Stephen Yang, David Won, Kevin Albright, David K. Lee
Part 1: A Study of the Lord’s Prayer
What Should We Pray For? The Lord’s Prayer (Mt 6:9-13)
The Lord’s Prayer summarizes all we can ask God. It is the prayer that our Lord prayed and the standard of his disciples’ prayer. The Lord’s Prayer consists of three parts; a preface, petitions, and a conclusion. The preface begins with “our Father in heaven.” Jesus teaches us that the relationship between the Almighty Creator God and his people is Father and children’s. Prayer brings us into deeper fellowship with our heavenly Father, and in such an intimate relationship we can ask him whatever we need (Mt 21:22). There are six petitions: the first three for God’s glory and the next three for men’s needs. Jesus’ disciples must pray for God’s glory, God’s kingdom and God’s will first. While seeking God’s glory, disciples must pray for daily provision, sanctification, and spiritual victory. The conclusion of the Lord's prayer teaches that in our prayer, we praise God alone ascribing God’s kingdom, power, and glory to him and pray with the assurance to be heard.
“Our Father in heaven”: Pray for deeper fellowship with God and pray in the fellowship. The object to whom we pray is our Father in heaven. God is a person with love. “In heaven” emphasizes his majesty and power as Sovereign Ruler. This one phrase explains the relationship between God and his people. The Creator God is our Father, and we are his children with his great purpose and high calling.
Our Lord Jesus himself called God, “Abba Father” (Mk 14:36) and teaches us that his disciples must pray for a deeper fellowship with our heavenly Father. This intimacy needs to be developed through prayer. Prayer brings us into deeper fellowship with God, and he loves us and delights in our fellowship with him. The heart of being a disciple involves living in intimate union and daily contact with Christ.
Jesus teaches us to ask our heavenly Father whatever we need in such an intimate relationship. He promises if we have faith in our heavenly Father and pray, nothing will be impossible for us (Mt 17:10).
“Hallowed be your name”: To glorify God. Name represents one’s existence and person. “Hallowed” means “to separate.” God must be uniquely honored and worshiped. The purpose of God’s creation is to glorify God. The Lord prayed, “Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you” (Jn 17:1), and he also wants his disciples to pray for God’s glory. Through prayer we can honor God and lower ourselves, and through the answered prayers, God’s name can be glorified.
Jesus’ disciples should be filled with desire to honor God’s name through our lives (1Co 10:31). Apostle Paul’s motto, “for his name’s sake” (Ro 1:5) and John Calvin’s motto, “For the glory of God alone,” explain the meaning of “hallowed be your name.”
“Your kingdom come”: To expand God’s kingdom. Here “kingdom” (basilleia) means “sovereignty” or “rule.” God’s people’s inmost desire is to see that God rules each individual person as well as the peoples of all nations and eventually to see Our Lord’s second coming and our reigning with him forever. We must pray that our King Jesus may rule every sphere of human life: in education, government, industry, science, entertainment, and family lives. God’s kingdom comes in people’s lives through Bible teaching and preaching. The Kingdom is fulfilled when our Lord comes again. This has been the prayer of the prophets (Isa 5:16, 29:23; Ezek 36:23, 38:23, 39:7, 27; Zech 14:9). We pray for his coming (Rev 22:20).
Disciples are called to expand God’s kingdom and make disciples of all nations (Mk 3:14; Mt 28:19-20). Disciples must pray to depend on the power of the Holy Spirit for this task because only God can change people and God’s kingdom can be spread by the power of the Holy Spirit (Lk 11:13; Ac 1:8). Raising disciples is possible through prayer. Our Lord prayed for his disciples: “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Lk 22:32). He asked his disciples to pray for him (Lk 22:41). He also teaches his disciples to pray, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Mt 9:37-38).
Disciples must pray for souls with intercessory prayers. John Welch was a mighty man of prayer who served God in Scotland during difficult times. He believed that a day was wasted when seven to eight hours were not spent in prayer. He often woke up during the night to pray. Once questioned by his wife, he responded that God had put 3,000 souls on his heart.1 Through such intercessory prayer, God’s kingdom comes.
“Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”: That God’s will may be fulfilled. In heaven, God’s rule and glory is fully exercised. Disciples are called to pray that God’s will may be fulfilled. Obeying God’s will is a right motive to pray. When we pray with a right motive, God promises that he will answer (1Jn 5:14-15; Ja 4:2-3). Seeking and obeying God’s will needs our self-denial by overcoming our sinful desire through prayer (Mt 16:24). Our Lord prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Mt 26:39). Disciples are called to submit to God’s will in all things with humility. It is possible by the Spirit through prayer.
“Give us today our daily bread”: God’s provision. This verse alludes to God’s provision of “daily bread” (manna) for his people in the wilderness and teaches us practical faith by which we should depend on God for daily necessities. “Daily bread” also refers to health, dwelling, environment etc. we need for our daily life. This phrase also teaches concern about the need of others. God wants us not to be selfish or greedy.
In asking for today’s necessities and being satisfied with today’s provision lies the essence of the life of faith (Prov 30:8-9). Jesus wants his disciples to totally depend on God for all our need in any aspect of daily life while living as disciples and serving God’s work. He teaches, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Mt 6:33). When we depend on God, he provides for all our needs.
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”: Sanctification (To grow in holiness and love). Disciples are called to grow in Jesus’ likeness. First, growing in holiness. We are weak, and we sin daily. Here the word “debt” refers to “sin” (Lk 11:4). Sin is a moral debt that requires payment in God’s court (Mt 18:23-35). Sin separates us from God and we have no peace until we receive forgiveness. We sin daily so daily forgiveness is necessary for maintaining right relationship with God and grow in Jesus’ holiness. The way to grow in holiness is to repent of our own sins and to be washed by Jesus’ blood daily.
Second, growing in love. We can grow in Jesus’ love by forgiving others who have sinned against us (Mt 5:44). Jesus prayed on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34). Once we were enemies of God, but we are forgiven freely by Jesus’ love, we are obliged to forgive others without reservation.
Prayer and holy life are one. He who is too busy to pray will be too busy to live a holy life. The hindrances of prayer are the hindrances of holy life. Prayer fails when the desire and effort for personal holiness fail. Through prayer, we can grow in Jesus’ image.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one”: Spiritual battle. Disciples are soldiers of Christ (2Ti 2:3-4) who fight against Satan and evil spirits (Eph 6:11-12). We must acknowledge our weakness that without God’s help we cannot fight the spiritual battle (Mt 26:41). “But” in verse 13 means “Moreover.” We should ask God’s help not only to overcome temptation but also to triumph over evil (or the evil one).
Our Lord prayed while fasting forty days and forty nights when he was tempted by the devil (Mt 4:2). When we pray, we can receive the guidance of the Holy Spirit to discern the devil’s temptation and fight against it. Therefore, payer is a disciple’s spiritual weapon (Mk 9:28-29; Eph 6:18).
“For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, For ever and ever. Amen.” In our prayer, we praise God alone ascribing God’s kingdom, power, and glory to him and pray with the assurance to be heard.
Part 2: Prayer for Jesus’ disciples (Gospel-Centered Prayer)
1) The study of “Prayer for Jesus’ disciples” will encourage you to grow in your intimate relationship with God by exploring what the Bible says about prayer.
2) But studying about prayer should never be a substitute for prayer itself. Therefore, each questionnaire begins and ends with prayer based on the word of God.
3) The order of the study is
What is prayer?
Prayer and faith
Prayer in God’s help
The Model prayer: the Lord’s Prayer
What Is Prayer?
What is prayer for you? Some say it is their duty. However, the Bible tells us that Jesus himself invites himself to us. As we remain in Him (the Heavenly High Priest), we can come to God in His name and pray to God the Father by the help of the Holy Spirit.
Meditate on and memorize Revelation 3:20, Hebrews 4:14-16, John 16:23-24, and Romans 8:26-27. And can you pray based on these verses.
Read Revelation 3:20. How does this verse portray Jesus’ desire for our intimacy with Him? What might he desire to do when he comes in you? How would you respond to his invitation?
Read Hebrews 4:14-16. Who is Jesus in these verses? What did Jesus do to reconcile us to our Heavenly Father? As you are with Jesus, what assurance and privilege can you have? What do you want to do with God the Father?
Read John 16:23-24. What is Jesus’ promise to his disciples? What does it mean to ask the Father “in my name” (cf. 14:13-14; 15:16; 16: 26)?
Read Romans 8:26-27. How does the Holy Spirit help us in our prayers?
What is prayer for Jesus’ disciples? By knowing what prayer is, is your attitude changed toward prayer? And can you pray now?
Prayer and Faith
Knowing that God wants fellowship with us and this encourages us to pray. But there is a necessary element to prayer that God needs from us in order for our prayer to be answered. What God wants from us is our faith.
Meditate on and memorize Ephesians 3:12, John 14:12-13, 1 John 5:14-15, James 1:6-7, and Mark 11:20-26. And can you pray based on these verses.
Read Ephesians 3:12. How can we have freedom and confident access to God in prayer? What is faith? Read John 14:8-15. Explain the importance of faith and its relationship to prayer and works. What is the ultimate goal of prayer?
Read 1 John 5:14-15. What is essential if God answers our prayers? In order to know God’s will, how should we pray (cf. 1Co 11:b)? Read James 1:6-7. As God accomplishes his will, how can we have unwavering faith in God’s ways of answering prayers?
Read Mark 11:20-26. What does Jesus exhort his disciples to do as they ask all kinds of requests in prayer?
Faith is certainly a critical element of prayer. In light of the verses you have just studied, how would you characterize your faith when you pray? Now can you pray by faith and in the Spirit?
Prayer in God’s Help
In prayer, God does not leave it up to us to find out how to reach him through prayer; He provides His blessed Holy Spirit to help us. God’s Spirit intercedes for us when we come to Him.
Mediate on and memorize Romans 8:26-34, Hebrews 7:23-25, Ephesians 6:18, Jude 20-21, 1 Corinthians 2:9-16, and John 15:7. And can you pray based on these verses.
Read Romans 8:26-34 and Hebrews 7:23-25. How do these verses describe the intercessions of the Holy Spirit and Jesus in our prayer? How does this truth affect your understanding of prayer?
Read Ephesians 6:18 and Jude 20-21. God has given His Spirit as our Helper and Guide. What do these verses teach us about how to pray?
Read 1 Corinthians 2:9-16.
Read John 15:7. Why does God so closely intertwine our remaining in Him, His Word, and answered prayer?
Now can you pray in the Spirit?
Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit intercede for us (Ro 8:27, 34; Heb 7:25). The Lord’s Prayer teaches us to pray our and us. We deliberately substitute God’s interests/heart in others for our natural sympathy with them in prayer.
Meditate on and memorize James 5:16, Ephesians 6:10-18, 2 Timothy 2:1-2 and Colossians 4:12. Read the following examples of intercessory prayers: John 17 (Jesus’ example), Ephesians 3:14-21, Colossians 1:9-12, and 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 (Paul’s examples). And pray based on these verses.
Read James 5:16. James states, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” How can we be equipped to pray powerful and effective prayers for others (Eph 6:10-18)?
Read Ephesians 6:18 and 1 Timothy 2:1-2. For whom should we intercede?
Read Colossians 4:12. Explain how Epaphras labored earnestly for others.
Read Ephesians 3:14-21, Colossians 1:9-12, and 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12. As Paul committed himself to praying for the church, would you devote yourself to praying for the church? Write down the major petitions in these prayers.
Read John 17. How did Jesus pray for the disciples and for all believers?
Now can we pray for others based on our study?
The Model Prayer: The Lord’s Prayer
The Lord’s Prayer summarizes all we can ask God. It is the prayer that our Lord prayed and the standard of his disciples’ prayer.
Mediate on and memorize the traditional form of the Lord’s Prayer. (cf. Mt 6:9-15) And pray from your heart as Jesus taught us to pray.
“Our Father” – What do you think is the significance of this opening address?
“In heaven” – Why do you think it is important that we acknowledge that He is in heaven?
“Hallowed be your name” – Define the word “hallowed” and how it applies to our heavenly Father.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” – Rephrase this petition as an expression of your desire to participate in its fulfillment.
“Give us this day our daily bread” – What do you think “daily bread” means, and why are we to ask for it one day at a time?
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” – Why do you think Jesus links God’s forgiveness of us with our forgiveness of others?
“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” – Rewrite this petition in your own words.
“For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” – How does this closing statement sum up the Lord’s prayer?
How would you summarize the key characteristics or elements of this model that provide a pattern for how God desires us to pray?
Part 3: How to Be with Jesus through Worship
1) What does Worship mean?
Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship”
Worship is not just a formal worship service on Sunday; it is an offering of one’s body to the Lord. Here “bodies” include our whole being: our thoughts, desires, emotions, wills, talents, time and energy, and our possessions. Everything that we are and have should be offered to God in worship for his glory. Offering our bodies as a living sacrifice is a positive act of faith; it should come from our personal decision to respond to God. The goal of this sacrifice is to please God, not people. Bill Hull’s comments: “I define worship as a corporate gathering of believers who thank and praise God and also expect to hear from him. Worship offers a form of self-denial…I remove myself from the center of things…We learn to think of ourselves as participants, as supporting cast, as servants who focus on the drama’s main character: the triune God we serve…How many times have we stood in worship wondering, ‘Should I raise my hands? What will people think?’…worship is about otherness—a God who is other and other followers of Jesus who want to understand how he contributes to their lives. Worship is a selfless act…mentoring means living in community and participating selflessly in its most profound act: worshiping God together.”2
The word “worship” occurs over 250 times in the Bible. To worship has three meanings: (1) to honor, pay homage or bow down; (2) to labor or to serve; and (3) to revere, respect or fear. Worship in the OT involved four sacred things: rites, times, places, and ministers. In Exodus, Moses repeats the Lord’s command to Pharaoh king of Egypt, “Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” God desires and expects his people to worship Him. In the Ten Commandments God forbids the worship of idols or other gods. Daniel’s three friends refused to bow down and worship Nebuchadnezzar’s image. They would rather have died for their devotion to God than worship an idol, and God chose to miraculously deliver them (Da 3). In a grand worship scene, Isaiah saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted with 6-winged angels flying while covering their faces and feet and calling out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty. The whole earth is full of his glory” (Isa 6:1-4).
Christ has replaced the OT sacred things: he is the Lamb, the Great High Priest and the temple. At the same time, his followers are a royal priesthood (1Pe 2:9). They are “persons from every nation” who have been made “to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God” (Rev 5:9-10). In Revelation 4-5, four living creatures with six wings never stop saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Twenty four elders lay their crowns before the throne and say, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Praises continue to the slain Lamb seated on the throne. Millions of angels say, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Then all creatures in heaven and on earth say, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”
Christian worship is God-centered and Trinitarian: directed to God the Father through Jesus the Son by the enabling of the Holy Spirit (2Co 13:14). The Father seeks those who worship Him in the Spirit and in truth (Jn 4:24). Broadly speaking, worship is the offering of our bodies and lives to God day by day as a spiritual act (Ro 12:2). Worship is loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves (Mk 12:30-31). Through Jesus we offer sacrifices of praise to God and of doing good and sharing with others (Heb 13:15-16). Narrowly speaking, worship is set times of repentance, prayer and praise, both in private and with others. Christians are privileged and blessed to meet together in Jesus’ name with other believers for times of corporate worship as one family in Christ and should not neglect such times (Heb 10:25).
Practically speaking, worship gatherings have 3 features: content, structure and style. Christian content should be gospel-centered. Styles can vary according to age, ethnicity and denomination. The structure usually includes 4 parts: assembling, listening, responding and dismissing. High liturgical churches have tight structure with detailed planning. Low church structure allows for more freedom and spontaneity. Churches that honor diversity will have both structure and spontaneity, and will seek to recognize and employ a diversity of spiritual gifts in the body of Christ through various ministries (1Co 12). Healthy, growing churches have unity with diversity, not rigid uniformity, which stifles the full range of gifts and talents in the body of Christ. The aim is to build up the church (1Co 14:12), not tear it down (2Co 13:10). It is good to prayerfully plan the worship service with all worship servants (messenger, prayer servants, greeters, ushers, music servants, announcers, etc.), yielding to the Lord’s leading (1Co 14:33). A healthy Christian environment of worship includes both humility and anticipation, contrition and faith (Ps 51:17; Heb 11:6). The whole worship service team does well to keep this in mind.
2) How Does Worship Impact Our Entire Lives?
The English word “Worship” is derived from the root word “Worth.” Its suffix “-ship,” means to assign worth or value to something or someone. So when we worship our God, who is ultimate and absolute, we are assigning Him ultimate and absolute worth or value. Since this is an ultimate and absolute value, we prioritize God in our hearts and reveal this through our thoughts, words, and actions – in all aspects of our life. For Christians, then, the impact of genuine worship can produce three important things: right relationships, unity, and evangelism.
When God comes first, we give up our own will and seek His will, and we submit ourselves to Him and His commandment. We can have right relationships in our lives when we put God first. How? We can remember the instruction and warning given in Isaiah 58:3-8: “The people ask, ‘Why should we fast if the Lord never notices? Why should we go without food if he pays no attention?’ The Lord says to them, ‘The truth is that at the same time you fast you pursue your own interests and oppress your workers. Your fasting makes you violent and you quarrel and fight. Do you think this kind of fasting will make me listen to your prayers?...The kind of fasting I want is this: remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice and let the oppressed go free. Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear and do not refuse to help your own relatives. Then, my favor will shine on you like the morning sun and your wounds will quickly be healed.” Here we are reminded that true worship bears good fruit, but we should be careful that we are worshipping God fully and not just on Sunday mornings. We are reminded as well that we are not worshipping God in order to improve ourselves and judge others, but rather in worshipping God, we die to ourselves and humble ourselves before our neighbor.
Where there is humility, love, and genuine concern for one another (modeled after Christ’s love, concern, and sacrifice for us) –– unity is sure to follow. The Bible says a city or house that is divided against itself will fall (Mt 12:25). Unity is a must for peace and progress in all of our social interactions. However, unity does not mean uniformity; all of us thinking, dressing, worshipping and doing everything utterly alike. Instead, righteous unity allows for diversity. In fact, the right kind of diversity actually strengthens unity. Differences of opinion, culture, and economic standing need to be embraced with a willingness to learn. Then we are strengthened by the good things other people do differently and better than us. Remaining humble and fearing God, which we practice in worship, help prepare us to accept and love each other and embrace both similarities and differences.
If worshiping God means embracing each other’s differences, how should we go about evangelism? Here again, we can turn to scripture. The brief description in Acts 2:46-47 portrays life in Christ, a life that is directly linked to worship and evangelism: “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” There was no separation of worship from everyday life. Worship is the grateful surrender of all we are and all we have. It is living in and for God and God's way in all things. Then we see that the consequence of their worship was fruitful evangelism: “The Lord added to their number daily” (Ac 2:47b). Their daily life consisted of spending time in the worship and praise of God, sharing fellowship and meals together, and offering kindness and hospitality to others (Ac 2:42).
The kind of evangelism depicted in Acts is the result of true and righteous worship of God. Jesus’ disciples as well lived in accordance with the Great Commission (Mt 28:17-20). By putting God first, they humbled themselves and lived in unity with their brothers and sisters. And because of their faith, God helped them bear the fruit of new believers, by adding to their number daily. True worship shapes us in such a way that we believe in God, desire nothing but God, and offer ourselves wholly to Christ to bring Him glory.