Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lesson 12: Prayer

Brief 4-to-5 Minute Teaching Lesson

Why? and What is the Purpose? in My Life SERIES

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Lesson 12 of the Discipleship Making process.

I left you last time with this question, “Do you think by saying the Lord’s Prayer over and over that we are guilty of using meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do?”

Read: Matthew 6:9-15

Jesus is teaching about prayer. He wants His disciples to understand the spiritual principles behind the words they are saying. Prayer isn’t meant to be void of understanding through meaningless repetition. In addition to being a powerful prayer, the Lord’s Prayer also provides a good outline for approaching God:

“Our Father who art in heaven” is the address. Using the words “Our Father” indicates that family is involved. It recognizes that each disciple has the relationship of a child and that he has brothers and sisters. The address is directed to the Father in heaven, it recognizes that God is their creator (Father) and that honor and obedience is due Him.

“Hallowed be thy name” is the praise. The word hallowed means purified or holy. By saying this, the disciples are declaring that the name of God is pure, free from any uncleanness. Being His children, they should recognize they bear His name. With this comes the responsibility to live up to that name.

The first petition is “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” The disciples recognize that God’s will is not being done on earth and are asking Him to bless the earth by extending His complete rule over it.

Jesus continues teaching on prayer. He instructs the disciples to petition God for three more things: food for the body, forgiveness for the soul and guidance for the spirit. “Give us this day our daily bread” is the first of these appeals. This petition recognizes that God is the provider for the body.

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” is the next request. The idea behind the word debt is something that caused harm. A debtor is the one who causes the harm; hence he becomes indebted to the one he harms.

This petition is the pivotal point in Jesus’ instructions on prayer. After drawing the prayer itself to a close He refocuses the disciples’ attention to this point that if they do not forgive others than God won’t forgive them. How can God do anything else, since the whole gospel of Jesus Christ is based on forgiveness and reconciliation? God is always willing to forgive, but are we?

Another issue arises from this particular petition and that comes from its placement within the prayer. It falls before the third petition, which reads, “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” God cannot deliver the disciple from evil because he won’t forgive and God will not forgive him until he does.

God, who is in charge of His kingdom, provides daily food, His power forgives sins and His glory does not lead men into temptation but delivers them from evil. By substituting the word love for God in the previous sentence it would read, Love provides daily food, forgives sins, and doesn’t lead men into temptation but delivers them from evil. Does this give you some idea about a disciple’s purpose in the Kingdom of God?

The prayer ends with the statement, “Amen.” It means that the thing is sure or the truth.

The point of the lesson is, practice the Lord’s Prayer daily.

With that, allow me to leave you with this question to consider, along with a little homework assignment until my next posting:

How hard should a person work to gain treasure?

. . . and the homework assignment . . .

Write the names of everyone you have not forgiven on a piece of paper. Forgive each one and then burn the piece of paper. Distribute the ashes to the wind so they are carried as far as the east is from the west. Then pray the Lord’s Prayer with the understanding of your words you are saying.

Until next time . . . Godspeed!

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