Guest speaker Justin McRoberts provided insight into the practice of prayer during his message at Community Church on Sunday, November 3. He specifically examined the Lord’s Prayer, when Jesus told his disciples how they should pray (Matthew 6: 9-13).
“This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."
Here are some key points from Justin’s message:
*The disciples showed humility in asking Jesus how they should pray because many of them were steeped in religious tradition and rules and regulations and might have thought they knew the answers to spiritual matters. But in going to Jesus they were essentially admitting that they didn’t know what they were doing in regard to prayer.
*Jesus didn’t scold the disciples when they asked, as if to say you should know how to pray. Instead, he used it as an opportunity to give them spiritual insight in talking to our heavenly Father. Jesus didn’t provide these words for us to memorize. The words were meant to display a living conversation with the Father. God wants the life in us, not our words.
*The Lord’s Prayer should be used as a tool to shape us into becoming more like Christ. Prayer should not be about trying to change God’s mind about something. It should be a posture we take in which we submit to God’s will.
*Notice that the “Give us today our daily bread” doesn’t come until the middle of the prayer. Although our needs compel and draw us to pray, that shouldn’t be the first priority. It’s easy to get lost in our needs. But the focus is first and foremost on God.
*The first word “our” goes against our me-first, individualistic culture. Loneliness draws us to prayer. But we have to realize that we are not the only one feeling that way. When we pray this prayer, we get a sense we are all in this together as the family of Christ. “Our father” means we are children together in the family of God. We face nothing by ourselves.
*The words "Your kingdom come, your will be done” are important in appearing so early in the prayer. Our attitude should be that before we talk to God about what we want, we need to acknowledge and bow to God’s desire for the world. Whatever God wants for your life or for the world, it is better than what you want for your life or the world.
*Prayer serves as a tool to excavate what’s already in us. There is a perfect work of Christ happening in your soul right now.
*There are many things that are not right about our lives, but there is a beautiful work of what Christ has started in us. Wouldn’t it change everything if you saw the work of Christ already in you?
*Studying the Bible and learning what the Greek says is good, but more important is what the word of God does in your soul. That is something the Lord’s Prayer is getting at.
*“Forgive us our debts” helps us focus on how we have hurt Christ yet he has forgiven us. In the same way when people hurt us, we should forgive them. There is no way to replace what we have lost when someone hurts us. And yet the spirit of Christ says that someone who hurts you is more valuable than what has been broken. To those who hurt us we should have this attitude: You are worth more to me than what it costs me to have you in my life.
*We are far from perfect, and yet there are a lot of good things we can offer. The good things we produce will outlast the many ways we have blown it. What we do is never enough to make up for our wrongs, but we can use our gifts as a tool to point people to Christ.
*What can you do to make people see Christ and his church in a positive light? Excavate and clarify the work Jesus is already doing in your life. Jesus has begun a good work in you, so let others see that. The Lord’s Prayer concludes by acknowledging that the kingdom and power and glory all go to God. It’s not about what we do but how we point others to Him.