Jean’s Gospel: Introducing The Lord’s Prayer: Who Can Pray?

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63 Responses

  1. Owen says:

    Good word, Jean, thank you.

    When I first read “Therefore, to pray to God, one must be a Christian”, I began to wonder how someone can pray the sinner’s prayer and be heard, if they are not yet a Christian?

    Good thing I read the next paragraph. 😉 So then, would you say that the moment the Spirit places faith in someone’s heart for the first time, they are then a Christian even before they start the prayer? (I realize I may be splitting hairs here, it’s just a thought that occured to me…)

    I have always found great comfort in these words:

    “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect was tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

    Approaching God in prayer would feel impossible without the above passage.

    And I am fond of real crab myself – it’s quite plentiful here on the BC coast! 🙂

  2. Owen says:

    Jean,
    Also would like to ask what usage rights are attached to the graphic you used? My wife takes care of our church’s website, and was wondering if we could use it there, and if so who to credit.

  3. Jean says:

    “So then, would you say that the moment the Spirit places faith in someone’s heart for the first time, they are then a Christian even before they start the prayer? (I realize I may be splitting hairs here, it’s just a thought that occured to me…)”

    Great question.

    When faith receives the justifying Word, “your sins are forgiven”, you are born again (i.e., you receive the Spirit of adoption). A prayer or confession, such as Rom 10:9, does not justify you; it merely testifies to what the person already is.

    Does that help?

  4. Jean says:

    Owen,

    Michael supplies the graphics. I’m sure he will be able to tell you if it’s open source or proprietary when he checks in.

  5. Michael says:

    Owen,

    I’ll try to remember where I found it…I think it’s a tee shirt graphic.

  6. Michael says:

    “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” (John 16:23b)

    Some people get upset by the Flood narrative or over Scriptures about hell.

    This one troubles me more than all the others put together…

  7. Jean says:

    Michael #6,

    Is your concern that one might ask Jesus to partner with him or her in a sinful request by trading on His name?

  8. Michael says:

    Not at all.
    My concern is that the vast majority of prayers go unanswered when we have such strong exhortations to prayer and such strong promises associated with prayer.

    The doctrinal and the experiential do not match…so we hedge the doctrine to explain our experiences.

  9. Jean says:

    I think that our faith has to be just as strong in the area of prayer promises as in eschatological promises. The question is: What is the correct doctrine?

    As far as I can tell, the reception of Christ’s teaching regarding what we are to pray for has been fairly consistent among the early Fathers. Perhaps the modern English translations that say “whatever you ask for” or “in my name” are not self-evident to our modern eyes.

    “Indeed, it would be utterly foolish for one to approach God and ask the Eternal for transient things, the Heavenly for earthly benefits, the Highest for trifles, the One who grants the Kingdom of Heaven for earthly good fortune deserving of contempt. To do so would mean that from the One who gives abiding blessings we would ask for the fleeting use of things foreign to our eternal destiny. Indeed the enjoyment of earthly goods is temporary and their use risky, while in the end they must necessarily be taken away.

    The Lord does well to expose the unseemliness of such conduct by adding “as the Gentiles do” (Mt 6:7). Excessive concern for ephemeral things belongs to those who hold no hope regarding the future age neither fear of judgment, nor the threat of hell, nor expectation of blessings, nor anything else which we await at the resurrection. Looking upon the present life in the manner of grazing animals, they classify as good whatever gratifies their palate, their belly, or any other carnal pleasure. They strive to be ahead of
    others and to be regarded as preeminent. Or they find security in their abundant money or anything else in this deceitful life. If someone happens to speak to them about our future hope, it seems to them as outright nonsense talking about paradise, kingdom, life in heaven, and the like.” – Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394)

  10. Michael says:

    Gregory and I don’t see eye to eye on this…

    ““Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
    (Matthew 7:7–11 ESV)

  11. I think that we pray and ask and perhaps in someway that we don’t understand it is getting done.
    This is not a cop out because to not believe so would be to call God a liar.

  12. I am praying right now. I have been in meeting since 9 am. I am praying that I don’t peel my skin off.

  13. Jean says:

    10, 11,

    This is, however, a very good discussion topic. I hope others weigh in with any supportable perspective.

  14. Jean says:

    This text is germane:

    “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15 ESV

  15. CostcoCal says:

    Jean. Thank you for this word today. It makes me so grateful to our Father. I’m looking forward to Part 2.

  16. Owen Wells says:

    Thanks Jean, that does help. I had a hunch….

    “Indeed, it would be utterly foolish for one to approach God and ask the Eternal for transient things….”

    Our bodies, and therefore our health, are transient. Therefore I sometimes wonder if I should be praying for someone’s physical health, based on the above.

  17. Michael says:

    Without doubt, I have seen answered prayer.
    I have also experienced the incredible frustration of the silence of heaven.
    Going through it now.
    Because I completely embrace the sovereignty of God in providence, I accept this…but it is often unnerving.

  18. Josh the Baptist says:

    I have experientually come to the conclusion that prayer is the process of bringing my will in to line with God’s will.

  19. Michael says:

    As I understand the Lord’s prayer…we are to ask for our ‘daily bread”.
    I believe that invokes all the necessities of life.

    Even more, I love the part where we ask that His kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

    That presupposes situations where we are asking God to bring some situation in line with the kingdom…because it is not in alignment presently.

  20. Owen Wells says:

    Michael, I hear you with the unnerving part. That place where one has complete trust in the sovereign God, yet there lingers a question …..

    As to the graphic – we just want to make sure we don’t step on any toes before we use it.

  21. Jean says:

    Owen,

    The Lord (and apostles) healed people physically and commends healing prayer in James 5:14-15. Also, in The Lord’s Prayer we pray for our daily bread.

    Costco,

    Thank you very much. Encouraging words help me persevere in this project.

  22. CostcoCal says:

    This morning, the Lord answered a prayer that I had been making to Him for over three years now. And He answered today. His timing is rarely, if ever, my timing. Yet He sees things that I do not. And He has eternity in mind.

  23. Jean says:

    Josh #18,

    I agree that that is certainly one of the purposes of prayer.

  24. Josh the Baptist says:

    I could ramble about Jean’s thoughts a little on Jesus’ intercession on our behalf. Perhaps, all of our prayers are answered, because by the time they get to the Father they have been reinterpreted the right way through Jesus.

    These Lord’s prayer posts have been great Jean!

  25. Jean says:

    Thank you Josh.

  26. Michael says:

    Owen,

    That graphic is on so many sites that I can’t discern who created it.

    My guess is you’d be fine.
    They’ll sue me first… 🙂

  27. Owen Wells says:

    Jean – good points.

    Michael, thanks for looking. Good to know it’s apparently not locked down. 🙂

  28. Answered prayer – my meeting is over 🙂

  29. Owen says:

    MLD – kinda defeats the.purpose of the prayer when you know the meeting will end sometime anyway… 😉

  30. JD says:

    The text reads “When you pray”. Who is you? You. And I, and logically the disciples to whom he was speaking. And also the reader of these verses, for the Word of God is for everyone, IMHO.

  31. JD – I would make the case that Jesus is addressing the church – that the Lord’s Prayer is a corporate prayer thus the “our” the “us” and the “we”.

  32. Em ... again says:

    i would have reservation about discouraging anyone from praying… i had a lot to say to God before i was redeemed about how i didn’t like Him, about how He wasn’t fair, how all the Christian kids that i knew were two faced, opportunistic (didn’t know the meaning of that word yet, but He got what i meant) hypocrites and about how He needed to get His house in order before condemning the rest of us… eventually, He and i worked it out 🙂
    i’m still undecided about not praying with those who are not God’s Redeemed ones… while i can’t say amen and smile… i can bow my head and pray for them as they pray… dunno.. we can always, even for the erring ones to get straight and pray right, eh?

  33. Jean says:

    JD,

    The Lord’s Prayer has been interpreted as both a corporate and well as individual prayer as far back as we can see.

    For example, the late 1st Century document, the Didache, says in regard to The Lord’s Prayer: “Pray this three times each day.” (8:3) This instruction is to individuals.

    In addition, in His teaching just before giving The Lord’s Prayer, he says things like, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” This clearly envisions individual prayer.

    On the other hand, this prayer (which I agree with you that it is for all Christians) has been part of corporate liturgy for the earliest times as well.

    The “our” is not only a cue for corporate prayer, but it is also a cue for intercessory prayer and catholicity (i.e., unity among believers).

    Thank you for bringing this issue up; it is a good one.

  34. Jean says:

    “i would have reservation about discouraging anyone from praying…”

    I don’t discourage anyone from praying. I’m just explaining the difference between empty imitation prayer and prayer to the Father and creator of the Universe.

    God is either Father or Judge. No one comes to the Father except through the Son. No one is an adopted son who can even pray to God as Father except by the Holy Spirit. Paul talked about folks in Athens praying to the unknown god. The Bible is abundantly clear that true prayer is only possible by the redeemed.

    Anyone who joins in a non-Christian prayer is spitting in the face of God and is violating the 1st 2 Commandments. Do so, at your own risk.

  35. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “Anyone who joins in a non-Christian prayer is spitting in the face of God and is violating the 1st 2 Commandments. Do so, at your own risk.”

    Which is why interfaith worship services should be banned for all Christians.

    I won’t even amen when a US President says “and may god bless America” – without definition, who is he speaking about?

  36. Em ... again says:

    Jean and MLD – points well taken… but saying “amen” and affirming an unbeliever’s prayer is not quite the same as quietly praying FOR the, perhaps, ignorant blasphemous pray-er as they pray IMHO
    now, that said, if you are on the riser in front of the crowd gathered it might give the wrong impression to even bow your head…
    United Methodist offered the invocation at the opening of the Republican convention tonight it was a good prayer, up until he concluded… it would have been so easy, to just say, “and I ask this in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ”… but nope… just a pious ah men … kind of like the end of a book that adds a page: “The End” 🙂

  37. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    em, praying for someone and praying with someone are 2 different things.

    “now, that said, if you are on the riser in front of the crowd gathered it might give the wrong impression to even bow your head…” – that is the point – appearance. When you see the Muslin Iman, the Jewish Rabbi, the Buddhist Monk and the Christian Pastor all in the same venue for prayer, it gives the impression of “equality of gods”

    Can you imagine a rabbi and a pastor praying together, when they pray to 2 different gods – 1 false and hopefully 1 true (with many pastors today, that is not a given)

  38. Owen says:

    I find I have to agree – while we may be praying for them in our hearts, I think that if we are giving the outward appearance of praying together with other “faiths” , it could certainly give the impression that we are agreeing with their gods also.

    Christianity is the only religion that sais there are no other gods, at least this is my understanding. It may be true that I have not read enough of the others to make that claim, however.

    At any rate, if we believe we worship the one true God and there are no others, it seems to me that praying along with the false ones would water down our claim.

  39. London says:

    Christianity is the only religion that sais there are no other gods, at least this is my understanding. It may be true that I have not read enough of the others to make that claim, however.

    Judaism says it too.

  40. London says:

    And Islam too.

  41. Nonnie says:

    I’m with MLD on inter faith prayer.

    I was invited to go on an inter-faith prayer walk. I asked the woman, “So which god will they be praying to on this walk?” She looked at me like I was crazy and then fumbled around about how it was really just to build up community amongst the diversity of people in our city. I said I’d be very happy to join a walk with the theme of a “community/friendship walk,” but as a Christian, I certainly could not, in good conscience, walk and pray to the gods of Islam or Buddhism, etc,

  42. Em ... again says:

    Crossway reminded me – with a tribute – this morning that Michael’s spiritual hero (and many others of us, too) is 90 years old today – let me be the first to ever break into a thread here 🙂
    Happy Birthday to J. I. Packer

  43. Owen says:

    London, thank you….. I was kinda lumping Judaism in there anyway, I knew it but didn’t say it.

    I didn’t know that about Islam, thanks for pointing that one out.

  44. Babylon's Dread says:

    Father Abraham is the source of virtually all monotheism is he not?

    Chaldean Dread

  45. Owen says:

    BD – I would think so , although I don’t count myself qualified to state such.

  46. Jean says:

    BD,

    Father Abraham was the source of Aaron’s golden calf too. What point are you trying to make in #44?

  47. Owen says:

    Jean,

    “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” (1 John 3:1a)”

    I have always loved the term “children of God”. And the thought that we are to pray to Him as such. I think sometimes we forget that we may be grownups on earth, but to our Father, we are his dear children.

    When I think of prayer, i often think of this passage also..

    Mark 10: 13-16
    “13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.”

    Verse 15 reminds me to approach Him in prayer with the heart and humble spirit of a child. And I only have to look at my own children to get it.

  48. Jean says:

    Owen #47,

    That’s an excellent observation. For many of us, our conception of God as Father at first is colored by our own relationship with our earthly father. Was our earthly father compassionate, authoritarian, demanding, aloof emotionally, abusive? Any of those traits likely influences our thoughts of God the Father, especially during private prayer.

    It can take years of discipleship (maybe a lifetime) to reform our conception of God as Father. For me, since Jesus said that “the Father and I are one”, I look to the Gospels to Jesus himself to find my heavenly Father, what he’s like, etc.

    Christians who have the right conception of their heavenly Father (through their knowledge of and faith in His Son) are apt to be great earthly fathers themselves. I see those signs (even if remotely) from your comments and from those of other men here.

  49. Owen says:

    Jean, I have come to believe that the way God set it up is that our parental figures are the first and most important examples of God to us . It makes me very sad when this is abused. Both my wife and I experienced various forms of this abuse in our own childhoods.

    Looking to the example of Jesus works – He was showing us what the Father is like.

  50. Jean says:

    “I have come to believe that the way God set it up is that our parental figures are the first and most important examples of God to us.”

    Owen,

    I totally agree with you. 🙂 If you consider that “Honor your father and your mother….” made it into the 10 Commandments and are placed first in the “2nd Table” (the table dealing with our horizontal relationships), you can see just how important parenting is.

    Paul also lays out the whole table of family relationships, for example in Eph 5:22-6:9.

  51. Owen says:

    I have not seen the table concerning our horizontal relationships….or are you referring to the Eph. 5 passage?

    Ephesians 6:4 , “Fathers, do not exasperate your children,….”

    My first thought is, how about “children , do not exasperate your parents!” But who’s the adult? Folly is, after all, bound up in the heart of a child. We may as well tell ourselves not to exasperate God.

  52. Jean says:

    Owen,

    I’m sorry. When I said “table” I meant “tablet.” Since the 10 Commandments were inscribed on 2 tablets, tradition has placed the Commandments dealing with our vertical relationship with God on the 1st tablet (for Lutherans – Commandments 1-3) and the Commandments dealing with our horizontal relationships with other people on the 2nd tablet (for Lutherans – Commandments 4-10).

  53. Owen says:

    Ah, okay, that makes sense then. Thanks. 🙂

  54. London says:

    Jean,
    His point in 44 was that I am right. Christianity is not the only religion that claims there’s only one god. He just used bigger words to say it.

  55. Jean says:

    Okay London; I see that. I agree that they make that claim. I wasn’t sure if he was also saying that the 3 religions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity do in fact worship the same God. I would hope he was not saying that, so I sought clarification.

  56. London says:

    No, of course he didn’t say that.
    That wasn’t the question in the table anyway.

  57. Jean says:

    “No, of course he didn’t say that.”

    London,
    Your powers of perception are evidently much greater than mine. In any event, it appears we are on the same page. Thank you for your participation.

  58. Em ... again says:

    rabbit trailing with no powers of perception whatsoever… it occurs to me that Islam takes their god from the God of the O.T. and bends Him into one that suits their righteous human viewpoint and that gives us a very good data point to consider as to just who and what defines the antichrist – whatever and whenever your doctrines of choice find him

  59. Babylon's Dread says:

    Monotheism is Abraham’s revelation of the one true God.
    Israel was the recipient of that revelation and hence Judaism
    Paul realized that Jesus was the one true God when he saw Jesus exalted, probably enthroned in the place of the one true God. Same God fresh revelation…

    Islam indeed lived off the seed of their being only one true God but did not codify until the 7th century … is it the same God?

    There is no Christian conception of God apart from the Son of God which Islam rejects as vehemently as Judaism.

    Same God? Only the same in terms of the root revelation. Not the same in the full revelation of God as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who gives the Holy Spirit.

    The question is not one that bears a yes or no answer readily

  60. London says:

    lol
    Yeah, that’s what it is …my powers of perception.

  61. JD says:

    Father Abraham is the source of virtually all monotheism is he not?
    Chaldean Dread

    Many believe that Job predated Abraham, as did Melchisedek, Shem, Noah, Enoch, Able,and of course Adam.

  62. Em ... again says:

    JD, most of us believe that…

  63. Babylon's Dread says:

    JD,

    No denial here, that is an excellent retort…though I would actually argue that Melchizedek was Shem…

    It is just that none of those others are considered to have founded religions… Judaism Christianity and Islam all look to Abraham as the father.

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