Before we Ask

May 28, 2020

Matthew 6:9

“This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

Most of us pray. Years ago, I began to think of my first prayer of the day as saying good morning. So, I would use that greeting in my prayer… “good morning Father.” Sometimes I would wake up and many other things were occupying my thoughts. Maybe there was an early morning phone call, a scheduled meeting or a task that needed completing. By the time I finally remembered to pray it might be in the afternoon, but I would start with “good morning” because it reminded me that I had not started my day out honoring God.

Prayer done correctly reminds us who God is. We need to spend time with him before the pressures of the day bear in on us. “Hallowed be your name” reminds us that the Father has everything under control, he is not worried about your day but he is concerned about your life. He tells us to come and ask for what we need… after we have spent time thinking about who it is we are asking.

There are lots of people who start prayer with, “This is what I need today.” I have been guilty of that too many times to say. And when I pray like that, the peace of God escapes me. I continue to worry about the things I have asked for.

What are the things we are asking for? We are going to look next week at asking but I will just say today that even when we ask for really good things like “heal this individual” or “watch over my children” or “let me have peace about my illness” we struggle with anxiety about the very things we just asked God for. Why?

Philippians 4 says, “Have no anxiety in anything, but make your requests known to God.”

People say, “Well, I have all this anxiety and I let my requests be known, but it doesn’t get any better. I’m just eaten up with worry. What’s the matter?” It’s a failure of adoration. Maybe we have put our requests in the hallowed spot and not God. Maybe having these things answered the way we want is the thing we really hallow?

Praise, adoration of God, is the thing that will put everything back into perspective.  It must dominate. It must saturate our prayers. We need to get good at it.

Now when I spend time adoring, it allows me to focus on what is really important, and by the time I get to my prayer requests, instead of being absolutely worried about them, I’m able to lay them in his hands once and just relax.”

 



Begin With Praise

May 27, 2020

 Matthew 6:9

“This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

Yesterday I said prayer has 3 parts to it:  Adoration, Asking and Admitting.

Jesus says to begin prayer with, “Hallowed be thy name.” Before you get to “Give us this day our daily bread” and “Forgive us our debts.” You get into praising God before you get into asking God for things in the world. Before we bring our petition, (our list of requests) we remind ourselves of who God is. Petition is where you say, “Give us this day. I have all these needs…” You’re told to go to praise before you go to petition.

Not only that, you’re told to go to praise before you go to confession. “Forgive us our debts.” It’s not simply a matter of God has given us a mechanical set of steps, that we’re just told, “First praise, and then move on to petition, and then move on to confession.” Praise is the framework for the others. Praise is at the heart of our prayer.

Praise is to dominate not just all of prayer, but it’s to dominate all of your life. Why? Because our petitions reveal how you look at the world, and confession is how you look at yourself. Jesus is saying, “All the problems you have in relating to the world, or relating to yourself, are really problems of adoration.” If you don’t hallow God, if you hallow anything more than God, the problems will show up in petition and show up in confession, but these problems are really symptoms of this lack of adoration.

For example, as a pastor over the last 15 years I have had the opportunity to counsel people. I’ve often come up with a problem people have thrown in front of me, and for a long time I was always unable to find an answer to this.

There were people who say, “I know what I’ve done was wrong, and I have repented. I’ve asked forgiveness to God. I’ve asked forgiveness to people. I know that maybe God has forgiven me, and I know others have forgiven me, but I can’t forgive myself. I can’t.” That used to stump me for a long time. Then I began to understand the Lord’s Prayer.

So I would ask, what do you do with your secret time? What is it that you hallow the most? What is it that you adore the most? Is it success? Is it sex appeal? Is it comfort? Is it approval of people? Is it a love life? Is it your family? What is it that you most hallow? That will completely control your view of yourself, and your confession will be completely driven by that. You’ll only feel like you’ve failed if you’ve failed one of these things. You’ll feel like you don’t need to confess if you have not failed one of those things.

In other words, what you hallow, what you adore, completely motivates your actions, and if you hallow anything more than God, it will distort your view of yourself and it will distort confession and it will leave you with guilt and frustration. So, when someone says, “I can’t forgive myself,” what they mean is, “I hallow something more than God, and it won’t forgive me. I’ve violated it, and it is more important than God. I know God forgives me, but it won’t forgive me.”

 



Adoration

May 26, 2020

 Matthew 6:9

“This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

Prayer has 3 parts to it:  Adoration – Asking – Admitting

Last week we started with the Basis of Prayer – Our Father

The Essence of Prayer is Adoration Hallowed be your name…

Jesus shows us that not only is praise absolutely necessary if you’re a Christian, but praise is inevitable for anybody. He starts off by saying, “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites.” Now right away we tend to think of hypocritical people as people who are living deliberately double lives, but I think Jesus is talking about hypocritical “pray-ers.” A hypocrite is someone who’s not consistent. He’s talking about a kind of prayer that’s not consistent. It’s done out in the open, but it’s not done in secret. Why?

Now be careful. He’s giving us an example. He says there’s a kind of person he knows that the thing they most want is approval. They want to be seen as spiritual people. Therefore, they only pray when they’re getting what they really want. In the secret, nobody’s watching so they get no acclamation for prayer, so why pray when no one’s watching…

There’s a kind of person, he says, who only prays when their ultimate concern is at stake. There’s a kind of prayer that only happens when your ultimate treasure is at stake, when the thing you really want is at stake. He says the way you can tell true prayer is the thing you most want is God. You want to just enjoy him. You want to adore him. He’s the supreme thing of your life. If that’s true, then you’ll be praying all the time.

Do you only pray when you’re in trouble? Have you noticed that? When things go badly you get back into your quiet times. You get back into your devotions. Things are bad. Things get better and you stop praying. What’s going on? It may very well be that what you’re really doing in secret is not adoring God, but you’re adoring something else. What you do in secret tells you who your god is.

 




Daily Devotions 2020