April 19 – Pray: Deliver Us

Read: Matthew 6:9-13

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (Matthew 6:13 ESV)

The final passage of the Lord’s Prayer, found in the Sermon on the Mount, is a clarion call from Christ for God to aid His people in our natural struggles with sin and evil. It’s a position we truly do need God’s help with. As fallen people we regularly put ourselves in harm’s way. We repeatedly place ourselves in situations where sin and temptation are easily accessible. We need God’s help in changing our hearts, minds, and motives.

This point hit home for me a couple of days ago as I was feeding my son breakfast. I had him strapped into his highchair and he kept gesturing for things around the room that he wanted. They were all things he was normally allowed to have, but they were not his breakfast. Someone had left these items within sight. They were tempting him. He desired them. In order for me to get him to eat his breakfast I had to remove the distractions. Once they were all put away he went on eating breakfast, the other stuff no longer mattered.

It’s not God’s duty to keep us from temptation. Often I believe we bring it on ourselves. I do however believe that He will help us rid our lives of things that distract us from Him if we ask Him to. And I believe He is often urging us to want His help in doing so. And I firmly believe that God is never the source of temptation for His children.

April 18 – Pray: Debts

Read: Matthew 6:9-13

and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:12 ESV)

Have you ever had someone owe you money or a favor? Have you ever tried to unsuccessfully collect on it? Jesus’ teaching on prayer included a phrase about debt, debtors, and forgiveness that reflects several of his earlier teachings.

The prospect of taking on a large financial debt is pretty intimidating to me. I feel a lot more freedom in my life without massive debt. But, where God and our sin are concerned that is precisely the issue at stake. We are all sinful people. Our sin has accrued for us a debt owed to God. We are all people that have fallen far short of God’s standard for us. However, He is willing to reach down and willfully remove our cumbersome debt. In fact Jesus died to accomplish just that.

The words of Christ during this teaching serve as both a reminder and an incentive. We are freely forgiven of our sins if we choose to receive such forgiveness. We are also forgiven as long as we extend the same kind of merciful grace toward those who have wronged us.

April 17 – Pray: Daily Bread

Read: Matthew 6:9-13

Give us this day our daily bread, (Matthew 6:11 ESV)

Some people are really, exceedingly, financially blessed. They seem to have access to a limitless bank account. And sometimes its really easy to envy that kind of carefree wealth. During his teaching about prayer at the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught his followers to desire only daily provision.

When I think of the words “daily bread” I am instantly reminded of the Old Testament stories about how God fed the Israelites with mana from heaven. He gave them exactly what they needed to get through each day. If they collected excess or tried to keep it beyond the time frame God allowed it turned to rot and worms.

I think the truth to be found in these Biblical examples has next to nothing to do with how much stuff we own. I really think it boils down to our heart and attitudes in relation to stuff and ownership. Jesus’ words are not an indictment against ownership, or even abundant wealth, they are reminder to seek, and to be content with God’s provision for the day.

April 16 – Pray: Kingdom Come

Read: Matthew 6:9-13

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10 ESV)

Jesus’ spoke at length during his Sermon on the Mount about prayer, even demonstrating a very practical kind of way of praying for his followers. As such a hugely important aspect of the Christian life, I believe we can still model prayer after Christ’s words. The second aspect of his prayer revolved around both the kingdom and will of God.

In the Old Testament people regularly referred to the Jews as the Kingdom of God. Jesus spent a lot of time speaking to that issue. The kingdom he referred to was not one of heritage or borders. Rather, God’s kingdom was one of the soul. It was comprised of people following the heart of God.

Jesus told his people to pray for God to have His way among them. It was a way for them to intentionally set aside their own desires in recognition for the superiority of God’s plan. It is the acknowledgement that for the Kingdom of God to be the reality for our lives that God Himself must be the king of our lives.

April 15 – Pray: Hallowed Father

Read: Matthew 6:9-13

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. (Matthew 6:9 ESV)

Prayer is such a powerful and important component of the Christian life. During his Sermon on the Mount Jesus laid out a really practical example for what healthy prayer looks like. It began with a statement of reverence.

Ultimately God is our Heavenly Father. He is to be revered. He is holy. He is unique in such a way that words can not accurately describe and the human mind can not begin to fathom.

Even though He remains beyond our comprehension God has chosen to reveal Himself to humanity as a Father. He really is. It is often difficult to comprehend. Especially if we do not have a mortal father from which to draw a clearly defined example.

Reverence for our Hallowed Father is demonstrated out of what the Bible often calls the fear of the Lord. It means displaying a realistic perspective of God’s power and sovereignty. It means having a healthy fear of God, but not being afraid of God.

I think of it as a child who stands in awe of their father or mother. They realize that there is ability, power, protection, and control that far supersedes what they know or understand. While they do not think of it in those terms they live it, accept it, and depend on it. It is all they know. It shapes everything about their little world. I believe that having that healthy reverence for God can be something we live from, communicate from, and pray from. I believe it shapes everything about our little world.

April 14 – Dad Knows

Read: Matthew 6:5-8

Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:8 ESV)

Jesus taught his followers that it was hypocritical to make prayer a fancy public display. He urged that the most sincere form of personal prayer was conducted in privacy. No matter in what form, or location, a prayer is offered God knows our need before we ask.

I have seen this regularly played out in my relationship with my wife. She will go to the store and come home with something I needed or wanted before I have even had a chance to ask her to get it. How does she know? Because we spend time together, we communicate, and she knows my desires. God knows what we need, what we want, and the best timing to come through. He really wants us to talk to him about it, even though he knows, because it demonstrates intimacy and trust. We don’t have to boldly, publicly, or weirdly declare our needs.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t pray in public. I think there is something pretty amazing about corporate prayer when we are joined together with other believers. The point is to make the act of praying about connecting with God; communicating your desires, praying for the needs of others, and offering thankfulness and praise for what God has already done. Prayer is a powerful thing. Our Father really does know what we need.

April 13 – Unknown

Read: Matthew 6:1-4

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, (Matthew 6:3 ESV)

Have you ever known someone that did something incredibly generous, but then completely soiled on it by making a big deal out of it? Generosity was never meant to become a spectacle. It’s like those TV shows that take some genuinely deserving person in need of an upgraded home and make this huge ordeal out of building them a newer bigger one. Perhaps, they do actually want to help people, but at the end of the day they are after ratings and advertising dollars. True generosity is accomplished in secret.

Jesus was pretty clear about this. The Pharisees and other religious folk accompanied their generous actions with much pomp and fanfare. Jesus said that a pure heart will give without recognition. Obviously you can not give and keep it a secret from your own body, that wasn’t his point. Jesus’ point was to give, authentically, and more so, purely.

To give with sincere motives means to give while expecting nothing in return. Generosity in its highest form takes place when there is neither recognition nor reward to be gained. No horns. No parades. No pats on the back. Perhaps not even a “Thank you.” And maybe even resentment, hostility, and/or hatred.