Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Prayer That Turned The World Upside Down - Session 3 - Hallowing The Father's Name




The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study Group studying the book Prayer That Turned The World Upside Down: The Lord's Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution by R. Albert Mohler, The President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The Lord’s Prayer is the most powerful prayer in the Bible, taught by Jesus to those closest to him. We desperately need to relearn its power and practice.

The opening words of the Lord’s Prayer have become so familiar that we often speak them without a thought, sometimes without any awareness that we are speaking at all. But to the disciples who first heard these words from Jesus, the prayer was a thunderbolt, a radical new way to pray that changed them and the course of history.


Far from a safe series of comforting words, the Lord’s Prayer makes extraordinary claims, topples every earthly power, and announces God’s reign over all things in heaven and on earth. Study along with us by getting a copy of the book by clicking this LINK or the image of the book in the study notes. 


From Seven Hebrew Words Every Believer Should Know

TEFILLAH: Which means PRAYER

How often do we use prayer as nothing more than an emergency call or a cold call to God?

Too often we only pray when we need or want something from God - which is understandable considering the English word "pray" means to "ask or beg". But the Hebrew word for prayer - tefillah - means to "self evaluate”. So to the Jews of the Bible, prayer was not a time when they asked God for things … it was a time when they examined themselves. They would use prayer as a way to compare their actions, behavior and attitude against God’s holiness.

Matthew 6:5-13 (NIV) “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.   “This, then, is how you should pray:  “ ‘Our Father in heaven,  hallowed be your name,   your kingdom come,  your will be done,  on earth as it is in heaven.   Give us today our daily bread.   And forgive us our debts,  as we also have forgiven our debtors.   And lead us not into temptation,   but deliver us from the evil one.  

Review

Last week talked about what Jesus told His disciples how not to pray.  The first thing is to not pray as the hypocrites.  
“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you”
 (v. 6).
Do Not Pray to Impress

Not only does Jesus warn us not to try to impress other people He also warns not to try to impress God.

Matthew 6:7-8 (NIV) And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.


God is not looking for long words, long prayers, and mindless repetition. And he is not impressed by the length or complexity of our prayers.

Do Not Pray to Impress

Not only does Jesus warn us not to try to impress other people He also warns not to try to impress God.

Matthew 6:7-8 (NIV) And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.


God is not looking for long words, long prayers, and mindless repetition. And he is not impressed by the length or complexity of our prayers.

This week we start looking at the prayer.

WHERE AUTHENTIC PRAYER BEGINS HALLOWING THE FATHER’S NAME


  Matthew 6:9 (NIV) This, then, is how you should pray:  “ ‘Our Father in heaven,  hallowed be your name,

As the second member of the Trinity, Jesus gives us God’s perspective on prayer. In Jesus Christ, God himself is teaching his people how he wants us to approach him.

Because he is fully human without any taint of sin, Jesus led a life of perfect prayer. Jesus knows what it is to pray because he shares our nature and even now is interceding for us at the right hand of God

Hebrews 7:25 (NIV) Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Every word we utter in prayer, every idea and concept that we form as we pray, and every emotion that flows out of our heart is a reflection of what we believe about God and about the gospel of Christ. The well-known Christian formula “As we believe, so we pray” underlies this very reality. Nothing uncover the true state of our souls, both to ourselves and to others, as does prayer.

God does not take the worship of himself lightly. God regulates and sets the parameters for our worship, not us. 

  Leviticus 10:1-2 (NIV) Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord , contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord .

How do we enter the heavenly court and speak to almighty God?

THERE IS NO “I” IN PRAYER: COMBATING INDIVIDUALISM IN OUR PRAYERS


Our prayers, from beginning to end, are often marked by petition and that in itself isn't wrong. In fact the Lord's Prayer is full of petition,  but that's not how Jesus taught His disciples to start their prayers.

Jesus does not begin with requests. He begins, instead, by identifying the character of the God to whom he prays while at the same time challenging our individualism in prayer. Jesus does all this in the first two words, “Our Father.”

It's significant that He says Our Father and not My Father. Jesus is reminding us that when we enter into a relationship with God, we enter into a relationship with his people.   One way to notice this emphasis is simply to read through the prayer and stress each first-person personal pronoun: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” The point is not to deny our own sins or our own needs, but to never leave the focus solely on ourselves. The first-person singular (I, me, my, mine) is completely absent from the Lord’s Prayer. Evidently, prayer should not center on you or me.

One of our greatest problems and deficiencies in prayer is that we begin with our own concerns and our own petitions without regard for our brothers and sisters. Many of us falter in prayer because we begin with the wrong word: I instead of our. Jesus reminds us that we are part of a family, even when we pray. Thus the first word of Jesus’ model prayer is the word our. We are in this together.



A FATHER IN HEAVEN: OUR IMMINENT AND TRANSCENDENT GOD


A Father God is identified by many titles throughout Scripture. He is called “Lord,” “Most High,” “Almighty,” “King,” even “the judge of all the earth.” Yet in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus does not refer to God by any of these titles. Instead, he refers to him as “Father.”

Of course, there is a sense in which God is fatherly toward all his creation. But Scripture affirms that we only come to know God as our Father personally when through faith in Christ we are adopted into God’s family.  Indeed, God is fatherly toward all his creation. God exercises a “providential care over the works of his hands. He is fatherly in relationship to everything he has made and everyone he has made. The fact that any human being anywhere exists and lives and breathes is a testimony to a paternal and benevolent relationship between the Creator and his creation. But as the confession of faith points out, God is properly Father only to those who know him through the Son.
        
 Scripture attests to the unique fatherly relationship God has with his people on numerous occasions:
        
 In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. (Eph. 1:4–5)
        
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Gal. 4:4–5)

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Rom. 8:14–17)

Paul made clear in Romans 8:14–17, only those who have the Spirit of God (called the “Spirit of adoption”) can call out to God as “Abba! Father!”

While all the names of God are important in many ways, the name “Abba Father” is one of the most significant names of God in understanding how He relates to people. The word Abba is an Aramaic word that would most closely be translated as “Daddy.” It was a common term that young children would use to address their fathers. It signifies the close, intimate relationship of a father to his child, as well as the childlike trust that a young child puts in his “daddy.”

The benefits of being adopted children of God are many. Becoming a child of God is the highest privilege and honor that can be imagined. Because of it we have a new relationship with God and a new standing before Him. He deals with His children differently than He deals with the rest of the world. Being children of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords calls us to a higher standard, a different way of life and a greater hope.

As we come to understand the true nature of God as revealed in the Bible we should be amazed that He not only allows us, but even encourages us, to call Him “Abba Father.” It is amazing that a holy and righteous God, who created and sustains all things, who is the only all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present God, would allow sinful humans to call Him “Daddy.” As we come to understand who God really is and how sinful we are, the privilege of being able to call Him “Abba Father” will take on a whole new meaning for us and help us understand God’s amazing grace.


Scripture is thus unambiguous. We can only relate to God as Father because we have received the Spirit of adoption as sons and daughters through the objective, atoning work of Jesus Christ. In other words, we can call God
  “Father” not because we are his children by virtue of being his creation, but because we are his children by virtue of adoption. Our Father has adopted us through his Son, in his Son, to his own glory.  because we have been adopted as sons and daughters of God, those who are in Christ can truly pray to God as “our Father.”
        
 Furthermore, the word Father also says something about God’s disposition toward us. Whereas we were once God's enemies, now, in Christ, God loves us no less than he loves his own Son.

  Romans 5:6-11 (NIV) You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

There's more.

 Galatians 3:26-29 NIV So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

 1 John 5:1 NIV Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.

Jesus reminds us of the gospel and the gracious disposition God has toward us. The God who has delivered us from our sins is also the Father who loves us and welcomes us. The God who saved us by the work of Christ on the cross is the same God who invites us to become part of his family. The God who so graciously spoke to us in and through his Son now remarkably invites us to come speak to him. He is both transcendent and immanent—in Christ he is close to us.
        

 A Father in Heaven


This is the God who rules and reigns from on high. This is the God enthroned over all creation he enjoys the unending worship of the angelic host. This is our high and holy God. Our Father is in heaven; he is transcendent (transcendent meaning: greater, better, more important, or going past or above all others). 
This mention of God’s transcendence is a reminder that God is distinct from his creation.  Even though we have a precious relationship with God made possible by the work of Christ, we should not therefore think that God is simply a grandfatherly figure in the sky or worse, “the man upstairs.” Jesus shows us that even as we can come to God as his children and approach a loving Father, we must not forget that the Father to whom we come is none other than the almighty God of the universe. 

Last year when we talked about prayer beginning with our relationship with God as one between friends we can now say it is even more than that. It's between a father, Abba Father and a child. But we still have to remember that He is God and we are not. We still have to remember that we are to fear God much like we are to honor and fear our earthly parents.

The transcendence of God is emphasized time and again throughout the Old Testament.
        
Know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. (Deut. 4:39)
        
There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty. (Deut. 33:26)

For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods. (Ps. 97:9)
        
In Ecclesiastes 5:2, Solomon connected our understanding of the transcendence of God To the proper practice of prayer. He wrote, “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.” Our knowledge of God’s transcendence should shape our prayers by reminding us that prayer is a humble and reverent enterprise. This is why I believe that one of the most helpful things to do in prayer is to pray the Scriptures. In this way, we can make sure that God’s words are many and that our words are comparatively few.

HALLOWED BE THY NAME: JESUS’ FIRST REQUEST 


Jesus is not merely saying that God’s name is hallowed; rather, he is asking God to make his name hallowed.  The verb hallow, however, simply means to “make holy” or “consider as holy.  Just as we speak of “having a good name” as a way to refer to a good reputation, the Old Testament uses the same idiom to refer to God’s reputation.  A name is something personal. It always feels more or less unpleasant when others misspell or garble our name: it stands for our honor, our worth, our person, and individuality. . . . There is an intimate link between God and his name.

God repeatedly indicates that when he acts he does so for the sake of his name, that is for his own glory.
        
 For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great. (Ps. 25:11)
        
 Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory. (Isa. 43:6–7)
        
For my name’s sake I defer my anger; for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another. (Isa. 48:9–11)
        
  I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out. (Ezek. 20:14)
        
 Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name. (Ezek. 36:22)

Jesus is asking God to somove and act in the world that people value his glory, esteem his holiness, and treasure his character above all else. We must not miss this: Jesus’ first request is not that his personal needs be met, but that God’s glory and holiness be known and loved as it deserves. What a remarkably God-centered prayer.

How then does God “hallow his name” in the world? First, “hallowed be your name” is a request that the church be sanctified. The church is the steward of God’s name.  We must petition God to “hallow his name” in our discipleship, in ourprayer, in our preaching, in our witnessing, in our work, and in eternity. Our ultimate concern is not that our lives be comfortable, but that God be glorified, and that our lives, even our prayers, put God’s glory on display.  Faithfulness in the Christian life makes the glory of God go public.

The first line of Jesus’ prayer focuses our attention on God and not on ourselves. Jesus teaches us that God is our imminent Father. He is the transcendent one in heaven. He is the one who reveals and names himself. And our chief concern in prayer is not our own comfort but God’s glory.


Bible Study Audio





          

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Prayer That Turned The World Upside Down - Session 2 - Introducing The Lord's Prayer







The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study Group studying the book Prayer That Turned The World Upside Down: The Lord's Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution by R. Albert Mohler, The President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The Lord’s Prayer is the most powerful prayer in the Bible, taught by Jesus to those closest to him. We desperately need to relearn its power and practice.

The opening words of the Lord’s Prayer have become so familiar that we often speak them without a thought, sometimes without any awareness that we are speaking at all. But to the disciples who first heard these words from Jesus, the prayer was a thunderbolt, a radical new way to pray that changed them and the course of history.


Far from a safe series of comforting words, the Lord’s Prayer makes extraordinary claims, topples every earthly power, and announces God’s reign over all things in heaven and on earth. Study along with us by getting a copy of the book by clicking this LINK or the image of the book at the end of the study notes. 



“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts,  as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. ’
Matthew 6:5‭-‬13 NIV

INTRODUCING THE LORD’S PRAYER


The Lord's prayer is in both Matthew and Luke.

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”  He said to them, “When you pray, say: “ ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.   And lead us not into temptation. ’ ”
Luke 11:1‭-‬4 NIV

Luke emphasizes God’s response to prayer:

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Luke 11:9‭-‬10‭, ‬13 NIV
In Matthew it is included in the Sermon on the Mount section.  The Sermon on the Mount presents a picture of life in the kingdom of heaven. something like this: How to live a life that is dedicated to and pleasing to God, free from hypocrisy, full of love and grace, full of wisdom and discernment.   The arrival of God’s kingdom leads to a complete transformation of values that in turn leads to a transformation in the practice of religion—particularly in giving, fasting, and prayer.

There are many examples of Jesus spending time in prayer. There's quite a list of Scriptures of Jesus praying. ((Matt. 6:5–9; 14:23; 19:13; 26:36–44; Mark 1:35; 6:46; 14:37–39; Luke 3:21; 5:16; 6:12, 28; 9:18, 28–29; 11:1; 22:32, 41, 44; John 17).  But He gave His disciples a specific model to follow when we pray.

But before he gives his model for prayer in Matthew 6, Jesus provides important context:
        
And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matt. 6:5–8)
        
Matthew 6:1 is the key to understanding this passage.

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
Matthew 6:1 NIV

Here Jesus says, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” The first and most urgent warning Jesus gives is a warning against a quality of religion or reverence that is public and ostentatious that offers nothing that is stimulating or challenging and is false. This type of reverence  draws attention to the one praying, because it's designed to reveal them super religious.

The way we pray will reveal either the superficial, insincere nature of our faith or the glory of God.  Jesus is clear that those who wish to be seen as super spiritual have already received their reward.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
Matthew 6:5 NIV
Hypocrisy vs Intimacy


On the other hand Jesus commends another type of reverence one that is secret and not public evidenced by humility.  That kind of reverence will be rewarded by the Father. The difference can't be more extreme. One comes from pride the other from humility And we know which God prefers.

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Matthew 23:12 NIV

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Matthew 23:12 NIV


 We can pursue the glory of the Father by humbling ourselves in secret, or we can pursue our own glory by exalting ourselves before others. We can’t do both.
We want to make sure that we don't fall into the trap of thinking we have to impress others when we pray.

As David what the Lord really wants is a broken and contrite heart.

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.  My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
Psalm 51:16‭-‬17 NIV


In other words a prayer that is offered in humility.

WHY JESUS DOESN’T THINK MUCH OF ROUTINE CHRISTIAN PRAYER MATTHEW 6:5–8


“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Matthew 6:5‭-‬8 NIV

The first thing we need to know and remember is that as member of God’s family we are commanded to pray and if we really love Jesus as we say we do we show that love by being obedient.

“If you love me, keep my commands.
John 14:15 NIV

In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,
1 John 5:3 NIV


A failure to pray is therefore not only a sign of anemic spiritual life, it is disobedience to Christ.  Prayer is central to the Christian life and to the Scriptures.

It is interwoven throughout the biblical text, telling us to pray and instructing us how to by showing us the prayers of the Old and New Testament saints and providing us with the Psalter as our guidebook to God-pleasing prayer.  The question is how we will pray.

BEFORE YOU PRAY: A FEW THINGS JESUS WANTS YOU TO REMEMBER


The first thing is to not pray as the hypocrites. We’ve talked about the characteristics of how they pray. Especially the desire to be seen as super religious and superior to others exhibited in how they pray.  

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you”
(v. 6).

Mohler says that while you may get a tangible, material reward, the real reward is communion with God himself.

Do Not Pray to Impress

Not only does Jesus warn us not to try to impress other people He also warns not to try to impress God.

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Matthew 6:7‭-‬8 NIV

God is not looking for long words, long prayers, and mindless repetition. And he is not impressed by the length or complexity of our prayers.

All of us can probably relate to Moler’s example of copying the prayers of we’ve heard others pray. I’m not talking about reading a prayer and making it our prayer because when we read a prayer we most often understand what we are praying. If you are going to read a prayer and you don't understand the words the don't pray it until you find out what you are saying. It’s like the author said; What kind of prayer is it that uses words you do not even understand?”

In his battle of prayer with the prophets of Baal Elijah prayed simple prayer;
        
At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “ Lord , the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord , answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord , are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”  Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord —he is God! The Lord —he is God!”
1 Kings 18:36‭-‬39 NIV

The Lord isn’t looking for impressive words; he is looking for humble hearts—hearts that trust him enough to work, even when our words are few.

Matthew says He already knows what we need so we don't need to feel compelled to try to impress God with a lot of words trying to appear reverent.    Instead, by faith we will see a sovereign God who is ready and able to answer our prayers, and who directs all things for our good and his glory.

APPROACHING THE LORD’S PRAYER


The Lord’s Prayer does not teach us the clever or artful skill or the mechanics of prayer. Instead,  the Lord Jesus rearranges our theology and breaks open our faulty misconceptions about the character of God and our deepest needs in this world. He teaches us that prayer is not about impressing God; rather, it is about praising him by humbly coming before him to offer the kind of prayer that pleases him.
        
As Jesus’ disciples, we need to pray. We are created to be a praying people. But we desperately need instruction. . We need the Lord Jesus Christ himself to teach us to pray because, left to our own devices, we will pray wrongly. We need to approach the Lord’s Prayer with the same request and attitude as Christ’s disciples.  We need to ask the Lord to teach us to pray. Of course, Jesus was ready to teach his disciples before they were ready to learn. He is ready to teach us too.

We will start looking at the prayer itself next week.


Bible Study Audio







Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Prayer That Turned The World Upside Down - Session 1 - Introduction




The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study Group studying the book Prayer That Turned The World Upside Down: The Lord's Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution by R. Albert Mohler, The President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The Lord’s Prayer is the most powerful prayer in the Bible, taught by Jesus to those closest to him. We desperately need to relearn its power and practice.

The opening words of the Lord’s Prayer have become so familiar that we often speak them without a thought, sometimes without any awareness that we are speaking at all. But to the disciples who first heard these words from Jesus, the prayer was a thunderbolt, a radical new way to pray that changed them and the course of history.


Far from a safe series of comforting words, the Lord’s Prayer makes extraordinary claims, topples every earthly power, and announces God’s reign over all things in heaven and on earth. Study along with us by getting a copy of the book by clicking this LINK or the image of the book at the end of the study notes.


INTRODUCTION


Matthew 6:5-13 NIV  “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.   “This, then, is how you should pray:  “ ‘Our Father in heaven,  hallowed be your name,   your kingdom come,  your will be done,  on earth as it is in heaven.   Give us today our daily bread.   And forgive us our debts,  as we also have forgiven our debtors.   And lead us not into temptation,   but deliver us from the evil one.   ’


Our author, R. Albert Mohler, Jr. says, and I agree that we Christians are longing for the Kingdom of God as described in the Bible to come.

The kingdom of God is synonymous with the kingdom of heaven. The concept of the kingdom of God takes on various shades of meaning in different passages of Scripture.

Broadly speaking, the kingdom of God is the rule of an eternal, sovereign God over all the universe. Several passages of Scripture show that God is the undeniable Monarch of all creation: “The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:19). And, as King Nebuchadnezzar declared, “His kingdom is an eternal kingdom” (Daniel 4:3). Every authority that exists has been established by God (Romans 13:1). So, in one sense, the kingdom of God incorporates everything that is.

More narrowly, the kingdom of God is a spiritual rule over the hearts and lives of those who willingly submit to God’s authority. Those who defy God’s authority and refuse to submit to Him are not part of the kingdom of God; in contrast, those who acknowledge the lordship of Christ and gladly surrender to God’s rule in their hearts are part of the kingdom of God. In this sense, the kingdom of God is spiritual—Jesus said His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36), and He preached that repentance is necessary to be a part of the kingdom of God (Matthew 4:17). That the kingdom of God can be equated with the sphere of salvation is evident in John 3:5–7, where Jesus says the kingdom of God must be entered into by being born again. See also 1 Corinthians 6:9.

There is another sense in which the kingdom of God is used in Scripture: the literal rule of Christ on the earth during the millennium. Daniel said that “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 2:44; cf. 7:13–14), and many of the other prophets predicted the same thing (e.g., Obadiah 1:21; Habakkuk 2:14; Micah 4:2; Zechariah 14:9). Some theologians refer to the future, open manifestation of the kingdom of God as the “kingdom of glory” and the present, hidden manifestation of the kingdom of God as the “kingdom of grace.” But both manifestations are connected; Christ has set up His spiritual reign in the church on earth, and He will one day set up His physical reign in Jerusalem.

The kingdom of God has several aspects. The Lord is the Sovereign of the universe, and so in that sense His kingdom is universal (1 Timothy 6:15). At the same time, the kingdom of God involves repentance and the new birth, as God rules in the hearts of His children in this world in preparation for the next. The work begun on earth will find its consummation in heaven (see Philippians 1:6).

Because we are looking for that Kingdom, we yearn for radical change, for things to be made right. We rightly long to see righteousness and truth and justice prevail. We are actually desperate for what no earthly revolution can produce. We long for the kingdom of God and for Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords. We are looking for a kingdom that will never end and a King whose rule is perfect.

That's why we pray the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples because, in Mr. Mohler’s opinion it is a cry for a revolution.  That God’s kingdom come and His will be done as opposed to what's happening now.  That's why he says that the Lord’s Prayer turns the world upside down. 

However he says that the church especially those who identify themselves as evangelicals have given up on this prayer and prayer in general. That's what is so good about up concentrating on prayer last year and into this year. He says that we aren't as desperate today as in the past. Because we are incredibly distracted and busy, which states of mind that are enemies of prayer.  Last year we talked about stopping time and creating a God space so that we could stop our busyness and hear from God.   Plus in his opinion they don't know how to pray. I really think that, because of our work last year do know how to pray. But it is always good to review, because we sometimes forget and become lazy. That's why Peter said.

I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.
2 Peter 1:13-15 NIV

An important point Mohler makes in the introduction to the book is that it's important to stay focused and remove distractions when we pray, we can do that when we create our God space. The example is the advice that Martin Luther gave to his barber on how to pray. He said;

“So, as a diligent and good barber, you must keep your thoughts, senses, and eyes precisely on the hair and scissors or razor and not forget where you trimmed or shaved, for,  if you want to talk a lot or become distracted thinking about something else, you might well cut someone’s nose or mouth or even his throat.”

The point was point we need to resist distractions in prayer. A distracted barber is a dangerous barber. “How much more does a prayer need to have the undivided attention of the whole heart alone, if it is to be a good pray-er!”

When you pray the Lord’s Prayer, like following the pastor when he says repeat after me or at Christ Church every Sunday or here several years ago at the opening of service is it just done without thinking or meaning?  I’ve even been in services where the person leading actually forgets part of it.

Many evangel sense something similar occurring in their prayer life. They can go through the motions say all the right words, and even lead a congregation or group in prayer without remembering a single word they have said or even understanding what they just prayed for.

PRAYER IN WORLD RELIGIONS AND IN EVANGELICALISM


Every major religion has prayer of some kind.  In Christianity there are different traditions of prayer.  Roman Catholicism’s prayer practices, very much influenced by the monastic tradition and Catholic teachings. Incorporate physical elements like prayer beads and formulaic prayers (e.g., “Hail Mary, full of grace”). Historic Protestantism made prayer into a central theological concern.  in the context of Christian worship. Their aim was to regulate prayer by Scripture.  They demanded that prayer be both scriptural and intelligible.  Later, the Anglican Church produced a prayer tradition that is now established in what we know as the Book of Common Prayer. These prayers seem exceedingly formal to many modern evangelicals.  Prayer is also very much a part of our evangelical tradition and our piety. Evangelicals Are recognized for a populist approach to prayer. We encourage all saints (that is, all believers) to pray in private and in public. We regularly organize large prayer meetings and even arrange prayer marathons, which systematize a steady stream of prayer over lengthy periods of time for a single issue. We even teach the youngest among us to pray. But do we teach them well?

           

Try Writing Out Your Prayers

By Rick Warren
           
“The Lord gave me this answer: ‘Write down clearly on tablets what I reveal to you, so that it can be read at a glance’” (Habakkuk 2:2 GNT).
            I
f you want to hear God speak, you need to withdraw to a quiet place, wait patiently and expectantly, ask God to give you a picture of what he wants to say to you, and then write down God’s responses to your questions.
           
In the book of Habakkuk, the Lord commands the author to “write down clearly on tablets what I reveal to you, so that it can be read at a glance” (Habakkuk 2:2 GNT).
           
That’s how we got the book of Habakkuk. In chapter one, Habakkuk wrote down what he said to God. And in chapter two, he wrote down what God said back to him.
           
That’s also how we got the book of Psalms; many of those psalms came directly from David’s quiet time. David meditated on the first five books of the Bible, the Torah, and then he wrote down his thoughts, and they’re called psalms. In many of the psalms, he starts out with what he’s feeling and then ends up with what God says.
            I
f your prayer life is stuck in a rut, and you tend to pray the same things over and over —“God, be with this person” or “Bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies” — then here’s what you need to do: Start writing out your prayers.
           
“What? You mean I don’t have to say them?” That’s right! Writing them down is a prayer. God can hear it in your thoughts. Just write it down.
           
Is it okay to write out a prayer and then read it? Of course it is. When you’re writing it, you’re praying. When you’re reading it, you’re praying.
           
This is called the spiritual habit of journaling, and it’s one that all Christians should understand and practice.
           
A journal is not a diary. A diary is about the things you did. A journal is about the lessons you learned — the mistakes you made and what God has taught you from those things.

PRAYER: THE BAROMETER OF THEOLOGICAL CONVICTION


The first thing Jesus taught his disciples about prayer was how not to pray. The Lord’s Prayer must be seen not only as a model of what prayer is, but also as a model of what prayer is not. Jesus provided the Lord’s Prayer within the context of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5–7).

Most commentators have seen in it an exposition of Christian ethics. Sort of setting forth of a "golden rule" for all men to live by. How to live a life that is dedicated to and pleasing to God, free from hypocrisy, full of love and grace, full of wisdom and discernment.

The first thing Jesus taught his disciples about prayer was how not to pray.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Matthew 6:5, 7-8 NIV

The philosopher Roger Scruton who, even before converting to atheism and joining the Church of England, argued that what people truly believe about God is reflected in their worship and prayer.  In other words, what we believe about God is revealed most truly not in what we say about him but in how we approach him—in prayer in worship. It is one thing to hear a person state what he believes, but it's another thing to listen to him pray. pray, so we believe.
        
 We learn a great deal about someone by what they ask others to pray for. Just consider what we learn about the Apostle Paul’s priorities and character from his prayer requests found all throughout Scripture. For instance, in 2 Thessalonians 3:1–5, Paul’s primary prayer was that the gospel advance throughout the world and that the Thessalonians would be deeply impressed with the “love of God” and the “steadfastness of Christ.”

2 Corinthians 3:1-5 NIV Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.  Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.

Clearly, Paul’s primary concerns were eternal matters and the kingdom of God.
        
In short, prayer discloses much about us. It discloses our assumptions and convictions. It discloses our view of God and of ourselves.  It discloses our priorities and our assumptions about God’s priorities. It discloses our doctrines of God, man, sin, redemption, the world, and a host of other theological matters. If we really want to know what a person believes, we should listen to them pray.
                  

THEOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS FOR PRAYER



Biblical scholars and pastors from almost every Christian denomination or tradition agree on this much: Christians are called to pray. Yet prayer raises a host of theological issues. What are we trying to do in prayer? Are we trying to convince God to do what he otherwise would not be inclined to do? Are we trying to negotiate with God—even to manipulate him? Are we trying to inform God of what he does not know?
        
The primary theological foundation for prayer is the fact that there is one true and living God who has revealed himself to us:
        
 I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. Who is like me? Let Him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen. Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any. (Isa. 44:6–8)

This God has made us in his image (Gen. 1:26–27), thus we have the spiritual and rational capacity to pray.

First, prayer is not a matter of creative self-expression.

Second, prayer is not an act of therapy. We should not seek some sort of curative kickback when we pray.

Third, prayer is not an act of manipulation or persuasion. We are not simply trying to find the right formula or secret code to force God to answer our prayer as we want it to be answered. Nor are we trying to persuade or bargain with God as if he were one of his creations. Prayer is not persuasion. Prayer is about God’s will being done—not our own.

Fourth, prayer is not a news report to the Creator. God knows everything perfectly. This is what Christians mean by saying we worship God as omniscient—he is all-knowing. We must resist the temptation to use prayer as a way of alerting God to what he otherwise does not or would not know. Not only does God know everything—past, present, and future—heaven knows our hearts and minds better than we know ourselves.

Finally, prayer is not an act of bargaining. We have all heard prayers that sound like a negotiation meeting: “Lord, I will work on this sin if you will help me with this blessing. Also, I will try to do this for you, if you promise to do that for me.” This type of prayer reveals huge theological misunderstandings. Prayer does not inform God of what he does not know, nor does it get him to do what he is reluctant to do. Prayer does not change God; it changes us.




Sunday, April 8, 2018

Psalms: A Guide To Prayer And Praise - Session 12 - Psalm 139 - God Knows Us




The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study Group studying the book Psalms: A Guide to Prayer and Praise by Ron Klug. The Psalms are some of the most widely read and best-loved portions of the Bible. For thousands of years these songs of faith have spoken to the hearts and minds of people around the world. The Psalms are songs–music our spirits sing to the Creator. They are poems–full of vibrant imagery and strong rhythms. And they are prayers–our deepest emotions expressed to the Lord who feels with us. Most importantly, the Psalms are God’s Word to us, revealing the truth about him and our relationship with him. Study along with us by getting a copy of the book by clicking this LINK or the image of the book at the end of the study notes. 

The thought that Almighty God knows who we are individually is staggering, even scary; we cannot hide from him. However, when we come to know his goodness and love, we don’t want to hide from God. Psalm 139 helps us understand the comforting truth of God’s interest in the details of our lives. As we grow to trust God not only as the judge of all the earth but as the one who cares deeply for us, our response is to become still more intimately acquainted. The result: an increased desire for personal purity and integrity.
     
1. How much do you think God is really involved in our lives—none, some, completely? On what do you base your answer?

You have searched me, Lord , and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord , know it completely.  You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.  Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,  even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”  even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.  For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you. - Psalm 139:1-18 NIV

2. In what ways and on what levels does God know us?

He knows us completely. Nothing is hidden from Him. He has always known us and knows everything that we will ever do.

3. How did the psalmist react when he realized how completely God understood him?  How do you react?

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. - Psalm 139:6 NIV

He thought that it was wonderful that God knew and understand him. 

I react with shame sometimes when I realize that God knows what I thinking and when I realize that the thing that I did that I didn't think anyone knew He did.  On the other hand I am very thankful that He does know and understand me yet He still loves and cares for me.

4. David described the all-knowingness (omniscience) of God. What attribute or characteristic of God did he explore in verses 7–12?

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,  even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”  even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. - Psalm 139:7-12 NIV

His omnipresence (the presence of God everywhere at the same time).

5. How do people try to escape from God today? Why do they fail?

By not praying, not being around Christians, not going to church, not reading the Bible.  They fail because God is omniscient and omnipresent.

6. What phases in the development of a child are described in verses 13–16?
Behold the only one greater than you!

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. - Psalm 139:13-16 NIV

From conception through birth.

7. What does verse 16 suggest about our lives? What was the writer’s reaction in verses 17 and 18?

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. - Psalm 139:16 NIV

Verse 16 suggests that everything is already predestined by God.

How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you. - Psalm 139:17-18 NIV

The writer reacts with joy that God has already predetermined everything.

As you know there is debate about predestination. While I believe that God knows everything that will ever happen and that His desire for us always good.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord , “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

He has given us free will.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord , “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord .” - Joshua 24:15 NIV

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” - Genesis 2:16-17 NIV

Here's the scripture that those who believe in predestination use;

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. - Romans 8:28-30 NIV

What I believe is that what is predestined is what will happen to those who choose to obey and those who choose not to obey.

READ PSALM 139:19–24.

If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!  They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name.  Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord , and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?  I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.  Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. - Psalm 139:19-24 NIV

8. Why did the writer ask God to destroy these people? How do you react to this idea?

This surprising change of tone and outlook is regarded by some interpreters as a later addition. However, the intensity of conviction apparent in the earlier verses is seen again here. God, who has such minute knowledge of man, cannot overlook flagrant sinners. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.

9. To what request did the writer’s logic lead him in verses 23 and 24?

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
- Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

The psalmist closes with the personal plea that God will search, try, know, see, and lead him. His goal is the way everlasting, the way of life and peace, as compared with the way of ruin and destruction for the wicked.

10. Contrast verses 19–22 with Jesus’s words: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). How can these two attitudes be reconciled?

If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!  They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name.  Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord , and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?  I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. - Psalm 139:19-22 NIV

This certainly does not sound like loving our enemies and praying for them. He is praying that he not have to be around them or be associated with them.

11. Is there a legitimate hatred of evil? Explain.

Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph. - Amos 5:15 NIV

There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:  haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,  a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil,  a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. - Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV

Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. - Psalm 97:10 NIV

“Is it all right to be angry at people who hate God? Yes, but we must remember that it is God who will deal with them, not us. If we truly love God, then we will be deeply hurt if someone hates him. David asked God to search his heart and mind and point out any wrong motives that may have been behind his strong words”

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting - Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

12. Summarize everything you learned about God from this psalm. How can this understanding of God affect your life?


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