How to Pray, pt. 6 (Matt. 6:12)

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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. 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!

Exposing the False Prophets and Apostles of the New Apostolic Reformation (Links)

This past Sunday our church began diving into the book of Acts. In that message we began to look at the Apostolic foundation of Christ's church. By way of illustration and application I mentioned a troubling trend that is growing in “evangelicalism” in regard to this issue and the upswing of so-called modern apostles and fallible, errant prophets. To give you further background to some of the aberrations happening in churches today in this regard, I have gathered a few links that will hopefully be a starting point for better understanding and exposing the heretical teaching of the New Apostolic Reformation and their kin.