What can we learn from Jesus’ model for prayer?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013, Part 2

“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 the power and the glory forever, Amen]‘” (Matthew 6:9-13).

IDEA: Longer isn’t necessarily better when it is applied to prayer.

PURPOSE: To help listeners understand that the length of our prayers doesn’t affect the answer to our prayers.

We have been studying what we call “The Lord’s Prayer.” Let’s think about it as a whole and what it teaches us.

I. Have you ever heard that Martin Luther arose about three in the morning and spent at least three hours in prayer? That when he was really busy, he spent five hours in prayer?

What do you think is the point that the speaker is making in that illustration?

Does the Lord’s Prayer make the point that a long prayer is a better prayer?

Jesus actually seems to warn against long prayers in Matthew 6:7-8.

The Gentiles were probably reflecting the customs of that time by the way they prayed.

II. In the early 4th century, a Christian historian named Eusebius [1] quoted a decree issued by the Emperor Galerius. It is complicated but revealing:

The Emperor Caesar Galerius, Valerius, Maximanus, Invictus, Augustus, Pontifex Maximus, Germanicus Maximus, Egypticus Maximus, Phoebicus Maximus (six times), Amenicus Maximus, Medicus Maximus, Abendicus Maximus, holder of the tribunal authority for the 20th time, emperor for the 19th Consul for the 8th.

This is how one Caesar understood himself and was the way he wanted to be addressed. Can you imagine an American president starting a communique this way?

How might this practice have been reflected in the way people addressed their gods?

III. If you could listen to the way people pray today, would you learn much about them and their relation to God?

[1] Eusebius, The History of the Church, trans. G. A. Williamson (Penguin Books, 1965, 353-54).