Announcer: Hello and welcome to the Taco Tuesday Theology Show with your host, Danny Powell! For many of us, going through life in an increasingly secular world is proving a challenge to navigate. Each week, we take your questions about modern life and answer them using the lessons revealed in the scriptures. Now, grab yourself a taco, and let’s get to this week’s question!
Danny: I didn’t have anyone call in a question this week so I went to my book, A Bigger Picture: Viewing the World Through New Eyes for this week’s question, “How Do We Pray?”
I often wonder why we find it so hard to pray. Not all of us, mind you, but the vast majority of us. I’ve had countless people ask me to pray for them. I don’t mind praying for others; I consider it an honor, but while probing deeper, I find that people want me to do it because they think that I’m somehow more connected to God than they could be or that I know some great secret prayer formula.
An example: my friend Michelle once asked me to pray for her uncle. She started out by telling me she doesn’t “believe in all that stuff, but I know you do.” I told her that she could ask God to heal her uncle just as well as I could, but she wasn’t buying it. So I said to her that what I’d be willing to do it, but rather than pray for your uncle later in secret, I’ll do it right here with you!
“Oh no! Just do it when you pray!” she said.
I told her, “I need you to pray with me because we both have to agree on the outcome.”
She laughed at me. Long story short, a week later we’re chatting, and she said to me, “I don’t know what you did, but my uncle is doing GREAT! The doctors can’t understand it.”
I asked, “Do you believe now?” Jesus once said:
Rachel: “Jesus, therefore, said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will in no way believe.” (John 4:48)
Danny: So why don’t we believe?
One Sunday night while we were still dating before getting married, my (now) wife Rachel needed to pray for a friend of hers. Her friend was having some personal issues and Rachel told me she didn’t know what to do. I told her, ‘there’s nothing you can do. You can’t fix her problem. All you can do is pray to Jesus and let Him help her. He’s the only one that can fix us anyway.”
Monday morning, she text messaged me, “Teach me to pray.”
The disciples once asked Jesus, “Lord, show us how to pray.” And He did. I didn’t think I could improve on what the Lord taught, so I directed her to read what Jesus said in Matthew 6:9-13:
Rachel: “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 NKJV)
Danny: I told her this is the model prayer. Jesus didn’t intend for us to simply repeat this prayer. Just reciting this prayer defeats its intent; however, there isn’t anything in the world wrong with reciting it and using it to teach us to pray. The prayer was good enough for Jesus; it’s good enough for us. The purpose of the model prayer is to teach us how to pray, not an incantation to say.
Then I broke it down for her, “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” This line is the opening. First, you address God. What I told her is it wasn’t mandatory to be so formal when addressing God. She could say, “God,” “Father,” “Jesus,” “Daddy,” etc….
Rachel: “And because you are children, God sent out the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6)
Danny: Rachel said to me, “I can’t call Him, ‘Daddy’!” Why not? The word Abba is an Aramaic word that would most closely translate to “Daddy.” It was and is a common term that young Hebrew children use to address their fathers. It signifies the close, intimate relationship of a father to his child, as well as the childlike trust that a young child puts in his “daddy.” Often we try to make it difficult to talk to our God. But since the word “Abba” is quite literally “daddy” or “papa,” that would seem to indicate an intimate relationship. The Apostle teaches that we can and should. The relationship between God and the believer is described in terms of sons and daughters.
The point, of course, is that we may talk to God just like we speak to each other, addressing the person you are speaking too. When she talks to me, she doesn’t usually say, “Mr. Powell”, or “Husband” or “Danny Powell”, she addresses me by her nickname for me, “Babylove” (which I don’t care for at all but I love her, and I know who she’s addressing!) If I want to be formal, I guess I could say, “Mrs. Powell” or “WIFE!” Often, I address her by my pet name for her, “Sunshyne.”
The second part of that is, “hallowed be Your name.” The word, hallowed, means “magnificent,” “blessed,” “exalted,” or “awesome,” you get the idea.
Sunshyne said to me, “So I could just start with, ‘Jesus, You Rock!’”
She got it. It can be that simple. Usually, I prefer to spend a bit more of my prayer time telling God how great He is. I know he knows, but I think He likes to hear me say it. I know my wife knows I love her, but she wants me to tell her from time to time. I know my daughters and my son know I love them also, but they want to hear it every now and again too.
The first lines of our prayer could be, “Jesus, You rock! I love you.”
The next part of the model prayer is, “Your kingdom come; Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” This is a surrendering verse. Not what I want, Lord, but what You want. Even Jesus at the Mount of Olives before the crucifixion, He prayed, “Your will, not mine” (Luke 22:42).
Whatever Your will is, Lord, that I want too. There’s a freedom in surrender that I can’t put into words just yet. I know that the more I surrender to the LORD, the more freedom I have. Maybe it’s a trust thing; I don’t know. I believe that God wants what is best for me always. I believe He wants to have an intimate relationship with me. It is His will. He died for me. I remember a few years ago when I used to recite the “Lord’s Prayer” over and repeatedly as part of a meditation exercise. Gradually, the prayer became, “Your will be done on earth, in me, as it is in heaven.”
“Give us this day our daily bread…” this is where we tell God what we want, need, and desire. Paul continued this teaching with:
Rachel: “In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
Danny: There isn’t anything I can’t ask. This place in the prayer is also a good place to pray for others. Tell God what you want Him to do for others. Ask for their healing or their employment; or their salvation or their restoration. You may ask whatever you want to ask Him.
“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” This is a prayer for repentance. Fancy word meaning that we know we mess up and have to turn away from those things we know are wrong and turn back to God. Forgiving others teaches us what God does for us. It also shows us what love (agape) is. Hard not to repent when you are asking for forgiveness and at the same time forgiving others.
“Lead us not to temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” The Bible teaches us that the Lord tempts no man:
In the book of James, we read in chapter 1, verse 13, “Let no man say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God can’t be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one.”
This line in the prayer is a prayer for protection. We’ve told God what we think about Him, we’ve asked for His will be done, and we’ve told Him what we want, need, and desire, we’ve asked for forgiveness, and now we ask Him to protect us.
Rachel: “A Psalm by David. Yahweh is my shepherd: I shall lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over. Surely goodness and loving- kindness shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in Yahweh’s house forever.” (Psalms 23:1- 6)
Danny: “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen.” A great way to end your prayer. It’s all God’s anyway, including us:
Rachel: “Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Danny: For people learning to pray, the “Lord’s Prayer” is an awesome example. (I put “Lord’s Prayer” in quotes because this is the “model prayer,” I think Jesus’ prayer in John 17 is the actual Lord’s Prayer.) I can’t find any real reason not to recite it for a while. As you are training yourself to pray, say each line, pause, meditate on it, and then say anything you’d like to add, then go on to the next line.
Here’s an example of using the model. See if you can spot all the parts.
Jesus, you rock. You do. I can’t believe how awesome you are. Every time I think about your sacrifice for me I cry. Really. What’s up with that? Anyway, I’m glad you did. You’ve changed my life so much in such a short time. I want to ask you to keep working on me. I know I’m not perfect yet, but I keep reading in your book that you’ll make me perfect if I just let you. I want that, Lord. Really. Today has been a great day. Thanks. I appreciate that. I’m a little concerned about being behind in my school work and getting those cookbooks out on time at work. A little direction there would be great! Also, I need to pray for Kirk; his daughter told me today that he’s home with pneumonia. I know you can handle that one, so get to it! I know you’re perfecting me and all, but today I think I slipped up more than usual. I could use some help with that. I thought after I got saved I wouldn’t have those thoughts anymore, but here I am dealing with them daily. Sorry about that. And while we’re at it, why am I so mad at my boss? I guess I should realize that since he is the boss what he thinks is important is important. So, Lord, I want to ask that you keep me from having those thoughts and keep me focused on You. You are the Lord. Period. God, I pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Announcer: Thank you for listening to this episode of Taco Tuesday Theology. If you have a question, you’d like us to answer from a Biblical world view, please go to our website, www.tacotuesdaytheology.com and click on the “Send Message” button. You can send the message right from your smartphone or computer. Maybe next week, we’ll answer your question. New episodes post every Tuesday afternoon. Until next time, keep praying and pass the guacamole!