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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Pray Like This

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse for the Day – Matthew 6:9a
In this manner, therefore, pray:

Daily Scripture ReadingJohn 17

Puritan Catechism
Question #7: What are the decrees of God?
Answer: The decrees of God are his eternal purpose according to the counsel of his own will, whereby for his own glory he has foreordained whatever comes to pass (Eph. 1:11-12).

Devotional Thoughts
After all that Jesus has taught about prayer He is now prepared to tell the disciples, the crowd, and us how to pray! He is about to preach the "Lord's Prayer." Of course, it would be better to call it the "Disciples Prayer." This prayer is not for Him, it is for those of us who follow Jesus! He is giving us a model to use when we pray. He begins with the words "In this manner." That phrase simply means "likewise", or "even so, offer prayers." The easiest way to understand this is to say "Pray like this." Jesus responded in the book of Luke to the disciples questions about prayer not by teaching them a specific prayer - He answered their question about "how" to pray! "Pray like this," He says.

You see, this "Disciples Prayer" is not a specific prayer. It is not wrong to recite it, but if that is the only way we pray then we fail to obey His earlier commands about prayer. We should not vainly repeat the same thing over and over! This prayer that He is about to share with the crowd that day is a prayer that is simply an outline of what a prayer should be.

"Pray like this," gives us the idea that what He says next will be an example of how to pray. Indeed, if we search the Scriptures we will never again find the disciples or the New Testament Church praying this exact prayer. No! They pray in a manner like unto what Jesus taught. They pray prayers that put "meat on the bones" that Jesus had given them. "Pray like this" means this is just the place to start!

He also uses the phrase "therefore." That is an important phrase used throughout Scripture. Whenever we come across the word therefore we should immediately stop reading and ask ourselves what that therefore is there for. Remember that! It is an important tool for understanding the context of a Scripture. If it says therefore, find out what that therefore is there for.

In this context, Jesus is telling us that because of all He has already taught on prayer, now He is giving us an example to follow so that we won't pray like the hypocrites. "Therefore" is there for the proper way to obey Him! We are to pray ("When you pray"), we are to pray obediently, and we are to pray "like this." By the way, when Jesus says, "Pray like this," He is not giving us a suggestion! In the Greek grammar this phrase is an imperative. If you remember your English grammar, an imperative is a COMMAND! We must obey this command - He is not saying "pray this", He is saying "Pray like this" so that He can teach us exactly what He expects.

Notice also that the word for pray can mean "offer prayers." Have we ever stopped to think that our prayers are an offering to God? We offer Him fellowship when we pray. What did He create us for? Was it not His eternal plan to create us and redeem us for the purpose of fellowship? Offer God what He wants!! Fellowship through prayer!

I would like to close today with a quote from John MacArthur in his commentary on Matthew. He says of this verse, "After warning against those perversions that had so corrupted Jewish prayer life, our Lord now gives a divine pattern by which kingdom citizens can pray in a way that is pleasing to God." He goes on to say about the next verses we will study, "In fewer than seventy words we find a masterpiece of the infinite mind of God, who alone could compress every conceivable element of true prayer into such a brief and simple form."


Puritan Voices
We are reading a small portion each day from A Discourse on Delight in Prayer by Stephen Charnock.

"Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give the desires of thine heart." Psalm 37:4

The beginning of this Psalm is a heap of instructions: The great lesson intended in it is placed in verse 1. "Fret not thyself because of evil-doers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity." It is resumed, verses 7, 8, where many reasons are asserted to enforce it.

Fret not.

1. Do not envy them. Be not troubled at their prosperity.

2. Do not imitate them. Be not provoked by their glow-worm happiness, to practice the same wickedness to arrive to the same prosperity.

3. Be not sinfully impatient, and quarrel not with God, because he hath not by his providence allowed thee the same measures of prosperity in the world. Accuse him not of injustice and cruelty, because he afflicts the good, and is indulgent to the wicked. Leave him to dispense his blessings according to his own mind.

4. Condemn not the way of piety and religion wherein thou art. Think not the worse of thy profession, because it is attended with affliction.

The reason of this exhortation is rendered, verse 2. "For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb;" amplified by a similitude or resemblance of their prosperity to grass: their happiness hath no stability. It hath, like grass, more of color and show, than strength and substance. Grass nods this and that way with every wind. The mouth of a beast may pull it up, or the foot of a beast may tread it down; the scorching sun in summer, or the fainting sun in winter, will deface its complexion.

The Psalmist then proceeds to positive duties, verve 3.

1. Faith. Trust in the Lord. This is a grace most fit to quell such impatience. The stronger the faith, the weaker the passion. Impatient motions are signs of a flagging faith. Many times men are ready to cast off their help in Jehovah, and address to the God of Ekron multitudes of friends or riches. But trust thou in the Lord; in the promises of God, in the providence of God.

2. Obedience. Do good. Trust in God's promises, and observance of his precepts, must be linked together. It is but a pretended trust in Cod, where there is a real walking in the paths of wickedness. Let not the glitter of the world render thee faint and feeble in a course of piety.

3. The keeping our station. Do good. Because wicked men flourish, hide not thyself therefore in a corner, but keep thy sphere, run thy race. "And verily thou shalt be fed;" have every thing needful for thee. And now, because men delight in that wherein they trust, the Psalmist diverts us from all other objects of delight, to God as the true object.

"Delight thyself in the Lord;" place all thy pleasure and joy in him. And because the motive expresses the answer of prayer, the duty enjoined seems to respect the act of prayer, as well as the object of prayer; prayer coming from a delight in God, and a delight in seeking him. Trust is both the spring of joy and the spring of supplication. When we trust him for sustenance and preservation, we shall receive them; so when we delight in seeking him, we shall be answered by him.

Doctrine. Delight in God, in seeking him only, procures gracious answers; or, without cheerful prayers, we cannot have gracious answers.

1. The duty. In the act, delight. In the object, the Lord.

2. The motive. "He shall give thee the desires of thy heart;" the most substantial desires, those desires which he approves of; the desire of thy heart as gracious, though not the desire of thy heart as carnal: the desire of thy heart as a Christian, though not the desire of thy heart as a creature. He shall give; God is the object of Our joy, and the author of our comfort.

There are two parts to this doctrine. 1. Cheerfulness on our parts. 2. Grants on God's part.

1. Cheerfulness and delight on our parts. Joy is the tuning the soul. The command to rejoice precedes the command to pray. "Rejoice evermore: pray without ceasing," 1 Thess. 5:16, 17. Delight makes the melody, otherwise prayer will be but a harsh sound. God accepts the heart only, when it is a gift given, not forced. Delight is the marrow of religion.

A. Dullness is not suitable to the great things we are chiefly to beg for. The things revealed in the Gospel are a feast, Isa. 25:6. Dullness becomes not such a solemnity. Manna must not be sought for with a lumpish heart. With joy we are to draw water out of the wells of salvation, Isa. 12:3. Faith is the bucket, but joy and love are the hands that move it. They are the Hur and Aaron that hold up the hands of this Moses. God does not value that man's service, who accounts not his service a privilege and a pleasure.

B. Dullness is not suitable to the duty. Gospel-duties are to be performed with a gospel-disposition. God's people ought to be a willing people, Psalm 110:3, a people of willingness: as though in prayer no other faculty of the soul had its exercise but the will. This must breathe fully in every word; as the spirit in Ezekiel's wheels. Delight, like the angel, Judges 13:20, must ascend in the smoke and flame of the soul. Though there be a kind of union by contemplations yet the real union is by affection. A man cannot be said to be a spiritual king, if he does not present his performances with a royal and prince-like spirit. It is for vigorous wrestling that Jacob is called a prince, Gen. 32:28.


Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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