The Lord's Prayer (Part Three)


Finally we come to the "Wish List" section of the Lord's Prayer. Notice though that when we follow the Lord's Prayer it takes us 2 full lessons before we get to this point, while for most of us in prayers this is the section we hit on first. Before Jesus gets to this section though, He has delved into His Son/Father relationship with God, given the Father His worth/value, and prayed for the coming of the kingdom of God and the will of God on earth. On the other hand, when we meet together in small or large groups, the first thing we do is ask for prayer requests and then lift up those needs to God. There is absolutely nothing wrong with presenting our requests to God; it's just that some other things should probably precede those requests as Jesus indicates.


Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

In the Greek text Jesus literally says: "Give us TODAY our TODAY bread." In other words, Jesus focuses on the dailiness of our needs or on those needs which have an immediate need--the needs of today.

Remember that the Lord's Prayer in Matthew falls within the Sermon on the Mount. Later in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus takes up this same topic. According to Jesus what should be our attitude towards the needs of tomorrow (Matt. 6:34)?

Numbers and Joshua provide two of the most striking illustrations of this principle. In the first instance Moses sends out the 12 spies to spy out the WHOLE land of Canaan in order to ascertain the difficulties in the conquest of the entire land of Canaan. Joshua, on the other hand, sends out the spies to survey the first city they are to conquer, not the whole land which will take several years but just the first city they are to conquer. How do the people respond in the first case (Numbers 14:1-4), and how do they respond in the second case (Joshua 6:15-21)?

Just think about this for a moment. Look back over your life at the difficulties you've had to overcome through the Lord's grace. Now go back to the beginning of your relationship with the Lord. If you knew at that time all the difficulties you were going to have to go through, how do you think you would have felt?

Me? I don't know if I could have handled it. The reason we can't handle this is that God does not give us the grace today for the problems we are going to have to handle tomorrow. (You may even be dead tomorrow!) God gives us the grace that we need for today. When tomorrow comes (which never does--it is always today), then God will give us the appropriate amount of grace at that time.

What about the future though? Shouldn't we plan for the future? Yes, but we should not be obsessed with the future. The truth is that if we focus on doing today what we need to do today, then many times we later discover that we have been laying down the foundation blocks for the future.

Simply because you ask God for something does not mean that He will automatically grant your request or even grant it positively. Many times God places conditions upon positive answers to our prayers. From the verses below list the conditions Christ places upon us before He answers our prayers positively:

John 15:7 . Matt. 18:19 .
1 John 5:14 . 1 John 5:16 .
James 4:3 . Matt. 21:22 .

Now be careful with these promises. Will you receive everything you ask for if you ask for it in faith? Therefore, if somebody has cancer and prays for healing and yet dies, did he die because his faith was not great enough? (This accusation was laid against a former pastor of mine who died of kidney failure.)

Ask yourself the following question: did Paul pray in faith when he asked Christ to remove his thorn in the flesh? Write down Christ's response (2 Cor. 12:7-10):

Ask yourself the following question: did Jesus ask in faith when He asked the Father to remove the cup of suffering from Him? What was God's response to Jesus' believing request (Matthew 26:39-42; 27:50)?

Now I believe that all of God's promises are true; it is just that sometimes Christ does not fulfill His promises according to our time table. For example, I don't know what verses my dad was reading, however, when he was stricken with cancer, he read some verses from the Bible which assured him that he would be healed. I reminded him that all of God's promises were true; yet some of them would not be fulfilled until Christ returned. I told him that God just might heal him from his cancer within the next few months; however, if Christ did not heal him and instead let him die, Christ would heal his body on resurrection day.

I just feel we need to be careful in handling the promises we find in Scripture. I have found it always to be true that whenever I believe the Lord leads me to claim a promise, then He answers that promise. Whenever the Lord leads me to pray for a person's salvation, He is about to save that person. Since He is Lord, Christ still needs to be in control of our prayers and the requests we make to Him. In fact when we pray in Jesus' name, we are coming to the Father as ambassadors of Jesus just like the U.S. ambassador to the Court of St. James comes to Tony Blair as the ambassador of George Bush. Ambassadors do not give their own opinions; they relay the opinions of the one they are representing, the one in whose name they are speaking. Tony Blair does not give a rip about what that particular ambassador thinks. He cares about only what G. W. Bush thinks. When we discover Jesus' desire in a particular area and pray in accordance with that wish, then we can be assured the Father will answer that prayer positively.

I experienced this with regards to a person for whom I had been praying for quite some time. Finally, I threw up my hands and said, "I give up." Then out of the blue God laid 1 John 5:16 on my heart. God told me that since that person was not doing anything deserving death, then He would redeem that person for my sake if I kept on praying for him. From that day on that person started changing for the better until finally he became a wonderful dedicated Christian. It was exciting to experience, but it came only after Christ laid that promise on my heart.

Below are verses which show us areas over which we should approach God in prayer.

1 Tim. 2:1 . 1 Tim. 2:2 .
John 17:9 . Eph. 6:18 .
Eph. 6:19 . Another verse you can think of .

Think about this for a moment. When you approach Christ in prayer, how often do you pray about the items in the above list? All the time?    Many times?    Seldom?    Never?    (Circle one of the above.)

Of course it is now easy to say this since the man I voted for is now the President of the United States; however, before he became President, I promised the Lord that I would pray for him every day if he was elected President. Then I got to thinking about how little I prayed for the previous President and yet had complained about him bitterly and often. The Lord convicted me that I should pray for whatever person occupies that office, a conviction I plan to honor no matter who wins the Nov. 2, 2004 election. I felt convicted about the fact that if other evangelical Christians and I prayed for the previous President as much as we had bad-mouthed him, his administration might have turned out a whole lot better.

"Ah," you might say, "but the previous President was not worthy of our prayers!" When Paul wrote this letter, the emperor he wanted Timothy to pray for was none other than Nero, a sadistic bisexual who murdered his mother. Now if Timothy could pray for somebody like him, I think that we can pray for our elected leaders, even if they are members of an opposing party.

Now list some other areas you believe Christ would have you pray over: