"Our Father, Part 2"
The second half of this prayer is that of a request. While we examined who our Father is last week, we will finish the prayer by looking at how our Father grants us those requests.
Our Father – Part 2
A. One the most powerful memories I have of prayer was seeing my grandfather pray. One night I was walking down the hall to the room where we were sleeping and my grandfather’s bedroom door was cracked open. I saw him kneeling at the foot of his bed praying. I didn’t want to pry or invade his time with God. I must have been the end of his prayer because he pushed himself up and laid down on the bed. I couldn’t get that image out of my head. Here was this man who had pain from cancer, kneeling down and with bowed head praying.
B. One day, Jesus was praying. That would not have been unusual. We find Jesus praying several times in scripture. But on this occasion, it must have caused the disciples to desire to be close to God in prayer the way they saw Jesus. So they asked him, “Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples.”
C. You see, a disciple wanted to be like his teacher. These men had walked with Jesus for as much as two years. They had seen the way Jesus prayed, listened to how Jesus talked, and decided that being a disciple of Jesus was actually being a disciple of the Messiah. But how does the Messiah pray to YHWH? Teach us to pray…that was the request.
D. Everything about this prayer is about community. Jesus uses the words “our” throughout this prayer. Is that significant? I am not sure, but leads me see how this prayer became something that people would say together. A prayer that causes them to see church as community and not just a group of individuals gathered in the same building.
I. Meet Our Physical Needs
A. Whether you quote the more familiar prayer found in Matthew, or this one given to us by Luke, the three requests are the same: (1) Physical Needs (2) Emotional Needs (3) Spiritual Needs.
B. I want to share three stories with you. The first is taken from the time of Exodus as the Hebrews were traveling in the wilderness. They had only been traveling a few days when the people needed water. God turned bitter water to sweet. The next problem was food. They had livestock, but you can’t eat your herds. That’s short term thinking.
C. God did something strange. Listen to Ex. 16:4-5. This bread from heaven, the wafer called manna, was going to be a test. Here’s the test. Gather just enough for what you THAT day and that day only, except on Friday you can gather enough for that day and the Sabbath.
D. Doesn’t sound like much of a test. But look what happened (verses 19-21). You see, the test was that of trust. It was simply learning that God knew what you needed, what was best for you, and how to take care of you. But some people didn’t trust God’s way and chose to take too much or not to gather enough of Friday to take care of the needs of Saturday.
E. Jesus teaches us to pray, not asking for what we want, but teaching us to pray to God for an attitude of trust. “Father, take care my needs each day, just what I need and let me ask for nothing more. For I trust that you know my needs better than I.”
II. Meet Our Emotional Needs
A. The second request centers on something that touches at our emotional needs. The need for forgiveness. It is difficult to live in community when you hold bitterness, envy, malice or strife in your heart for others. Learning to forgive is a divine calling, for humans seek revenge and call it justice – God seeks union with us and calls it mercy.
B. There is not a person in this room that doesn’t need some type of forgiveness. We have wronged one another in words or deeds. We have held onto anger within even if we didn’t share it without. But when God looks in us He can see the sin we often have of resentment or anger. So how do we deal with these emotions and the need for reconciliation? Forgiveness. A little word that can change life.
C. Forgiveness does not erase the past. It does not overlook the hurt and pain caused by others or that we did to others. Forgiveness is about dealing with revenge and punishment. Forgiveness let’s go of our right to see another person face our wrath and places them into God’s hand. It let’s go of our need to see another person face the pain we have faced and lets us live in peace with ourselves.
D. Jesus died with teaching of forgiveness on his lips. Stephen died with those same words on his. Forgiveness is about our emotional need being met. So Jesus teaches us to pray that we see forgiveness in the light of how we forgive others. If I cannot forgive you of the hurt you have caused me, how do I go to God and seek forgiveness for hurt my sin has caused him? Jesus teaches us to look at the need to let the pain pass from us to God and simply accept the grace that saves and the mercy that cleanses the heart.
III. Meet Our Spiritual Need
A. That last request that Jesus taught his disciple and others to pray was centered upon spiritual need we have live a holy life in an unholy world. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
B. One story in the Bible that is difficult for me to understand is the story of Job. The Bible doesn’t date this book for us, but many believe the timeline is very early in human history. The story of Job opens with us reading that Job was a righteous man, a praying man, a man who turned away from evil. Yet, in the story Satan and God have some cosmic meeting and God asks Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?” If you haven’t read this opening in while, read the first couple of chapters and think about his prayer.
C. Following the baptism of Jesus by John we read these words (Matt. 4:1). The temptations Jesus faced in that wilderness were real and deep. It was Satan throwing his darts and twisting Jesus in every way possible. When Jesus taught his disciple to pray “lead us not into temptation” Jesus knew what it was like to be led into temptation.
D. We face temptation all the time. What we need is deliverance. When I learn to lean upon God, the even my weaknesses show God’s strength. When I put in God’s armor, I can stand. James says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:7-8)
A. The prayer that begins “Our Father who art in Heaven” is a prayer that helps us draw near to him. It is a prayer that helps us to see all that God is doing and proclaim His greatness in our lives. This prayer changes lives for the words are more than just some rote words spoken as if they were an incantation, they are words that teach us who God is and how much we need him.
B. Maybe today you realize your need for God is greater than you were willing to admit before you entered this worship. Then the song we sing is an invitation for you to come forward and let us pray with you. If we can be of spiritual strength to you, please come as we stand and sing.