Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lord, Teach Us to Pray (Part 3)

Reading: Luke 11, Hebrews 12

Give us each day our daily bread.” (Luke 11:3)
Have you ever noticed that the Lord's prayer is not individual prayer, but corporate prayer? It began with the 1st person plural possessive pronoun “our”. Not “my Father,” but, “our Father”. Of course if He is our Father, He is surely my Father. But the point is this: we are to see our praying as a joint effort with other believers. We join together with those God has joined us together with and pray. This applies when we actually come together into the same building, but it also applies when we individually go to pray for then we are gathering together with the saints around the throne of God. 
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:22-24)
Prayer is a joint effort; a community project. Not only are we praying to “our Father,” but as this next request indicates we are praying for the provision of each member of the church family we are joined to. I think this specifically applies to the local church to which we belong. We are responsible to pray for the provision of those in our midst, not merely our own. And it also applies has a means of praying for believers we may not actually know who may be suffering lack through loss of work, or persecution, those on the mission field, or any number of other reasons.
During this time of economic downturn in our nation it may be even more vivid in our minds to realize that we have a responsibility to pray for the provision of daily bread for those members in our midst who may be out of work. Thank God for the provision you have, but just as we are “to rejoice with the rejoicing, and to weep with the weeping” (Romans 12:15), it seems we are to hunger with those who hunger.
Prayer is a time of being joined together. Just as Paul seems to somehow be connected to the churches he served through prayer, though physically he was isolated from them, so we too are joined together with our brothers and sisters in their needs. And, others are joined together with us in our needs.
What needs are being spoken of here? Physical bread, or spiritual sustenance—bread from heaven? Of course many have debated that point, but I am not certain that there is a need to choose. Can it not be both in this case? Can it not be that Christ is telling us to trust God and pray to God for that which we (think corporately) need physically, and that we too would be supplied that which we need for spiritual sustenance? In the case of the latter I might pray for the Lord to encourage each member of the body in their walk, or to make His word come alive in our souls that day and nourish us. Of course there are many applications of this which we can explore in prayer.
And it is daily bread we are to pray for. Solomon prayed, "Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread." (Proverbs 30:8) We are dependent creatures made to remain dependent. God never intended that we should build storehouses which would put us in a place that we no longer need to rely on Him daily. Whether we are speaking of physical bread, as Solomon, we are to pray for our daily bread. And daily we are to realize our need to go to God. Daily we are to require bread from heaven. Daily we need to be reminded of the Gospel and apply the Gospel and encounter the Presence of God through the Gospel.
In closing, it is important to remember this lesson in prayer from Jesus followed the request, “teach us to pray.” May we ever be asking the Lord to teach us to pray as we enter into our time of prayer. He will indeed answer that request.

Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,


Lord Teach Us to Pray (Part 4)

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