The Gospel of Luke - Part 49: Learning to be Prayerful — Luke 11:1-4
(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)

Review:

Last week we just started into our study the things that Jesus taught us in Luke Chapter 11. We will see Jesus teach us:

A.   To Be Prayerful
B.   To Be Powerful and
C.   To Be Pure

We got started in His teaching about prayer and made the point that prayer is very important to Jesus. He taught us that and He modeled it in His own life, In Luke, as well as in Matthew, we saw one of the Disciples come to Jesus and ask Him to teach them how to pray. The record in Luke is condensed, so we chose to study the Matthew record.

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]’ "—Matthew 6:9-13
Last week I made the point that Jesus was teaching us a pattern of prayer, not a recitation to be repeated. Remember He said:
And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. —Matthew 6:7
Last week we saw that Jesus said we should see The Person of God, that we are praying to our God who is in Heaven and that He is our Father and we are His child, in fact that we get to call Him Abba, Daddy.

But at the same time, Jesus made the point that He is holy, that even His name is holy.

Then we saw, in the pattern of prayer that Jesus gives us,

The Purposes of God:

Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. —Matthew 6:10
We defined the kingdom of God as anywhere that Jesus is King. That is, here or earth when people turn their lives over to Him as their King, and it will be in the earthly Kingdom when He returns and rules on earth.

And we say that we need to pray that God’s will be done, not ours, but His. We need to join in with what God is doing, it is already blessed. Let’s see what else we can learn from this study of The Lord’s Prayer. We saw the Person of God and the Purpose of God, now let’s look at the Provision of God.

The Provision of God:

Give us this day our daily bread. —Matthew 6:11
The next request in Jesus’ model prayer has to do with God’s provision. This is more important than you may think: Let’s take this request and brainstorm on what each word implies. What does give imply?

We need to look to God to meet our needs. Our natural inclination is to look to God only as a last resort. But we need to develop the habit of relying on the Lord. This word also reminds us that God’s provision is a gift. This word reminds us of God’s grace. He gives to us, not because we have earned or deserved His provision, but because He is a gracious and giving God.

What does “this day our daily" mean?

Implies immediacy. God is concerned about the needs in our lives right now. Sometimes we think of God as only concerned about heaven but God cares about what’s going on in your life today.  These words suggest that we need to be coming to the Lord every day and looking to Him to meet our needs. They also imply that we need to be looking for and thanking God for His answers every day.

us . . . our — Why does Jesus have the wording of this verse in the plural rather than the singular?  Notice that the words “I”, “me”, “my” are not found anywhere in this prayer.

It seems more logical that Jesus would teach us to pray more personally, individually. Maybe the reason is that He wants us to be thinking beyond ourselves — to our family, our Christian community, our workplace, our neighborhood. Wouldn’t it be better if we prayed in terms of  “our” needs rather than just “my” needs?

What does Jesus mean that we should prayer for our daily bread?

This seems to represent the physical needs of life. I think “bread” represents more than just literally bread. It stands for all the physical needs we have each day. So it’s important for us to remember that God cares about our physical needs as well as our spiritual needs.

What are some physical needs we all have? Food, shelter, health, friendship, family

We need to remember that God has promised to meet all our needs, not all our wants!  How do you do at relying on Jesus to meet your daily physical needs? Are you more inclined to rely on yourself than you are to rely on Him?  God wants us to look daily to Him, trusting Him to supply all that we need. Paul tells us this several times.

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? —Romans 8:32

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed. — 2 Corinthians 9:8
In the New Living Testament this verse says:
And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.  —2 Corinthians 9:8 [NLT]

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:19
We have seen the person of God, the purpose of God and the provision of God. Now we see:

The Pardon of God, His forgiveness:

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. —Matthew 6:12
Luke records this as saying:
And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. —Luke 11:4
Luke 11:4 helps us understand what is meant here: “forgive our sins . . . ”. There are two more verses in Matthew found right after the Lord’s prayer that also relate to this subject:
For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. —Matthew 6:14
We need to keep “short accounts” with God. This means being quick to ask for His forgiveness as soon as we realize that we have sinned. We need to be forgiven.

A story from the life of Jesus drives this truth home. In Mark 2, four men bring their crippled friend to Jesus. They can’t get in the house where He’s staying because of the crowds, so they make a hole in the roof and lower him down. The first words that Jesus says to this crippled man are, “Your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5). Jesus cared about the man’s physical needs (He later heals him) but recognized that the man’s greatest need was for forgiveness.

That’s true for all of us — our greatest need is to experience, and to continue experiencing, God’s forgiveness.

As C.S. Lewis put it, "To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you." Lewis himself fathomed the depths of God's forgiveness in a flash of revelation as he repeated the phrase of the Apostle's Creed, "I believe in the forgiveness of sins," on St. Mark's Day. His sins were gone, forgiven! "This truth appeared in my mind in so clear a light that I perceived that never before (and that after many confessions and absolutions) had I believed it with my whole heart."

We need to forgive. What are some indicators that you have not truly forgiven someone?

Max Lucado says: “You will never forgive anyone more than God has already forgiven you.”

The Greek word used for our debts . . . our debtors — οφειλεμα [opheilema] — comes from a root word, οφειλα [opheila], meaning “to owe”.

This word is used in a parable Jesus told in Matthew 18:23-35. The story is of a servant who owed the king 10,000 talents (millions of dollars). He begged for mercy and the king forgave him, releasing him from the debt. Another servant owed this same servant 100 denarii (just a few dollars) and begged for forgiveness and release from the debt. But the servant refused and had his fellow servant thrown into prison. The principle is clear. God has forgiven us of immeasurably more wrongdoing than we will ever have to forgive others. But until we see this truth, we’ll always have trouble having a forgiving spirit toward others.

Leith Anderson says “The basic meaning of forgiveness is ‘to let go.’ Forgiveness surrenders all claims for payment. Forgiveness keeps no record for purposes of revenge. Forgiveness releases ongoing resentment and bitterness. Forgiveness is always the responsibility of the offended.” (Leith Anderson)

We saw the Person of God, the purpose of God, the provision of God and the pardon of God. Then there is:

The Protection of God:

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. —Matthew 6:13
People have had trouble understanding this statement. After all, why would God ever lead us into temptation? But according to the Word Pictures in the New Testament, Jesus uses the “permissive imperative” tense of the verb. The idea is then: “Do not allow us to be led into temptation.”

One writer said “We are surrounded by 10,000 seductions to live life apart from God.”

If you love to fish — or know someone who loves to fish — then you probably know something about fishing lures. There are all kinds of lures. In fact, different lures are designed to attract different kinds of fish. Lures always have a hook, don't they? That's because the purpose of lures is to catch fish. Temptation always has a "hook" as well. That's because the purpose of temptation is to catch people.

We don’t want God to lead us into temptation, but we do want God to lead us! An implication of this verse is that we daily need God’s guidance.  Are you asking God to guide you each day? Are you praying for His direction before you make decisions?  Let God guide you.

Jesus said, "...but deliver us from evil.

When we pray this, we are acknowledging Satan’s power and strategies, our own weakness and the reality that God’s power is greater than anything the devil can throw at us.

Max Lucado writes:

[Satan] is the master of the trapdoor and the author of weak moments. He waits until your back is turned. He waits until your defense is down. He waits until the bell has rung and you are walking back to your corner. Then he aims his dart at your weakest point and . . . Bullseye! You lose your temper. You lust. You fall. You take a drag. You follow the crowd. You rationalize. You say yes. You sign your name. You forget who you are. You walk into her room. You look in the window. You buy the magazine. You lie. You covet. You stomp your feet and demand your way. You deny your Master. It's David disrobing Bathsheba. It's Adam accepting the fruit from Eve. It's Abraham lying about Sarah. It's Peter denying that he ever knew Jesus.... It's your worst nightmare. It's sudden. It's sin.
Lucado is right. Satan is the “author of weak moments”. He is constantly looking for the best opportunity to trick us and deceive us.  So we need to pray that God will protect us from temptation. But I would strongly argue that we have a part to play in that temptation. We need to take action to resist temptation.

Let’s look at what the Bible teaches about how to resist temptation. Let’s see what resources we have available to help us make the right choice.

Remember, by definition a temptation is something you will want to do. Personally, I don’t care for okra. So you can pile as much okra as you want in front of me and I won’t be tempted to eat it. But now let’s talk about my favorite dessert – chocolate anything. It’s filled with calories; it’s not good for you. But I like it so for me it’s a real temptation when it’s in front of me. Although I have not eaten any chocolate candy for over two months.

Temptations in the area of moral purity are like that. They have to do with something we desire. So how do we resist and say no to these powerful desires within us?

Here are five practical steps that, if you faithfully follow, will enable you to resist any temptation and break any sinful habit! Quite a claim, right? But it’s a claim we can believe.

1.   Ask for God’s Help

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. —Matthew 6:13
George Mueller wrote, “Let no man think that he can have any measure of victory over his inner corruption without taking it to the Lord again and again in prayer.”

2.   Be Accountable To Others

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. —Hebrews 3:13
The New Living Testament says it like this:
You must warn each other every day, as long as it is called "today," so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. —Hebrews 3:13 [NLT]
Howard Hendricks, a nationally known speaker and professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, has studied 237 instances of Christian men of God who have experienced moral failure and he has found only one common factor — not one of the 237 had accountability relationships with other men. Those who are serious about living a pure and effective life before the Lord will find more strength when accompanied by true brothers.

3.   Abide In God’s Word

How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By keeping it according to Your word.
With all my heart I have sought You;
    Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
Your word I have treasured in my heart,
    That I may not sin against You. —Psalm 119:9-11
Another key to resisting temptation is to be firmly rooted in God’s Word. That means acquiring the habit of reading God’s Word daily and letting God speak to you. It means being plugged into a small groups Bible study where you can learn from others.

4.   Avoid Temptation When Possible

Now flee from youthful lusts —1 Timothy 2:22
Remember Joseph’s example. He did everything he could to avoid Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:10). Some temptations are unavoidable but many aren’t. At these times, in these situations, we need to be especially careful. We need to plan ahead to avoid letting the devil get a foothold in our lives.

5.   Assess The Consequences

In Genesis 39:9 Joseph says:

How then could I do this great evil and sin against God? —Genesis 39:9
Considering consequences was a powerful motivation for Joseph. When Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him, Joseph considered the consequences both toward Potiphar and toward God. His conclusion was that it would be “a wicked thing” to give into this temptation.

The Bible has a number of warnings about the consequences of giving in to temptation:

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. —Galatians 6:7-8
We saw the Person of God, the Purpose of God, the Provision of God, the Pardon of God and the Protection of God. Then there is:

The Praise of God:

[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.] —Matthew 6:13
Recent translations have brought into question this final part of the Lord’s prayer. The reason this part of verse 13 is not included is because it is absent from some of the oldest, most reliable Greek manuscripts. Yet far more Greek manuscripts include this section as part of the Lord’s prayer, so we are left unsure about it. But I think praise is a great way to end your praying. It turns the focus of our prayers back to where it was at the beginning — on how great and wonderful God is.

Yours — “Yours” not “mine”; the focus of praise is on God. Praise asks, what is true about God?

Forever — It’s good for us to be reminded that God is eternal. In Psalm 90:2, Moses said, “From everlasting to everlasting, You are God!” That’s good for us to remember, isn’t it? What is true about God is true forever. God has always been and will always be loving and holy, sovereign and gracious. Forever!

The word “praise” is used more than 170 times in the Book of Psalms. The Psalms are our textbook for learning to praise God:

I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart;
   I will tell of all Your wonders.
I will be glad and exult in You;
    I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. —Psalm 9:1-2

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
    Many will see and fear
    And will trust in the Lord. —Psalm 40:3

So I will bless You as long as I live;
    I will lift up my hands in Your name. —Psalm 63:4

But as for me, I will hope continually,
    And will praise You yet more and more. —Psalm 71:14
For most of us, praising God in prayer is something we have to learn. It doesn’t always just come naturally. Something that might help you is using passages of Scripture to help learn how to praise God. For example, Psalm 145 is a “Psalm of Praise” by David. You can read this Psalm one verse at a time and then in prayer praise God for what is said in that verse. Then read the next verse and put what is said in your own words as an expression of your praise to God.

You don’t have to end your prayers with this phrase but here’s a suggestion. Take time at the end of your praying to praise God for something that is true about Him. Try to think of something true about God that relates to what you’ve been praying about. End your prayers on the high note of praise and thanksgiving.

What are some character qualities for which we can praise God?

So hopefully we have a better understanding of how Jesus teaches us to pray. Try it, you’ll like it.

Next week:, Pat and I will be out of town and Dr. Earl Godwin will fill in. He will discuss "Relativism, Tolerance, Do All Roads Lead to God. ... the Same God?"  The question he will address is whether or not our Biblical beliefs really matter. It is a topic that you need to be here for.

The following week we will continue with Luke 11 and pick up with verse 5 where Jesus teaches us about the persistence that we need in our prayer life.

See you in two weeks.