Teach us to pray - Part 2

August 12, 2012 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: Teach us to pray

Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 6:10–6:10

Good Morning! Today we’re are continuing our sermon series Teach us to Pray, looking at the Lord’s Prayer outlined in Luke 11 and Matthew 6.

Last week we saw started this series by saying prayer is more than simply talking to God. Prayer is both natural and hard. It is used by God to not necessarily change our circumstances, but to change our hearts. Because prayer is difficult we need to look to Jesus for instruction on both HOW and WHAT to pray. Jesus provides us with some of the clearest instructions of his earthly ministry when he both preached and taught disciples to:

9Pray then like this: “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 this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Matthew 6:9-13

We saw that God is a loving father to His people, who we should pray to relationally. We also saw God is in Heaven meaning He is to be revered, and we should address him both respectfully and thoughtfully. The clarity of Jesus teaching should also lead us to understand that our attitudes, thoughts, and desires expressed in our prayers should fit the pattern of praying the Lord’s Prayer in some shape or form, and yet we know this is not the case for us in our prayers. We have to constantly ask Jesus to Teach us to Pray.

Where the first clause is about who God is and how we are to approach Him, Today we look closely at the second clause as a pledge of allegiance, act of submission, and call to mission.

Our Kingdoms

Before we can ask God for His Kingdom to come, his will be done, on earth as it is in heaven we have to acknowledge that this is not currently the state of the world we live in or the orientation of our hearts. This does not appear to be His kingdom, we don’t seek to do His will, and earth is NOT as it is in Heaven. There is a problem that has been part of humanity from nearly the beginning. While God created the world to be His Kingdom where everything was “good”, in Genesis 3 Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s explicit will and instruction in a declaration independence from God’s Kingdom. They believed wrongly that people can do a better job as king then the Creator of the Universe. The world was broken, the world is broken. Each generation of humanity since has individually and corporately declared independence from God by attempting to establish lasting kingdoms only to watch each attempt to fix the world apart from God fail and fail again. There are many reasons the kingdoms we create fail.

Our kingdoms are ineffective. Great modern nations can barely maintain basic services for their people. Last week 650 million people in India lost power completely. As individuals we are so finite we can barely measurably impact the world around us so many have given up trying and have instead turned building imaginary lands they can easily control and manipulate. While studying for this sermon an ad popped up for Evony, an online roleplaying game, which said “Build a kingdom, become the Lord”.

Our kingdoms are self-seeking. Nations do this by creating an identity (real or imagined) of being the “good guys” while simultaneously demonizing other countries. US prints In God We Trust on our money and we call ourselves the shining city on a hill. We fashion a god in our own image, a god that supports our own agenda. We even do this to Jesus. We like the attributes of Jesus, or things he said, we agree with and ignore those things we don’t particularly agree with or like. To paraphrase David Platt, Jesus ends up looking a lot like we do so we’re really comfortable worship him because we’re really just worshiping ourselves.

Our kingdoms are fleeting. The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, whether centuries, decades or merely a few years the kingdoms we build do not last. Even the greatest individual accomplishments are barely a flash in the pan. Usain Bolt has won 4 gold medals as the fastest Olympic sprinter in the 100m and 200m. His last race was 19.32 seconds. You add up the total time of his 4 Olympic medal races is only 57.94. For all the hype, the reign of Bolt’s kingdom has lasted less than 1 minute.

Our kingdoms are fragile. A few years without rain, a bad week in the stock market, a terrorist attack and a nation’s sense of economic and physical security can be damaged for years.

6 weeks ago I was confronted with just how fragile our kingdoms are after Tara gave birth to Haddon. An hour after the surgery Tara is NOT doing well. Her BP is down…..then her breathing was weak…then her pulse started dropping. Nurse give me an IV bag to squeeze into her while 4 other nurses come in and calls start going out to ICU and on call doctors. I drain two bottles of fluid into Tara in less than 15 minutes. They bring in the crash cart (jumper cables) and the charge nurse from ICU as the two surgeons/docs are operating on another patient. Tara is in moaning pain at times, other times she’s falling asleep and her stats begin to drop off. I am told to keep her awake and remind her to breath. She falls in an out of responsiveness throughout the hour. Nurses are trying to hide their concern from me but I can tell they’re worried. So am I. I pray but don’t cry because I’m too focused on keeping Tara conscious, breathing and responsive while the nurses are working on other medications and talking to doctors that are in surgery. Things are hectic and crowded in the small windowless room. I can barely text my In-laws to let them know what’s going on with their daughter while not even have time to think about what’s going on with my new(est) daughter down the hall. All our family is outside and none of them have a clear picture of what’s going two rooms away. This is the scariest hour and 15mins of my adult life. When it’s over a doctor FINALLY comes by to check on things and basically give a “she needs to sleep it off” but acknowledges looking at the readouts that Tara experienced acute sinus arythmia which he assures me is “perfectly normal” for a healthy 29 year old and that he couldn’t come b/c of surgery but that he was never really worried. I am censoring the thoughts I had at that moment. The Queen of my Kingdom is fragile.

Bottom line, I pray when my kingdom is in Jeopardy, I don’t when it’s not. More than that I don’t pray that God’s Kingdom comes and His will be done, I pray for the continued reign of my kingdom.

These corrupt kingdoms of individuals and nations have led to amazing brokenness in the world. We all recognize there are problems, even if we don’t agree on what the problems are or how they should be fixed. Some of us turn to God, but most of us just want God to turn to us. We believe that the agenda of our kingdom or the kingdom of our country/world can be placed alongside a pursuit of God’s Kingdom even though the goals of our kingdoms and God’s are clearly different. Clouding things further, because we have created our own kingdom and are aligned with the kingdoms of this world we often have a misunderstanding of our most basic identity. What is your primary identity?

Who is your “we”?

Do we as “American Christians” see ourselves as American Christians, or as American Christians? Do we fundamentally envision ourselves as U.S. citizens who espouse “Christian Religion” or do we see ourselves as disciples of Jesus who happen to live in the United States? What is your fundamental identity, are you citizen of this nation state or are you citizen of the kingdom of God?

I think most of us know what the “right” answer is. The answer to this question will greatly impact how you see the problems of the world and how you believe they should be dealt with. When you consider the problems of the world (or the problems in our community, or your families) and say to yourself and others “we need to do….” Who is your “we”? Is it a political party? It is a race? Is it this country? Is it your family? Is it your union, or your company? Is it your facebook network? What is your “we”? Who are you accountable to? Yourself, some people group, this country, or the Lord?

What should “we” as followers of Jesus, as the church, as citizens of the kingdom do about….poverty, terrorism, abortion, broken marriages, health care.

Jesus tells us plainly what our first and constant response to the issue of sin and brokenness in the world is to be. It’s simple…

Repent

Matt 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

Literally dozens of times in the Gospels Jesus himself specifically commands his disciples to repent and tells those interested in following him that he is greatly concerned with our corporate and individual repentance.

Before we can pray for God’s kingdom to come, we have to admit that our kingdoms are flawed and actively turn from them. We have to renounce our citizenship to our kingdom and the kingdoms of the world. That means when the world goes in a direction that is opposed to the will of God we peacefully protest by not participating, and live out the kingdom of God.

Bill Tibert, Pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Colorado Spring says “What if they gave a war and nobody came? What if there were abortion clinics and nobody went in? ….This History of the church through the ages has been the history of changes brought about in society through the church demonstrating and living an alternative vision of life.”

We don’t need more “effective” kingdoms of men; we do not need more “responsible kingdoms of this world; do not need more “realism” among the kingdoms of a fallen order. We need the kingdom of God! –Lee Camp Mere Discipleship

Relying on the kingdom of God frees us from the false elation or true despair of political victories and defeats, because we understand that we have citizenship in another kingdom. We love the people and places God has called us to and we joyfully serve as ambassadors who have the opportunity to participate in the society but we repent from placing our hope in the kingdoms of men rather than the King of Kings. So we pray the Lord’s prayer as statement of our repentance from the kingdoms of the world and ourselves, we pray it as a call for the Holy Spirit to wage revolution on the hearts of humanity, and we pray it as a pledge of allegiance to Our Father in Heaven and His Kingdom.

The Lord's prayer is subversive. It is a statement of allegiance and therefore a challenge to all other kingdoms of the world. – Mark Moore

Your Kingdom Come

Let us be clear, the LORD is the KING. It is an undeniably fact of creation that as the Creator he is sovereignly over everything and everyone, even those who deliberately defy and disobey Him. While he is King over all, His kingdom is specifically where he has enthroned himself in the hearts of those who, by the Spirit, call Him Lord. His Kingdom isn’t defined by geography (for that would be far too limiting), it is defined by the person and work of Jesus. Jesus preached the kingdom is at hand, that He IS the kingdom. He comes not as a tyrannical dictator bent on wrath but as a benevolent, pastoral King who lays down His life on the cross to give His people grace and salvation in their rebellion. The Kingdom is a realm of grace where the damaging effects of our sin, and those done to us, begins to be repaired.

Praying for His Kingdom to come” It means salvation from the bondage and slavery of our kingdoms.

In order for His Kingdom to come in necessarily means our kingdom will have to be push aside even if it seems to be health and vibrant. We can’t assume that because our kingdoms are growing or prospering that God is on “our side”. To pray “Your kingdom come” is actually the opposite. It’s the prayer of John the baptizer, who said in John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.” It’s not enough to want his Kingdom to grow you have to want yours to end because you recognize your kingdom isn’t good enough.

The kingdom of God belongs to those who are poor in spirit (not the confident/cocky) who are clearly and deeply aware of their own inadequacies, failings, rebellion. It is not for those who hope to have their kingdoms and their interests sanctioned in the name of God. It is for those who hope to abolish their own kingdoms for the sake of the Gospel. In praying for the kingdom to come we should be quick to add “START with ME! Make me a servant and ambassador of your kingdom, make me spectacularly obedient! Use me, use me, use me!”

Your Will be Done

Here we see the purpose of the entire prayer. It is not to try to make God do our will, but to conform our will to His. Everything that is asked the rest of the prayer, our provision, our forgiveness, our sanctification, and our protection, is all asked for in light these things being part of God’s will. It is amazing to think that it is God’s will for all of these things in our lives. Our challenge is they may not look like how we want or expect them to look. More than these individual promises God has larger purposes for our lives than our comfort or temporary happiness. Sometimes his will for our lives is to help fulfill those promises for others.

You must not only crucify your desires and your ambitions, Jesus said, you must crucify your entire life, and find a new one in him.- Russell Moore

God’s concerns now become our concerns. Your prayers will change when you are more concerned with God’s will than your own. When you are no longer living with the false bravado of puppet dictator but are rather meek and humble subject of the King of the Universe you will pray God gives you both the will and the ability for what he has called you to do with a spirit of obedience recognizing who you are in relation to Him. Philippines 2:14 reminds us Do all things without grumbling or disputing. I don’t think it is possible to accept what God has for us, or what he doesn’t, without sincerely praying this prayer. We need the Holy Spirit’s power to move towards God’s will, because so much of who we are resists His will.

Even Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before His crucifixion, used prayer to help strengthen his heart towards the will of the Father.

39And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” Matt 26:39,42

In this life we will never fully understand the intensity and the pain Jesus experienced drinking the cup of wrath but we can recognize that at our best we are far weaker than him and desperately need the power of the Holy Spirit to both desire and carry out God’s will for our lives when it is less than pleasant and comfortable.

On Earth as it is in Heaven

This is a pray of restoration, a prayer to over throw the kingdoms of the world and reestablish His rule and reign, it is a call for God to act in amazing ways of rebirth and renewal. For us it is a call to mission.

What is the Kingdom of Heaven?

This kingdom of heaven is valuable.

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Matthew 13:44

Part of why we struggle to desire God’s will is because we do not begin to grasp the exceeding value and perfection of His Kingdom while we grossly overestimate the goodness of our kingdom. We are like children who don’t want to “go to Heaven, because we don’t want to leave our toys”

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. CS Lewis :The Weight of Glory

The kingdom of heaven is where Jesus is King.

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” Revelation 11:15

There is not merely one nation under God, but ALL nations and people are under God, whether they acknowledge His reign or not. Jesus is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

The Kingdom of Heaven is communal. Heaven is described as a city, as a wedding feast, and as a worship service. CS Lewis in The Great Divorce imagines hell as a place where people are always moving farther and farther away from each other, but not in Heaven, where God and his people will experience perfect togetherness leading to greater joy. In Christ, you are saved as a tiny island to a United Nations of God’s people. In the kingdom you will never be alone, and you will actually like the people you’re with!

The Kingdom of Heaven gives us reason for both hope and praise because it is where God is with His people, sickness, sin and death are no more, and God’s will is carried out perfectly.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling placeof God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. Revelation 21:1-6

How do we act to help this prayer be realized?

The announcement of the kingdom has come in Jesus, and Christians are in the kingdom, but all is not perfect. The kingdom exists in a state of “already, not net” in the sense that Jesus has already come, the Gospel has been proclaimed, but he has not yet returned to fully display His glory on earth. We pray looking forward to that day. In praying for Earth to be as it is in Heaven we cannot simply wait for the “sweet by and by” and stand idly by “down here” as we witness injustice, sin, violence, poverty, and perversion. We don’t withdraw from “the world” hoping to be clean when Jesus comes back, and we don’t rely solely on our ability to “make a difference” hoping we can make things good enough Jesus doesn’t need to come back. But we can work incrementally in the direction of what God has intended for the earth as a small imperfect preview of what the coming kingdom will resemble. Along the way we hope more and more people are drawn to His Kingdom by our words and deeds glorifying the King.

This means as ambassadors of this future kingdom we actually have to live in a way that points positively to this coming kingdom. What about your life right now is a negative reflection of the kingdom? What is the big area of sin or brokenness that is keeping the kingdom from being realized in your life? Not, oh so and so needs to fix this about themselves, or these people need to stop this, YOU! What is YOUR issue?

What is worth working for? Fighting for? Sacrificing for? What is your reclamation project for the Kingdom. What is your call in bring this prayer closer to a reality in your area of influence?

With our best efforts it is not our final responsibility to make earth as it is in heaven, just be faithful witnesses of the God who will make this a reality. In the end we are required to trust the loving, all-knowing, all-powerful, God that he will be God and do what he has promised. Praise God, Jesus gives us clear instructions on something as important as prayer. He also leaves us with two marks of citizenship in His Kingdom, baptism and communion. We are called to respond.

Baptism

In baptism we are in effectively renouncing our citizenship and becoming patriots of a new kingdom, bowing our knees in submission to Jesus as our Lord because he’s our savior. We publically and shamelessly identify with the King and the people of His Kingdom the Church by mirroring his death, burial, and resurrection in the waters of baptism. If Jesus is ruling and reigning in your heart, you trust him for salvation, and serve Him as Lord, you need to demonstrate your obedience to him by being baptized.

Communion

The Kingdom is embodied in the person and work of Jesus Christ. During His last meal with the disciples he tells us to break bread remembering his broken body, and drink of the cup to remember His Blood shed for His Kingdom because he knows how quickly we forget which kingdom we’re a part of. While on our camping trip this past week we spent the day on a beach that someone had erected a cross on. When we arrived all of our people were drawn to it, we marveled at it, and we talked about its significance and beauty. As the day wore on we became interested in so many other things that honestly we forgot the cross was even there. We don’t assume the cross or merely play in its shadow, we remember it at every service because we know it can so easily be forgotten in the weeds of our daily lives.

Lord’s Prayer

“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 this day our daily bread,[c]
12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

Benediction

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

More in Teach us to pray

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Teach us to pray - Part 4

August 5, 2012

Teach us to pray - Part 1