After He prayed, Father, it's possible for you, all things are possible for you, take this cup from me, in the end He prayed, nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done. You yield in blessed resignation to the greater wisdom and purposes of God. And you say, not my will but Thine be done. Matthew 6 10, Father, Thy will be done, as in heaven so also upon earth. What we are talking about here is the Christian soul in understanding intimacy with its Father.

Understanding intimacy. Seeking His glory above all else. And intersecting your temporal life with the eternal purposes and character of a sovereign God. When you see prayer in that perspective, no one has to tell you how long to pray. No one has to push you to pray. Because you want to.

And that's the point. A proper understanding of prayer leads you to want to pray. In a realm where the clock makes no difference to you.

Short or long, doesn't matter. Father, I'm engaged with your character and I ask you to act in according with that on this particular request that I have. All of this, beloved, all of this is designed to be the privilege, the prerogative, and the responsibility of every true Christian.

This belongs to you. This belongs to every Christian who will simply seek that private audience with His God and His Heavenly Father. Praying properly begins with a real understanding of who God is as revealed in the scriptures. As Christians, we need never guess about the character of the one we are addressing in prayer. Well, we've reached the end of our series What Jesus Thinks About Prayer here on The Truth Pulpit.

But Pastor Don Green will bring us more important teaching from God's Word on our next broadcast. And Don, I'm sure you get the question why doesn't God answer some prayers? Not everyone we pray for comes to Christ. Not all sicknesses are healed, etc. Well, my friend, I think the really key thing for your Christian growth in prayer is to remember this key phrase that Christ Himself used before His crucifixion. Father, not my will, but Thine be done. We come to prayer not to demand specific answers without which we won't be happy, but rather to dependently lay our need before God and then trust Him to answer according to what He thinks is best. Thanks Don and friend, remember to visit soon to learn more about this ministry. That's I'm Bill Wright and we'll see you back here next time on The Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-25 14:56:26 / 2023-06-25 15:06:15 / 10

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