Prayer And The Christian Disciple

By Vernon Brite

“God will do as a result of the praying of the humblest one here what otherwise He would not do. Yes, I can make it stronger than that, and I must make it stronger, for the Book does. Listen: God will do in answer to the prayer of the weakest one here what otherwise He could not do.”-S. D. Gordon

Prayer, defined simply, is conversation with God; however, a more definitive explanation would be fervent petitions made to God, or the act of making a petition or communion with God. The previous definitions all suggest that we can have interaction and a relationship with the Deity. Communion implies conversation and conversation is not monologue; it is two ways.

However, prayer is more than conversation, petitions, and communion. It is the heartfelt prayer of a mother up late at night praying and waiting for the safe arrival of her child. It is a grandfather asking for the blessings of God at Thanksgiving dinner. It is the simple prayer of a child worried about a sick parent. It is the salty prayer of the seasoned pastor interceding for his congregation. It is a new family rejoicing at the healthy birth of their child. It is the desperate cry, “Lord, have mercy,” that averts a tragedy. It is the congregation rejoicing and celebrating the salvation of newborn Christians. In truth, prayer is varied as prism light; there are many kinds of prayers.

What satisfaction must it be to learn from God Himself with what words and in what manner He would have us to pray to Him so as not to pray in vain! We do not sufficiently consider the value of this prayer; the respect and attention which it requires; the preference to be given to it; its fullness and perfection; the frequent use we should make of it; and the spirit which we should bring with it. “Lord, teach us how to pray.” Adam Clark

The Lord’s Prayer is the model prayer. It serves as the prayer pattern for all ages and all people. This model prayer gives us the form; all we need do is fill in the blanks and enlarge upon it. The outline and form are complete; all that is left is to fill in our needs and concerns and convictions. It contains several kinds of prayer. The Lord’s Prayer is not just to be mimicked or repeated but dissected and utilized as a tool to develop our personal prayer life. It contains the many valuable kinds of prayer that the Christian disciple can use in Christian service and in personal and private devotion.

“Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one His disciples said to Him, `Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.’ So He said to them, `When you pray, say…”‘ (Luke
11:1-2, NKJV).

The disciples heard the Master pray and were so impressed that they asked of Him to teach them to pray. They were familiar with the dry prayers of the synagogue, and they were familiar with the ritualistic prayers of the temple, but they had never heard anyone pray with such power or seen such miraculous results. So they said, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

“In this manner, therefore, pray: 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 power and the glory forever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:9-13, NKJV).

I invite you to look at this model prayer as we investigate the form for practical use.

In this manner, therefore, pray, Our Father in heaven. In Jewish antiquity, God had never been referred to in familiar terms. He was the sovereign ruler of the universe, whose voice thundered on Mt. Sinai, inspiriting fear, and dread. He was the mystery behind the veil that brought death to all who violated the Holiest of Holies, and yet Jesus taught us that God can be addressed in a tender, intimate term. He is our loving, caring Father, allowing us to approach God as a family. The infinite One is approachable, the divine One is touchable, and the Holy One of Israel is interested in our affairs.

Hallowed be Your name. W. Phillip Keller says of this phrase: “Putting it in real language, what Jesus is saying in this prayer is, `Father, may Your person, Your identity, Your character, Your reputation, and Your being always be
honored.’ This is a type of worship and praise in prayer; giving honor and glory to God and thereby giving the same to His name. For us to hallow the name of God is to recognize and to rejoice in His majesty, His greatness, and His
everlasting love.”

Your kingdom come. The issue of kingdom was of great concern to the disciples. Jesus repeatedly talked about the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God. This subject pressed their minds so that the last question they asked
the Master as He prepared to ascend back into heaven was, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom of Israel?” (Acts 1:6).

Jesus was teaching kingship of the hearts and lives of people, not an earthly empire. Our Lord was saying in this prayer, “Father God, ruler of the universe, establish Your sovereignty in the hearts of men and women on earth as
well upon the earth itself.” This is a request for divine intervention in the affairs of people. This is an appeal for the justice of heaven to rule over the unfair courts of humanity.

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The will of God, the eternal Father’s will, was the mission of Jesus, and He invites us to join Him in accomplishing that will. The will of God is the most important activity in the entire world. God gave His only Son to make sure that the will of God would be done on earth. This is prayer of personal surrender. This is the Christian resenting himself or herself to God for service and as a yielded vessel. We must pray for the will of God in our personal lives every day.

Give us this day our daily bread. Is it okay to ask for basic substance? Yes. Literal bread and not only bread but also all our needs. Jesus reminded us that our welfare is important to us, and we can and should ask. We must also
remember that we do not live by natural bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. That is the true bread from heaven. We need the true bread, for it will satisfy the longing soul and meet the need for all

And forgive us our debts. “Forgive us our trespasses” (Knox). “Forgive us our shortcomings” (Weymouth). “Forgive us what we owe to you” (Phillips). “Forgive us our sins” (TLB). “Forgive us our resentments” (Amplified Bible).
“Forgive us the wrong we have done” (NEB). This is a humble admission of guilt, a conviction of wrong. We have sinned and come short of the glory of God. What a privilege to come to God to ask for forgiveness and receive it! It points us to the awful price on Calvary that was paid for our sins and the redemption price for sinners. It is the key to unlock the door of blessing for the presence of the Father. We owe a debt of love and gratitude for the price of forgiveness.

As we forgive our debtors. Forgiving others is the most difficult thing to do. Forgiveness benefits the injured party more than the violator. Forgiveness of others allows forgiveness to come to the offended; otherwise, we are left to bear our sins. Forgiveness sets the offended party free and allows the healing to begin.

And do not lead us into temptation. A good explanation of this phrase is, “Lead us not into temptation, but guide us by Your Spirit.” Oh, how we need the strength of the Lord Jesus to overcome temptation! The Lord does not tempt anyone. All temptation comes from the devil, or else we are drawn away of our own lusts. We must fervently ask God to provide support, because the flesh is weak and the spirit is strong.

But deliver us from the evil one. The evil one is the devil. The battle Christians fight is not one with flesh and blood. We are in a battle for heaven’s best fighting against the evil one and his fallen angels. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, NASB).

The Christian disciple must pray for divine assistance to defeat the evil one. As humans, we are a poor match for the evil one, but with God’s help, we can conquer any foe.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. The conclusion to the entire matter of prayer is an acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty and greatness, that all the power and glory belong to Him. This brief benediction is a powerful conclusion to reaffirm the greatness of our God. It is a final salutation to express devotion and adoration. It attributes rightful ownership of the kingdom, the power, and the glory to God Almighty. If we will utilize this model prayer, fill in the blanks with our own name, and enlarge upon this form, we will find the fullness of the prayer fellowship that Jesus intended.