Luke: Prayer changes everything (Part 3)-03-11-18

Series Title: ‘The Gospel of Luke: Encountering Jesus’

Message: ‘Prayer changes everything!’ pt.3

 Texts: Luke 11:1-13; Matthew 6:9-15

 Introduction: Stephen Sorenson, in Discipleship Journal, wrote about Gertrude, a missionary on an island in Haiti. He said she startled him with this answer to his question about how American Christians differed from Haitian Christians. She said:

  • Most American Christians don’t need God.

They have everything they need. If they don’t pray or read the Bible for weeks, it makes little difference in their daily lives.

  • They still have food to eat, a place to sleep, and regular income.
  • They don’t have a need to practice their faith every day.

Sorenson thought, for many Christians in the United States, that was true.

  • Gertrude lived among impoverished people. And that gave her a deeper understanding of how God provides.
  • He said that she impressed him with her firm trust in God to supply what she and the islanders needed for daily living.

Particularly since in our culture even a child’s allowance can buy a loaf of bread.

  • So, what does Give us each day our daily bread mean for those of us who don’t worry about putting food on the table?
  • What truths are we missing, as we quickly read over or recite these words, often w/o our minds engaging them? Let’s see.
  1. Luke 11:3 Our physical needs

PP  Read: Luke 11:3

Yes, it’s significant that the request for our daily bread, was set in a culture different than ours.

  • At that time, people were paid on a daily basis for the work they did.
  • That often meant they had only enough money to pay for one day’s groceries and other physical needs.
  • And being a culture based on agriculture, when a crop failed, it was devastating.

So, the request for God to provide our daily bread, was a reality. But not so much for us today.

For most of us, when we pray that part in ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ there seems to be a disconnect. Because, truth is, we have more than we need.

But, Jesus is not just talking about food here. He’s talking about all of our needs. Martin Luther wrote:

  • What does daily bread mean? Everything that nourishes our body and meets our needs, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, yard, money, possessions, spouse, kids, good government, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends and neighbors and other things like these…

(Jeffrey Anselmi)

In other words, Jesus is teaching us to depend upon God, rather than on our own abilities, to meet all our needs.

But, I also need to acknowledge that there are many, including some here this morning, who do pray Give us each day our daily bread because they are struggling financially.

  • And for them, a life of perpetual anxiety over adequately providing for their families, IS a reality!

So, for those who struggle and for those who don’t, the answer is still the same… Look to God for His provision.

Since we’re also using Matthews account of ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ let’s go a bit further in Mathew to see Jesus give an explanation of what He said

about God’s provision of our needs.

 PP  Read: Matthew 6:25-32

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Anxiety can reveal at least two truths about us:

  • Either our lack of faith that God wants to and actually can provide for our needs.
  • Or, the attitude that we’re not quite satisfied with either the quality or quantity of God’s provision.

And those are both issues we need to resolve before we can honestly pray, Give us each day our daily bread.

You see, God knows what we need, even before we ask it. And He knows what’s best for us, even when we might disagree. And He’ll provide what we need, because of His great love for us.

BUT, and this is a HUGE BUT… there is a condition. Yes, God puts a condition on His provision of our needs. It’s found in Mathew 6:33.

PP  Read: Matthew 6:33

Context… remember. There is a reason for the order found in the requests of ‘The Lord’s Prayer.’

PP Matthew 6:9-13

You see, Jesus tells us to FIRST honor God and His purposes in our prayers.

  • Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Then…

  • Give us, forgive us, lead us, deliver us.

Do you see it? Our priority in payer is, we’re overly concerned about, what should come second, not first;

  • Because we’ve made our personal needs more important, a higher priority, than God’s purposes in the world.

And that takes us back to what we looked at last Sunday. Remember Martin Luther’s perspective on ‘The Lord’s Prayer’? Let me remind you, because he probably got the idea from Matthew 6:33.

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When we pray these petitions, we’re asking God that they happen in our lives. God will answer our prayers and change the world one life at a time, and God will begin with us…

When His (God) is our perspective, then prayer is more than asking for something that we need, it’s asking to be changed in ways that we cannot imagine. (Kevin Ruffcorn)

So, beyond asking God to provide for our own needs, Luther would have us look at God’s purposes in the world, in our world and ask ‘Are we helping to meet the needs of others?’ Remember, the request is:

  • Give US this day our daily bread.

So, are we contributing:

  • To our KB Boxes that go to support kingdom builders, missionaries, and other organizations who certainly don’t have more than they need?
  • To our Deacon’s Fund that helps people in need right here at CBC who come up short, in some financial way?
  • Or providing food, daily bread, as part of our Meals of Love ministry?

And one last thing before I move on.

  • Regardless of whether we have more than we need or struggle to have just enough,
  • are we giving God thanks daily, for His provision?
  1. Luke 11:4 Our spiritual needs

PP  Read: Luke 11:4; Matthew 6:12

Here, Jesus tells us to get specific when it comes to asking God to provide for our needs… He gives us two areas that perhaps, we struggle with the most, as followers of Jesus Christ.

  • Forgiveness and temptation.

Just a few weeks ago, Elder Wes spoke on forgiveness, so I’ll only touch lightly here.

 Forgive our sin

Remember the context here is Christians.

  • So the request forgive us our sins isn’t a prayer of the sinner seeking salvation.
  • It’s a prayer for the follower of Jesus to be restored to intimate fellowship with Jesus.

PP  Read: Psalm 66:18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.

PP  Read: James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

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 PP  Read: 1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

So men… how you doing with that last one? If you feel that God is not answering your prayers, have you looked at your relationship with your wife?

  • You see, sin hinders our access to the Father,
  • and takes away the intimacy of our fellowship with Jesus.

BUT, Christian, there is a promise from God for when we sin.

PP  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Because we’re cleansed from all unrighteousness

  • Our access to the Father and the intimacy of our fellowship with Jesus, are restored.

Now, the next phrase seems to contradict what we understand about forgiveness when we repent.

PP  Read: Luke 11:4a; Matthew 6:12

  • It seems there is a condition attached to God forgiving our sin… that we must first forgive those who have sinned against us.

Here’s what it doesn’t mean.

  • It doesn’t mean when we forgive the sin of others against us; we deserve, or earn God’s forgiveness.
  • Forgiveness is not our right, it comes only by God’s grace.

Here’s what it does mean:

  • Followers of Jesus must recognize that we should not ask God to do for us
  • what we are not willing to do for others.

So, from Martin Luther’s perspective on ‘The Lord’s Prayer’

  • We should not ask God, when we sin against Him, to extend forgiveness to us,
  • unless we’re actually extending forgiveness to those who sin against us.

Remember, it’s Forgive us our sins… mine and my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Here’s a thought.

  • When we regularly pray for God to forgive the sins of our brothers and sisters in Christ,
  • don’t you think it might be easier for us to forgive them?
  1. Keep us from temptation

PP Read: Luke 11:4b; Matthew 6: 13

First, God does not lead us to sin. He never sends us into temptation just to see what we’ll do.

PP  Read: James 1:13  Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one.

Second, Satan does lead us into temptation. He looks for ways to trip us up.

PP   Read: 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Third, and predominately, we lead ourselves into temptation. Let’s continue with James 1:14-15a

PP  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin…

PP  What’s your kryptonite?

  • Where is it that you know you can’t go because you’re just not strong enough?

What is it that you know you can’t look at?

  • What is it that you know you can’t listen to?
  • Who is it that every time you are with them, they bring out the worst in you?

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You see, more often than not, we’re responsible for temptations come our way. Because we choose them.

Conclusion: So, what do you do? How do you do your due diligence, to keep you from placing yourselves in a position to be tempted to sin.

  1. Acknowledge your weaknesses

That’s not all that hard. We all know the doors in our lives that lead to temptation.

  1. Flee temptation

Don’t go where you know you will be tempted. But, if you find yourself there, leave. Don’t worry how it will look, just get out.

  1. Resist temptation w/ Scripture

Jesus overcame the devil’s temptations in the wilderness with the Word of God. For us to be able to do that, we need to be regularly reading the Bible.

  1. Repent quickly when you sin

Immediately ask God for forgiveness and for strength not to fail again. Here’s a verse that has greatly helped me:

PP  Read: James 4:9-10 TLB

Let there be tears for the wrong things you have done. Let there be sorrow and sincere grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Then when you realize your worthlessness before the Lord, He will lift you up, encourage and help you.

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And that leads to the next step.

  1. 5. Don’t be discouraged

While you should never become complacent about your sin, don’t be defeated by it, either.

  1. Be accountable to someone

You do not need to go into detail with someone, but they do need to know how to           pray for you. Find someone who is a mature Christian. Tell them that you are struggling in a certain area and ask them to pray for and with you.

We’ve covered a lot of potentially sensitive issues today. But that’s one of the blessings of preaching through books of the Bible.

  • We get to hear what God wants us to hear… no leaving anything out.

So, two questions in closing:

  • What did you hear this morning that you needed to hear?
  • And what are you going to do with what you heard?