Our Father – Don Moen Songs – Cantari frumoase

Photo credit www.staciespielman.com

„Our Father”

Hear our prayer
We are Your children
And we’ve gathered here today, bless me
We’re gathered here to prayHear our cry
Lord, we need Your mercy
And we need Your grace today, yes, we do
Hear us as we prayOur Father, who art in Heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Our Father, hear us from Heaven
Forgive our sins we prayHear our song
As it rises to Heaven
May Your glory fill the earth
As the waters cover the seasSee our hearts
And remove anything
That is standing in the way
Of coming to You todayOur Father, who art in Heaven
Hallowed be Thy name
Our Father, hear us from Heaven
Forgive our sins we pray

And though we are few
We’re surrounded by many
Who have crossed that river before
And this is the song we’ll be singing forever

Holy is the Lord
Holy is the Lord
Holy is the Lord
Holy is the Lord

Holy is the Lord
Holy is the Lord
Holy is the Lord
Holy is the Lord

Hear our prayer
We are Your children
And we’ve gathered here today
We’re gathered here to pray

Hear our cry
Oh Lord, we need Your mercy
And we need Your grace today, yes, we do
Hear us as we pray

Our Father, who art in Heaven
Hallowed be Thy name
Our Father, hear us from Heaven
Forgive our sins we pray

Our Father, who art in Heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Our Father, hear us from Heaven
Forgive our sins we pray
Forgive our sins we pray
Forgive our sins we pray
Oh yeah.

Lyrics by www.azlyrics.com VIDEO by kippik61 (73 minutes)

A mother to emulate – Susanna Wesley

Susanna Wesley (20 January 1669 – 23 July 1742), born Susanna Annesley, was the daughter of Dr. Samuel Annesley and Mary White, and the mother of John and Charles Wesley.

“…although she never preached a sermon or published a book or founded a church, (she) is known as the Mother of Methodism. Why? Because two of her sons, John Wesley and Charles Wesley, as children consciously or unconsciously will, applied the example and teachings and circumstances of their home life.”


Susanna Wesley was the 25th of 25 children. Her father, Dr. Samuel Annesley, was a dissenter of the established church of England. At the age of 13, Susanna stopped attending her father’s church and joined the official Church of England.

She and Samuel Wesley were married on 11 November 1688. Samuel was 26 and Susanna was 19.

Susanna and Samuel Wesley had 19 children. Nine of her children died as infants. Four of the children who died were twins. A maid accidentally smothered one child. At her death, only eight of her children were still alive.

Personal life notes

Susanna experienced many hardships throughout her life. Her husband left her and the children for over a year because of a minor dispute.

To her absent husband, Susannah Wesley wrote:

I am a woman, but I am also the mistress of a large family. And though the superior charge of the souls contained in it lies upon you, yet in your long absence I cannot but look upon every soul you leave under my charge as a talent committed to me under a trust. I am not a man nor a minister, yet as a mother and a mistress I felt I ought to do more than I had yet done. I resolved to begin with my own children; in which I observe the following method: I take such a proportion of time as I can spare every night to discourse with each child apart. On Monday I talk with Molly, on Tuesday with Hetty, Wednesday with Nancy, Thursday with Jacky, Friday with Patty, Saturday with Charles.

Samuel Wesley spent time in jail twice due to his poor financial abilities, and the lack of money was a continual struggle for Susanna. Their house was burned down twice; during one of the fires, her son, John, nearly died and had to be rescued from the second storey window. She was the primary source of her children’s education.

After the second fire, Susanna was forced to place her children into different homes for nearly two years while the rectory was rebuilt. During this time, the Wesley children lived under the rules of the homes they lived in. Susanna was mortified that her children began to use improper speech and play more than study.

“Under no circumstances were the children permitted to have any lessons until they had reached their fifth year, but the day after their fifth birthday their formal education began. They attended classes for six hours and on the very first day they were supposed to learn the whole of the alphabet. All her children except two managed this feat, and these seemed to Susanna to be very backward.”[3] “The children got a good education. Daughters included, they all learnt Latin and Greek and were well tutored in the classical studies that were traditional in England at that time.”

During a time when her husband was in London, defending a friend against charges of heresy, he had appointed a locum to bring the message. The man’s sermons revolved solely around repaying debts. The lack of diverse spiritual teaching caused Susanna to assemble her children Sunday afternoon for family services. They would sing a psalm and then Susanna would read a sermon from either her husband’s or father’s sermon file followed by another psalm. The local people began to ask if they could attend. At one point there were over two hundred people who would attend Susanna’s Sunday afternoon service while the Sunday morning service dwindled to nearly nothing.

Wesley practised daily devotions throughout her life, but, shortly before her death, she wrote to her son Charles, admitting that she had struggled with doubt throughout her life and only now had finally found peace in her faith.

Her husband Samuel spent his whole life and all of the family’s finances on his exegetical work of the Book of Job. However, his work was not remembered and had little impact on his family other than as a hardship. In contrast Susanna wrote several pieces that would be fundamental in the education of their children. “In addition to letters, Susanna Wesley wrote meditations and scriptural commentaries for her own use. She wrote extended commentaries on the Apostles Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments. Alas many of these were lost in the rectory fire, but many survive. The most accessible means to her writings is Charles Wallace’s excellent and important Susanna Wesley, Her Collected Writings.”

Susanna was buried at Bunhill Fields in London.

An interesting fact about the strength and faith of Susanna from Beverly Whitaker. „Viewpoint: Susanna Wesley.” Kansas City, Missouri, 1998 as summarized on Internet web page: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~gentutor/susanna.html quoted from this book: Dallimore, Arnold A. Susanna Wesley. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1993.

Apparently, Susanna’s husband left her because she did not say Amen to one of his prayers for the reigning monarch at the time- King William. Since many clergymen were expelled for their lack of support for the King, her husband Samuel possibly „found” Susanna’s opinion (through her refusal to say Amen at the end of the prayer) a „possible threat to his own position” as clergy. The hardest part to understand is that her husband Samuel left her at a time when she was pregnant and therefore he was not there for the birth of his 14th daughter, Anne. Samuel did return after the death of King William. By this time 6 months had passed. (The source used for this information is [Source: a letter from Susanna to the Lady Yarlborough, March 7, 1701-2, as quoted by Arnold A. Dallimore: Susanna Wesley. You can learn/read more about Susanna Wesley  at the following link  http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~gentutor/susanna.html 

You can read an account of John Wesley, Susanna’s 15th of 19 children here – http://www.umcmission.org/Find-Resources/Global-Worship-and-Spiritual-Growth/The-Wesleys-and-Their-Times/Account-of-the-Life-of-John-Wesley

Psalm 8 & Creation Calls by Brian Doerksen (exceptional video)

Photo credit www.damascuschristianschool.org

Psalm 8

For the director of music. According to gittith. A psalm of David.

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory
in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Photo credit www.popscreen.com

Creation Calls

by Brian Doerksen
I have felt the wind blow,
Whispering your name
I have seen your tears fall,
When I watch the rain.
How could I say there is no God?
When all around creation calls!!
A singing bird, a mighty tree,
The vast expanse of open sea
(Musical interlude)
Gazing at a bird in flight,
Soaring through the air.
Lying down beneath the stars,
I feel your presence there.
I love to stand at ocean shore
And feel the thundering breakers roar,
To walk through golden fields of grain
With endless bloom horizons fray.
Listening to a river run,
Watering the Earth.
Fragrance of a rose in bloom,
A newborns cry at birth.
I love to stand at ocean shore
And feel the thundering breakers roar,
To walk through golden fields of grain
With endless bloom horizons fray
I believe
I believe
I believe
I believe
I believe
I believe just like a child
(Choir I believe..)
I believe

2nd song, lyrics from Wikipedia:

Baba Yetu lyrics

VIDEO by Arendientje  : This [high quality HD 1080p] music video is meant to take a look at the wonder and majesty of God’s creation and to glorify Him. Music nature documentary of God’s beautiful Creation, with Psalm 8 and two gospel and worship songs. Praise the Lord!!! Amen! Lyrics by http://www.lyricsmode.com/

and here’s the original video-  Uploaded on Feb 11, 2008 Music by Brian Doerksen http://www.briandoerksen.com. You can buy the „Planet Earth” series DVD collection here – amazon.com/Planet-Earth-Co… The BranchChurch: Utilizing footage from the BBC Planet Earth Series, we take a look at the wonder and majesty of God’s creation. Set to the song, „Creation Calls” by Brian Doerksen, this stunning glimpse of God’s masterpiece is meant to glorify Him and draw the mind to new places of intimacy with Him. VIDEO by The Branch

David Platt – CALL TO PRAYER: ‘The nations need You’

Source http://bpnews.net/

EDITOR’S NOTE: David Platt, whose outreach extends from the bestselling „Radical” to international teaching and prayer simulcasts, led a Prayer for the Nations during the inauguration of Russell D. Moore as president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission on Sept. 10. Platt is pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala. (Photo credit http://www.blackchristiannews.com)

WASHINGTON (BP) – Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name in all the earth. O God, cause Your name to be made known as holy among all nations. We confess that You are sovereign over every country and You hold every leader, every king, every queen, every dictator, every prime minister and every president in the palm of Your hands.

None of them are ultimately sovereign over anything. You are ultimately sovereign over everything. You alone are Lord, You alone are holy, You alone are mighty, and You alone are just, so we pray, O God, particularly in our day, rise up and cause Your righteousness and Your peace and Your justice to reign among the nations.

And in Your justice, we pray, remember mercy. Have mercy upon those in high positions. Have mercy upon the hungry, the weak, the oppressed, the poor, the neglected and the persecuted. Have mercy upon our friends and upon our enemies, upon those who are near to us and upon those who are far from us. And have mercy upon Your church, O God.

Help us, by Your grace and with Your Gospel, to proclaim Your glory to the ends of the earth, particularly among the peoples who have yet to hear of Your love.

Lord Jesus, the nations of the world need You. We need You to save us from our sin and to save us from ourselves, and we praise You for Your life, Your death and Your resurrection, which make such salvation possible. By your blood, you have ransomed men and women for God from every tribe, tongue, people and nation, and so we pray today for the nations in anticipation of the day when You will receive the praise You are due from every people group on the planet … in anticipation of the day when You will usher in a new heaven and a new earth and Your people drawn from every nation of the earth will dwell with You in holiness and happiness, safety and security, free from sin and suffering, forever and ever.

We are still today, and we know that you are God. And we trust, we hope, we know that You will be exalted among the nations, and You will be exalted in all the earth. Toward that end we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

R. C. Sproul – The Privilege of Addressing God as „Father”

An older video of a much younger R. C. Sproul:

rc sproul 2Go with a group of Christians, listen to them pray at home, a prayer meeting, or Bible study and invariably, as Christians pray out loud, one after another will address God. How? They’ll start their prayer saying, „Father,” or, „Our heavenly Father.” It’s the most common expression that we as Christians use to address God. And why not? When our Lord taught us to pray, he taught us to say ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name’.

What could be more basic to Christianity than to address God as Father? A German New Testament scholar (can’t quite make out the name through the audio- might be Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694–1768)) has done a study on prayers  of the ancient Israelite people, and it is his conclusion that there’s not a single example anywhere in extant Jewish literature, including the Old Testament, the Talmud, the Targums, and so on, until the 10th century A.D. where a Jewish person addresses God directly- as Father. That simply wasn’t done. People would speak of the fatherhood of God among the Jewish people, but no one would address Him directly: „Father”. He says you don’t find it till 10th century in Italy. Yet, in the New Testament, we have the record of a Jew, a Jewish rabbi , who has many, many prayers recorded for posterity. And, that in every prayer that he prays, save one, he directly addresses God as Father. And that’s Jesus of Nazareth.

And what Reimarus demonstrates is that Jesus’ use of the term ‘Father’ for God was a radical innovation. Completely unheard of in Jewish liturgy! And what He did in His radical departure from convention, He invited His followers to be involved with. Because, what Jesus teaches about the human race is that by nature we are not the children of God. This was the dispute our Lord had with the Pharisees, who thought that just because they were born Jewish, that they were children of Abraham, that they were therefore the children of God. Jesus said, „You are of your father, the devil. God can raise up children of Abraham from these stones.”

..what Jesus does is defines Sonship in terms of obedience to God. And, because we are not by nature obedient to God, we are by nature children of wrath, the New Testament teaches us, and not universally children of the Father. The only way we ever have the right to call God „Father’, to cry Abba (Father) in His presence is because we have been adopted.   And the biblical message of sonship and daughterhood in the body of Christ is rooted and grounded in this concept of adoption. That only Christ is the natural Son of God, and only if you are in Christ do you become a member of the household of God. It is the church in the New Testament that is called the family of God. It is the church in the New Testament that is called the household of God. And that unique concept of redemption  through adoption is completely obscured when we talk about the universal fatherhood of God. Do you see that?

VIDEO by Ligonier Ministries

Do My Prayers Make a Difference?

man pray

via Desiring God  for more resources on Prayer click here

Pastor John Piper sets personal prayer into the context of God’s unfolding redemptive plan and the final victory of God.

He was responding to one man who had lost confidence in the power of prayer and was asking, Do my personal prayers make any difference?

Pastor John responded to the question with a short theology of prayer by explaining the significance of the golden censers (bowls) which hold the prayers of the saints (seeRevelation 5:88:3–4). In part, Pastor John explained the meaning of the passages like this —

Those bowls have two functions. They are censers. They are like incense, and in the presence of God, that incense is really pleasing to him. God loves the aroma of the prayers of his people. Which means that if you are on your face crying out for a lost loved one, or for some difficulty in your church, that very act is pleasing to God. It is not wasted. Quite apart from the answer to that prayer, the prayer itself is precious to God. That is the first meaning.

Second, there’s going to come a day when those bowls are full. In other words, the billions upon billions of prayers that have been prayed — “Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come”— the last one is going to be prayed and God is going to look at that angel and say, “Pour it out on the earth.” And he is going to take the bowl of prayers, like fire, and throw it on the earth and the final purposes of God are going to be achieved.

And I think we need to preach to ourselves that our prayers are part of the causality of the final victory of God. He wouldn’t have asked us to pray that his kingdom come if he didn’t mean for our prayers to be an instrument in the coming of the kingdom.

So it is simply astonishing that when you think of the billions of times the Lord’s Prayer has been uttered, all of those times when it has been uttered in faith, God has put it in the bowl and it’s filling up and filling up. And the day is going to come when that bowl will be poured out as the consummation of the age. So no prayer is wasted.

You can listen to the entire episode here. We followed this episode with another prayer question: “God Hears My Prayers, So Why Should I Pray for Things Twice?” (episode 38).

Christmas in Vienna

glory to God

from 2009 – 1 hour 40 min. (The Lord’s Prayer is in English – and absolutely beautiful! The spirit of Christmas comes alive in Vienna, featuring conductor Karel Mark Chichon, the Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna Boys’ Choir, José Cura, Bernarda Fink, Tamar Iveri and Boaz Daniel.

Christmas in Vienna 2009




1. Joseph Haydn (1732 – 1809) ”Benedictus”

(aus der Harmoniemesse Hob. XXII:14)

Tamar Iveri, Bernarda Fink, Jose Cura, Boaz Daniel, Wiener Singakademie




2. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791) “Laudate Dominum”

(aus der ”Vesperae solenne de confessore” KV 339)

Tamar Iveri, Wiener Singakademie 3. Albert Hay Malotte (1895 – 1964)

“The Lord ́s Prayer“ (Vater unser)

Jose Cura, Wiener Sängerknaben 4. William Gomez (1939 – 2000)

“Ave Maria”

Bernarda Fink

Arrangement: Adrian Pop
5. Robert Stolz (1882 – 1975)

“Es blüht eine Rose zur Weihnachtszeit”

Boaz Daniel, Wiener Sängerknaben

Jesus on Prayer (National Day of Prayer – May 3, 2012)

For more Prayer Resources, including 3 free online books on how to pray for your 1)wife  2)child  or  3)husband click here.

from bible.org by Bob Deffinbaugh


Matthew 5 – 7 contains the well-known Sermon on the Mount. The sermon is about righteousness that comes from the heart. Religion tends to be about external forms and obedience to rules, but here Jesus challenges us to evaluate ourselves by an inner standard. This contrasts with the prevailing wisdom of the time. The “teachers of the law” strove to fence the Law by a stringent oral law. Thus a “Sabbath day’s journey” encoded how far one could travel and not break the command to not labor on the Sabbath. It might well be that one could journey more without breaking the commandment, but if you kept the oral standard, you were so far from breaking the Law that you were “safe.” So the Law was fenced by obedience to an even stricter standard.

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount also fenced the Law, but did so by looking at the heart. For example, He says,

“You have heard that it was said to an older generation, ‘Do not murder,’ and ‘whoever murders will be subjected to judgment.’ But I say to you that anyone who is angry with a brother will be subjected to judgment. And whoever insults a brother will be brought before the council, and whoever says ‘Fool’ will be sent to fiery hell” (Matthew 5:21-22).

Murder is an external sin. It is obvious and visible. It is easy to condemn the murderer. But Jesus tells us to take care less we even have a seething anger against another. Our anger can be visible or invisible. It matters not; we have the seeds of murder in our heart, and we had best uproot them by the Father’s grace. And so Jesus teaches about a life lived and judged by attitudes in the heart. There is nothing here by which we can judge others. We can only take His words, and by the illumination of the Holy Spirit, judge our own lives and move to change.

So Jesus’ instruction on prayer is in the broad context of a sermon about the heart as the real source of good and evil in us. It also has a more immediate context expressed in the opening lines of Matthew 6:

Be careful about not living righteously merely to be seen by people. Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven (Matthew 6:1).

With these words, Jesus speaks of outward versus inward religious practices. Giving, prayer, and fasting are most often associated with religion and, in the following section of the sermon, Jesus speaks again of the inner heart versus outward forms. In Matthew 6:2-4, He speaks of giving. In Matthew 6:5-15, He speaks of prayer, and in 6:16-18, He speaks of fasting. His treatment of all three topics is the same: if you have the outward form only or if the outward form focuses attention on you, the public acclaim that you receive—real or imagined—is all the benefit you will derive.

Of course, a visible spiritual life is not of itself bad. Paul wrote to the Corinthians and said:

I am not writing these things to shame you, but to correct you as my dear children. For though you may have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, because I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I encourage you, then, be imitators of me (1 Corinthians 4:14-16).

Paul said, “Be imitators of me. What you see me do, do yourselves.” Godly men and women are often the first models of godly living that a new believer has. I certainly benefited, over 30 years ago now, from men decades old in their faith. Now I hope to be the same to those younger than me. The difference for Paul to the Corinthians is that he did not derive his self-image from the attention. He was a bondservant of Jesus Christ and spent himself for the church and her people. Men and women like that are worth emulating.

But it is different for those who give to be recognized for their giving, or who entertain with great prayers or fast in agony for the admiration of others. They have erected outward forms only. They have confused the approval of others with approval of the Father.

In this lesson, we will look into what Jesus said about prayer as He discusses its outward forms and instructs concerning the inner reality.

Putting Prayer in Its Place

Jesus’ instruction on prayer in Matthew begins this way:

“Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:5-6).

Jesus develops two basic kinds of prayer. The first is “showcase prayer” by which the person praying actually draws attention to himself. He wants to be known as spiritual and holy. His religion gives him status, and by public prayer, he maintains and feeds it. The second kind of prayer is “relational prayer.” This is prayer that seeks time with the Father. Jesus, for teaching purposes, draws a distinct line between the two, but we must acknowledge that most people will fall somewhere between the two extremes. It is also important to understand that no one can read the mind and intentions of another heart. What might seem to be the height of arrogance may only reflect upbringing. Or gentle, quiet prayers may come from one who has no private prayer life at all. Jesus’ instructions are for us to know and personally apply His words and to let the Holy Spirit guide and train our hearts in these matters.

There are, however, some warning signs to which we might want to pay attention.

  • Do I have an “I am speaking to God” voice? This may be a matter of upbringing. Nevertheless, none is needed, and such a change in voice can draw attention to the one praying—unless one is in an environment that expects it, in which case not changing the voice can draw attention.
  • Elegant words and lots of them. This may be a matter of gifting and natural oratory, but again none are needed.
  • Personal agenda. It’s hard to excuse this one. You pray according to what you want done and what others need to do to help it along.
  • Gossip. “Please God. Help Jane resist the temptation to keep seeing that guy.” Such public prayers are only fruitful if Jane is there and has asked for intercession on that subject.
  • Public prayer of any kind without a private prayer life. It is a given that if you are not speaking to the Father when you are alone, there is no good speaking to Him publicly.

So Jesus advises us to go into our rooms and shut the door. This is the “normal” opposite of standing on a street corner. If He had used a phrase like “pray in private” or “pray alone,” all kinds of extreme ideas may have developed. How private do you need to be? Must we become hermits or monks to have a prayer life? Jesus simply meant that there are places and ways to pray that are between the Father and us. By entering such places, we demonstrate that we “believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). In such a place:

  • We can have an “I am speaking to God” voice if that helps us connect with Him and give Him honor.
  • We can use elegant words as a way of offering Him our best.
  • We can have a personal agenda, because it is now between the Father and us, and He can open and close doors as He sees fit.
  • We can pray for Jane. Since it is just between the Father and us, we are more likely to be showing genuine concern for her welfare.
  • And, of course, we now have a basis for praying in public.

We can be in our own rooms or in public and still pray privately. As Paul wrote, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

The private life is one measure of who we are. Too many times I have seen good public families suddenly come apart from within. It became apparent that the life behind the closed doors of the home was far different from the public family persona. If we believe that God exists and rewards those who seek Him, it will affect our most private of lives, because we will know that He is there. We then know that there is, in fact, no private life. Lest this cause you great fear, guilt, and concern, remember that Jesus says that, “… your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.” Showcase prayer has the single reward of public acclaim. The rewards of relational prayer is that it can:

  • Direct the heart
  • Receive answers and close or open doors
  • Strengthen the character and spirit
  • Increase faith and spiritual gifting
  • Bring a deeper sense of the Father’s presence and care

These are good things and worth having

Putting Prayer in Perspective

Jesus’ instruction on prayer in Matthew continued with this admonition:

“When you pray, do not babble repetitiously like the Gentiles, because they think that by their many words they will be heard. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:7-8).

Jesus contrasts prayer to the Father with the prayers of the Gentiles. He describes Gentile prayer as the repetitious babbling of many words. What might this mean, and how do we relate this to our prayers?

  • Like the Gentiles”. The Gentiles did not worship the true God.
  • “Repetitious babble” connotes a lack of real content.
  • “Many words to be heard” suggests rituals, incantations, and technique.

Gentile prayer is about the manipulation of spiritual forces and entities that do not generally care about you as an individual.

We can, of course, now give Jesus’ words a Christian spin:

  • Like the Gentiles”—Praying to God in Name, but not in knowledge. This is similar to what Paul wrote to the Romans about the Jews who did not accept Jesus as their Messiah, “For I can testify that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not in line with the truth” (Romans 10:2).
  • Repetitious babbling—Praying without real content. Perhaps this would be like reciting liturgical prayers without connecting to their content.
  • Many words to be heard—Praying with an attitude that God is not listening and must be manipulated to answer.

In answer to this, Jesus says that our Father knows what we need even before we ask. We are praying to our Father, which means that we are in a family relationship. We are part of His life, and He anticipates what we need. We can, therefore, come to Him as transparent people. We can come before Him glad, sad, or mad, and He will be there in full understanding. Manipulation is not required.

If our Father knows what we need before we ask, why should we pray? There are two reasons. The first is because of the rewards of prayer that go beyond just meeting our needs. The second is that there are many other things for which to pray such as the needs of others and the advancement of the Father’s Kingdom. We do not need such things, but they should have a place in our prayers.

So Jesus has given instructions about the place and manner of our prayers. We are to have a private life of prayer, and we are to pray to a real Person. This Person is interested in our needs and in us and does not need to be manipulated.

Directing the Heart

So what makes for a good prayer? How are we to pray?

During His sermon, Jesus began a model prayer for us with these words:

“So pray this way: Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored, may your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10).

Jesus tells us to pray to “Our Father in heaven.” This should set our mental attitude as we come to a time of prayer. From the Old Testament and much of the New, we understand that we are praying to God, and that He is our Lord and King. We owe Him our lives and our service. But Jesus tells us that we can come to Him and call Him, “Father.” This connotes a more significant relationship than we would imagine. But Jesus is very serious about just this aspect. The entire sermon has many references to God as our Father. This relationship is our primary motivation for the lives that we should live.

God as Father is a two-way relationship. As Father, He loves us, and we honor Him. He protects, and we abide. He provides, and we give thanks. He instructs, and we emulate. He disciplines, and we mature. He touches, and we respond. He commands, and we obey. So much of the time we focus on command/obedience, and we forget all the other wonderful aspects of our walk with our Father. When we approach Him in prayer, He is all these things for us, and we need to be all these things to Him.

Jesus tells us to pray in first person plural, “Our Father … .” Prayer, even in private, is to have a community focus. We can pray for our own needs, of course, but it must not stop there. We are to be intercessors. We pray “Give us … ,” and we are asking for the Father’s provision for family, friend, and foe. We pray “Forgive us … , ” and we seek reconciliation with the Father and among ourselves. We pray “Lead us …” and “Deliver us ” because we all need proper guidance and protection.

We are to pray that the Father’s name “be honored.” This is both a request and an attitude. As a request, we are asking for the knowledge of the Father to fill the earth and for the earth to respond in honor. It is our chance to grieve over those things, in our lives and the lives of others, that bring dishonor to the name: hypocrisy, judgment that triumphs over mercy, mercy that triumphs over instruction and discipleship, those who hate God, etc. It is a time to recognize and put away our hypocrisy. As an attitude, we can begin our prayers with worship, praise, and thanksgiving. We worship who He is. We praise Him for His works, and we thank Him for His care and provision.

We ask for the Father’s kingdom to come. Along these lines, we pray for the spread of the gospel and the establishment of the rule and reign of the Father in the hearts of men and women. We pray for the welfare of the distressed and oppressed. We pray for physical healing, deliverance, change of hearts, broken relationships, and such things as would change with an acceptance of the Father and His ways. We also look forward to Jesus’ return to live and rule among us.

So we begin our prayers by focusing on the One to whom we pray. He is Father and King. Turning our hearts to Him helps us to become like Him.

Sustaining the Heart

What we need as people occupies the next section of Jesus’ model prayer:

Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors (Matthew 6:11-12).

The most literal understanding of “daily bread” is a loaf of bread in my hands to last me for the day. Some might say that is all that He means for us to ask for. I believe it is better to expand daily bread to include all that others and we need. I would, in fact, extend it beyond the material and into prayers for the needs of our bodies and our hearts:

  • Food and Shelter—“But if we have food and shelter, we will be satisfied with that. Those who long to be rich, however, stumble into temptation and a trap and many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:8-9).
  • Righteousness—“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).
  • The Father’s presence—“Whom do I have in heaven but you? I desire no one but you on earth … . But as for me, God’s presence is all I need. I have made the sovereign Lord my shelter, as I declare all the things you have done” (Psalm 73:25, 28).

Even though there is nothing in Jesus’ prayer for asking about anything but basic needs, there are two reasons to imagine that requests can go beyond this. The first is that Paul tells us to pray for everything. “Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, tell your requests to God in your every prayer and petition—with thanksgiving” (Philippians 4:6). The second is the example of the wedding in Cana, where Jesus, in answer to His mother’s request, turned water into wine in a way that exceeded the needs of the party. We have a generous God. When Jesus boils prayer down to “daily bread,” He is encouraging thanksgiving. Ask for anything, expect the basics, and give thanks for everything.

The welfare of our souls and bodies also depends on two-way forgiveness. Guilt and bitterness eat away at us. Both are associated with personality troubles and physical ailments. We can make both a matter of prayer. “Forgive us our debts” takes care of our true moral guilt for the things that we do wrong. And because we have forgiveness, we can take honest assessments of ourselves, which hastens our sanctification. However, because bitterness is as bad or worse that unresolved guilt, Jesus tells us to link the two. “Father, forgive us to the same degree that we forgive others.” Jesus has more to say on this, and I will defer more comments until that time as well. Suffice it to say that it is unbalanced to ask to have our guilt removed so that we can stand comfortably in the Father’s presence, when there are people that we exclude from our lives because they wronged us. If it is good for us to receive forgiveness, it is even better that we give it. Plus, if we have a heart that carries no grudges, then we have confidence at this point in our prayer that we have received the Father’s forgiveness. That is an excellent thing.

If the Father answers what we have prayed so far, we would have healthy bodies and souls fit for service in the Kingdom of God.

Keeping the Heart

Jesus concludes His model prayer with these words: “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13).

What does Jesus mean by our asking, “… do not lead us into temptation … ?” Is it that we need to fear that the Father will lead us into temptation unless we pray? Will He set us up to see if we will fall? The letter of James tells us, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires” (James 1:13-14). I think most would agree that we must understand Jesus’ words in light of our own propensity to sin.

The Father does not directly tempt us to evil, but He does bring us to moments of testing. And with testing, comes the temptation to quit and not press on. The famous example of Peter’s denial illustrates such a failure. The night before, Peter had confidently asserted that he would stick by Jesus no matter what. Only a few hours later, Peter denied in strong language that he even knew Jesus. When we pray to not be led into temptation, we are asking the Father’s help in avoiding such situations. We ask for doors to be closed that have difficult situations on the other side. We ask for our hearts to be strengthened and focused on good things. We ask for wisdom to recognize and avoid troubling circumstances.

Although we are morally culpable for our actions, it can also be said that even the first sin in our race was not committed in a vacuum. The serpent in Eden, later identified as Satan or the devil, tempted Eve and prevailed. The Lord had commanded that the man and woman not eat from a single tree in the center of Eden. Satan attacked at that point and helped bring forth the sin. And so we need to ask for protection from his schemes.

Satan seeks our failure and prays for it. In Job, we have the record of such a prayer:

Then Satan answered the Lord, “Is it for nothing that Job fears God? Have you not made a hedge around him and his house and all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his cattle have increased in the land. But extend your hand and strike everything he has, and he will indeed curse you to your face!” (Job 1:9-11).

It is interesting that before this, we have a record of Job making offerings on behalf of his children – just in case they sinned. We are not told that Job ever made an offering for himself. Like Peter, he was self-assured. Like Peter, Satan asked to sift Job like wheat. It is just such situations that we pray against in our prayers. We acknowledge our weakness and ask for strengthening. We ask to receive our lessons according to the way of wisdom and instruction.

There are other sources of temptation that we must guard against. The world values make constant appeal. Our inner natures are weak and would like to go along. Through prayer, we can become a different kind of person.

Ultimately, it gets down to character that flows from within. “When is a thief not a thief?” When I ask this question, I usually hear, “When he is not stealing.” That is not correct. A thief who is not stealing is a thief who is out of work. A thief is not a thief when he labors with his own hands in order to have something to give to someone in need (Ephesians 4:28). Such is the goal of this prayer. To change us from thieves to givers, from adulterers to loving husbands and wives, from proud to humble, from hating to loving, from bitter to forgiving, and so on. For each negative, we need to find and nurture its opposite. Prayer can help us do that.

This ends Jesus’ prayer model according to the most reliable manuscripts. Some manuscripts tack on something like, “For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory.” I have chosen to go with the more attested reading. In the first place, we can give honor to the Father at the beginning of the prayer. In the second place, if Jesus did not include the ending, there is questionable value in using it. It is a grand ending, but Jesus ended His model with a reminder of our humility. The prayer moves from the greatness and glory of God to our total dependence on Him. I think it is better left that way.

An Important Condition

Anyone following Jesus’ instruction on prayer closely would have noticed that we are to prayerfully link our receiving forgiveness from the Father to our forgiving others. It is not a command from the Father to us. It is rather to be a request from us to the Father. This is, indeed, a strange thing and one that would prompt the question, “Did you really mean that my forgiveness is based on the degree to which I forgive?” Jesus answers this anticipated question this way:

For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins (Matthew 6:14-15).

Jesus states in very direct terms that what we are to pray is the way things are. There is actually incredibly good news here. There is no one who has done as much damage to me as I have done to the kingdom of God—or would do if given enough time for my self-centered attitudes and actions to propagate. So if I come before the Father bearing no grudges for anything done to me, then I can ask Him to bear no grudge against me. Jesus’ prayer assumes that I have forgiven others before coming before the Father.

There are two important parables that back up this reality. This first even raises the ante by saying that we must forgive from the heart:

“For this reason, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves. As he began settling his accounts, a man who owed ten thousand talents was brought to him. Because he was not able to repay, the lord ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, children and whatever he possessed, and repayment to be made. Then the slave threw himself to the ground before him, saying, ‘Be patient with me, and I will repay you everything.’ The lord had compassion on that slave and released him, and forgave him the debt.

“After he went out, that same slave found one of his fellow slaves who owed him one hundred silver coins; then he grabbed him by the throat and started to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe!’ Then his fellow slave threw himself down and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will repay you.’ But he refused. Instead, he went out and threw him in prison until he repaid the debt.

“When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were very upset and went and told their lord everything that had happened. Then his lord called the first slave and said to him, ‘Evil slave! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me! Should you not have shown mercy to your fellow slave, just as I showed it to you?’ And in anger his lord turned him over to the prison guards to torture him until he repaid all he owed.

“So also my heavenly Father will do to you, if each of you does not forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:23-35).

The second is a story that includes a parable and shows that the degree to which we love the Lord can depend on the degree to which we have been forgiven.

Now one of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table.

Then when a woman of that town, who was a sinner, learned that Jesus was dining at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfumed oil. As she stood behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. She wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfumed oil.

Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.”

So Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”

He replied, “Say it, Teacher.”

“A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon answered, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”

Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then, turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss of greeting, but from the time I entered she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with perfumed oil. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which were many, are forgiven, thus she loved much; but the one who is forgiven little loves little.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:36-50).

The issue of forgiving others comes down to two things. The first is gratitude. We have been forgiven an enormous debt. Even the smallest and most petty of our self-centered mischief does real damage to the kingdom of heaven. We need only to look at the fallout from Adam and Eve’s simple disobedience to know that the debt that we owe is our lives. Our forgiveness cost the Father the life of His Son in exchange. Our forgiving others is simple gratitude. How dare we not! The second is that by forgiving, we emulate the character of the Father. By this, we honor His name. Our Father is known for His mercy and forgiveness. When we show mercy and forgiveness, we strive to be like Him. In this way, we give honor to His name.

Someone might now be asking, “Am I saved if I do not forgive others?” Since this prayer model seems to be a daily prayer by inclusion of a request for daily bread, then this would seem to be a daily request for forgiveness of what we have done wrong that day. It is operational forgiveness. It is what Jesus meant when He told Peter, “The one who has bathed needs only to wash his feet” (John 13:10). But even placing this aside, salvation does not depend on us. Paul in Ephesians writes:

For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not of works, so that no one can boast. For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Saved by grace that comes by faith that is the gift of God. We can contribute nothing to our salvation, which is all the more reason to gratefully forgive those who have wronged us—whether they seek that forgiveness or not.

Besides, we do not want to live unforgiving lives. It is like drinking poison and saying to our offender, “There! Take that!”

Along these lines, I recommend that you read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. In that book, you will find the depths to which we as Christians are able to forgive.

The Lord’s Prayer and the Beatitudes

You can take each line in the model prayer and find at least two of the beatitudes that reinforce it. When you are done, all the beatitudes are mentioned at least once.

“Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored.”

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8).

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9).

“May your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them” (Matthew 5:3).

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them” (Matthew 5:10).

“Give us today our daily bread.”

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

“And forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors.”

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9).

“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them” (Matthew 5:10).

“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me. Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way” (Matthew 5:11-12).

I am not inclined to add anything else. I find the pairings interesting and instructive. I hope you do as well.

Some Final Thoughts

Let’s look at the entire text again:

“Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you. When you pray, do not babble repetitiously like the Gentiles, because they think that by their many words they will be heard. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. So pray this way:

Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored, may your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

“For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins” (Matthew 6:5-15).

Jesus’ commentary about prayer is more than twice as long as His model prayer. The prayer, itself, is a marvel of simplicity and wisdom. It tells us to whom we are praying and for what we should pray. I believe that it also ranks what we pray about in priority order. This is significant, because we can focus on our Father and His kingdom and ask for daily provision before asking forgiveness! In this way, Jesus communicates the Father’s abundant mercy and grace. As Jesus has already said in this same sermon,

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:44-45).

The application of this text, as with many others, must be personal and by the direction of the Holy Spirit. Typically we have no insight into the hearts and motivations of others. Suppose you come across someone loudly praying on a street corner. Do Jesus’ words above apply? You cannot tell. Jesus, for example, prayed in public (John 11:41, 42). Daniel was in a situation where it would have been wrong to pray in secret (Daniel 6:10). The one who retires into a secret place each day to pray may still have a hypocritical heart—he prays in secret and somehow lets everyone know he prays in secret.

So you need to read this passage concept by concept and bring your heart next to it.

  • Are your prayers mostly about you and your circumstances? Consider interceding for others.
  • How in tune are you to what the Father might be doing around you and the part you might play? Jesus said that He only did what He saw the Father doing. Prayer and connection with the Father is the key to our doing the same.
  • Does “forgive … as we have forgiven” give you dread, or is it full of promise because your heart bears ill will to none? If you are not comfortable, do the hard work of letting go of your anger.
  • Do you plead for your family, church, community, country, and enemies? Remember that the model prayer is in first person plural.
  • Some people have memorized this prayer, and they use it as a guide in their private prayers. That is a good thing and a practice that I would recommend.

It is the nature of Jesus’ teaching that the bar He raises is higher than our grasp. But in the reaching, we reach higher all the time.

May the Father bless you and visit you in your times of prayer.

Anyone is at liberty to use this lesson for educational purposes only, with or without credit. The Chapel believes the material presented herein to be true to the teaching of Scripture, and desires to further, not restrict, its potential use as an aid in the study of God’s Word. The publication of this material is a grace ministry of Community Bible Chapel.

The Lord’s Prayer

For more Prayer Resources, including 3 free online books on how to pray for your  1)wife  2)child  or  3)husband  click here.

Desire – Do We Want Him? by David Platt

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Ben Witherington on Luke 18:1-14 – The Nature of Prayer

Luke 18.1-14 and the Nature of Prayer

from The Bible and Culture by Ben Witherington

For reasons not clear to me, Protestant Christians, whom I spend the most time with, seem to have some very funky notions about prayer, that are not well grounded in the Bible, or for that matter the early Jewish practice of prayer.  And some of them are based in a very bad exegesis of what Luke 18 says and implies about prayer.   Luke Johnson in his fine commentary on Luke (p. 274) has this to say about the matter:

“The parable itself makes clear that ‘always’ does not support any technique of ‘perpetual prayer’ or method of mysticism but rather consistency and perseverance in praying. Luke-Acts emphasizes not only the prayer of Jesus but also that of the disciples (6.28;11.12; 22.40,46;Acts 1.4;2.42;3.1; 6.4,6;10.4,9,30-31;12.5,12;16.13,16,25; 20.36; 21.5; 22.17;28.8).”

He helpfully goes on to add,

“The love of God can so easily turn into an idolatrous self-love; the gift can so quickly be seized as a possession; what comes from another can so blithely be turned into self-accomplishment. Prayer can be transformed into boasting. Piety is not an unambiguous posture.… The pious one [i.e. the Pharisee in Luke 18.1ff.] is all convoluted comparison and contrast; he can receive no gift because he cannot stop counting his possessions. His prayer is one of peripheral vision. Worse, he assumes God’s role of judge: not only does he enumerate his own claims to being just, but he reminds God of the deficiency of the tax-agent, in case God had not noticed. In contrast, the tax-agent is utter simplicity and truth. Indeed, he is a sinner.  Indeed, he requires God’s gift of righteousness because he has none of his own. And because he both needs and recognizes his need for the gift he receives it….For Luke, prayer is faith in action. Prayer is not an optional exercise in piety, carried out to demonstrate one’s relationship with God. The way one prays therefore reveals that relationship…if prayer is self-assertion before God, then it cannot be answered by God’s gift of righteousness; possession and gift cancel each other out. “

No wonder God so often answers our prayers with an emphatic NO!  Prayer as a means of self-exaltation, self-indulgence, self-agrandizement, self-congratulation, self-promotion, or prayer used as a sort of ouija board to get what we want out of a reluctant God are all very bad, and very unBiblical models of praying.  Thankfully, Jesus came to teach us a new model— the Lord’s Prayer, which should really be called the Disciple’s prayer, though interestingly Jesus seems to pray a form of this prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.  What is noteworthy about the Lord’s prayer is that it is a collective prayer, a prayer for the people to use together— ‘give us this day’   it says,  ‘forgive us’  it says.   We should not be praying for things for ourselves that we would not want to share with the body of Christ.  And notice that this Lord’s prayer encourages us only to pray about the basics—- praising God (hallowed be thy name), asking that God’s saving reign and God’s will be done on earth as in heaven (not his in heaven, and our wills on earth), asking for daily bread (not, notice, lavish banquets), asking for forgiveness of sins and debts (an increasingly necessary prayer in our debtor nation), recognizing that in some mysterious way, our receiving of foregiveness is affected by our willingness to forgive and actually forgiving those who have wronged us, and we pray not to be put to the test, but to be delivered from the Evil One.    This is Praying  101 for Jesus’ disciples, and it does not sound like the old Janis Joplin song— “Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz, my friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends…..”

If we turn to the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector there is yet more to ponder from this same chapter.

The example of the pious Pharisee in this parable, who is no hypocrite, reminds us that prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, while all excellent religious practices commended by God and the Bible, in themselves don’t make a person more ‘spiritual’ or ‘holy’. Indeed, these practices may simply make you more focused on your own needs, more hungry, and poorer!  Much depends on the heart that uses these spiritual disciplines, and in the case of the Pharisee we are right to see a note of pride and self-centeredness in his prayer.  The word ‘I’ keeps coming up in that prayer, and he improves his sense of self-worth by putting others down.  It is then not the spiritual discipline itself that makes a person more holy.  It is the humbling one’s self in the sight of the Lord, being completely honest about one’s sins, and pouring out one’s heart with open hands to receive what God will give, that makes the difference in this story.  Notice that the tax collector has no previous ‘good deeds’ or spiritual practices to appeal to, to make his case with God.  It is God alone who justifies and sanctifies the man, not the spiritual practices, though God may use such practices to that end.

We are always looking for a short-cut, a how too self-help manual to improve our lives, but this parable warns about how one’s piety and spiritual practices can actually get in the way of your receiving what God would give, because one is in danger of thinking that the regular exercise of such practices entitles one to something, entitles one to make a claim on God, and so they become a means to a self-seeking end, rather than a means of growing in one’s relationship and dependency on God and his grace.

Think on these things.

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