A New Vision

June 8, 2020

Matthew 6:9–15

“This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread.

12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

The Lord’s Prayer is a vision of a whole new life, and it will not work for you until you see it as such. What is that vision?

Well, the vision goes like this: We have a Heavenly Father who loves us and welcomes his children into the very throne room of heaven so we can talk to him – one on one. And your father is the king of the universe with all power, all knowledge and all wisdom.

My awareness of God’s presence in prayer leads me to worship. To simply have a glimpse of his beauty brings peace and comfort so that I can begin to relax. Even though I have problems, and I’m facing things that make me anxious and worried, when I see who my father is… I understand he is greater than all my problems.

And he is not just useful… he is beautiful. His beauty is wrapped up in his love and his grace towards me. And every sunset is a reminder of the beauty of God. Every sunrise, every mountain view, every crashing wave of the ocean… every little thing that fills us with wonder and awe is of God. He created the very concept of beauty.

To feel his love is to be overwhelmed with peace because his will towards us is perfect. He gives us our daily bread… the very things we need, when we need them. Not my will but his will… and I can rest in that. There is a peace that passes all understanding.

There are things that happen to me that I don’t understand, and God allows me to plead my case before him. He listens to me and in my anguish, he comforts me.

Which leads us to the final section: Forgiveness.

If we follow the model of the Lord’s prayer our conscience would always be totally clear and all of our relationships would be perfect because we are not only feeling forgiven by God, but we are forgiving. A life of absolute peace, a life of tremendous clarity, a life of total power and freedom, a life of high beauty, that’s the vision of the Lord’s Prayer.

A life that revolves around God. So the Lord’s Prayer is not just a little how-to manual on prayer, but it’s a vision of a whole new life.

 



Striving with God

June 5, 2020

 Matthew 6:9–11

“This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

10 your kingdom come,

your will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread.

Jacob was a man full of self-pity. He spent most of his life lying and cheating to get what he wanted and was never happy with the way his life was going, never getting the wife he wanted, never getting the career he wanted, never getting what he wanted. He was always fighting with his father and with his uncle. He was always lying and cheating and always unhappy. Genesis 32 tells the story.

One night, he was out in the desert alone, and a mysterious stranger pounced on him and began to wrestle with him. Jacob began to wrestle back, and they wrestled all night. Hours went by. Jacob suddenly realized who he was wrestling with. This was not an ordinary human being. This was God himself come to wrestle with Jacob.

Jacob had the opportunity to win with God. “Finally, I will get from God what I deserve. Finally, the blessings I’ve always wanted.”

That’s how most people look at prayer: the opportunity to win with God, to come in and say, “I have been a Christian for 20 years, and I have said no all over the place to all kinds of temptations.” That’s leverage with God. I’ve done all these things for you so “Give me this day my daily bread. My will be done. Look what I’ve done. I have leverage here.”

Jacob says, “I have the possibility of pinning God.” So, he wrestles harder than he had before, and he struggles and struggles. It seems like he was making some progress. As the night goes by, at one point, the mysterious stranger shows how much power he really has. He shows he hadn’t been using hardly any of it. He reaches out and he touches Jacob’s thigh, and his thigh goes absolutely dead. Jacob is permanently crippled.

Suddenly Jacob realizes the folly of trying to wrestle God into submission to his will, but he doesn’t let go. A change happens in him, an ultimate change. Now blinded with tears and absolutely lame, he is still holding on. Do you know what he says now?

He says, “Bless me!” God says, “You know, when the sun comes up, you will see my face, and you can’t see my face.” See, Jacob was asking, “I want to see your face.” Something had changed in Jacob. He says, “I want you to bless me. I want to see your face.” God says, “No, you can’t. It will kill you, but today I give you a new name, because you’ve finally been changed.”

What is he doing? He is striving with God. He says, I’m not letting you go until I see your face. Even if it cripples me… I am not letting go. Striving… Even if it will kill me – I am hanging on for dear life… because you are the only source of blessing, you are the only source of Hope.

 



His Presence

June 4, 2020

 Matthew 6:9–11

“This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

10 your kingdom come,

your will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread.

 “I think the reason we sometimes have the false sense that God is so far away is because that is where we have put him. We have kept him at a distance, and then when we are in need and call on him in prayer, we wonder where he is. He is exactly where we left him.”

Ravi Zacharias

Oh my, I have often been there. Don’t be fooled to think that ministry leaders have the inside track when it comes to prayer.  My prayers are more like grocery lists than prayer. It is a great reminder to think about what God wants to do “in your life” before we ask for “things for your life.”

If we have put God on the shelf, don’t be surprised to find yourself missing his presence in your life. When our prayer life becomes stale and cold and shallow, it should be a red flag warning us to the danger of complacency. We can go through the formula of prayer which is adoration, asking and admitting… and yet miss the connection and closeness to the father because our prayers are out of balance; no adoration, way too much asking and no admitting.

Do you ever put a time constraint on your prayers?

“OK God, I only have a few minutes before I have to get ready for work, or before the kids find me, or before Facebook calls me away… so let me get right to the important stuff. Here are the people I want to pray for, here are the problems I want you to take care of, forgive me of my sins, amen.”

No wonder God’s presence is lacking in my life. The important stuff is the connection you have with the father. The important thing to remember is that God does not love us more when we pray, he does not love us less when we don’t pray, his love is constant. It is our love for him that is inconsistent. Prayer is the opportunity to spend time in the secret place, the inner chamber of the throne room of the Almighty God, who just happens to be our Father.

One last quote from Ravi. His memorial service was last Monday and he will be greatly missed, he was 74 when God took him home.

The purpose of prayer and of God’s call in your life isn’t to make you number one in the world’s eyes but to make Him number one in your life.

Ravi Zacharias

 

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Daily Devotions 2020