Advent Prayer Guide, Week Three

We come to our third and final Wednesday in the season of Advent as we pray through The Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6:9-13:

Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Two weeks ago we looked at God as being our Father only because of the work of Jesus in our place. We also prayed that His name would be hallowed and set apart in our hearts as our greatest treasure. Last week we prayed that His kingdom would come and will would be done in Denver as it is in heaven. Before we move into final petitions found in this prayer, let’s remind ourselves who it is we pray to! We pray to our Father who’s made us His own. He’s the King of the universe and can do anything—nothing is too great for Him! Take a moment to praise Him for His power, love, and kindness to save and adopt you into His family.

Song Ideas: All I Have Is Christ, Be Lifted Up

Today we’ll be looking at the final three petitions in this prayer. In his book “Eat This Book,” Eugene Peterson commented:

The Prayer has six petitions: the first three pray for the furtherance of God and His work—His holiness, His will, His kingdom; the matching triad is oriented around human needs—food, forgiveness, deliverance. The pair of triads is connected by the phrase, “on earth as it is in heaven,” which is to say that prayer has its source in heaven, the home country, so to speak, of God, but the action takes place on earth—our home country. Prayer that is not firmly grounded “on earth” is not prayer as our Lord taught us to pray.

We are going to look at each petition and then in turn take time to pray through it, closing our time in prayer.

Petition #4: Give us this day our daily bread

As our Creator and our Father, we are instructed to ask God to provide for us our daily bread. Up to this point, every request has been God-centered (note the use of the word “your” in all the prior petitions) and now we become honest about our own needs. We can often fall in an “either/or” ditch in prayer: we can either only focus on praising God and asking nothing from Him because we feel guilty about that. We tell ourselves, “He already knows what I need before I ask, so I won’t ask.” There’s a ditch on the other side which treats God like a cosmic vending machine. We only come to Him when we want something. He becomes our Genie in a bottle instead of our heavenly Father. Jesus rejects this false dichotomy by teaching us to adore and ask; to praise and petition. In this petition we learn that He knows He’s made us with real human needs and we are to come to Him in our need to ask Him to provide for our basic needs.

Where do you need God to provide today? Physically? Spiritually? Emotionally? Are there others we need to pray for?

Petition #5: Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors

Jesus reminds us here that part of our relationship with God as Christians will continue to be coming before Him in confession and repentance. Confession isn’t a “one and done” act when you initially come to faith. Rather, it is to be an intimate and repeated practice of being honest before God about all the ways you wander from Him (both things you’ve done and things you’ve left undone). The aim of this prayer for forgiveness is not to seek the judicial forgiveness which you already received from God when you first came to Him in faith, but rather relational forgiveness. What is at stake in this prayer is not union with God, but rather communion with Him. The amazing thing is that we’re promised in 1 John 1:9 that if we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Not only are we to ask for forgiveness from God, but we are to image and imitate Him in how we forgive others! Unforgiveness and Christianity are incompatible because forgiveness lies at the heart of our relationship with God and must manifest itself in our relationship with others too.

Where do you need to ask God forgiveness today? Be specific. Where do you need to forgive others today?

Petition #6: Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil

It’s so easy to forget this powerful reality: there is a war happening right now as we speak. It’s a spiritual war where there is real good and real evil at work all around us! The Bible likens Satan to a prowling lion (1 Peter 5:8), a schemer (Ephesians 6:10), who is both a murderer and a father of lies (John 8:44). His aim is tempt us and ultimately destroy us. Jesus teaches us to call out to our Father of lights to protect us from this father of lies. We are to ask Him to take every situation in our lives, both pleasant or unpleasant, and use it for His glory! Satan wants to take that exact situation and use it to tempt us to forget God or even curse Him. God wants to use it to shape us to love Him more and look more like Him.

Where do you most naturally find yourself tempted by Satan? Which are the top three areas you are most prone to wander in? Where are you currently being tempted? Where do you need deliverance? What about those around you? Take the next few minutes to cry out for deliverance both for yourself and others.

Resources

“Look At The Book: Part 2: Deliver Us From Evil” (John Piper)
“The Lord And His Prayer” (NT Wright)

Advent Prayer Guide, Week Two

As we continue to fast and pray our way through the season of Advent, we find ourselves in the Lord’s Prayer again. When asked by His disciples how to pray, He taught them what is now known as “The Lord’s Prayer” and is found in Matthew 6:9-13:

Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Last week we focused on Jesus’ address of the Father, and how important our view of God is as we pray! We can’t approach the Father if not through the Son and His work in our place. We also prayed through Jesus’ first petition: that God’s name would be hallowed in our heart. For a name to be hallowed entails asking for a name to be our greatest treasure, as well ensuring no other name or thing would compete for our affections!

Re-Address

Let’s start off our time of prayer re-centering our hearts around Who it is we pray to! We pray not to a vague deity, but to our very Father in heaven who holds all power and has invited us to come before His throne of grace with confidence… May we remember and truly believe that it is not our own personal names or Park Church’s name that we want exalted, but rather the name of Jesus lifted up in our lives, in this church, and in this city!

Song Ideas: Forever Reign, Be Lifted Up

Let’s look at the next two petitions: Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Petition #2: Your kingdom come

Why would Jesus instruct us to pray, “Your kingdom come”? Is not God already King? Psalm 103:19 tells us His kingdom rules over all. Tim Keller helps us as he explains:

“God is reigning now, but just as a light is absent to those refusing to open their eyes, so it is possible to refuse God’s rule. This is the cause of all our human problems, since we were created to serve Him, and when we serve other things in God’s place, all spiritual, psychological, cultural, and even material problems ensue. Therefore, we need His kingdom to ‘come.’”

The Bible teaches us that His kingdom has a two-fold reality: it is both present (already) but also it is future (not yet). This is the tension we live in, and it is precisely the tension we see in Advent! Jesus came to bring about the promises of God, and one day He will come again to fully and finally fulfill all that He promised and make all things new again. Some have compared this tension to the tension we saw in World War II between the Allies’ initial D-Day and final V-Day. Jesus’ first Advent in Bethlehem is likened to D-Day, while His second Advent is compared to a coming V-Day when He returns as our Savior Judge.

To pray for God’s kingdom to come is to acknowledge that there are so many areas of our lives (internally and externally) that aren’t aligned with the kingdom of God and to ask for all those areas to come under His good rule and reign.

Where are there areas of your life where you long for God’s kingdom to come and change things? Where are there areas of your household? Workplace? Denver?

Song Ideas: King Of My Heart, Here As In Heaven

Petition #3: Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven

The next petition is similar to the last one… We might ask the question, “Is God’s will not always done?” Just as there are different ways to understand kingdom in the Bible, we must work to understand the will of God. Scripture speaks of God’s revealed will (which includes His commands in Scripture) but also of His hidden will (all the things He hasn’t clearly told us in His eternal decrees). His hidden will always comes to pass while His revealed will clearly doesn’t. We break His commandments and laws all the time, even though it His will that we would follow them. In “The Prayer of the Lord” RC Sproul comments, “In this petition, then, Jesus is affirming that the will of God is done in heaven. However, He is also affirming that it is not done here. People here on earth do not strive to glorify God. They do not seek the kingdom of God. They do not hallow the name of God. So Jesus says we ought to pray, ‘Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’”

Prayer

What would it look like for God’s kingdom to come and will to be done on earth as it is in heaven? Let’s finish our time praying through each item on the “Missions” handout (click button below). We want to pray for our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, city (including organizations we support), and nations (including missionaries we support).

Missions Guide

Song Ideas: Lord’s Prayer (Park Church Music), Oh Holy Night

Resources

“Look At The Book: Park 1 Your Kingdom Come” (John Piper)
“What Is The Kingdom of God?” (John Piper)
“What Is The Kingdom of God?” (George Eldon Ladd)
“When Heaven Meets Earth” (The Bible Project)
“The Lord And His Prayer” (NT Wright)
God’s Will Hidden and Revealed (Ligonier)

Advent Prayer Guide, Week One

As a part of our engaging in the season of Advent, we are inviting everyone at Park Church to join us in prayer on Wednesdays (Dec. 6, 13, 20) during the lunch hour in our sanctuary to pray. If you can’t join us physically, we hope you can join in personally or even get together with others and pray through the prayer guide offered below! Throughout these prayer times we will be focusing on particular phrases and petitions within the Lord’s Prayer.

What is the Lord’s Prayer and why are we praying it?

One of the main markers of Jesus’ life was not merely His powerful ministry, but also the intentional space Jesus made to get alone and pray to the Father. One might even say that prayer and dependence on His Father was the precise reason His ministry was so effective! He knew that apart from doing what His Father was doing, He could do nothing. From the beginning of His public ministry to the end of it, prayer was a centerpiece in the life of Jesus. When asked by His disciples how to pray, He taught them what is now known as “The Lord’s Prayer” and is found in Matthew 6:9-13:

Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

This prayer is short (only 52 words in the ESV!), and yet it is rich in depth… It begins with an address and then gives us 7 petitions. We’ll be focusing in and praying through the address and the first petition today.

The Address

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” -A.W. Tozer

Close your eyes for moment. Picture yourself walking into the throne room of God in order to speak with Him. As you come closer to His throne, what immediately comes to your mind? What does God’s face look like? Does he have a scowl or a grin? Is He busy and bothered, or caring and loving? Do you have part of His attention or the whole of it? For Jesus’ disciples to have a healthy prayer life, He knew they’d have to think rightly about God, so He intentionally starts with this address.

Jesus teaches us that we must see God rightly when we come to Him! Jesus calls Him Abba Father. First and foremost, God is our Father. We don’t come to God as distant servants, but as cherished sons and daughters who through the work and blood of Jesus have been adopted into God’s very own family. Not only is God our Father, but He is our Father in heaven. Our Father isn’t some weak powerless dad who can’t stand up for us, but rather is the King of the universe with unlimited power at His disposal. There is nothing impossible for Him, and there is no request too great!

Let’s begin by worshipping our Father in heaven! Let’s start by praising Him in prayer… Think about God’s attributes and actions toward you, particularly as a Father. Meditate on those things, express gratitude for each one! Let’s take also take a moment to pray that Park would be a church that prays regularly because they know of their identity as children of God! Pray that God wouldn’t be a theoretically good Father to those at Park, but rather a Father whom they know intimately and walk with through His Spirit.

Song Ideas For This Prayer Section: Good Good Father, In Tenderness, Before The Throne

Petition #1: Hallowed be Your name

The first petition Jesus teaches us to ask our heavenly Father for is that His name would be “hallowed.” God reveals Himself throughout Scripture as the God who is thrice holy. If God is already holy, why would we need to pray that God’s name would be hallowed? Jesus wants the name of God to be the most important name in His disciples’ lives! What’s in a name? In Bible times, names got at the heart of who someone was. A name was tied to a person; to an identity and an essence. To pray for God’s name to be “hallowed” means to pray that His name would be set apart in our lives from every other name. That His name would be uncontested in our hearts! That we would honor God’s name, revere it, and ultimately treasure His name above any other name, even our very own names!

Take a moment to think about your own life. What are you treasuring most? What things are you honoring and seeking? In all of those pursuits, where does the pursuit of God lie? Is He chief among all pursuits or one among many? Or is He not even on your radar? Let’s take time to pray that God’s name would be:

  • Treasured in our lives first and foremost.
  • Esteemed by our friends and families.
  • Known and loved by our co-workers, neighbors, and those who don’t yet know Him!
  • Lifted up in Denver above all names! That Jesus would be the name that resounds the loudest throughout the city.

Song Ideas For This Prayer Section: Be Thou My Vision, Set A Fire, Forever Reign, Be Lifted Up (Josh Baldwin)

Resources

Bread & Wine 2016 Event Recap

Around 300 of us gathered at Moss Denver on November 30 to celebrate our fourth annual Bread & Wine event.

Why do we return to this celebration year after year?

Our tagline for Bread & Wine is as follows: An evening to taste and see the glory of God through his good creation. Let’s unpack this a bit.

Think back to the last meal Jesus shared with his group of disciples before his crucifixion. There in the upper room, God incarnate grabbed two of the most basic elements of mealtime – bread and wine. And with a couple sentences he breathed new meaning into them: “Take and eat; this is my body… Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Jesus selected common elements to represent the drastically uncommon – God’s reconciliation of His people to Himself through the labor of His Son.

But wait. Could there be another layer of import woven into Jesus’ actions that night?

It’s fascinating that Jesus chose elements that required human activity and involvement in order to create. Truth be told, he could have used barley instead of bread, grapes instead of a Grenache. His selected symbols for his sacrifice on the cross could have been items that exist within untouched creation, apart from the work of people.

But they weren’t. He chose bread and wine – elements that necessarily require the work of human minds and hands – to represent his reconciling work, work that actually created the family of God.

This demonstrates the value God places upon the activity to which he has called us. Certainly, the sovereign Lord of the cosmos is Himself working salvation for his namesake through the narrative of human history. And yet, he knits our individual and localized stories into this grand narrative, ushering us to play our part in restoring all things through our daily actions.

In short, God’s redemptive and unifying grace is communicated and established through human interaction with one another and the created order. And it is in these places that we see the very glory of God. But only if we’re looking for it.

That’s why we host Bread & Wine each year. We need regular reminders to experience our dynamic world as one that is “charged with the grandeur of God.” These reminders need be more than verbal; oftentimes we need embodied practices to teach our souls what our intellect may already grasp.

This particular evening we highlighted the role and reality of hospitality in the renewed Christian family. You see, this “bread” was broken for us, and this “wine” was poured out for our sins, that we may be brought near to our Father. Like the prodigal son from Luke 15, we have run away from the Author of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness in order to glut ourselves on cheap substitutes. But through the meal of Jesus’ body and blood, we are recreated into the family of God.

Now, compelled by this infinite hospitality shown to us, may we step into our daily lives portraying this same gracious welcome, making use of the material things at our disposal to sacrificially love those around us.

What a beautiful, merciful, and creative God we serve!

Photos of the event taken by Melanie Fenwick.