Lord, Teach Us to Pray Series Message #2 – The Main Principle in the Lord’s Prayer – Ed Miller, August 16, 2023

Listen to audio above while following along reading the transcript below, which is also available for download at www.biblestudyministriesinc.com

Welcome Meditation and Opening Prayer

As we come to look in the word of the Lord, I’ll never tire of reminding my heart and yours that there’s one indispensable principle of Bible study, and that’s total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit.  The Bible is like the Lord Jesus; there’s a divine side and there’s a human side.  If all we get is the human side, then we haven’t heard from the Lord.  We need the divine side, and only God can reveal Himself.

I’d like to share a verse before I go to prayer.  It’s from John 14:21, “He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him,” and then He adds this, “and I will disclose Myself to him.”  If you love the Lord, He’s promised to disclose Himself, to make Himself known.  At the end of John 2, the last couple of verses, it says that there were those who believed in His name and were amazed at the signs He did.  And then it says, “But Jesus did not disclose Himself to them, because He knew what was in man.”  It’s a sad thing if we have all the right words and He won’t commit Himself to us, and disclose Himself to us, because He sees the heart.  He knows what’s in man, and He doesn’t need anyone to tell Him; He knows our heart.  He says in John 14:21, “He who loves Me, will be loved by My Father; I’ll love Him, and I will disclose Myself to him.”  So, He sees our hearts, and I just pray tonight that seeing our hearts, we’re qualified to have Him show Himself, reveal Himself, disclose Himself.  Let’s pray.

Our Father, we thank You that we have the indwelling Holy Spirit whose joy and ministry and pleasure it is to ever turn our eyes, the eyes of our heart, to the Lord Jesus.  We know that those who are taught of God, come to Jesus.  So, we pray in a special way that we can behold the Lord again tonight.  Open our eyes and our ears and our hearts, and we just pray that we might receive Christ as You propose Him to us, each one in his own light, as Christ is in the light, and grace us to walk in that light.  We thank You in advance that You are going to do this, because we claim it in Jesus’ name.  Amen.


I’d like to begin just by reading what is our key verses for these days, Romans 8:26-27,

“In the same way, the Spirit helps our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  He who searches the heart knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

Once again, just by way of review, we don’t know how to pray as we ought, Romans 7:18, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flesh.”  Sometimes we talk about the flesh, and we have the idea that the flesh is something that now and then rises up and gives me a lot of trouble.  The flesh is not something in you that occasionally rises to give you or me trouble.  Paul says, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flesh.”  What’s the flesh?  It’s me; I know nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.  So, we need to know that God is all supply, as we looked at last evening, and we are all need; there’s nothing good that dwells in us.

Once again, I want to review what we touched on last night, just to hit the main point of that.  God looks down from heaven, and He sees His creation, created in the image of God.  He beholds us; He sees us, and He responds to what He sees.  Sometimes, we call out in words to the Lord, and sometimes we don’t have words, and we just groan.  Other times, we can’t groan, and we just sort of sigh and breathe.  Other times, we cry; we weep.  We don’t know that we’re praying; we don’t know that God is watching; we don’t know that He’s listening; we don’t know that He’s anxious to respond.  Sometimes, all we can do, because we can’t weep anymore, is look up to heaven.  Sometimes, we can’t look.  Sometimes we just wish in our deep hearts that something would take place.

God sees that yearning, that desire, that need, knowing that somebody outside of me needs to help me; what we saw last night, I hope the Lord communicated it, is not prayer as what I do to go up to Him, but that God is anxious to pour Himself out and pour out His life, to fill you and me to the brim, until we’ll running over on all sides at all times.  It’s all about Him; it’s about Him wanting to meet us in our needs.  Zachariah 12:10, when God sees us,

“I will pour on the house of David, on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and supplication.” 

The Spirit of supplication is a gift of God, that we can pray and pray at all times.  Psalm 62:8, “Trust Him at all times and pour out your heart before Him.”  It’s a gift to be able to do that.  John 1:16 says, “Of His fullness we’ve all received, and grace upon grace.”  That provision, that gift to pray, to supplicate, to call on the Lord, is more precious than any knowledge we could have about prayer or any rules that we could learn on how to pray the correct way or any duty we have to pray—the fact that God wants us to touch Him and communicate with Him.

Some people sometimes, and I include myself in that, we pray as if we need to overcome God’s reluctance, that He really doesn’t want to do it, but if we ask and ask the right way, He’ll do something.  Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance.  Prayer is laying hold of His infinite willingness, how willing He is, and how He longs to connect the One who is all-supply with those who are all-need, and to bring us together.  Deuteronomy 32:36, “He will have compassion on His servants when He sees that they have no strength.”  So, He takes us by the hand, as I suggested, and leads us from need to need, because we’re so needy, we don’t even know what we need, and when we need it.  He brings us to the place where we have to cry, and then He is able to pour out His life.

As I told you at the start, we are using John 8:26&27 as sort of a theme, that I don’t know how to pray, and He does, and He lives in me.  You don’t know how to pray as you should; He does, and He lives in you, and He prays according to the will of God.  We need to go there step by step.  We looked at last night what was sort of the seed.  We’re not trying to get everything; we just want the foundation, so we can put it under everything we know about prayer.  What I’d like to look at this evening, I don’t know what to call it; I’m just calling it an absolute necessity (but every principle is), but just for tonight.  I wanted to call it an indispensable condition, but the word “condition” sometimes gives us the idea that it’s something we have to do, so I tried to avoid that, even thought there are conditions, and He graces us to do them. 

Tonight, we’re going to look at one single principle; we’ll take a while to develop it.  I’d like to suggest now where I’m planning to go today, and Lord willing, tomorrow, and if He’s willing, then the next day.  We need to make a difference between illustrations and the truth that’s being illustrated.  The illustration can be set aside, but the truth is in the balance of scripture, so we need to embrace the truth. 

We’re going to look at three different illustrations that are all about prayer.  You can’t study prayer and neglect these.  Of course, there’s other scriptures that time doesn’t allow us, that we shouldn’t neglect, as well.  We’d like to look at these three illustrations.  Tonight, I’d like to look at the Lord’s Prayer, the Pater Noster, the Our Father.  That is an illustration; there’s a point, a life principle in that prayer that we’d like to see.  Then, Lord willing, tomorrow, you can’t study prayer without at least glancing at the high Priesthood of our Lord Jesus, and His prayer, but I’m going to focus on one aspect of that—Jesus as the Mediator of the New Covenant.  You’ll see why when we get there.  The high Priestly ministry of Christ is also an illustration, and we need to get the life principle.  Then, finally, as a clincher, you can’t study prayer without going to Gethsemane.  So, we’re going to look at Gethsemane, but once again, as a picture; there’s a great principle in that record of Gethsemane.

Some General Observations

Tonight, I’d like us to look at what has been called the Lord’s Prayer.  What I’m going to do first is just sort of a surface thing; I’m quite sure you know all of this; these are just general observations, before we get to the point and the principle, just general observations about this text about the Lord’s Prayer. 

The first observation is to tell you that the Lord’s Prayer is found in two places in the Bible; it’s found in Matthew 6:7-14, and it’s also found in the gospel of Luke 11:1-4.  They are different occasions on which that prayer was given.  In the Matthew account, it was during His Galilean ministry, in His early ministry, and it’s part of the Sermon on the Mount; it’s included in that sermon.  Luke’s record is on a different occasion; He’s not preaching in this record.  It’s in His later ministry.  He’s not in Judea, He’s not in Galilee; this is given beyond the Jordan in His Perean ministry.  That’s just a simple observation; there’s two records of the Lord’s Prayer. 

A second observation is this, that Matthew gives the record and Luke gives the record, but there are differences; there are three main differences in what Matthew says and what Luke says.  I’m going to call attention to those, in addition to the fact that it was a different time, and a different place, and given for a different reason. 

The first is Matthew 6:9, “Pray, then, in this way, ‘Our Father, who is in heaven.’”  The expression “pray in this way”, the observation is that prayer is a pattern; it’s a model.  It’s, “Pray in this way,” and not necessarily using these words, but it’s a wonderful pattern.  I think it’s true that everything about prayer is included in this wonderful prayer.  It’s a model for all that God calls prayer, and I think it’s also a safeguard for what prayer is not.  If you really meditate on this, you’ll see that’s so.

But before we get too dogmatic saying, “Matthew says it’s a model,” listen to what Luke 11:2 says, “When you pray, say, ‘Father, hollowed be Your name.’”  Luke says to use these very words.  So, Matthew says that it’s a model prayer, and you don’t need the very words, but Luke says that when you pray to use these words.  You are always on solid ground if you pray in the inspired words of scripture.  You might want to take advantage of that in the psalms, because there are so many prayers; just pray those very prayers, and you are on solid ground.

So, it’s both a specimen of all prayer and it’s inspired; you can pray in these very words.  As far as the Bible record is concerned, there’s no record that the apostles or anybody every actually used those words.  I’m not saying they didn’t; I’m just saying that it’s not inspired.

The second difference between Matthew’s account and Luke’s account is Matthew 6:12, “Forgive us our debts,” and Luke 11:4 says, “Forgive us our sins.”  That’s a difference.  The third obvious difference is in Matthew 6:13 where He gives the benediction, “Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen.”  Luke doesn’t give that; He doesn’t give, “Thine is the power and the glory,” and all of that.  Luke ends with, “Lead us not into temptation.”  That’s where He ends His prayer.  Those are just a couple of observations, and I’m sure you already know those.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the controversy, which is needless (most of them are), but some people say, “You shouldn’t call this the Lord’s Prayer.  This is not the Lord’s prayer; this is the disciple’s prayer.  The Lord’s Prayer is John 17, the high Priestly prayer.  You shouldn’t call it The Lord’s Prayer because it was given to the disciples.  Well, then I’ll ask, “What about the Lord’s Table?  Wasn’t that given to the disciples?  Why don’t we call that the disciple’s table?”  It’s given and it’s called The Lord’s Prayer, even though it was given to the disciples.  I’m not trying to get anybody to agree with me, but if you’d be so kind, at least for now, this is the Lord’s Prayer.  I’m going to call it that.  He gave it, every part of this prayer is only possible through union with Christ, and every part of the prayer, also, is a test of my relationship with Him.  So, at least for the next couple of days, this is The Lord’s Prayer.

In addition to the fact that there are different accounts of it, and there are differences in those accounts, and the title, I’m going to make a couple of other observations.  I had to smile when I read the inspired purpose for this prayer, one of the purposes.  Matthew 6:7, “And when you’re praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the gentiles do; they suppose they’ll be heard for their many words.”  This prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, was given as a cure for vain repetition.  I don’t know any passage in the scripture that has been more vainly repeated than the Lord’s Prayer, but God looks at the heart.  Sometimes we think people who read prayers or do it by rote, that their heart is not right.  God sees the heart, and liturgy (it’s not my thing), is not always bad.  God sees the heart, and we can’t judge somebody.  Sometimes, somebody who prays in a spontaneous way, their heart might be very distant from the Lord.  So, those observations are what I wanted to mention up front, just general about The Lord’s Prayer.

My final observation, before we come to the prayer, is that those five verses in this wonderful scripture, it’s amazing how much has been written on the Lord’s Prayer.  In my own library, I have five books that just deal with the Lord’s Prayer, and I’ve read every one.  My favorite was printed in 1775 by Watson.  Oh, what a marvelous handling of the Lord’s Prayer!  Usually, what they do, when you get a book on the Lord’s Prayer…  You go on Google and you’ll find hundreds of books on the Lord’s Prayer.  Anway, what they generally do is that they analyze the prayer.  They take it apart, section by section and phrase by phrase, and they all seem to point out that it’s like the law of Moses; the first part is Godward, and the second part is manward, and it’s a model prayer.  The Puritans used to pray by the hourglass; they would turn over the hourglass, and so on.  But they would analyze each expression, every phrase.  There’s a great benefit in that.  I, also, have been greatly helped by the Holy Spirit just going through each expression, and just meditating on that.

The Lord’s Prayer—Illustration #1

There are many truths in the Lord’s Prayer, but there’s one truth.  Many times, because we get so focused on the many truths, we miss the main thing, the single truth.  Tonight, as God gives assistance, I’d like to show that simple truth.  Brothers and sisters in Christ, may God open our hearts wide to receive the simplicity of the truth, the one truth that’s in The Lord’s Prayer.  We’ll look at other truths, as well, but there’s one great truth.  Often, we take some simple thing, and we muddy it up, and we call it profound.  Let me state right up front, that prevailing truth, and then we’ll look at the prayer step by step.

We need to draw near to the Lord; you know that; that’s why we’re here.  I love Psalm 73:25 when Asap prayed, “Whom I in heaven but You, and beside You I desire nothing on earth.”  Then in verse 28, “As for me, the nearness of God is my good.”  We need to draw near to the Lord, and as needy as we are, as weak as we are, we need to touch the One who is all-supply, who is all-sufficient.  I told you that this principle is very, very simple, and it’s a more complete development of what we began to look at last night.  Last night the emphasis was on the compassionate heart of the Lord, His great desire to reach us and to meet with us and to satisfy our every need. 

When that unnamed disciple who asked the Lord, “Teach us to pray,” and He responded with this prayer, this is what He taught him, this one principle.  I want to begin with Luke 11:1,

“It happened while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray.’” 

In this case it seems like they overheard Jesus praying.  I don’t think they were so much taken up with what He said; they had Him pray before.  They themselves had set aside special hours for praying, and so on.  I don’t think it was what He said that impressed them.  They saw something a little deeper than words when they watched Him pray.  They saw somebody in wonderful fellowship with His holy Father God.  I think that’s what impressed them, and I think that’s what they were asking, and that’s what they were longing for, “Lord, we’re watching You, and You seem to enjoy this, and You seem to be having such a great time.  Will You please teach us to pray?”

Prayer to Jesus was always an expression of His relationship with His Father.  Over and over again the Father responded when Jesus was praying, “This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased.”  There was something going on there, something very precious between the heart of our Lord Jesus and the heart of His Father.  It was expressed when His face shone brighter than the noonday sun on that Mount of Transfiguration.  Luke tells us that He went up there to pray, and He was transfigured; He was praying.  When He prayed in private all night, it was fellowship with God.  The Lord prayed all the time, whether it was when He was feeding the thousands or at the grave of Lazarus or in Gethsemane or on the cross, it was always in terms of His relationship with God, His fellowship with God.  I believe, and I’m going to tell you right up front, the main principle in this Lord’s Prayer, “Teach us to pray,” the absolute necessity, we have to name it, is relationship—fellowship with the Lord. 

Last night I told you that we’re just looking at prayer in the most general way, and I called it “in the seed, seed-form,” just the beginning.  Tonight, we’re going to look a little more, and I’m going to do the same truth, but in the bud; it’s a little more developed.  Lord willing, tomorrow we’ll begin to look at the same truth in fully developed form. 

I’d like to go through this wonderful prayer, and some of the first part the angels can pray, “Hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.”  Some of it is just for men, that the angels can’t pray, “Deliver us from evil, give us this day our daily bread, deliver us from the evil one..”  I want to go through this prayer and focus especially on the one great truth, Matthew 6:9, “Pray, then, in this way, ‘Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.”   I think you are familiar with the fact that it’s “our Father”, and it’s curious because just before this He says, “When you pray, go into the closet, and close the door, and be alone, and say, ‘Our Father.’”  All through this prayer it’s “our, us, our, us, we, our, us, us, us”.  It’s all plural; it’s not individual.  So, we individually pray, but we bring the church in with us; we bring the body.  We’re never separated from the body.

The first illustration of relationship is in this word, Father, our Father.  Right at the beginning He talks about relationship.  It was the Father who was desiring to pour out Himself in the Person of His Son, His life, His very life.  We can’t take for granted this wonderful relationship.  Tonight, you can bow your head and say, “Father.”  It wasn’t always that way.  Before you got saved, you couldn’t say it in the same way.  Job 17:14, “If I call to the pit, ‘You’re my father,’ to the worm, ‘my mother, my sister.’”  There was a day when you were separated from the life of God, and I was, too.  Apart from that, His creation, you were more related to the worm, to the grave, to corruption, than to the One now you call Father.  When Jesus rebuked the Pharisees in John 8:44, “You are of your father, the devil,” well, that was true of you one time, and that was true of me one time.  One time you were more related to God’s judgment than to God.  Ephesians 2:3, “Among them we, too, all formerly lived in the lust of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and mind, and were by nature children of wrath.”  Wrath was your father; corruption was your father; Satan was your father.

I remind you what you know so well, all of that has been changed by the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.  2 Corinthians 6:18, “’I will be a father to you; you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ says the Lord Almighty.”  John 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the privilege to become sons of God.”  It wasn’t always that way, but now it is that way.  1 John 3:1, “See how great a love the father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God, and we are.”  It’s amazing!  Romans 8:15, “You’ve not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again; you’ve received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which you cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’”  So, as this prayer begins, our attention is called to a relationship, a union; it’s the father/child relationship.  That’s how it begins, and how awesome, how wonderful, how precious, that we can call Him father.

Matthew 6:9, “Pray, then, in this way, ‘Our Father who is in heaven, hollowed be Thy name.’”  He doesn’t say, “Glorified be Thy name,” because inanimate things can glorify God.  Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God.”  The stars, the moon, the sun, the flowers, animals, insects, landscapes, sunrise, sunset, storms; they declare the glory of God, but only moral agents, like us and like angels, can sanctify the Lord, “Hallowed be Thy name,” and that implies a relationship.  To hallow is to set apart, not that I’m saying we can do it; it’s really, “Let it be hallowed.”  1 Peter 3:15, “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.”  I want you to note, as we go through this, He starts off with a father/son relationship, and then He goes to a holy God/needy sinner relationship

Matthew 6:10, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”  What kingdom is He talking about?  Psalm 103:19, “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens; His sovereignty rules overall.”  “Thy kingdom come,” is that His universal reign, His crown rights over all the nations?  Is He talking about the kingdom of grace?  Colossians 1:13, “He rescued us from the dominion of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.”  The kingdom of grace, and all of the kingdom of heaven parables refer to this kingdom of grace.  Is it the millennial kingdom that’s to come?  Daniel 7:14, “To Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples and nations and men of every language might serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion.”  Whether it’s the kingdom of His power or the kingdom of His grace or the kingdom of His glory, let it come. 

The point I want to make, the main point, is that it talks about a relationship.  I’m related to Him now, and I’m His child, and He’s my father.  I’m related to Him now; He’s a holy God, and I’m a sinner.  I’m related to Him now because He’s a king, and I’m the subject of a king.  It’s about relationship, this entire prayer.  2 Peter 1:11 talks about the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  It’s all about His kingship—father/son, holy God/sinner, king/subject. 

Closely connected to that is Matthew 6:10, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  See, that’s a little more than king.  He’s not talking now about His sovereign decrees, because that applies to reprobates and devils; He’s king over everything and everybody.  When we pray that His will be done on earth as it’s done in heaven, we’re asking Him, “Your pleasure, your desire; we want what You want.”  We’re going to develop that a lot more tomorrow night.  Pray for what we’ll present tomorrow night.  For now, this is a relationship.  He’s my father, I’m His child; He’s holy, I’m a sinner; He’s a king, I’m a subject; He’s a sovereign, Thy will be done, I’m a slave.  There’s a relationship in everyone of these expressions in this psalm, and He’s calling self-sufficient men who are all needs to submit to Him as a slave.  Once again, it’s a relationship.

I want you to notice, please, as we go through this Lord’s prayer, that the descriptions of the Lord are getting larger and larger and larger.  As He describes the relationship to that Lord, man is getting smaller and smaller and smaller—more and more dependent.  We see Him as a father and as a holy God and as a king and as a sovereign, and He’s just getting bigger and bigger.  We are sons and sinners, and we’re subjects and we’re slaves.  He must increase, and I must decrease. 

Matthew 6:11, “Give us this day our daily bread.”  I’m not going to argue whether He’s talking about physical things or spiritual things or both.  Bread is using the Bible in many different ways.  In Psalm 80:5 He talks about the bread of tears; they were given the bread of tears.  In Isaiah 30:20 He talks about the bread of affliction, or the bread of privation.  Be careful when you say, “Give us this day our daily bread,” He might give you the bread of affliction.  I think, basically, this is like Agur’s prayer in Proverbs 38, “Feed me with the food that is my portion,” in other words, “Whatever I need for today, give me that.”  1 Peter 1:6, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little season, you are in heaviness through manifold temptation, if need be,” if necessary.  Sometimes, what is necessary is manifold temptation, but once again, we have a relationship; He’s the father, and I’m His child, and He’s a holy God, and I’m a sinner, and He’s a king, and I’m a subject, and He’s a sovereign, and I’m a slave.  Now, “Give us this day our daily bread,” He presents Himself as the provider.  “Give us,” is a gift.  I’m a beggar, and you’re a beggar. 

Matthew 6:12, “Forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors.”  I told you that Matthew says, “Forgive us our debts,” and Luke says, “Forgive us our sins.”  What do we owe God; what are our debts?  The praise that He deserves and worship that He deserves, and the thanks and the obedience, and we’re debtors to the Lord, we fall short of our debts day by day.  On the level of earth, if I had many debts, and I was taken to prison, and I died in prison, the debt is gone, and they can’t do anything about the debt.  They might go after my family, but that’s useless, too.  In the Lord, a sinner who has a debt and dies, the debt doesn’t go away; he still is required to pay it.  Even though it would take eternity to begin to pay, that debt is still there.

Some think, and it’s incorrect, when He says, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive those,” that His forgiveness depends on ours, that if we forgive, then God will forgive; otherwise, He won’t forgive.  It’s not teaching that at all.  That’s a fruit.  He’s saying, “At the same time, I forgave you, and you forgive them,” it’s “as” at the same time.   Also, forgive us our debts—what do you owe me?  You say, “Well, I don’t know; maybe honor or respect or courtesy, or something.  When you’re in the Lord, nobody owes you anything.  You forgive everyone anything they might owe; don’t expect anything from anyone. 

Again, it’s relationship.  It’s a creditor and a debtor.  When you say “sin”, it’s a real debt.  It’s a father/son relationship.  That’s what this prayer is about.  It’s about a holy God and a sinner.  That’s what this prayer is about.  It’s about a king and a subject.  That’s what this prayer is about.  It’s about a sovereign and a slave.  That’s what this prayer is about.  It’s about a benefactor and a debtor.  That’s what this prayer is about. 

Matthew 6:13, “Do not lead us into temptation.”  We know from James that God can’t be tempted, and He leads no one into temptation; He may permit it but He’s not going to promote it.  Some think temptation is just the way God tested Abraham; it’s just a test.  It could be, but because of verses like Psalm 119:67, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray; now I keep Your word.  It’s good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn Your statute.”  Affliction is good, so I wouldn’t pray, if that was the test, “Deliver me from that.”  It’s good from the Lord.   I’m sure, as Luke said, it’s a prayer also to be delivered from sin and whatever leads to sin.  It’s sort of the negative, “Lead us not into temptation.”  It’s the negative of the positive which is Psalm 23, “Lead us in paths of righteousness.”  I think it’s just the opposite.

Once again, I want to come back to the single truth, and the one truth is relationship.  He’s the Father and I’m the Son, and He’s a holy God, and I’m a sinner, and He’s a king, and I’m a subject, and He’s a sovereign, and I’m a slave, and He’s a benefactor, and I’m a debtor.  Now, this “lead us not”; He’s a guide and I’m a blind man

Matthew 6:13, “Deliver us from evil.”  Whether that’s the evil of our own heart, Hebrews 3 talks about the evil, unbelieving heart, or whether that’s the evil that’s Satan, Matthew 13, “the evil one snatches the seed,” or whether He’s talking about the world, Galatians 1:4, “This present evil age,” it’s the relationship that’s important.  Now He’s a deliverer, a liberator, a redeemer, and I’m a captive, I’m a prisoner in chains, one who needs deliverance.  Don’t read this la, la, la.  Again, He’s getting bigger and bigger, and I’m getting smaller and smaller.  It’s a father/son relationship, holy God/sinner relationship, king/subject relationship, sovereign/slave relationship, a benefactor/beggar relationship, a creditor/debtor, a guide/blind man, a redeemer/captive.  Once again, I hope you see in this prayer what we talked about last night.  God wants a relationship; He wants to pour His life into you and me; He wants that response.  We call it prayer when God responds to that need, but it’s bigger than that; it’s you and me.  I am prayer, you are prayer, and God responds to the needy, now His child, and it’s all about the relationship. 

On God’s side we see another relationship.  Matthew 6:13, “Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”  It ends up with He’s all in all.  So, now I look for the other side.  It’s not there.  He gets bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger until He’s all in all.  I get smaller and smaller and smaller until I disappear.  It’s gone.  It’s like 1 Corinthians 1:28, “Consider your calling, brethren,” and He ends up with, “things that are not.”  We don’t even exist.  Things that are not; that’s what He’s chosen.  He’s chosen you and chosen me and all of our many needs—even though He’s so great and we’re so helpless, like newborn babes, separated from God, bondslaves and prisoners and debtors and blind people, captives—nothing.  May God help us to see this!

“So-Called” Conditions to Prayer

I want to do one more thing before we close this lesson.  I’m going to look at what are called the conditions of prayer.  Theologians call it that.  I don’t call it that.  I’m going to call it the “so-called conditions” to prayer.  There are entire books written on this.  It’s not a little topic to end a message on.  You can have a whole conference on these things.  I’m not even certain I’ve found them all, but I want to mention ten or eleven or thirteen, and you’ll recognize them.

God promises to answer your prayer on these conditions—He’ll answer IF.  The first is if you pray in the Spirit.  Ephesians 6:18, “With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit.”  Jude 20 says the same thing, “You, beloved, building yourself up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.”  Once you have that condition down, then we move to James 1:6, “Pray in faith; he must ask in faith without any doubting.”  God will answer your prayer IF you pray in the Spirit and IF you pray in faith, and John 14:13, don’t forget that you must pray in Jesus’ name, “Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do.”  John 15:16, “Whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give it to you.”  So, your prayer will be answered IF.  Well, 1 John 5:14, “If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”  So, that’s a condition; make sure it’s according to His will.  And then John 15:7, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”  So, we have conditions.  Then in John 12:28, we’ve got to pray for His glory, “Father, glorify Thy name.”  Those of us who are married, we’ve got to be rightly related to our spouse.  1 Peter 3:7, “Show her honor as a fellow heir and grace of life, so that your prayer may not be hindered.”  And also make sure there is no unconfessed sin your life, because one of the conditions is in Psalm 66:18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”  Isaiah 59:2, “Your sins have hidden His face, that He will not hear.”  And after you’ve got done with all of those, then remember Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He’ll give you the desires of your heart.”  But, also, don’t be anxious, and don’t fret.  Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing; in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”  And don’t be disobedient, because there’s a condition.  1John 3:22, “Whatever we ask we receive from Him because we keep His commandments and do the things pleasing in His sight.”  And don’t forget it’s a prayer of a righteous man that avails much.  1 Peter 3:12, “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous; His ears attend their prayer.”  James 4:3, make sure your motives are right, “You do not have because you do ask; you ask and do not receive because you ask with wrong motives.”

I hope you get the idea that when I quote all these things, whether there are ten or twelve or fifteen or all these different conditions, how overwhelming that is.  You want to be a man of God and a woman of God, and then you come to these passages, and you just throw your hands up in despair and say, “It’s not going to happen.”  You stop dead in your tracks.  I prayed, but I wondered if I met all those conditions.  What if I wasn’t sincere?  I wanted to be, and I tried to be, but what if I wasn’t?  What if there is some unconfessed sin in my life, and maybe I don’t even know that it’s there, is God not going to answer my prayer?  The heart is deceitful above all things, desperately wicked.  What if I ask for His will, but I really want my own will, and I want a stamp of approval on my own will?  Then, my prayer is in vain.  How do I know if I’m praying for His glory?  Maybe it’s just pride; maybe it’s something like that.  Pray in Jesus’ name; what does that mean?  Is that just how you end your prayer, 10-4 over and out, and I’m done? 

May God help us see this principle.  Brothers and sisters in Christ, don’t run from the simplicity, pure devotion to Christ—the simplicity.  How can He receive me, if I don’t ask in faith without doubting?  “Let not a man think he’ll be answered.”  So, when I went to pray (this is before), I knew it was in vain.  I came to the place where I said, “Why even pray?  I never meet these conditions; it’s too much and is overpowering.  I know I’m blowing it in one way or another.  How am I going to know at all times that I’m abiding in Christ and praying in the Spirit?  I can’t handle all of this.”

Main Principle—Union Relationship

Well, brothers and sisters, I want to proclaim to you tonight without clearing my throat and without apology, gospel means good news; I want to give you good news, that the one thing the Lord’s Prayer is talking about is relationship.  These are so-called conditions.  I say so-called conditions because it’s all one; it’s one thing God is talking about.  Everything that I mentioned, all those conditions, are the same thing in different words.  If I’m rightly related to the Lord, if I’m looking to Christ, I AM abiding in Him, and I DO want His will, and I DO want Him to reveal Himself to me.  All of those conditions are met when there is a relationship.  I’m delighting in the Lord, I’m abiding in the Lord, I’m praying for His will; all of those are the same thing. 

It’s like a diamond; you turn it one way and there’s one reflection, and you turn it another way, there’s another reflection.  I come with an imperfect heart, and I pray to a perfect God, and all He says is, “I want to give Myself to you, and I want you to be related to Me.”  That’s a big foundation for prayer.  Let’s jack up all those other things about prayer and put this underneath.  God has a passion to pour Himself out to you, and He responds to you—YOU, not what you say.  He responds to YOU as you reach out to Him.  Whatever else it’s called, I’m suggesting that’s prayer.

On God’s side it’s just His compassion to pour Himself out, and on man’s side it’s relationship; He’s my father and I’m His child.  He’s a holy God and I’m a sinner.  He’s a king and I’m His subject.  He’s a sovereign and I’m a slave.  He’s a benefactor and I’m just a beggar.  He’s a creditor and I’m debtor; I owe Him everything.  He’s a guide and I’m just a blind man.  He’s a redeemer and I’m a captive.  He’s all in all and I’m nothing, nothing but a bag of needs, a pile of needs, and He’s invited me to come to Him. 

I just pray for the simplicity of this; it’s not deep or hard; it’s simple.  Truth is always simple because truth is a Person, and God is One and one is simple.  If we could just see the simplicity of this!   All He’s looking for is a precious relationship with Him; that’s it.  If we could only let God be God and we be who we are, if we could learn to stay out of the Godhead, and just let Him do what He wants to do, and just continually pour out our hearts to Him!  That was the first part of what was on my heart.  The first part is in Romans 8, “I don’t know how to pray as I should.”  The second part is now that He does; the Holy Spirit knows how to pray, and we’re going to begin, Lord helping us, to look at the indwelling Holy Spirit praying in us, for us, through us, and if you can take it in, instead of us.  Let’s pray.

Heavenly Father, how glad we are for The Lord’s Prayer, and how You call attention to relationship and union with You!  Lord, we just desire that You get bigger and bigger and increase, and we find our place in our need, and we get smaller and smaller, but the relationship never goes away.  Thank You, Lord, for Your heart wanting to pour out to us, and Your grace responding to us crying out for You.  Make these things real in our lives.  We ask in Jesus’ precious name.  Amen.