The kind of praying that Jesus is teaching here says, Father, I value my fellowship with you so much, and I so want to live a righteous life that I pray that you would protect me from any kind of test or temptation that would interrupt with that fellowship. Prayer is a vital part of our relationship with our Heavenly Father, and we never have to be at a loss for what to say to Him. Thanks for joining us here on the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm Bill Wright, and today Don concludes a series titled, Lord Teach Us to Pray, with his teaching from Matthew chapter 6, starting at verse 11.
So here is our teacher as he continues to teach God's people God's word from the Truth Pulpit. God knows your needs before you ask Him. Without question, anything that you ask, the best that you could do when you ask Him for anything really specific is to simply manage to get your request up to what He had. You're never going to ask for something that's better than what God would give you, right? Because we trust Him. He's our Father.
He's good. And so what I would encourage you to do when you go to God in prayer for your daily needs is say, Father, you know my needs. I don't need to rehearse them before you. You know what is good. You know what is best. Would you just give to me whatever you want?
Would you just fill this need as you see fit? Because I trust you. And you let God answer that prayer out of his abundant generosity that is tempered by his wisdom for what is good for you.
And what that does, that changes the whole dynamic of prayer. Rather than it being a selfish pursuit of what you think you want and need, it becomes a means of you saying, Father, I trust you. I trust the fact that you know about this. I trust you to give what is best.
So just give what you think, Father, and I will be content. And you do that day after day after day. You cultivate that trusting dependence that is the foundation of a walk with God. You feel your need and you ask God to supply it. It's not that complicated. That's what I love about Jesus' teaching on prayer here, beloved. It is not that complicated.
You know, how many times have you heard people say something like this? I just don't know how to pray in this situation. I don't know what to pray for the right result to be. Why would you even worry yourself with that? Of course you don't know. You don't know the future. Your mind is limited by sin. You're limited by selfish desires. A Christian should never say, I don't know what to pray for.
Never! You always know how to pray in those puzzling situations when you come right back to what Jesus said. He meant what he said when he said, pray then in this way, Father, give us this day our daily bread.
Whatever is needful for my immediate situation, Father, give it according to your will. And don't try to help God out like he needed your assistance to figure out what to do here. Take that burden off of your mind and replace it with a trusting dependence on the goodness and wisdom of God and prayer will become much simpler and much more powerful and much more satisfying, without a doubt. Because all of a sudden as you cultivate that and you pray that way, what your soul is saying is, God, I'm just satisfied with you.
You're aware, you love me, I'm done. Praise God. Praise your name, Father. But as we continue on in Jesus' prayer here, we recognize that he teaches us to pray about more than our physical provision, more than our daily needs. There is a whole spiritual dimension to Christian life that should also be the subject matter of our prayer. And point number two here, Jesus teaches us to pray for forgiveness of our sins.
Confession and seeking forgiveness from God for our sins is an inherent part of a healthy prayer life. Look at verse 12 with me, where Jesus says, And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Here in this passage, Jesus is looking at sin as though it were a debt that needed to be repaid.
We are debtors to God in the sense that we owe him an obedience to his moral law, and even as Christians, we do not give that obedience as we should. This prayer asks God to release us from the debt of our disobedience so that we don't have to pay it. Now I realize there's some theological issues wrapped up in that and hopefully be able to clear those up. Understand this, that the efficacy of this prayer, what gives this prayer power and assurance that it will be answered, ultimately flows from the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary. That is where forgiveness of sins was forever purchased for those who believe in him by his shed blood. Now at the time Jesus taught this in his earthly ministry, the cross was still future in a chronological sense. Now as we look back on it, we understand that it's only through the death and resurrection of Christ that we can pray this way.
Now follow with me here. Once you have first put your faith in Christ, you've repented of your sins, you've put your faith in him and his righteousness has been counted to your account, your salvation is permanently established, eternally established, never to be taken away. This is not a prayer that, unless we pray it, God would withdraw our justification from us.
That's not at all what's in mind here. What is in mind here is the daily walk of the Christian life. As we go through the day and we sin, with our words, with our looks, with our looks in terms of our eyes, with our actions and all of that, we are still liable to sin, we are still subject to sin, we still sin. Now in a positional sense, those sins are wiped away and forgiven. However, from a daily walk with God, a daily communion with God, we come to God and we confess those things and we ask him to cleanse us from them so that they do not interrupt our fellowship with him. We confess our sins to cleanse our conscience, to acknowledge God's authority, and to restore the joy of our salvation with him. Now, I realize that in an evangelical world, using that term pretty loosely, there are some people who teach that Christians should not confess their sins. They say that is a denial of the efficacy of Christ's sacrifice. Your sins are already forgiven, therefore you don't need to confess them.
What should we say about that? Well, if they want to teach that, I guess that's their business. The main one who disagrees with them is Jesus. Because Jesus was teaching his disciples how to pray as part of the righteous life. This whole Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7, presupposes someone who is already in the kingdom of God. This is righteous life in the kingdom.
So of course it applies to disciples. Of course you should confess your sins when they come to mind. You need to do this on a consistent basis so that you do not harden your heart, stifle your conscience, and somehow become comfortable with sin. Because that accumulated sin has that effect, where you just increasingly get indifferent to the righteousness of God. And if you have been here throughout our teaching on the Sermon on the Mount, you know how impossibly inconsistent that is with everything that Jesus says. Because the whole point of the Sermon on the Mount is that true salvation produces in the heart of the believer a desire for practical righteousness. And so that which would make you comfortable with sin has to be eliminated. One of the gifts that God has given us is the gift of confession, so that that would not happen. And again, beloved, notice that just as you're dependent on God for your physical needs in the first request, you're still expressing dependence upon him.
You're expressing trust in him. Father, I've sinned against you. But as my Father, I trust that you're not casting me aside here, so I just ask you to forgive me. I ask you to release me from the accountability that you could rightfully bring on that, and I do so because the price was already paid at the cross. So that even your sins, when you respond to them rightly, become a way for you to deepen your walk with God.
It's amazing how good God is. Now, some people have gotten a little bit worked up and said, well, why does Jesus tell us to seek forgiveness as we have also forgiven our debtors? They say, well, isn't that a kind of like a work that you're saying, because I've forgiven people, therefore God forgives me? That's not what Jesus is teaching here at all. What this prayer does is it guarantees the integrity of the request. The person who understands that God has forgiven him will necessarily become a forgiving person toward others.
It has to be that way. Look at Matthew 6, 14, and 15 here. Jesus says, for if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
Here's what he's saying in this passage. He's saying, if you persistently refuse to forgive someone, if you persistently and just stubbornly refuse to let go of an issue that you've got with another person, you may very well be showing that you are not a Christian at all. If you refuse to forgive someone for a wrong that they have committed against you, you don't want to pray this prayer that Jesus prayed here. Because you're saying, forgive me, Father, just like I forgive other people. And God looks at you from heaven and says, you don't forgive that person, therefore maybe I won't forgive you either. Not in a permanent, justifying sense, but in terms of the fact that you have not really cleared accounts with God when you're asking for forgiveness but harboring resentment against someone else. When you continue as a Christian to bring that kind of resentful, bitter attitude and ask God to forgive you, what you're really doing is you're asking God to discipline you until you will learn to forgive and therefore bring the same kind of forgiving heart to the prayer table that you want God to give to you.
This is very searching. In these little bits of words that Jesus has given us here in the Lord's Prayer, he's telling you to examine all of your relationships as you come to God in prayer. You see, one of the marks of true conversion is that you are willing to forgive others and be reconciled because you recognize that God has forgiven you much more and achieved a greater reconciliation with you through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Father, you forgave me a debt of 10 billion dollars. This guy owes me 50. I'm paralleling the parable in Matthew 18. This guy owes me 50.
You know what, Father? I forgive him. And I'm not talking about finances here. I'm talking about relational stuff. Just so you understand my analogy.
But here's the point. Jesus isn't contradicting the whole rest of scripture that says salvation is by grace through faith in this passage. What he's saying is this is a mark that you genuinely know God is your Father and can rightly appeal to him to forgive you. So, don't come to God's throne with a bitter heart. Don't come to him full of resentment towards somebody else. Resolve that in your heart first.
Resolve those conflicts where you can. And then come to God and say, Father, forgive me. Because forgiveness is a pattern of, is what I'm aiming for, is a pattern of my life as well. I'm praying with integrity, God. And when you come that way, Jesus says, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. The grace of God.
Final point here. We talked about physical needs and forgiveness. Point number three, just to try to keep the phonic alliteration of this. Point number three is a prayer for fortification. A prayer for fortification. And I would dare say that of all of the things that Jesus mentions in this prayer, I would say that this is the one that we probably neglect the most. Look at Matthew 6 13, where Jesus says, and do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Now that you've confessed your past sins, with the second part of this section of the prayer, Jesus now tells you to be proactive in your prayer life.
To anticipate what is going to happen. He says, look to the future and seek God's protection from sin. Here's what this prayer is doing. This prayer is looking reality square in the face. And with a heart that desires righteousness, you look at the future in all of its uncertainty, and you say, God, evil lurks in this world. I am a fallen creature subject to temptation. And God, I desire righteousness so much that I will ask you in advance to be preserved from anything that would detract from it.
It's not just that I'm content to deal with my past failures. I look to the future and say, God, I want to succeed spiritually. I want to live righteously, so help me do that. Sinclair Ferguson said, The final petition of the Lord's Prayer assumes that the children of God realize their weakness and vulnerability and therefore seek the protection of God from evil. Now, this is another verse that people have stumbled on that's gotten stuck in their throat. Because someone says, now I understand from the book of James that God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself does not tempt anyone. Why this prayer, then?
Well, think through this with me for just a moment. First of all, notice that Jesus' prayer here is not, Father, do not tempt us. That's not what Jesus says. God is never going to tempt you directly and entice you to evil. Rather, what this prayer is doing is it recognizes that God is in sovereign providential control with the direction of our lives.
God leads us. This prayer also recognizes the reality of sin and temptation, that there is a world system and evil desires in my heart and the adversary of our souls, all of which would conspire together to draw us away from righteousness. By teaching us to pray that God would not lead us into temptation, Jesus is reinforcing the desire for righteousness that marks the true believer described in the Sermon on the Mount. The person who prays this recognizes the weakness of his flesh.
We all stumble in many ways. And so in reality, what this prayer is, this is not a prayer that does not trust God because you're afraid he's going to lead you astray. That's a blasphemous thought, totally unnecessary, even from the context.
Get this. The reality of this prayer request is that this prayer does not trust self. It says, Lord, if I am exposed to temptation, I am likely to fall. So lead me away from it so I can maintain a righteous life. And if perhaps, Father, in your wisdom I fall into difficult trials, I find that I'm being exposed to these temptations, then the last part of the request is just the flip side of the coin. Father, deliver me from the evil one so that I would not sin against you and that I would maintain a righteous life before you.
There's more we could say about that, but time's getting a little fleeting here on it. Just understand, thinking through some biblical examples here, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness and Satan tempted him there. Job was a righteous man and Satan demanded permission to try him and God granted the permission.
Satan demanded permission to sift Peter like wheat. And I want to tie all of this together in just the next couple of minutes with this thought, recognizing that the temptation and the assaults come from the devil. And this prayer is another dependent prayer on God that says, God, protect me from this. I want to close with just a couple of thoughts here.
Don Carson said this. He said, As Christians grow in holy living, they sense their own inherent moral weakness and rejoice at whatever virtue they possess flourishes as the fruit of the Spirit. He asks this question, When did you last pray such a prayer? Is it not a mark of spiritual carelessness and insensitivity to the spiritual dimensions of the human existence when such prayers are neglected? There's a tendency that you sometimes encounter among young Christians, and I did the same thing myself many years ago, that sounds noble.
And I want to use this as an illustration to kind of wrap this up and close it. You might find some young Christians, maybe even some of you, that say something like, I'm praying for trials to come into my life. And the idea that they have there is they want to draw closer to God through trials. And so they ask God proactively to bring trials into their lives. It sounds noble and courageous to pray that way.
Say, man, he's really serious. He's even willing to go through trials. But I want to tell you that that is not a righteous prayer. That is a foolish prayer that is rooted in a proud overestimation of your own spiritual strength.
That says, God, bring the trial. Put me in a position where I'm exposed to the assaults of the devil. And I can take it.
I can handle it. It's the same mindset that Peter had on the night before Jesus was crucified when he said, Lord, even if everyone falls away, I won't fall away. It's that boastful self-confidence that completely ignores what the Bible clearly says. Let him who thinks he stands, what? Take heed that he does not fall. Rather than seeking trials, the Lord teaches us to ask God to arrange his providence to keep us out of the kind of testing that would overwhelm us. The kind of praying that Jesus is teaching here says, Father, I value my fellowship with you so much, and I so want to live a righteous life that I pray that you would protect me from any kind of test or temptation that would interrupt with that fellowship.
Father, don't let anything come between us. And you round it out by saying, but Father, if trials are necessary, deliver me from evil in the midst of it. There is nothing righteous about asking God to bring trials into your life as if you were man enough to take it. I say that with my hand burned from having prayed that way as a young Christian. That kind of boastful arrogance that says, God, bring your trials, I'm ready for them. And then I tasted a seven-year dark abyss of spiritual night, for lack of a better word, as much as a Christian can be in spiritual night.
I never want to go back there again. I never ask God to bring trials into my life. God, if you want to sanctify me, do what Jesus said. Sanctify me in your truth. But if trials come, if God nevertheless chooses to bring them, then you respond and say, Father, I'm going to consider this all joy because I trust you, and I trust that even this arrangement of your providence is for my good.
But you don't take the initiative in saying that. We sum this prayer up, and looking at it, we approach our prayers and say, Father, I want to be righteous. I value my fellowship with you. I trust your goodness. I bow in awe at your greatness. Glorify your name.
Provide for me in the process. Until one day, Father, I see you face to face, and prayer is exchanged for a face-to-face dialogue. Well, friend, as we conclude the series, Lord Teach Us to Pray, we hope this series has helped take your dialogue with God to a deeper and more intimate level. Well, Don, we've learned so much about prayer.
What would your prayer for us be as we close this series? Well, my friend, my most earnest prayer is that God would lead you to saving faith in Jesus Christ if you do not know him. If you go to heaven, everything else that happens in your life on earth is secondary. But if you die and face judgment, there is no good thing that I could pray for you on earth that would make up for the loss of your eternal soul. Beyond that, for those of you who are Christians, I simply pray that God would help you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. As you grow in your spiritual life, as you grow closer to Christ, you will find that he protects you, he guides you, he provides for you. Those blessings and a thousand more beside is what God has in store for those who love him. And so that's my prayer for you as we close this series. God bless you and may his peace be with you in our Lord Jesus Christ. Thanks, Don. And friend, we're out of time for today. I'm Bill Wright inviting you to join us next time as Don Green continues in his ministry of teaching God's people God's word here on the Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-29 11:14:46 / 2022-11-29 11:23:41 / 9