“The Purpose For Our Blessings” (Psalm 67 sermon)

In 1940, Great Britain was involved in a desperate struggle for survival in the war against Nazi Germany, and they appealed to the United States for help. Many Americans, remembering World War I, did not want to get involved. But U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt told the American people that we had a responsibility to help the democracies of the world against the fascist aggressors. We had a blessed nation, the most prosperous nation in the world, and with that, comes a great responsibility. Roosevelt told the country: “We must be the great arsenal of democracy.” We had not been blessed for nothing; we had been blessed for the purpose of helping to save the world from evil. 

And that is virtually the same message which Psalm 67 gives us as God’s people. Fitting for this weekend, many Bible scholars believe that Psalm 67 was written for a thanksgiving celebration of harvest. Look at :6 where it says: “the earth has yielded its produce.” So the setting of Psalm 67 is harvest time — what we might call “Thanksgiving.” So Psalm 67 is a perfect Thanksgiving Psalm — not only because it celebrates what God has given us, but also because it gets us to think about WHY God has given us the things He has. Yes, God has blessed us very much — we talked about that last week — so we should think about WHY. What is the purpose for God’s blessings that we celebrate this Thanksgiving week?  

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“Give Thanks to the Lord” (Psalm 136:1 sermon)

First Baptist Church, Angleton, TX 11/22/20  First Sunday at 972 Anchor Road

When the first Pilgrims landed in the New World on November 11,1620, William Bradford, the pilgrim leader who later became their governor wrote that: “‘They fell upon their knees, and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element.’”  (Nathaniel Philbrick, The Mayflower and the Pilgrims’ New World, p. 44)

In the same way, we today at First Baptist Angleton fall on our knees, and bless the God of heaven, for bringing us as a church through many “perils and miseries” of sorts, to “set OUR feet” on “OUR proper element” here in this beautiful new place!  Let us officially give thanks to God for His goodness to us today!

This is a day for our church to give thanks. This is of course a week for giving thanks — Thanksgiving Day is Thursday. And we can be thankful for SO many things, can’t we? 

— our new building especially today! 

— for Cheryl & I this week: we give thanks for our new grand baby!

— for SO many other things — we could literally spend the entire service this morning, just giving thanks to God for all of His goodnesses to us. And that is the theme of our scripture for this morning from Psalm 136:1:

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

This is a great verse, and its content is one of the most famous and most repeated worship phrases in the whole Old Testament:

— As far as we know, it was first used by King David in a song of praise in I Chronicles 16:34 when they brought the Ark of the Covenant back up to Jerusalem. As the ark came up, David appointed Asaph and his brothers to praise God (the first “ministers of music”) and they sang these very words: “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for his lovingkindness is everlasting.”

— then in I Chronicles 16:41, it says they gave the priests the duty to regularly “give thanks to the LORD, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

So that was the beginning of this great worship phrase. Then we see it used again in multiple prayers and songs:

— When Solomon dedicated his temple  in II Chronicles 5:13, the priests praised God using this great phrase. 

— In one of its most famous occasions in scripture, when a coalition of several nations invaded Judah, God’s prophet told His people that they didn’t even need to fight — Jehoshaphat just sent out the priests singing this verse: “Give thanks to the LORD, for His lovingkindness is everlasting” and God went before them, and confused the enemies, who turned on each other, and they were defeated.

— In Ezra 3:11, when Israel rebuilt the foundation of the Temple, they praised and gave thanks to God, “For He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” 

— Then we find this phrase is used repeatedly in different Psalms, including Psalm 118, and as we saw this morning in EVERY verse here in Psalm 136 as we just read. 

So this is one of THE most significant phrases in all of the word of God,”Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting.”  It must be important for God to have His people use it so much. So we need to know it, and understand what it is saying to us:

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“On The Move For The Glory Of God” (Joshua 1:1-9 Sermon)

In June of 1944, General Dwight Eisenhower had an important decision to make. All the men and material were ready for the momentous D-Day invasion of German-occupied France, but there were some reasons for hesitation. One of Eisenhower’s top aides came to him and said he didn’t think the airborne segment of the invasion would work, that they might have 90% casualties, and not be able to hold the vital bridges that would prevent German reinforcement. And then there was the weather. It was blustery and stormy — it looked like it “might” clear up some the next day, but it was uncertain. But if they didn’t go now, the tides — which were crucial to get around some of the obstacles the Germans had placed on the beach — would not be in perfect sync with the invasion plans again for some weeks. So after much consultation and deliberation, Eisenhower turned to his men and said: “OK, let’s go.”

Well had a big decision to make last week here at First Baptist as well. We have the keys to the building. We have a certificate of occupancy. There is no legal obstacle to our move. But we don’t have some of the acoustic panels – they will not arrive for another few weeks. The new chairs we ordered have been delayed time and time again, and may not be in for another month. But everything else is ready. After prayer and consideration our staff made the decision: “Let’s go!” We’re “anchoring up” at 972 Anchor Road next Sunday!

But we need to remember that this is not all about buildings and chairs; we need to keep in mind the spiritual aspects of what we are doing. Our passage for this morning speaks about how Joshua and the people of Israel were on the move into Promised Land, and God had this message for them. I believe this is His word for US today, too, as another people who are “on the move.” Let’s see what God said to them, and what He is saying to us today as well:

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“The Model Prayer: Spiritual Protection” (Matthew 6:13 sermon)

Many Americans cheered several years ago, when a Texas mother fought off three masked men who invaded the home where she and her little son lived. Using a pistol she had in her bedroom, she shot one intruder in the stomach and ran the other two off.  Most Americans applaud — and rightly so — those who do whatever they have to do to protect their family.

But we also need to understand that there is a greater responsibility than just protecting our family physically — and that is protecting them spiritually.  The greatest enemy your family has cannot be shot with a gun, or physically barred from your home. The greatest enemy your family has is spiritual, and must opposed by spiritual weapons. That is why we must learn to pray prayers of spiritual protection which call down the power of God to protect and to work in the lives of those we love.

This morning we come to the last of the 6 major requests of the Model Prayer. We have seen that the Model Prayer is not a “script” that we are to endlessly repeat word-for-word, but it is an outline of the things God wants us to talk with Him about when we pray.  We’ve seen that we are to begin our prayers with praise, then pray for God’s Kingdom’s work, then surrender our lives to His will; and then lift up our own requests, and requests for those we love, before we spend time confessing our own sin and granting forgiveness to others.  The final request of the prayer is found in :13 and reads:

“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”  

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“The Model Prayer: Receiving & Giving Forgiveness” (Matthew 6:12 sermon)

In 2012 a book was published with the title: Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. It became a New York Times Bestseller, and was regarded by many as a “pretty cool” book on prayer; how a lot of our prayers can be summarized as “wow”, look at all the “neat” things around us; “thanks”, obviously being grateful for what we have; and “help” for when we need it. Pretty neat stuff, many thought. But Tim Keller, whose commitment with his wife to prayer I mentioned last week, pointed out: “It is striking, though, that the book leaves out one of the most crucial categories of prayer, namely confession and repentance.” (Timothy Keller, Prayer, p. 60-61) It’s not too surprising to me, though, that a book that would be popular with the world would leave out confession and repentance. Those things just aren’t “popular.” 

The truth is, a lot of us would rather “leave out” confession and repentance, because that is certainly not the most “fun” part of prayer, but as we all know, there are a lot of things in life that may not be “fun” but they are necessary. Jesus knew that we NEEDED this category of prayer, and so He included it as one of the 6 petitions of His Model Prayer. 

We have seen over the last weeks that Jesus gave us this Model Prayer not as a “script” to be recited, but as a model outline to follow. He gave us at least 6 categories in this prayer of things that God wants us to talk with Him about when we pray — especially those longer prayers that we should pray to begin our day. So this morning we come to the 5th Request, which deals with forgiveness:  “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

There are two parts to this 5th request, both of which deal with forgiveness: the first deals with the forgiveness we RECEIVE from God, and the second, with the forgiveness which we are to GIVE to others:  Both of these are important, and necessary, and BOTH of these phrases should play an important role in our prayer time every day. 

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“The Model Prayer: Our Requests” (Matthew 6:11 sermon)

During the Second World War, Corrie Ten Boom and her family helped Jews escape from Nazi persecution and hid them in her home. In her book, The Hiding Place, she shares about growing up in that home, where her father had a watch repair shop downstairs. He was very good at what he did, and she said there weren’t too many repair problems he hadn’t encountered. But, she said: “occasionally one would come along that baffled even him. And then I would hear him say: ‘Lord, You turn the wheels of the galaxies. You know what makes the planets spin — and You know what makes this watch run’”!  And he would ask God to help him with the  need that he had. (Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place, p. 70) 

What Corrie’s father did that day, is an example of how every Christian should constantly bring our needs to God — all through the day, just like Mr. Ten Boom did, and also during our morning prayer time. We are studying today the 4th petition of the Model Prayer. This section of the Model shows us that after we praise God, and pray for His kingdom and His will, then we are then also to bring Him our requests: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Let’s look at what we can learn about bringing our requests to God, from what Jesus taught us here:

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“The Model Prayer: Thy Will Be Done” (Matthew 6:10 sermon)

What would you pray in the following situation: A few years back a pastor had for a friend of his who at the point of death. He was praying fervently that God would spare this friend’s life. In fact he prayed, “God would you add some years to the length of his time here on earth?” He said that suddenly he had the strongest impression, as if God were asking him: “Would you be willing for Me to take those years from your life, in order to add them to his?”  Now gets tough, doesn’t it? How much did he really want it?  This man said that his heart began to beat quickly, and sweat began to bead on his brow. He didn’t know how to respond: should he ask to take it from his own life — or not?!  Finally he prayed the only prayer he knew how to pray: “Lord, Thy will be done.” That’s always a good prayer to pray!   

The last several weeks we have been looking together at the Model Prayer Jesus gave us in Matthew 6:9-13. We’ve seen that it is not a “script” that we are to mindlessly repeat, but an outline of the things God wants us to speak with Him about when we pray. We’ve studied the first two requests so far, and have seen from “Hallowed be Your name” that we are to begin our prayers with praise: scripture, singing, and thanksgiving; and then last week from “Thy Kingdom come” we saw that we are then to pray requests for God’s Kingdom first: praying for churches, pastors, mission work and missionaries. So this morning we come to the third request of the Model:  “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”   Continue reading

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“The Model Prayer: Kingdom Praying” (Matthew 6:10 sermon)

William Carey was a shoemaker who lived in England in the 1700’s, but his heart went out to the people groups all around the world who had never heard the gospel. Carey kept a map of the world on the wall in front of the bench where he made and repaired shoes, and he would pray over that map all day long while he worked.  One day he went to a meeting of the London Missionary Society, and at the meeting they asked the question: “Who will go down to the heathen and take them the gospel?” Carey answered: “I will go down (to India) if you will hold  the rope for me.”  That phrase, “hold the rope” refers to how a person might go down into a well, or into a steep ravine, to rescue someone — but they have people behind who are “holding the rope” for them to keep them steady and safe. That expression “holding the rope” has become popular over the years as a way of expressing the responsibility that Christians have to support our missionaries who are doing God’s Kingdom work, through our giving and our prayers. 

This morning we are continuing our study in Jesus’ Model Prayer. We have seen over the past weeks that the Model Prayer is not just a “script” that we are to pray repeatedly back to God, but that Jesus gave it to us as a MODEL, or outline of the things that God wants us to talk with Him about when we pray. Last week we saw that the opening request of the prayer, “Hallowed be Thy name,” means that we are to begin our prayers with praise to God. We looked at 3 scriptural ways to praise, including using scripture, singing, and thanksgiving. This morning we’ll look at the second division of the Prayer, which prays: “Thy Kingdom Come,” one of the most important things a Christian can pray about every day. Here Jesus tells us that we need to talk to God daily about His Kingdom work.

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“The Model Prayer: Begin With Praise” (Matthew 6:9 sermon)

When the Revolutionary War was over and the United States became a new nation, our country appointed John Adams as its new ambassador to England. When he arrived in London, Adams was to make his first appearance before George III, the King of England. But you did not just “show up” at the court. You had to have an audience scheduled with the King. And you would not just “saunter” in there, either. There was a certain procedure to follow, and Lord Carmarthen, one of the King’s courtiers, explained to Adams just what the procedure would be: Lord Carmarthen would escort him in the carriage as they pulled up to St. James’s Palace. Adams would be led up past lords and bishops in an outer room, to a formal reception room, where the King would be waiting inside. When the door opened, Adam must make three bows before the King: one as soon as he entered through the door; a second when he was halfway to the King, and a third when he was right in his presence. He would share a prepared speech, and when the King dismissed him, he would not just turn around and walk out, but would very carefully step backwards away from the King as he left. See, you did not just “barge” into the throne room of the King of England; there was a protocol you had to follow, or you would be unceremoniously hauled away from his presence!

Well, as Christians, the Bible says we have “boldness and confident access” to God through faith in Christ — but we do want to come into His presence in a way that is pleasing and appropriate for the King of Kings! How should we approach God? And especially, what should we say FIRST as we begin our conversation with Him in prayer?

Last week as we kicked off this series, we saw that Jesus gave us this Model Prayer to help us know the kinds of things that God wants us to talk with Him about when we pray. It is not a “script” we are just to “read back” to Him; rather It is composed of 6 basic requests which form an outline for what we should talk with Him about as we pray. And the very first line is: “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name.”  This tells us that when we come into the presence of God, we are to begin with praise. 

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Introduction to the Model Prayer (Matthew 6:1-13 sermon)

(Preached at the First Baptist Church of Angleton, TX 9/13/20)

The pastor who married Cheryl & I, Bill Elliff, tells of how a mentor of his, Ron Dunn, was visiting Scotland with his wife, Kay. They rented a car to drive but had to pay careful attention, because in Scotland, they drive on the left hand side of the road instead of the right like we’re used to here. He said they did fine until they came to a stoplight, and they were talking. When the light changed he instinctively went to the right-hand side of the road. He looked up and saw a car coming at him in his lane. He shouted: ‘Look at that idiot!’  His wife said: ‘Wrong idiot. Move over!’ He said later that he didn’t intend to go to the wrong side, but it was simply natural because he had driven over there for so many years.

That story is in many ways an allegory of the Christian life. We have all, in a sense, been “driving on the wrong side of the road” in life for a long time. Because of our sin, we are used to the ways of the world and not the ways of God. And so prayer, which ought be the most natural thing in the world, is like driving in “an unnatural lane” to us! So we have to LEARN how to “drive on the right side of the road” in a sense; we have to LEARN to pray.

For several weeks, we looked at Luke 10 and the story of Mary & Martha, where Jesus told Martha that there are few things in life that are necessary, and really, only ONE, and it was what Mary was doing: sitting at His feet, and listening to His word.  We saw that that needs to be the most important thing in OUR lives too — but the question many of us have is, HOW do I do that? How do I “sit at His feet” in worship? HOW really do I pray?  

Thankfully, we don’t have to just come up with our own best “guess” as to how to pray. There is a place in scripture in which Jesus specifically teaches His followers how to pray — and it is here in this famous passage in Matthew 6, that we call “The Lord’s Prayer,” or “The Model Prayer.”  So for the next 6 weeks or so, we are going to be looking in-depth at the Model Prayer that Jesus gave us here to teach us how to pray.  This morning, we’ll look at on overview of prayer, from Jesus’ words in the first part of the chapter — and then we’ll spend the next 6 weeks studying this Model Prayer line by line, so we can learn better how to pray every day. 

I.  The Context of the Model Prayer: Principles of Praying

The larger context in which we find the Model Prayer is the Sermon on the Mount. In the greatest of all sermons, Jesus is instructing His disciples about the kind of people we are to be as His followers. The more immediate context is Chapter 6:1-8, where Jesus teaches His disciples about the way that we are (and are NOT) to practice our faith, in our giving; in our praying; and in our fasting. He gives us several principles about praying in these verses:

A. Do NOT be hypocritical

:5 begins: “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.”  

So Jesus is saying, don’t be hypocritical when you pray. Don’t pray for the approval of other people; pray to God. Now, we need to understand what He is and isn’t saying here. He is NOT saying, “Don’t ever pray in public.”

One time I asked a man if he would pray during an upcoming service. He said he wouldn’t, because Jesus commanded us not to pray in public — and he quoted this verse. But that is a mistaken application of these words.  JESUS HIMSELF prayed in public: In John 11 at the death of Lazarus, and other times as well, Jesus prayed in public — and so did His disciples. So He was NOT issuing a general prohibition against ever praying in public. Rather, He was saying: be sure that you don’t pray for the purpose of public attention.

If you look at the verse, you can see it specifically says that the hypocrites “LOVE to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners SO THAT they may be seen by men.”  TWO things here indicate their proud intentions:

1) it is not just that they pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, but that they LOVE to stand and pray there.

2) the words “SO THAT” are what we call a “purpose clause” — they indicate the purpose for what is done.  WHY do they pray on the street corners or in the synagogues? It is SO THAT/FOR THE PURPOSE THAT they might be seen by men.

So it is not “praying in public” in and of itself that is wrong; it is praying in public FOR THE WRONG MOTIVES: to be seen by men, instead of talking to God, which He warns us against. Pray to talk to God. This is the next thing we see:

B.  DO pray alone

:6, “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”  

Here Jesus encourages us to pray most of our prayers when it is just us and God alone. And again, we don’t want to be legalistic about it. Jesus wasn’t saying that the ONLY way to pray is to go inside a house into an inner room. In fact, we see that Jesus Himself prayed in other ways:  Mark 1:35 says that He went OUT of the house and into the wilderness! And near His death, He famously went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.  So Jesus Himself did not always pray in an inner room inside a house.

But the point was, He prayed ALONE with God. This is what He is saying that we should seek for. Seek to “sit at His feet” in prayer, alone! 

— some do have a little room or office at home where they can pray alone

— some go out to prayer walk

— we should all pray spontaneously all through the day, wherever we are 

But the point is, make sure that most of your prayers are between you and God alone.

To me, there is one question which gets to our heart of whether you are a hypocrite in your praying or not: where is most of your praying done? If most of your praying is done in church, and in other public settings, when you are around other people, then you may very well be a hypocrite. But if most of your praying is done when it is just you and God alone, then you are most likely NOT a hypocrite at all.  

 The point is, our public prayers should be only “the tip of the iceberg” of our praying. Only about a tenth of an iceberg is what we see on the surface of the water; 9/10 of it is hidden, underneath. THAT is the way our praying should be: if you are really praying for God and not for other people, then your public praying will be the smallest portion of your prayers — maybe a tenth, like the iceberg.  9/10 of your praying — if it is really for God — will be when it is just you and Him alone.  

C.  Do NOT use meaningless repetition

“and when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do …”

Now, many of us might think we are not guilty of what Jesus commands here, but it might actually apply to more of our prayers than we think!

We don’t have to look too far for examples of “meaningless repetition” in prayers that are used in many religions even today.  Cheryl & I served for 12 years in Southwest Louisiana, which has a very strong Catholic influence, and they would be told to pray the “Our Father” prayer or the “Hail Mary” prayer so many times. They would repeat these prayers word-by-word hundreds and eventually thousands of times — and you know that any time you repeat something verbatim like that, over and over, it eventually loses its meaning. Just repeating these words over & over does not give us some kind of “credit” with God. 

The ironic thing is that they have taken the very prayer that Jesus gave us after commanding, “Do not use meaningless repetition”, and have made a meaningless repetition out of it! That is NOT why He gave us this prayer, as we shall see momentarily.  

Now, many of us might say, “Well, this doesn’t apply to me, because I don’t do those ‘prescribed prayers.'”– but in truth it probably applies to more of us than we might think.  We may not pray a “memorized” prayer, over and over, but if you think about it, many of us DO pray basically the same prayer over and over: the same old dinner prayer; the same old SS prayer; the same old offertory prayer — EVERY SINGLE TIME!  You may not have it written down, but you may as well have, because it is always the same!  I’ve had people in churches tell me, “I know what so-and-so is going to pray” and just nail it word-for-word! So we ALL need to be careful that we don’t become too repetitious in our praying. The key is the next point:

D.  DO focus on the relationship in prayer.

Jesus says in :8 “So do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him”. and then He begins the Model Prayer in :9 with “Our Father …”  

The key word here is “Father.” In prayer we are speaking to our FATHER in heaven. He is a Person, with whom we have a real relationship through Jesus Christ. 

This is what so many religions are missing.  The Buddhists in Nepal have what they call “prayer wheels.” We saw these when we were there on mission trips. Some were handheld, and some were huge wheels many feet around. The key to it was that you would write a prayer and insert it into the wheel, and whenever it would spin around, the “prayer” was supposedly going up to God.  So we would see people passing by the Buddhist temple, and they would just thoughtlessly “spin” the prayer wheel as they went by, to make the prayers that were inserted “go up.” Or you could sit there with a prayer wheel in your hand, and watch tv or read the comics, and all the while, be “spinning” prayers up to God!

The problem with that is that it overlooks the fact that God is not some “mechanism” that you just thoughtlessly “send prayers up to.” He is not like a heavenly “vending machine” that if you put the right coins into, He’ll give you what you want. God is a PERSON; He is our “Father in Heaven”, and we are to talk to Him as we would a person. Now, that is not to imply that we are free to speak to Him disrespectfully, because we are not; He is a HOLY God. But it does teach us that He has personality, and that prayer is to reflect our relationship with Him.  

It is easy to get into “rut” in our prayer life, and just “say our prayers” or “read our Bible” — instead really focusing on meeting with the PERSON of God, which is what Jesus teaches us to do here.  

Jesus told us in John 17:3, “This is eternal life, that they may KNOW THEE”. The great privilege of Christianity is the relationship we have with God through Jesus Christ.  This is what He made us for: to have this relationship with Him. That is what our sin destroyed: it separated us from that relationship with God. And that is what Jesus came to die on the cross to pay for, to restore. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, and are saved, we are saved to come back to this RELATIONSHIP with God that He made us for!  

This relationship with God is what our prayers are about, and should always be the focus of our prayers. Even as we follow the Model Prayer that Jesus gave us — as I hope that you will learn to do — never lose sight that it is a RELATIONSHIP with God that you are furthering with your prayer. 

So that’s the CONTEXT in which the Model Prayer was given to us, and some principles Jesus gave us on how to pray. Now, let’s look at:

II.  The Purpose of the Model Prayer

This is NOT, as we have seen, a rote prayer, to be prayed word by word, over & over. But what it IS, is an outline of the things God wants us to speak to Him about when we pray.

Jesus said, “Pray then, in this way.”  Notice He did NOT say: “PRAY THIS”, but “Pray IN THIS WAY.”  There is a big difference. The words the Greek Bible uses here are important. “Houtos” is an adverb that means “like this”. There is another word “touto”, that means “this” — and God did not choose to use that word, because it is not what He wanted.  Dr. Chuck Quarles in his commentary on the Sermon on the Mount says that the adverb (houtos) indicates that “it is a model to be emulated, not a script to be recited.”  

Jesus was purposefully telling us NOT to pray this same thing over and over, but rather He was giving us a model of the kinds of things that we are to pray when we talk to God.

So what is often called “The Lord’s Prayer” is really a MODEL — which is why many (myself included) prefer to call it “The Model Prayer.”  We are not merely to repeat these words to God, but we are to use it as an outline, a model, of the things that God wants us to speak with Him about when we pray.  

The illustration I like to use is of the e-mails I used to exchange with my dad. When he was still alive, we communicated a lot by e-mail. Dad would send me a note, and he would talk about the weather where he was for a while, and then about his health; then maybe what he had going in his garden. If it was football season we’d always talk about the latest OU game, and he’d ask about Cheryl & kids, and so on.

So when I got his e-mail, I would read it, and then I would hit “reply”, and what I would do, is I would look at what he wrote, and then reply with my own thoughts about each section:

— What was the first thing he talked about? It was the weather. So I would comment on the weather for a minute, and tell him how the weather was where we were. 

— When I had finished typing a paragraph about that, I would go back to his e-mail and look: what was the next things he talked about? Oh, his health! So I would write about that for a while. 

— What next? The OU game. So I would write what I thought about that last game — and so on through each section of his e-mail. I might add a topic or two to it, but I would generally follow the outline of the letter he had sent me, because I knew that these were the things my dad wanted to talk about with me. I didn’t just hit “reply” and send his same letter back to him — that is not what he wanted. He wanted me to talk with him about the topics that he had given to me.

I believe that is exactly what this Model Prayer is. Jesus did not give this prayer to us so that we could just memorize it and hit “reply” and send those same words straight back to Him.  God wants us to personalize this prayer, and use it as an outline as we talk to Him.

III.   The Outline of the Model Prayer

Understanding what the purpose of this prayer is then, let’s briefly look at this outline. The Model Prayer is composed of 6 requests, and each request is an outline point we should use to talk to God.  We’ll spend one week on each of these points for the next 6 weeks, but let’s look at just a brief overview of each of these 6 for just a few minutes today:  

A. Praise: Hallowed be Your name

“Hallowed” means to make holy.  So we are to make God’s name holy — this teaches us to begin our prayers with praise.  Next week we’ll look at 3 Biblical ways to begin our prayers with praise. There are many ways for us to praise God, but the important thing is to begin our prayers with praise and focusing on Who God is — it will make a huge difference in the kind of prayers that we pray.

In fact, NOTICE: the focus of the first 3 requests of the Model Prayer is GODWARD: “Hallowed by THY name; THY Kingdom come; THY will be done.”  It begins: “THY …THY … THY.”  The focus of our prayer, especially at the beginning, is not on US, but on GOD.  

So this first section starts us off right by focusing on God as we begin our prayers with praise.  

B. Your Kingdom Come

The word “kingdom” (baseleia) means the rule or reign of God. So we are to pray for the rule of God to increase in the world — for people to be saved, for our churches and missions, and for people to grow spiritually so that God’s reign in their hearts is increasing.  In a couple of weeks we’ll look some more at how we can pray for pastors and staff members and for missionaries and mission points all over the world, who are working to spread the Kingdom — and for YOUR work for the kingdom as well!

C. Your Will Be Done

This is where we pray for God’s will in our own lives, and in the lives of those we care about. This is a crucial thing that needs to be included in our prayers every day. There is much to be said about it. 

D. Requests: Give Us This Day

As we can see from this outline, our prayers are not merely to be a list of requests for our needs — but there is a place to ask God for requests, and this is it.  

AND NOTICE: This begins a shift in the prayer: the first 3 requests were all “God-focused”: “Thy … Thy … Thy” — now it is “our … our … our.”  

So we ask for our needs here.   And notice again it is still not “MY … MY … MY …” in our requests, but “OUR/OUR/OUR“! So we are not to be selfish in our prayers; we are to include OTHERS in our asking. We’ll look at this some more too in a few weeks. 

E. Forgiveness: Forgive Us Our Debts

We should spend some time every daily asking for forgiveness of our daily sins — but it also reminds us to forgive OTHERS for their sins they have committed against us. Jesus adds a strong word about just after the Model Prayer in :14-15, which should be very convicting.  

F. Spiritual Protection: Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Jesus has us close the prayer with a request for spiritual protection: “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”  Having just asked for forgiveness of sins, we then ask God to help us from going back into more sin again protect us from sin — and again, it is not just “lead ME not into temptation”, but “lead US not” — so we should pray for spiritual protection for those we love: our spouse, our children and grandchildren, our church staff, and others. Jesus is teaching us to engage in spiritual warfare by protecting our loved ones in prayer. 

So we are not just to “memorize” the Model Prayer just to pray it right back to God; we DO need to memorize it, but so that we can use it as an outline: How do I begin talking to God? “My Father in heaven, hallowed be Thy name” — I begin with praise: a praise Psalm, thanksgiving, singing praise. What do I talk to Him about next? “Thy Kingdom” — pray for our church, missionaries, etc. What’s next? “Thy will be done.”  See, we memorize these 6 requests to use them as an outline of the things God wants us to talk to Him about.  And beginning next Sunday morning, we will look at each of these 6 a little more in-depth, one week at a time.


— This model is for the longer, DAILY-type prayers we pray. Jesus says here: “give us this day our daily bread,” which indicates that this prayer is a morning kind prayer, in which we spend a block of time praying to start the day. It seems that those longer prayers like that, are especially what Jesus had in mind for this Model Prayer.

There are other, more brief prayers that we pray — spontaneous prayers — which we don’t necessarily need to use this outline for. We don’t have to worry about praying through the whole Lord’s Prayer outline every time we see an ambulance go by, or pray some quick prayer.  It’s ok to just pray “God help me”, or “God help them,” or whatever. Don’t feel like you can’t pray because you can’t go through the whole outline every time you talk to God.  This is outline for those longer type prayer times.  

— But when you DO have those longer times (hopefully in the morning) it WILL take some time! Samuel Chadwick said: “‘Hurry is the death of prayer.” (Bill Elliff, Simply Prayer, p. 91)  If you are hoping to revolutionize your spiritual life in 30 seconds or less, and you are not willing to give God some time, then I hate to tell you, you are going to end up like the Rich Young Ruler: you are going to go away from Jesus sorrowful, because you are not willing to take the time that it takes to know Him. And it does take time. A.W. Tozer famously said there are “no shortcuts” to knowing God. YOU MUST TAKE TIME to be with Him. It is the only way it happens. If you do not take that time, you will never find The Pearl of Great Price. You will miss out on what you were created for. You must take time to pray. 

— And don’t be legalistic about it. Don’t look down on people who don’t use this Model; and don’t stick so rigidly to it that you never deviate from it. I know there have been a number of times when I have praised God at the beginning of my prayer, and it immediately led to me confessing my sins right after — instead of praying for the Kingdom, which “should come next,” according to the outline, because His holiness and glory was so convicting. I don’t think God didn’t hear the rest of my prayers because I got it in the “wrong order”!  I still prayed for those “kingdom requests;” I just did it in a little different order, and that’s ok. Don’t get too legalistic about the Model.  

— But that being said, it really IS the best model — it is the one Jesus gave us. I used several different outlines for prayer as a growing Christian in my teen and college years, like the “ACTS” model of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication, and so on. And I did ok praying with those. But one day I was reading British pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ exposition of the Sermon on the Mount, and came to his sermon on this passage, and I saw that the Lord’s Prayer was really an “outline” for our prayers — and it really impacted me. And I thought, “Why are we looking elsewhere for a model to pray by, when Jesus Himself has given us a model right here in His word?” 

And His model is more complete than any of those others: it praises God like they do, and has confession and requests, but it also focuses us more specifically on God’s Kingdom work, and His will, and spiritual warfare — elements that many of those models don’t have in their outlines. It is the perfect Model Prayer that has been given to us by our Perfect Teacher.  And I think we would do well to start learning and using the Model Jesus gave us as the outline for our daily prayers.


As we said, you were MADE to talk to God. He WANTS you to come near to Him every day. It is our greatest privilege we have in life.

In Amity Schlaes’ biography of Calvin Coolidge, she writes of how, while he was President, Coolidge lost one of his sons to an infection. One day, one of Coolidge’s staff found a little boy, with his face pressed up against the White House fence. This man asked the boy what he was doing, and he said that he heard the President has lost his son, and was hoping to tell him he was sorry. He took the boy straight to Coolidge, who broke into tears. And Coolidge told that man: “Always let the children come to me.”

When I read that, I thought of the Lord. He always wants us, as His children, to come to Him. It’s what He made us for. It’s what Jesus died for: so that we could come to God, and spend time with Him, and know Him. And the way we do that, is through prayer.  Prayer is hard for us, because we’ve spent our whole lives “driving on the wrong side of the road.” But Jesus gave us this prayer to “get us back on the right side,” and to teach us how to come to Him. Let’s use this prayer to begin to do that every day!


As we bow our heads, let’s take some time to think our our walk with the Lord:

— Maybe you’d say you have not been spending time with God in prayer every day, and you need to start THIS WEEK! Ask Him to help you do that

— Maybe you HAVE been praying some, but it’s not been the time you should have: not the quality or quantity it should be. Talk to Him about that …

— I hope you’ll us this outline for your daily prayers this week … (more)

— Or maybe you’d say you’ve never been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. If not, ask Him to forgive your sins and save you right now! And if you do, tell someone about it. And begin to use the Model that Jesus gave you to talk with Him in prayer every day.

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