Tuesday, September 20, 2016

THE LORD'S PRAYER - DAILY APPLICATION, ETERNAL BENEFITS

The just concluded seven part examination of the model prayer – the Lord’s Prayer – which Jesus Christ gave to all His disciples (past, present and future), leaves one thing now for us.  The question is “what do we do now”?  How does this apply to our daily lives? How do we walk this out and apply it effectively, so that we can be transformed by the teaching of the Savior into doing that which He hath called us to do?

Remember the Will of God is for us to reject the world, like Jesus did, and to be transformed into a new way of thinking. That is, if you will – to reject “stinking thinking” and live more like the new creation we have become, through rebirth (as a son or daughter of God).

So in applying the divine content of our Lord’s Prayer, we are free to abide in its structure and grow more and more fully into the widths and depths and lengths and breadths of it. Over almost two decades, my own personal prayer life and analysis on this amazing passage of Scripture has evolved into a depth of meaning, which stuns me, even though I have been a Christian for a long time. This is a perfect illustration of what a “closer walk with God” truly is.

Therefore, the first thing to note in personal application is this - don’t throw the long ball. Christianity is a slow maturing process where God has eternity to teach us as much as we wish to know this side of heaven with continuing education into eternity. Start small. 

We have all heard the mighty prayer warriors in all their verbal fluency and excellence, shaking the rafters with their power prayers, sounding like John Knox, George Mueller and Robert Sheffey rolled into one…or even dear old mom, who spent hours on her knees praying for us.  None of them started off sounding like Franklin Graham or his father. We all began our prayer lives stumbling and bumbling. The Bible tells us that we do not know how to pray, but the Spirit does it for us “(Romans 8:26).

So we simply begin to apply the following technique –

a.    Acknowledge God“Our Father Who is in Heaven”….is adoration! We must acknowledge our Heavenly Father, Abba, to Whom we are praying. God is not an ATM machine where we go pull out our daily withdrawal of blessings. 
b.    Gratitude – thank Him for all His blessings thus far. Thank Him for our very lives and just about anything you can think of, because anything we have, comes directly from Him. He owns everything including the food in our fridge. Be grateful for our families, our job any and everything. Most of all, be thankful for salvation. The Lord inhabits the praises of His people. Most of all He wishes His people to be grateful for ALL He has done for us…..and why shouldn’t we be? The very next breath we breathe literally belongs to Him, as does the food on our table and the roof over our heads. The One Who sent His own sinless Son to give it all for us, one and out, has every right to expect those whom He saved, sanctifies  and provides for, to fall over ourselves in sheer humble thanksgiving and worship to Him.
c.    Respectfully express what’s on your mind. One of the most fluent, powerful and effective prayers ever prayed was not by some super-spiritual prayer warrior on Wednesday night or at prayer meeting. It was done by a faithful king named Hezekiah. Hezekiah lived during the time of the prophet Isaiah and was surrounded by a vile, violent enemy named Sennacherib, who had the entire city of Jerusalem surrounded and cut off from all supplies, water and food. Sennacherib then sent a letter with a list of demands for Hezekiah to follow, if the King wanted Jerusalem to survive. Hezekiah took that same letter and went in private, in prayerful communication and presented it to Him. (Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD and spread it before the LORD- 2 Kings 19:14). The next morning, the Lord responded and 185,000 of the occupying forces perished overnight at the Hands of the Lord.   If we get some of troubling report which seems impossible to for us to handle – be it health, financial, work, family or other related, let’s take it to the Lord, open the document before Him and seek His help.  This shows so much confidence in His ordering the issues of our lives, that He will respond when the time is right.  This actually shows turbo-speed Faith and a Trust in the Lord beyond average comprehension.
d.  
Pursue, Persist, And Persevere. Acknowledging the Father of Lights with thanksgiving are the common traits of the true servant of the Living God. Simply read the Psalms, the Prayer Book of the Bible and especially the ones written by King David to know the heart of person after God’s own Heart, when trying to walk this Christian life out. What distinguishes the extraordinary Christian from those who are saved but not caring to live up to their full potential is Perseverance.  The general Grace which is extended to all people, including Christians, takes on a personal flavor of Favor and Power when the Christian pursues “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”, as the song goes. Seeking to hear from Him more, like King Hezekiah did when he laid out that devastating letter before God, Who responded in stunning fashion, requires our active pursuit of a closer relationship with our Heavenly father through Prayer, Bible Study and worship (personal and corporate).  These three disciplines will not only solidify our Faith in Christ but will bring us maturity which leads to peace, joy and contentment. Where these disciplines are needed are in the areas of trials and testing.   Sometimes we feel the Lord does not answer, hear our cries or “feels our pain”. These thoughts are wrong on all accounts.  In troubled times  of personal testing especially, and when we feel we are in the valley of the shadow of death, that is when He is closest. Now, He IS quiet for a reason. Rewind back to our school days when there was a surprise quiz or even high school finals.  During those school or college days, there was utter silence. There was only us – the test booklet and our knowledge/ability to answer the questions correctly with clarity and purpose. If we “aced” that test, we either got a good grade in class or graduated with honors.
e.    This is the reasoning God uses behind our testing. The same process we used in school to apply knowledge, in order to answer multiple choice in complete silence, is the way we are expected to view our own personal trials, tribulations and testing when God is silent. When we sit in the classroom with our test booklet, the Teacher is always quiet as we test. But the Teacher always takes our booklets with a smile, knowing it will be graded. If we are confident in our execution of the examination, we get a passing grade. There is nothing like a passing grade with God! Praise His Great Name!

Such understanding of how the God, Who gave His own Son on a Cross for our sins, operates, will move us to persist and persevere in prayer. It will become second nature. It will become the best way to learn, like the original 12 Disciples did, how and WHY the Master taught us how we should pray. Amen.
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