September 29, 2017- Keep Us Out of Trouble, and Rescue Us From Evil- Matthew 6:13, Romans 8:37-39

temptation of Christ

And don’t lead us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. Matthew 6:13 (CEB)

The sixth and seventh petitions of the Lord’s Prayer are related. While Christianity is not a dualistic religion – we do not believe that the world, evil and Satan are equal to God- we do know that we are subject to the influence of sin and death while we live on this earth.

Whether you believe that Satan is a personal adversary or that he is more correctly viewed as a metaphor for the spirit of evil, the fact is that evil is real. Evil is too alive and well in this world and often we don’t have a good explanation for why evil continues to exist.  We don’t have the answer to why God allows evil to exist in this world.   We can only have faith that:

..in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39 (NRSV)

We do know that we fall into temptation easily enough though. We are constantly subject to temptations of the flesh, temptations of the world, and temptations of Satan and evil.

For in the flesh we dwell and carry the old Adam about our neck, who exerts himself and incites us daily to inchastity, laziness, gluttony and drunkenness, avarice and deception, to defraud our neighbor and to overcharge him, and, in short, to all manner of evil lusts which cleave to us by nature, and to which we are incited by the society, example and what we hear and see of other people, which often wound and inflame even an innocent heart…

Next comes the world, which offends us in word and deed, and impels us to anger and impatience. In short, there is nothing but hatred and envy, enmity, violence and wrong, unfaithfulness, vengeance, cursing, raillery, slander, pride and haughtiness, with superfluous finery, honor, fame, and power, where no one is willing to be the least, but everyone desires to sit at the head and to be seen before all…

Then comes the devil, inciting and provoking in all directions, but especially agitating matters that concern the conscience and spiritual affairs, namely, to induce us to despise and disregard both the Word and works of God to tear us away from faith, hope, and love and bring us into wrong belief, false security, and obduracy, or, on the other hand, to despair, denial of God, blasphemy, and innumerable other shocking things. These are indeed snares and nets, yea, real fiery darts which are shot most venomously into the heart, not by flesh and blood, but by the devil. – from the explanation of the Sixth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, Luther’s Large Catechism

Nobody needs any help finding temptation. From the smallest temptations- from wanting to snarf down that nice little bit of ice cream or chocolate we know we don’t need, or being enticed to something as devastating as stealing or engaging in infidelity, we need the Lord’s help to resist and avoid such things.

We need to ask for God’s protection from Satan and evil as well. Although Satan and evil can devastate us here on earth, they hold no power against God and His kingdom.

In the Greek text this petition reads thus: Deliver or preserve us from the Evil One, or the Malicious One; and it looks as if He were speaking of the devil, as though He would comprehend everything in one so that the entire substance of all our prayer is directed against our chief enemy. For it is he who hinders among us everything that we pray for: the name or honor of God, God’s kingdom and will, our daily bread, a cheerful good conscience, etc.

Therefore we finally sum it all up and say: Dear Father pray, help that we be rid of all these calamities. But there is nevertheless also included whatever evil may happen to us under the devil’s kingdom — poverty, shame, death, and, in short, all the agonizing misery and heartache of which there is such an unnumbered multitude on the earth. For since the devil is not only a liar, but also a murderer, he constantly seeks our life, and wreaks his anger whenever he can afflict our bodies with misfortune and harm. Hence it comes that he often breaks men’s necks or drives them to insanity, drowns some, and incites many to commit suicide, and to many other terrible calamities. Therefore there is nothing for us to do upon earth but to pray against this arch enemy without ceasing. For unless God preserved us, we would not be safe from him even for an hour.- from the explanation of the Seventh Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, Luther’s Large Catechism

When we pray the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer it is good to remember these key points:

  1. God’s Name is holy. It is given to us to address God.
  2. God’s Kingdom is here, and it also on its way to being fulfilled on earth.
  3. God’s will is going to be done, so Lord, help us get on board with it.
  4. God provides for us DAILY, our food, and our needs. We need Him every day.
  5. Forgive others as God forgives us, it brings healing for our souls.
  6. Keep us from temptation because it’s all around us and we want to stay clear of it.
  7. Keep us from the influence of Satan and evil.

Have we thanked God for providing for us in every way today?

September 26, 2017 Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be Done- Matthew 6:9-10, Romans 8:26, Romans 12:2

christians-prayers

(Jesus said); “Pray then in this way:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10 (NRSV)

The first petition of the Lord’s Prayer (see Martin Luther’s teaching on the Lord’s Prayer in the Large Catechism here) is about who God is, and the second and third are about what God is doing.

God, of course, is holy. Our opinion doesn’t change that reality one bit, but the first part of prayer is acknowledging that we are addressing God.  We come to Him knowing that we don’t have faith in our ability to say the right thing or in the strength of our prayers. Our faith is in the One to Whom we are praying.  It doesn’t matter if we feel inferior or not worthy of approaching God.  He extends the invitation and command to us to come to Him in prayer.  He even sends the Holy Spirit to intervene on our behalf, so that we can pray effectively in spite of our perceived unworthiness or weakness.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. Romans 8:26 (NRSV)

When we pray we need to know that we are coming to God because we want Him to make us holy, that we want to live in a way that is worthy of His naming and claiming us as His own. We want to live in a way that honors His name.  We can’t live in a way that honors God without asking Him for the strength and the abilities we need to be honorable.

God’s kingdom is a reality, and it will continue to be made more of a reality and it will come to fullness according to His plan. For us the kingdom of God is right now, but also not yet.  God’s plan is that His kingdom will be made a reality here on earth as well as in heaven.  Our desire and our purpose as Jesus followers are not just to be fully a part of the kingdom of God when we pass on to heaven, but to bring about God’s kingdom here on earth.

Do we really want what God wants? This is why we pray for God’s kingdom to come here on earth.  We can’t truly desire what God wants without His help.  Prayer is the way that God comes to us. It is a two way conversation.  Prayer is a means for us to invite God to transform our minds and align them with His will.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 (NRSV)

 “Thy will be done” is at times one of the most difficult prayers we pray, especially when we want to say and believe “my will be done.” There are times when we don’t understand, when God says no to prayer, or His answer is, “wait, I have something better for you.”  Yet God still wants us to communicate with Him- when it’s good, when it’s bad, and even when it’s ugly.  He will align our hearts and minds to His purpose, and He will give us healing and strength when we need it.

God invites us to come to him anytime, in any way we know how, in prayer.

Have we come to God in prayer today?