Prayer, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ After This Manner Therefore Pray

Originally published March 29, 2015manner-pray-e1432429425730

Prayer. It seems so simple- just talk to God. But when it’s time to actually do it, there can be a million questions. What should I pray about? How long should I pray? Do I have to say “Thee” and “Thou”? Eyes opened or closed? Do I have to be on my knees? Should I speak aloud or pray silently?

It’s nothing to be ashamed of. The disciples lived with Jesus. Heard Him pray. Watched Him pray. And they still had to ask Him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus graciously answered their request with what we now call “The Lord’s Prayer” or “The Model Prayer.” There’s one version of it in Luke where Jesus teaches the disciples personally, and another, expanded version in Matthew 6:9-13 in the Sermon on the Mount, the version we’ll be looking at today.

Even after all these years, and after hundreds of books and sermons on prayer, Jesus’ simple teaching is still the best way to make sure we’re “doing prayer right.” When we submit the way we pray to His instruction, we can be sure we’re praying the way He wants us to pray. So how can we follow the Lord’s Prayer in our own prayer lives? Let’s take a look.

Pray then like this:

This may not seem like a very important phrase – after all, it’s not even in the body of the Lord’s Prayer – but it’s actually vital to our understanding of modeling our prayers after the Lord’s Prayer. Notice Jesus didn’t say, “repeat after Me” or “recite these exact words.” He said “pray like this.” The NASB renders this phrase as, “Pray, then, in this way.” KJV says, “After this manner therefore pray.” And the NIV has, “This, then, is how you should pray.”

The point? Jesus gave the Lord’s Prayer as an outline for prayer or as a sample prayer, not a specific set of words to recite every time you pray. While it’s fine to sincerely pray – and mean – the exact words of the Lord’s Prayer, we must guard against the “vain repetition” of “empty phrases” Jesus had warned the disciples about just two verses earlier. Mindlessly rattling off the words of the Lord’s Prayer out of habit or so you can check prayer off your daily “to do” list is not prayer. Instead, try using each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer as a guide to how you should approach Him in prayer.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Take some time to worship God and praise Him just for being Him. Contemplate how high and holy He is and how lowly you are in comparison. Think about, and thank Him for some of His attributes that we find in Scripture- His goodness, justice, compassion, omnipotence, wrath, mercy, and grace. You might even want to sing a hymn or song – like “Holy, Holy, Holy” or “God Is So Good” –  that focuses on God’s holiness or other attributes.

Your kingdom come,

Do you long for Christ to return? It’s OK to tell Him that and to take some time to focus on the joy that will be ours in eternity. Christ is coming back (hopefully today!) to gather His people, weary of this sin sick world, to Himself. But remember, He will ONLY be taking people who know Him as Savior and Lord. Is there someone you need to share the gospel with? Someone you desperately desire to see saved? This is a great time to pray for that person and ask God to give you the opportunity, and the right words, to share with her.

Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

In Heaven, God is always glorified, always praised, and always obeyed. Wouldn’t it be great if that were the case on earth? Well, it’s not, because of sin. Is there an area of obedience you’re struggling with? Ask God to help you with it. Pray that God will help your children to be obedient to you and your husband. Pray that God will strengthen your husband’s obedience to Him in his areas of weakness. Pray that your loved ones, boss, and elected officials will make the decisions God wants them to make. Ask God to guide your pastor, elders, and church members, and pray that they will be obedient to His word and His leading.

Give us this day our daily bread,

Here, we recognize and thank God that He is our provider. Even the smallest things in life, like a simple loaf of bread, only come to us because God provides them. He wants us to put our trust in Him, not a paycheck, for our needs. A great passage to go along with this verse is Philippians 4:6-7:

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

God doesn’t want us to worry about the things we need. He wants us to trust Him. When we take our needs to Him in prayer, we are declaring our trust in Him to take care of us – in His way and in His time – and that is where our peace comes from.

Notice, too, the words “this day” and “daily” in this verse. They show us that prayer is an all day, every day affair. God wants us to keep coming back to Him in prayer again and again. It helps us recognize our dependence on Him.

These words also help us to focus our prayers on what we need today. It’s OK to pray about future events, but sometimes focusing on future “what ifs” can tempt us to worry, and, as Jesus says later in Matthew 6, “do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (34)

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Repentance time. Did you notice that this verse (12) is the culmination of a sentence that began in the previous verse (11)?  “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us…” Repentance for our sin and asking God to forgive us is also also an all day, every day affair. But, praise God, so is His mercy to forgive! Lamentations 3:22-23 reminds us:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Take this time to confess your sin and ask God to cleanse you and forgive you. And be sure to ask Him to show you any bitterness you may be harboring in your heart against someone. Forgive that person and ask God to help you make things right with her. Consider the magnitude of your sin against God. If God has forgiven you of your sin against Him, who are you to hold a grudge against someone who has sinned against you?

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Sin. It’s always lurking around just waiting to ensnare us again, isn’t it? Think about the sins you struggle with. Ask God to show if there are any changes you can make in your life to stay away from temptation to those sins. Pray that He will strengthen you to be obedient to Him when you can’t avoid tempting circumstances, and ask Him to show you the godly way out of every situation, which He has promised to provide. Pray for God’s protection from evil people or circumstances and ask Him to protect your family and  church.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

The KJV includes this phrase at the end of the Lord’s prayer, but it isn’t in the earliest and most reliable biblical manuscripts (from which modern versions such as the ESV are translated). But since its meaning and intent is thoroughly supported by other Scriptures, there’s certainly no harm in including it as part of the model for your prayer time.

Acknowledge and thank God for His sovereignty over all things, His power, His glory, and His eteranlity. Ask Him to help you live in such a way that others will see these attributes of His. Submit yourself to Christ and pray that God will help you to follow Him humbly and honorably.

 

Eyes open or closed? On our knees or not? Jesus didn’t address those kinds of things, so we have a certain amount of liberty in those secondary issues. Jesus’ desire is that we stay in constant communion with Him in prayer, humbly honoring Him, praising Him, thanking Him, repenting of sin, and depending on Him for our every need. So, let’s pray then, like this.


This article was originally published at SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.
Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word ~ Obadiah

obadiah 4

Obadiah

The vision of Obadiah.

Thus says the Lord God concerning Edom:
We have heard a report from the Lord,
    and a messenger has been sent among the nations:
“Rise up! Let us rise against her for battle!”
Behold, I will make you small among the nations;
    you shall be utterly despised.
The pride of your heart has deceived you,
    you who live in the clefts of the rock,
    in your lofty dwelling,
who say in your heart,
    “Who will bring me down to the ground?”
Though you soar aloft like the eagle,
    though your nest is set among the stars,
    from there I will bring you down,
declares the Lord.

If thieves came to you,
    if plunderers came by night—
    how you have been destroyed!—
    would they not steal only enough for themselves?
If grape gatherers came to you,
    would they not leave gleanings?
How Esau has been pillaged,
    his treasures sought out!
All your allies have driven you to your border;
    those at peace with you have deceived you;
they have prevailed against you;
    those who eat your bread have set a trap beneath you—
    you have no understanding.

Will I not on that day, declares the Lord,
    destroy the wise men out of Edom,
    and understanding out of Mount Esau?
And your mighty men shall be dismayed, O Teman,
    so that every man from Mount Esau will be cut off by slaughter.

10 Because of the violence done to your brother Jacob,
    shame shall cover you,
    and you shall be cut off forever.
11 On the day that you stood aloof,
    on the day that strangers carried off his wealth
and foreigners entered his gates
    and cast lots for Jerusalem,
    you were like one of them.
12 But do not gloat over the day of your brother
    in the day of his misfortune;
do not rejoice over the people of Judah
    in the day of their ruin;
do not boast
    in the day of distress.
13 Do not enter the gate of my people
    in the day of their calamity;
do not gloat over his disaster
    in the day of his calamity;
do not loot his wealth
    in the day of his calamity.
14 Do not stand at the crossroads
    to cut off his fugitives;
do not hand over his survivors
    in the day of distress.

15 For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations.
As you have done, it shall be done to you;
    your deeds shall return on your own head.
16 For as you have drunk on my holy mountain,
    so all the nations shall drink continually;
they shall drink and swallow,
    and shall be as though they had never been.
17 But in Mount Zion there shall be those who escape,
    and it shall be holy,
and the house of Jacob shall possess their own possessions.
18 The house of Jacob shall be a fire,
    and the house of Joseph a flame,
    and the house of Esau stubble;
they shall burn them and consume them,
    and there shall be no survivor for the house of Esau,
for the Lord has spoken.

19 Those of the Negeb shall possess Mount Esau,
    and those of the Shephelah shall possess the land of the Philistines;
they shall possess the land of Ephraim and the land of Samaria,
    and Benjamin shall possess Gilead.
20 The exiles of this host of the people of Israel
    shall possess the land of the Canaanites as far as Zarephath,
and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad
    shall possess the cities of the Negeb.
21 Saviors shall go up to Mount Zion
    to rule Mount Esau,
    and the kingdom shall be the Lord‘s.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider:

1. What is the theme or purpose of the book of Obadiah? What is the historical backdrop of this book? Why is it important to understand Scripture in light of its historical and cultural setting?

2. Which nation is God speaking directly to in this book? (Who is “you” in verses 1-4?) But which nation would have been the one to receive this book of prophecy? (20) Where do the terms “Jacob” (10, 18) and “Edom/Esau” (1, 6, 18) come from originally, and why are these men’s names used to refer to two nations in this passage? “Jacob” refers to which nation? “Edom/Esau” refers to which nation?

3. Why is God bringing judgment upon Edom? (15, 10) What can we learn from this passage about God’s judgment upon the enemies of His people both in this immediate situation with Israel, and in the future final day of judgment? How does the message of Obadiah work hand in hand with the message of these passages?

4. The theme of most of the Old Testament prophetic books is a warning to God’s people, Israel, to repent of their sin before God judges them. In Obadiah, we see God’s promise of judgment for the sin of a pagan nation. What does this teach us about God’s view of sin and repentance? How do Obadiah, God’s judgment on Israel, and Romans 2:1-11 show that God is “no respecter of persons” when it comes to judging sin?

5. How does knowing that God is a righteous and just judge impact your prayer life, your worship, your sense of urgency in sharing the gospel, and your desire to take vengeance on others?

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Easter, Second Coming

He’s Coming Back

coming back

They’re words cooed by a mother to dry the tears of her frightened child.

Words murmured bedside by a nurse calming her anxious patient.

They’re comforting words, imparted by someone in charge, someone taking care of us, someone we’re depending on. Words that God has spoken to His people from the beginning.

I’m coming back.

From walking with God Himself in the cool of the day to banishment from the Garden.

The anguish of giving birth.

The toil of tilling the ground.

The sting of physical death.

Could anything compare to man’s ache of losing tangible communion with God? And, yet, even in the curse of the Fall, His bold declaration rang out:

I’m coming back.

In base splendor.

In humble glory.

Emmanuel – God with us – came back.

He tabernacled for a time among us, but all too quickly, the days of His visitation drew to an end.

Time and again, though they would not yet understand,

Though the cross was unfathomable,

And the empty tomb, unimaginable,

He gathered His disciples close and taught, with unassailable authority:

I’m coming back.

They saw the stone rolled away. The nail prints. His riven side. They ate with Him, walked with Him, talked with Him. They followed Him out to a hillside and watched as He was taken up into the clouds.

And with them, we wait. We set our gaze upon the heavens. We long for His blessed return. And we hear the same words they heard…

Words which should drive terror-stricken sinners to their knees in repentance and faith…

Words which warm the hearts of believers with glorious hope, comfort, and joy…

Words which, one dazzling and magnificent day, will never need be heard again…

HE’S COMING BACK.

Easter, Throwback Thursday, Top 10

Throwback Thursday ~ Top 10 Best Easter Songs

Originally published April 3, 2015easter songs

There are so many great Easter hymns and worship songs out there. After all, how can a songwriter go wrong proclaiming the glorious truth of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection? It was hard to narrow it down to my ten favorites, but I gave it a shot.

(Please note- I am not familiar with all of these musicians. Their presence here is not an endorsement of any unbiblical theology any of them may hold to. Please thoroughly vet the doctrine of any Christian musician you choose to follow and make sure it matches up with Scripture.)

1. Jesus Paid it All– Nominated by my 11 year old son, who said in the car on the way home from church, “They need to do ‘Jesus Paid it All’ next week, because it is a very appropriate Easter song.”

 

2. Arise My Love– The grave could not hold the King!

 

3. Low in the Grave He Lay– You’re not really a Southern Baptist unless your church does this one every Easter. Bonus- I’ve never heard this song in Korean(?), but this choir does a lovely job.

 

4. The Old Rugged Cross– What a precious song this is and what a beautiful job this gentleman does on it.

 

5. Sunday’s On the Way– The resurrection is not an allegory for your personal problems coming to an end. Other than that, this is pure 80’s “in your face, Devil!” CCM awesomeness.

 

6. The Wonderful Cross– Who ever thought something so horrific could be so beautiful? But it is.

 

7. Man of Sorrows, What a Name– Hallelujah, what a Savior!

 

8. He’s Alive– The resurrection through the eyes of Peter. Oh how sweet it must have been for him to see Jesus alive again.

 

9. I’ve Just Seen Jesus– I love singing this one with my husband.

 

10. Christ the Lord is Risen Today– He is not dead. He is alive. We have this hope in Jesus Christ! This arrangement is such a nice blend of the traditional and the contemporary.

 

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

Happy Easter everyone!