Presentation on theme: "Transformational Prayer"— Presentation transcript:
1 Transformational Prayer December 30, 2012We have just read one of the most famous prayers of all time. Most Christians can recite it, but so can people who do not read the Bible regularly. There is something about the subject of prayer that strikes a chord deep within all of us, and this prayer in particular.Prayer is a relationship with God that transforms and changes us. We are not the same people after we have prayed to God.Perhaps it is fitting that we should be considering this subject at the turn of the year. It is often a time when we look back over the old year and determine to do better in the new one. Maybe we make plans for the new year.Our family was given this book for Christmas entitled, A Year of Pies, sub-titled A Seasonal Tour of Home Baked Pies. It contains recipes for pies for winter, spring, summer and fall. Let me admit that we were very pleased to receive this gift and we have poured over the details.But if deepening our relationship with God is one of the areas in which we would like to grow in 2013, this sermon will be good news. My prayer is that this will be an encouragement - for we will find that God desires a much closer relationship with us than we have experienced so far in our life.This offer is open to all of us, wherever we are on the journey of prayer.
2 Introduction to the Lord’s Prayer Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:1-4Matthew: Sermon on the MountLuke: Jesus praying in a certain placeMatthew: Go to your room and close the doorMatthew: do not use many words: “for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”The context of both the versions in Matthew and in Luke is Jesus speaking about prayer. Matthew includes it as part of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was in Galilee, there were crowds around him. He went up on a mountainside, and sat down. His disciples came to him and he began to teach them.Luke does not indicate a place, but starts straightaway, “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place.”In Matthew’s version, Jesus is speaking about living out our faith in ways that do not draw attention to ourselves. Be kind and generous quietly, even secretly. When you give to the needy, don’t announce it with trumpets, to be honoured by others.” Don’t even let your left hand know what your right hand is giving away. “Then, your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”And when you pray, Jesus continues, don’t do it in public, in the synagogues, on street corners to be seen by others, attracting attention. “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” V6Matthew continues; do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father already knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:7-8)Given that introduction, Jesus says, “This, then, is how you should pray.”
3 Our Father in heavenLord’s PrayerOur Father ... What feelings do these words evoke?God is not a father in the human sense – He is God the FatherGood news of Jesus is that he brings us to his Father: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.” (John 14:6-7)Jesus shares this close relationship with his Father with his followers (Matthew 11:27)“Our Father in heaven.” Let’s stop there. Before we continue, we need to consider who we are addressing. The meaning of the word “father” here is familiar, as in daddy, papa or Abba in Hebrew. It is how a young child addresses his or her father in a family setting.What feelings do those words evoke in you?You may already know God’s love as your heavenly father. Joy may well up in your heart as you thank God for his love for you. You may be thinking, how can we address God as our father? Surely, God is distant and almighty. It is impossible for us to address him as daddy.You may be thinking of your human father, as good or bad. Some of us are fortunate to have a good father, who we look on with love, respect, and honour. He was someone who clearly loved us, taught us as we grew up, guided and disciplined us, supported and encouraged us, sacrificed his time and resources so that we had what we needed.Unfortunately, some of us have had a father who we do not remember with affection. We felt abused, neglected, criticised, even rejected. It is hard for us when Christians speak about God as father.In starting to think about God as father, we need to remember that he is not father in the human sense. He is creator, not procreator. He is God and not a man. As father of Israel and the Father of Jesus Christ, he is so much more than just a father.So we would be wise to put aside thoughts of earthly fathers before we address God as our father. He is Father (capital F) – beyond any human fatherhood. This term distils the essence of Christian faith. To say, “heavenly Father” means to acknowledge God as the ultimate source of authority, the creator and the love beyond all loving.
4 Our Father Our Father ... Lord’s Prayer The good news of Jesus is that he brings us to his heavenly Father and invites us to address him as father. How does he do this? Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.” (John 14:6-7)There is no doubt that Jesus had a close relationship with his Father. Jesus speaks about this close relationship in his prayer to God recorded for us in John 17. “Just as you are in me and I am in you” (v21).Jesus shares this close relationship with his Father with his followers.“No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Matthew 11:27His Father is also our Father. This is the true gift of prayer. Only Jesus can help us know the Father. God’s fatherhood is open to everyone who turns from rebellion toward Jesus.Let us count it as a joy and privilege for us to start a prayer to God, with the words, “our father”. There is a rich blessing available to us in these words.
5 Six prayers within Lord’s prayer Hallowed by your name: the holy FatherGod is wholly other (Isaiah 55:8-9)Your kingdom come: the Father’s kingshipAccept his rule over our lives (John 14:23, Romans 6:12 not letting sin rule in our mortal bodies)The six prayers within the Lord’s Prayer show us that by knowing the Father we also learn the basic needs of our humanity from him.1.Hallowed be your Name: The Holy Father Hallow means to honour as holy. We hallow God’s name when we recognize the character of the Father, as explained in Scripture and shown to us by Jesus. We do not use our own ideas or prejudices. Instead, we honour God as perfect, pure, wholly other. The prophet Isaiah explains this in chapter 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways”, declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” We need to recognize that God is pure and holy and we are not. As Isaiah had to have his lips touched by a live coal from the altar because he realized his lips were unclean (Isaiah 6), so we need to approach this holy God by means of the sacrifice of Jesus to cleanse us from our uncleanness. Then we can be acceptable in God’s holiness and offer the sacrifice of praise as we hallow his name.2. Your Kingdom Come: The Father’s Kingship (p189) To pray for the coming of God’s kingdom means to accept his rule for ourselves. The Pharisees once asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would come (Luke 17:20). Jesus replied, “the kingdom is in your midst” (Luke 17:21) because he brought the kingdom of God to us. And we enter the kingdom of God by submitting to him and welcoming him into our lives.“If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (John 14:23)This means altering our thoughts and feelings so that they focus on God. God becomes our king and we become his subjects.Romans 6:12 “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” We need to pray this prayer constantly, without ceasing. So that we become permanently conscious of the Father’s rule over us.
6 Six prayers within Lord’s prayer Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven: the will of the FatherAs God’s will is carried out in heaven, we are called to mirror this task on earthGive us today our daily bread: the Father as providerDo not worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34)3. Your Will be Done on Earth as it is in Heaven: The Will of the Father (p190) God is surrounded by an army of angels who willingly obey him. As God’s will is carried out in heaven, we are called to mirror this task on earth. As we each do our part for God, like small streams, God’s will is carried out like a vast river, let’s say the Fraser, opening into the Pacific Ocean.How do we know God’s will? God’s will is revealed to us by his Spirit. With the Spirit and Bible to guide us, we can pray - knowing something of what God intends. I realize this does not completely answer the question and this is an area of difficulty for many of us. But I believe it is true that as we submit to God’s kingship over our lives, his will for us becomes clearer. We can ask, and seek, and knock and be answered, because we are asking from a place of submission to God.4. Give us Today our Daily Bread: The Father as Provider (p191) Up to this point in the Lord’s Prayer, we have our hearts opened to God. Now, Jesus addresses our basic anxiety; will we have enough to eat? We need to remember that it is our relationship with God that rules us, not our stomachs. Later, in the same chapter in Matthew that we find the Lord’s Prayer (chapter 6) we find Jesus telling his disciples not to worry about their lives, what they will eat or drink (v25) “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (v26) V32 “Your heavenly father knows you need to eat. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (v33)He concludes at v 34: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”When this is true for us, we can pray the Proverb 30:8-9 “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonour the name of my God.”The other side of this is that when God’s kingdom is embedded in our hearts, we will want nothing else but God’s will.
7 Six prayers within Lord’s prayer Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors: the forgiveness of the FatherIf I refuse to forgive another, why should I expect God to forgive me? (Matthew 18:21- 35)And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one: the deliverance and protection of the FatherSatan tempts us to destroy us. The Father tests us to help us know his will and grow us to maturity 5. Forgive us our Debts as we also have Forgiven our Debtors: The Forgiveness of the Father (p192) Luke uses “sins” instead of debts. Here we admit we have not met the claims of God on our lives, or the claims of others. We have selfishly pursued our own ends, ignoring God and hurting those around us.This does not stop with our failings; because God forgives us, we need to forgive the failings of others. If I do not forgive others it only demonstrates that I have not truly experienced the reality of God’s forgiveness of me.If I refuse to forgive another, why should I expect God to forgive me? The healing we give to others helps to heal us and if we nurse hidden anger within ourselves, we destroy ourselves.Consider Jesus’ parable about the servant who had been forgiven a vast debt by his master, only to go out and have someone who owed him a small sum thrown into prison. When the master heard of it, he had his servant imprisoned for his merciless attitude. (Matthew 18:21-35) When we experience the true forgiveness of God we are given the freedom to forgive others. Truly, we enter life-giving relationships, both with God and with each other. 6. And Lead us not into Temptation, but Deliver us from the Evil One: The Deliverance and Protection of the Father (p193) We are tempted easily. The more we know the friendship of God, the more sensitive we become to the reality of evil and its effect upon us. This can help us be aware of temptation. We pray like the psalmist, Psalm 139:27 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me, and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” So we cry out to the Father: Deliver and protect me from the evil one. Change my heart. Save me from the temptations of my age and stage of life, and from the temptations of my culture.We know that Satan tempts us to destroy us. The Father tests us to help us grow as persons, to know his will and bring us to maturity.Note that the prayer says, lead us not – we suffer temptation alongside Jesus, and alongside all the Christians of all time. The community of those who are tempted should therefore be the most understanding community, knowing each others’ weaknesses and bearing each others’ burdens.
8 Prayer and relationship with God Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever, AmenIt is in relationship with the Father that Jesus continues in Luke 11“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9)“How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)Traditional ending: Yours is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory, for Ever and Ever, Amen (p197) The Kingdom belongs to the Father and nothing short of the power of God can accomplish these prayers for the glory of God for all of eternity. Amen literally means, “so be it”, in the past, present and future.The Lord’s Prayer is central to the Christian life and has been used in the church for over 2,000 years. We would do well to use it in our own prayer life. Yet we know that prayer is a relationship, not a form of words. At the beginning, we referred to God as our father.And it is in relationship with the Father that Jesus continues in Luke 11, following this prayer. He uses the illustration of friendship to show that we can keep asking God, even at midnight, and God will give us as much as we need.So Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened.” (v9)And will we give bad gifts to our children? Of course not. If our son asks for a fish, will we give him a snake?So Jesus adds, “If you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
9 Relationships within the Trinity Relationship with GodWe address God as FatherJesus is the way and the truth and the life – he is the way to the Father (John 14:6)Jesus shows us the Father: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)Jesus asks the Father to give us the Holy Spirit (John 14:16)Holy Spirit will teach us all things and remind us of Jesus’ teaching (John 14: 26)We have considered how we may use the familiar word Abba in addressing God as Father. The use of Abba has no parallel in all religious prayers, including prayers of the Jewish faith, because it grows out of Jesus’ own relationship with God as his Father, the only Son of God in the mystery of the Holy Trinity.And we have considered how we approach a holy God through his Son – Jesus is the way to the Father.And we have considered how Jesus shows us the Father. “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Matthew 11:27And in John 14:9, in Jesus’ answer to Philip. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father”“I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” John 14:11Now we come to the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. John 14:16 “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.” The Holy Spirit will be with us and in us, as v17 states.“The Holy Spirit, who the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”He would be personal as their friend, authoritative as their leader, and reliable as their guide.
10 Relationship with Holy Spirit Relationship with GodRole of the Holy Spirit to work within us to change us from the inside out. “No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5)“I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees” (Ezekiel 36:26)“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:10-11)Why is the relationship with the Holy Spirit important in prayer?Because we need changing from within. This is the role of the Holy Spirit to work within us to change us from the inside out. “No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.” (John 3:5) as Jesus told Nicodemus.We need that new heart and new spirit from within as Ezekiel tells us. Ezekiel 36:26 “I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees”.We need to pray David’s prayer in Psalm 51: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:10-11)For God promised his people in exile in Babylon, through his prophet Jeremiah, “When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
11 Our need for help in prayer Relationship with God“The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27)We groan, we cannot tell God what our problem isWe don’t know God’s will, we see only our own needs and we may pray for things that God does not want to give us (for example, Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”)We need help in prayer as Paul admits in Romans 8:26-27 “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”We groan, we cannot tell God what our problem is.We don’t know God’s will, we see only our own needs and we may pray for things that God does not want to give us.Paul was afflicted with an illness, which he called his “thorn in the flesh”. He prayed three times that God would release him from his suffering, until God told him that the illness was there for a specific purpose.We present a shopping list of prayers to God, showing our selfishness, rather than submitting to his rule over our lives. We need to come under the authority of the King in order to know his will.
12 Holy Spirit’s help in prayer Relationship with GodHe is the friend who reminds us of everything Jesus told usHe is the friend who warns us – convicting us of guilt in regard to sin, righteousness and judgement (John 16:8)He is the friend who makes heaven real to us – the “deposit” (Ephesians 1:14), “guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 5:5)He is the friend who is always with us – the person who makes the presence of God a living experienceHe is the friend who reminds us Jesus said the Spirit will receive from him what he will make know to us (John 16:15). He also said (John 14:26) the Spirit “will remind you of everything I have told you.” This is why the church over 2,000 years has recovered from heresy. The Holy Spirit sustains the truth of the gospel within our hearts, our faith is dynamic and our prayer is a true relationship with God.He is the friend who warns us in advance Jesus said the Holy Spirit would “convict the world of guilt in regard, to sin, righteousness and judgement”. (John 16:8) Like a true friend, he is honest with us even when it hurts.He is the friend who makes heaven real to us. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus is closer to us and to anyone else who trusts him, wherever we are. Paul writes that the work of the Spirit is a “down payment” that guarantees that the full amount will be paid in the end. (Ephesians 1:14) The anticipation of what our relationship with God will be like in heaven. He also said we are “sealed with the Holy Spirit”. (Ephesians 4:30) It is the role of the Holy Spirit in prayer to prepare us for our life beyond death. (2 Corinthians 5:5)He is the friend who is always with us Without the Holy Spirit, we would never have any hope of change, of fighting and overcoming sin and all our efforts to pray and follow Jesus would be in vain. This Holy Spirit is the person who makes the presence of God a living experience.Never underestimate the role of the Holy Spirit.
13 Friendship with the Holy Trinity Relationship with GodPray the six prayers of the Lord’s Prayer, while remembering that prayer is a relationship with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy SpiritChristian prayer is prayer to God the Father, through God the Son, by God the Holy SpiritOur questions about prayer may be answered in the Trinity: the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy SpiritFriendship within the Holy Trinity (p199)The Lord’s Prayer is central to the Christian life and it may seem like the pinnacle of closeness to God. Yet, we can press in further as we abandon ourselves to God. Remember that prayer is a relationship, not a form of words. It is possible, desirable and beneficial for us to nurture this relationship.By now, I hope we will see that Christian prayer is prayer to God the Father, through God the Son, by God the Holy Spirit.Maybe we should have put this definition at the beginning. Instead we started with the Lord’s Prayer and worked our way to it. It is important because I think it is fair to say that we come to this subject from our varied backgrounds and personalities. We live in a diverse and pluralistic society, and people have differing ideas today of what prayer is.This definition may strike you as obvious, but it contains a deep truth.That is that our questions about prayer may be answered in the Trinity: the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.Do you have questions about whether God will accept your prayers? Do you know how to pray? Is there an area of your life that you have never prayed about? Do not doubt that the Father loves you and will accept you in his Son and send his Spirit to help you grow in your relationship with him.[2 Corinthians 13:4 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. ]
14 Praying togetherCommunity of prayerWe are encouraged to deepen our relationship with God. How would we like to do it?Find prayer companion(s)Keep a prayer journalConduct prayerful Bible studyMeditate on a passage of ScripturePrayer for spiritual directionPrayer for healing“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16) We are encouraged to deepen our relationship with God. How would we like to do it? Prayer companions: choose someone who will walk with you in prayer for a year of two. Paul frequently uses the words “one another” in his writings to the churches Keep a prayer journal. Many have found it helpful to express their prayers in writing. This also enables answers to prayers to be recorded. We easily forget. Conduct prayerful Bible study, either on your own or with others.Meditate on a passage of Scripture. To meditate means to reflect with our minds on the Bible and the truths of God, in order to love God in a more personal way and to live as he wants us to. Meditation is a form of conversation with God.Psalm 1:2 says, But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.The Psalms were written out of meditation of God and were intended to provide the basis for all meditative prayer. Pray for spiritual direction. Many of us are at cross roads in our lives. We would do well to commit our situations and thoughts to God.Prayer for healing. James 5:14-16 “Is any one of you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make them well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Note the reference to confession of sins and receiving forgiveness.James goes on to say (v16): “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Notice, it is not an elder or pastor, necessarily. It is righteousness, not role. Prayer is for amateurs, not professionals.
15 ConclusionConclusionClement of Alexandria, one of the early church fathers, from 2nd and 3rd centuries: “Prayer is keeping company with God”Brother Lawrence, a monk in 17th century France: “There is no mode of life in the world more pleasing and more full of delight than continual conversation with God”Jim Houston, in 20th century Vancouver: “I made up my mind that the desire to pray and keep company with God would become my primary concern in life. Prayer would come even before my public ministry.”Much has been written on the subject of prayer, I would just like to mention three:Clement of Alexandria, one of the early church fathers, from 2nd and 3rd centuries: “Prayer is keeping company with God”. I.e. Not saying anything, just being with God. Like walking beside someone, or sitting in the same room with them. Just keeping company.Brother Lawrence, a monk in 17th century France: “There is no mode of life in the world more pleasing and more full of delight than continual conversation with God”. This is conversation – more active than just keeping company – speaking and listening.Thirdly, from Jim Houston, founding principal of Regent College in Vancouver, 20th century, quoted from his book “The Transforming Friendship” published in 1996 that I would commend to you: “I made up my mind that the desire to pray and keep company with God would become my primary concern in life. Prayer would come even before my public ministry.” (page 10)My prayer for University Chapel in 2013 is that we will experience something of what these brothers intended: that our primary concern will be to keep better company with God, for there is nothing more pleasing and delightful than continual conversation with him.
16 ConclusionConclusionBut you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life (Jude 20-21)Even in these closing words, we find the TrinityThe last word on this subject is Jude vv20-21: But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.Even in these closing words, we find the Trinity: praying in the Holy Spirit, the love of God, and the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.