"The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God." – Genesis 17:8
“Pray without ceasing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17
When his disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, rather than give them a discourse on places to pray, positions in which to pray, or times to pray, he simply gave them a prayer. These words, which have been spoken by countless Christians since Jesus first gave them, have come to be known as, ‘The Lord’s Prayer.’ Within this prayer, Jesus revealed some of the most important ways that we can pray. This week, we’re going to look at the first three sections of this indispensable prayer.
1. Have you used the Lord’s Prayer in the past? If so, how?
2. Is there benefit to praying the Lord’s Prayer, word for word? Why or why not?
Jesus begins by praying, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name” (Matthew 6:9b). This is, at its root, a cry of praise. Jesus is teaching us that before we can approach the throne of grace and petition the King of Kings, we must recognize him for who he is. This same principle is taught in the Old Testament when the Psalmist writes, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving,/And into his courts with praise:/Be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4). Our God is a consuming fire who alone is worthy of glory, honor, and praise. Like Esther, we must enter the King’s presence with reverence and an understanding that he is a holy God.
One of the things that it’s important to recognize as we study Biblical prayer is that every prayer might not include all parts of the Lord’s Prayer. For instance, we may not intercede or petition or consecrate ourselves. However, when you study the scriptures, you’d be hard pressed to find a prayer that did not include an aspect of praise. Praise is the lifeblood of prayer.
The Anglican minister Henry Melvill once said, “Praise is the best auxiliary to prayer; and he who most bears in mind what has been done for him by God will be most emboldened to supplicate fresh gifts from above.” If we are going to be successful in any other prayer-venture, we must begin and end with praise.
1. Describe Daniel’s prayer. What does he pray about? What does he ask for?
2. How does he describe God?
3. What is the benefit of such a prayer for God? For the person praying?
1. Look at Exodus 14, in what context is this prayer prayed?
2. How is God praised in this passage?
3. What is the benefit of such a prayer for God? For the person praying?
The passage from Exodus that we just read is technically a song though it is very prayer-like. In our modern times, we’ve unfortunately separated prayers and songs as if they are fundamentally different. Traditionally this was not so. Throughout history, Christians have included the singing of songs (especially the Psalms) in their time of devotion and prayer. If you’ve ever been at a loss for how to pray but have found a song (or scripture) that perfectly reflects your heart, it won’t be difficult for you to understand why this is.
The psalms as translated do not lend themselves to singing; however, poets and songwriters in the past have taken the psalms and reworded them so that they fit the way we sing in English. These are called metrical psalms.
Metrical psalms can be sung to a variety of well-known tunes and they allow us to integrate the Biblical psalms in our times of prayer and praise. What a wonderful way to begin our prayers of praise, with a Biblical psalm of praise.
1 O all ye lands, unto the Lord
make ye a joyful noise.
2 Serve God with gladness, him before
come with a singing voice.
3 Know ye the Lord that he is God;
not we, but he us made:
We are his people, and the sheep
within his pasture fed.
4 Enter his gates and courts with praise,
to thank him go ye thither:
To him express your thankfulness,
and bless his name together.
5 Because the Lord our God is good,
his mercy faileth ne’er;
And to all generations
his truth endureth e’er.
Tunes to Use with Many Metrical Psalms
1. What kind of differences do you see between the translated psalm in your Bible and the metrical psalm above?
2. Is there a danger with the writing/interpretation of metrical psalms?
3. What benefit might come from singing the psalm rather than simply reading it?
After opening his prayer up with praise, Jesus continues, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). The second aspect of prayer that we’re going to look at this week is that of ‘consecration.’ A prayer of consecration, or dedication, is one in which we commit or renew our commitment to the path of God.
This kind of prayer is clearly seen in Luke’s account of Jesus’ ordeal in the garden of Gethsemane. In the midst of an agonizing prayer, Jesus cried out, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). Note the three parts that make up this prayer of consecration: a recognition of God’s call, a request to change that call, and a ultimate submission.
As we read his Word, listen to godly council, pray, and fast, God will often make a command or directive clear. Our hearts, softened by his conviction, may be moved to recognize that God has placed a call on our life. This can be something as ‘simple’ as speaking to a friend about Christ or as ‘complex’ as receiving a call to ministry. We may not want to go through with the action (Jesus didn’t as we can see from the above prayer); however, we put our life into God’s hands and entrust what he’s given us back to him. This is consecration: dedication to his service.
God’s Kingdom lies within each one of his children (Luke 17:21). Therefore, it ‘comes’ through each of his children walking according to his will and being consecrated to his service. This aspect of prayer is one that is incredibly active on our part. It’s as foolish to pray “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” without consecration as it is to say “Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled” to one who is naked and starving without doing something to clothe and feed him (James 2:16). If we want to see God’s Kingdom come, we need to live like it.
1. How does this passage relate to the prayer for consecration?
2. How much of ourselves does Paul command us to consecrate?
3. What implication do these verses have for our daily lives?
1 Peter 2:9-12
1. How do these verses describe consecration to God?
2. What is the purpose of our consecration?
3. What are we encouraged to DO and NOT DO as a consecrated people?
4. What implications do these verses have for our daily lives?
1. How is our consecration described here?
2. What do we receive as a consecrated people?
3. What is the purpose of our consecration?
Homework – Write down any thoughts you might want to share as you work through the following activities.
Saturday – Try to spend 10-15 minutes just praising God for who he is. If you need help, turn to the Daniel 2 passage that we read and meditate on God’s character and actions.
Sunday – Try to spend 10-15 minutes just praising God for what he’s done in your life. Think about your testimony and how you’ve seen God work both in your life and the lives of others.
Monday – Look online at http://www.cgmusic.org/workshop/smp_frame.htm for a listing of metrical psalms. Go through and pick any of your favorite psalms, read through (or more preferably sing through) them.
Tuesday – Spend some time today reflecting on what God may be asking you to do today or in the near future. Be open to his leading by simply enjoying the silence and listening for his call.
Wednesday – As you seek God today, think about how you can dedicate yourself to God more fully. Read through and spend some time reflecting on the verses that we read above (Romans 12:1-2, 1 Peter 2:9-12, Acts 1:8).
Thursday – Reflect on how prayers of praise and consecration interact. Why is it important to praise God before we consecrate ourselves? Are you fully consecrated to God? Spend some time praising him for another week.