How to Pray, pt. 6 (Matt. 6:12)

forgive

The first half of these lesson on prayer taught us to pray for God’s name, God’s kingdom and God’s will.

The second half, so far has taught us to ask for God’s provision for our physical needs. As we move from our physical needs, the next two petitions address our spiritual needs: forgiveness of our sins and deliverance from temptations and evil.

We are twice as needful of spiritual provisions as physical needs, although in our daily attention we spend far more time addressing physical needs than spiritual ones!

Let’s turn to Matt 6:12 and look at this fifth petition in the Lord’s model prayer: “and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

The Problem-Debts
This word used in the Greek New Testament comes from a verb which means “to owe, as in a financial obligation.” It is usually used for monetary debts, but it is also used for a moral obligation.

We know that this is not a financial debt that Jesus is talking about here because this same saying in Luke 11:4 has the word hamartias or sins. Forgive us our sins, as we ourselves forgive everyone who are indebted to us.

Luke’s account shows us that debts in this context are sins. Sin is pictured as a debt, and the sinner is pictured as a debtor. Get this: sin is not only wrong, but it requires payment—the debt must be settled. This is a major problem. Many People woefully underestimate the seriousness, deadliness and consequences of their sins before God.

To illustrate this, look at the picture that Jesus paints of our situation using a story that will hopefully tingle in our ears: Matt 18:21-35.

  • V. 21: Notice that the context of this parable is in response to Peter’s question about forgiveness.
  • V. 23: This parable is couched in financial terms. The servant who owes the king is said to be in debt.
  • V. 24. How much is ten thousand talents by today’s standards? A talent was worth about 20 years wages. The servant here owes the king 10,000 talents, or $6 billion dollars! This is a dramatic representation of the amount of sins that we have committed against our King and God.

You need to grasp this if you are ever to grasp forgiving others. If you see yourself as a relatively good person (relative to others, not relative to God), then you will never understand why we ought to forgive as God forgave us. Back to our story in Matthew 18:

  • V. 25-27 Not surprisingly, the servant could not pay the king the debt, despite all the servant’s vain promises that he could.

Scottish pastor Horatius Bonar wrote these words in a hymn:
Not what my hands have done can save my guilty soul;
Not what my toiling flesh has borne can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do can give me peace with God;
Not all my prayers and sighs and tears can bear my awful load.

Your voice alone, O Lord, can speak to me of grace;
Your power alone, O Son of God, can all my sin erase.
No other work but Yours, no other blood will do;
No strength but that which is divine can bear me safely through.

Thy work alone, O Christ, can ease this weight of sin;
Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, can give me peace within.
Thy love to me, O God, not mine, O Lord, to Thee,
Can rid me of this dark unrest, And set my spirit free.

We’ll come back to this parable later. But what I want you to understand is that great debt of sin that every person owes to God. It is both wrong, and must be paid.

If you are a Christian, your debt has been paid. Your sins have been forgiven. Your account has been settled.
For you, passages like Col 2:13-14 are sweet:

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Now, if  you have never approached Jesus Christ and asked for his mercy and forgiveness, then you still owe a huge debt of sin to God, and you can never repay it. But it doesn’t need to end for you this way. Notice what 1John 1:9 says, “if we confess our sins…”

Forgiveness by God for your sins requires confession on your part. Confession doesn’t mean repeating all the things that you’ve done. Confession is from the Greek verb homologeo and it literally means “the same word.”
Confession is when you say the same things about your sins as God does. God knows what you have done. He isn’t surprised. He wants YOU to recognize them as offenses against HIM, and to call them what they are. He wants you to agree with him that they are sins, and they are wrong, and they are a stench in his nostrils.
If you confess with a broken heart and a right attitude, God will forgive and will cleanse you from all unrighteousness.
If you play the part, saying “I’m sorry” in order to get out of punishment, or in order to satisfy your guilt without truly seeing the depths of your sins, your only fooling yourself and your sins remain.
When you realize how your sins are an offense against God, then you will want to be changed. You will want to turn from them. You will want to get away from them like a wretched garment that is stained with filth and vomit.

Is. 55:6-7 says, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”

How to Pray, pt. 5 (Matt 6:11)

As we’ve been learning how to pray over the last posts, we have looked at the God-centeredness of our prayers. We have seen that our prayers should be about God’s name, God’s kingdom, and God’s will. But as I stated before, we are not to think that we cannot come to God with our needs. We just need to begin with the right priorities. If we begin our prayers with a God-centered attitude, we will more than likely be unable to continue in a selfish man-centered manner.

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In this post we are going to begin with the first of three petitions that address the needs that we have:

  • “Give us this day our daily bread”-Addressing our physical needs
  • “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors”-Addressing our own soul’s need
  • “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”-Addressing our spiritual needs

As we consider the fourth petition, we will see two lessons concerning our prayers, so that we will ask for our physical needs with greater understanding as to how we should ask:

  1. “Give us”: All of our needs are supplied by God

We can’t forget the original audience that Jesus was speaking to: the Jews of Galilee. Every year, continuing even to this present day, the Jews remember an event that forever shaped them-the Exodus from Egypt. Immediately after the Jewish people left Egypt, they found themselves in the wilderness—a desert wasteland that would not supply for a million people food or water. They had to learn that God would supply all their needs.

Where do you find food for a million people in the desert? God had to supply it: Ex. 16:1-7. We live in such a different world, don’t we? Where does our food come from? The market. Costco. We have massive farms and huge distribution chains. It can become easy to forget that God is the one who supplies our needs.

The stock market crashed on Oct. 29, 1929. It was called Black Tuesday and the start of the Great Depression. The depression had devastating effects in virtually every country, rich or poor. International trade plunged by half to two-thirds; as did personal income, tax revenue, prices and profits. Farming and rural areas suffered as crop prices fell by roughly 60 percent. Thirteen million people became unemployed. Industrial production fell by nearly 45% between the years 1929 and 1932. Homebuilding dropped by 80% between the years 1929 and 1932. From the years 1929 to 1932, about 5,000 banks went out of business. By 1933, 11,000 of the US’s 25,000 banks had failed. In 1933, 25% of all workers and 37% of all non-farm workers were unemployed. Between 1929 and 1932 the income of the average American family was reduced by 40%.

We are in fear of a return to such an economic disaster, but this scare can have one benefit: It can remind us of what wealthy nations often forget, our prosperity comes directly from the hand of God, and we are dependent upon Him for everything.

  1. This day our daily bread”-All our needs are satisfied daily to teach us to trust in God

Again, as the Jewish people were listening to Jesus teach about how to pray, they would have immediately thought about the manna given in the wilderness: Ex. 16:13-27. Notice a couple of things here:

  • God gave the manna daily, so they couldn’t stockpile it. Every day was taken on faith.
  • They had to gather and cook the manna. God gives to us our needs, but this doesn’t preclude effort on our part. In general, he won’t send you checks in the mail. You need to go to work. But this work is given to you as a gift from God.

This daily dependence upon God means that we aren’t to be anxious, because God will supply all your needs: Matt 7:7-11. He supplies your needs, but we need to understand the difference between a need and a want. He supplies your needs out of love. As a father loves his child, so our heavenly Father takes care of us, his adopted children.

With all of this, let me ask you a question. If at the end of the day, you have a full stomach and a warm place to sleep and clothes to wear, is that all that you need?

Look up John 6:25-40 in your Bible. The feeding of the 5,000 had just occurred. Jesus proved that He, the Son of God, was able to provide for their physical hunger. After leaving them, they sought him out to meet their continued physical needs, but Jesus wanted them to look beyond that. He wanted them to see their real hunger was deeper—a hungering for their souls’ desire to be satisfied. He said that He was the bread of life.

We continue to hunger after every meal. We hunger after every shopping spree. After every physical desire. We hunger for more.  Jesus satisfies what our soul longs after. He is the bread of life. Have you come to partake of Jesus, the bread of life?

How to Pray, pt. 4 (Matt 6:10b)

In this post I am going to be looking at the third petition of the Lord’s prayer, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

The will of God is a difficult thing for many people. Sometimes we are unclear about God’s will. Other times, we are clear about his will, but we don’t want to obey it, and at still other times, we struggle to accept God’s will for our lives.

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The story is told of an old Scottish woman who went from home to home across the countryside selling thread, buttons, and shoestrings. When she came to an unmarked crossroad, she would toss a stick into the air and go in the direction the stick pointed when it landed. One day, however, she was seen tossing the stick up several times. “Why do you toss the stick more than once?” someone asked. “Because,” replied the woman, “it keeps pointing to the left, and I want to take the road on the right.” She then dutifully kept throwing the stick into the air until it pointed the way she wanted to go!

Similarly, many of us can find that when we are “seeking” the will of God, we are really seeking our own will…and have suffered the consequences of forcing our own way!

 Today, I want to briefly investigate this petition (“your will be done”), so that we can know how to pray for God’s will to be done.

First, you need to understand that there are two wills of God. One is his secret will and the other is his revealed will.

Theologians sometimes call these God’s decretive and preceptive will. Decretive because it deals with God’s sovereign decrees, and preceptive because it deals with God’s precepts or commands. We find these two wills side by side in Deut. 29:29:

The secret things [decrees] belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed [commands] belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Let’s start with God’s Secret Will. God’s secret will is made up of those desires of God that he has decreed will come to pass, although he has not necessarily made them known to us. To us they are secret, but to Him they are fully known. Some examples from Scriptures are found in:

  • Matt 24:35-36: Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.
  • Rom 1:9-10: For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. [Paul did not know whether he would get a chance to see the Christians in Rome.]
  • Also, compare 2Peter 3:9 with Rom 9:27: The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. Rom 9:27: And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, [God desires that all should reach repentance, but Rom 9:27 and many other passages tell us that this will not happen. Who will be saved? This too is God’s secret will, hidden from mankind.]

God’s secret will includes the answer to questions about how long you will live, how a new president will do in office, the state of our economy next year, and whether your neighbor will ever accept Jesus.

What are we to do, how are we to respond to God’s secret will if we don’t know it?

  • Trust God. -Matt 6:25-33 instructs us about worrying about serious needs (not wants, which are even less pressing). It says,

25Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

There is so much in this life that is unknown. And if we dwell on these things we can become paralyzed with fear. But the Lord tells his children not to be anxious. Yes, we should pray for our needs. He has revealed that he will take care of us and give us our needs. But instead we have “little faith” and begin to wonder how it is that he will care for us instead of just trusting him with a child-like faith.

  • Humbly submit to God’s will, for He is good-Ps 111 reminds us of this in a powerful way. It says:

1Praise the Lord!

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,

in the company of the upright, in the congregation.

Great are the works of the Lord,

studied by all who delight in them.

Full of splendor and majesty is his work,

and his righteousness endures forever.

He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;

the Lord is gracious and merciful.

He provides food for those who fear him;

he remembers his covenant forever.

He has shown his people the power of his works,

in giving them the inheritance of the nations.

The works of his hands are faithful and just;

all his precepts are trustworthy;

they are established forever and ever,

to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.

He sent redemption to his people;

he has commanded his covenant forever.

Holy and awesome is his name!

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;

all those who practice it have a good understanding.

His praise endures forever!

The Lord is great and greatly to be praised. Even when things become stormy around us, praise him anyway. When things grow dark, praise him anyway. And when you find yourself “walking through the valley of the shadow of death” don’t forget that our Good Shepherd is with us every step of the way. You may not see the terror by night coming, but you do need to remember that our God is good and he has a perfect plan that goes far beyond our own understanding.

Secondly, there is God’s Revealed Will, or his Preceptive Will.

This is the will of God shown to us in the pages of Scriptures. The revealed will of God is God’s desire for us to obey Him. Here is another distinction between his secret will and his revealed will. His secret will is always accomplished. Job 42:2 says,  I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. However, God’s revealed will, is often disobeyed. God says we shall not bear false witness—but we do. This is never to be taken that God approves of our disobedience. But it does show that God passively permits us to sin, and yet we will be held responsible and those who refuse to cast themselves at God’s mercy will be punished in eternal fire.

Some examples of God’s revealed will include:

  •  Eph 5:15-17: Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
  •  1Thess. 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;
  • 1Thess 5:16-18: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing; give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Of course, the Bible reveals much more of what God requires of us.

Back in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus said, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

This will of God is to be obeyed. After all, what king makes a decree and does not expect his subjects to obey him? How do the angels respond to God’s commands in heaven?

  • Ps. 103:20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!
  • Matt. 13:41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers,
  • Matt. 24:31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Let me ask you, does God expect any less from us? The psalmist prayed as all of God’s children should pray, Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground! (Ps. 143:10).

What about if we don’t walk in the ways of the Lord? What then? Jesus foretold of a future day when he will speak to those who had that attitude.

  • Matt. 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

 We really are without excuse in obeying God’s will because God has told us so clearly in his Word what he expects from us. Therefore, when we pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we are praying that God would align our hearts and our lives with the divine commands of God in the Bible.  We are praying that God would help us to live as he calls us to live. We are praying that we desire that God would make our lives a living Bible, that people can see our daily walk, witness our speech and our conduct and from that discern what God wants them to be.

A tall order? Yes! But that is why we pray for God to do this in our lives. It cannot be done otherwise.

How to Pray, pt. 3 (Matt 6:10a)

Focus is sometimes very difficult. Especially after dinner and a long day. It’s easy to lose focus. I remember one day when I had spent the whole night working on an assignment for school. I hit the print button as I took a shower and then off to seminary I went.

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At chapel I sat up near the front so that I wouldn’t be tempted to fall asleep (a tactic that I used for classes after lunch as well!). On that particular day, John MacArthur was our chapel speaker. But the focus was gone. I fought hard, but the sleep won out. I’m pretty sure Dr. MacArthur saw me sleeping that day.

But other than sleepiness, we can lose focus, can’t we? Those two sisters, Mary and Martha teach us that Martha lost her focus on the most important things (Lk 10:38-42). And we can do that in our prayer times as well.

So far we have seen that our prayers need to be honed:

  1. With a God-centered focus on God as our Father–“Our Father in heaven…”
  2. With a God-Centered focus on God’s holiness–“…hallowed be your name…”
  3. Now, With a God-centered focus on God’s Kingdom, “…your kingdom come”

God has given us a job to do on this earth. And it’s not to make it to the top of the corporate ladder or feather our retirement nest or finally reach all those goals in our bucket list. Those are all fine and have their place, but it isn’t first place and too much time on those things will cause us to lose our focus on God’s kingdom.

You know that almost everything we spend these short 70+ years on this earth gaining will all be burned up one day? Not much will be left if we don’t spend our time wisely. And that begins with prayer.

In the 2nd Petition, “your kingdom come” we focus our prayers on three matters:

  1. We pray that Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed.

A kingdom means that there are people who are being ruled by a king; and the vast majority of humanity is ruled by Satan, the prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2). When we pray, petitioning that God’s kingdom come, we are at the same time asking that Satan’s kingdom be destroyed, since these two kingdoms are incompatible.

When we pray for the destruction of Satan’s kingdom, we are praying in line with the psalmist: “God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered;and those who hate him shall flee before him! As smoke is driven away, so you shall drive them away;as wax melts before fire, so the wicked shall perish before God! (Ps. 68:1-2).

Also, when we pray for God’s kingdom to come, we pray in agreement with what is revealed in prophecy will one day surely come. In Revelation 20:1-3, 7-15 we see the yet-future defeat of Satan and the judgment of all the wicked. At this point in history, all of sinful humanity will be placed into one of two places-with God, or in the Lake of fire. The final separation of darkness and light will be complete! Sin and evil will be eradicated and finally be completely judged!

There are some dark and sinister elements in our world that Christians need to war against. You need to be in deep and concerted prayer for God to strike down the enemies of the gospel and for him to use you as his agent to bring about those changes.

I’ve prayed that the Lord would remove obstacles, including people, to the preaching of the gospel. I’ve prayed that the Lord would shut down strip clubs and bars. I’ve prayed that back-sliding sinners would be crushed by their sins so they will look up to Jesus once more. I’ve prayed that family members would be overwhelmed by their sin and would seek Christ with a repentant heart and that they would be miserable until they do so.

I want to see God’s Kingdom come. And I don’t want to see the kingdom of darkness grow—not in my neighborhood. Not in my church. Not in my home. What about you?

  1. Likewise, when we pray, “Your kingdom come,” we pray that God’s grace may advance:

The Church is made up of those who are currently living in the grace of our Savior Jesus Christ here on earth. We have not been glorified, and we have not received all that has been promised for us, yet we hope expectantly in Jesus’ finished work on the cross. It is this hope that we are to busying ourselves in moving forward while we still have breath:

The Apostle Paul, in writing to the believers in Thessalonica, wanted to see the Church of Jesus Christ grow, praying: Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you( 2Thess 3:1, emphasis mine). Paul wanted to see Christ come into the hearts and lives of people, and so he shared the gospel with everyone he came into contact with. Like Alex Montoya says, “If it looks human, evangelize it!”

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Do you realize that God has blessed you, in part so that you can make his name great in the whole earth? Notice the connection that the psalmist makes: “May God be gracious to us and bless usand make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!” (Ps 67:1-3)

Do you pray for God’s kingdom to come? Does it match your hunger for souls to be saved?

Paul’s hunger to see his fellow Jews saved was so intense, that he wrote,  “I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:1-3) and in Romans 10:1, “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.”

  1. Finally, when we pray, “Your kingdom come,” we pray that the kingdom of God’s Glory may be hastened

This is possibly the most prominent idea that we think about when we consider this phrase of the Lord’s prayer. Every true follower of Jesus Christ looks forward to the day when our Savior returns, and hopes that he comes soon. As Revelations 22:20 says, “He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”

Notice the message that comes to us through 2 Peter 3:8-13:

  1. It acts as a warning to those who think that Jesus’ return is far off.
  2. It reminds us to keep working towards fulfilling the Great Commission until he comes again.
  3. It encourages us to keep waiting eagerly for that day when it finally does come and we see our Savior face to face!

But awaiting the Lord’s coming needs to be accompanied with a die-hard obedience to his last words—Take the gospel to the world! Make disciples. Push forward. Take the kingdom with violence—violent men for Christ and the gospel are needed. The Church needs men and women who are not lax or passive. Men and women who study hard and pray hard and preach hard and live godly lives that cannot be denied by our enemies.

Are you that kind of Christian? Pray that you would be!

How to Pray, pt. 2 (Matt 6:9b)

We started this series on the Lord’s prayer last time, and we looked at the preface of the prayer that goes, “Our Father, who art in heaven.” This post will look at the first of six petitions that lay out for every Christian a model that teaches us how to pray. Before we get into the first petition, I want to draw your attention to something first. Hopefully since last time you have been thinking about your own prayers and considering whether or not they are pleasing to God. But as you look at your own prayers and compare them to the Lord’s prayer, I hope you are seeing how theocentric or God centered they are. Stop and think about this for a second. Here are the first three petitions, reworded into modern language:

  • Father, make your name holy
  • Father, make your kingdom come
  • Father, make your will to be done

Now think about the common prayers we often hear, and even pray ourselves. Too often they begin and end with ourselves in mind. If we call Jesus’ model prayer theocentric, then we would have to say that most of our prayers are anthropocentric, or man-centered. Centered upon our needs, our wants, our desires, our responses to God’s blessings. Don’t get me wrong, God wants us to come to him in our times of need. After all, the fourth prayer is a request for our daily bread. BUT we need to make sure that when we come to the Lord in prayer, it is not like rubbing a magic lamp to get the genie to give us what we want. Prayer is so much more than “Thanks” followed by “give me.”

God's Not a Genie Dispensing Wishes!

 

With that, let’s look at the first petition in our model prayer: “Hallowed be your name.” What does this mean? In this petition, we are really praying that God’s name would shine forth in full glory and honor. The fact that this is the first petition is not an accident. Jesus brought this petition up to the front to show that the glory of God is to take priority even over our own physical needs. The purpose of man’s existence is to bring glory to God. Now, you may not believe that, or have even thought about that, but that is a fact.

Rom 11:36: For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

1Cor 6:20: for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Rev 4:11: “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

So what does it really mean to make God’s name holy? The word “holy” or to hallow means to separate from common use. Think about it, when we say that a cemetery is hallowed ground, we mean that it is sacred and set apart for a special purpose. When we make God’s name holy, it does not mean that we are adding to a deficiency in his holiness. For example, when a sports team wins a championship, the praise and glory that they receive is added to their renown. They become more worthy of praise than they were before they had achieved their championship status.

But God is not like that. He is perfect and when we glorify and magnify his name, we aren’t adding anything to his essential glory and majesty—he cannot be any greater than he already is. All we are doing in magnifying him is making him greater in the eyes of others. In his book Don’t Waste your Life, John Piper says this, ]

“Magnify has two distinct meanings. In relation to God, one is worship and one is wickedness. You can magnify like a telescope or like a microscope. When you magnify like a microscope, you make something tiny look bigger than it is. A dust mite can look like a monster. Pretending to magnify God like that is wickedness. But when you magnify God like a telescope, you make something unimaginably great look like what it really is. With the Hubble space Telescope, pinprick galaxies in the sky are revealed for the billion-star giants that they are. Magnifying God like that is worship.” (p. 32).

A True Christian strives to exalt and advance the name of Christ.

The question he asks himself in everything he is doing is, “Will this action or activity bring honor and glory to God’s name?” This was Paul’s desire. Phil 1:20 says,  “as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”  And we know that these weren’t just cheap words from Paul, because when he wrote them, he was in prison for preaching the gospel, and would eventually be put to death in Rome.

But, you may be asking yourself, what does all this have to do with prayer?

1. If you do not magnify God’s name in your life, you contradict your own prayers and are a hypocrite.

Hallowing God’s name is not something we only pray. It is the purpose that we live for. We pray this petition as we are mindful that we are living out our lives that God’s name would be made holy in our lives everyday.

2. If you cannot grasp the holiness of the God that you are praying to, then you wills struggle in your prayer life.

How often do we struggle in prayer to stay awake? Even Jesus’ closest three disciples struggled as Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemene on the night he was betrayed. If only we could see a glimpse of God’s glory! What a stirring up of our prayers we might have! What if we saw God as Moses who saw a glimpse of God’s glory as he was hidden in the cliff! Or the angels who see God sitting upon his throne and must cover their eyes with their wings, crying “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory!”

Whether we see a glimpse of God’s glory or not, his name is great and is to be praised among all the nations.

Ps 8:9: O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Ps 115:1: Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

How you will live your life to bring God the glory that he so richly deserves?