Sunday, July 3, 2011

Luke Part 41: The "Lord's Prayer" -- a model for our prayer.

Text: Luke 11:1-13

This passage continues with a discussion of kingdom life, specifically in the matter of prayer.

Jesus would have us communicate with Him through prayer. A prayerless Christian is an impossibility -- the importance of prayer cannot be overstated. Remember that Jesus was regularly and frequently in prayer. We, as mere men, have a much greater need of prayer than He did!

So an unnamed disciple asked Jesus to teach him to pray. Jesus responded with this prayer, commonly known as "The Lord's Prayer" -- this is actually a misnomer, as it is not a prayer that Jesus would have Himself prayed; He had no sins to ask forgiveness for! Instead, it is a model prayer for us. It can be referred to as an "index prayer". Each of the phrases in this prayer are a cue to show us the different areas that we are encouraged to pray for.

First, a note on prayer time and frequency. We see in this model prayer that we should be praying for "our daily bread", indicating that we should pray at least daily. But there is no other constraint on when to pray. We may pray in the morning, upon rising, or before bed. In fact, there are many times throughout the day when we have a quiet and can call out to God -- in the shower, on the way to work, etc.

Some characteristics about this prayer that we may learn from:

1. Plural pronouns - "our" Father, forgive "us", etc. Look outside yourself. You are only a part of a whole, not the center of attention!

2. How to address God - He is our heavenly Father. What a blessing that we are encouraged to address Him as such! What kindness He shows toward us as Father!

3. "Hallowed be Thy name" - Are our hearts broken by all the blasphemy around us? Are we hurt and concerned that there is so little reverence for God?

4. "Thy kingdom come" - we can pray for God's kingdom to come within our own heart, for the church to grow, and for missionaries to see success. We can pray that Jesus would come and we would see the final consummation of the kingdom.

5. "Thy will be done" - that rebellion would cease all over the world. Also we can pray this when we don't know what exactly to pray in a situation; just pray that God's will would be done.

6. Our daily bread - our daily necessities, the things we need. We can pray for freedom from the diseases and sicknesses common all over the world as a result of sin and The Fall.

7. Forgive us our sins - come in prayer, knowing that your sin will be forgiven! It is right and just for God to forgive us, based on the finished work of Christ. This is the place in prayer for repentance.

8. Bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil - This is an admission of our weakness. We can pray for deliverance from evil and protection from Satan, our "defeated foe". We should remember to stay far from every form of evil wherever it appears.

So here we have given for us, the Model Prayer, an index prayer. We have a great warrant to pray. We need the Holy Spirit to help us to pray, to give us a great burden to pray, and to cause us to acknowledge our need of Him.

Each index of the prayer is taught throughout the Bible. Through study, we can find much Scripture to learn -- we can "pray the Bible" in many ways in each of these areas.

Luke Part 40: Mary and Martha

Text: Luke10:38-42

In the previous passage, Jesus was asked by a Pharisee wishing to justify himself what was needed to inherit eternal life. The man replied, "To love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus' response, the story of the "good Samaritan" explained what it means to love your neighbor. This account explains what it means to love God with all your heart.

In this story we hear of how Jesus came to visit Mary and Martha. Mary sat listening to Jesus while Martha busied herself with preparations. This frustrated Martha, and she asked Jesus to have Mary help. Jesus told her that Mary had chosen the best part in listening to Him.

Note first that Mary and Martha were both followers of the Lord. See Martha's responses to Jesus in John 11. Martha was a real follower of Christ.

The point of this passage is: how do those who love the Lord behave? They behave like Mary in the passage here.

Note that all may come to Jesus and sit at His feet. Women, men, children -- all are welcome to receive life from Him.

Martha has gone to great pains to prepare a feast. She complains that Jesus is monopolizing Mary's time. Isn't this exactly what should be said of us? That we are consumed with Jesus, that He monopolizes our thoughts?

Jesus then makes it clear that Mary has chosen the best part. Fellowship with Jesus is heaven on earth! Nothing is of greater importance than choosing to have fellowship with Christ. Mary is occupied with lesser things - not sinful things - but Mary has chosen the better part.

The thing to see here is that there is no comparison between the things of this life and fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The important thing is to have a heart disposition to commune with Christ and to get into the position of blessing. You have a need for fellowship with Him; make the choice to seek Him and have that need met.

Also, see that Jesus refused to break the fellowship with Mary. Jesus will not break fellowship with His people; He will not take Himself from them. He is always there whenever we come to Him, as a learner, seeking to commune with Him.

Remember then, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." (James 4:8)