Share This Episode
Wisdom for the Heart Dr. Stephen Davey Logo

When Prayer is Proven in the Public Square

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
April 25, 2023 12:00 am

When Prayer is Proven in the Public Square

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1136 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

April 25, 2023 12:00 am

It is not difficult for someone to fake sincerity in a prayer to God. We can pray for God’s will to be done while privately hoping our will prevails. We can pray that God’s kingdom comes soon, while secretly reveling in the cares of this world. But there’s one prayer that requires a public attitude; one prayer that demands public accountability. As Jesus teaches His disciples, and us, to forgive as we have been forgiven, He challenges us that words are not enough. God requires a lifestyle of forgiveness from His chosen people.


See, our problem is we forget how utterly indebted we are to God who has forgiven us. So it's possible that we are not forgiving because we have forgotten how much we have been forgiven. And that's where Jesus is leading us to this principle of recalculation.

Yes, somebody out there owes you. But the Lord's point is you're never going to be able to pay that individual's offense unless you recalculate your offense to God. It's not difficult for someone to fake sincerity when praying.

And here's what I mean by that. You might pray for God's will to be done, but in your heart, you're hoping that your will prevails. You can pray that God's kingdom comes soon while secretly reveling in the cares of this world. But there's one prayer that is hard to fake because it becomes publicly evident. Jesus taught his disciples and us to forgive as we have been forgiven.

That means that words are not enough. Stephen called this lesson when prayer is proven in the public square. In Ken Hughes' commentary on Luke's gospel, he told the story of two sisters who lived together their entire lives in a little apartment. And as anyone living in close quarters can attest or even the same household, offenses can easily mount up. Eventually, something was said or done that caused a break in their fellowship.

But this time, instead of resolving it, they allowed it to harden like cement over time. They actually agreed at one point to take a piece of chalk and draw a line down their living quarters. They drew a line that divided the living room. They drew a line that cut the kitchen in half. They divided the cooking utensils. They even drew a line that divided the fireplace in half.

One sister responsible and would sit on one side and another sister or the other sister on the other. Still every Sunday, they attended the same church, although sitting on different pews. And their church liturgy included the recitation of the Lord's Prayer, and they would stand and recite it.

Dr. Hughes did not include any information as to whether or not they settled the matter between them. But when I read that, I wondered what might have been going through their minds when they prayed that particular line, forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us. Or perhaps as their old English translation more than likely read, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. I quoted that little girl on her last study who didn't quite understand what trespasses were and she quoted it wrong. We really got it right when she said, forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets. And frankly, that's a very profound, probably one of the most profound questions you and I have to answer.

How do we respond when people put trash in our baskets of life? Now as we return to the 11th chapter in Luke's Gospel where the Lord is teaching his disciples how to pray this pattern prayer, this model, we arrive at this phrase that we just quoted. It's a phrase that the early church leader Augustine referred to as that terrible petition. And he called it a terrible petition because of the implications on our own peace of mind if we reject it. He called it God's daily maintenance of our soul.

That which has been given to us by God to maintain our soul, to maintain the temperature, the fellowship that we ought to have with him and others. And it's terrible when we reject his antidote to resentment and bitterness. Now here we are at verse 4 where the Lord is teaching his disciples to pray and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. Now as we've emphasized before and especially here, take note this prayer is for believers. It is addressing our father and that's because we have a family relationship with him because we have claimed his son as our savior, the Lord Jesus.

That's incredibly important as we consider this. So when you read this line here in verse 4, and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us, whereas the Lord taught it in that larger context on a different occasion recorded in Matthew chapter 6. And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. We need to remember this is not a prayer for salvation. The Bible says that we are saved by faith alone, not as a result of good works, our own good works and what could be any better, any finer, what good work could we do any greater than forgiving someone else.

But that will not save us. So in a very real sense this prayer isn't how we become believers. This prayer is how we behave or should behave as believers. Now it occurred to me and I want to point out to you as we dive a little deeper here that so far in our prayer of what we're calling the disciples prayer because Jesus, there are parts of this he wouldn't pray and this particular part he wouldn't. At least the part asking for forgiveness. But it's possible that every prayer request that we've studied thus far, every statement can be recited but it cannot be proven as true in our hearts and our lives. We might just be saying words like those sisters who stood and recited the prayer and then went back to their apartment where they dared not trespass that chalk line.

Father, maybe he is, maybe he isn't. Hallowed be your name. I want your name to be referenced, hallowed in the world. Maybe we do, maybe we don't. Your kingdom come as we learn, Father I want your kingly reign in my life now but I'm looking forward to that. That kingdom that shall come when you will reign as king on earth, I want that.

Maybe I do, maybe I don't. Give us this day, each day our daily bread. As we learn, I am trusting you Father in humility and dependency and gratitude to provide for my daily needs.

Maybe I am, maybe I'm not. Lead us not into temptation, maybe I want that, maybe I don't. Those answers can remain entirely private as we recite the words until you get to this phrase.

Forgive us as we forgive others. Suddenly this becomes public. I mean all of a sudden this prayer drags us out into the public square and demands a public demonstration. We can't just say this. We're suddenly compelled to live it. It invites accountability. It suddenly becomes I believe the most difficult, the most convicting little phrase in this entire prayer for every single honest believer.

Let's take a closer look. Forgive us our sins as we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. Now the Lord is using here the financial concept of indebtedness.

It's important to understand the phrase. The Aramaic word for sin is debt which is why some translations will use the word debt and others sins. They both refer to legal obligation to the Lord that demands repayment. Sin is in a very real way a debt. We owe God. We owe God. But the truth is our sins, our debts are so many that we'll never be able to pay him off. The debt is too great which is why the Lord Jesus came to die.

He had to because he had alone the ability to pay off our debt which we could never do. This is why we looked at that verse. I'll put it up here again where Paul put it so wonderfully where it says of Christ that he forgave us all our sins having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness.

There's that financial concept again. It stood against us. It condemned us.

He has taken it away nailing it to the cross. That's how we handle our indebtedness. So when Jesus hung on the cross and said it is finished, that wonderful word, one word in the original, tetelestai, I paid it in full.

What did he pay? Your indebtedness and mine paid off by Christ. Debt was a matter of life and death in these days. So you need to understand that when the Lord was teaching the disciples his particular prayer request, he's not only using the language of paying off your debt to God, he's talking about personally responding to those who are indebted to you. So he's teaching us to pray, you know, Father, forgive us our debts, our sins that we've committed, that we owe you. And that's a wonderful thing, Father, for you to allow us to do anytime we want throughout the day.

What a wonderful prayer this is. But then, in a very personal, convicting manner, the Lord turns it around and teaches the disciples to keep praying and, Father, teach us to treat those who owe us like you've treated us. Now, I don't know about that part.

That's a bit of a stretch. I mean, we understand God does that because that's what God does. That's God. Well, evidently the Lord is teaching us to say this regularly, which then I believe becomes perhaps the most difficult thing to pray because it is perhaps the most difficult thing to practice. Now, if we compare Scripture with Scripture, there are at least two principles that will allow us to handle this assignment from the Lord as we genuinely pray this and not simply recite it. The first principle we'll call the principle of recalculation. I didn't come up with that because my second, third, and fourth points all start with the letter R and I needed a good beginning, like I was taught in seminary. Actually, I only have one other principle in this outline and it begins with the letter I for you skeptics out there.

Now, the reason I chose this word is simply because this is exactly what we're going to have to do every single time we're confronted with the issue of forgiveness. We've got to recalculate everything according to divine math. You've heard of new math, which I never understood. I never got old math either, by the way. I graduated from high school and was handed an empty diploma and that's because I had to go to summer school in order to graduate to take Algebra I all over again. I took it in summer school and got a D- and graduated by the grace of God.

Got into the university on probation as a freshman because of it. Math and I have never been close friends. In fact, I had a lady come to me some time ago and say to me, out of the hallway, you know you always give good illustrations from history. Why don't you give any good illustrations from math? Because I can't think of any good illustrations of math. Until, until today.

And I hope she's here. Now, I'll put the scripture up on the screen but I want to go to another account and that's in Matthew chapter 18 where Peter comes along to the Lord and in verse 21 says, Lord, you can just see him with his little calculator out. Lord, how often will my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times.

Go Peter. Seven times. Well, that's actually a legitimate question because the rabbis were teaching during the days of Jesus that if you were really super holy, if you were religious, if you were running for Pharisee of the year, that would be how many times you would forgive someone.

Seven. So he's saying, Lord, is this true? And Jesus said to him, I do not say to you seven times but seventy-seven times. In other words, Peter, you got to take out your calculator and multiply it by eleven.

You're not even close. Which is his way of saying you forgive an unlimited amount of times. That's his point. You've got to recalculate everything differently as my disciple. Now with that, he goes on to provide a parable to explain his point. He says here, therefore, the kingdom, in verse 23, of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. Since he could not pay, his master, the king, ordered him to be sold with his wife and children. That's put in indentured servanthood for the rest of his life. And then payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees imploring him, have patience with me and I will pay you everything. And out of pity for him, the master of that servant, the king that has released him and forgave him the debt. Now in order to put this into perspective, we need to understand these financial terms which the Lord's audience would have immediately understood.

This is currency we don't have any familiarity with. In the Lord's day, one denarius equaled one day's salary. Six thousand denarii equaled one talent. In other words, six thousand days salary equals one talent. So the average person would have to work sixteen years to earn one talent. Go back to verse twenty-four.

It's on the screen. Notice here that this servant owes ten thousand talents. That's a hundred and sixty-four thousand years of salary. He isn't going to live long enough.

There aren't enough weekend jobs, odd jobs to pay off this debt. Now obviously, the Lord is using terms that they would have immediately gotten. He's using terms to express the absolute impossibility of this man to ever pay off this debt.

It's out of the question. The only thing he can do is plead for mercy. Now with that in mind, I want you to notice verse twenty-eight. But when that same servant, now he's just been liberated, life-changing, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii.

Now since you didn't write anything down, I'm going to have to remind you. Okay, one denarius is equal to one day's salary. One hundred denarii is one hundred days. So he owes this fellow three months in change of salary.

And what happens? Jesus describes, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying pay what you owe. So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him. By the way, he uses the exact same language the first man used with the king.

Have patience with me and I will pay you. He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. Now the Lord's audience is immediately recognizing how unforgiving, how tragically unkind this man was, having been freed of his billion dollar debt. By the way, the amount his fellow employee owed him was no small matter. Based on the same comparison, he owed his fellow laborer $14,000 in change.

And that's not pocket change. If somebody owed you $14,000, that's a lot of money. But the Lord's point is, you're never going to be able to pay that individual's offense if you could somehow put it in financial terminology unless you recalculate your offense to God. See, our problem is we forget how utterly indebted we are to God, who has forgiven us. So it's possible that we are not forgiving because we have forgotten how much we have been forgiven.

And that's where Jesus is leading us to this principle of recalculation. Yes, somebody out there owes you. They owe you. It could be an apology. It could be money. It could be restitution. It could be an honest contract. It could be the completion of a job. They owe you.

And it isn't pocket change. It hurts. You feel it. Then God brings them to a recognition of their offense. And they come to you and ask for forgiveness.

Now, what will you do? Jesus is teaching us to pray this prayer because he knows that in order for us to move with the same heart as our Father, we've got to do some recalculating, remembering our debt and taking their debt in perspective. Now, the second principle that makes this prayer assignment possible is the principle of imitation. The apostle Paul delivered this principle of the Ephesian church. He writes, be kind to one another, tender hearted, here it is, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you. Forgive one another just like God the Father through God the Son forgives you. Have you ever thought about the fact that you are never more like your heavenly Father than when you forgive? Now, in this parable the Lord is teaching the King forgives the servant $8.2 billion in debt. The King is God the Father and the servant is a sinner who repents.

So the parallel is clear. If that's how God treats a repentant sinner, how does a repentant sinner treat a repentant sinner? That's a key point, by the way, that leads to full reconciliation. The person who sinned against you is brought to repentance. Jesus is going to deal with this later on in Luke's Gospel and we'll deal with it at length when we get to chapter 17 in a few years I think. I'm not exactly sure, but here's what the Lord says.

I'll give you a hint now. If your brother sins against you seven times and repents seven times, forgive him. There's a lot of sloppy thinking about forgiveness.

He's repenting. But if you noticed as I quoted that text, we're down to seven times. That's a manageable number.

Not 77, seven. But then the Lord goes on and makes it clear that it's seven times in the same day. Peter and all the disciples have their little calculators out. How many times, Lord? The Lord says, stop counting.

Put your calculator away and start forgiving. The Lord responds in such a manner that the disciples turn right around as we'll see when we get there. But I've got to tell you now ahead of time, their immediate reaction is, Lord, increase our faith. We can't do that. This isn't natural. This is supernatural. We need new math. We need divine math. We need your Spirit in this bitterness-resolving, soul-freeing, as Augustine said, soul-maintaining, resentment-softening, ledger-erasing, Spirit-changing forgiveness.

This is supernatural. And the one who benefits the most is you and me in the maintenance of our soul. J. I. Packer in his little commentary on this prayer wrote a poem, wonderful theology, and it summarizes this prayer request. He writes, forgive our sins as we forgive. You taught us, Lord, to pray. But you alone can grant us grace to live the words we say. How can your pardon reach and bless the unforgiving heart that broods on wrongs and will not let old bitterness depart? In blazing light, your cross reveals the truth.

We dimly knew how small the debts men owe to us, how great our debt to you. Lord, cleanse the depths within our souls and bid resentment cease. Then reconciled to God and man, our lives will spread your peace. See, this isn't a prayer just for praying. This is for living.

This is going to be proven out in the public square. One day, one difficulty, one offense at a time, one merciful response at a time. As we prayerfully live by the principle of recalculation, as we by the Spirit of God practice the principle of imitation, we become a little bit more like our Father who is in heaven.

It occurred to me in a very real sense, in those moments, we bring a little bit of heaven to earth. Stephen called this message when prayer is proven in the public square. I hope you were encouraged and challenged regarding forgiveness today. If you haven't seen it, I encourage you to install the Wisdom International app to your phone or tablet. You can follow along on both the Wisdom Journey and this program, Wisdom for the Heart. You can access the library for Stephen's 36 years of Bible teaching. You can read the Daily Devotional, read Stephen's blog, read our year-long Bible reading plan, and much more. Install the Wisdom International app today and then join us next time on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-25 00:33:37 / 2023-04-25 00:42:09 / 9

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime