Foundations: What Every Christian Ought To Know

March 27-31


Praying to the Right Person

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”  – Matthew 6:9 (ESV)

A little boy was sitting next to an elderly Christian man beside a river. “Will you teach me to pray?” the boy asked. “Are you sure that you want to learn?” The Christian saint asked. “Yes, of course.” With that, the holy man grabbed the boy’s neck and plunged his head into the water. He held his head under the water while the boy kicked and screamed and tried to get away. Finally, after a few minutes, the elderly man let the boy out of the water. “What was that?” the boy asked spitting and fuming, “I could have drowned.” The Christian man said, “That was your first lesson in prayer. When you long for God the way that you longed to breathe, then you will be able to pray.” (Source Unknown)

The only thing the disciples ever asked Jesus to teach them was how to pray. In Matthew 9 Jesus gave the disciples a model for praying and key principles involved in powerful prayers. The first thing Jesus taught was that prayer requires a relationship with God the Father. Jesus said we should pray to “Our Father in heaven.” The only way we can have a relationship with God the Father is to place our faith in Jesus as His Son. At that point, we become part of the family of God.


In John 1:12 the Bible teaches, “To as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to be called sons of God.” When did you receive Jesus as your Savior? How does it help your prayer life knowing that God treats you as His very own child when you pray to Him?


Thank God for adopting you into His family and for hearing your prayers. Ask God to grow your intimacy with Him and the frequency of your communication with Him.


The Right Person is Holy

 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”  – Matthew 6:9 (ESV)

Many years ago, there was a learned Hebrew professor at Princeton Seminary named Robert Dick Wilson. He could read more than 30 Semitic languages! One time about twelve years after Donald Grey Barnhouse had graduated; he went back to the seminary to preach to the students. Dr. Wilson sat down near the front. After the message, he went forward and shook Barnhouse’s hand. He said, “When my boys come back, I come to see if they are big-godders or little-godders, and then I know what their ministry will be.”

Barnhouse asked him to explain and he replied, “Well, some men have a little god and they are always in trouble with Him. He can’t do any miracles. He can’t take care of the inspiration and transmission of the Scripture to us. He doesn’t intervene on behalf of His people. They have a little god and I call them little-godders. Then there are those who have a great God. He speaks and it is done. He commands and it stands fast. He knows how to show Himself strong on behalf of them that fear Him.” He went on to tell Barnhouse that he could see that he had a great God and that God would bless him and his mission. Apparently, the way we hallow Christ in our daily walk also shows whether we are hallowing (sanctifying; pursuing holiness) ourselves continually. (Ajai Prakash, Hallowing Vessels)

The word “hallowed” in Matthew 6:9 literally means to make holy. When something or someone is “holy” they are set apart. God is set apart because there is no one like Him. He alone is God Almighty and can do things that no one else can do. Pastor John Piper said, “For those who are stunned by the indescribable magnitude of what God has made, not to mention the infinite greatness of the One who made it, the steady diet on Sunday morning of practical “how to’s” and psychological soothing and relational therapy seem dramatically out of touch with Reality-the God of overwhelming greatness.”


Did you pray like a “big-godder” or a “little-godder” in your last prayer time? How would your prayer life change if you focused on the greatness of God?


Praise God for a list of things that you believe make Him great. Make a God-sized ask of God in your prayer time today.


God’s Will and Not My Wants

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, – Matthew 6:10-11 (ESV)

John Hess Yoder writes in Leadership magazine: While serving as a missionary in Laos, I discovered an illustration of the kingdom of God. Before the colonialists imposed national boundaries, the kings of Laos and Vietnam reached an agreement on taxation in the border areas. Those who ate short-grain rice, built their houses on stilts, and decorated them with Indian-style serpents were considered Laotians. On the other hand, those who ate long-grain rice, built their houses on the ground, and decorated them with Chinese-style dragons were considered Vietnamese. The exact location of a person’s home was not what determined his or her nationality. Instead, each person belonged to the kingdom whose cultural values he or she exhibited. So it is with us: we live in the world, but as part of God’s kingdom, we are to live according to his kingdom’s standards and values.

Pastor Jim taught us there is power in our prayers when they are for the right purpose. The right purpose is God’s Kingdom God’s Will. God’s Kingdom isn’t limited by geography. When we pray for God’s purpose we are asking God to set the agenda for our day and for our lives. Jesus modeled this in the Garden of Gethsemane when He prayed to the Father, “Not My will but Your will be done.” We want to see the standards and values of heaven lived out here on earth.


Ruth Graham said, “God has not always answered my prayers.  If He had, I would have married the wrong man several times!” When have you been grateful that God didn’t answer your prayers according to your will but according to His?


Praise God for the beauty and perfection of His Kingdom. Go on a prayer walk today and prayer for God’s peace and righteousness to fill the homes, businesses, and streets of your neighborhood and city.


Prayer is Not About My Greed

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. – Matthew 6:11-12 (ESV)

A 90-year-old grandfather was complaining to his grandson about getting old. He said, “The worst part is the diapers.” He continued, “I don’t mind wearin’ them, it’s just the name I hate. Depends! If I have to wear a diaper, I don’t want there to be any ‘depends’ about it. I want for sure!” (Monty Newton)

A powerful prayer life is completely dependent on God. It is dependent on God to provide grace and dependent on God for all of your needs. Jesus taught us to ask for daily bread each and every day. This represents the basic necessities of life. Things like food, shelter, and clothing. Proverbs 30:7-9 warns us, “Two things I request of you, (Deprive me not before I die): Remove falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches—Feed me with the food allotted to me;  Lest I be full and deny You, And say, “Who is the Lord?” Or lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God.”


Have there been times in your life when excess or lack has tempted you to drift in your relationship with Jesus? What are some areas of your life where you are tempted to be self-reliant and not depend on God to provide?


Praise God for some of the daily needs God has been faithful to meet in your life. Ask God to grow your faith in His ability to supply all your needs in Christ Jesus.


Prayer is About Grace

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. – Matthew 6:11-12 (ESV)

A pastor finished his message early one Sunday, and he wanted to check his congregation’s understanding. So he asked, “Can anyone tell me what you must do before you can obtain forgiveness of sin?” There was a short pause and then, from the back of the room, a small boy spoke up, “You have to sin.”

Jesus taught us to ask for forgiveness and grace when we pray because He knows we all sin. The word used for “debts” in Matthew 6:12 means moral and spiritual debts owed to God. It’s also a prayer to teach us to show grace to others. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Some people are harder to forgive than others and we need the same power of God that forgave us to show them grace.


Someone has said, “we are never more like God than when we forgive.” Who has shown you Christlike forgiveness? How can our church model Christlike forgiveness?


Praise God for His offer of complete forgiveness. Ask God to help you show grace toward anyone who has been hard for you to forgive. Ask God to help our church be a place where people find God’s grace.