Bible Keys To Victorious Prayer

Transcript of a Sermon Preached at Morgan County Correctional Facility in Wartburg, TN

A little boy prayed for God to give him a new bicycle. He prayed every night. On the first night, he told Jesus “If you get me a new bike, I will never scream or yell again.” On the second night, he told Him “If you get me a new bike, I will be nice to my siblings forever.” On the third night, he told Him “If you get me a new bike, I’ll do anything you want!”

On the fourth night, the little boy was fed up with Jesus not answering his prayers. He took a statue of Mary, wrapped it in a blanket, and stuffed it in a closet and locked it. He told Jesus, “If you ever want to see your mother again, you better get me a new bike!”

OK, that’s a little humor to get us started, but I’m sure we all know that’s not how prayer works, amen? Thankfully, it’s so much more than that. The great British preacher Smith Wigglesworth once said that God is more eager to answer than we are to ask!

To set things up a bit, this teaching comes from Sermon on the Mount, which took place fairly early in Jesus’ ministry. Initially Jesus wanted this to be an intimate teaching with just Him and His disciples. This is why He took them up the mountain to get away from the crowd. Nonetheless, many people followed them there so they could hear the message too, so Jesus shifted gears and made the teaching more evangelistic in nature.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

So here we have the first recorded teaching by Jesus on the subject of prayer. And what’s the first thing He tells us? Don’t be a hypocrite. Jesus always keeps it real, don’t you love that?

What we are going to do is to take a deep dive into the model prayer Jesus gave to us. We are going to look at what is commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer,” or as some prefer to call it, “The Disciples’ Prayer.” Either is appropriate.

The prayer uses a lot of imagery from the Old Testament, so many of the concepts would have been familiar to a Jewish audience. There are seven petitions in the Lord’s Prayer, three directed toward God and the remaining four dealing with humanity. What I want us to do is to dissect the prayer and see the underlying principles behind each part.

Matthew 6:7-13 NASB

“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.

Do any of you have THAT relative? Someone asks Uncle Bob to do the Thanksgiving prayer and he goes on for half an hour and the food is cold by the time he’s done? Friends, your prayers are not heard because they are long and wordy.

From a practical standpoint, the quickest way to get into a rut in your prayer life is to just mindlessly repeat the same thing. That is religion, not relationship. What Jesus is teaching here is not necessarily to use this prayer as a word for word repetition every time we pray, although there are times when that would be appropriate, especially in a church setting. Rather, He is giving us a pattern to follow. Its a prayer that honors God, builds relationship and gets results, amen?

So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

But He still wants us to ask!

“Pray, then, in this way:

You know it, let’s say it together

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Matthew 6:9‭-‬13 KJV

So as I said earlier, the first three sections of the prayer are about honoring God. It starts with the beautiful expression:

“Our Father”

So notice the first step to take in prayer is to acknowledge relationship. First of all, notice the reference TO OUR Father. One of the major criticisms of modern Christianity is that it is too individualistic, and some of that criticism is valid. Certainly we are to have our own personal relationships with God, but we are each a part of a much larger whole. We are the family of God, the Body of Christ and that’s an awesome privilege! One of the characteristics of Jewish prayer was that it focuses much more on groups than on individuals and sadly we Christians have developed a tendency to stray from that. In the New Testament, the phrase “One another” is used over 50 times. “Love one another,” “serve one another, “” pray for one another. “

Next, we are praying to our Father. Friends, this prayer is not meant for the world. It’s meant only for born again believers. We are the only ones who can truly call God our Father. Or to take it even further, we can call Him “Abba,” or “Daddy.”

Next, we pray to “…our Father, who is in

“…our Father, who is in Heaven.”

Where is He? He is in Heaven, sitting on His throne. Meditate deeply on that when you pray. The Psalms are a great source for this. An example would be Psalm 8:1‭-‬9 ESV

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Friends, this is who we are praying to! This same sovereign, majestic, glorious God who reigns over all the universe is our Father, our Daddy! He is ruler over all of the universe and yet He cares for the most intimate details of each of our lives!

Hallowed be Your name”

So we see the first step in prayer is to honor God’s name. One of the Ten Commandments in that we never use God’s Name in a disrespectful manner. That is called blasphemy and it’s something that God takes very seriously. Think about it: Would you ever want to take the name of someone who loves you and use it as a swear word?

I want to talk for a moment about how the ancient Hebrews regarded God’s Name. That name resembles our English letters YHWH, or yud hey vav hey. The Jews considered this Name too sacred to be spoken out loud. That’s the reason the adopted the title adonai, or Lord, which is a human title but they would apply it to God to avoid using the unspeakable Name.

The Hebrew language doesn’t use vowels so over time it became anglicized into Yahweh, Yahoveh, then as we more commonly hear, JEHOVAH.

How many of you know that names had very deep meaning in the Bible? They often reflect the person’s character in a very unique way. Plus, God would sometimes change people’s names when He was calling them to a special purpose. Abram, the exalted father, became Abraham, the father of many nations. Jacob, the supplanter or the swindler, became Israel, the one who struggled with God. Simon, he who has heard, became Peter, the rock.

God’s name also reflects His character. There are many variations of the Name JEHOVAH, each of which tells us something about Who God is.

  • Jehovah Tsidkinu: The Lord Our Righteousness

  • Jehovah Shalom: The Lord Our Peace

  • Jehovah Raphe: The Lord Our Healer

  • Jehovah Jireh: The Lord Our Provider

  • Jehovah Shammah: the Lord Who Is Ever Present

  • Jehovah El Shaddai: The All Sufficient One, The God Who Is More Than Enough

All of these are names that reflect God’s character. We are praying to a God who is 100% trustworthy, 100% of the time!

‘Your kingdom come.

We see that our number one priority in prayer is the establishment of God’s Kingdom. Again, this is not a prayer for an unbeliever or even for a backslidden Christian! Kingdom business is serious business! We pray for God’s righteous rule in the earth. There are lots of different opinions about how and when that will happen, but it’s something that, all believers should long for. Let’s look at Philippians 3:20‭-‬21

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Some translations say our vile bodies and if you don’t believe your body in its present state is vile, just try not washing it for a few days!

One of my pastors, Neil Silverberg, taught something that really stretched my thinking in this area. That is that we often have a very shortsighted view of eternity. We think in terms of floating on clouds and playing harps. How many of you know that’s a bunch of nonsense?

When a believer dies, that person is absent from the body, but present with the Lord and that’s wonderful! But according to the passage we just read, that’s not the end. Our blessed hope is not to spend eternity as a disembodied spirit. Our blessed hope is our ressurected body! A body that will never age, get sick or die. Mine will even have hair!

“Your will be done,”

This is the point in the prayer in which we consecrate ourselves to the will of God, whatever that may be. On the surface that might seem scary. We want to be in control, amen? But the key is to always remember that God is 100% faithful and trustworthy, even in the darkest times of our lives.

At the same time, that doesn’t mean that we become passive with our prayers. I once heard a man tell someone that the way to pray is to “Always say not my will but thine be done. That way you’re guaranteed 100% success!”

I’m sure this man meant well, but that’s a very simplistic way to look at it. As we’ll see shortly, prayer is a partnership between us and God. That’s an amazing thing!

That’s why Praying for God’s will to be done is not a fatalistic act. Far from it! God’s will is not a stab in the dark. Its not just a matter of blindly taking “If it be thy will” on the end of each prayer and hoping for the best.

Friends, faith in God’s promises is active, not passive. In fact, you really can only have faith to the extent that you know and understand what God’s will is. How can we do that? Glad you asked! Turn with me to John 15:1‭-‬7:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

If you were about to die, your last conversation with the people closest to you would be extremely important. These, were Jesus’ parting words to His disciples before He went to the cross. They were very intimate instructions on how to have a fruitful prayer life.

If we are abiding, or living with Him, we will know His heart and His voice. If His Word abides in us, we will know His will, and we will direct our prayers .

On earth as it is in heaven”

Many people overlook this facet of the prayer. God is in Heaven. We are not yet. We still live on a cursed planet ran by an outlaw authority. Satan is called the ruler of this world and did you know that he got that title fair and square? That was originally Adam’s title. He gave it away to Satan. Some ask “Why doesn’t God destroy Satan?” Its because Adam gave him the legal right to be here. But here is the good news: We as believers are not of this world. While we are not of this world, we still have the privilege of being God’s representatives here in the earth, to be channels for His Love and His goodness to this lost and dying world. One of the key tools we have to do that is prayer.

Give us this day our daily bread”

Ok, here is the transitional point in the prayer. once these foundations are in place, we have honored the Father’s name and consecrated to His will, we can move on to making our own personal requests. Of course, when we get to this part, there are some specific things God wants us to pray for. Prayer is a partnership, and that’s an awesome privilege!

1 Timothy 2:1‭-‬4 ESV

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Who are, we to pray for? ALL people! More, specifically, we are to pray for our government leaders. Notice it doesn’t say only pray for those leaders you agree with, or who belong to your political party.

What are some other things God wants us to pray about?

I hope you pray for me!

Do we ever run into times where we simply don’t know what to say or how to pray? Guess what? God knew we would have times like that, and He even made, allow for that too!

Turn with me to Romans 8:26:

the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

There are brothers in Christ who would disagree with me on this, but I believe that this verse is referring to our Heavenly prayer language, otherwise known as praying in other tongues. A respected Greek scholar named P.C. Nelson points out to us that this is best defined as “groaning which cannot be uttered in articulate speech.” Now on to verse 27:

“And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”

And forgive us our debts,”

You guys understand more than most how crime results in a debt. Well, sin is a crime against God, which requires the ultimate debt, but praise God, Jesus paid that debt for us!

As believers, we are still growing and a part of that is overcoming sin in our day-to-day lives. 1 John tells us that if we confess our sins that God is faithful and just to forgive us. Friends, that’s good news! That word “confess” simply means to agree with God regarding our sin. When we sin, we grieve the heart of God. So our sin should cause us grief as well.

“…as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Friends, here me well on this: Nothing will sabatage your relationship with God more than unforgiveness. Why is that? Because the very thing that makes that relationship possible is God’s willingness to forgive us!

Let’s look at this principle in action. Turn to Matthew 18:21‭-‬35:

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servantfell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Now with that being said, forgiving others is not a means of earning God’s forgiveness. That can come only through the blood of Christ.

The great commentator Matthew Henry said:

If we pray in anger, we have reason to fear that God will answer us in anger. What reason is it that God should forgive us the talents [huge sums] we are indebted to Him, if we forgive not our brethren the pence they are indebted to us?

Christ came into the world as the great Peacemaker not only to reconcile us to God, but to one another; and in this we must comply with Him. It is a great assumption and of dangerous consequences for anyone to make a light matter of that which Christ lays great stress upon. Men’s passions must not frustrate God’s Word.”

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

OK, we have prayed for God to forgive our past sins, but what about our future sins? Or better yet, how to avoid committing them in the first place? We rely on God’s grace just like, we do after we sin.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

So the prayer starts with praise and ends with praise. As I said earlier, this prayer draws heavily on images from the Old Testament and I want to take a look at a similar benediction from King David found in 1 Chronicles 29:11‭-‬13:

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.


…or “so be it.”

The fact that the prayer ends with an “amen” seems to indicate that it’s designed to have a verbal response from a congregation. So as I said earlier, while it’s generally intent as a pattern of prayer, it’s perfectly appropriate to use it word for word as well.

OK, once you’ve finished your prayer time, what do you do next? Well, in one, sense, if we are doing it right, our prayer time never really ends. The Bible tells us to Pray without ceasing. On the survace, our response might be “OK, when do we sleep?” You can have a constant life of prayer going on in your spirit. I don’t believe that I am ever not in communion with God.

Prayer is not rubbing a magic lamp and the answer just instantly appears. It does sometimes but not always. But what do we do in the mean time? We trust God in the process. We thank Him in advance for His answer in His own wisdom and timing. And while we wait, God is doing a very important work in us. He is developing patience.

I don’t like the whole patience thing any more than you do, but friends, patience is one of the key parts in your growth as a Christian. Patience is what happens between the time we say “amen” and when we say “praise God, there it is!” And as, we go through that process, we learn to trust God more and more in the details of our lives.

As I begin to wrap up, let me say this: Have I mastered all the things I’ve been sharing with you? Not by a long shot. No matter how far along we may be, there is always room to grow.

We have good intent. How many of you know that the guy who invented the snooze button can’t go to Heaven? I’m kidding of course, but you get the point.

Sometimes we get into the mindset of “I’m going to pray an hour a day” and that gets us into a pattern of “5,4,3,2,1, amen!” Again, religion, rather than relationship. And don’t ever confuse the two. Religion is simply going through the motions. Relationship is the continual discovery of who God is and how much He loves us! When you are in a Covenant relationship with God, that means Everything you are and everything you have belongs to God and in turn, everything God has belongs to you!

I mentioned Smith Wigglesworth earlier. He was a pretty eccentric fellow! It was said in one of his meetings he spent the whole time walking back and forth on the platform just saying “Only believe, only believe, only believe.” Say that with me: “Only believe, only believe, only believe.”

Friends if we only realized all that was available to us, the NOTHING could keep us from praying! People are frying their brains on drugs trying to get this!

So with that in mind, let’s stand and pray this together one more time:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Matthew 6:9‭-‬13 KJV

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