Sunday, December 4, 2011
Article: Why Pray? A Perspective on Sovereignty
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It had been just a few weeks since my father died with bone cancer. I was driving and rethinking my belief about prayer. Anyone who has watched cancer engulf a loved one, begged for God's healing, and lost in the face of death, knows why I was thinking about prayer.
My thoughts centered around the idea that if God is going to do what He wills anyway, why pray? As I was doing some mental "thumbing through" of the Bible, I remembered a time when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Jesus' response came to be known as the "Lord's prayer."
Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
As I drove that day, I slowly went over the words I learned as a child. Probably the greatest and most lasting gift my dad gave me was the opportunity to memorize this simple and beautiful prayer. Through the words of the "Lord's Prayer," I found the answer to why one should pray, when God will do what He wants to anyway.
We approach the throne of God as members of the human race. We come to "our" Father, and we come personally, alone in our "closet" to the One who sees in secret and rewards men openly. In so doing, self must be replaced with a right perspective of how we stand among all men in the eyes of Him we petition and praise.
Do we feel too poor to pray? He says of us, "The rich and poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all" (Proverbs 22:2). Are we too burdened to pray? He says, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
Do we feel too sinful to pray? What was His response to the publican who prayed "God be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18:13)? God said he went down to his house justified. (Luke 18:14). Do we approach Him with pride? He says "There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10).
Are we so overcome with grief or despair that we no longer are sure what to pray for, only that God is the answer to our pain? "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered" (Romans 8:26).
The one who created us in His image, saw man's sin in the Garden of Eden, and paid the price of the blood of the Son of God, invites us to approach Him as the loving Father, our Father.
Beyond our approaching him as a brother to all humanity, we enter His throne room as a joint heir with Jesus Christ (Romans 8:17). No sinner, though humble-- no beggar, though needy--no one, even at the depth of despair, is able to come unless he stands on the ground purchased by the blood of the only begotten Son of God. Out of the depths of unimaginable love came His sacrifice for us. His death for sins crossed a gulf that no man could repair. He did it all and called us His "friends" (John 15:13-15). And we call Jesus' Father, our Father. In this perspective, prayer begins.
WHICH ART IN HEAVEN
Earth is not heaven. That may sound too obvious for words. And yet, how often have we murmured and complained because someone did not act in a "Christian manner," or things did not go as planned. Or when the worse happens, such as the death of a loved one. It just doesn't seem fair. That is when it is good to remember, earth is not heaven. Earth has been corrupted by sin. "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12). That is what earth is like.
Does God live apart from it all, untouched by our problems? Never. Jesus Christ is the "great high priest," in Hebrews 4 "that is passed into the heavens." Of Him it is said,
"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Does Jesus, the One who intercedes for us at God's Heavenly throne, understand what we are going through? He understands to a depth that we shall never know, for He resisted every temptation and suffered for every sin. We live our lives narrowed by looking too long at those things that concern only us, and naturally we place some of that personality on to God Himself. He is not as limited in His perspective as we. He resides in Heaven, but He has borne the pain of earth.
The agony of my father's leaving would have been too great to bear had I not known where he was going. Jesus was merciful to those who have been touched by grief in that He included God the Father's permanent residence address(Heaven) in the "Lord's Prayer."
"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:1-3).
JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL
In addition to heaven being the eternal home for those we love, it is the highest court where all matters will someday be decided justly. "For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off" (Proverbs 23:18). "... for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known" (Matthew 10:26).
There is no one who has had more of a reason to doubt that God was in control than the Apostle Paul: He said,
"...We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body" (2 Corinthians 4:8-10).
Fixing our hearts in prayer to our Father in heaven reminds us that His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). Even though we cannot understand why things happen, we have the assurance that "He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer" (Psalm 102:17), so we can say "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him" (Psalm 62:5).
HALLOWED BE THY NAME
We come as children in prayer, addressing our Father who is in Heaven. Is He a father like any other? No, His name is hallowed. "Hallowed" is most often translated "sanctify" or "sanctified" in the New Testament, which means set apart or dedicated to God. In our prayer, it points out the fact that God's Name is the name that is "above every name" (Phil 2:9), not only set apart, but set above, for He is the "Most High, the possessor of heaven and earth" (Genesis 14:22).
When God met with Moses at the burning bush, Moses doubted his ability to convince the children of Israel that God had chosen him. Moses feared the people would ask him the name of the God who had spoken to him. God told Moses to tell them that "I AM hath sent me unto you" (Exodus 3:13,14). "I AM" and "LORD" in the Old Testament (Yahweh or Jehovah) mean essentially the same thing, the self-existent, eternal One. Although God is the creator of time, He exists apart from it. In order to communicate with mankind, He described himself as I AM. One of the reasons his name is hallowed is that only the one true God can reign eternally in every moment of everyone's days.
THE NAME ABOVE EVERY NAME
God's name is set apart because it is the name of the God who is like none other. When King David transferred power to his son, Solomon, he prayed for him. That prayer is recorded in Psalm 72. David ended his prayer praising the name of God:
"His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed. Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen" (Psalm 72:17-19).
Jesus taught that no man had seen the father at any time (John 1:18), but He revealed to us what the Father is like. In fact He said, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9). When Isaiah prophesied the birth of Jesus, he said His name shall be called "Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God , The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).
His Name is WONDERFUL
Our God's name is wonderful, or full of wonder. Moses song at the Red Sea was full of praise: "Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?" (Exodus 15:11). This song came after the deliverance from Pharaoh's Army. The children of Israel would be delivered time and time again by their mighty God.
The greatest deliverance of all, of course, came when Christ Himself was "delivered...up for us all" (Romans 8:32) as a sin offering on our behalf. It is no wonder that the Son of God is called "Wonderful."
His Name is COUNSELOR
His name is also "Counselor." Perhaps a simple illustration will shed some light on the Biblical concept of "counselor."
If an employer made the announcement he would give away $100 bonus checks at noon in the conference room, it could be said he purposed on that day to give away $100 bonus checks. The employer's counsel would be to come to the conference room at noon to get the bonus check. If he is a truthful employer, he will be at the appointed place and give away the $100 checks. In this particular matter, the employer's purpose and his counsel are inexorably linked together, and his counsel is true because what is about to happen depends solely on his doing it.
"Counsel" is also used to describe the help of a professional, as in the case of "retaining counsel" for a legal matter or seeing a "counselor" in regard to a personal matter. In both of these cases, the basic reason the counselor is sought out is for his or her expertise in a given field. A counselor has a thorough knowledge of the subject at hand.
Our all-knowing Counselor is divine, as are His purposes. Isaiah 55:8 teaches,
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD." This may sound like He is unwilling to share His thoughts with us, but this is not the case at all. One primary reason His thinking is so vastly different from ours is because when He thinks something, it is as good as done. His purposes cannot be frustrated. That's why his "counsel" is invaluable. What He counsels is what is happening all around us. In fact, Ephesians 1:11 teaches that He works "all things after the counsel of His own will." In Jeremiah 29:11, God says "I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." His thoughts are His purposes, and this is what will happen, without fail.
No one is God's counselor, but His ways are perfect (Romans 11:34; Psalm 18:30). He is eminently qualified as Counselor because He knows everything about you and me:
"Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether" (Psalm 139:2-4).
He shares that counsel with mankind through the written word and the living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. We should give heed to the words of this counselor:
I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see (Revelation 3:18).
This is the counsel of our Lord. It is the counsel to obtain the eternal riches of salvation, the white raiment of righteousness, and the anointing of sin blinded eyes, that see Jesus as He really is.
His Name is THE MIGHTY GOD
The word "mighty" means powerful, or warrior. It is translated in scripture as mighty man, mighty one, champion, etc. Only the mighty God could triumph over the grave: "The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in his love, He will joy over thee with singing" (Zephaniah 3:17).
He is "the great, the mighty God, the Lord of hosts, is His name, great in counsel, and mighty in work:" (Jeremiah 32:18). He is a God that stands alone without need of anyone and beyond the influence of power or bribery: "For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward" (Deuteronomy 10:17).
His Name is THE EVERLASTING FATHER
All Hebrew letters have a numerical value. The Hebrew word for "Father" is assigned number one (#01) in the Hebrew language. It's numerical placement could serve as a reminder that all things proceed from the Father. This is true of the Holy Spirit: "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me" (John 15:26).
Jesus name was to be called "The Everlasting Father" which is a remarkable commentary on the interdependence and relationship within the Trinity. John taught that the "Word," Jesus Christ was "in the beginning with God" (John 1:2). He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending" (Revelation 1:8).
Unlike an earthly father, the everlasting Father can never die. He is never too busy or too tired at the end of a long day. He is never impatient; He always has time for us. Everlasting is also translated "world without end," and there is no end to the love our heavenly father has for all His children. "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him" (Psalm 103:13). "Pitieth" means to have compassion on; and His "compassions fail not" (Lamentations 3:22). It is extremely important to remember this fact when we pray. God is able to do what He wills, but His will is always compassionate toward his children.
His Name is THE PRINCE OF PEACE
Another of the names by which God is known is "Prince of Peace." Something calm or tranquil comes to mind whenever one thinks of peace. Paul taught that Jesus "is our peace" (Ephesians 2:14), because we have peace with God through Him (Romans 5:1).
In order to understand this type of peace, one must look at Jesus' prayer in John 17. He prayed about being "one" (same word as at peace) with the Father (John 17:21). "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (John 17:21). Jesus did not come to send peace, "but a sword" (Matthew 10:34). If the price of peace is a denial of Christ, then a "sword" it must be. But He did come to make peace between God and man. There was a great gulf fixed between God and man when Adam sinned. Nothing could bridge this gulf but the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13). Because of Christ, we can now be one with God through Him.
This lesson in peace gives insight into maintaining a peaceful spirit. In any circumstance, we can remain in a spirit of agreement and oneness with our Lord that His will is perfect and He works everything out for our good and His glory. This will keep us from striving to understand "why me?" in the midst of adversity. Our focus and thought in all things can be "No matter what happens to me, I rest assured that God loves me. He proved it at Calvary." This is true peace authored by the Prince of Peace
Thy Kingdom Come
Why would God teach us to pray that His kingdom is to come? This makes it clear that we are praying for a future date and it is forward looking prayer that keeps hope alive! What does he tell us about his kingdom? He told the parable of the tares and the wheat to tell us about His kingdom (Matthew 13:24-30). As in the parable of the sower and the seed (Matthew 12), there is nothing wrong with the seed, it is the good seed of the Word of God. But the enemy of men's souls, the devil, sows his seeds as well. In this parable, a "tare" is a weedy grass that grows alongside the wheat. It's difference from the wheat is easily seen when the two have reached maturity side by side. The wheat bows its head laden with its fruit, the tare does not bow.
The word "tare" is also used to identify an empty counterbalance in weights and measures. Job said, "But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10). Our place in the kingdom is to be concerned about our own inner "weight," whether we are pure gold or empty inside.
Jesus taught another parable about His kingdom. It was of the "ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom" (Matthew 25:1-13). The five "foolish virgins" were as empty as the tares are. While outward appearances may be deceiving, the inner heart that seeks God will someday be manifest. The kingdom is likened also to a net (Matthew 13:47), which "gathered of every kind" but only the good were gathered into the vessel, the bad were cast away.
Also included in the parables of the kingdom are those which describe the seeming insignificance of its promise of influence to a worldly eye. The "kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed...which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof" (Matthew 13:31-32).
The plant here described was very different from that which is known among us. It was several years before it bore fruit, and became properly a tree. Mustard, with us, is an annual plant; it is always small, and is properly an herb. The Hebrew writers speak of the mustard-tree as one on which they could climb. The seeds of this tree were remarkably small; so that they, with the great size of the plant, were an apt illustration of the progress of the church, and of the nature of faith.
This seeming insignificance that leads to complete permeation of the world is also shown in the parable of the leaven: "The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened" (Matthew 13:33).
When a Christian prays, "Thy kingdom come," he must keep in mind that the Lord's kingdom may never appear that it has the ascendancy in this world. It is like the leaven or the grain of mustard seed. To man's eye, the size is insignificant and weak. It is not how big the grains are, it is the power that is carried within the grain that makes the difference.
Value of the Kingdom
Other parables teach the value of this kingdom.
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field" (Matthew 13:44).
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it" (Matthew 13: 45,46).
The kingdom of God is such that it could be said, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul, or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:36). This same truth is found in Psalms 49:7: "None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him." No matter what treasure we may accumulate on earth, it cannot compare to the treasure of knowing Christ and being a partaker of His kingdom. And for those who seek salvation, there is no help but of God: "For He shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper" (Psalm 72:12).
Thy Kingdom = God's Kingdom
Jesus also made it clear who sets the rules for entrance into the kingdom. He said, "For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard" (Matthew 20:1). This is the story of the laborers who worked all day for the same price as those who were hired toward the end of the day. This is a true picture of salvation. The penny can represent the fact that there is only one thing received in God's kingdom by all who labor there, that is salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. And the fact that some worked all day and some only a little while points out the fact that this "penny" is not measured by work on the part of the recipient.
These things were hard to understand for the minds of the Jewish nation, dulled by
their corruption of God's laws. The law was meant to be the "schoolmaster, to bring us unto Christ" (Galatians 3:24), not some way of measuring how worthy we are of Christ's salvation, or to use as a tool for controlling the masses. God set the standard for the relationship man and God. He says there are those that are last which shall be first, and there are "first which shall be last" (Luke 13:30). It is not our place to decide where or how long we should labor. It is enough to pray for the culmination of all things, even as John prayed, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Rev. 22:20).
THY WILL BE DONE
This is a hard statement because it is the recognition of total release to God. It is good it comes in the midst of the prayer. It follows the establishment of who God is, what His character is like, and what His kingdom really is. It is then one can pray "Thy will be done." Even then, it takes courage to pray this prayer. But we can never hope to ask more of God than His own Son did. And it was His Son, headed to Calvary's cross, who prayed "Not my will, but Thine be done" (Luke 22:42).
On Earth As It Is In Heaven
Again, Jesus teaches us to look up and to look forward in our prayer. We are to pray for God's will on earth, while thinking of what His will accomplishes in Heaven. It is there that Christ is seated at the right hand of God, where He "ever liveth to make intercession" for us (Hebrews 7:25). Jesus presence in heaven assures our care on earth. His prayer on our behalf recorded in John 17 tells us about the heart of Jesus:
"O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them" (John 17:25,26).
When we pray that God's will be done on earth, as it is in heaven, we also enter into worshipful praise. John tells us in Revelation there is an unceasing chorus of praise around God's throne.
And the four beasts had each of them six wings about Him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come" (Revelation 4:8).
Give Us This Day our Daily Bread
Three requests are included in the Lord's Prayer, and they are requests for "us," never for "me." The first is a prayer for "daily bread." It is the phrasing of the request that is noteworthy. The prayer is a daily prayer at the beginning of the day.
King David prayed "My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up" (Psalm 5:3). Jeremiah taught, "It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22,23). It is necessary to seek God's provision daily.
The Psalmist understood this as he prayed, "Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily" (Psalms 86:3). "Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High" (Psalm 56:2). The Lord is the source of abundant provision: "Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation" (Psalms 68:19).
"Daily Bread" is, of course, the only part of this prayer that deals with practical necessities. Bread is meant to be those things we need, as in Matthew 6:31,32 "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, wherewithal shall we be clothed?...For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." In this passage recorded by Matthew, Jesus warned us to not worry about tomorrow. "Tomorrow shall take thought for the things of itself" (Matthew 6:34). The Creator gives us permission to leave our troubles, future and past, in His capable hands. To carry a future fraught with uncertainty and worry and a past filled with regret is too large a burden for His child, so He tells us to pray just for "daily bread."
Forgive ... As We Forgive
The publican (a hated tax gatherer) in Luke 18 who was "justified," prayed for God's mercy. Without the mercy and compassion of God, there is no forgiveness. Forgiveness is that free gift extended to one who cannot and does not merit the gift. It is the essence of salvation. Jesus Christ paid sin's debt by shedding his own life blood, but it is the forgiveness of God that applied that blood to lost mankind. We sinned against God and He has made provision to forgive every sin. Every day we fall short and need to ask God's forgiveness. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). "Trespassed" or "debts" translates literally as "to fall near" (just short of the mark). It is the wisdom of God that forces us to seek His mercy while facing our own attitude toward those who have offended us. Psalm 18:25 teaches "With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful."
The Apostle Peter asked, "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, until seventy times seven" (Matthew 18:21,22). Forgiving our brother is not about our relationship with that particular brother. It is all about our relationship with God, for He has said, "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy" (Matthew 5:7). Many times we think that if we forgive someone, we will open ourselves up to being hurt time and time again. There is potential danger in that. The mystery is that when we are merciful toward our brother, it permeates our attitude toward our own lives. We feel confident in our approach to God. A greater tragedy than being hurt by the same person twice would be to approach God and feel unwelcome because we carried with us a bitter and unforgiving spirit.
Even in the face of my father's death, I could see the mercy of God at work in that relationship. In the last months of my father's life, I finally came to grips with the fact that many of the expectations I held for him were unfair. In my own way, I had to "forgive" him for not being perfect. It was necessary for me to be merciful to him and love him as he was. The last personal thing my father said to me was, "Don't worry about it." He spoke it tenderly to me. He knew there were many ways in which I had failed to show genuine patient Christian love to him. This was his way of telling me I was forgiven for everything, real or imagined. He died less than 24 hours later. In this life there is nothing more damaging to a relationship than a lack of mercy and there is nothing sweeter than that tender mercy and forgiveness extended without reproach.
Salvation is Deliverance
The third request in this model prayer is a plea not to be led into "temptation," but to be delivered "from evil." James teaches that God cannot be tempted with evil, neither does He tempt any man (James 1:13). For this reason, we know it is not necessary to ask God not to tempt us. The meaning of this prayer can be found by keeping it phrased with the second part of the sentence, "But deliver us from evil."
Jesus "gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world" (Galatians 1:4). If one studies the word "temptation," it can also be translated "test" or "tribulation." Jesus is the one who delivered us from evil when He took all mankind's trials and tribulations on Himself at Calvary. He was tempted in all points on our behalf, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
He then is the One who went "into temptation," in order to deliver us from evil. Asking to be saved from "temptation" in this model prayer is defined by the reality of being "delivered from evil." This part of the Lord's prayer rehearses the truth of salvation. It is, in fact, the believers privilege to be led, not into temptation, but by "still waters" (Psalm 23:2). The "leading" in Psalm 23 is a gentle guiding to a resting place. And the resting place described by "still waters" is the "rest" of the people of God from their own efforts to earn salvation (Psalm 95:11). As Paul said in his final letter to Timothy: "And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (2 Timothy 4:18).
THE KINGDOM, THE POWER AND THE GLORY, FOREVER AND EVER. AMEN.
This prayer ends with a crescendo of adoration and praise. After thinking through all that God is and all that He has done and will do, it is no wonder the believer cries, "For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever, and ever, Amen." The believer has come to a point of understanding the position of the One who has invited him into fellowship through prayer.
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, He said they shouldn't think that they would be heard because their words were fancy or plentiful. God would be much like anyone else if He could be wooed or bribed with flattery. And, in addition to that, what good would it do to pray to someone who was not all powerful? Matthew 6:8 tells us the "Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him." Perhaps more than anything else, the Lord's Model Prayer is establishing truth in the mind of the believer. Prayer may be more about a rehearsal of what God is really like than a shopping list. It is a time for talking through the hard things with the only One in our life we can be absolutely sure of. It is a time of forgetting present trouble and circumstances and getting a renewed assurance that someone really cares about us.
Too often we tell children to pray for some special thing they desire, or we ask someone to pray for something we want or some decision we have to make. It is as if prayer needs a problem to generate itself. That should not be the case.
It is in the constant exercise of prayer, as it was taught to be in Matthew 6, that we work through all things, as in that living communication with the LIVING GOD, we find our will adjust to His own. Prayer is the living, breathing discovery of who God is and what He intends to do.
It is no longer then a question of why pray, because God will do what He wants to anyway. Rather, prayer is an invitation, even a challenge, extended to all believers. The truth is we must pray because God is going to do what He wills, and He has invited us to share in the eternal life that He has authored.