As Jesus teaches his disciples to pray he lays that foundation. Everything else builds on that word “Father”. It is built on the relationship disciples enjoy through faith in Jesus. That relationship isn’t the launch pad into prayer that we leave behind it’s the foundation on which all prayer is built. Prayer flows out of that relationship and prayer reflects the family concerns. Disciples are God’s children calling on their Father to fulfil his promises.
(2b)Jesus teaches his disciples to pray “hallowed be your name”. Disciples as God’s children care passionately about God’s glory. That shouldn’t surprise us should it? How many playground fights and other conflicts happen because someone says something about your mum or dad. We care passionately about the name, the reputation, of those we love. Disciples care passionately about God’s name, his reputation, his glory and that shows in their prayers.
(2c)Disciples pray for God’s kingdom to come. Disciples know that the world is broken, we feel its brokenness, we lament it in prayer. But we also know that there’s no lasting fix this side of God’s kingdom. We know that the only power that can change this world one life at a time is the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s God’s kingdom coming one life at a time. And so disciples pray for the kingdom to come now in the church as we let our light shine before a watching dark world, as unbelievers hear this great news and trust in Jesus and ultimately as we long and live looking for and investing in Jesus return and his kingdom fully come.
(3)Next Jesus teaches his disciples to pray for their daily bread. It’s recognition of dependence on God for everything but also a prayer for contentment in what God provides. And disciples don’t just need daily bread but fresh forgiveness for sin, and the ability to forgive others as we’ve been forgiven rather than holding grudges. And finally they’re to pray for protection from temptations.
Jesus worked example teaches us that prayer flows out of a redeemed relationship as we grasp our grace bought identity. That prayer is God’s children calling out in trusting dependence on their heavenly Father who loves them and who they love to fulfil his promises because his promises and purpose are the ultimate good.
And this isn’t the only worked prayer we have. The Old Testament is full of prayers for us to echo and learn from, prayers that call on God to fulfil his promises, from Moses, Hannah, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Job, Daniel, Jonah and Habakkuk. All prayers provided to teach us to pray.
The Psalms aren’t just our songbook but our prayer book, full of laments, wisdom, thanksgiving and praise calling on God to fulfil his promises.
Peter and Paul give us other worked examples of prayers to pray. We’re not short of examples to learn from. Maybe that’s practically a place for you to start this morning. God has inspired prayers for his people to pray, worked examples so we learn to pray.
Maybe you want some help to do that. The Good Book company publish some helpful little books called 5 things to pray. There’s even one called 5 things to pray in a global crisis. This one is particularly apt as we may be struggling to know what to pray at the moment in light of the news and the pandemic. Each chapter takes you through a passage of the Bible and helps us to pray scripture, to pray for our Father to fulfil his promises, when we feel anxious or lonely or frustrated, or for our government or our church or for key workers and more. You can get the e-book immediately and keep it on your phone to use during the day.
Disciples pray, and that prayer flows out of who God is and what he has done. It reflects the family concerns. Disciples pray asking their Father to fulfil his promises.
But maybe you’re thinking my prayers are nothing like that. Perhaps they seem so small and selfish. Can I pray to God about those things? And so often we just don’t know what to pray or we’re afraid we’ll pray the wrong thing. What do I do then?
Sometimes in prayer we feel like the hobbled horse, with it’s legs tied together to stop it moving. Or maybe for you it’s more like you’re paralysed in prayer. My prayer as I’ve prepared this week is that God would help us grow in prayer, individually and together as a church. That will take discipline, it will require a willingness to learn. It will feel like a battle because it’s part of the spiritual battle we engage in, Satan doesn’t want us to pray!
And one of his greatest weapons is guilt. That we feel we can’t or that we’ve failed or are paralysed by prayer anxiety over getting it wrong. Another is perfectionism, fearing our prayers simply aren’t good enough. But prayer flows out of grace not perfectionism. God longs to hear his children pray and so we’re not left alone. But we’ll think more about that tomorrow.