FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 16, number 7, February 16, 2017
“Pray, then, in this way,” -Matthew 6:9
Praying With a Kingdom Focus
Our Lord Jesus makes some amazing promises to us concerning prayer. He says, “And all things you ask in prayer believing, you shall receive,” (Matthew 21:22). He says, “Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened to you,” (Matthew 7:7). He says, “Truly, truly I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name. Ask you shall receive that your joy shall be made full,” (John 16:23,24). He says, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it shall be done for you,” John 15:7).
Does this mean then we can ask for a new Mercedes, a beach house, or a million dollars and be sure God will give them to us? Does this mean that we can be sure that when we ask for healing or a new job that God will surely answer, “Yes. Your wish is My command.” We know instinctively that this is not the case. If you are having a nice dinner at your favorite restaurant and the waiter asks you, “Sir, is everything okay?” you know that he is not asking, “How is your health? How is your job? How is your family?” You know that your waiter is asking in the context of your present dining out experience. “Is everything okay with the meal and the service?” Likewise, when Jesus makes these commands just mentioned we know that He is referring to the context of building the kingdom of God, the rule and reign of Christ in this world. So, praying with a kingdom focus is absolutely essential. As I mentioned last week, the Larger Catechism of the Westminster Confession of Faith does a great job of expounding the meaning of the six petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. We took up the first three petitions last week and here are the last three. I suggest you use these as a practical outline of how you can pray with faith, expecting God to answer because you are seeking first His kingdom in your prayers.
Petition Four, Give us this day our daily bread.
In prayer acknowledge that through Adam’s sin and our own sin, we:
– have forfeited the right to all outward blessings in this life
– deserve to be wholly deprived by God of all outward blessings
– deserve to have our use of them cursed to us
– have no reason to believe these sustain or satisfy us
– do not merit them or by our own hard work procure them
– are prone to desire, obtain, and use them selfishly, unlawfully.
Thus we pray that we and others, waiting on the providence of God:
– may enjoy a competent portion of outward blessings
– may have a continued, holy or Biblical, and comfortable use of outward blessings
– may learn to be content in what outward blessings He gives us
– may be kept from anything which takes away from our temporal support and comfort
Petition Five, Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
In prayer acknowledge that we and all other people are guilty of both original and actual sin, and therefore become debtors to the justice of God. Furthermore, we are to acknowledge that neither we nor any other creature can make the least satisfaction of that debt.
Thus, we pray for ourselves and all brothers and sisters in Christ:
that the God of free grace would, through the obedience and satisfaction of Christ, apprehended by us and applied to us by faith, may acquit us both from the guilt and punishment of sin
that He would accept us in His beloved Son
that He would continue His favor and grace to us
that He would pardon our daily failings
and fill us with peace and joy
giving us daily more and more assurance of forgiveness
being emboldened to ask for this assurance which we would be encouraged to expect
and that when we have this testimony in ourselves, we from the heart, will forgive others their transgressions against us.
Petition Six, Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.
In prayer acknowledge that the most wise, righteous, and gracious God, for various holy and just ends, may so order things, that we may be assaulted, frustrated by, and for a time led captive by temptations; that Satan, the world, and the flesh are ready powerfully to draw us aside and ensnare us, and that we, even after the pardon of our sins, by reason of our corruption, weakness, and lack of watchfulness over our own souls, are not only subject to be tempted, and prone to expose ourselves to temptations, but also in ourselves unable and unwilling to resist them, to be delivered from them, and to overcome them. Furthermore God would be perfectly just in leaving us under the power of our sins.
Therefore, we pray that God:
would so overrule the world and all in it
subdue the flesh
order all things
bestow and bless all means of grace
and quicken us to watchfulness in the use of them
that we and all His people may, by His providence, be kept from being tempted to sin
or if tempted, that God by His Spirit may powerfully support and enable us to stand in the hour of temptation
or when we fall into sin, that He would raise us up again and recover us out of it
and that our sanctification and salvation may be perfected
that Satan may be trodden under our feet
and that we be fully freed from our sin, temptation, and all evil forever.
Pray, then, in this way, my friends.