What I relay to you is a true story of a young couple. It was told as a matter or confession, not to a priest, but to any who would listen. I don’t feel the necessity to identify the couple, as this could be any couple in modern society.
This young man was seeing a young lady, and their attractions grew to one another as often young people do. They were both working and soon decided that it would be best to move in with one another and therefore save on some of the costs of living. This would make things financially better for the both of them, plus there would be other “fringe benefits”.
The young man admitted he was self-centered and was concerned more about having freed up money to have a good time and to have the benefit of sexual pleasures at will. He wasn’t concerned about taking precautions to avoid pregnancy; that was her problem, not his. He remember how great it was to be living with her indulging one another’s fantasies without regard to God or anyone else. Until she got pregnant.
The pregnancy alarm “slapped him in the face”, as he put it. They were both shocked and caught off guard. Suddenly life stopped for them. All of their future plans, their relationship, and collage would all have to change. He remembered thinking that his whole life was suddenly snatched from him with the realization of this permanent change. He regretted his foolish arrogance and disregard for not avoiding this predicament by listening to his parents warnings. He was scared. She asked what to do. He lined up the options: marriage, bail on her, abortion, or just ignore it.
She wanted marriage and to keep the baby, but he wasn’t ready, so he just pushed her away ignoring the issue. She moved in with another friend but still sought his advice. He wouldn’t return her calls. In fear and desperation she scheduled an abortion.
When he found out his heart was sickened. Guilt flooded over his whole mental and emotional state. He was shamed that he had failed her and the baby. He wanted to tell her not to go through with it. But his cowardice had left him unable to move, he had forsook his responsibilities and left the burden to his girlfriend. Eventually he mustered up the strength to accompany his girlfriend to the clinic.
When he walked in there were others like him waiting with their family members. He could feel their eyes on him. He knew that they knew that he was the father of the baby that was being aborted. He was murdering his own child. He was sacrificing his own baby for what he perceived would be a better lifestyle for himself. He knew that his girlfriend was struggling. She want to keep the baby, but was afraid that without his support it would not be possible. She thought that he loved her. She realizes now, too late, that he loved himself more.
The abortion was quick. After the abortion she left with other friends who had come to support her. He left all alone. They never spoke again. The guild and shame of the murderous act had destroyed their relationship. Decades later this time period of his life would still haunt him. Wondering what his child would have been like. Wondering what his marriage with this young lady could have been. How many memories did he forsake for his selfish act?
Later he married a Christian lady. He started going to church. He would here the pastor teach on how God said that children are an heritage of the Lord (Psalms 127:3-5). He read how scriptures like John 16:21 remarked on what a joy it is that a man can be born. He heard in Provers 17:6 where it said that Children’s children are the crown of old men; and they glory of children are their fathers. He felt such sorrow and remorse. He had missed out on those blessings. The blessings of seeing the birth of his baby. He missed out on the joys of running with a kite with his baby. He missed the times of teachings, like riding a bike, or driving a car. More than that he missed out on the joy of having his grandbabies sit on his lap. Unable to keep his façade up any longer. He spent hours confessing to his wife.
He confessed his selfishness to her. He relayed the shame of his cowardice avoidance of his responsibilities to his girlfriend and to his baby, and to God. In tears he poured out his regrets and a lifetime of torment that he has lived with all of those years. His wife took him in her arms and for two hours she told of the forgiveness available from God in Jesus Christ. He eventually pleaded his cas before God, and poured out his sorrows to him. He repented of his selfishness and lack of courage in doing what he knew was wrong. He confessed the murder of his own child.
He received forgiveness. He has reached out with the support of his wife and his church to the once young lady, who he had failed before. She too had spent a life time of dealing with the guilt and anguish that comes from the shameful act of murder we call abortion. She too has been redeemed by Jesus Christ.
It is a terrible thing when society and governments condone the murder of innocent babies. It is a terrible testimony to the state of a nation that prefers mothers to kill their babies for profits to be fed to special interest corporations. Surely they will be held accountable before Christ in the final judgement. So will the Christians who stop silently and watched this atrocity unfold before their eyes. Especially those who live in countries where they have the right to vote on such matters of conscience. It is not just those who need forgiveness. God forgive us all.
Ref: Luke 15:11-32
I spoke with a friend a day or two ago. She was concerned because her son was getting old enough to leave the fold now. She was concerned with the usual things that we as parents get concerned about. If you have lived through this, or are currently going through this situation, then you know what I am talking about. This is a heart wrenching time for a parent. It has been 18 years where the mom and dad have been caring for the needs of their child. They have tried hard to prepare them for this inevitable day. All their hopes and aspirations are tied up in the fruition of the life of labor and love they have poured into their little baby, who is now a young adult. Have they been good parents?
What if their young one fails? How will they be able to help? Will their child ask for help? Did I prepare them enough for them to be successful? But probably the most heart wrenching question for a Christian parent is, “Will they continue in their faith?” Will they walk away from God and never return?
In a study done by Lifeway Research, author Ed Stetzer, relays that 70 percent of high school students who attended church on a regular basis, for at least one year, will stop going to church during their years of higher education. There are allot of reasons for this, but most do not intentionally stop going to church. That is, it is not that they could not wait to get away from their oppressive Christian parents so that they could leave their archaic religion. Most just get caught up in their new busy life. Juggling of study, school, work, and the development of new friendships distract them from their previous priorities. Some will get distracted for a while, maybe some for several years, but most will eventually return. Probably when they start their own families. There are a few who will get distracted far beyond measure. Some will forsake their childhood upbringing in favor of some college professor’s views, or do the world views on life, sex, and politics that permeate the college campuses. We can find throughout scripture examples to prove that the Lord does not abandon his children.
In Luke chapter 15 we find the story of the prodigal son. In this story the youngest son makes a plea for his half of the inheritance and leaves home. This rebellious son then squanders his fortunes in a foreign land and winds up being homeless and penniless. After much soul searching he decides to return home and beg forgiveness in hopes that he can work on the family estate as a hired hand. When he returns his father is overjoyed. The father’s love overflows from deep in his heart and he rejoices over the return of his son with a great feast and a party. The oldest son, who remained obedient is put off with this forgiveness his younger sibling received. He is caught up in his own selfish interests to see the miracle that has happened.
This story has many different points at which we can tear it apart and find some universal truth or a great life application. I have many times used this parable as a part of my testimony, because I was also a wayward son who had returned. If you are not familiar with this story it can be found in Luke 15:11-32.
Here in this passage we see a man that did everything right. He raised his kids in a God-fearing home. He taught them the value of good hard work. He taught them about the Lord. He taught him the customs of their people, and how to be good men. He instructed them in the way of their faith. Yet one of his children fell away. This is the case for many of us parents.
We can teach, and discipline, and hold our breath till we are blue in the face, but some of our children will go away form their faith. We can do everything right. Still our loved one abandons the truth and rebels against God. I should also mention that we can do everything wrong, and yet our child finds God. The point here is that faith is a personal decision. Our job is to pray for them, teach them, and reinforce the instructions of life and hope in Christ. Teach them the wisdom of knowing God and the advantages of living a godly lifestyle. We are to give them an understanding of God that they can use in life’s decisions. But the decision is up to them. Each man (woman) is responsible to God for themselves. This is why the father rejoiced.
The father in Luke 15 knew when his son asked for his share of the inheritance and left that he was already lost before his feet his the road. He also knew that he could not stop him. He knew that while his son was in rebellion that he was already dead spiritually. I am sure that his heart was broken. Something that we cannot miss though. The father knew his son had to make the decisions.
When his youngest son asked for the money his father did not argue with him. His father could have told him, that money is not yours yet, you do not have a right to it. His father could have drilled him with all kinds of questions, he could told him how foolish he was, and what a bad son he is. He could have struck out in anger. The father had all of the authority and right to do any or all of these things. Instead he listened. He gave his son an opportunity to learn a life lesson that his son needed.
This father also trusted God to return his son to his faith. The father knew that the son in his heart did believe in God and that this little light of faith would be used by God to steer him home. I am sure he held onto Proverbs 22:6. The father had hope. He knew that God loved his son also, just as much as he did. He knew that God would not abandon his son.
This hope is evident in verse 20 of Luke 15. It says, “But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him.” This father was looking for the return of his son. He expected the Lord to deliver his son. He rose up and looked for him every day! We don’t know how long the timeframe is of the story, but it was long enough for the son to lose his inheritance, take a slum job, deal with starvation, and finally repent. The son swallowed his pride and came with full intention of making things write with his father no matter what the consequences.
This story can tell us so much about the love of God. When the son returned the father did not care where he had been, or what he had done. He only say his son. His baby was coming home. I think about this and I think about my own son. He is a grown man, but every time I look at him, I still see the little infant that I held for the first time at his birth. I know the heart of God by this memory. With all that I love my son and no matter what he has done or where he has been, I still see this little baby in my hands. That I like to think is the way that God sees each of us. This father in our story just saw his baby, crying and beaten up by life, returning home. This father who loved his son, put his arms around him. Nothing else mattered.
This is what Jesus made possible. No matter how far we go. No matter what we have done. No matter how rebellious we have been. Jesus made a path home for us, for our children. Have hope in the Lord. Your heavenly Father has not abandoned you, and will not abandon your son or daughter. Yes there are some hard lessons in life to learn. No we cannot shelter our children from consequences of their own decisions. However; we can have confidence that the Lord will never leave or forsake them.
Luke 11 Teach Us to Pray – Part 3
While in the Army, I had the distinct honor of being an Infantry Squad Leader. A Squad Leader is responsible for 2-3 teams that equal from 9-12 men. The size is generally 9 men, but can bolster up to 11 or 12 with the addition of a weapons team, augmented to the squad. Routinely, a Platoon Leader or Company Commander would select such squad for special missions that would separate the squad from the main company for days at a time.
This limited the team on resources and causes special security considerations. In order to properly function and successfully complete the mission, with all personal alive and well, a lot of planning had to go into effect. All of the resources, including; Ammo, food, water, transportation, medical emergencies and other contingencies, came from the resources of the Company Commander. A squad by themselves would be left dependent on the resupply and emergency coordination’s planned out, prior to the separation of the units. Failure to make these coordination’s, and the necessary planning involved, could be fatal to both units.
Squad Leaders and their team leaders take the orders of the commander and analyze his intent. They then study the terrain, perform risk assessments and measure up the possibilities of success and failure. They inventory their on-hand equipment, ammunitions, and weapons. They look at the mission’s risk assessment and identify specialized equipment that may be needed to overcome obstacles and to give the squad the necessary tools needed in order minimize the risk, and to ensure mission success. Then they present these finds to the commander and request the supplies and resources needed that the squad does not have. The commander looks over the plan, and the requests and provides needed feedback and resources. The commander does this to protect the squad and to ensure their best possible chance of success. A good commander will not hold back anything that the squad needs in order to minimize friendly casualties, and ensure success. However, the Squad Leader must make the request.
Coming from a military background, this is the importance of Luke 11:3.
Give us day by day our daily bread. (Luke 11:3)
This is more than just asking God for food. This is a recognition that everything we need is supplied through His grace. He is the source of our existence. Without his provisions in life we would not be successful in our mission for His kingdom. Just like a soldier needs daily provisions of food, water, and routine ammunitions and medical supplies, so to do we, as children of God need our daily provision.
We should not wait until we have an emergency. We should analyze what our needs are and request the spiritual and physical resources we need on a daily basis. Recognition of our needs keep us humble and submissive to the Spirit. Matthew 6:33 tells us that we should seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. What things? The things are your daily needs and provisions like food, and water, and shelter. These are the things that are provided to everyone. “That ye may be the children of your Father which in in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just an on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45). What we should be seeking are the things that are not provided to just everyone. We should be looking in to our communities and into our surroundings.
How do we fulfill the mission that was given to us for the Kingdom? What do you need to be successful in bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to those who are around you? What provisions do you need to be a good and faithful servant? What do you need to overcome to provide a good witness to those who are watching and listening to you and your life? What daily nourishment do you need? Some provisions I know we all need are:
- Guidance of the Holy Spirit
- Spiritual Disciple
- Daily Reading of Scripture
- Teaching in Scripture
- Personal Relationship growth with Jesus
These are just a few off the top of my head. I am sure that as you sit and analyze your lifestyle, that you can get a more detailed and personalized list. These are the things you need to be successful. These are the things you need to be asking for. Yes you can still ask for healings, and financial security and all of the other things that we need to survive while here in this earth. However; the focus of your prayers should not be selfishly motivated. The focus on your prayers should be on things on the kingdom of Heaven.
We are just passing though. In truth we do not know if we will be here the next day or not. Psalm 144:4 puts it this way, “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.” We should be mindful that our days here are numbered and that we only have a little bit of time to perform out tasks here on this earth.
More importantly, the days of those who are lost are numbered also. They are like a vapor that is here one moment and then gone. How selfish are we to spend this little bit of time seeking to pray for only our own needs when so many are dying all around us? You see our Father knows the importance of our mission. He wants us to be successful. The Lord wants all men to come to repentance. He does not want anyone to die. He is patient and long suffering for our benefit. Everything He does is oriented to saving the lost. Shouldn’t we have the same heart?
We can also be secure in knowing that the provisions we ask for will be provided. While Jesus was here on the earth, he never turned anyone away who needed his provisions. He did not measure by race, religion, ethnic background, gender, or age. In fact if you look back at the Old Testament, you will see how God continuously provided for his people. He provided them security to grow to a nation, even under bondage in Egypt. He provided food and water to a rebellious people in the wilderness. He gave them strength and resources to conquer the promised land. He led them throughout their history by:
- A pillar of fire
- His voice
- His commandments
- The Messiah
God has always provided. Even in the Christian faith the Lord has provided. He has led the church to overcome.
- False Doctrines
We can have confidence in looking back in what He has done for us. We have been delivered from sicknesses, addictions, diseases, natural disasters, other hazardous events and relationships, even death itself, in some cases. The Lord provides what we need every day.
So we pray for our daily bread knowing that the one we ask is who provides our daily bread. We then have a greater understanding of the goodness of our Father, that even though in times past, when we did not ask for it he gave it. We know that even though we were His enemy, that he loved us so much that he provided not only the daily things we needed to live, but; He did so to give us the chance to receive the salvation that he already provided for us in Jesus Christ. We ask because we seek Him, of whom all blessings flow from. We ask because we believe in Him, and in his Son. We ask because we understand that our very existence is dependent upon His grace.
Luke 11 Teach Us to Pray – Part 2
The closest disciples to Jesus had witnessed miracles. They had seen the lame to walk, the blind to see, and the lepers healed. Scripture tells us repeatedly; Jesus healed all who came to him. The early disciples were eyewitnesses to these things, and many more. The closeness of their relationship to Jesus gave them an insider’s view.
They must have noticed the way Jesus prepared himself each day. They would have seen his dedicated prayer life. They would have heard the prayers that Jesus prayed for healing. They herd the prayers of thanksgiving that rolled from his lips. In hearing these and seeing the wonders wrought through this prayer fed lifestyle they were forced to examine their own prayer life.
In doing so, they could see that they fell short. With all of their religious efforts, all of their sacrifices, all of their Hebrew upbringing, they had somehow missed this important lesson. It felt like the doors to heaven itself were sealed closed. In seeing Jesus’ prayer life and the results of his prayers on his ministry, then knew that they needed to know more. So they asked him the same question that many of us ask today, “Lord teach us to pray”….
And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. (Luke 11:2)
Now we see Jesus beginning his teaching of what an effectual prayer should be like. He said, “When ye pray say”. There are allot of individuals who miss understand this phrase. Some have mistakenly taken this to mean that what Jesus is about to say, should be said verbatim. That is that is should be repeated word-for-word, or else you have not said a prayer.
Some believe that there is some supernatural binding to this prayer when recited exactly as written, God himself has to answer whatever follows. Some think that you have earned some special audience with God as a result of reciting this prayer. There are thousands who believe that atonement can be made by reciting this prayer over and over. This is not the case. God cannot be invoked. You cannot summon him like some ethereal game piece. He is the Almighty, the creator of the universe who has all autonomous authority. Meaning that God as God is self sufficient and answers to no one.
Luke is not saying to repeat identically each word and stanza that Jesus said. The Greek words usage, in this phrase, infers that Jesus wanted them to “say” in the same manner or way; not implying an obligation to repeat the exact verbiage. Repeating the Lord’s Prayer line-by-line, or even over and over again does not bring salvation and is not a means of penance.
It is probably better to look at the translation in Matthew’s recording of the same teachings in order to give us another disciple’s point of view of this important message. Matthew records, “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” (Matthew 6:9). In this catalog of the event, Matthew clearly states that we should pray in the same manner, or “in this way” (Strong’s, 3778,3779) that Jesus then instructs his disciples to pray. So when you pray, pray something like this…
Our Father which art in heaven… I do not know if you know this, but the carnal minded cannot please God. In all honesty there are some people praying, that really don’t have any faith that God exists. There are those that believe God exists but that he doesn’t care and is uninvolved in men’s lives. They are just throwing up their hands and speaking to the clouds and hoping that “if” there is a God, he will prove it in answering their prayer.
The Word of God tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God, and those that come to him must first believe that He IS. Secondly the scriptures tell that God rewards those who seek him persistently. In addition, scripture tells us that those who believe on Jesus have been adopted into the family of God, as his children. Romans 8:14-16 says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:”
So then, since we have already believed that He is and that He rewards those who seek him, and believe that He has already adopted us as children through Jesus Christ, we can then boldly come to him. Seeking him ourselves. We can call him Father, because he literally is our Father. I am getting excited already!
Jesus further clarifies the importance of this relationship later in the chapter when he explains the nature of the Father. Jesus explains, “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:11-13) WOW! Nail on the head! Did you see that! Jesus said that even though we are evil, we still know how to give good things, then he said… that God is Good! So- if God is Good, then how much more does he have the ability and will to give good things to those who ask?
Jesus asked a rhetorical question, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those (his children) who ask of him? I love my children and I can honestly tell you that one of the most heartbreaking things that a father has to face is when one of his children ask him for something that he cannot provide. It never gets easier, and it does not matter which child asks. You see as a father, I want to give all kinds of good gifts to my children because I love them, and I love being able to provide for them. I love being able to protect them. I love for them to look to me when they are in trouble, or even when they just need someone to listen. I love being a confident to each and everyone of my children. But you know, there are times when I can provide for them, but I don’t, because; they do not ask for me to. If they don’t ask for my help, knowing that I want to help. I cannot help them though, if they don’t ask me to. Why? Because it is their choice to make, not mine.
So first we must ask, then he will give. Now he did specify what he would give, that is the Holy Spirit, but look he also said how much more… this means how much more willing is he to give the Holy Spirit. It is like he is just there waiting for you to ask, and BAM! It is on the way! Now this is not a teaching on the Holy Spirit, but since it was brought up. What good does that do? The Holy Spirit does many things for the believer, just as a quick list; he is our comforter, he is a teacher, he is a counselor, he is an encourager, and many more things to us. The Holy Spirit is the seal of God on our lives. The Father gives the Holy Spirit whole heartedly, in fact scripture says that the Spirit of God indwells those who follow Jesus Christ.
Which art in heaven… The Creator of the universe exists outside of normal time and space, He is not hindered by laws of physics or the limits of mans imagination. He does not dwell in little wooden crucifixes or crosses for that matter. Those things are made my man, and cannot contain God. The earth as a whole cannot contain God. If the universe could contain God then what kind of a God would He be? No God is above all powers and principalities. God exists outside of our universe. In scripture the heavens are referred to in three different arenas. The first arena of the heavens referred to is the atmosphere of the earth. This covers what we breath, the ozone which includes the clouds and weather. The second spectrum that the heavens refers to is our universe. This convers from the atmosphere on our into the area we call space. Where the universe with it’s multiple galaxies spin and collide. The third area that scripture refers to heaven is the place that is outside of time and space, the area where God resides. This is Gods place from which He over sees all of creation. Creation includes, the universe, the multiple galaxies, and the earth.
“Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? And where is the place of my rest?” (Isaiah 66:1)
We now begin to see that when we come to the Lord God Almighty, we need to have an understanding of who He is. We need to know that “he IS”. We need to know that he is above all other things in existence. If we don’t believe this about God, then why should we waste our time in seeking Him out? This then is where faith begins.
Faith doesn’t start with a warm fuzzy feeling, or some emotional high after a revival. Faith begins with a proper understanding of God. A proper understanding of God comes from scripture. There are NO secular authorities on God. There are no scientific rules that can determine that God does not exist.
Scripture tells us that the very design of creation points to the fact that God exists, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” (Psalm 19:1-6). There is no excuse under heaven to NOT believe in God.
Hallowed be thy name… Hallowed means to be sanctified or set apart. This term set apart means to be unique, or different than anything else. The manner that this refers to in saying hallowed be thy name is to mentally set his name apart in such a manner to bring honor to his name, by counting Him as holy. Acknowledging that God alone is holy. God is unique. God alone is good. We need to have an understanding of the reverence that God deserves. My children have an open door to me at any time. We play around and kid one another. We also pull pranks on one another from time to time. We tell jokes, we fish, we camp. We do all the informal things that fathers and their children do. Do you know with all of that familiarity, they still address me as “sir”? Why is that? Because with everything we share, there is one thing we do not share… we are not peers. My children respect me as their father, and as an elder.
We should respect God in the same manner, as one who is our Father, and one who is Holy. In fact scripture says that we should mimic our Father, just like sons do to their earthly fathers. Peter wrote, “but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;” (1 Peter1:15). See if you believe that God is holy, and that you are called by his name, then you should honor him by being Holy in your behavior. Faith breeds action.
Not so long ago, a man’s name was his reputation. This is because everyone knows that you actually can judge a book by its cover. Now I know this is contrary to the whole “why can’t we all just get along” politically correct stance that has paralyzed the entire human race. What was meant as a good thing about not being to hard on someone who has fallen on hard times, has now gone to the extreme. This saying and many others like “who are you to judge me?”, while many claim to be bible based, are twisted doctrines straight from the enemy. Scripture in no manner ever says that a man should be lazy, if he can work.
If a man has shown himself untrustworthy, unsafe to be around, or in need of being imprisoned then that is the reputation of the man, that he has earned by his actions. Not because someone judged him. That man’s name is dirt. Not so long ago, people understood that. I know you think I have gotten off topic, but take a look again at the verse… thy name. See I am still here. The other part to “hallowed by thy name” is being able to trust in that “name”. This is more important than you realize. Being able to trust in that name is more than just getting your prayers answered. It is the key to life itself. In Acts 4:12 we read;
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
This was the Apostle Peter talking about Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified by the Romans at the behest of the Jews. This Jesus rose from the grave and is now in the presence of the Father where he makes intercessory prayers for us. This intercessory prayer is the true “Lords Prayer”, which goes up continuously on our behalf. What have we to fear?
If we do not believe these simple truths about God then we need not go any further. You see in order to ask God anything and expect that He will answer we must at a minimum believe:
- God Exists
- He is unique in any and every way
- He is our Heavenly Father
- He has all authority
- He is willing to listen to us and to answer us
- He is good and desires good things for his children
- Jesus is the only way to the Father
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth… We also see in this opening that prayer is about our relationship to God. Knowing who He is, accepting of Jesus and Lord and Savior and seeking His guidance. Prayer is foremost an acknowledgement of our responsibilities to God. Prayer is not about getting mans will done in heaven, but getting God’s will done on earth. Prayer is asking God to use us in a manner that is pleasing to Him to accomplish what He needs done. God is the one who is to be glorified in our lives, not us. We pray for His kingdom to be expanded and strengthened. You see we are wanting his kingdom to come because we understand that no one can make peace here on earth, but God. On one can make us whole, but God. No one can take away our pains and fears, but God himself.
James says, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (James 4:3). That is when you do ask, you ask for the wrong things and for the wrong reasons. Selfish desires are not what prayer is for. Here is another way to look at it. What heavenly good does it really do for my little league team to win the ballgame? Or how does my getting a new car further the advancement of the gospel? Am I really praying for what I need to be walk in the spirit of God? Notice I did not include prayers for legitimate needs. Needs like deliverance from addictions, sicknesses, disease, or even financial burdens. These prayers can affect your spiritual maturity and the furtherance of the gospel. These are legitimate prayer needs. These types of prayers should be done for ourselves and for one another. These prayers show love and concern for one another.
Prayers for those in authority are also legitimate prayers that we are actually commanded we should pray. We should pray for those who use you and persecute you for Christ’s namesake. Prayers should be offered for all men everywhere. We should pray for the widows, and orphans. We should pray for the blind, that they may see. We should pray for the lost, that they may seek and find Jesus. This is the will of God. These prayers bring the kingdom of God here to the earth where men live and breathe. By praying these sorts of prayer and inviting God to take part in our governments, and in our schools, and in our neighborhoods, and churches we are seeking God in a manner that is pleasing to him. These are unselfish prayers.
The challenge this week if to set some time apart to tell God that you do believe in Him, and his Son. Pray for the Spirit to teach you what you should know. Pray for someone else, that God may reveal Himself to them. Pray that God will show you how to further His kingdom in your neighborhood. Go and be His ambassador, and his child.
Luke 11 Teach Us to Pray – Part 1
“Is there something more? Am I missing something?” Came the question from a young man, whose name I will keep for my own treasure chest. The reference was for what most people refer to as, “The Lord’s Prayer”. This young man asked a very serious question, much like the disciples did of Jesus. In 1st Thessalonians it tells us that we should pray without ceasing. How can we indeed pray without ceasing is we do not know how to pray. How do we talk to God? What does a proper prayer life look like? Is there some secret formula?
I hear all of these kinds of thoughts in the questions that I receive. Is God listening? Does God even care? How do I talk to God and get an answer? Do I offend God with the way that I pray? Does God love me? I told him yes, there is more to it, than it just being a model for prayer.
The significance of the teaching to pray itself is proof of the importance of prayer. Especially if you take in consideration that it is God, himself that is giving the lesson. Imagine that, the creator of the universe wants to communicate with us. In the “Lord’s Prayer” we can see the benevolence of God towards man. The Almighty God came down to earth and gave a special class on prayer. We should probably study what Jesus was trying to tell us about the Father and how we should address the One Living God.
We as a people, who claim Christ as our Lord, have no idea how to talk to him. I think that in the Lord’s Prayer we can find the answer to these questions. We can not only use this model for how to pray, if we look closer, but also get an understanding of God in a very personal manner.
Examination of this model shows us the importance of prayer. Looking at this model also gives us an attitude in prayer that expects results. We can be confident in God’s hearing of our prayer and his timely answers. Jesus said in John 15:7, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” Then again, Jesus told Peter as they passed a withered fig tree, “Therefor I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive [them], and ye shall have [them].”(Mark 11:24) As we see we are to pray expecting results, not because of who we are, but because of who God is.
Now let us move into our verses with an open eye; considering what Jesus is trying to tell us, and how we should apply it to our lives.
1 And it came to pass, that , as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as john also taught his disciples.
How important is prayer? Jesus, the Son of God, who was the Word in the flesh prayed on a regular basis. Jewish custom is to pray a minimum of three times a day, although I don’t know of any commandment to do so, it would seem that the custom comes from the Book of Daniel. Daniel was one of the Hebrews that were taken to serve in the king Darius’ palace when the Persians overtook Jerusalem.
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. (Daniel 6:10)
Something that might also catch our attention here that will lend to our latter discussion is that Daniel was kneeling. Later in the New Testament, we see that Jesus also knelt. Tradition has it that James the brother of Jesus knelt when he prayed, and prayed so often; that he developed callouses on his knees. This is of great significance. The posture of kneeling is unique in the world of religion at his time. Pagan religious practices involved prayers that were offered while standing with the palms facing upward. Pagan prayers were done in public and associated with sacrifices made to idols.[i] Here in our model, we see that they were kneeling, and in private. Showing a level of humility and respect. This also shows an intimacy with God, that others do not have. Notice that no sacrifice was necessary, even at this time, to speak with Jehovah.
King David in his Psalm 119:164 exclaims, “Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgements.” This gives us another reference to frequency, motivation, and purpose
Some times when scripture noted Jesus prayed:
- Luke 3:21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,
- Matthew 11:25-26 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.
- Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
- Matthew 14:23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.
- John 17:1-26 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
- Luke 5:16 And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.
- Luke 6:12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
- Luke 22:41-44 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
- Luke 23:34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
- Luke 9:18 And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?
- Luke 9:29 And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.
Paul commands us to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This may be a direct reference to 1 Chronicles 16:11 – “Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.”
Note the phrase “he was praying in a certain place”. “He” is in reference to Jesus. Jesus was praying in a certain place. This would give the idea that it was a specific place. Whether it was a common spot for prayer, or not in not clear, but it is clear that the location was picked specifically to pray. Jesus taught that prayer should be a time spent alone with the God the Father. We should not seek to be seen by others, so that they can “see how holier than thou” we are. “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:6). Jesus often would withdraw to be by himself to pray. He separated himself from the crowds and even his disciples.
When I was a youth, I use to have a closet that I would pray in. My closet was a walk-in closet that was in our 2-room apartment that my dad and I shared. I put all my clothing on one side, moved a desk into the closet along the other side. I had a stool that I would sit upon and there I would read scripture and journal my prayers. Now, I have an office in my home that I use for study, and for prayer. I get up early in the morning, read my scriptures, and I journal and pray. God Himself proclaims, “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.” (Proverbs 8:17). Praying the first thing in the morning demonstrates love and affection towards God.
Imagine if you were to get up in the morning, and your spouse gets up with you. You both go about your morning routine to get ready for work. You shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, and grab the keys to go to work. Then you realize, hey, I don’t have my lunch. So the first thing you say to your spouse is, “would you make me lunch for work?” No- “good morning”, no- “I love you”, no- “I will miss you today”… Does this show that you value your spouse? Does it show that you love your spouse? No, it only shows your selfishness, arrogance, and lack of consideration. Your love of God should not be second hand either. I mean after all, he did sustain your life while you slept…
Sometimes I will burn frankincense oil or incents. Yes, I know that we are not required to offer up sacrifices, but I just like the smell of frankincense and apparently, God does not mind it either. It is just something that helps me address my mood in prayers, in addition, when I walk by the room later and smell the incense; it reminds me to pray. Let’s face it, we all get busy and mismanage our time every now and then. Having a reminder to just be still and know the Lord IS, is a great way to say, Thanks Lord.
when he ceased…
Do not overlook this phrase, “when he ceased”. Prayer with the Lord should be our highest priority. I mean this is Old Testament kind of stuff. Take a look at Deuteronomy, “But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find [him], if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”(v. 4:29). When we speak with God, He should have our attention. Isn’t it frustrating when you are trying to talk to someone, and as you talk, you notice that whatever is on his or her phone is more important than what you are saying? Therefore, when we pray we should not have other distractions. This is probably the best reason for a “certain place” to pray. Having as much as possible a place to be quiet and alone with the Father shows honor and respect. Turn off the phone, the TV, and the radio. Give the Lord your full attention; he deserves at least that much. Now the flip side, notice the disciples waited. They understood how important prayer is to Jesus. They did not barge in and interrupt His communion with the Father. Do others know the importance of prayer in your life? If they do not, then you demonstrate that by prayer being important in your life, it should be a priority. You do not need to tell everyone that it is important; they can observe it by our life of prayer. Our prayer life can actually teach others the importance and manner of prayer.
That leads us to the last point in this verse, teaching others. Discipleship is of utmost importance. The primary thing a new disciple needs to know, is how to pray. In Alcoholics Anonymous and new person getting sober is assigned a sponsor to help them I there new life of sobriety. Unfortunately, this step is missing from Christianity. We expect the new Christian to immediately be able to stand on their own, and be able to know how to talk to God. What a terrible situation, we tell them that God will supply all their needs, and walk out of their lives without showing them how to talk with God. That is like handing the keys to your car over to a 5 year old and telling them, “I will see you when you get there.” No one in his or her right mind would so such an irresponsible thing. It is dangerous to the child, and anyone else along the way.
The problem is that, most of us have been treated the same way. We were given the keys to the car with no instruction on how to drive it. Now we have a generation of disciples trying to disciple the next generation without proper experience or training themselves. We should be teaching one another and encouraging one another. Scripture says that the devil has come to seek and destroy. We need to look out for one another. Teaching how to study the scriptures and how to pray should be discipleship 101.
2 Timothy 3:16 – All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
1 Peter 4:10 – As every man hath received the gift, [even so] minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
John 17:17 – Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
In evidence of the few items we have covered, I believe it is safe to say that we should pray on a consistent and frequent basis. With a primary motivation of praising God. Prayer should in private, as both evidenced and commanded by Jesus. Prayer should have priority in our lives. Prayer is so important to our walk with God that we should spend time in prayer throughout the day. We must also bring up the new convert in this crucial instruction on communicating with God.
“Prayer Practices in Daniel by Judith H. Newman.” Covenant in the Hebrew Bible, http://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/passages/related-articles/prayer-practices-in-daniel.
[i] Why does Daniel get down on his knees to pray three times a day with his windows opened toward Jerusalem (Dan 6:10)? The reason is that prayerful bodies matter in the book of Daniel. Though supposedly serving in the Persian king Darius’s government, in this tale Daniel disobeys the king’s law to worship him. Instead, Daniel follows his own religious law, developing habitual practices that involve his body. His posture of kneeling is unique in the book and offers a strong contrast to pagan religious practice in the Babylonian and Persian Empires, as well as the Greek Seleucid Empire, which threatened the Jerusalem temple at the time of the book’s composition. In Greek religion, praying individuals stood with hands outstretched, palms facing upward. Prayers were recited aloud in public accompanied by a sacrifice. In contrast, Daniel prays in isolation in an upper room, kneeling down in “service.” Daniel’s prayer signals his resistance to empire and his radically alternative allegiance. Rather than offer honor and praise to King Darius in a public space, he seeks mercy by confessing sin, praying, and praising his own God. “Prayer Practices in Daniel by Judith H. Newman.” Covenant in the Hebrew Bible, http://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/passages/related-articles/prayer-practices-in-daniel.
What Does it Mean to “Ask in My Name”?
“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”
When most people pray they are really just praying and hoping. That is when we pray we are saying some words, hoping that we said is correctly; hoping that we used the proper syntax and keywords, like some Google search. We hope that God is even listening and that when He gets around to it that He will answer if he feels like we deserve and answer the way we want him to for our benefit. But this is not what prayer is like in scripture. When the patriarchs and the apostles prayed, they expected results.
When we pray we should believe and be expecting results. Scripture approached prayer with an expectation that it is heard, and will be answered. Why would Jesus tell us the whatsoever ye shall ask, that I will do? Twice in these two verses Jesus says, “I will do”. That is a fully loaded promise. So why don’t we experience this kind of prayer life?
Looking here at verse 13 we see that Jesus first says, “ask in my name”. Whatever you need, ask in my name. I heard a story recently of a conversation between two believers. One was struggling with his prayer life and did not feel as if God was listening to him. He had been praying earnestly over and over and was not seeing an answer to his prayers. The other Christian, in an attempt to help him resolve the issue, told the first Christian that he was praying incorrectly. The encourager told him he was using the wrong name to call to upon God, and because he was using the wrong pronunciation of Jesus (Yeshua), that God would not answer him.
I can see the logic in his argument. I mean right here in this very text is says to ask in his name. Does this mean that if I don’t use the correct pronunciation or dialect of the name of Jesus, or worse, that I don’t even say, “In Jesus name”, that God won’t hear me and answer my prayer? No, God Forbid.
There are some groups that say that we must pronounce the name of Jesus in a certain way or we will not have our prayers answered, these groups have a false doctrine that even says that it is a sin to pronounce the name of the Son of God incorrectly.
Some say that we must use:
- The original Greek in which the New Testament was written: (Iota Eta Sigma Micron Upsilon Sigma) (pronounced Há-soos´);
- The Hebrew (pronounced <Joshua>Yeh-hah shoo´ah or Yeh-shoo´ah);
- The Aramaic Yêšû` (pronounced Yá-soo´);
- The Greek Jesus (pronounced Jee-zus);
- English Jesus (pronounced Jee-zus´).
We need to understand that if there are no original texts from the Hebrew, and the Greek and Aramaic texts are not believed to be the originals either. The Textus Receptus and the Septuagint are our references for the modern day translations of the bible. There the Greek translation is Jesus Christ which comes to mean “Yahweh is Salvation” in the Hebrew name of Joshua. Now we can see how vain an argument over Yeshua, Joshua, Jesus, any other dialect issue is over the pronunciation of the Son of God.
In the Bible there are over 955 names and titles that are given for reference to God. Most of these are actually descriptive of God’s character or his attributes. Some of these are:
Abba – Greek: Father
Abba- Aramaic: Daddy
Abir (Abhir)- Hebrew: The Mighty One
YHWH (Jehovah) Hebrew: Lord, in fact in the King James Version when you see the capitalized “LORD” it is in reference to this term.
El Shaddiah – Hebrew: Almighty One
Bara – Hebrew: Creator
El – Hebrew: Which is a borrowed term from Canaan which means “God”
You see the Hebrews believe that the name of God is so sacred that you cannot even pronounce it, or even write it in its completion. So when Orthodox Jews write out even reference to God they leave out a letter for example writing Lord would be “L_rd”.
In truth we must ask ourselves, first, are we a Christian? You see it is believing that Jesus is the Son of God that we can receive his offer of Salvation, believing He has the power and authority that only the Son of God has, and that His Word is trustworthy, and that He committed Himself to become a sinless sacrifice for our sins, and then conquered death in His resurrection. His name, however pronounced, still speaks of the Son of God. My name is Harvey, but some people call me Havier. I don’t ignore them, I understand that they are speaking to me from a Latin perspective. I still respond to their calling me.
So what does it mean to “Ask in My Name”? It means to ask in his weight. That is to ask in his merit. Or in the provision that he has made. We come before God in Christ’s standing. This is what Jesus meant when he said “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.) (John 14:6). No man can approach God the Father in his own merit. Of ourselves, there is no reason why God should hear any or our prayers, much less to answer them. God does not owe any of us anything.
Still we come before God thinking that if we review our memory verses, or if we recite enough scripture, or even if we have done enough Bible study to show God how good a Christian we are, then! He will hear us! We feel all spiritual and even invoke the name of Jesus in the proper context and then God has to hear and give us what we prayed for. WOW! What arrogance we have! We forget the warning of James that says, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6)
Jesus did not put a bunch of conditions on the prayer. He didn’t say:
- If you sin, don’t come pray to me
- If you stumble, don’t ask me for help
- If you fall, I wont be the one picking you up
- If you didn’t read your bible today, don’t even bother to approach me.
- He did not say, if you call me by my proper name, or #IN JESUS NAME, then I will answer you.
No he did not say any of that foolishness. He said, if you know me, and who I am, that I am the Son of God. That I am your way to the Father. I you believe in me, then trust me. So then “in his name” means to come in the merit of his righteousness.
We can also come as his representative. We are ambassadors. When an ambassador comes to another country they do not go in their own name, they go representing the country from which they came, and they act accordingly with the authority granted to them by their own leader.
We have authority in the name of Jesus. We have authority on behalf of the Kingdom, through Jesus who is the Christ (Messiah). See Jesus came to do the will of his Father. He came on behalf of His Father and acted in his Father’s authority. He did not step out of his Father’s will, nor the authority granted in that will.
So, when we pray, are we praying in the will of Jesus and in the Authority given in his name? Are we acting on behalf of Jesus? We are praying for his will, not ours. Now don’t miss hear me. Listen to this, just because we are to pray in his authority for his will to be done, it does not mean we cannot intercede for our loved ones, or ask for ourselves.
The example that Jesus gave us in what we call the “Lord’s Prayer” or the “Our Father” shows us how a prayer should be prayed in faith. It should first give glory to God. How can you ask something of someone without having an understanding that they can and are willing perform what you ask. Then we are to pray for the things that we need in order to continue the work of faith that he has wrought in us. Recognizing that all things are given to us, even our daily sustenance. The Holy, Creator of the universe and all that is within it, the one who stands from before time began, and will be here after time is ended cares about your individual needs, especially with regards to sustaining you in all matters of grace. Not enough praying “in his name” is in real acknowledgement of full dependence on His righteousness for access to the throne of God and seeking His glorification and His will to be done.
In Luke 12:32 Jesus says, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” And in Matthew 6:8 you can find Jesus telling us, “for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” God knows what we need and is willing to give us abundantly. The ability to speak to God is given directly to each individual believer in Jesus Christ. We have this gift because the Lord wants real fellowship with us.
God gives us opportunities to exercise our faith in him by our dependence on his grace.
He said that he will supply everything we need, but we do have to come to him. He wants to hear your prayers, he wants that acknowledgement that you understand who he is and where all good things come from. God will do his part in your life. We need to pray and believe that the things we seek in him, for his glory… He will do. He has promised it, and what he has promised he will perform. Not because he is a Djinni. But because he is a God of love, and it makes him happy to give to us.
In closing I want to read to you John 17:20-26, this is Jesus’ prayer for his followers. In particular this portion speaks to you and me.
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.