The Lord’s Prayer (Part II)
Matthew 6:7-10 | Ian Thomas
May 5th, 2019
Main idea: Prayer puts us in a posture of dependence before our Heavenly Father who provides, forgives, and delivers us.
“Ultimately there is nothing in the whole realm of Scripture which so plainly shows us our entire dependence upon God as does this prayer, and especially these three petitions.” ~ Martyn Lloyd-Jones
I. Praying for Provision (6:11)
Many of us do not pray for daily necessities in this way. This is because most of us are unconcerned about where our next meal is coming from or if we will have what we need to survive tomorrow. But more dangerously, we don’t pray this way because it pushes against our bent toward self-provision.
The phrase “daily bread” is loaded with biblical meaning. The original hearers would have immediately connected to this to God’s provision of ‘manna’ in the wilderness (cf. Ex. 16). God literally provided for them daily bread and gave them strict instructions to collect it each morning while not storing it up. This was to teach them to fully depend and rely on him.
The Israelites didn’t follow these instructions, however. They stored up bread and were communicating to God: “What’s more sure than your word is our effort.” Where do we communicate the very same thing?
This temptation is the temptation that runs through the whole Bible. It goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden and the serpent’s temptation of Eve. It is also seen in Satan’s temptation of Jesus in Matt. 4:1-4. Can you really trust your Father? God is keeping something back from you. Grab hold of your own future. Lean into self-provision.”
Deuteronomy 8:3: “And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”
“Believers are invited into the experience of the Father’s care and the necessary of humility and dependence by praying for God’s daily provision, and this heart motivation is the state of true flourishing” ~ Jonathan Pennington
II. Praying for Forgiveness (6:12, 14-15)
Praying in this way pushes against our bent toward self-protection. We prone to withhold forgiveness because it is painful. Sin causes real hurts and painful consequences.
To forgive someone means to absorb the cost, which is heightened by the biblical language of “debt.” Demanding and receiving full restitution is often impossible when our hurts can’t be measured monetarily.
This prayer invites us to begin vertically before moving horizontally. We owe God our full obedience as our creator. However, all of us have fallen short and have a cosmic debt we are unable to pay back. That’s the very reason for the cross, which lies at the heart of the gospel message.
Colossians 2:13-14: And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross
The cross guards us from viewing others sin against us as blasphemy, while reminding us not to minimize and rationalize our own sin before the Lord. When we realize we have been forgiven of an infinite debt, we are compelled and empowered to turn and forgive others.
“I acknowledge that I am angry, but we have no room for hating, so we have to forgive. I pray God on your soul” … “We would like you to take this opportunity to repent. Confess. Give your life to the one who matters most: Christ. So that he can change it.” … “I pray everyday for Dylan, that God will forgive him. That he will do what the Lord tells him to do- to repent and believe and live to tell about it.” ~ Family members of victims in Charleston church shooting
“Unforgiveness is a relief that brings lasting hurt, but forgiveness is a hurt that brings lasting relief.” ~ John Onwuchekwa
Forgiving others does not earn our salvation, but it does serve as a litmus test for us: Do we really believe the gospel? Or do we only believe the gospel when it’s convenient and useful for us?
III. Praying for Deliverance (6:13)
How does this prayer square with James 1:13-14? God, as our Father, is not leading us into a “bait and switch” or into destruction. But we do know from elsewhere in Scripture that God does test his people.
“Deliver us from evil” (or the “evil one”) is a reminder that evil really does exist in our world. Spiritual warfare is a real thing that is happening all of the time. But this prayer invites us to also consider how Jesus has victory over it all. God is more than powerful to deliver us.
Praying in this way pushes against our bent toward self-sufficiency. We are not nearly as strong as we think we are.
1 Corinthians 10:12-13: “… let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
Temptation is a normal part of our Christian life, and this prayer is an invitation to turn to God in dependence to receive grace and find help in our time of need. The “way of escape” is the way of Jesus.
“To pray ‘deliver us from evil’ is to inhale the victory of the cross, and thereby to hold the line for another moment, another hour, another day, against the forces of destruction within ourselves and the world.” ~ N.T. Wright
The Lord’s Prayer is an invitation to pray his priorities until they become our desire. It’s an invitation to trust our Father in a posture of dependence. We can trust him with every aspect of our lives because the worst thing that could ever happen to us has already happened (crucifixion), and the best thing that could ever happen is already ours (resurrection). We pray all of this looking to Christ as our only hope.
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