INSIGHTS FROM BONHOEFFER AND LEWIS ON THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT

The Hidden Righteousness of the Kingdom
Prayer: Part 2 (Matt. 6:6-15)

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"Our Father who art in heaven:
Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come;
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from Evil.
For if you forgive men their transgressions,
Your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men,
Neither will your Father forgive your transgressions."



INTRODUCTION

Although the theme of this section is hiddenness in charity, prayer, and fasting, Jesus here takes time to expand upon what is probably the most important discipline in the Christian life, prayer. How important is prayer? Extremely important according to men whom God used to change the world for Him. Look at the following quotes and choose the one that speaks most to you. Explain why that quote appeals to you the most.

    "God does nothing except in response to believing prayer." John Wesley (Famous evangelist who spent 2 hours daily in prayer)

    "If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer. Martin Luther

    "Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers." Sidlow Baxter

    "Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees." Corrie ten Boom

    "The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking Him the rest of the day. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in the last place the remainder of the day." E.M. Bounds

    "The prayer power has never been tried to its full capacity. If we want to see mighty wonders of divine power and grace wrought in the place of weakness, failure and disappointment, let us answer God's standing challenge, "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not!'" (J. Hudson Taylor)

    "No learning can make up for the failure to pray. No earnestness, no diligence, no study, no gifts will supply its lack." E.M. Bounds

    "The little estimate we put on prayer is evidence from the little time we give to it." E.M. Bounds

    "If the church wants a better pastor, it only needs to pray for the one it has." Anonymous.

    "Intercession is truly universal work for the Christian. No place is closed to intercessory prayer. No continent - no nation - no organization - no city - no office. There is no power on earth that can keep intercession out." Richard Halverson.

    "Ten minutes spent in the presence of Christ every day, aye, two minutes, will make the whole day different." Henry Drummond

    "Beware in your prayers, above everything else, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things 'above all that we ask or think.'" Andrew Murray

    "He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day." John Bunyan

    "It is in the field of prayer that life's critical battles are lost or won. We must conquer all our circumstances there. We must first of all bring them there. We must survey them there. We must master them there. In prayer we bring our spiritual enemies into the Presence of God and we fight them there. Have you tried that? Or have you been satisfied to meet and fight your foes in the open spaces of the world?" J. H. Jowett

    “Depend upon it, if you are bent on prayer, the devil will not leave you alone. He will molest you, tantalize you, block you, and will surely find some hindrances, big or little or both. And we sometimes fail because we are ignorant of his devices…I do not think he minds our praying about things if we leave it at that. What he minds, and opposes steadily, is the prayer that prays on until it is prayed through, assured of the answer.” Mary Warburton Booth (the wife of the founder of The Salvation Army).

    Concerning D. L. Moody, considered one of the greatest preachers of all time: "Out of a very intimate acquaintance with D. L. Moody, I wish to testify that he was a far greater prayer than he was preacher. Time and time again, he was confronted by obstacles that seemed insurmountable, but he always knew the way to overcome all difficulties. He knew the way to bring to pass anything that needed to be brought to pass. He knew and believed in the deepest depths of his soul that nothing was too hard for the Lord, and that prayer could do anything that God could do." R. A. Torrey

    "Ministers who do not spend two hours a day in prayer are not worth a dime a dozen - degrees or no degrees." Leonard Ravenhill

    "Since the days of Pentecost, has the whole church ever put aside every other work and waited upon Him for ten days, that the Spirit’s power might be manifested? We give too much attention to method and machinery and resources, and too little to the source of power." Hudson Taylor

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So which one of those quotes spoke to you the most?

Not only did these men consider prayer to be important. Christ Himself considered prayer extremely important. At what times do we see Jesus praying according to the Gospels? (Notice also the different occasions and different kinds of prayers. Some are quite lengthy; some are quite short.)

    Matt. 4:1-2 (fasting is integrally linked to prayer):

    Luke 6:12-13 (what happens right after Jesus prays?):

    Luke 11:1 (what happens right after Jesus prays?):

    John 11:41-44 (what happens right after Jesus prays?):

    John 17 (the whole chapter):

    Matt. 26:36-44:

    Luke 23:46:

If God the Son felt it necessary to pray and to pray intensively in order to win in life, how much more should we?


THE FORMAT FOR PRAYER

It is interesting that in Matthew's version of The Lord's Prayer, the prayer is supposed to be the format upon which we model our prayers. In fact, many have called it "the Model Prayer." As a result, we are to pray along these lines:

    Think of God in terms as your Father.
    Exalt God's name.
    Pray that God's will be done in your life and upon earth.
    Pray for God's daily provision.
    Ask for forgiveness of your sins.
    Pray for deliverance from evil (or from Satan, the Evil One).
If The Lord's Prayer is The Model Prayer, then all these elements should be included in the prayers you utter.

According to Luke, though, this prayer is not simply to be The Model Prayer. We are actually to pray this prayer. According to the Didache (pron. DID--uh--kay)--written by the generation taught by the apostles around 96 AD, Christians were to recite this prayer 3x a day, a practice Jews would follow in their daily prayers regarding the Shema (WBC:147). I honestly don't know which is the better interpretation (maybe both are); however, I try daily not only to recite the Lord's Prayer but also to allow the Lord's Prayer to be the format for my morning prayers. [Catholics with their rosaries are actually to pray The Lord's Prayer (the "Our Father") 3 out of the 8 times they pray.]

Now notice that Jesus doesn't say just pray once and that's it. Too often The Lord's Prayer is used like some kind of magical formula: "If I recite it 3x a day, I will get some good karma!" Jesus actually uses the present tense of the verb "pray", thereby implying that we are to continue praying; prayer is to be air which Christian breathe, whether The Lord's Prayer is the model for our prayers or the actual prayer that we pray.


THE LORD'S PRAYER

Our Father

A few years ago, Barack Obama published the book Audacity of Hope; in fact, his whole campaign was based on "Hope and Change." He proposed a vision for this country which he claimed was audacious in its scope. It was to be reckless, daring, and bold! Now after 3 years of his presidency we have a great idea of what he meant by audacity.

Yet as audacious as Obama claimed for his agenda, it paled in comparison to what Jesus proposes here. There is nothing more audacious than we mere mortals calling God "Father." And yet that is precisely what Jesus commands us that we call God—"Father." We mere mortal men, from dust and to dust, sinners, full of jealousy, lust, self-serving, gossips, self-centered, malicious at times, impure--Jesus commands us to call God "Our Father."

The word order in the Greek makes the first statement in the prayer even more stunning than it already appears. In the Greek, the word order is: "Father our." It is stunning enough that God has chosen to be our Father. What is even more arresting is that Jesus emphasizes the Fatherhood of God for His disciples. God not only is the Father of Christian, but He specifically and emphatically wants to approach Him in this manner.

What is sad is that, with all due respect, the Fatherhood of God is the last thing I detect in the prayers of many Christians. They call Him "God" or address Him in such stilted language that God comes across as anything but Father. But the Fatherhood of God for Christians is radical. In fact, there is strong indication that Jesus spoke in Aramaic while on earth (even though the Gospels are written in Greek). Although the authors of the NT documents wrote everything Jesus said and did in Greek, there is one word that they many times did not translate from Aramaic to Greek, the word, "Abba," that is, "Father" (see Mark 14:36; on the basis of this, Paul instructs us to call God "Abba": Gal. 4:6; Rom. 8:15). That is how much of an impression Jesus' calling God His and their Father made upon His followers.

According to John 1:12 what right do we have?

Now according to 1 John 3:1-2, does John just simply call us "children of God" or are we in fact children of God?

What happens to Christians at the time of salvation which transforms them into sons and daughters of God (Rom. 8:14-15)?

Because of this, we actually share Jesus' sonship. Our heavenly Father will never allow us to bypass His Son Jesus in order to get to Him. All that Jesus did was in obedience to what the Father had asked of Him. It is our Father's intent that Jesus always remain the "favored" Son.

How wonderful is that sonship? According to Rom. 8:17, what are we?

The actual word there is "co-heirs." Now try and wrap your mind around that one. Whatever He inherits, we inherit. For example, what did Jesus inherit and what are we going to inherit according to Rev. 3:21?

When we look at the Lord's Prayer, we need to take extremely seriously the first part of the prayer: "Our FATHER." I have been so fortunate to have wonderful children in my life. I loved it when they spoke to me when they were younger, and I love to hear from them now that they are older. They both bring such joy to my life. I delight to help them if I can and if it won't spoil them. I don't want them to have to grovel or to sweat over approaching me. I want them to come to me as a son/daughter should approach a loving father. That is the true nature of fathers.

If that is true of us earthly fathers who love our children and yet we are still sinners, then how much more true is this of our heavenly Father who loves us and is yet perfect. Until we come to grips with the fact that God is our Father, we will never find the assurance and joy which prayer has to offer us.

What is true of me, though, in my relationship with the heavenly Father is also true of all other Christians. Jesus commands us to call Him "OUR Father". In other words, ALL Christians are sons and daughters of God--even the ones you don't like, who are mean to you and mistreat you. As a result, my obligation is to treat them as sons and daughters of God whether or not they deserve it, even when they have not treated me as God's son. I am to value them as high as possible because of their relationship with God.

Lewis claimed that the only reason he went to church was because of the people sitting in the pews next to him.

C.S. Lewis was once asked, ‘Is attendance at a place of worship or membership with a Christian community necessary to a Christian way of life?’ His answer was as follows:

‘That’s a question which I cannot answer. My own experience is that when I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and I wouldn’t go to the churches and Gospel Halls; and then later I found that it was the only way of flying your flag; and, of course, I found that this meant being a target. It is extraordinary how inconvenient to your family it becomes for you to get up early to go to Church. It doesn’t matter so much if you get up early for anything else, but if you get up early to go to Church it’s very selfish of you and you upset the house.

If there is anything in the teaching of the New Testament which is in the nature of a command, it is that you are obliged to take the Sacrament, and you can’t do it without going to Church. I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the great merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off.

I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren’t fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit.'”

He goes even further in The Weight of Glory in which Lewis describes people as either gods/goddesses or potential gods/goddesses (he is basing this upon 2 things: first, the transformation we receive upon the divine Son entering our lives at the time of salvation, thereby transforming us into His image, and second, upon Jesus own words used metaphorically in John 10:34).

Do I truly value other people like this: that they are either sons or daughters of God, or else God wants them to be His sons or daughters? Am I more concerned about serving others or about my own boundaries? Am I more concerned about people or about an agenda? Do people irritate me or are they source of joy? Your answers to those questions might help you know whether or not your truly value people.


Who Art in Heaven

This clauses expresses more than the fact that God abides in heaven."The address provides the basis of the possibility of such a prayer: as Father, God is concerned for the needs of his children; as the One in heaven, he is all-powerful" (WBC:148).


AND NOW FROM BONHOEFFER: From the Chapter Entitled The Hiddenness of Prayer

"Jesus told his disciples not only how to pray, but also ___________ to pray. The Lord's Prayer is not merely the pattern prayer, it is the way Christians _____________ pray."

According to DB what will happen if the Christian prays this prayer?

"'Our Father which art in heaven.' The disciples call upon the heavenly Father as a ________________ body, they call upon a Father who already knows his children's ____________. The call of Jesus binds them into a __________________. In Jesus they have apprehended the loving-kindness of the Father. In the name of the Son of God they are privileged to call God Father."