Friday, January 2, 2015

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday January 4, 2015

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A MODEL FOR PRAYER
(Understanding how JESUS prayed)
(Luke 11:1-13)

In Luke chapter 11, taking up at verse 1, one of JESUS’ disciples, who had been impressed with JESUS’ prayer life, asked HIM to teach them how to pray, just as John the Baptist had taught his disciples how to pray. Before we get into specifics there are certain general facts that we should note. First of all, we have to understand that this is a prayer that teaches us “how” we should pray, and is therefore a “blueprint” by which we should “pattern” our daily prayers.
Ironically this “LORD’s Prayer” is a prayer that only a disciple can pray. By that I mean, only a person who is committed to JESUS CHRIST can pray this prayer with any meaning, or effectiveness. It is not a “child’s prayer” as it has often been stated, and is indeed not even meaningful for a child at all. It is a prayer for those who have reached an age of accountability and responsibility to commit to GOD in an experiential relationship, having a desire to become a disciple.
Now let us analyze this terse, but brilliant “petition blueprint” that was handed down to us that day by JESUS from the slopes of the Mount of Beatitudes, during HIS, now famous, “Sermon on the Mount”. The first line of this model prayer identifies just WHOM it is addressed to, “Our FATHER which art in Heaven”.
Next, the first three petitions deals with GOD the FATHER and HIS glory, and they are, “Hallowed be THY name”, “THY kingdom comes”, “THY will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven”. And so we see, first, that GOD is given HIS supreme place before we can turn to ourselves, our needs, or our desires. Only after GOD is given HIS proper reverence and place in our lives can everything else fall into place.
The next three petitions can deal with the needs and concerns of “the petitioner”. In fact, in this model prayer, they deal with the three most essential needs of man, “maintenance of life”, “forgiveness”, and “help with temptation”. They also deal with “the three spheres of time” through which every human being must travel, “the past”, “the present”, and “the future”.

·         Give us this day our daily bread” turns our thoughts to “GOD the Father”, the CREATOR and sustainer of all of life, WHO thereby personally brings the needs of “our present” to HIS throne.
·         Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” turns our thoughts to “GOD the SON”, our LORD and SAVIOR and GOD-appointed ultimate judge. This brings “our past” before the throne of GOD.
·         Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil” turns our thoughts to “GOD the HOLY SPIRIT”, our GOD-appointed comforter, strengthener, and guide, thereby committing “our future” into the hands of GOD.

And so we can see quite clearly in these three petitions how JESUS is teaching us to lay “the present”, “the past”, and “the future” at the mercy of the grace of the GODHEAD. In other words, this blueprint, quite literally, teaches us how to bring “the whole of life”, past, present, and future, to “the whole of GOD”, GOD the FATHER, GOD the SON, and GOD the HOLY SPIRIT, and “the whole of GOD” to “the whole of life”. Prayer should never be an attempt to bend the will of GOD, but rather, it should always be aimed toward “submitting our wills to the will of GOD”.
In verses 5-13 JESUS gives us two parables that teach us that prayer grows out of a persistent, experiential relationship with GOD. In verses 5-8 HE teaches us a “good lesson” by using the “bad example” of a man who does not want to be bothered, and who refuses the petition of a neighbor because he felt that it was too late at night for someone to come calling for a favor. JESUS then shows the contrast of a loving GOD WHO wants us to pray to HIM, no matter what time it is, or how many times we need to ask. Here JESUS is encouraging us to be persistent, not in order to change GOD’s mind, but rather, as a way of being steadfast in praying, so that we might receive our every need.
In verses 9-13 JESUS gives us a second parable which teaches us that GOD gives HIS children “what they need”, and not necessarily “what they want”. We can always rest assure that GOD will grant, through prayer, all of our needs simply because HE knows what they are, and HE knows that our needs can never harm us. However, on the other hand, GOD often does not grant some of the things we want, simply because, oftentimes, those very same things will harm us, even though we may not think so at the time.
On those occasions when our “wants” and “needs” are one and the same, GOD is more than happy to grant our petitions. HE will always grant that which is good for HIS children, and always decline to grant those things that are not. However, in verse 13b JESUS reminds us that the greatest gifts that GOD can bestow upon anyone is the gift of “salvation” and “the HOLY SPIRIT” through CHRIST JESUS our LORD. And with that in mind, let us, at all times be inspired to continue to go to the LORD in prayer, and quite literally, we must do so, without ceasing.  

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
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