The Lord's Prayer
"Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be your name,
Prior to this prayer, Jesus said: "And whenever you pray, do not keep on babbling like the 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." Matt. 6:7, 8
Does much of your prayer life consist of babbling like the pagans - a never-ending chorus of words that make you feel good and you think that God is impressed and proud of you with your choice of words? God claims to know what you need before you ask him, ... so why pray at all? God knows what you need, ... but do you know what you need? How about a conversation with God? And if prayer is defined as conversation with God, who should do most of the talking, and who should do most of the listening?
The prayer written above and found in Matthew, Chapter 6, is usually called The Lord's Prayer, but in reality, perhaps it should be called Man's Prayer or The Believer's Prayer because Jesus himself said to the Disciples: This is how you should pray." (v.9).
The Lord's Prayer actually exists though and is found in John, Chapter 17 - all 26 verses. This is the prayer where Jesus exposes himself like no other time, where everyone is encouraged to read and listen. Since Jesus' Prayer begins with the words: "Father, the time has come," it seems to be appropriate because Jesus is approaching the end of his life and is preparing for the day of the Crucifixion. Jesus' Prayer has three separate entities that Jesus prays for: 1) Jesus prays for Himself; 2) Jesus prays for the Disciples; 3) Jesus prays for All Believers. Which of the prayers is most important? Each one is vital; each one is revealing; each one is crucial. Together, these three separate prayers encompass what Jesus is all about.
Praying for Himself, Jesus is all about receiving authority from the Father: to explain and to give Eternal Life; to complete the work his Father sent him to do; to receive glory. Jesus explained what Eternal Life is by saying: "Now this is Eternal Life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." (v. 3). Jesus brought glory to the Father by "completing the work you gave me to do." (v. 4). The work that Jesus completed is that he made his Father known. Jesus received the glory he had with the Father "before the world began" (v. 5) implies that Jesus has always existed. This entire prayer was made possible when Jesus exclaimed to the Disciples: "You believe at last!" John 16:31. Jesus had completed his mission when the Disciples believed and accepted Jesus' testimony about his Father. Besides knowing that the Cross was looming in the near future, Jesus was confident that the Disciples could be trusted to represent God to others.
Praying for His Disciples, Jesus is all about his completed earthly mission by revealing the Father: Jesus gave the words of truth about God to all who would listen, in fact, it was, as Jesus said: "the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to Eternal Life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say." John12:49, 50. Jesus mentioned at-one-ment (as opposed to atonement) by saying to his Father: "Holy Father, protect them (the disciples) by the power of your name - the name you gave me - so that they may be one as we are one." (v. 11). This is the at-one-ment, the unity, the oneness that Jesus has with his Father, but desires to have with all people. Jesus prays for God to "protect them (the disciples) from the evil one." (v.15). This protection is authentic and lasting as Jesus prays: "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." (v.17). Jesus said to his disciple Thomas: "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life." (John 14:6). John's opening statement of his Gospel says: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He (Jesus) was with God in the beginning." John 1:1, 2. God's word of truth will protect, and at the same time, God's word will sanctify the disciples.
Praying for All Believers, Jesus is all about praying for you and me (v. 20). Most vital, most revealing and crucial are the aspects of at-one-ment and glory. According to Jesus' own words, it is of utmost importance that complete unity (v. 23) and oneness exist. The glory that Jesus had with the Father "before the world began" (v. 5) and the glory that God gave Jesus because he loved Jesus "before the Creation of the world" (v. 24) is the same glory, the same unity, the same oneness, the same at-one-ment that believers are to experience. Jesus ends his prayer: "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have in me may be in them and that I myself may be in them." (vs. 25, 26). The ending words of Jesus' Prayer reveal Jesus' Mission: To Make God Known. Concerning Jesus as the Word, John writes: No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known." John 1:18. Making God known will always be the primary issue until Jesus returns.
By saying that Prayer is Conversation with God, then two questions need to be asked:
The recorded history of the Bible points to many examples of people who did not listen to the voice of God; neither did they pay attention. They also ignored hearing God; and they failed to watch!
Exodus 15:26 "If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord our God and do what is right in his eyes; if you pay attention to his commands and keep all of his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you."
Isaiah 1:2 "Hear, 0 Heavens! Listen, 0 Earth! For the Lord has spoken."
Jeremiah 7:26 "They did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their forefathers."
Job 42:7 "I am angry with you and your two friends, because they have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has."
Joshua 3:9 Joshua said to the Israelites: "Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God. This is how you will know the living God is among you ... "
Ezekiel 40:4 The man said to me, "Son of man, look with your eyes and hear with your ears and pay attention to everything I am going to show you, for that is why you have been brought here. Tell the House of lsrael everything you see."
Matthew 13:15 "For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them."
Mark 13:5 Jesus said to them, "Watch out that no one deceives you."
Luke 6:27 "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."
John 5:24 "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has Eternal Life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."
Hebrews 2:1 "We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away."
2 Peter 1:19 "And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts."
Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29: 3:6, 13, 22 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
John 18:37 "You are a king, then!" said Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."
And so it is. Hearing, Seeing, Listening, Watching, Paying Attention to everything God is trying to communicate to human beings through prayer.
A short time before the Crucifixion and just prior to the Lord's Prayer of John, Chapter 17, Jesus had this conversation with the Disciples: [John 16:25-33]
"Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father (Jesus' Mission). In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father."
Then Jesus' disciples said: "Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God."
"You believe at last!" Jesus answered. "But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me."
"I have told you these things, so that in me you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
" ... so that in me (through conversation and prayer) you will have peace."
God is always Good!
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