In every way, Christ served as the perfect example, as to what His followers could expect. Alienation, mockery, rejection, and death. Under those circumstances, why would anyone want to participate in the cause of Christ? There is no simple, or single answer to that question. Each person who names them self, as a Christian, has a singular reason applicable to ones self.
But important to Jesus is that whatever the reason for serving his cause, he wanted his followers to know how to pray. After his death, a new covenant or relationship with his followers would be instituted by God the Father. Lots of things were about to change. Which remain in effect today, perhaps the most significant change to occur would be prayer.
The disciples knew Jesus practiced this unique phenomenon called prayer. They wanted the power of this prayer phenomenon. Jesus decided to allow his disciples taste that power. So Jesus had a discussion with his disciples about a withered fig tree. See Mark 11:20-21. It was illustrative about the power of prayer that they could exercise. He said to them. “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, be removed and be cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” Mark 11:23-24.
That power passed unto the disciples, expired with his ascension to heaven some 40 days after his resurrection. It is not available to the followers of Christ today. But there is an exception, and it appears to be connected with the empowerment by the Holy Spirit.
A gift God guards judiciously lest it be abused. It can be observed through a careful study of The Acts of the Church, better recognized as the Book of Acts. I prefer the former because we can trace the early zeal of the church and compare it with today’s church. Clearly giving us an understanding of why the world is in such terrible shape. And just maybe a hint, as to why so many prayers are futile. It surely appears that praying is more about doing than asking. The asking then is minimized because God provides in accordance with our participating in his mission. Often measured by the expressions of this discussions first paragraph.
Concerning prayer, few things provoke more out rage from the people within the church than to suggest most prayers of give me and do for me fall upon the deaf ears of God. It is an easy truth to test. For example, consider any of our troubling world issues. Like Islam’s global war against humanity. Fueled with greater intensity by ISIS.
Ask Jesus for a mountain size miracle. With the ISIS leadership announcing their denouncingÂ of Islam and their acceptance of the Christ of Christianity. Islam changed the landscape of America and the world with a rag tag military force. They will continue to menace America, and will snuff out your church sooner than later. Because that is what Islam is really about. It’s a prayer worth praying but Jesus will not intervene, why? The clergy, and their parishioners have been praying those prayers for years. And the Lord Jesus Christ, remains silent. It will remain that way!
Many ask Jesus to bless America. It is absolute foolishness even to think that, Jesus, as the Son of God would bless America. God will not bless a people, or a nation that is in a state of spiritual apostasy. Whatever, America receives from God it is a result of his mercy and not his blessings. This beloved nation of ours was granted existence as a world power. To serve as an example of a people who existed to exemplify the values of Christ. Today, America is a nation that has lost its Christian way. Only God almighty knows what penalty, he will extract as justice for our national sins. When one reads about God’s judgments, they are promises and not just warnings.
Perhaps making it personal might help. Experiencing some long standing problem. Ask Jesus, in accordance with John 14:14 to honor his promise. “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” It will not happen! Even if, the petitioners are as perfect before Jesus, as humanly possible.
Does that mean that there is no hope when we pray? Absolutely Not! It is a matter of how we pray. We must pray the prayer Jesus taught.
Jesus taught, when you pray, say, “Our Father in heaven, holy you are,” Matthew 6:9. We are to recognize his purity and perfections as creator and sustaining force of his creation. Nothing occurs without his permission. Not the rising or the setting of the sun. One of my favorite verses is Psalms 24:1, “The earth is the LORD’S and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.” In just a few words, we have the essences of his sacredness. The complete complexity and beauty of his creation. Most certainly worthy of his creations constant praise.
Matthew 6:10, reveals the following, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
For the followers of Christ, today those are words of expectation. Because Christ taught, that he will once again at some unknown time intervene in the affairs of humanity. Eventually establishing his kingdom on earth. Diligent followers of Christ know that troubling times face humanity. Jesus said, those days will be the most horrific in the history of humanity, Matthew 24:21-22. But in the meantime, each Christ follower must in their own way prepare the way of the Lord. As an integral part of God’s will on this earth.
And your will be done on earth, just like it is in heaven, vs.10. Which also suggests that some, who name his name as their own may be unaware of his plan for earth, designed in heaven; learn it! while time remains. And remember that Revelation 22:12 is not a threat, it is a promise. “And behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give to every person, according to their work.”
God is mercy full, always wanting to provide for his people. But prerequisites existed, which were laid out for us in verses nine and ten. Not enough can be said about the need to understand and master the contents of those verses.
Christ then moves on giving us permission to seek our daily bread. in Matthew 6:11. Which implies that our personal needs and troubles, along with our international concerns discussed above will receive his divine attention. Should that occur it is a result of God’s provision as our “daily bread.” The phrase, our “daily bread” is an all encompassing expression. Covering needs and personal desires from A-Z for each of his followers. But that does not mean, what we want we will get. Not getting, is a silent cause for doubting the promises of Christ. Resulting in some turning away from Christ. To the dreadful, and sinful life styles, they put behind for a life with Christ.
This is what must be understood when we pray. God answers our prayers in accordance with his judgments. He instructed us not to use vain repetitious thinking that me might be heard. Because it shows a spiritual ineptness, and mimics the prayers those outside of his saving grace, Matthew 6:7. Christ admonishes us not to be like them, but to understand that our Father knows what we need even before we ask, verse eight. And has done so from time immemorial, but not always to our taste. So for some, God gets the blame and not the petitioner.
Matthew 6:12-13, requires our constant attention when we pray. In a very real sense, it is our spiritual barometer. “And for give us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, Amen.”
In five verses we have the complete outline of instructions on how to pray. But absent from the prayer Jesus taught are the hidden clues riddled through out scriptures. Which I suspect was done purposefully, with the Masters hope that his followers would find them. Moving on to greater understanding of ones spirituality.