“Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give
us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts, as we also have
forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us
from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly
Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their
trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
It is good to have the Lord’s Prayer set before us to help shape our
prayers and to help us think how we can pray in terms of glorifying God
the best way. One of the clearest things about the Lord’s Prayer is that
God comes first. That is a real help to us because we all have a
tendency to get quite self-focused when we come to pray. I think every
Christian would admit that they struggle to some degree with prayer.
Last Wednesday I mentioned the devil doesn’t want us to pray, he wants
to hinder us when it comes to praying. But we can’t blame it all on the
devil. So when it comes to prayerlessness or lack of fervency and
consistency we have to stand in front of the mirror.
Let me ask you the question, what keeps us from praying? You might
say a busy schedule, distractions, my feelings, when I get depressed I
don’t pray. What sin keeps us from praying? I am sure there are many
sins that can factor into prayerlessness, but I would think there is one
sin more than any other sin that derails us when it comes to prayer. In
terms of the world’s problem of prayer I think you could say it is the
sin of unbelief. When you don’t believe there is a God or that he
exists, why pray? The sin of unbelief certainly would be the major sin
that keeps the world from praying.
What about Christians? What about us? I think the sin of pride is the
biggest killer and showstopper you could say when it comes to prayer.
In the adult Sunday school class we have had different men lead us
through the Lord’s Prayer taking one petition at a time. I recently
thought this prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, should in one sense be the
easiest prayer for us to pray, but it can be one of the most difficult
prayers. Why is that? Again, pride can rear its ugly head with regard to
any one of these petitions.
To pray this prayer with sincerity and authenticity we have to humble
ourselves. You could put this in front of every one of the petitions.
Here is what I wrote down, “Humble yourself before the mighty hand of
God.” Take that first petition, “Hallowed be your name,” does that
require humility? I think it does, it puts God first, his honor, his
glory. Pride is always competitive. Pride is more interested in
self-glory than God’s glory. It requires humility to want God to be
magnified, to want God to get the attention as opposed to ourselves.
Remember the Pharisees. They prayed, but it was really about
themselves. They would stand on street corners because they wanted
people to see them. They wanted the attention when they prayed. So you
could say the right words but do it for the wrong reasons. Without
humility you really are not praying in the right spirit.
We could run down each of those petitions one by one and I could
argue that every one of them demands humility. Every one of them forces
us to come to grips with our weakness, our vulnerability, our
dependency, and our sinfulness. When we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” we are
praying about God’s kingdom not our kingdom. When we pray, “Thy
will be done,” we are not praying for our will but his will. When we ask
God for daily bread, that requires a deep sense of dependency. We are
asking God to give us what only he can give us. We are asking God for
health, for strength, for the job, for the ability to earn a wage, to
get my daily bread. We are reminded that we are dependent creatures.
Jesus highlights that by the fact that he says, “daily bread”, pray
every day. That is humbling.
This last Lord’s Day Pastor Mark reminded us that not only are we
creatures created by God but we are fallen creatures. We are debtors to
God, “Forgive us our debts.” e mentioned the different ways we are
indebted to God. We are indebted to God in terms of giving him glory,
giving him fear, obedience, thanks, and love. Sin has made us debtors.
John Owen said the two things that are suited most to humble the souls of men are:
1) The doctrine of God. A due consideration of God. Go back to the
Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father which art in heaven,” and “Hallowed be your
2) The doctrine of sin. I believe our Lord wants us to
pray for forgiveness every day because we sin every day. Pride is loath
to say these words, “I am a sinner.” Remember the publican and the
Pharisee in Luke 18. They go to pray and it is the publican that beats
his breast and is crying out, “Have mercy upon me the sinner.” Not the
Pharisee, he was oblivious to his sin. But the publican said, “Have
mercy upon me.”