Knowing Jesus through Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 18:1-8)
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, January 26, 2020
Today, we are going to talk about knowing Jesus through prayer. Shortly after Dallas Theological Seminary opened its doors, their doors almost closed because of bankruptcy. Before their 1929 commencement day, the faculty gathered in the president’s office to pray that God would provide. They formed a prayer circle, and when it was Harry Ironside’s turn, he circled Psalm 50:10 with a simple Honi-like prayer: “Lord, we know you own the cattle on a thousand hills. Please sell some of them, and send us the money.”
The time lapse between our requests and God’s answers is often longer than we would like, but occasionally God answers immediately.
While the faculty was praying, a $10,000 answer was delivered.
One version of the story attributes the gift to a Texas cattle rancher who had sold two carloads of cattle. Another version attributes it to a banker from Illinois. But one way or another, it was God who prompted the gift and answered the prayer.
In a moment that is reminiscent of the day Peter knocked on the door of the house where his friends were praying for a miraculous jailbreak, the president’s secretary interrupted the prayer meeting by knocking on the president’s door. Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, founder and president of DTS, answered the door, and she handed him the answer to prayer. Turning to his friend and colleague, Dr. Harry Ironside, President Chafer said, “Harry, God sold the cattle!”
How is your prayer life? If you do not pray, you do not know Jesus. That is just logical. We cannot have a relationship with someone we do not talk with. Jesus describes the ways He wants us to come to Him. He wants us to come to Him with persistence.
We have been in a sermon series which I have titled “Knowing Jesus in 2020.” Today I wish to talk to you about knowing Jesus through prayer.
My theme is:
Jesus teaches us a meaningful order of prayer.
- How do we pray, what do we pray for?
- “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take.” That may be the prayer that you learned when you were a child. When I was in preschool I learned: “God is great, God is good, God we thank you for this food, Amen.” We might have learned these prayers because we grew up in homes, or had extended family to teach us to pray. Others may not have had that privilege.
- Turn with me to Matthew 6:9-13:
“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
- In this passage Jesus teaches us a meaningful order of prayer.
- This passage is also found in Luke 11.
- In Luke 11:1 it says that Jesus was praying in a certain place and then the disciples asked Him to teach them to pray.
- Actions speak louder than words. The disciples saw Jesus’ actions. They saw Jesus praying often and they saw the miracles that He did. In Luke 9:28ff they saw the transformation. In Luke 9:12ff they saw Jesus feed 5000. In Luke 8:40ff and 49-56 they saw Jesus heal Jairus’ daughter. In Luke 8:43ff they saw Jesus heal a woman with an issue of blood simply because she touched His garment. In Luke 8:22ff they saw Jesus still the sea. In Luke 4:31ff they saw, or heard about, Jesus casting out demons in Capernaum. They had also seen Jesus praying a lot: in Mark 1:35 after Jesus had healed many people, He retreated to a secluded place to pray. The disciples likely connected prayer with the miracles. So, they ask Jesus to teach them to pray.
- The question is: in the context of Jesus’ life, is the passage in Luke the same as the passage in Matthew? That is possible. It is also possible that Jesus taught this more than one time. This was important to Jesus.
- Notice in verse 9 that Jesus says, “Pray then in this way.” This is important. Jesus didn’t say pray these words. No, Jesus was giving a pattern, an order for our prayers.
- In order for us to grasp the significance of this we must look at the verses preceding this passage.
- Jesus started teaching about prayer in verse 5. Notice in verse 7 Jesus said do not use “’meaningless’ repetition as the gentiles do.” The key word is “meaningless.”
- There is nothing wrong with reciting this prayer occasionally in corporate worship, but we must be very careful of meaningless repetition. That is exactly what Jesus was going against as He taught them this order for prayer.
- Greek prayers piled up as many titles of the deity addressed as possible, hoping to secure his or her attention. Pagan prayers typically reminded the deity of favors done or sacrifices offered, attempting to get a response from the god on contractual grounds.
- Jesus doesn’t condemn long prayers but wants meaningful verbiage.
- We begin prayer with worship: Our Father who is in Heaven, holy is Your Name.
- When we are praying as Jesus taught us to pray we are not simply saying “Lord, Your name is Holy.” We are saying, “Let Your name be holy.” There is a simple difference. The difference is that we are asking God’s name to be revered as holy. The name of the Lord is who He is. This is a polite request, or a wish. We are asking God’s name to be set apart, sanctified, sacred. This is worship as we are ascribing to God what He is. He is holy.
- In verse 10 we continue in worship. We are praying for God’s Kingdom to come. In verse 10 I see the focus on God. I notice a repeated personal pronoun “you,” or “your” in the English. Do we realize what we are saying when we use this prayer. This is a powerful line. God’s Kingdom= submission.
- “Your Kingdom come.”
- “Your will be done.” (second person)
- àthis means that our prayers must not be about us but about God. The only part about us is:
- Daily bread
- Deliverance from evil
- Lead us not into temptation
- But the prayer starts with worship by giving God credit for who He is and the prayer starts with asking that His will be done.
- In this prayer we are praying for God’s Kingdom to come about. This is a strong prayer. We are praying for His Reign.
- This means that we must submit to His rule!
- So, meaningful prayer starts with worship. Meaningful prayer ascribes to God the attributes that He has and we request that He maintains His holiness. Meaningful prayer asks for the Lord’s will not our own. Meaningful prayer asks for His kingdom to come about. Meaningful prayer implies submission to His will and kingdom.
- Verse 11 shows us the second category of meaningful prayer. Meaningful prayer includes requests for our daily needs. Give us this day our daily bread.
- Richard Foster who wrote Celebration of Disciplines, says that this shows that we are allowed to make personal request in our prayers. If we need a babysitter today, pray for that. If we need help shoveling snow, pray for that. But we pray for what we need, not what we want.
- Verse 12 shows us that a meaningful order of prayer includes a request for forgiveness. Notice that this request implies that we have forgiven others. Richard Foster says that we always must give in order to be able to receive. He says, “It is simply that by the very nature of the created order we must give in order to receive. I cannot, for instance, receive love if I do not give love. People may try to offer me love, but if resentment and vindictiveness fill my heart, their offers will roll off me like water off a duck’s back. If my fists are clenched and my arms folded tightly around myself, I cannot hold anything.”
- In verse 13 Jesus shows that a meaningful order for prayer includes a request not to be led into temptation and deliverance from evil.
- God does not tempt (James 1:13).
- But god will test us. Richard Foster says this: In praying this we are saying: “Lord, may there be nothing in me that will force you to put me to the test in order to reveal what is in my heart.” The Lord can also intervene so that satan doesn’t tempt us.
- Deliver us from evil is deliverance from the devil.
- Pray persistently:
Let’s read Luke 18:1-8:
Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, 2 saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. 3 There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ 4 For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge *said; 7 now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? 8 I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
- In Luke 18 we see a group of 3 parables together like we see in Luke 15.
- This is one of the few parables in which Luke explains the purpose before giving the parable.
- If you look at verse 1 it says “He was telling “them.” The “He” is “Jesus” and the “them” is the “disciples.” Jesus is talking to the disciples. We can discover this from Luke 17:22. We actually need to put this in context. The context is that Jesus has been talking to the disciples about the end times. That is what He was talking about at the end of Luke 17 and the audience or location has not changed.
- MacArthur says the key to interpreting this parable is hanging on the door. I love that way of looking at it. What MacArthur means is that right in verse 1 Luke gives us the purpose.
- The purpose is that at “all” times they ought to pray and not lose heart.
- The parable consists of a “lesser to greater” argument—i.e., if A (the lesser) is true, then how much more B (the greater) must be true. The comparison here is between the reluctant action of an unjust judge (the lesser) and “how much more” just will be the action of a just God (the greater).
- There are 2 purposes here.
- Remember that Luke also shared purposes at the beginning of the Gospel he wrote. In Luke 1:4 he shared that he wrote that Theophilus might know for certain the things he has been taught.
- We see that we should always pray.
- We see that as we always pray we should not lose heart.
- Let’s pause for some applications:
- Are we always praying?
- Do we lose heart?
- Do we get discouraged in our prayers?
- Jesus is sharing this parable in order to encourage us to keep praying. Don’t give up. God honors our persistence.
- However, we are to pray about spiritual things. We must pray God’s will. We must pray for His Kingdom.
- Do we pray about all things?
- Do we persistently pray?
- In context Jesus had been teaching on the end times, are we praying for Jesus’ second coming? We must be praying for His second coming. We must be praying “Come, Lord, Jesus” (1 Cor. 16:22; Rev. 22:20).
- We must be praying for God’s Kingdom (Matthew 6:10).
- I want to summarize the rest of the parable. This widow persistently comes to the judge. This judge does not fear God and does not respect people. Yet, because of the woman’s persistence he will grant her request. Jesus uses this as a parable about how we are to pray and how God responds. Basically, Jesus is saying if this mean judge still answers her request that means that our loving God wants to answer our requests.
- However, remember that it seems the widow in the parable is praying for her needs, but this is an illustration about seeking God’s Kingdom and seeking His second coming. This is because the parable is in context right after Jesus was talking about the end times.
- Other applications:
- We must worship God who lovingly meets our needs and answers our prayers (Luke 18:7).
- We must pray to know Jesus.
- We must prayer journal. Sometimes prayer seems intangible. I encourage you to write out prayers.
- We must pray continually. Pray whenever a need arises or whenever you want to thank God or worship Him (1 Thess. 5:17; Col. 3; Phil. 4:6-7).
- We must have deeper, extended prayer.
- We must pray Scripture.
I began this sermon about Dallas Theological Seminary and Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer and prayer:
Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer and prayer goes back before that. He was overseas meeting with someone regarding the seminary. The seminary hadn’t even started yet. He woke up in the night and couldn’t stop thinking about all of the needs of the seminary. He got on his knees in prayer and He said to God that he would stop plans for the seminary if God wanted him to. The next morning he was at breakfast. The wealthy man he was staying with asked him how the library would be provided for and Dr. Schafer said that that wasn’t worked out yet. The man asked Dr. Schafer how his pay was coming. Dr. Schafer said that he was not taking pay. The man agreed to give money to start the library and pay for Dr. Schafer’s salary (I heard this from Swindoll on Insight for Living).
Do you know Him?
Confess, believe, trust, commit
Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.
Keener, C. S., & InterVarsity Press. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary : New Testament (Mt 6:7). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.
 ver•biage \ˈvər-bē-ij also -bij\ noun
[French, from Middle French verbier to chatter, from verbe speech, from Latin verbum word]
1 : a profusion of words usually of little or obscure content 〈such a tangled maze of evasive verbiage as a typical party platform —Marcia Davenport〉
2 : manner of expressing oneself in words : diction 〈sportswriters guarded their verbiage so jealously —Raymond Sokolov〉
Merriam-Webster, I. (1996, c1993). Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. (10th ed.). Springfield, Mass., U.S.A.: Merriam-Webster.
 Richard Foster’s book on Prayer page 186-187
 Richard Foster on prayer page 189