“It’s OK to Ask”
9, 2011 LORD’S
PRAYER STUDY WEEK 4
SCRIPTURE: Ex 16:4, 13-20 and Matt 7:7-11
The Pope responds saying, That is impossible. The Prayer is the Word of the Lord and it must not be changed.
Well, says the Tyson man, we are prepared to donate $1 billion to the Church if you change the Lord’s Prayer from give us this day our daily bread…. to give us this day our daily chicken….
Again, the Pope replies, That is impossible. The Prayer is the Word of the Lord and it must not be changed.
Finally, the Tyson guy says, This is our last offer. We will donate $5 billion to the church if you change the Lord’s Prayer from give us this day our daily bread… to give us this day our daily chicken…. and he leaves.
The next day, the Pope meets with the College of Cardinals to say that he has good news and bad news. The good news is that the Church has come into $5 billion.
The bad news is that we are losing the Wonder Bread Account. http://www.funny-jokes-jokes.com/business-jokes/a-guy-from-tyson-foods-arranges-to-visit-the-pope.htm
Today we are looking at the phrase of the Lord’s prayer where we are actually asking for OURSELVES.
Interestingly, some Christians I know say that when they pray – they’re fine with praying for OTHER’s needs – but they are very uncomfortable with praying for themselves – or their own needs. That may go back to the idea of humility and unselfishness – we should think of others more than of ourselves – and the same goes for praying – asking for things for ME is being selfish. We’re going to look at the reality that Jesus INSTRUCTS US TO PRAY FOR OUR NEEDS – IN the right context.
THEN – I know other Christians whose whole prayer life is asking for things for themselves – they haven’t grasped the concept of ‘intercession – intercessory prayer’ for others.
What Jesus is teaching us – in this phrase of his model prayer – is the properly CENTERED idea– that he wants us to pray for our daily needs AFTER we pray the previous phrases where we have 1st honored God as 1st in our life – and we’re gotten into the proper frame of mind of wanting GOD’s kingdom and GOD’s will to be done here and now – AND we are willing to be the agents who will work for that to happen – in that part of the world where we have influence.
Once our minds are properly focused – our hearts properly ordered – THEN Jesus says we are to pray; “give us this day our daily bread.” Some people I know who have told me they LOVE bread – in ALL its myriad of forms - - this may be their favorite line of the prayer. . . . And who among us can say we don’t have a favorite kind of bread – warm & fresh from the oven - ummm ummm!
Truly – though – what Jesus is telling us to pray is MUCH more than for some warm, baked dough, right? We know throughout Scripture – and in life – bread represents so much more than the outside of a sandwich.
Standard Bible Encyclo says; “.. .. .. in
Throughout the OT and into the NT – bread was symbolic in many ways. There is a traditional Hebrew Blessing said over the bread before a meal: “Blessed art Thou O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.”
time bread is mentioned in the Bible is when Abram met the mysterious King
Melchizidek – when Abram was victorious in battle and Mel served him a meal: Then Melchizedek king of
Next, when Moses is
bringing the people out of slavery in
The 3rd time bread was important to
Our OT reading today is a clear example of the prayer we are to pray – literally – for DAILY bread – meaning we are to ask God to provide for our NEEDS – day by day. That is what God was teaching the Israelites in the wilderness – to depend on Him – daily – he would give them exactly what they needed IF they would, as the song says, “trust and obey.”
The Israelites were in the wilderness – they had been traveling 1 month – and they were whining and complaining the whole time.
Ex 16:2 … the whole community grumbleda against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the LORD's hand in Egypt!a There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the foodb we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death."c (Exo 16:2-3 NIV)
THAT was a bit of ‘selective memory,’ – when they
were back in
SO – God told Moses he would take care of them – he would send Manna in the morning – something the Israelites had never seen – and quail in the evening – The people were to only gather enough for each day – no more - no less. EXCEPT – the 6th day of the week – gather 2X as much – because there will NOT be any on the Sabbath. Exact directions – even so – some disobeyed!
Vs 19: Moses said to them, "No one is to keep any of it until morning.” 20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. (Exo 16:19-20 NIV)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German theologian & pastor during WWII wrote,
. In the wilderness God gave
Bonhoeffer was reflecting on Jesus’ teaching about prayer, possessions, and treasure from the Sermon on the Mount, just a few verses past the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. . . . No one can serve two Masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. (Matthew 6:19-21, 24, NASB)
David Chotka, author of Power Praying writes, “There is a temptation to focus our lives on the acquisition of wealth to make us secure. This temptation is sharp in Western societies where the ability to acquire wealth is much greater than in the survival societies of the third world. Still, even in poor cultures, it is difficult not to trust in material goods and possessions to ensure our future survival (or success). But the whole point of the Lord’s Prayer is that our lives are to be centered not “on earth,” but on the invasion of earth by heaven! Rather than asking heaven to guarantee our security, we are to live in such a way that the passing security of earth is put aside by our God’s providing! To trust in the security of things “here” is to deny the security of things “up there.” P.162
Jesus wants us to ask him to provide for our NEEDS – not all our WANTS - nor our every desire. He says to pray for our ‘daily bread’ – from the Greek words, our ‘bread for the coming day’ – or “for subsistence/the bread we need to live” – that’s BASIC – Jesus doesn’t tell us to pray “give us a 6 course meal” = or “give us a new house/car/boat etc”
Jesus instructs us to ask – not because he doesn’t KNOW what we need – vs 8, immediately BEFORE Jesus begins teaching us His Prayer, reminds us; " . . . your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him.” The point is that asking is needed! We are not simply to assume that because God knows we need the things of life, He will automatically supply them. Rather, God’s primary concern is not to supply our needs, but to deepen our relationship with him, even around the central issues of life. And so, God has shaped the advance of the kingdom around our need to be in regular communication with him. Jesus tells us to ask! This is not an option.
11Give us this day our daily bread.KJV & others
11 Give us today the food we need NLT
Give us this day the bread we need, J B Phillips
11 Give us the bread we need for today.Common English Bible
11 Give us the food we need for each day. NCV
11`Our appointed bread give us to-day. YLT
In Jesus’ teaching during this ‘sermon on the Mount, there’s several repeated themes in chap 6; Jesus gives an instruction – contrasts what the Pharisees do – with what pleases God;
· when giving money to the needy; give your gifts in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.1 (Mat 6:4)
· when you pray, pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.1 (Mat 6:6),
· when you fast . .comb your hair, wash your face [so know one will know] and your Father, who knows all secrets will reward you (17-18)
Jesus also comes back again & again to the topic of God taking care of you/providing for you– from different angles; After giving us the model prayer, instructing us to ASK for our daily needs to be provided for - Jesus tells us not to ‘store up treasure on earth” because if we do – “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Mat 6:21 NRS)”– when our life is about accumulating wealth & possessions – our heart will be - with our STUFF – rather than on heaven – our ultimate destination and our true home.
Jesus continues by urging us not to worry – he gives the examples of the birds of the air – and the flowers in the fields – God cares for them completely – and YOU and I are infinitely more important to God than these things – . . . 32your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 "But 1seek first 2His kingdom and His righteousness; and aall these things shall be 3added to you.
Do you see that is how Jesus set up the prayer – we pray FIRST for God’s kingdom – and God’s WILL to be done here on earth – and, by analogy IN OUR LIVES – as we put these things FIRST – THEN we pray for God to provide our needs – and he says right here – vs 32-33, the NLT (1996 edition) says; Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the kingdom of God your primary concern.”
Jesus continues to reiterate the same message – and our NT reading for today says in one more way – God will provide what is BEST for us every time – all we need to do is ask!
7 1"Ask, and it shall be given to you; 2seek, and you shall find; 3knock, and it shall be opened to you. 8 "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened. 9 "Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, 2will give him a stone? 10 "Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, ahow much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
Jesus made it clear that even though we have sinful propensities (“you who are evil”), we have sense enough to determine that when those we love make legitimate requests we should answer them. By clear implication, God does far better than we do!
We have been given a command from our King to ask. Commands from kings must not be evaded or avoided. They are to be obeyed, or else we do not serve our king, but only ourselves. It is time for us to ask, expecting God to answer. He told us to do it. This was not generated out of our own thinking. It is best then to “Just do it!”
John Maxwell uses an acronym to sum up all three words in this material and gives some helpful pointers to assist us in our praying: The acronym is “ASK” for Ask, Seek, Knock.
ASK: Examine our needs to determine if the request is right in God’s sight. To determine whether this is so, answer the following questions to determine if this is a fair request:
· Is my request fair and helpful to everyone concerned?
· Is my request in harmony with the Word of God?
· Will it blend with my gifts? .
· Will it draw me closer to God?
· What is my part in answering this prayer?
SEEK: When people seek, as Jesus directs us to do, they are asking with effort. This implies that GOD expects us to do our part even as we ask Him to do His. So when Jesus teaches us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” He doesn’t mean that we are to sit back and expect God to rain down manna from heaven on us. . . . What Jesus means is, “Give us the opportunity to earn our bread.” God does not give added resources to those who are lazy. . . . Prayer without action is presumption. . . . p. 170
THAT is a profound and important statement! Prayer without action is presumption! A Few weeks ago we learned that Jesus says we find REST when we take his yoke upon us – the picture there is rest in the midst of work – Jesus is right beside us – taking the ‘heavy load’ upon himself – we work WITH him in order for our prayers to be answered.
KNOCK: When Jesus directs us to knock, He’s asking us to be persistent! The actual form of the phrases in Greek are - - - Keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking.
BECAUSE . . .
1ayour heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 "But 1seek first 2His kingdom and His righteousness; and aall these things shall be 3added to you. 34 "Therefore do not be aanxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will 1care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
These vss are familiar to us – the ideas are well- known – and YET – we all need to be reminded - God wants us to come to him as trusting children - pray for our needs – in the context of God’s kingdom and his will being our first priority!
I’d like all of us – right now - individually – to consider YOUR prayer life - do you fall into either of the types I mentioned at the beginning of the message? Either you don’t even consider praying for your own needs – because that feels selfish . . . . OR that’s ALL your prayers consist of – asking God for what YOU need/want?
Our Lord’s Prayer has the antidote for BOTH – as we pray using Jesus’ pattern – we learn the proper ordering of our prayers AND our lives.
1. We FIRST honor God by being reminded he IS OUR Father – Creator of all that exists- who reigns in highest heaven
2. 2nd – we pray for – and agree to be a participant in seeing that God’s kingdom and God’s will are brought to earth – as they are THE whole reality in heaven . . .
3. ONLY then are we ready to ask God to provide for our daily needs
Both the word DAILY – and the word NEEDS are important!
Just as God gives us wisdom & direction - he reveals his will to us – only enough light for the next steps – too much would overwhelm us – too little would not help us - - - so, too, he provides for our needs AS they arise – any more would ‘spoil’ us – because it would take away our complete dependence and trust in God.
AND – God only provides what we NEED – not necessarily all that we WANT! – THAT is the sign of a good and loving parent. What parent would give his/her child everything they ask for – for many things kids want – many things WE want – are not “good for us” - too much wealth – a certain job – a potential spouse – so many things we could think of that we’ve WANTED – but had we gotten them – at the time – or in the way – we wished – it would NOT have been the BEST for us?
I’d like to ask God to help us right now – to understand this phrase in a NEW way “Give us THIS day our DAILY bread – in the way HE wants us to ‘get it’ so we can order our life in the way GOD wants it to be.
LET US PRAY . . .
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