Does Prayer Change God’s Mind?
August 24, 2019 | Brian Bill
If our questions aren’t addressed, it’s easy to become confused. Listen to how children answered some questions about the Bible:
- The first three books of the Bible are Genesis, Exodus and Laxatives.
- Lot’s wife was a pillar of salt by day, but a ball of fire by night.
- Moses died before he ever reached Canada. Then Joshua led the Hebrews in the Battle of Geritol.
- The fifth commandment is to humor thy father and mother.
- David fought with the Finkelsteins, a race of people, who lived in biblical times.
- Solomon, one of David’s sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines.
- The greatest miracle in the Bible is when Joshua told his son to stand still and he obeyed him.
Questions are helpful, aren’t they? One person wrote: “Imagine a world without questions. What if we were only able to give commands, statements, or answers? No more marriage proposals. You want to ask how your friend is doing? Forget about it…a world without questions would be horrible. Questions are important. They help us discover the right answers.”
One of the most helpful websites related to answering questions about Christianity is gotquestions.org. This is what they say about the number of questions in the Bible: “It is difficult to give a precise number because ancient Hebrew and Greek did not use punctuation so it’s difficult to know if a sentence is truly intended to be a question. But Bible scholars estimate that there are approximately 3,300 questions in the Bible.”
The first question that comes to mind is the question asked by the Serpent to Eve in Genesis 3:1: “Did God really say…? It doesn’t take long for the devil to whisper doubts into the ear of Eve, does it? It all goes downhill from there, and it all started with a little question.
The first question asked by God comes quickly as well in Genesis 3:9. After Adam and Eve sin they shrink away in shame, trying to hide their guilt when they hear God ask, “Where are you?” This question was for their benefit and shows how God seeks to restore their relationship with Him.
The Bible also records men and women asking questions of God. As we come to the end of our Glad You Asked series, I want to thank you for asking such deep questions. I hope we’ve been able to equip you with answers that will help you grow and then go with the gospel to your family, neighbors, coworkers, classmates and friends.
Last week we tackled the question, “How do you explain election and free will?” This was our summary statement, “God is supremely sovereign and we are responsible to respond to Him.” We concluded by pointing out doctrine must lead to doxology. In response to the message, one Edgewood attender sent an insightful email. I have his permission to share some of it.
Isn’t it wonderful how the Lord presents us with undeniable truths that we mere mortals are unable to reconcile completely in our finite minds? It’s as if He offers us proof that His mind is infinite and He designs certain truths to be complex enough to humble us through our inability to fully grasp them. We are reminded through these things that He is God and we are not. God is the central (and only important) figure and His perfect plans and purposes are always fulfilled.
In my mind, that’s enough to unite us in celebration of His glory, and allow us to joyfully anticipate continuing to do that forever. I can’t remember who’s phrase this is, but it’s pertinent…if we really knew Who God is…REALLY knew…we would continuously be on our knees in flat out praise and awe. I think that’s His desire for us… to really know Him that well.
Our topic today is closely related to what we learned last weekend. Here’s the question: “Does prayer change God’s mind?”
R. C. Sproul describes what happened on day in seminary.
After the professor taught on predestination, he began his Socratic method of discourse by asking questions to his eighteen students sitting in a semicircle. I was on one end and the professor started on the other end by asking, “Now, sir, if predestination is true, why should we be involved in evangelism?”
The first student looked up at the professor and said, “I don’t know.”
The prof went down the line to the next guy, who said, “Beats me.”
The next student said, “I always wondered about that myself, Dr. Gerstner.”
Sproul remembered, “Our professor kept going around the semicircle, knocking us off one by one…Finally Dr. Gerstner came to me. ‘Well, Mr. Sproul, if predestination is true, why should we be involved in evangelism?’
I slid down in the chair and prefaced my answer with all kinds of apologies, saying to him, “Well, Dr. Gerstner, I know this isn’t what you’re looking for, and I know that you must be seeking for some profound, intellectual response which I am not prepared to give. But just in passing, one small point that I think we ought to notice here is that God does command us to be involved in evangelism.”
Dr. Gerstner laughed and said, “Yes…God does command us to be involved in evangelism…what could be more insignificant than the fact that the Lord of glory, the Savior of your soul, the Lord God omnipotent, has commanded you to be involved in evangelism?”
So it is with prayer. One reason to pray is that we are commanded to pray. But prayer is also a privilege. Prayer for the Christian is to be both a duty and a delight.
I appreciated how Got Questions approaches this question: “In order for God to change His mind, He would have to improve upon Himself in some way. In other words, if God changed His mind that action would suggest that His first way of thinking was deficient.” According to Revelation 22:13, God knows all things because He is the beginning and the end: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” 2 Samuel 22:31 says it is impossible for God to improve upon any plan He has made: “This God—His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true.”
So, does prayer change God’s mind? Prayer isn’t about changing God’s mind; it’s about changing my mind so my will lines up with His will.
Let’s go back to an event that happened after God gave the Ten Commandments. While Moses was up on the mountain, the people made an idol of gold in the shape of a calf and went wild as they fulfilled their pleasures and immoral appetites. In Exodus 32:10, God warned Moses, “Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”
In response, Moses took on the role of a mediator and pleaded for God to show mercy in verses 11-12: “But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, ‘O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people.”
Could it be that the prayer of Moses could change the mind of God? Listen to verse 14: “And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.” J.D. Greear asks, “What is going on here? Does Moses’ prayer convince God to change His mind by reminding God of something he had said, something that He had apparently forgotten about? Was God just having an off day? Did Moses really change God’s mind?”
To make it even more confusing, Moses later wrote these words in Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.”
Greear argues that we need to hold some truths in tension. I’m going to borrow two of his points and add a third.
1. God’s purposes are unchanging.
Isaiah 46:9-10: “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.’” One of the passages we read last week makes a similar point about God’s purposes. Listen to Ephesians 1:11: “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”
Prayer isn’t about changing God’s mind; it’s about changing my mind so my will lines up with His will. God’s purposes are unchanging but let’s hold this truth in tension with the second truth.
2. God’s plans are unfolding.
I appreciate Greear’s insight into the context: The text of Exodus says that God changed his course of action based on Moses’ prayer. Here’s the irony of the story: God is the one who tells Moses to go down and see the situation in verse 7: “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.” Moses didn’t know the people had corrupted themselves so God had to show him.
Furthermore, the very thing that Moses uses in prayer is God’s own promise in verse 13: “Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’”
God put Moses into a situation so that he would see the problem God already knew about
Do you see what’s happening? God put Moses into a situation so that he would see the problem God already knew about, remember God’s promises, and petition God to change His course of action. Moses’ prayer itself is a result of God’s plan. God wants Moses to ask this, so he sovereignly puts him in a situation where he will ask for it. That’s deep, isn’t it?
Prayer isn’t about changing God’s mind; it’s about changing my mind so my will lines up with His will.
3. God’s promises are unleashed when we pray.
This much is clear: The intercession of Moses was instrumental in the ultimate answer God gave. To say it another way: Without this prayer, the Israelites would have been incinerated. I’m reminded of James 4:2: “You do not have, because you do not ask.”
I like how Greear applies this thought: “God has sovereignly placed us in certain situations for the express purpose of praying His promises…Like Moses, God has ‘sent you down’ into a family, a group of friends, a neighborhood…You are placed where He wants you to be so you can obey and pray for the things He wants to do, to perceive the problem and believe the promise and release His power into the situation.”
Let’s go back to Exodus 32:14: “And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.” The KJV renders it like this: “And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.” The Hebrew word nacham, sometimes translated as “repent” or “change one’s mind,” can also mean, “sorrow” or to “bring comfort.” As an example, Genesis 6:6 says, “And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” The wickedness of people brought grief to God, especially in light of how He far He would need to go to restore them.
Another example is found in Jonah 3:10: “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.” It’s not that God changed His mind because He already knew they would repent. This is fleshed out in Jeremiah 18:8: “And if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.” When we repent, God relents.
We’re called to pray and not give up according to Luke 18:1: “…they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “pray without ceasing.” 1 John 5:14-15 says when we pray according to His will, He hears us: “And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.”
Wanting What He Wills
Prayer isn’t about changing God’s mind; it’s about changing my mind so my will lines up with His will. The best example of this is found in Mark 14 where we see Jesus wrestling with the Father about who’s will, will win.
We see the Savior’s struggle in verse 35: “And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.” When Jesus sees and senses the sum total of all the sin in the world and the resulting penalty and punishment that awaits Him, He wants to take a pass.
In the midst of all that Jesus is going through, I love how He addresses His Father in verse 36: “And he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for you…” He’s literally saying, “Daddy, Father.” Abba speaks of relationship and Father is a term of respect. Romans 8:15 says we receive the Holy Spirit who makes us children of God, “and by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”
In the middle part of verse 36, Jesus gets specific in his request: “Remove this cup from me.” The word “cup” in the Bible was figurative for God’s blessings (Psalm 23:5) and was also used to describe the Almighty’s wrath (Psalm 75:8). The cup contained joy and judgment, redemption and wrath. Jesus is saying, “If there’s another way, let me do it that way.”
As Jesus anticipates the cup of sin, suffering, sacrifice, separation and salvation, He verbalizes His submission to the Father’s plan in the last part of verse 36: “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” The phrases “not what I will” and “but what you will” are both emphatic. Jesus is resolutely and voluntarily lining up his will under the Father’s will. Isn’t this the ultimate goal of prayer? We come to God with our desires, our longings, our preferences and then we must say, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
His prayer is slightly different the second time according to Matthew 26:42: “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” The first time He prayed, “If it be possible,” and now He prays, “If this cannot pass.” In his first request he longs for the cup to be taken from Him; now He mentions drinking it. In the first plea, He says, “Yet not as I will” and in the second He declares, “May your will be done.”
Henry Blackaby says that instead of asking God to bless our plans we need to commit ourselves to His. Figure out where God is moving and join Him in that. We could say it like this: “God show me your plans and bless me as I make them my plans.”
There are two elements to Jesus’ prayer that are instructional for us.
- HE EXPRESSED HIS OWN DESIRE – “This is what I want!”
- HE SUBMITTED HIS DESIRES TO THE FATHER – “Not My will, but your will be done.”
I like how Spurgeon puts it: “Let it be as God wills, and God will will that it shall be for the best.”
Praying the Lord’s Way
Our focus today is on learning how to pray the Lord’s way, using the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples as a guideline. People have had all sorts of experiences with the Lord’s Prayer. Here are some that I came across.
- When my twin daughters were young, I taught them to say this prayer before going to bed. As I listened outside their door, I could hear them say, “Give us this steak and daily bread, and forgive us our mattresses.”
- When I was a child, I learned this prayer as “Our Father, who are in Heaven, Howard be thy name.” I always thought that was God’s real name.
- When I was younger, I believed the line was “Lead a snot into temptation.” I thought I was praying for my little sister to get into trouble.
- My son, who is in nursery school, once prayed, “Our Father, who art in Heaven, how didja know my name?”
- One mother was teaching her three-year-old this prayer at bedtime and after several nights, her daughter was ready to go solo. She was doing a great job, getting every word right until she got to the end: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us some email.
This week I posted a question on our Facebook page and asked people what comes to their mind when they think of the Lord’s Prayer. One woman wrote this: “I love the Lord’s Prayer. I pray it as a part of my prayer life almost daily. It isn’t a ritual. I feel a special sacredness…”
Most of us are familiar with this prayer, and some of us have attended churches where it was recited every Sunday. I knew it as the “Our Father” and grew up reciting it so much that it just became rote for me. I could recite it mindlessly from memory. I was even instructed to repeat this prayer as penance way too many times to count. [Demonstrate by quickly quoting prayer]. Since I often associated this prayer with punishment, I know I missed its magnitude for many years. But that changed once I took a deeper look.
In our passage for today, we will look at how not to pray and then at how to pray. This prayer is poetic and beautiful and yet profound and brief. Jesus had a great deal to say about prayer, mentioning the topic 42 times in his teaching. Amazingly, the gospels show him praying 28 times!
The model for prayer that Jesus gave to His followers can be divided into two parts. The first three (hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done) deal with God’s glory. The second four (give us our daily bread, forgive us our debts, lead us not into temptation, deliver us from the evil one) deal with our good. Prayer is to begin with the character of God. And, the reason we pray and the reason God answers is to put Himself and His glory on display. Psalm 115:1: “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to your name give glory.” Incidentally, about half of the words in this prayer are devoted to who God is; the second half focuses on our needs. That’s a good ratio to keep in mind as we first pray for God’s glory and then for our good.
We know prayer is important, we know Jesus modeled it, but most of us fall far short
Incidentally, I don’t know of anywhere in the Gospels where the disciples were characterized as men of prayer. They often watched Jesus pray but they didn’t enter into intercession themselves. In fact, in the hour of Jesus’ greatest need they dropped their eyelids instead of dropping to their knees. We’re the same way, aren’t we? We know prayer is important, we know Jesus modeled it, but most of us fall far short.
If we want to pray like Jesus prayed, let’s learn along with his disciples as we read the first part of Matthew 6:9: “In this manner, therefore, pray: ‘Our Father in heaven…’” If we get these first four words right, then we get everything right. We’re given a couple guidelines for prayer before the praying begins.
- Pray in context of community. Most of us come to the Lord with a lot of “I, me, and my” in our prayers. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he used no singular personal pronouns. Nowhere do we find the words me, myself or I. Listen: “Our Father…give us…our daily bread… forgive us our debts…we also have forgiven…lead us not into temptation…but deliver us…”
- Pray with relational reverence. Prayers should be directed to “Our Father in heaven.” Jesus addressed His prayers to His Father, using this title more than 70 different times. This alone was unique because the religious people of the day didn’t use this term. Rather, they used exalted titles like, “King of the Universe” or “Sovereign Lord.” As far as I can tell, the only prayer Jesus ever prayed without the word Father was when He was on the cross and cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
When we become believers, Romans 8:15 says that we receive the Holy Spirit who makes us children of God, “and by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” The new birth is required in order to have this kind of relationship. This word “Abba” means “daddy” or “papa” and communicates the intimacy and nearness of God.
Our ‘daddy’ God is attentive; unlike I am many times with our daughters. Several years ago, one of our girls was wearing pajama pants and walked through the kitchen holding up a pair of jeans. She stopped and asked what I thought she should wear to a Sports Banquet. I told her that I liked both options. She just rolled her eyes because it was obvious I wasn’t paying attention…once again. She tracked down her mom for the answer. Our ‘daddy’ God is never distracted
Our Father is in heaven. Don Carson points out that this is a good corrective for evangelicals who often show way too much irreverence, shallow theology and experience-oriented worship: “When believers pray ‘Our Father in heaven,’ they cannot but be hushed and humbled.”
3 Requests for God’s Glory
After acknowledging God as our Father, Jesus gives us three God-centered requests that have to do with His glory.
1. Adoration: “Hallowed be your name.”
To hallow means, “to make holy” or to set apart. We are to treat His name differently from all other names. He is intimate like a Father and He is infinite in holiness. God’s nature is like a daddy but His name is holy. Our open access to Him should not destroy our esteem for Him. He is not the “big guy in the sky” or “our best buddy.” He is the holy and awesome God of Israel, before whom we should tremble like Isaiah did in Isaiah 6.
While we have a relationship with Him we must also revere Him. He is our friend but He is also a consuming fire as Hebrews 12:29 says. He is other than us and yet He is ours. He is personal and He is powerful. He is mine and He is majestic. He is immanent and transcendent. Do you praise and prize God’s name? Are you committed to spread the fame of His name? One way we hallow His name is by not being shallow!
I came across Isaiah 29:13 this week. Listen to it in the NASB: “Because this people draw near with their words and honor me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for me consists of tradition learned by rote.”
Praying, “hallowed by your name” is a safeguard against self-seeking prayer. Before we can move on to the other petitions in this prayer, we must avoid using His name irreverently. For some of us, that means that we need to stop using His name as a cuss word. For others it means that we need to avoid saying God’s name tritely or using the Christian equivalent of a swear word. The phrase “OMG” should be thrown out. Let the hallowing of God’s name be the supreme aim of your life as you honor Him with respect, adoration and reverence.
2. Affirmation: “Your kingdom come.”
The word “kingdom” in the Greek means “rule” or “reign.” To pray, “Your kingdom come” is to pray that God may take up reigning residence in the hearts and lives of those who are in rebellion. It is a prayer for salvation, for kingdom citizenship. In Luke 17:21 Jesus says that the “kingdom of God is within you.”
Can you imagine what would happen if we were preoccupied with the coming of God’s kingdom? Just think about what would take place in this community if we were determined to pray that God’s kingdom rule would make itself known in the lives of our neighbors and co-workers! Can you imagine how our church would be different if each of us was concerned more about God’s kingdom than our own? Martin Luther once said that if most Christians really understood what they were saying when they prayed for God’s kingdom to come, they’d shudder with fear.
3. Acceptance: “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
When we pray this part we are really saying, “Almighty Father God, take control of my life and do what you will for your glory.” Prayer is not asking God to do my will. It is bringing me into conformity with His ways. How is God’s will done in heaven? It’s done joyfully, instinctively, immediately, and constantly. To pray this request is to say that we want it to be the same here. By praying this, I’m saying that by God’s grace, I will do His will! I like what John Wesley said: “I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.”
Henry Blackaby says that instead of asking God to bless our plans we need to commit ourselves to His. Figure out where God is moving and join Him in that. Or, we could say it like this: “God show me your plans and bless me as I make them mine.”
3 Requests for our Good
Did you notice that we’re half-way through the prayer before Jesus allows us to ask for anything for ourselves? The first half of this model prayer is God-ward – adoration, affirmation and acceptance. The second half focuses on the believer. We move from God’s glory to our good. Once God is given His rightful place, then we have the proper perspective toward ourselves.
Two young brothers were spending the night at their grandparents. At bedtime, they knelt beside their beds to say their prayers. The youngest one began praying at the top of his lungs: “For my birthday, I pray for a new bike, an iPad, and a new Playstation.” His older brother leaned over and said, “Why are you shouting your prayers? God isn’t hard of hearing.” His little brother replied, “No, but Grandma is.” Friends, you don’t have to yell out these four requests because God is not hard of hearing.
1. Provision: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
This request has more to do with the totality of our physical life. The word bread is really a broad term representing all of our physical needs. Would you notice that we are to pray for our needs, and not our greeds?
When I was in the Dominican Republic in November, one of the young girls at the care center led in prayer before lunch. After she was finished I asked Emily to translate. The is what she prayed, “May the food fall well in our stomachs.” For these kids, many of whom only get one meal a day, their prayer is for the food to last for 24 hours in their stomachs. One sad note is that Emily told me that for some of the kids, when they come on Monday to the care center and have lunch, that this will often be the first meal they will have eaten since Friday.
Notice that this request for bread is for this day. In the first century, bread had to be made on a daily basis. They couldn’t just buy a couple loaves and put them in the freezer or pop over to Panera. Like manna that came once a day, God provides one day at a time. I like Proverbs 30:8: “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.” The point of the prayer is not for us to get what we want, but to receive what we need.
2. Pardon: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
The first request is physical but forgiveness of sin is the greatest need of the human heart. Only God can grant us pardon from punishment and guilt. A debt is something owed that must be paid back. Sin is a debt that only God can free us from. Notice that Jesus immediately gives us a caveat – we are to also release others from debt. This verse teaches us that it is wrong to ask from God what we are not willing to give to other people. This is the only prayer petition in the Disciple’s Prayer that is emphasized with additional challenging words. Drop down to verses 14-15: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
An unforgiving spirit will eat you alive and choke off your prayers. As Hebrews 12:15 says, make sure that you don’t have a root of bitterness that is defiling those closest to you. Let me ask a few questions. Is there anyone who comes to mind right now who is in need of your forgiveness? Have you been holding someone captive? Is there someone in need of some grace?
It’s the height of hypocrisy to expect God to forgive us if we are unwilling to forgive others. And, when we fail to forgive someone, we set ourselves up as a higher judge than God himself. Another way to say it is that our relationship with the Lord cannot be right until our relationship with others is made right. I love how a four-year-old prayed this part of the prayer: “And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.” Is there someone you’ve been trashing? Or, have you been trashed? Go and be reconciled so you can get rid of the garbage that has been piling up between you and that other person.
3. Protection: “And do not lead us into temptation.”
Will God answer a prayer like this? Absolutely. 1 Corinthians 10:13 gives us a wonderful promise: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” When you’re faced with an enticement, look for the way out and don’t put yourself in situations to sin. Psalm 19:13 is a practical prayer: “Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.”
Let’s be honest. Some of us aren’t all that terrified of temptation. But we need to be because we never know when sin is coming to enslave us. Genesis 4:7: “…sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”
4. Power: “But deliver us from the evil one.”
Satan is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour so we must continually be on the alert so that we don’t fall into evil. Paul put His confidence in the Lord’s power in 2 Timothy 4:18: “The Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His kingdom.”
Some people think of prayer like a parachute – they’re glad it’s there but hope they never have to use it. Let me suggest some practical ways to put this prayer into practice.
- Pray this prayer everyday. The main reason to prayer this prayer is that it’s Scripture! The prayer is not magic but when the heart is engaged, it is mighty, as long as we do so with reverence and with expectancy that God will answer it. It’s only about 65 words and can be prayed in under a minute.
- Use this prayer as a pattern for prayer. It’s good to recite this prayer and it’s also good to use it as a pattern for prayer.
Next weekend we’re focusing the entire service on prayer. In honor of Labor Day, we’re calling it, “Laboring in Prayer.” We’ll be following another pattern for prayer called CHAT.
An unknown author put together a great summary of the Disciples’ Prayer.
- I cannot say “our” if I live only for myself.
- I cannot say, “Father” if I do not endeavor each day to act like His child.
- I cannot say, “hallowed be your name” if I am playing around with sin.
- I cannot say, “Your kingdom come” if I am not allowing God to reign in my life.
- I cannot say, “ your will be done” if I want my way all the time.
- I cannot say, “Give us this day our daily bread” if I am trusting in myself instead of in God’s provision.
- I cannot say, “Forgive us our debts” if I am nursing a grudge or withholding forgiveness from someone else.
- I cannot say, “lead us not into temptation” if I deliberately place myself in its path.
If you have special need for prayer related to a health issue, an emotional situation, a habit you can’t break, a relational difficulty, or any other need, I invite you to come up front while we sing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” After we’re done singing, I will pray for you using the prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray.
“Our holy heavenly Father, we bow before your majestic presence, recognizing that as we come before you, our sins threaten to consume us. You are holy, holy, holy and the whole earth is full of your glory. We praise you and prize you because of your transcendent holy name. We hallow your name because you are high and lifted up and we hallow your name by striving to live holy lives. Help us to always treat you as holy. We pray that your kingdom, not ours, would come through conversions, through our commitment to your kingship, and we look forward to the glorious day of your appearing as you consummate history and usher in your eternal kingdom. Help us to be kingdom oriented in the way we live so we will honor you with our lives, and fire us up to do your will always, for what we want is your will to be done and your glory to be on full display.
We desire to have you triumph as King in our lives and we lean on you to provide for our physical needs. We pray for healing right now for those pummeled by pain, for those filled with fear and discouraged by disease. If it weren’t for your provision, we would have nothing. What we do have is a gift from you. And so we choose to trust you for our daily bread, every day so that we might grow in our relationship with you as we see you provide in ways we never thought possible. Thank you that we live as forgiven sinners without any fear of condemnation. Give us the courage and humility to make things right with others by owning our sins and by cutting others some slack so we can give them the same gift of mercy that you’ve given to us. And when we’re faced with the temptation to trample your holiness in our thoughts, words, and actions, lead us on right paths and deliver us from the evil one. We ask this for you glory and for our good. Amen.”
I’d like each of you now to simply reach over to the person next to you or in front of you and place your hand on his or her shoulder. And now let’s pray these words from Matthew 6.
“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 forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”