In the early days Jesus’ disciples didn’t view their master’s sudden disappearance as a big problem. But by the time went on they were very bothered, and began to be inquisitive of what’s happening? May be they secretly followed Jesus Christ to the garden of Gethsemane, to find out what is He doing? They saw Jesus gone down in knees and having a quiet conversation with His heavenly father. This caught their interest so much they wanted to do the same. Then they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray.
The pattern for prayer Jesus gave them here has six principals. It occurred to me that one way to remember them is to think of the six letters in the name of the author of prayer, C-H-R-I-S-T. This is my sermon for you today.
Text: Luke 11:1-4
1. “C” – “Concentrate”
Read Luke 11:2 (…Our Father in heaven…)
Jesus taught that almighty God is our “heavenly Father”. The Jews had never comprehended God in such a loving way, the disciples must have got a shock. But since that ancient day we can call upon Him as our heavenly Father. The heavenly Father who cares for our physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Abraham and his early descendants never knew God as their heavenly Father.
What is the relationship between the fatherly concept of God and concentration? We come across situations where we are not in a mood to pray. We can do our best to concentrate, but that doesn’t work. The root of the problem is we concentrate in prayer, not in God. We instead of concentrating in prayer, must concentrate in God and his fatherly personality. Just think about the one you’re talking to, the one who has promised to be available to you as you talk and listen in dialogue.
Suppose you are told that the president of United states was on the phone waiting to speak to you. Can you imagine saying “I don’t feel much like speaking with him now”? You’d say, “Give me that phone!” The point is prayer becomes an exciting exercise if we concentrate on the person we’re talking to. By following this principle one can have real conversation with his heavenly father. Concentrate on God and his qualities and his sovereignty.
2. “H” – “Hallelujah/praise”
Read Luke 11:2 (…Hallowed be they name…)
Jesus said, “Hallowed be thy name.” For Jews the term God was more than a name. It was a term which identified the unique personality of the most supreme being. Bible says that God deserves all the glory, honor and praises. I believe praising is a very good way to initiate prayer. But I must clarify this. You just don’t continue to repeat the words thank “you Lord”, “praise your name” and so on.
I have seen many Christians doing this unconsciously. But remember both the good and bad things that have taken place in your life and how God was with you in each of those times. For example, you can thank and praise him for giving you a good family, for His salvation etc. Simply thank Him out of a sincere heart for what He has done in your life.
If you have the gift of tongues use it. If you don’t still you can praise him joyfully. Take time to celebrate his nature and his attributes.
3. “R” – “Contribution”
Read Luke 11:2 (…Thy Kingdom come…)
God is the ruler of this kingdom. He is going to rule all things one day. He rules the cosmos now. His Kingdom is growing in this world. And how do we expand our prayer and ask him to bring his Kingdom to this world. The answer is found in Matthew 9:38 where Jesus instructed his disciples to pray for the Lord of the harvest to send workers into his harvest because the harvest is ready to be harvested.
Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest. We can ask the Holy Spirit of God to help us to identify our gifts and talents so that we can invest them for the growth of the divine Kingdom on this earth. Through this principal of prayer we say “God, let me play a role in building Your Kingdom.”
4. “I” – “I am in need”
Read Luke 11:3 (…Give us our daily bread…)
We can ask for anything which is in agreement of God’s word and His will through prayer. God has shown us grace so that we can go before Him, and share our daily needs. This verse says “Give us each day our daily bread”. Jesus is remembering how God provided the Israelites while they were in the wilderness. God commanded Moses and the people to collect Manna sufficient only for one day. He showed them the necessity to depend on him everyday of their life.
It is not only the physical needs we ask from God. Our needs could be spiritual and emotional also. Remember God is faithful to provide our needs, not what we want!
5. “S” – “Savior”
Luke 11:4 (…Forgive us our sins…)
When you pray affirm that God is your only savior in Jesus Christ. God forgives us when we repent in our prayers and come back to him. Though we are Christians and children of God we still have that sinful nature within us. We are imperfect. Everyday we sin without even knowing. But God is gracious. He understands our fallen nature. But we must forgive those who have offended us before asking God for forgiveness as it is in Matthew 18:21-35.
However Jesus is not suggesting we can make some sort of a trade off. For example we cannot say, “I have forgiven all those people who have hurt me Lord, so deal with me the same way.” If that was my prayer, I would be in a big trouble. When I’m aware of how much the Lord has forgiven me, I can only be magnanimous toward those who have misused me.
Once I read about a man who followed the above principle with a huge cost. This old person ran a feed and grain store and he gave credit to so many customers who never did pay that he eventually declared bankruptcy. It took him years to earn enough to repay all the liens against his business. But on the day when the last creditor was finally paid, this old businessman took his books, including all the records of the people who owed him money, and burned them in a huge bonfire. Incidentally, the amount totaled $40,000/- a lot of money in those days. With that $ 40,000/- bonfire, he forgave all his debtors as he had been forgiven. A remarkable man.
6. “T” – “Triumphant”
Luke 11:4 (…Lead us not into temptation…)
In our prayers we can ask God not to lead us into temptation-all and any kind of temptation. You can say, “Lord, I don’t want to fail you any more than I have to. I want to be your person. Thank you for forgiving my sins, but try to keep me from sinning so often.” I believe 1 Corinthians 10:13 is a promise every Christian should claim. It has worked for me. and I am sure it will work for you.
But the temptations of the flesh are minor compared to the temptation of the spirit. There are temptations like lust, greediness etc. which are common to the flesh. Then what are the temptations of the spirit. Do we obey the voice of the Holy Spirit when He tells us to witness someone about the salvation of Jesus Christ. Sometimes God is calling us for something with a high risk. And we tend to say no to the voice of God. Let us ask God to give us strength and help us to have faith on Him and say yes when we are called for tasks with a risk.
In traditional Christian circles, the Lord’s Prayer is simply a prayer to recite. But as we discover this prayer, we can find this model prayer to be a life-changing experience. I believe my sermon today helped you to do just that.