Thursday, August 30, 2018

“Lord, Teach Us to Pray” (Pt. 9)

(Aug. 30, 2018)


          Have you ever asked anyone a question and the answer you received was so profound it left you speechless?  That must have been the feeling of the disciples after receiving Jesus’ answer to their request Lord teach us to pray! (Luke 11:1) 

          The prayer Jesus gave was revolutionary.  The title of Albert Mohler’s commentary on the prayer captures the essence perfectly well – The Prayer that Turns the World Upside Down.  Indeed this simple, yet profound, prayer is revolutionary!  We think we know how to pray.  On one hand it seems so simple, but is not.  Praying rightly involves communicating with God from the heart, dedication of the mind and spirit, and a person truly ready to ask God for the right things.  The Lord’s Prayer is a uniquely appropriate prayer for both new believers and the most seasoned veterans of the faith.

          Last time we came to the end of the body of the prayer.  The Jews commonly added benedictions to things.  After the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer we have one such benediction.  In verse Mat. 6:13c we read “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, Amen.”  Several times throughout the Old Testament there is a long or short “Amen” or a word of praise.  The Greek word “doxa” means “praise.”  We get our word “doxology” from this word.  “The Doxology” we sing says “Praise God from whom all blessings flow . . .” What we have at the end of the Lord’s Prayer is something of a “doxology.”  The doxology found  in Mat. 6:13c almost certainly comes from 1 Chron. 29:11 which says “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head over all.” (1 Chron. 29:11)  The words in Mat. 6:13c are not found in any of the earliest manuscripts of Matthew’s Gospel.  It was almost certainly added by a scribe at a later time, a couple of centuries after the originals.  Some of the translations of Scripture have it in the text, while some only in a footnote.  John MacArthur offers this perspective as he writes, “Although they may not have been in the original account, the words are perfectly fitting in this passage, and express truths that are thoroughly Scriptural.  They form a beautiful doxology, declaring the preeminence of God as seen in the greatness of His eternal kingdom, power, and glory.” (John MacArthur; New Testament Commentary; Matthew Vol. 1; 397)  Indeed what is said here is a fitting end for the prayer in much the same way we would say “Amen” after a sermon that was good and biblical as an affirmation of its truth.  We would still understand though, that the sermon itself was not being equated with Scripture.

          The concluding remarks begin by affirming that “His is the kingdom and power.”  We read in Psalm 103:19 “The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.”  It would be understood that if there was a king there would be a kingdom and if there was a kingdom there would be a king.  There is not merely “a” kingdom but a very specific kingdom – “’Thy’ Kingdom come!”  It would also be understood that being king would mean possessing power.  Like the passage in Psalm. 103 says, no one put God in charge; He was already in charge.  He rules over all.

          Next we see “His is the glory.”  Second Corinthians 3:18 says “But we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  Every believer sees the glory of the Lord in the pages of Scripture and are transformed into the image of God.  Christ is the image of God.  The phrase “glory to glory” refers to an ever-growing glory as believers behold the glory of God in the Word of God, and the Spirit of God transforms them into the likeness of Jesus Christ.  What is being described here is the process of sanctification.

          The final word in verse 13 is “Amen.”  Second Corinthians 1:20 says “For all the promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.”  This means that all of God’s promises concerning Christ are true and trustworthy: a yes.  One by one we could go through every promise He has ever made and say “Lord did you mean it when you said . . .?”  And every single time the answer would be yes!  Remember “Amen” is like saying “So be it,” “yes,” “It is so,” “It is true,” “It is truth,” “It is correct,” “It is right.”  So when we tack on an “Amen” when we bear Biblical truth we are affirming that we believe what God has said.

          William Barclay writes in conclusion to the Lord’s Prayer, “And so, when we have prayed the Lord’s Prayer, we rise from our knees and go out to the world and its ways remembering the royal sovereignty of God and pledged to obedience to him, remembering the dynamic power of God and trusting in the power to answer our prayers, remembering the glory of God and living with the reverence which knows that earth is penetrated and permeated with the divine glory.” (William Barclay; The Lord’s Prayer; 112)  Indeed, it is so “Amen.”


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor

Thursday, August 23, 2018

“Lord, Teach Us To Pray” (Pt. 8)

Aug. 23, 2018


          We do not have to look very far to find things that deeply disturb, disgust, and make us mad regarding things taking place in this world.  Some of these are ongoing problems like abortion, rape, murder, and crime in general.  Others are apathy, selfishness, and sexual promiscuity. We see a broken world every which way we look that causes us, as Christians, sorrow and grief.  There is an unmistakable coarseness that runs throughout our culture that was not there just a few decades ago. 

          A few months ago, upon the death of former First Lady Barbara Bush, a college professor expressed joy at her death, and mockingly laughed saying nothing would be done to her for her actions and she was right.  We saw similar sentiments shared when Billy Graham died last February as some expressed gladness that this homophobic bigot had finally succumbed to death.  Further, we heard of a bill, earlier this year introduced in California that would ban the sale of the Bible labeling it as “hate speech.”

          In light of these things, and many others, I ask the question “What is evil?”  As believers in Christ we would say yes the things mentioned above are evil, but what about for someone who has a different worldview?  Maybe they believe these things are good.  Have you noticed, in recent years that there are fewer and fewer things that are universally viewed as evil?  It took something on the scale of the 9/11 attacks to get both political parties, for instance, to come together and condemn what happened as evil, but at the same time the Muslim world was largely pleased with what took place referring to it as justice and judgment coming upon America for its greed, immorality, and overall waywardness.

          Confusion abounds in this present world, but confusion about such basic things as right and wrong; good and evil are nothing short of astounding!  Within the context of God’s impending judgment against sin in Isaiah 5, he spoke through the Prophet saying “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Is.5:20)  Notice what is being said here.  Some are so deluded in their thinking/reasoning that they think what is evil is good and what is good is evil; who also think darkness is light and light is darkness; who also think bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.  How can this be?  It is probably impossible to understand what is being said here in Isaiah without understanding the sinful human heart that is enslaved by Satan until/unless a person’s heart is controlled by Jesus Christ.  Isaiah says in chapter 53 of sinful humanity “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Is. 53:6)  When we realize who and what we are as sinful human beings we must call out to God for help.  When we pray we are to be reminded of our helplessness and utter dependency on God for, among other things, deliverance.

          The next phrase in The Lord’s Prayer is “Deliver us from evil.”  The evil one exercises control over this world and its system and he manipulates everything for his purposes.  He has control over countless lives.  In 1974 Heiress Patty Hearst, age 19, was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army who brainwashed her and she became sympathetic to their cause even engaging in bank robberies.  When someone has control of you, it is not unusual, but rather expected, that they will start to manipulate you for their own purposes.  Maybe someone would say, I am my own man/woman and no one can control me.  My will is strong. Christians, of all people, should understand this pathetic logic.  A few years ago a series of articles came out giving statistics about the long-term results of a variety of popular weight-loss products and programs.  The report was very bleak.  People are overwhelmingly controlled (held hostage) by their desires and the appetites of the flesh and their wills are not strong enough to overcome the power/pull/influence of their flesh.  Believers have known about the failing nature of “will power” since Genesis 3 when mankind fell.

          The “Evil One” from whom Jesus teaches his followers to seek deliverance, reigns over this broken world and its system.  The name “Satan” means “adversary.”  He indeed is our adversary and is adverse to anything that will do us good and in favor of that which will do us harm.  The name “Devil” means “slanderer.”  You get mad when other people talk bad about you behind your back, but it is nothing compared to what Satan does!  Revelation 12:10 says “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.’”  We know what the end will be for Satan (he will be cast down/destroyed) but in the meantime, we need to be wise where he is concerned.  Satan loves to fool people and lead them down a path into deeper and deeper sin and further and further away from God and His design.  I wonder how many times we have provided joy and satisfaction for Satan because of our sins that we love so much?  A. W. Pink writes “Satan’s favorite device is to incite or to deceive us into a prolonged self-indulgence in some one sin to which we are particularly inclined.  Therefore, we need to be in constant prayer that our natural corruptions may be mortified.  When he cannot cause some gross lust to tyrannize a child of God, he labors to get him to commit some evil deed whereby the name of God will be dishonored and His people offended.” (A. W. Pink; The Lord’s Prayer; 72)

          Satan will do whatever it takes to keep you captive and within his control.  Second Corinthians 12:14 tells us “For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.”  Jesus was well aware of how Satan worked.  He had seen it, and even in His humanity, experienced it when He was tempted in the wilderness (Mat. 4).  It is because He knew how essential it was to pray for “deliverance” from the evil one.

          Deliverance from the evil one is by God’s grace.  Paul wrote to the Ephesians in 2:1-9 explaining the incomparable power of God’s grace and the inability of man’s own strength or power.  Satan had a stranglehold on us, but Jesus broke that power at the cross!  “To deliver us from the evil one” should be a part of our daily prayers just as Jesus taught.  We need to constantly be asking God to put a hedge of protection around us, our family, our church, our pastor/staff/leaders, and others.  We must remember victory over Satan (Christ’s victory) only came through the power of God.  It was never man’s power.  We are to pray (tap into the power of Christ’s victory over Satan).  Paul wrote to the Colossian church “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth; fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Col. 3:5)  Romans 13:14 says “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts.”  Peter warned in 1 Peter 5:8-9 “Be sober, be vigilant; because you adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” (1 Pet. 5:8-9)  John tells us how we should be living like those who have been “delivered” by God from darkness to light.  He writes “Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world.  And the world is passing away and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17) 

          Satan was very real, and particularly obnoxious to Martin Luther.  He wrote a lot about the devil and how Satan worked against him every step of the way as he tried to live for Christ.  In his famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” most of the song is devoted to this struggle between Satan’s influence and God’s power in life.  The first stanza says “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; Our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing; for still our ancient foe, doth seek to work us woe; His craft and power are great and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.”  The second stanza says “Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing; were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing; Dost ask who that may be?  Christ Jesus it is He; Lord Sabaoth His name, from age to age the same, and He must win the battle.”  The third stanza says “And tho this world with devils filled, should threaten to undo us.  We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph thro us; the prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him; His rage we can endure for lo his doom is sure; one little word shall fell him.”

          We have been delivered from the evil one in the most ultimate sense (our salvation).  Even with the knowledge of this truth, we forever pray, “Deliver us from evil” as we seek to live for God and not for the sins of the flesh.


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor


Thursday, August 16, 2018

“Lord, Teach Us To Pray” (Pt. 7) Aug. 16, 2018

          Temptation is something with which all people struggle.  Temptation comes in a lot of different forms from the simple to the complex.  A person can be tempted to eat too many cookies, stay up too late, tell lies, or have an affair.  We have likely said life would be a lot simpler without temptation all around us.  Temptation is an unfortunate reality, which we must take very seriously.  The less seriously we take it, the more vulnerable we are to succumbing to its allure.

          The next phrase in The Lord’s Prayer is “Lead us not into temptation.”  This line may seem a bit puzzling to us.  We might wonder why we need to ask God, not to lead us into temptation.  Does God tempt people?  Can He tempt people?  We do not get very far into the pages of Scripture and we are confronted with the reality of temptation.  After the fall (Gen. 3), and right before Cain kills his brother Abel (Gen. 4) we have God speaking to Cain in regards to why He did not receive Cain’s offering but did accept Abel’s offering.  God asks “Why are you angry?  And why has your countenance fallen?  If you do well, will you not be accepted?  And if you do not do well, sin lies (crouches) at the door.  And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” (Gen. 4:6-7)  Cain did not heed the Lord’s words of warning about temptation.  He rather allowed his feelings of jealousy, hatred, and resentment to lead him to rise up and kill his brother (Gen. 4:8).  God knew Cain was angry, but there was a test for him in it all.  How would he handle his anger?  Would he submit to God, or act out his anger by sinning?

          In Deuteronomy 13:3 Israel was given an assurance that false prophets, who basically “led people into temptation” would be punished and people were warned to test them and know that they were not of God.  We read “You shall not listen to the words of that (false) prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deut. 13:3)

          In the Lord’s Prayer (Mat. 6:13a) “Temptation” is a “test” or “trial.”  This test reveals how far you are able to go in doing what is right while avoiding doing wrong.  Temptation itself comes from our own sinful desires so we are constantly in the midst of a test or trial.  What should be our attitude toward this reality?  James tells us in his epistle; “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2-3)  Temptations/tests/trials can be seen as both good things and as bad things.  It is good in that it produces good things in us, but it is bad becaue it is often tough and painful to endure.  How can something be both?  A good example to help us understand would be our jobs.  We are thankful we have a job but, at the same time, we moan and groan when the alarm clock goes off on Monday morning at 6 AM!  Another thought to help us understand would be our retrospective on discipline from our past.  I reached the point in adulthood where I was able to truly be thankful to my parents for spanking me and administering other forms of discipline.  Further, I reached a point where I was thankful to my teachers for making me write papers, and study for and take tests.  Also thankful to coaches for making me work so much harder, etc.  Proper perspective only comes through maturity.

          If all this is true, why then are we to pray that we can avoid temptation/trials/tests?  There are three primary reasons.  1) Satan “The Tempter” (Mat. 4:3; 1 Thes. 3:5) tries to exploit every situation for our ruin.  1 Peter 5:8 says “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”  Jesus knew from His temptation experience in the wilderness (Mat. 4; Luke 4) how cunning, crafty, and deceptive Satan can be.  2) The pressures in times of trial can be overwhelming.  We naturally shrink from the thought of having cancer, losing our job, losing our spouse, or losing a child.  No one would pray for that to happen.  We desperately seek to avoid this sort of pain.  3) The knowledge of our own proven weakness and past failures.  We, better than anyone else, know how weak and vulnerable we are in the face of trials/tests/temptations.  Satan attacks us and exploits us with skill!  1 Cor. 10:12 says “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”  Satan knows the more times we fail, the more self-distrust we will have of ourselves.

          In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus found His disciples asleep and said to them “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.  The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mat 26:41).  What prompted His comment was the struggle He Himself had had as He battled the flesh.  “Watch” suggests  a soldier on guard; alert for the first signs of enemy attack.  We must be on the alert and know the potential for danger that lurks and be ready to act.  Martin Luther wisely said “You cannot keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.”  We will inevitably be tempted/tried/tested, but we do not let Satan have the satisfaction of defeating us.  We do not even have to mope and complain when trials come.

          We can have victory over temptation.  We must recognize that temptations themselves do not come from God.  They are part of our sinful, fallen nature, but God is still able to use them to accomplish good things in our lives.  We read in James 1:13-15 “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God;’ for God cannot be tempted by evil nor does He Himself tempt anyone, but each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown brings forth death.”  There is no doubt sin is tempting, even alluring to human beings with a fallen nature. 

          The Sirens from Greek Mythology were beautiful, melodious, yet dangerous creatures who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and singing voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island.  Sin has led to “shipwreck” in many lives.  The Bible is very clear however, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10:13)  If/when anyone falls into sin and they claim the temptation was just too strong, they are calling God a liar!

          The way a person successfully deals with temptation in his/her life is to practice what Paul exhorted the Romans to do in 12:1 where he writes “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”  We must “continually” present our bodies, our minds, and everything to God.  It takes a deliberate effort. 

          When Jesus teaches his followers to pray that God will not lead them into temptation/trials/testing, He knows the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of the flesh and how easily we can fall victim to our own desires.  With His grace and help we hold the potential to experience victory!


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Lord, Teach Us To Pray-Pt. 6 Aug 8, 2018

The world struggles with many Christian/Biblical concepts, but understanding what it means to “forgive” is especially elusive to secular society.  The unwillingness or inability of our culture to forgive is a staggering problem.  In fact, the problem of “un-forgiveness” is so profound that in an interview, a psychiatrist was asked about the subject and reported that most of his work/counseling/therapy was directly related to issues surrounding forgiveness.

          It is not only the world that struggles with forgiveness, Christians do as well.  When a sinful human being becomes a Christian, he/she does not cease to be a sinner any more than he/she ceases to be a human being.  Even Christians have sinful, fallen natures that will never be eradicated in this life.  The old sinful human nature gets us in trouble again and again.  Sin separates, even us Christians, in our fellowship with God.  But, when we repent and ask for forgiveness, there is a restoration and a deepening fellowship with God.  When we see and experience our own failings, weaknesses, and short-comings it should affect our attitude towards others.  It has been said that we need to “Deal with the sins/faults of others as gently as we deal with our own.”

          We will never experience the fullness of God’s forgiveness towards us, according to Jesus, unless we extend the same forgiveness to those who have wronged us.  In fact, in verses 14-15 of Mat. 5, Jesus says “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Mat. 6:14-15)  Who do you find it hardest to forgive?  I think Charles Allen, in his commentary on The Sermon on the Mount, gets to the heart of the issue when he writes “One of the most helpful experiences in prayer is to substitute the name of a particular person in this petition: ‘Forgive me as I forgive ______.’”  Think of someone you really struggle to forgive and put their name in that blank.  We all want God to be sympathetic to us, give us the benefit of every doubt, be compassionate to us, completely understanding, give us chance after chance, etc.  How understanding though are we of other people’s failings?

          The next line in the Lord’s Prayer is “Forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors.”  Some translations use the word “debt” and some use “trespass.”  Even though most of us memorized the prayer long ago using the word trespass, “debt” is a much more accurate word  A trespass is relatively minor compared to a debt, and the original audience would have seen it this way for sure.  The concept of a “trespass” is not a serious way of addressing our sins.  It is relatively minor as compared to a “debt” which Christians, going all the way back, have been strongly allergic to.  Our “sin” is far beyond a “trespass.”  We have probably trespassed accidently many times on someone else’s land or with their property somehow.  Further, we may have even done so deliberately, thinking it was not that big of deal.  The truth is we are rebels and lawbreakers, guilty of grievous sins against God.  Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

          The sinfulness of people is compared to a “debt” because owing a debt puts someone in a  vulnerable position.  Debt is a “prison” of sorts and at one time people literally went to “debtor’s” prisons.  Jesus’ words here would have been quite shocking.  They all knew how bad “debt” was, but when he compared their sinfulness to a debt they owed God, it really helped them see it in a whole new way.  Thankfully we do not have to actually try and pay off that debt ourselves, because, to quote the words of the old hymn “Jesus paid it all; all to Him I owe; sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow!”

          To be a Christian then, we need to understand that the forgiver and the forgiven are the same person.  It is us!  We are “forgiven” by God and we are also to be the “forgivers” of our fellow man.  We are to forever pattern our forgiveness after God’s example.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify/cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  God is faithful to His promises, and He has promised to forgive.  He does not break His Word!  I like what A. W. Pink writes at this point “Forgiveness is not to be demanded as something due us, but requested as a mercy.”  (A. W. Pink; The Lord’s Prayer; 59)  The blood that Jesus Christ shed at Calvary paid the debt of our sin in full (not just in part).  Consequently, based on God’s justice, He forgives!  The third stanza of Horatio Spafford’s hymn “It is Well with My Soul” says “My sin – O, the bliss of this glorious thought; My sin – not in part, but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!”  What glorious forgiveness we have experienced!

          Failure to forgive others is a clear indication we are not Christians and we are still living in the darkness of sin.  The Apostle John wrote very pointedly about this saying “He who says he is in the light and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.  He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” (1 John 2:9-11)  We were previously in the darkness and debt of sin, but now we are in God’s “debt” for the magnificent work of salvation in our life.  Because we love Him it is an honor, not an obligation, to serve Him.  The more we reflect on our own sinfulness (debt) and just how compassionate God has been to us, the easier it becomes to be forgiving toward others.  Reflecting upon the mercy of God in our own life changes our heart.  The Puritan preacher and writer Thomas Manton wrote “There is none so tender to others as they which have received mercy themselves.  For they know how gently God hath dealt with them.” 

          Another way of saying verse 12 would be “Continue to forgive us our debts to you Lord as we continue to try and reflect the spirit of forgiveness in our dealings with others.”  In the book of Philemon, Paul appealed to the slave owner Philemon to be kind and compassionate to the runaway slave Onesimus.  The basis for his appeal was that Philemon was a Christian and Onesimus had become a Christian so they were now both brothers in Christ.  Christian brothers model “Christlikeness” to one another and before the eyes of a watching world.  The biggest concern/duty for Philemon then was to forgive as he too had been forgiven.  It has been said “A forgiven person is a forgiving person.”

          God did not “reluctantly” forgive us but welcomed us back like a prodigal son returning home!  If you have experienced the Lord’s forgiveness in your own life then you are ready to forgive others.  If you are not in the practice of forgiving others there may be a reason.  It could be, you have not been forgiven.  Have you really been forgiven?  If so, are you practicing true forgiveness towards others?


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Lord, Teach Us To Pray -(Pt. 5) Aug. 2, 2018

          The further we get into the Lord’s Prayer the more we should realize the necessity of putting God, and His interests, ahead of our own.  His will is to become our priority.  Learning to pray properly then means that we must decrease and He must increase.

          Lost people may utter prayers but they tend to start in entirely the wrong way.  They usually jump right to the desires of their own heart.  The problem is that they only “know of” God but they do not really “know” God.  There is a big difference, for instance as a child, between the way one talks to their own parents vs. the way one talks to other people’s parents!  The world at large thinks God is there to give them anything they want just like a cosmic Santa Claus of sorts.  When Jesus taught His disciples to pray He did not begin by saying “My child, please tell me what you really want!”  Rather He taught them to begin with God - His holiness, power, and coming kingdom. 

          Jesus told them “Therefore in this manner pray;” then goes to “Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed be your name, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  This is a far cry from the general way a lost person begins a desperate prayer for what he/she is desiring at the moment. 

          The next phrase in the prayer signifies a shift; “Give us this day our daily bread.”  For the first time in the prayer there is a call for persons to ask God for something.  That “something” is “bread,” but more broadly for food or sustenance.  It is hard for people in our day and time to really know what hunger feels like.  The closest we come is perhaps missing a meal or being hungry with food being delayed longer than we prefer.  But to truly hunger day in and day out is very rare in our affluent land.   The honest truth is that obesity is a bigger problem in our country than hunger.  We not only have the basics, we have excess.  But, throughout world history there have been plenty of people who did not have the basics.

          Jesus, in encouraging His followers to pray rightly, teaches them that their prayers must express their dependence on God.  For years, Bible scholars and linguists did not know the exact meaning of the word translated as “daily.”  This was because the word did not occur in either literary or popular Greek.  But eventually the word was discovered in a papyrus from upper Egypt which seems to reveal its meaning.  It is clear that the meaning of the word refers to what we could call a “daily ration.”  Food in ancient times was not chocked full of preservatives like it is now.  You might have to go to the marketplace daily to get certain items.  In some places it is still much more common to do it that way.  In Exodus 16 we learn how God supplied a daily ration for the Israelites by giving them manna.  They had to gather it daily.  If they tried to gather a two-day supply at once it spoiled.  God desired for them to depend on Him daily.  We see in the Lord’s Prayer a simple prayer for the things which we have need of every single day.

          For over 30 years I have had a quiet time with the Lord as a part of my daily routine.  It consists of Bible reading and prayer, at a minimum, and often includes other devotional reading and even Scripture memorization work.  It is not enough to try to float from Sunday to Sunday.   I need a daily time with the Lord and it makes a monumental difference in my life.  There is a popular devotional used by many called “Our Daily Bread.”  It is so-named because of this line from the Lord’s prayer which recognizes how we need God daily.

          Just as our bodies need food daily, our souls need fed daily as well.  If we live as God intends us to live, we are to live one day at a time.  That is, we are not to be anxious about the unknown future or to fret about it or to worry about where our next meal is coming from.  We know it is coming from God!  We are to live in moment by moment dependence on God. 

          Babies are very cute, but helpless.  They cannot feed themselves, cloth themselves, bath themselves, give themselves medicine, keep themselves safe – nothing.  It is the perfect picture of how dependent we are upon God, our Heavenly Father.

          God not only provides, He provides abundantly.  The only other place in the entire Bible where a request to “give us bread” is spoken is in the midst of Christ’s sermon on the spiritual bread recorded in John 6.  Jesus, speaking to His Jewish hearers, says “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread of Heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from Heaven.  They answered, From now on [always] give us this bread.  Jesus said, I Am the bread of life.  He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:32-35)  The Jews were, no doubt, thinking of physical bread, just as the woman of Samaria (or the woman at the well) had been thinking of physical water (John 4).  Jesus, however, turned them away from the physical things of bread and water and turned them toward the spiritual parallels.  In fact, as the spiritual needs of these people become clearer the physical objects of bread and water disappear.  They seem unimportant.

          It is sad that so many Christians continue to go hungry.  The spiritual food is offered but they turn away appearing to not have an appetite for it.  The ones that are hungry are the “unsatisfied.”  We see the huge problem of spiritual leanness today.  We have all seen starving people in Africa with swollen stomachs.  Upon first glance they tend to be full, but those swollen stomachs are a sign they are starving and are headed toward death unless something changes.  Many are praying for a type of bread that does not satisfy.  It is this world’s bread; physical bread.  They long to feast on it, but it is as unfulfilling as eating styrofoam.  People are hungering for achievements, more money, a different or better job, better health, more time, more friends, more things, love, happiness, friendship, acceptance, etc.  These things are not necessarily good or bad by themselves, but God wants them to be used as He intended for them to be used.

          An athlete may think he/she will find all satisfaction in an achievement, but it does not really satisfy.  Someone may think if I had a million dollars or ten million dollars I would be happy.  A young man or young woman may say, if only I could find that special someone to share my life with and therefore find love, all my problems would go away.  Many homosexuals have bought into the world’s lie today that all his/her unhappiness is linked to the non-acceptance of their lifestyle and if people, especially parents, churches/Christians would just accept them and their lifestyle then all their anxiety would be gone.  The simple truth is, there is a God-shaped vacuum inside of every person that only God can fill.  God alone can satisfy!  The bread He alone feeds us satisfies our hunger.

          When we pray “Give us this day our daily bread,” we are acknowledging total dependence upon God and God alone.  Have you reached that point of daily dependence on Him or is He only a back-up plan or a last resort?  He wants a daily relationship with you.


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor