“Listen to the audio above while following along in the transcript below, which is also available for download in Word document at www.biblestudyministriesinc.com
What are the possibilities of union with Christ today? It’s amazing to think about! As we come together to look in the word of the Lord, there is a principle of Bible study that I remind you of, it’s actually a principle of life, and it includes Bible study, but that is total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit. If He doesn’t speak to these bones, we aren’t going to live. It’s got to be the Lord. He has never promised that the word that comes out of Ed Miller’s mouth would not return void. He promised that the word that came out of His mouth would not return void. He’ll protect you from what comes out of my mouth that’s not of Him.
I want to share a Bible verse from Hebrews 13:15, “Through Him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” We think we can say, “Thank You,” for what He’s done, but it says, “Through Him, let us give thanks.” We can’t even say, “Thank You.” When He gives us a blessing, that, added to the gratitude, is a gift from Him. So, we say, “Thank You for that blessing,” but then we’ve got to say, “Thank You that You enabled me to say, ‘Thank You.’” And then we’ve got to say thank you again for enabling us to say thank you. That’s falling behind in praise, and why we’ll take all eternity to praise Him, because we can never thank Him enough for all that He is and all that He’s done. We sang, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim,” that’s true, but this is also true, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, and the things of God will grow strangely bright.” That’s what we want. So, let’s bow and commit our time to the Lord.
Heavenly Father, we thank You that You’ve given us another privilege to gather. We know some day there is going to be a famine of the word of God. We thank You that day has not yet come, and that we can hear from Your Holy Spirit. Thank You for the indwelling Holy Spirit who enables us to behold the Lord Jesus in all His glory. We pray that we would have a living view of Him this morning. Thank You in advance that You are more anxious to reveal Yourself than anyone here is to see You, but we just thank You and we ask You, Lord, now to meet us where we are and take us where You’d have us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Well, I think all of you know that we’re meditating a little bit on prayer, but that’s not why we’ve gathered. You didn’t come to learn about prayer. You’ve come to see our Lord Jesus Christ, and our sessions are going to be devotional. What I mean by devotional is that which stimulates devotion to Jesus. We want to love the Lord Jesus more because we’ve gathered than we do right now.
I want to review a little bit of what we looked at last evening, and then we’ll pick it up from there. Everything is based on these verses, Romans 8:26-27:
“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness, for we do not know how to prayer 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.”
Those are the two truths, we don’t know how to pray, and He does, and He said that He would pray in us, for us, through us, and instead of us. So, that’s where we’re heading. We don’t know how to pray. I love Romans 7:18 in that regard, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flesh.” Sometimes we think about the flesh as if it’s something that rises now and then and gives us trouble. That’s not the flesh. “I know that nothing in me,” that is my flesh. It’s ME! It’s not something called “the flesh”. It’s ME that needs to be dealt with, and that’s what, of course, He’s going to meet and to deal with!
We saw last evening that our Lord has no needs. Let me just read that passage again from Acts 17, “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He’s Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.” He has no needs; I am nothing but needs, and you are nothing but needs. We’re just a bundle of needs. Psalm 40:17, “I am poor and needy, yet the Lord thinketh upon me. Thou art my help, my Deliverer.” The One who is without needs, who is fullness, who is all supply, He thinks on us who are needs.
In our introduction I attempted to focus not on how to pray, but from the balance of scripture, what does God consider to be prayer, what does He regard as prayer? From His exalted position in the third heaven, He who inhabits eternity as He looks down, He sees His needy people, and I showed you last evening from the scripture that He hears words when you speak, but He hears more than words. Sometimes you can’t speak, so He hears your groans, as if they were prayer. Sometimes you can’t groan, and all you can do is sigh, and I showed scripture that He can hear when you sigh. To Him that’s like a prayer; it goes into His ear and He responds to your sigh. He said, “I heard the voice of your weeping.” Your tears are prayers. You might not even know you’re praying. You think you’re not praying, and you think you’re far from the Lord, and all you can do is groan, and all you can do is weep and cry, and look. Sometimes you can’t look, like that pharisee; he couldn’t even lift up his eyes and look. Sometimes you just have a wish in your heart, just a desire. He says, “I hear your desire.” God, infinite, no needs looks down on us. Oh, poor us, sinners, all needs, and He longs to pour His life into us, His fulness into our emptiness and He longs to meet us and to supply everything.
We closed last evening by that wonderful verse, “I AM prayer.” It’s not, “I pray.” It’s, “I am prayer; I’m all needs,” and when God considers prayer, it’s not like we look at this is prayer when you fold your hands or you stand up or you raise your hands. It’s YOU He wants; it’s ME; it’s the person. It’s when we are poured out, all of us are poured out. Zachariah 12:10, “I will pour out on the house of David, on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and supplication — that’s called prayer. It’s a gift. He gives us that, so that emptiness can touch, can contact, can reach, can embrace fullness. It’s God’s gift of grace to unite we who are all need with Him who has no needs. Psalm 62:8, “Trust in Him at all times, oh people; pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us.” Whatever you’ll ever hear about prayer, it must include this, that you are pouring out yourself, your heart to the Lord… John 1:16, “For of His fulness we have all received.” Isn’t that awesome? He who has no needs, who is all supply, fulness, that’s what we receive.
His provision of prayer and of grace and supplication is better than any knowledge we could have of what is prayer or any rules for how to pray or how we should gather in prayer. God wants to be wanted; He wants us to reach for Him. When He’s responding to prayer, He’s responding to you. You are prayer and I am prayer. Psalm 62:8, “Trust in Him at all times and pour out your heart before Him.”
I told you at the start that we’re moving toward those wonderful verses in Romans 8:26&27, and especially how the Lord, because we don’t know how to pray and will never know how to pray, lives in us and He wants to pray; He wants to use your lips to pray. We’re going to end up praying; we’re going to get to that, but it’s Him in us praying through us. I used to think when I studied prayer, I told you a little of my testimony last night, how frustrated I got, but I concluded that God answers prayer in five ways: yes, no, wait, maybe, and that depends on you. But now I agree with Dale; it’s yes. Do you know why it’s yes? It’s because He’s praying, and that’s why it’s yes, and that’s why it’s always yes. When you learn to pray in the Spirit and when you learn to allow Him to intercede through you, it’s always yes, Amen; it’s not yes, no, wait, maybe, that depends on you. May God deliver us, and may God show us what it means in His idea of prayer!
We’re going to get that truth, how God prays through, especially this evening. That’s the core message this evening, but we need to take the next step, and this is sort of the same thing we did last night in large. I was going to call it an indispensable necessity, but that’s like repeating; it’s indispensable, it’s needful, but we’ll get the double barrel, anyway. I’m resisting calling it an indispensable condition because when we think of condition, then we think of meeting the condition, and that’s too man-ward. So, this is an absolute necessity. Where do we go from here?
Let me give a little outline of what we’re going to look at now, and then this evening, and then, Lord willing tomorrow morning. We need to make a difference between a principle and an illustration of a principle. There are many illustrations of the truths of God. You can take the illustration and set it aside, but you’ve got to keep the principle, you’ve got to hang onto that truth of God. It’s true in all the balance of scripture. The important thing is the principle. We’re going to look at three illustrations. Like I say, it only illustrates; each illustration has a principle. If you disagree with this illustration, set it aside, but don’t set aside the principle.
In this illustration, the first one that we’re going to look at this morning, is the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father, Pater Nostra; that’s what we’re going to look at this morning. That contains a principle, many principles, but one. There’s one principle in the Lord’s Prayer, and that’s what we’re going to look at. Our next illustration this evening has to do with the priesthood of Christ. That’s the illustration. There’s a principle. Lord willing, we’ll look at the clincher which is the Garden of Gethsemane. That’s an illustration, and there’s one great principle. We pray that the Lord will give us the truths of those.
Before we get to the meat of the Lord’s Prayer, I want to give you some simple facts, things you already know, probably, and just to set it up so we can look at these wonderful scriptures. It’s found in two places in the Bible. It’s found in Matthew 6:7-15 during His Galilean ministry, and it’s the words included in His great Sermon on the Mount, and you’re are probably familiar with that. The second account is in Luke 11, and it’s not the same thing. This is not the Sermon on the Mount. This is a different occasion. This is His Perean ministry and we’re going to cross the river to see that.
Let me give you some differences between the Matthew account and the Luke account, in addition to the fact that it’s a different time and it was in a different place and it was given on different occasions for different reasons. The first difference is Matthew 6:9, “Pray, then, in this way, ‘Our Father who is in heaven..’” That little expression “in this way”, many have said, “This is a model prayer, pray in this manner, pray in this way.” It’s a pattern, and it’s not necessarily the very words, and it’s a wonderful pattern. In seed form I actually think in embryonic form, this prayer contains everything the Bible says about prayer. It’s a marvelous, marvelous prayer, a wonderful model. It’s a safeguard against what we think is prayer and is not prayer. That’s the Matthew account, but before we get too dogmatic and say, “It’s only a pattern and not the very words,” listen to Luke 11:2, “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father who art in heaven…’” In other words, it’s the very words; it’s not only a pattern but those very words. Both are true. It is a model prayer, but we can say the very words. Sometimes we think that if the prayer is written down, and it’s just liturgy, it’s cold and it’s dead and there’s no heart, and you should be spontaneous in prayer. There could be heart in liturgy and no heart in being spontaneous. God looks at the heart. We don’t judge people because they read a prayer; you don’t know their heart. God sees the heart, so we need to be very careful about that.
The second difference between the Matthew and the Luke accounts is that Matthew 6:12, “Forgive us our debts,” says Matthew. Luke 11:4, “Forgive us our sins,” says Luke. Some people see a huge difference between the debts and the sins. The third and most obvious distance is Matthew 6:13, the end of it, “Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever.” Matthew ends with a doxology; Luke doesn’t say that Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, forever. He doesn’t say that. He ends with, “Lead us not into temptation.” That’s a difference. In addition to those differences, you might be familiar with the controversy that some say, “You shouldn’t call this the Lord’s Prayer. You should call this the Disciples Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer is in John 17, the high priestly prayer of the Lord Jesus. This can’t be the Lord’s Prayer because He didn’t pray it; it wasn’t given for Him to pray; He gave it to His disciples. So, let’s call it The Disciples Prayer. My question then would be, “Didn’t He give the Lord’s Table to the disciples? Why don’t we call it the Disciples Table. We don’t call it the Disciples Table. It’s the Lord’s Table. So, you can do whatever you want; you can call it the Lord’s Prayer or the Disciples Prayer, but this weekend it’s the Lord’s Prayer. He gave it; it’s the Lord’s Prayer, and every part of the prayer is only possible through union with Him. It’s the Lord’s Prayer, and every part of the prayer tests my relationship with Him. It’s the Lord’s prayer. So, at least this weekend, agree with me that it’s the Lord’s Prayer.
I want to mention two other general observations before we look at the heart of it. Besides the background is different and it’s in two different places, and the title, I had to smile as I was studying this, when I saw one of the purposes for the Lord’s Prayer, why did God give it? Matthew 6:9, “When you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the gentiles do; they suppose they would be heard for their many words.” The Lord’s prayer was given as a cure for vain repetition. I don’t know any scriptures that have been more vainly repeated, and this is God’s cure for vain repetition. As I said, God looks at the heart, and we can’t see what God sees.
My final observation is, these are five verses, and probably more books have been written on these five verses. I have five books just on the Lord’s Prayer. One of my favorite books was written in 1757 by Thomas Watson. It’s a wonderful book and a great covering of the Lord’s Prayer, but many, and even that book, sort of analyze the prayer, “It’s like the law of Moses, and the first part has to do with God and the second part has to do with man, and it’s a model prayer.” I told you yesterday that the Puritans used to pray by the hourglass. They would turn it over, and when the salt came through, then they would be finished praying. We’re not going to analyze in that sense, because I want to just show you one principle. We’re going to look at the Lord’s Prayer, and it’s instructive to look at each phrase, and we will, but in order to see one marvelous principle. That principle, whatever it is, of course, has to be related to our subject of prayer.
Brothers, it’s on my heart to make everything simple. Sometimes we muddy things up and call it profound. We’re not trying to be deep and we’re not trying to give you something you’ve never heard. We want to be as simple as pie, as clear as the noonday sun. The truth of God, because truth is a Person, and because it’s a Person, it’s simple. God is One, and one is simple. If it were two, it would be confusing. I want to state that principle before we even begin to look at it. Let me set it up.
Psalm 73:25, “Whom have I in heaven but you, and beside You I desire nothing on the earth,” Psalm 73:28, “As for me, the nearness of God is my good.” We need to draw near to the Lord. He’s all in heaven and on earth. We saw last night how anxious God is to meet us. He wants us anxious to meet Him, as well. I told you this principle is sort of what we looked at yesterday; fullness wants to touch Him, wants to meet, wants to contact. There’s a word for that, a description for that, and that description is the principle. I’ll give it to you now — relationship. If the Lord’s Prayer teaches anything, it teaches relationship. If I, needy me, is going to contact Him with no needs, there has got to be relationship, there’s got to be union, fellowship and oneness. Let’s look at the illustration.
Let me begin in 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.’” This was a request of an unnamed disciple. In this case they overheard Him praying. It seemed like they weren’t that much taken up with what He said, but they saw Him praying. They had seen Him pray before; He often prayed before. They knew about prayer; they were Jews, and they had special times of prayer. They prayed several times a day. It wasn’t a prayer that impressed them. That’s not what impressed them when they saw Jesus praying. When they saw Jesus praying, they saw somebody in a wonderful relationship with His Holy Father God. That’s what impressed them.
When they saw Him praying, and they saw Him enjoying that union, they said, “Oh, teach us that, teach us how to pray like that,” how to have that union, how to have that relationship. The whole prayer life of the Lord Jesus was relationship, that Oneness with His Father. Three times when He was praying, you know the record, “That’s My Beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” When He went on the Mount of Transfiguration and He began to glow, the Bible tells us why He went up there; He went up to pray. That’s why He was praying, and He just glowed, He had that relationship. When He gave thanks, when He gave public thanks at the Lord’s Table, at the feeding of the thousand, at the grave of Lazarus, in Gethsemane, on the cross, it was always in union with the Father. He would go out all night and pray to His holy Father God. It’s all about relationship. The disciples saw that, and they said, “Oh, that’s what I want. I don’t want to just say words. I don’t want to just try to say, “This is what I think is Your will… I want to pray and I want to have that relationship. Show us how we can have such a relationship as that.” I think the Lord’s Prayer, as He responded to that request, is all about how to have that relationship.
I know that when looking at this illustration it’s wonderful, the first part. Even the angels can pray the first part, “Hollowed be Thy name, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” and so on. The next part is not for angels; it’s for you and me — daily bread, forgiveness, deliverance. Let me go through the prayer and focus on the single principle, relationship. Matthew 6:9, “Pray, then, in this way, ‘Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.” You aren’t very deep in the prayer and you’ve got a relationship, our Father. It’s interesting that it’s “our Father”. In fact, there’s no personal pronoun in the whole prayer. It’s our, us, our, us, we, our, us and us. That’s all the way through the prayer. It’s interesting that when He started, when He was teaching, He said, “Go in your closet and pray secretly,” but it’s us. Our bodies are in the closet, but the church is in our heart, the body is in our heart when we pray to the Lord. The first words show relationship, our Father, child/father relationship. Galatians 4:6, “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying, ‘Abba, father.’” That’s the first relationship — the father, the son, the father, the daughter, the father, the child. It’s sort of what we looked at last night, the fulness, wanting to be poured into that helpless child.
Matthew 6:9, “Hallowed be Thy name…” It’s interesting that He didn’t say, “Glorified be Thy name,” and I think one reason for that is because inanimate things can bring Him glory. We know in Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God,” the stars, the firmament, flowers, animals, insects, and storms can all bring glory to God. But only moral agents can sanctify, can hallow His name. It implies a relationship. It’s not only father/son, but now the Holy God and sinful man. Matthew 6:10, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” “Thy kingdom come” can be many things. That could refer to His crown rights as sovereign and He’s King over all the earth, or it could be, like the kingdom of heaven parables, the kingdom of grace. Colossians 1:13, “He rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His dear Son.” Or it in could be the coming kingdom, the millennial kingdom. Daniel 7:4, “To Him was given dominion, glory, a kingdom that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion.” That’s an indispensable necessity, but it implies a relationship. It might even be the kingdom when you die. 2 Peter 1:11, “In this way, entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be abundantly supplied.” Whether it refers to the kingdom of grace or the sovereign kingdom or it refers to the kingdom in heaven, it implies a relationship.
A kingdom is a sphere of rule — father, son, Holy God, sinner — and now you have a king and a subject. It’s a relationship. Closely connected with that relationship is verse 10, “Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven,” His will accomplished on the earth? How needy we are, and how far from that are we, especially when He says, “I want you to do it the same way it’s being done in heaven.” That’s active obedience and passive obedience. Who is in heaven? The triune God is in heaven, and angels who never sinned are in heaven, and some of our loved ones are in heaven, the spirits of just men made perfect are in heaven. How are they doing God’s will up there? Can you imagine doing God’s will on earth the same way the Lord Jesus is doing it in heaven? It implies a relationship. It’s a little bit different than king and subject because now it’s “Thy will be done”; He’s a sovereign and you’re a bondslave, doing His will. Father, son starts off with a relationship, but you’re going to see as you go through, and we’ll continue, that it starts off, “Our Father, holy, king, sovereign,” and as you go through, the relationship of God gets bigger and bigger, and the corresponding relationship with man gets smaller and smaller. We’ll see that as we go through.
Matthew 6:11, “Give us this day our daily bread.” It’s not only father and son and holy God and sinner and king and subject and sovereign and bondslave, but now, “Give us this day our daily bread.” There’s another relationship. I’m not going to argue whether or not this request for daily bread is physical or spiritual or both. Bread is used many ways in the Bible. In Psalm 80 it talks about the bread of tears, “I’ve been fed the bread of tears.” In Isaiah 30:20, it talks about, “The Lord has given you the bread of privation, the water of oppression,” KJV says, “The bread of adversity.” The fact that the prayer says, “Give us,” it means it’s a gift, “Give us.” I think it’s very much like Proverbs 30:8, Agar’s prayer, “Feed me with food that is my portion,” KJV, “Convenient food,” whatever I need today. I think that’s what He is saying, “Give us whatever I need today; give me my daily bread.” 1 Peter 1:6, “In this you greatly rejoice, even now for a little while, if necessary, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptation.” If I need that today, if necessary, it’s all about needs. God who has no needs is providing us who are all needs, and I need to survive day by day, and it’s all a gift. You see, it’s a father/son relationship, it’s a holy God/sinner relationship, it’s a king/subject relationship, it’s a sovereign/bondslave relationship, but now He’s the provider, and because it’s “give us”, we’re beggars. It’s a provider/beggar relationship. It’s all about relationship.
Matthew 6:12, “Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors.” I showed you that Matthew says debts and Luke says sins. You can look at it both ways. What do we owe God? He’s a Creditor and we’re a debtor; we owe Him praise, we owe Him worship, we owe Him thanks, we owe Him obedience. We have none of that. We can’t do it. We fall short of our debts day by day, and then we beg for forgiveness, and then we bring Luke into it. How great is our need! God says, “You owe Me.” If I owed somebody a lot of money, and I was put in prison because I couldn’t pray, and I died in prison, the debt is gone, but not with God. Death doesn’t cancel the debt for a sinner. Even after death, He’s the Creditor and He’s going to collect.
Some think wrongly that because the way it’s worded, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive those,” that forgiving others is the condition that God is going to forgive us, as if it were a merit, “If I don’t forgive them, I’m not going to be forgiven.” It’s, “Forgive us as…,” at the same time. It’s a fruit, it’s a by-product. If my heart is being forgiven, I’m going to forgive. I like the debts, “Forgive us our debts…” In that idea, I have no rights. You don’t owe me anything. You don’t owe me honor, you don’t owe me respect, you don’t owe me attention, you don’t owe me any courtesy, you don’t owe me any compassion, any mercy; you don’t owe me anything — to live in such a way that nobody owes me anything! Forgive us our debts. Creditor/debtor; every phrase in this prayer points to a different relationship: father/child, He gets bigger, He’s holy, He gets bigger, He’s King, He gets bigger, He’s sovereign, He gets bigger, He’s a benefactor, He’s a Creditor, and I get smaller and smaller, I’m a son, but I’m a sinner, but I’m a subject, but I’m a bondslave, I’m just a beggar, I’m a debtor. Relationship!
Matthew 6:13, “Do not lead us into temptation.” You know what it doesn’t mean. James 1:13, “Let no man say when he’s tempted, ‘I’m tempted by God.’ God cannot tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” He may permit sin, but He’ll never promote it. He can’t. Some think the word “temptation” is used for trial, like when God tested Abraham with Isaac. I think it’s got to be more than that, because of verse like Psalm 119:67, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, and now I keep Your word.” See, affliction is good. Psalm 119:71, “It was good for me that I was afflicted.” So, it can’t be just testing, or I wouldn’t say, “Lead me not into it.” That’s good. I’m sure like Luke says, it’s a prayer to be delivered from sin and everything that would lead to sin. We need deliverance from that. It’s the negative, I think, of “lead me in paths of righteousness, for His name sake.” Once again, it implies a relationship; He’s a father, and I’m a son; He’s a holy God, and I’m a sinner; He’s a king, and I’m a subject; He’s sovereign, and I’m a bondslave; He’s a benefactor, and I’m just a beggar; He’s a creditor, and I’m a debtor; He’s a guide, and I’m a blindman.
Matthew 6:13, “Deliver us from evil.” Whether that’s the evil of our heart, Hebrews 3:17, talks about an evil, unbelieving heart, “Deliver us from evil,” or whether it’s Satan, Matthew 13:19 calls the birds that steal the seed the “evil one,” “Deliver us from evil,” the world, Galatians 1:4, “This present evil age,” “Deliver us from evil.” Relationship is implied; He’s a redeemer, and He’s a liberator; He’s one who sets you free. Who am I? I’m the one in bondage; I’m the prisoner; I’m the one who is incarcerated.
It comes to a climax at the end, Matthew 6:13, where it ends with a benediction, “Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory.” That’s who God is. It started here, and now, “Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory.” You are all in all, the relationship. Man is nothing; he’s gone. It reminds me of 1 Corinthians, you know your call, and as you go through the calling, it says that He’s called, “those that are not…” You don’t even exist, and I don’t even exist. That’s how needy I am, and how needy you are. We don’t even exist. So, God must increase, and we must decrease, and if there’s anything the Lord’s prayer teaches, it teaches relationship. If I’m going to touch Him who has no needs and is all fullness and desires to pour His life into me and meet all of my needs, you’ve got to have relationship. See, this is going to lead into how He intercedes in us. That’s why I say that this is same thing as yesterday, “He’s fullness, I’m empty, He pours in…,” but there’s a name for that, and it’s called relationship, and we need that relationship. It ends up that man is a great big zero.
If God does actually teach us to pray, it’s going to be in terms of that indispensable necessity, relationship. Even though we’re helpless, and even though we’re sinners, and even though we’re bondslaves, and even though we’re debtors, and even though we’re blind men, and even though were beggars, and even though we’re nothing, He wants to be our father, and He wants us to be sanctified, and He wants to be our king and our ruler, and He wants to be our benefactor, and He wants to be our guide, and He wants to be our all in all. That’s the Lord’s Prayer.
I want to do one more thing, brothers, before we close. I want to touch on what the commentators, the theologians, call — I call it a little different — the “conditions to answered prayer”. The Bible gives many conditions to answered prayer. I hope you’ll agree with me when we’re done, I call it the “so-called conditions to answered prayer”. There are entire books written on the conditions. Do you want your prayer answered? Well, here are the conditions, and if you don’t meet the conditions, you are in bad shape. Go on Google and just click onto the Lord’s Prayer and you’ll see how many books are written on this, and the conditions of the Lord’s Prayer.
I’m not going to take time, I will refer to the verses, but I’m going to sort of machine gun it at you, so that you get the impact of what is on my heart to say. If you want your prayers answered, these are the conditions. They are not in any particular order. If you pray in the Spirit, your prayers will be answered. Ephesians 6:18, “With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit.” Jude 20, “You, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.” If you pray in faith, James 1:6, “You must ask in faith without any doubting or your prayer will not be answered.” John 14:13, “If you pray in Jesus’ name, whatever you ask in My name I will do.” John 15:16, “Whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give it.”
These are conditions for prayer. Do you know what it means to pray in Jesus’ name? 1 John 5:14, “If we ask according to His will.” So, when you pray, you’ve got to ask according to His will, or it won’t be answered. 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,” if you abide. If you seek His glory, John 12:18, “Father, glorify Your name.” If you are rightly related to your spouse, 1 Peter 3:7, “Show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of light, so that your prayers be not hindered.” If you have no unconfessed sin, Psalm 66:18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart or wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” If you delight yourself in the Lord, Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He’ll give you the desires of your heart.” A lot of conditions, if you’re not anxious, you can’t be anxious when you pray. Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer..” 1 John 3:22, “Whatever we ask we receive from Him because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.” Are you obeying the Lord? If you’re not, He’s not going to answer your prayer. 1 Peter 3:12, “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous; His ears attend their prayer.” Are you righteous?
See, these conditions? James 4:3, “You do not have because you do not ask; you ask and do not receive because you ask with the wrong motives.” Conditions! You get the idea. There might be more than I mentioned. I went through and just picked up a few of those. I don’t know if there are ten or twelve or fifteen or more than that, but do you realize how overwhelming that is? I want to be a man of God; I do. I want to be a man of prayer. I want to know what God’s heart is on prayer, but when I read those, I am stopped dead in my tracks. I pray, and then my heart says, “Were you sincere when you prayed that? Are you sure there’s no unconfessed sin in your life, because if there is, God is not going to hear you? And the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. What if I think I want His will, but I don’t really want His will, and I just want His stamp of approval on my own will? How am I ever going to pray? How am I ever going to meet all of those conditions? How do I know if I really want His glory, or maybe deep down inside I just want glory myself, and I’m making it sound like I want His glory? If you ask in Jesus’ name, I don’t even know what that means. Is that just the end of the prayer, like a tail on a kite, 10-4 over and out and we’re done? What does it mean?” Conditions! And how can He receive my prayer if I don’t ask in faith?
Listen again to James 1, “He must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That man ought not to expect he’ll receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man unstable in all of his ways.” Every time I come to the Lord and I think, on the level of earth, that I’m blowing it and I can’t meet all of those conditions, and that I have to meet them all at once, I can’t hardly do one. I spend all of my time trying to abide in the Lord.
Brothers, I said that I wanted simplicity, and let me give it to you. I’m not going to clear my throat when I say this. Listen carefully. There are no conditions to prayer, except relationship. There are many ways to say the same thing. If you are rightly related to the Lord, you ARE praying in His name, you ARE praying in the Spirit, you ARE praying without doubting. If He’s praying in you, you are fulfilling all of these conditions. There’s only one, and it’s relationship with the Lord. Don’t get bogged down thinking that God is standing over you saying, “Yeah, but what about that, and what about that, and what about that?” That’s not our God; that’s not who He is. The Lord’s Prayer is all about relationship; He gets bigger and bigger, and I get needier and needier, and He brings us together. All these conditions are not many conditions. It’s just an appeal to seek the Lord, and turn your direction toward the Lord, and turn your heart toward the Lord, and give it to the Lord, and know in cold-blooded faith that you are keeping every condition for answered prayer. There’s only one, and that is union with Him.
How do I know if I’m abiding in the Lord and I’m delighting in Him? It’s because it’s the same thing. If you’re abiding in Him, you’re wanting His will and you’re wanting His glory. It’s all about relationship with the Lord. In lesson one I tried to stress the God without needs longs to meet you and me who are all needs. That’s called relationship, and if we’re rightly related to the Lord, we have taken forward steps in our understanding of what God calls prayer. When that unnamed disciple saw the Lord Jesus praying in union with His Father, in that relationship, he cried out, “Lord, teach us to pray; teach us to have that union, how to have that relationship,” and He said, “I’ll teach you how. You’ve got to see how great I am. I’m all in all, and you’re nothing, and I will give you the Spirit of grace and supplication to bring those two things together.” That’s what it’s all about.
Now we’re ready, Lord willing, to see what it means that He intercedes now in us. Lord willing, we’ll look at that this evening. I wanted you to see this great truth of relationship. Let’s pray…
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your word, not what we think it means, not how we think we can express it. Fulfill in our heart everything You’ve inspired it to mean, whether we touched it or not. Thank You, Lord, for the simplicity, that if our heart is focused on You, in that moment we’re meeting every condition for answered prayer. Lord, make that so real in our heart, we ask. Prepare us for tonight and for tomorrow and give us good fellowship through the day. Help us to minister to one another and to edify one another, and point each other to Christ. Thank You for the privilege of this gathering. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.”