"The Prayer of Jesus" part 4
Deliver Us From Evil
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
November 8, 2009



Memory Verse:

Matthew 6:13 (NLT)
“And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.”

****************

Well, we’re finishing up our series this morning looking at the Lord’s Prayer as it’s found in Matthew chapter 6. Read it with me…

Matthew 6:9-13 (NLT)
“Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.”

The first week of this series, we looked at the first sentence. “Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.” And we saw how Jesus teaches us that we can have an intimacy with God, with Him as our Father and us as His children. Some people who have had a poor relationship or no relationship with their father may have a difficult time understanding this, but Jesus was talking about a healthy, pure Father/child relationship.

The second week, we moved on to “May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” And we talked about praying for God’s Kingdom to be established and the expand on this planet and how He can use us in answering that prayer. Plus we talked about seeking God’s will to be done, not our own will. Prayer is about us coming around to God’s way of thinking, not convincing Him to come around to ours.

And then last week, we examined what Jesus meant when He told us to pray, “Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” And what we came to understand is that God cares deeply for each of us, and that He provides for our needs on a daily basis. He doesn’t bow to our greeds, but He does care for our needs. So He takes care of our physical needs, and He takes care of our spiritual need for forgiveness. With the understanding that we will extend that same forgiveness to others who have harmed or sinned against us.

And that brings us to the final sentence of the prayer, “And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.” And that’s what we’re going to explore today.

Now, many of you have this prayer memorized, and if so you probably know it from the old King James Version. And if that’s the case, then you probably think there’s something missing here. What about the “For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever”? Well, that ending wasn’t part of the oldest manuscripts, but it was eventually used when the prayer was recited and so it was kind of tagged on to the end of the prayer. But it’s not part of this model prayer that Jesus taught, so we’re not going to be looking at it as part of this series.

So what you see on the screen is the entire model prayer that Jesus taught. And as we’ve talked about, it wasn’t something that He meant for us to repeat over and over again mindlessly; it was a model prayer for us to learn from so it could enrich our own prayer lives. There are no magic words, no secret formulas you have to learn. Prayer is simply carrying on a conversation with God, and anybody can do it. And this prayer… it’s just an example.

But I want you to notice something. All through this prayer, Jesus uses words like “OUR Father,” “Give US”, “Forgive US,” “Don’t let US yield to temptation”, “Rescue US.” It’s always in the plural. It’s not about me, it’s about US. It’s not about you, it’s about US. In fact, in your notes you can go through the whole prayer and circle those words.

So what’s the point? Well, I think Jesus is reminding us that we are not just isolated individuals praying merely for our own private concerns. We are a family! We’re a community!

“The very use of the plural precludes selfishness in prayer.”
~ William Barclay

So does that mean you can’t pray for more personal desires, dreams, and wants? No, of course not. And if you look at other prayers in the Bible you’ll see that there were plenty of prayers for individuals. Jesus prayed for Himself. Paul prayed about being delivered from some affliction he was suffering. Peter prayed for guidance. David prayed for personal forgiveness. Hannah prayed that she could have a baby. Daniel prayed for understanding. Solomon prayed for wisdom. Sure you can pray for your personal requests, but in this prayer that Jesus gave as an example of how to pray, He spoke in the plural.

So from that basis, we’re going to talk this morning about what it means to pray for “us.” What it means to pray for the Church. And the way to pray for the Church is…


How Do We Pray for The Church?

1.    Pray for purity within the Church

Matthew 6:13 (NLT)
“And don’t let us yield to temptation…”

If you have the Lord’s Prayer memorized, you probably know this as “And lead us not into temptation…” But really, I don’t believe that was translated very well. Let me tell you why.

If it’s translated as “Lead us not into temptation”, who does that imply is responsible for the temptations we face? God, right? I mean, if God leads us into temptation then it’s His fault. And to counter that, we ask Him not to do that.

But if you look in the book of James, James writes…

James 1:13-15 (NLT)
And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else.

So God is not the source of temptation, He never leads us into temptation, so He’s not responsible for temptation. So if that’s true, where does temptation come from?

[ADD to verse 13]
Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.

So it’s not even Satan. Temptation comes from within. Satan may take that temptation, magnify it, and use it to manipulate us. But it comes from within. And when we give into it, the results are tragic.

[ADD to verse 14]
These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

So that’s why I think it’s very appropriate for us to pray…

Matthew 6:13 (NLT)
“And don’t let us yield to temptation…”

I think that’s something we can pray for ourselves personally, and I think that’s something we need to pray for other Christ-followers, too. For the entire community of believers. For the whole Church. That we would remain pure.

Because remember what we talked about last week. We looked at praying for God to forgive us for our sinfulness. And if God forgives us washes that sin out of our lives, why would we want to yield to temptation again and put ourselves right back in that situation? We’ve just prayed for forgiveness, so Jesus tells us to pray that we won’t create the need to repeat that prayer too often.

Secondly, if you’re going to pray for the Church, then we need to…


2.    Pray for your local church and its leadership

Again, all through the prayer Jesus uses words like “us” and “we” and “our.” So we’re not just praying for ourselves; we’re praying for other Christ-followers as well. And I believe that has to start with the local church we are part of. As Bill Hybels says…

“The local church is the hope of the world.”
~ Bill Hybels

And so we need to pray for our local church. In our case, that means praying for Sunrise, for me as the pastor, and for all those who serve in positions of leadership like our Leadership Team, our Worship Team, and those heading up various ministries. Pray that we will be a healthy church, unified, and effective at doing what we’ve been called to do.

One of the letters in the New Testament was written by a brother of Jesus named Jude. Just a short letter… one chapter consisting of 25 verses. And Jude wrote this letter to address a problem that had crept into the early Church. Apparently there were people who had infiltrated the Church and were spreading false doctrines and were causing division. And this is part of what he wrote…

Jude 1:19-21 (NLT)
These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them.
But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.

So again, you see that we need to be encouraging each other and praying for each other. Plus you see the result of praying for each other… we will be kept safe in God’s love and will receive eternal life.

If you read through the letters of Paul in the New Testament, Paul was constantly talking about praying for individual churches. And he was never shy about asking that they would pray for him as one of the leaders in the Church. Like he did in Ephesians 6…

Ephesians 6:19-20 (NLT)
And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. … So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.

So as Paul asked the Ephesians to pray for him, I ask you to pray for me and for all who serve in some level of leadership.

Plus, in praying for the local church, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pray for other churches, too. We are a local church, but we’re only part of the global Church, the family of God. So go ahead and pray for other churches across our city and around the world.

Ephesians 6:18 (NLT)
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.


You’ll notice that in that verse it says to pray for all believers everywhere. So in addition to praying for churches…


3.    Pray for Christ-followers taking the message of Jesus around the world

In other words, pray for missionaries. First of all, pray that God will call people to become missionaries. As Jesus said…

Luke 10:2 (NLT)
“The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

Second, support and pray for these missionaries as they prepare and set out. That’s what the Church did for Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13…

Acts 13:2-3 (NLT)
One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.

And third, pray for the missionaries wherever they go as they spread the Good News about Jesus. Paul made that request for himself. He wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica and said…

2 Thessalonians 3:1 (NLT)
Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we ask you to pray for us. Pray that the Lord’s message will spread rapidly and be honored wherever it goes, just as when it came to you.

Now, our church sponsors a number of missionaries, and some of you personally sponsor missionaries. Over on the side wall, you see a map showing where some of those missionaries are located, and there are some cards you can put up on your mirror or on your fridge or wherever you need to put them to remind you to pray. Go ahead and make use of them. Pray for missionaries as they give so freely of themselves to spread the message of Jesus.


Okay, we do have one more thing we’re going to talk about this morning. But I’ve also asked Rosita if she would take any children in grades six and under and help them with a project. So if you’re in grade six or younger, meet her at the back.

[Kids exit]

Okay, we just talked about praying for all believers everywhere. And I believe in particular we need to…

4.    Pray for Christ-followers living under persecution

This is of particular significance today, because today is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Here in North America, we live in relative freedom when it comes to our faith. Oh, there are people who want to push all expressions of faith in God out of sight, and there are pockets of persecution here and there, but really we’ve got it pretty easy.

But that’s not true everywhere. There are places around the world where you literally risk your life if you choose to be a Christ-follower. Earlier this morning we remembered those who have fought and the many who have died for our freedom. Well, the struggle continues for those seeking the freedom to worship God.

[PowerPoint – Map showing hotspots of persecution]

On the screen behind me, you see a map. All the areas in red are areas that are actually hostile toward Christians and Christianity. There are over 200 million believers living under persecution. And you and I have the opportunity to join with them and to support them through prayer. Jesus finished the model prayer with this request…

Matthew 6:13 (NLT)
“…Rescue us from the evil one.”

And there are plenty of Christ-followers who are enduring evil and do need to be rescued from the evil one.

The reason Rosita has taken the kids out this morning is that I want to show you a video. And I didn’t think it was necessarily appropriate for younger viewers. It’s not exactly “The Passion of the Christ”, but it could still be disturbing. So I’m going to show you this video about the persecuted Church, and the kids will be coming back in a bit later.

VIDEO – IDOP (4:04)

For more information and resources for the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, visit IDOP.ca.

So on this day, the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, I want to encourage you to devote some time to praying for Christ-followers around the world living under oppression. We just can’t fathom here the courage it takes to proclaim your faith in Jesus when it may cost you your freedom if not your life. And if you would like some resources to help you know what to pray for, then you see a website mentioned in your notes. You can check that out on your own.

Right now, as we finish this series on prayer, let us pray for the persecuted Church…



Father, we want to join together this morning in praying for the over 200 million Christians around the world being persecuted for their faith… for those facing brutal brutality and hostility because of their beliefs. While we only face it occasionally here in North America, we know that there are those in other parts of the world who, because of their faith in you, endure discrimination, intimidation, attacks, fines, imprisonment, torture and possibly even death. That’s their reality every day.

So we pray, Father, that you would strengthen their resolve. Even in their hostile environment, may they know the joy of living for You… the joy that You alone can give. In the face of great oppression, may they enjoy that peace that goes beyond all understanding. Give them courage. Let them know that they are not alone… that You are with them, and that we are with them. That they are in our prayers even now.

Thank You that Your grace is sufficient. Let them experience that grace. And we ask, Lord, that You would protect them. Keep them safe, according to Your will. And when they do go through the fire of persecution, hold them close and keep them faithful to You.

And Father, let us pray for their persecutors as well. Reveal Yourself to them. May they come to understand who You are. We ask that You use the very people being persecuted to direct their persecutors toward You. We know what a difference you can make in a life… how You change us from the inside out. And what these persecutors need is a radical transformation performed by Your Spirit. So we pray for that.

As one Church, as Your Church, as the Church around the world we join together in prayer this morning. Strengthen Your Church, empower Your Church, build Your Church we pray. Amen.

 

 

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