Monday, January 12, 2009

Enlarged Entitlements?

Matthew 6:1-13 (NASB) "Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. (2) "So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. (3) "But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, (4) so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (5) "When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. (6) "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (7) "And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. (8) "So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. (9) "Pray, then, in this way:
'Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. (10) 'Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. (11) 'Give us this day our daily bread. (12) 'And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (13) 'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]'

A right attitude towards God must form the rudiment of right prayer. Jesus paves the way for the proper prayer mindset in His Sermon on the Mount by first instructing us in the way of humility- the Beatitudes; then the way of true righteousness- summarized not in the letter, but in the spirit of the Law. He spends most of His time before chapter six attempting to convince people of this fact- that even if they were able to walk out the letter of the Law, they would never, in themselves, achieve the spirit of the Law. The higher measure of complete righteousness demanded by God was, is, & always will be achieved by God alone. His last statement in chapter five, summarizing this teaching, is as follows:

Matthew 5:48 “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

The Sermon, to this point, thus imbues the child of God with the quality of humility & the understanding that the complete righteousness demanded of him is retained by Jesus Christ alone. No one else has walked out a purely righteous life on this earth, so we can find no other Way to attain said demand- but through Jesus Christ alone.

But then in the sixth chapter, Christ begins teaching His elect children- largely those who have stayed with Him thus far. He speaks to those that have received the difficult truths He has laid down, & instructs them in the manner of proper prayer.

We are called to study then, this model framework for speaking to the Almighty.

“Our Father who is in heaven,”

This prayer is premeditated upon the precept of a Sovereign God, One who rules the seen, physical dimension from His throne established in the unseen, spiritual aspect. He commands both realms because He formed both realms, & it is noteworthy to mention that He rules from the dimension that we cannot enter by any measure of might or knowledge that we may retain. (1Tim 6:16)

“Hallowed be Your name. (10) 'Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.”

This gets to the meat of the matter; our model prayer is founded upon the notion that we exist primarily for God’s benefit, for a ministry dedicated to His good pleasure. Despite those who would desire other, albeit Scriptural, prayers to be the model, we see here our only Savior telling us to “Pray then, in this way”.

Jabez’s prayer (1Chronicles 4:10) was indeed a good & proper manner of prayer, but it was not to be the model of prayer. In other words, the famous author of “The Prayer of Jabez” was right to teach of this prayer, but his exegete failed as he instructed his readers to daily say to themselves “My name is Jabez, & this is my prayer”, thus making their fundamental prayer one based on God serving them.

Hebrews 13:20-21 Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, (21) equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

The child of God who perceives God rightly sees his own utter lack of righteousness & humbly presses Him foremost for mercy & grace for his soul. Upon the right-minded child’s inner acceptance of God’s promised forgiveness & Christ’s ministry of bestowing His righteousness, the elect’s focus should then be centered on their serving of God, in response to His already established tremendous work of service at the cross, instead of God continuing to serve them.

We pray for daily bread; it is the old nature that greedily & constantly craves the “enlarged” loaf.

“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.'

Psalms 115:1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

Romans 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.