The Lord’s Prayer

Prayer – Part 5

It would be difficult in a series of blogs on prayer to ignore the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples. Luke 11v1-4, Matthew 6v9-13. However it is also difficult to say something brief about this prayer. I will try to be succinct!

Firstly Jesus taught the disciples to pray this prayer because they asked him to. See Luke. They had obviously noticed how regularly Jesus would go away to a quiet place by himself and spend time talking to his heavenly Father. This was unusual and distinctive. They wanted to know how to do it themselves. If we are looking for motivation to pray we can’t do better than follow the example of Jesus.

Other things worthy of note are –

  1. Jesus starts by saying that Jesus is “Our Father” not “My Father”. Even though we pray alone there is a corporate element about our relationship with God. He isn’t just my Father, or Jesus’ Father – he is our Father.
  2. We should address the person we are praying to, see him, consider him, picture him as Father as we prayer. Not as our experience of earthly Father, good or bad as that may be, but as the picture of the ideal loving, intimate Father. The Father that human Fathers are meant to emulate.
  3. Our focus on prayer should be on God rather than ourselves and our needs, especially at the start of our prayer. Our desire should be that God’s name will be honoured and glorified, that His will is done.
  4. We should be looking and asking for our basic needs to be met, our daily bread, without that we will not be able to do God’s will.
  5. Similarly we need to ensure that we ask for and receive forgiveness as this will impact our ability to do God’s will. As will the fact that we haven’t forgiven others.
  6. Temptation is something else we want to avoid as that too gets in the way of doing the Father’s will.

Let us prayer as Jesus did, as regularly as he did, and focusing on the Father will  rather than ourselves!

Written By Tony Thompson

tonyt

Tony is the leader of Hope Church Luton.  He works full time for the church and is married to Anne and they have 2 sons.

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Prayer Part 4 – Two More Lessons I Have Learnt About Prayer

I have heard many helpful sermons about prayer which use Exodus 17v8-16 as the text. In this story Joshua is fighting the Amalekites whilst Moses, Aaron and Hur are at the top of the hill overlooking the battle. By this time these three men are advanced in age, probably in their 80’s. It was therefore a wise move to allow the younger men led by Joshua to do the fighting!

The astounding thing these guys found was that whilst Moses lifted his hands up Joshua had the upper hand, but when his hands dropped Joshua struggled in the battle below. You can imagine the shock that Moses, Aaron and Hur had when they worked it out. The problem was that Moses’s arms grew heavy and kept dropping. Aaron and Hur therefore held his hands up. They did this throughout the day resulting in Joshua winning the battle.

Lesson one. When we pray the kingdom advances.

This is rightly used as applying to prayer. Whilst we hold our hands up in prayer spiritual progress is made. Have you discovered the amazing truth that when we pray things happen? Coincidences occur? It can be a shock at first, as it would have been for Moses, Aaron and Hur. However the correlation is very much there.

It is important to keep reminding ourselves that prayer works!

Lesson two. Despite prayer working we struggle to pray!

Despite the obvious impact that prayer was having on the battle Moses couldn’t keep praying, he needed Aaron and Hur to help. This is another important lesson for us, for me, to remember. Despite the fact that I know prayer works I get weary in my praying. I grow tired sometimes of continually praying for the same things. I can’t do it by myself, I need the support of friends.

This is true for most of us. What have you got tired praying for? Is it for God to do something in your family? For healing? For something else God initially put on your heart, but hasn’t come to fruition yet? We get tired. The answer is to have others to life up our hands. Share your prayer burden with some friends, ask them to pray with you, ask them to talk to you about what God is doing in answer to your prayer. Most of us need others to help us. Don’t try to pray by yourself!

 

Written By Tony Thompson

tonyt

Tony is the leader of Hope Church Luton.  He works full time for the church and is married to Anne and they have 2 sons.

Prayer – when and how often should we pray?

The Bible talks about us praying without ceasing and many recognise that we should always be aware that God is with us and that we should be regularly speak with him throughout the day.

I would however suggest that we need to do more than that.

Daniel had been taken to Babylon as a young man. Throughout his time there he remained faithful to his God and in doing so was well respected by various Kings. He became a man of great influence. I later life the king made him one of the three most powerful men in the kingdom and was grooming him to become the most powerful. This didn’t go done well with everyone and they tried to find a reason to bring a charge against him. Amazingly for a politician there was nothing anyone could bring against Daniel.

They knew that Daniel prayed three times a day to God, they saw this as a way to get to Daniel. They persuaded the king to pass an edict that for 30 days no-one should pray to anyone other than the king. If they did they would be thrown into the lion’s den.

For Daniel prayer was so important that he would rather face the lions than to stop praying. He was thrown in the den, but God stopped the lions from harming him. The king was overjoyed and changed the law to decree that everyone should not pray to him but must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.

This story is told in Daniel 6.

The point is that Daniel, over many years, had built up a pattern of praying 3 times every day.  He knew that without that he couldn’t do his job, couldn’t function. It was better to risk the lion’s than to stop that practise.

We shouldn’t be legalistic about how often we pray. Daniel had found out from experience he needed to do so on 3 specific times each day. Maybe he experimented with 1 or 2 and found them not enough, tried 4 and 5 but found that didn’t fit in with everything else he did. Praying 3 times a day worked for Daniel.

I have found I need to spend special time alone with God every morning to survive. I know of others who will spend time with God twice a day, on their commute to and from work.

I strongly believe we all need to find out what works best for us. We need to be aware of God’s presence all the while, regularly touching base with him in everyday life. We also need to cultivate special times when we can pray the prayers such as Hezekiah prayed (see the previous blog); where we can in an unhurried way meet with our Lord.

 

Written By Tony Thompson

tonyt

Tony is the leader of Hope Church Luton.  He works full time for the church and is married to Anne and they have 2 sons.

Prayer – the content of a prayer

This is part of a series of blogs looking at prayer. In this blog I want to look at a particular prayer from the Bible and see what we can learn about the content of a prayer.

This prayer is made by Hezekiah, a king of Israel and he prayed tn when faced by a letter from a rival king threatening the kingdom of Israel. A major crisis in the life of Hezekiah and in the history of Israel. It is found in 2 Kings 19v15-19.

  1. Hezekiah starts by reminding God, and more importantly himself, who he is praying to.

Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.”

What is the point of prayer if God isn’t able to do anything to answer the prayer? Prayer is only relevant if God is powerful. It is always good to remind ourselves of things that God has done in the past; things generally as well as things in your own life and experience. I find this makes me bolder in my prayer.

  1. Hezekiah then moves on to describe very clearly what he wants God to do.

“It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand,

I find many prayers go round the houses such that at the end of the prayer it isn’t clear what is being asked for. Sometimes prayers are contenders for the Guinness World Record for the longest possible prayer. That isn’t what Jesus taught, he said “do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” Hezekiah would be able to say Amen to that.

Hezekiah described the situation and then was very clear about what he wanted, to be delivered from the hand of the Assyrian kings.

  1. Hezekiah concludes his prayer by describing why he wants God to answer the prayer, so that…..

so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God.

There could be lots of possible reasons why Hezekiah wanted his prayer to be answered, so he could remain king, so his family would be safe, so that Israel would not be wiped out.

Yet Hezekiah isn’t interested in these, even though it would be understandable if he prayed so that his family would be safe. What motivated Hezekiah was so that everyone would know that his God was the God of the whole world, not just of Israel.

I found this a profound, interesting and challenging aspect of prayer, the so that. Too often we are unclear why we want God to answer a prayer. It is worth doing an exercise to help us understand our so that’s. Look at prayers you have prayed and ask the so that question.

e.g. Lord, give me this promotion at work, so that…….

The more we pray, the more we learn about pray. I hope these simple three points will give you food for thought regarding the content of your prayers.

Written By Tony Thompson

 tonyt

Tony is the leader of Hope Church Luton.  He works full time for the church and is married to Anne and they have 2 sons.

Prayer – An Introduction

Prayer is a topic of interest to just about everyone. I was reminded of this recently when visiting my Mother who spent a week in hospital. Not only did she want me to prayer for her to get well, but as soon as others in the ward found out I was a church leader they wanted me to “put in a good word for them”.

I was happy to pray and did. However it made me think a little about prayer.

Many people think prayer is important, whether or not they are followers of Jesus, yet they want others to do it for them! This was not just demonstrated by my hospital experience but by the response when church ask for prayer requests to be posted at Christmas and at other times.

I pondered why that is?

I think the hospital patients assumed that God would listen to my prayers because I was obviously a professional prayer; I had a special place on God’s team; I had a hot line to God they didn’t have.

I think for some people they don’t know how to pray. For others they are too lazy or lack the discipline to pray. Some people feel that too many of their prayers haven’t been answered they can’t be bothered to say any more.

There are lots of reasons why prayer is delegated to someone else.

Yet I know I would struggle to live my life without prayer. It is at the heart of my relationship with God, something I do regularly.

I therefore concluded it would be worthwhile to write a few blogs about prayer. To use my personal experience of prayer and what the Bible teaches about prayer to encourage more praying!

 

Written By Tony Thompson

 tonyt

Tony is the leader of Hope Church Luton.  He works full time for the church and is married to Anne and they have 2 sons.