Sunday, June 22, 2008

When you pray...

When you pray, what do you expect? We either ask for something or give thanks or proclaim praise.

We tend to look for answers or some form of movement toward a resolve, I would guess.

How has God answered your prayers, my friends? I will like you to share with the rest of us just how He did answer the prayer. It can’t be a long story-please, (I will have to interrupt in that case.) Tell us some of the history behind your prayers and how He answered them.

Let's look at Daniel 9:20-23

LOOKING BACK OVER THE BOOK OF DANIEL, we can see few situations where God’s People were placed into a situation where it was, for them, sink or swim. No turning back. Full steam ahead--no matter what! The three men were NOT going to be intimidated by the threats of being burnt alive rather then bowing and worshiping the image of the king. When the horns blew, ALL of Babylon was to bow down and give the king worship/honor...whatever that might mean. But what it meant to the Hebrew young men was that they could not bow down to this non-god. They were caught. Arrested and threatened again. Do it or else!

Their response was both surprising and bold. They said “No way are we going to defile our lives with this worthless worship. As we did not eat the kings wine and meat while we were younger men, we will not bow down to this idol either.” After threats were spoken, the fire was made hotter than before. The young men were bound up and pushed into the fire. Those who guided them to the fire was burnt up. The fire was intense. But listen to what they said before...according to their heart knowledge of this God they believed in:

Daniel 3:16-18 (The Message) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, "Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn't, it wouldn't make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn't serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up."

It wouldn’t make a bit of difference!

Zechariah 4:6
'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty.

Not by the mighty hand of the most powerful king the world has ever known, but by the grace from the King of kings and Lord of lords.

ILL: An old story that touched my heart: A poor widow and her little boy were sitting together in great want, both feeling the pinch of hunger. The boy looked up into his Mother’s face and said: “Mother, God won’t starve us, will He?” “No, my child,” said the mother; “I do not think He will.”
“But, Mother,” said the child, “if He does, we will still praise Him as long as we live; won’t we Mother?”

That is the kind of response we, who have much to thank Him for should be saying as well!

Job 13:15 says:Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him: ヨブ記 / 13章 15節そうだ、神はわたしを殺されるかもしれない。だが、ただ待ってはいられない。わたしの道を神の前に申し立てよう。

We have received good from His Hand; shall we not also receive evil?

Job 1:21 And said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away, may the name of the LORD be praised." ヨブ記 / 1章 21節「わたしは裸で母の胎を出た。裸でそこに帰ろう。主は与え、主は奪う。主の御名はほめたたえられよ。」

Psalm 71:14 But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more. 詩編 / 71編 14節 わたしは常に待ち望み/繰り返し、あなたを賛美します。

Why do we not stay in the state of praise? We are instructed in the Word to pray without ceasing.

1 Thess 5: 16-18 Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.

1 Timothy 2:8 I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. テモテへの手紙一 / 2章 8節 だから、わたしが望むのは、男は怒らず争わず、清い手を上げてどこででも祈ることです。

I think you get the picture. We are to pray. And how are we to pray? Jesus taught us a way. He said in Matthew 6:9~13...
9 "This, then, is how you should pray:
" 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, [but deliver us from the evil one for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]

This prayer an example of how and what we should pray for and not the only way we can pray. An example that can be copied and used as a prayer itself. It has for hundreds of years. Some churches use it every week: I don’t remember when we repeated this prayer together but we shall today--later.

Jesus is not satisfied that we claim to agree with His ethics; He wants us to live accordingly. It is not enough to claim Him to be a good ethics teacher, we will need to live our lives under His authority.

We first start with the beginning. So, this preface deals with the object of the prayer. God Himself. In fact, the first three petitions deal with Him and His Honor. (The remaining three deal with our own concerns, both those things that do not last-worldly, and those issues that deal with our soul, spirit and the hereafter.)

In the words of one man who looked at this prayer: comprehending all our real wants, expressing all our lawful desires;

We must first KNOW this God before we can pray with confidence of being heard. This prayer test our own faith, our own humility and love of God and our fellows as we approach God in prayer.

Both in Ephesians 3:12 In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach the Throne of Grace with confidence, so that we may receive Mercy and find Grace to help us in our time of need.

We say: OUR FATHER: in saying this, we can begin to take in ALL His character, Power --His Name; above every name, Who is not only MY Father but the Father of the universe. He is known by every creature. He is known by every event in history, here on earth and in all the creation. “Our” speaks of community.

HOLY IS YOUR NAME: Again, His Character is known by this. When Moses asked Him what Name he should use back in Egypt to ID Him, He said: I AM THAT I AM! There is None other. He is the Holy One who created all things and now, you, in your little voice, are addressing Him.

YOUR KINGDOM COME: May His Kingdom of Grace come with fullness real soon. That Kingdom where all creation will bow down before Him as Lord and Master-not in a weird power thing, just the facts, People. That This Kingdom will be filled with God’s Righteousness, and Peace and Joy, with all holiness and divine happiness.

This may sound a little like a Hindu every-land: Nirvana. You can almost hear their priest say the same thing. The difference is found in the reality of Knowing Him. His Kingdom will come…

ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN: The great point at this junction is that it is His will that as things happen in Heaven--praise, holiness, redemption realized--He wills it to happen on earth. Within the spirit of Man is the element of His design that desires His best.

God is all that can fill the God-Shaped Vacuum within us. In his mid-thirties, Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) became interested in religion. He wrote:: "Within each one of us there is a God-shaped vacuum that only God can fill." Later, he wrote another book, "An Apology for the Christian Religion." In it he maintained that perfect knowledge arrived through Christian revelation. Pascal believed that faith is a sounder guide than reason; he wrote: "Reason can go only so far, but faith in God has no limits." Thus, reason hits a wall but faith opens a window, allowing fresh air and sunshine to invade.

Let’s close today with the one phrase: GIVE US. We ask God to give us all things that are needful for today in our souls as well as our bodies. In short, we pray for the needful supports and confronts during this time called ‘today.’

I wish this next material was mine. Years ago, Matthew Henry wrote this in his Concise Commentary on The Lord’s Prayer...which is not really The Lord’s Prayer but the Prayer the Lord used to guide His Disciples.

In any case, Mr. Henry said: Every word here has a lesson in it. We ask for bread; that teaches us sobriety and temperance: and we ask only for bread; not for what we do not need.
We ask for our bread; that teaches us honesty and industry: we do not ask for the bread of others, nor the bread of deceit, Proverbs 20:17; nor the bread of idleness, Proverbs 31:27, but the bread honestly gotten.
We ask for our daily bread; which teaches us constantly to depend upon Divine Providence. (Guidance)

We beg of God to give it (to) us; not sell it (to) us, nor lend it (to) us, but give it. The greatest of men must be beholden to the mercy of God for their daily bread. (So, w)e pray, Give it to us.

We pray that God would give it us this day; which teaches us to renew the desires of our souls toward God, as the wants of our bodies are renewed each day. As the day goes on, we must pray to our heavenly Father, and come to terms with this power of His to supply it all! The serious fact is, we could go a day without food, but not without prayer.

So, let’s pray. And be mindful that our prayers are communication to the One who loves us and desires us to be close to matter where we are in the Journey of Life...even if your heart is not ready to even speak to Him-let Him hear that from your heart. Let’s all walk a little closer to each other so as to help each other and to encourage one another to press on.

~Next week: "Forgive us...or else?"