Nov 14

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How many articles or sermons have you read and heard on the subject of prayer? More than likely, not many! One of the reasons is that it is not an easy subject to write on, or to preach about. Yes, we all know that Paul wrote: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). We also know that Jesus taught about prayer; first he taught how not to pray: “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. (6) 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” (Matt. 6:5-6). Then, we also know what Jesus said next, as he continued to teach about praying, using both the positive and the negative: “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. (8) Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matt. 6:7-8). Finally, we know what is incorrectly called by so many “The Lord’s Prayer;” Jesus taught how to correctly pray: “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. (10) Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. (11) Give us this day our daily bread. (12) And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. (13) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matt. 6:9-13).
Yet, many do not even understand the context of time, in Jesus’ teaching on prayer. Jesus lived and died under the Law of Moses! His life in the flesh was lived entirely under the Law of Moses, so he taught about some things related to this law; on the other hand, he lived looking forward to the blessed age of Christ when his law would be in force. This can be seen as he taught on the subject of prayer in the verses above. In the three major ages of the Bible: 1) the Patriarchal Age, 2) the Law of Moses age, and 3) the age of Christ; certain things were/are true! Therefore, Jesus’ first words: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” It has always and will always be correct for man, who was created by God, to give honor to his Creator: “Hallowed be thy name.” The word “hallowed, (the Greek hagiazo) means: to render or acknowledge, God as holy. Therefore, a reverential acknowledgment of God, the “I am that I am;” and profound veneration for His Being and which may be carried on to God’s attributes, ordinances, and his word!
However, Jesus’ next words: “Thy kingdom come,” must be understood in the context of time. Jesus was speaking before the kingdom had come, as he lived under the Law of Moses; therefore, he prayed: “They kingdom come.” We today would not use such words, as the kingdom has come, for Paul wrote that he and the Colossians had been translated by God “into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13). John wrote: “I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom …” (Rev. 1:9). Clearly, we need not pray for the kingdom to come, when it has already come. Nevertheless, it is right to pray for the kingdom and her wellbeing, as we are praying for each member of the kingdom. We should pray that every member of the kingdom would live as Christians, that each would be the living and walking gospel of Christ. That each of us would understand, we are the now having-come kingdom over which Christ is King, and that we are the only “voice” God has to teach the lost the saving gospel of Christ.
Jesus’ next words are very thought provoking: “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Ever think just how these words could ever be a reality? God’s will in heaven is absolute and could never be any other way! So, how could this ever be true “in earth?” Each person on earth being free moral agents, are free to determine if he will obey God or not! We being made a little lower than the angels, being made of flesh and blood, having the ability to be tempted and sin; must freely yield ourselves to the will of God. Jesus taught, when speaking of the strait gate, “and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life” that “few there be that find it.” It is clearly taught in the New Testament that few will be saved; so is Jesus teaching us to pray for the impossible? Or, is he teaching us to pray for the greatest possibility, yet, not the most likely? One thing for sure, it is the most natural thing for God’s children to desire, thus, to pray for, that God’s will be done on earth as in heaven! What could be greater? This is the will of God himself; Peter wrote: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Does God not know that most will never come to repentance? Of course, he has such knowledge! Nevertheless, he is “longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish.”
So, what can we conclude about Jesus’ words? Among other things, we are to pray expressing our desires, not necessarily the reality of things! However, we must work in harmony with our prayers! It is folly to pray for the lost, then, make no effort to teach them the gospel and fail to live according to the gospel.

— Frank R. Williams

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