A Good Daddy

“Give us today our daily bread.” – Matthew 6:11 New International Version (NIV)

 

 

This little phrase is so easy to just run right over when we’re reciting this prayer. But it’s such an important part, we don’t need to miss it.

 

For me, it is such a reminder of the manna from Heaven that God provided for the Israelites during their 40-year journey in the wilderness.

 

Just think about that. Every day. (Except Sabbaths—so a double portion on Fridays.) For 40 years. For over a million people. And He never failed to provide. Not once.

 

And in addition, their clothes didn’t wear out. And their shoes stayed intact. And He provided a cooling cloud by day and a warming cloud by night to protect them from the elements.

 

Every little thing they were lacking in the desert, He provided for them.

 

Even when they were begging to go back to Egypt, He provided for them.

 

Even when they worshiped the golden calf, He provided for them.

 

Even when they refused to go into the Promised Land because they were afraid—afraid that the God who parted the Red Sea so they walked through on dry land and then closed it up and drowned all the Egyptians that were pursuing them—afraid He wouldn’t help them defeat the enemies in the land He said was theirs for the taking. The place that was their sole destination after leaving Egypt and the exclusive reason for the exodus in the first place.

 

He STILL provided for them.

 

He’s a faithful and trustworthy Father who loves His children and provides for them even when they are faithless and doubting.

 

That includes me.

 

Because I have been faithless and doubting in my relationship with Him just like the Israelites were.

 

And He’s proven to me over and over and over again that He is never going to forget me or forsake me or fail to provide for me or fail to fulfill any promise He makes to me.

 

I’m so thankful His provision for me—just like the Israelites—does not depend on my behavior. I’m so glad His provision for me—just like the Israelites—is based on my position.

 

I’m His child.

 

And He’s a good Daddy.

 

 

– What are you having trouble trusting God for right now?

 

– How has He provided for you in the past?

 

– How do you believe He wants to use this current situation in your life?

 

– What are you going to choose to do?

Safe or Powerful?

“Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:10

 

This is probably the part of the model prayer that I pray more than any other part. And I bet I’m not the only one.

 

Sometimes I think I pray it because it’s safe. And easy. I just ask that God’s will be done in a particular situation I need to pray for. And that’s as far as I go.

 

I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad way to pray, but I’m not sure it’s the best way to utilize this part of the model prayer. And it’s definitely not the most powerful way.

 

There are two ways I think may be better ways to pray this particular verse.

 

The first is something I learned from Graham Cooke when he spoke at our church recently. He was not talking about this model prayer, he was just talking about prayer in general. But the idea he shared really got my attention. He said since Jesus is our Advocate in Heaven and is always praying for us, why don’t we ask Jesus how He’s praying about our particular situation, then get in agreement with Him, and pray like He’s praying.

 

Brilliant!

 

If we’re praying about a situation the same way Jesus is praying about it, then we are definitely in line with this part of the model prayer.

 

The second idea I have about how to pray this verse is to ask Holy Spirit what your role is in bringing God’s kingdom and will into the particular situation you’re praying about.

 

I may be wrong, but I don’t think God is waiting on His children to beg for His will to be done in their lives and then deciding whether or not He’s going to drop it into their particular situation. I believe God wants His will to be done in our lives more than anything. And I believe He’s waiting for someone to ASK, SEEK, and KNOCK to find out what His will is and then watching for them to PROCLAIM IT and DO IT.

 

I think a lot of people pray this verse like it is a request—and I don’t think it is. I think it’s meant to be a proclamation. “Your kingdom come, Your will be done . . . .” And when we pray that way, we are saying that we will do our part to make sure God’s will is done in whatever earthly realm we have dominion—whether that is as an individual, a family member, an employee, a ministry team member, a Little League baseball coach, a local police officer or the President of the United States. We all have a part to play in bringing God’s kingdom to earth.

 

I think some people are reluctant to pray for God’s will because they’re afraid of what He might ‘do’ to them, or where He may send them, or what they may have to give up. But there’s really no reason for us to be afraid to pray for God’s will. God loves us without measure and He is totally trustworthy. He is always for us and His plans for us are always to prosper us and not to harm us (Jeremiah 29:11). And God is working ALL THINGS together for our good (Romans 8:28).

 

I once heard a definition of God’s will that I LOVE. Ike Reighard was my pastor over a decade ago and he shared this definition one Sunday. He said, “God’s will is what you would choose if you had all the facts.”

 

If you knew everything God knows about you and your situation, including who He created you to be and the unbelievably incredible plans He has for you, you would choose God’s will every time.

 

I like that. So even if I don’t have all the facts, I know I can trust that God’s will for me is the very best.

 

So that’s how I’m going to pray—proclaiming that God’s will be done here on earth just like it is in Heaven, and then doing my part to bring Heaven to earth. I can’t wait to see what that looks like.

 

Want to join me?

 

What is the main situation you are currently spending time praying about? How is Jesus praying about that situation?

 

What is one thing you can do today to help bring Heaven to earth in your home or office or community?

 

Keep It Holy

After the salutation that states who God is and where He resides, the first phrase in the model prayer refers to God’s name and how sacred it is. This phrase is usually translated “hallowed be Thy name” but there are a few other translations. Here are a couple that are easier to understand:

“. . . we honor your holy name.” – Matthew 6:9 (TLB)

“. . . may your name be kept holy. – Matthew 6:9 (NLT)

 

This phrase is not a request for anything. Instead it’s a positive, affirming statement that tells God we understand how holy He is and, therefore, how sacred His name is — and how important it is for us to maintain our reverence for His name.

 

A long time before this model prayer is given, God let people know how serious He takes this issue.  Misusing God’s name is number three on His list of ten commandments in Exodus 20. I’ve most often heard this as a commandment against swearing by God’s name to support a false statement or just using His name profanely.

 

But I believe there’s also another way we need to honor His name and keep it holy. And that is by the way we live our lives.

 

As believers, we are known by His name. We are known as Christians (‘little Christs’) or God Followers or Jesus Freaks or any other number of brands we’re given–or have given ourselves.

 

So how we live our lives reflects on God’s name.

 

My pastor said something in Sunday’s service that I loved! We were praying for the first responders, elected officials and school teachers who were in our services. He asked God to remind them every day that they are sons and daughters of The Most High God and because of that, they need to ‘walk with a royal gait.’

 

Walk with a royal gait. I love that. He wasn’t talking about being arrogant. He was talking about walking with honor and dignity and grace and mercy! I believe that is part of keeping God’s name holy–remembering who WE are because of the relationship we have with The Most High God.

 

And knowing who we are will change the way we live our lives.

 

And that will help pre-believers see God’s love up close and personal.

 

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What do I need to change about the way I use God’s name?

 

How well does my life honor my Heavenly Father’s name?

Praying to Our Father

Jesus started off the model prayer He shared in Matthew 6 with a brief salutation. But what it may lack in length, it more than makes up for in depth.

This prayer is addressed to “Our Father in heaven.”

Those four words tell me several things:

I’m not an orphan. I have a Daddy who calls me His child.

And I’m not an only child. I apparently have brothers and sisters, hence “our Father.”

And our Father is in heaven. This tells me He has a different perspective on my life. He doesn’t just see it as it unfolds day-by-day, like I tend to view it. God sees my life from beginning to end.

He sees where I fit into His timeline and His purposes. He sees who my contemporaries are and how He created and designed us to do Kingdom work together.

He sees what’s around the bend and over the next hill. He knows the mountains I need to be prepared to climb and the valleys I will go through along the way. And because He’s my Father, He has designed my life so I’ll be prepared to climb those upcoming mountains and He’ll be with me as I walk through the valleys.

And because He’s OUR Father, I can always know that I’m never alone on my journey. Never.

And there will be times in life that make that truth difficult to remember.

A great example is in the book of I Kings when Elijah got depressed after the showdown on Mount Carmel.

Elijah had essentially set up a prayer duel between himself and all the prophets of Baal, to prove whose God was worth worshiping. And Jehovah God showed up there in an incredible way and proved Elijah was right and King Ahab and all the prophets of Baal were wrong. God proved that He is God and Baal is not. HUGE victory!

But afterwards, Ahab ran back home to Jezebel with his tail between his legs and tattled on Elijah, telling her how Elijah had humiliated Ahab in front of all his friends. So Jezebel threatened Elijah and told him he would be dead within 24 hours.

And even after all he had just witnessed God do on Mount Carmel, Elijah responded to Jezebel’s threat by running away and hiding. He told God he’d had enough. And He told God to just go ahead and take his life.

Then after some food and rest, Elijah tells God that he’s the “only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” Cue the Pity Party song.

God responds to Elijah’s self-pity by telling him about his next mission, which included other God worshipers, and then informed him that there were 7,000 people in Israel who had not bowed down to Baal or kissed him. I think Elijah got the message. He was not alone.

When we’ve gone through a highly emotional time or been in a tough spiritual battle . . . even when the outcome is extremely positive . . . it can be easy for us to get depressed, to feel alone, to want to hide.

Sometimes what we need to do is rest and eat and rest and eat.

But then we need to engage with God again and get ready for our next mission. And we always need to remember that we are never alone in our journey . . . even though we may feel like it at times.

Our heavenly Father’s presence lives inside us — Holy Spirit — and there are other God worshipers who walk beside us.

We are not alone.

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How do you address God when you talk to Him?

How often do you feel and act as though you are a spiritual orphan? A spiritual only child?

What is your Kingdom purpose and who has God placed in your life to work with you?

How is God preparing you for your future?

Where are you now? On a mountain? In a valley?

When is the last time you felt depressed and totally alone in your mission? What did you do to recover? How did God help you gain clarity?

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“Our Father Who is in heaven . . . .” Matthew 6:9 Amplified Version (AMP)

It’s Your Choice

Since we have a Father God who knows what we need before we even ask Him . . .

“Pray, therefore, like this: ‘Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed (kept holy) be Your name.’” Matthew 6:9 Amplified Version (AMP)

Just this first sentence of the sample prayer that Jesus shares is powerful. He then goes on to give us the entire prayer as an example of how a God-follower can actually converse with the Creator of the Universe.

That we CAN talk to God is unbelievable. But add to that the fact that He WANTS us to have an intimate relationship with Him and to be comfortable carrying on a conversation with the One all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful, all-creative, never-ending being who IS LOVE is enough to make my brain hurt.

And it humbles me. To the point that the only response I have is to offer Him all I’ve got. Which I then discover is nothing, because He owns everything I have. He’s given it all to me.

He gave me life. He gives me each breath. He provided a way for me to have eternal life through the death of His Son Jesus. He even gave me the faith to believe so I could experience that provision. And he gives me the praise I give Him as my response to His infinite love for me.

So what exactly can I give Him?

The only thing I find that I actually own is my will. My choices.

That’s how He created me. And you. I believe He gave every human being free will because He didn’t want a family of robots who HAD to love Him and do whatever He told them to do. He wants children who CHOOSE to love Him in response to His perfect love and to obey Him because we trust His infinite goodness.

Each individual gets to choose whether to love Him back or not. We get to choose whether to live our life for Him or not. We can choose to live for this world and all it has to offer us. Or we can choose to live our life focused on God and what He has planned for us . . . which is always GOOD. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Not good like chocolate cake and candy for every meal . . . which is what a child might think is good. But good like healthy food in healthy portions and regular exercise and sufficient sleep every night. That kind of good.

God knows exactly what you need in your life to become the person He created you to be, to fulfill the purpose He created you for, and to be ready to do the good works He has prepared for you to do. The way we become that person and fulfill that purpose and do those good works is to surrender our will to Him and follow His loving plan for our lives.

And that’s what this prayer is all about. Your choices. Your will.

It’s all you’ve got.

I’m Out of Control

In the previous two verses, Jesus talked about our motivation for praying.

In today’s two verses, He talks about the mechanics of praying.

Just as He did when He talked about motivation, Jesus again tells us what NOT to do. He says NOT to pray like the pagans. Specifically He says not to “keep on babbling.” The Amplified Version says “heap up phrases” and adds “multiply words, repeating the same ones over and over.”

He says the reason they did this was because they thought God would hear them if they kept talking.

The Amplified Version references the event on Mount Carmel where Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a prayer showdown. Baal’s followers prayed to him all day long, but to no avail. They didn’t shut up all day. And Baal never answered them. Ever.

I wonder why Jesus had to tell His followers not to babble. He wasn’t talking to pagans. The people He was talking to weren’t praying to an idol that couldn’t hear them. They were praying to Jehovah.

And yet He still felt they needed this instruction. Apparently they did.

Apparently we still do.

I love the way He gently reminds them (us) in verse 8 that “your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Yes.

Yes, He does.

But apparently I don’t always remember that. Because I have been known to babble when I pray. Especially when I’m in pain or someone I love is in pain and I KNOW there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s totally out of my control.

I wonder if that could be part of our problem. Control.

Being in pain or loving someone in pain and realizing you have absolutely no control over the situation can be agonizing.

And making the decision to let go—to give up all your attempts to control and manipulate the situation (and God!)—feels a lot like freefalling. Without a parachute. Knowing that if God doesn’t come through for you, the crash at the end of your descent will be catastrophic.

But that also sounds a lot like faith.

Could that possibly be the way God wants us to live life? Trusting Him to lead us. Trusting Him to protect us. Trusting Him to provide for us.

Trusting Him to know and do what’s best—for us and those we love. Even when things look and feel like they’re out of control?

Especially when things look like they’re out of control?

And could that possibly be the reason He sometimes allows us to be in those situations—to give us another opportunity to learn to trust Him more?

When we pray about those situations, we don’t need to repeat ourselves. God already knows . . . everything. Including how we feel about how He’s responding. That doesn’t mean He doesn’t want us to tell Him what’s on our hearts and how we feel about it. I just don’t think He wants us begging or babbling—acting as if He either doesn’t hear us or doesn’t care. Like the pagans and their gods.

God hears us and He cares. More than we know.

We can trust God to do His job—which is to take care of us on our journey of becoming more and more like Him and bringing His kingdom to earth.

And if we do that, our prayers will be full of faith. And they’ll sound a lot like the model prayer He shares next.

I’m gonna shut up now before I start repeating myself.

And everyone said, “Amen.”

Application Questions:

  • When was the last time I babbled while praying?
  • What issue am I praying about that I would like to be able to control?
  • What is it about God’s response that makes me wonder if He either doesn’t hear me or doesn’t care about my problem?
  • How have I seen God work in a similar situation?
  • How well am I doing my job—of trusting God to take care of me and those I love?

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Matthew 6:7-8 New International Version (NIV)

“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Prayer Jeopardy

Jesus teaches about prayer in Matthew 6:5-15.

 

The first couple of verses (5-6) are about our motivation for prayer. He gives an example of the wrong way to pray and then he gives instructions on the right way to pray.

 

Jesus illustrates the wrong way to pray by telling how “hypocrites” prayed. I assume He calls them hypocrites because of the way they were praying—pretending to have a close relationship with God when what they really wanted was the admiration of men.

 

These religious people would find the most public place available—the local synagogue or a street corner—and they would stand there and pray. I don’t know if they prayed aloud or if they piously closed their eyes and prayed silently. It really doesn’t matter because their purpose for praying was to be seen by the people around them.

 

Jesus says that is the wrong motivation. He also says they received their full reward by praying like that. They were after people’s attention and admiration and possibly to upgrade their religious reputation, and that’s the reward they received.

 

But that was all. God apparently doesn’t reward that kind of prayer.

 

Next Jesus gives us some instructions on the right way to pray.

 

I love what the Amplified Bible says—“. . . go into your [most] private room” and close the door. This is such a polar opposite of where the hypocrites prayed – in the most public arena they could find. This description suggests a very intimate relationship and conversation.

 

Then He says to pray to your invisible Father – which makes me wonder who the hypocrites were praying to. Or if it even registered as a prayer at all in God’s opinion.

 

Jesus says if you pray to God like this—in secret, where no one else sees you—your Father in Heaven sees you and will reward you.

 

Let’s see . . . Man’s Approval and Attention or Rewards from God. I’ll take Rewards from God for $200, Alex.

 

 

Application Questions:

 

– What is my overall motivation for prayer: my reputation with people or my relationship with God?

 

– When did I last pray like a hypocrite—saying something to impress the people listening?

 

– What was my reward?

 

– Where is my private place to pray?

 

– How often to I go there?

 

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Matthew 6:5-6 Amplified Bible (AMP)

 

Also when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward in full already.

But when you pray, go into your [most] private room, and, closing the door, pray to your Father, Who is in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open.