The Lord IS my shepherd
July 16, 2011
We believe that prayer is important; however, I am convinced that most believers pray far too little and what is worse, mostly for good things not the best things. The Bible provides instruction. Meaningless repetition of prayers, like the Lord's Prayer, is a pervasive problem. However, while there is nothing wrong with repeating this prayer word for word, I do think there is another greater purpose for it as a guide, a model, a blueprint to give us an attitude, a direction, a viewpoint for prayer. It lays out an outline for us to follow, a measuring rod for us to measure our other prayers. If our prayers conform to this model, we can be certain that God is hearing and responding. If our prayers do not measure up to this model, we ought to examine them carefully to learn why they do not.

At the very beginning of the prayer, we learn that "relationship" is the key component, the foundation of all prayer. If we cannot call the Creator, "Father", we have no reason to believe our prayers will be heard or heeded. Surely God hears the prayer of the repentant sinner who calls on Him for salvation. At that point, he is no longer an unbeliever. Surely, there are examples of unbelievers' prayers being heard and heeded in the Bible, but there is no guarantee, no assurance, that God will respond to the prayers of the lost. We must have a relationship with Him in order to expect to be heard by Him. Also, do not miss that God is not called "my" Father but rather "our" Father. Every personal pronoun in the Lord's Prayer is plural. This is great evidence to me that there are no "Lone Ranger Christians". Those who claim to be Christians but have no regular, consistent relationship with a local body of believers are only fooling themselves.

The focus of all prayer must be God's Name, God's Kingdom, God's Rule, God's Will. The prayer begins by telling of our Father-child relationship and immediately points out God's holiness, thus revealing our sinfulness. We come to God as His child, and immediately we will be brought to the great contrast between His nature and ours. Before praying, we ought to be very careful that we really do want His Kingdom, His Rule, His Will. That is far more difficult than one might think at first glance. Praying for His Will necessitates that our will ceases to exist. Try to work that out in your own life. I pray that you have better luck than I.

The Lord's Prayer gives us a model for the details of prayer. It says, "give us, forgive us, lead us, deliver us." We must come to God acknowledging that He is the Source, the Provider. Thus, we are confessing that we are the beggar at the feet of the "One Who is the Fountainhead" of everything we need. "Everything" is a big word. Declaring myself to be a beggar incapable of providing anything for myself is quite difficult. Asking to be led admits that God is the Guide and I am blind. Asking for forgiveness, confesses that God is Judge and I am the criminal. Asking to be delivered confesses that God is Savior and I am the condemned and hopeless prisoner in desperate need of His salvation.

The climax of all prayer must be a declaration that the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory belong to God alone, and always will. Directing all glory to God is a difficult thing. Quite often, if not most of the time, I want to direct the glory to someone else. You will have no trouble figuring out who that person is.

Commentary by Pastor Steve Ellison, Harvey's Chapel Baptist Church, Hot Springs, AR

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