Greg Laurie - In Case Of Emergency
We're going to look at the Lord's prayer together. I love the Lord's prayer, don't you? I sometimes just pray it out loud because it's such a beautiful prayer, and it's really a template for all prayer. Now, imagine for a moment, this is Jesus himself teaching us how to pray. Imagine if you could enroll in some elite university and be taught by the best people from all of history. You could study music under Beethoven or Tiny Tim. I just wanted to see if you were listening. How many of you remember Tiny Tim? Yeah. Wow, a lot of people remember. "Tip toe", no. A bunch of young people are saying, "What's happening right now? Who is this person"? Study music under Beethoven. Take a drama class from Shakespeare. A political science taught by Thomas Jefferson. How about a philosophy class taught by C. S. Lewis? That'd be pretty awesome. How about this? How about a class on prayer taught by Jesus Christ himself? I'm in. I want to be in that class. That's what we have before us right now - a class taught by Jesus.
You know, the disciples came to him one day and they said, "Lord, teach us to pray". They could've asked him for a lot of things, but this is what they ask him for in particular. They say, "Lord, teach us prayer, to pray, rather". His response was what we now call the Lord's prayer. Now, if we want to get real technical, the Bible never calls it the Lord's prayer though there's no reason you cannot call it the Lord's prayer. I think maybe an accurate description of it would be the disciples' prayer because this was a prayer that Jesus himself did not pray. You say, "Well, what do you mean by that"? Well, Jesus would never pray, "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us". He never needed to ask for forgiveness. If you want to read the real Lord's prayer go to John 17. It's pretty long. That's a prayer that only Christ could pray. So in many ways, this is the disciples' prayer or to put it another way, this is our prayer. This is the prayer that Jesus gave to us, so it is a good prayer to pray.
Now, I titled this message in case of emergency because I think sometimes we think of the Lord's prayer as the one to use only in radical situations. You know, in case of emergency, break glass and pray this prayer. By the way, if it brings you comfort, by all means pray the Lord's prayer. Say the Lord's prayer out loud. I've done it many times and I think it's a good thing to do, but it's more than that - that's all I'm saying. It's more than that. It's a template for prayer. Have you ever gone and wanted to buy a home in a track and they have those model homes you can go look at and you walk in and there's pictures of people that don't live in the home and fake fruit, you know. You look around and they have music playing, so they want to make it as much like a home as they can. It gives you an idea of what the homes are going to look like when they're completed. So you look at the model home. This is the model prayer. This, again, is the template for all prayer.
So let's look at these words, Matthew 6. I'm going to put it on the screen. I'm going to ask you to look up there with me, if you would, for a moment, or you can look at your Bible. But if you have 25 different translations this is going to sound like the day of Pentecost in here. So we'll stick with one translation. This is the New King James version, so let's say it together. "In this manner, therefore, pray: 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 forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen". Yes, what a prayer that is. After I say it I just feel better, you know. There's just something so special about it. These are the words of Jesus on how to pray.
Here's my first point. 1. You have complete access to the Creator of the universe through prayer. You have complete and total access to the Creator of the universe through prayer. Verse 9, "Our father who art in heaven". Let's take the office of the presidency as an example. We could say, "Our president in Washington D.C"., and then one day you decide "I want to talk to the president. I want to ask him a question. I want to make a statement. I want to register a complaint". Whatever it is you want to do, so you call the white-house switchboard and you say, "Hello, I'm an American citizen, and I want to speak to the president". Chances are you're not going to get through to the oval office. Now let's change the analogy. What if the president were your father. You do not have to go through the white house switchboard. You have his personal digits. You just call him up and you say, "Hey dad, I had a question". Relationship changes everything.
I remember years ago as I got to know Billy Graham more personally, I was invited to his home in Montreal, North Carolina. Deep there in the mountains, the long road wound up to it and as I made my way up there, I was just giddied with excitement. Going to see Billy Graham in his home, to me, was better than going into the oval office to be with the president because, to me, that was the ultimate thing. As a young evangelist going to meet the man who really was the gold standard of evangelism was something I was so thrilled by it. As I just walked in, I just took it all in. All the details of that house. A very simple rustic kind of a log home. Beautifully decorated by his wife Ruth, food cooking. And then, we would just sit down on these rocking chairs and just look out at the beautiful mountains there in North Carolina and talk about things.
So I would refer to him as Mr. Graham because everyone on his team called him Mr. Graham, so I said "Mr. Graham..." He says, "Oh, just call me Billy", and I'd say, "Okay, Mr. Graham. Let me ask you this", and he kept saying to me, "Call me Billy". I finally got around to doing it and it felt very awkward to call him Billy, but I did start calling him Billy, but his kids called him daddy. You know, in the south it's daddy. Not dad or father. Daddy. And his grandkids called him daddy Bill. That reminds me of what I used to call my grandfather who is from Arkansas daddy Charles and my grandmother was momma Stella. Not grandma and grandpa. Daddy Charles, momma Stella. Well, they can call him daddy Bill. Now, I never said, "Daddy bill, let me ask you this", he'd say "Get out". I don't have that kind of a relationship. He allowed me to call him Billy. That was nice, but only his child or his grandchild could refer to him in that way.
Here's what is being said: your father who art in heaven. Notice Jesus does not tell us to pray "Our Creator who art in heaven". Though there's nothing wrong with saying that, he is your Creator. But in the Lord's prayer, the template for all prayer, he begins with intimacy and he says he's your father in heaven. Now, depending on what kind of a dad you had, this may be easier or harder for you. Maybe you didn't have a dad or your dad was uncommunicative or he was cold or indifferent or some of you may have had a harsh father. Even an abusive father. You have to just set that aside. I don't know what kind of dad you had, but now we're talking about your father in heaven and you have an intimate relationship with him. "Our father who art in heaven".
If you want to know what kind of father you have in heaven, just look at Jesus. Jesus said in John 14:9, "He who has seen me has seen the father". So what is our father like? Well, think of Jesus. The little children came to him and wanted to be near him. He took time for hurting people. He's a father who will always be there. A father who will always listen, a father who loves us. He's our father. But you say, "But Greg, wait. He's my father who art in heaven! Like that's really far away. I need someone here on earth". Well, your father is omnipresent, which simply means he's in heaven, yes, but he's here with you as well. That is why the prayer the Lord gave us goes on to say "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven".
Folks, the reality is there's very little distance between heaven and earth. Don't think of heaven as being a billion miles away. Think of it as another dimension. When a believer leaves this world and goes to the next one, when a believer dies and their body goes into the ground and their soul goes on, they go into the afterlife, yes, but it's the supernatural realm that in many ways coexist with the natural realm. So this connection is very close between heaven and earth. Between God and us. So I say my father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done.
Another thing I would point out: notice Jesus says, "This is the way you should pray", or, "After this manner you should pray. Our father who art in heaven". Circle the word "Our", or underline it. It doesn't say "My father who art in heaven". He is your father, but it says "Our father". Then it goes on to say, "Give us this day our daily bread". Notice it does not say "Give me this day my daily bread". Notice also, it says "Forgive us our sins". It doesn't say, "Pray 'forgive me my sins'".
So it's okay to call him your father. It's okay to pray this alone, but it seems to me the focus is Jesus is saying let's pray this together. Let's pray together. This is why it's so important for Christians to join together in prayer and praying one for another and praying with each other for certain things. Sharing our burdens, sharing those concerns. There's three moving prayers of confession in the old testament - ezra 9, Nehemiah 9, and Daniel 9. In each of those prayers the pronoun "We" is used frequently. There's power in praying together.
Point number three: before we ask for something, we should first offer something and that something is praise. Now, if you're in an emergency and all four engines of your plane went out, help will do, okay. "God, help". That's okay. If a great white shark is approaching you, help. God, help. You might pray, "Lord, help me. Save me", and if that doesn't work, at least pray it's a Christian shark, right. I heard a story about a person who was out surfing and a great white was closing in on them and they're going, "Oh, God, deliver me. Lord, don't let this shark get me. Lord, help me". And the shark is getting closer and they even heard the music dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun somewhere. It was a little orchestra playingdun-dun-dun. John Williams was directing them. And as the shark was closing in for the kill, the surfer said, "Lord, at least let it be a Christian shark". Meanwhile, under the water the shark said, "Lord, for this meal that I'm about to receive, I give thanks". Bad joke.
"Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name". It doesn't say, "After this manner therefore pray, 'our father who art in heaven, give us this day our daily bread'". That's called cutting to the chase, right. So really what we're being taught to do is before you start asking for stuff, offer your praise and adoration to the Lord. Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name. Set apart "Be your name". Martin Luther once said, "How is God's name hallowed among us? When both our doctrine and our living are truly Christian". So, Lord, I honor your name, I magnify your name, I glorify you. Why is that important? Because I'm getting perspective now. I'm being reminded of the greatness of God.
See, this is where a lot of our issues come up from. We only see our problem and we don't see our God. We only see the challenge, we don't see the solution, and so the Lord is saying, "Just look at me. Just contemplate me. Just worship me. Just spend time in my presence and it will help you get perspective on whatever you're facing". Listen, your God is bigger than your problem. Whatever it is.
Point number four: prayer is getting God's will on earth, not getting my will in heaven. Prayer is getting God's will on earth: it's not getting my will in heaven. I think sometimes people think that prayer is where I'm going to talk God into something. I've heard people say, "I'm wrestling with God in prayer". What do you mean? "I'm wrestling". Well, I hope you're losing because you want his will more than yours I hope. Verse 10, "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven". Now, this is a multilevel request with different shades of meaning. What are we really saying when we say "Your kingdom come"? First of all, we're just saying I'm looking forward to going to heaven. Are you looking forward to that just deep down in your heart? Not that you want to go there tomorrow necessarily, but if that's what the Lord wanted then you're ready for that, but you just long for it.
I think that's why deep down inside we all long for something. It goes back to our childhood. We long for something. We don't know really what we're longing for, but there's something more we're seeking after and I think that is sort of a natural homing instinct that God has placed in our heart where we're effectively homesick for heaven. "O, Lord, your kingdom come, your will be done", but really when I'm praying, "Thy kingdom come", I'm also praying for the rule and reign of Christ in my life today. On one occasion Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is in the midst of you". What he was really saying is, "I'm here, I'm in control, and the kingdom of God is here". So when Christ is ruling in your life, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you. Or to put it another way, Matthew 6:33 Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added to you". In other words, seek first in your life the rule and reign of Jesus Christ.
Finally, when I pray "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven", I'm praying for the imminent return of Jesus. The word "Come" here indicates a sudden instantaneous coming, so I'm effectively praying, "Lord, please come and do it soon". How many of you would like to see Jesus Christ come back soon? Raise your hand up. Yeah. That's how a believer thinks. Lord, come back soon, but in the meantime rule and reign in my life. "Thy kingdom thy will be done on earth as it is heaven". It's also a request for the salvation of those that don't know the Lord, so I'm saying, "Lord, I pray that my family, I pray that my friends, I pray that my neighbors will come to know you. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven". God's kingdom is brought to earth every time a new soul is brought to Jesus.
Number five: God wants us to bring our needs before him each and every day. He wants us to bring our needs before him each and every day. Look at verse 11, "Give us this day our daily bread". Now, if you're on the keto diet, you'll have to change that, so it'd be give us this day our daily meat, or give us this day our daily cheese. I don't know. But when the word "Bread" is used in the Bible, it is a word that's it really is more than bread. Though it included bread, bread was very much a staple of the diet of the person of the first century, but it's really saying, "Lord, give me my daily needs". You know, back in the sixties we used the word bread to describe money, right. So you'd come up and say, "Hey man, do you have any bread"? I don't know why I used that voice, but that is my sixties voice. Everyone in the sixties, "Hey man, hey dude, uh... Uh..". That was the effect of drugs, you see. Not good. But really that's an apropos expression - bread. Do you have any bread? Yeah. Here's a dollar. Now, go away.
So when we're saying, "Give me this day my daily bread", here's what I'm praying, "Lord, provide for me all the food I need for my table. Provide for me a place to work. Provide a roof over my head. Provide good health, Lord. Provide for my future. I need you". But notice, he teaches us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread". He does not say give us this year our yearly bread, or even give us this month our monthly bread. Rather, give us this day our daily bread. Sometimes the Lord allows difficulty in your life so you'll keep coming back to him again and again, and you'll be reminded it is God that is providing for you, right. Come on, let's be honest. We take these things for granted. We take our health for granted. We take our finances for granted. We take a lot of things for granted and sometimes the Lord will allow an upset in your lives so we'll come back and say, "Hey, Lord, I need your help". That's okay. He wants you to keep coming back to him and he wants you to be reminded that everything you have is a gift to you from God. Give us this day our daily bread. Now, he wants us to extend forgiveness to others.
Point number six: God wants us to ask for and extend forgiveness to others because he says we are to pray "Forgive us our debts as we forgive those who are indebted to us". Now, some people don't think they need forgiveness. These people are delusional. We all need forgiveness every day. Just as surely as you need to pray "Give me this day my daily bread", you also need to pray "Forgive me this day my daily sins". Oh, you sin more than you think. When I say "You" I mean us. We all do on so many things. Just at the moment when you think, "I haven't sinned once today. I can't think of one thing I said that was mean, not one impure thought, not anything. I don't think I've sinned today. I am so amazing". You're sinning you idiot. It's pride, come on.
The Bible says if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But of course, it goes on to say but if we'll confess our sin, he's faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If you understand that God has forgiven you of your sin, you should be willing to extend that same forgiveness to others. I like this statement of c. S. Lewis "Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive". It's a great theory. Oh, yes, I'm all for forgiveness. I just love forgiveness. Someone cuts me off, "You're an idiot"! Wait, all of a sudden, I'm holding a grudge against someone. See, I have to forgive. Forgive as you've been forgiven. One person put it this way, "Forgiveness is not about absolving the perpetrator: it's about healing the victim". Another said, "Forgiveness isn't giving into another person: it's getting free of that person".
Listen, there are people that have hurt you in life. I understand that. I, too, have been hurt, but I forgive them. Why? Because they deserve it? No. They don't deserve it anymore than I deserve it. It's not about deserving, but yet the Bible says, "Be tenderhearted forgiving one another as God in Christ has forgiven you". You don't deserve God's forgiveness, why would you be reluctant to extend it to another? But see, when you forgive someone, it's really not for them as much as it's for you. So you don't bear that grudge and have bitterness eat you up on the inside, so it's always just a good thing to say, yeah, people have hurt me. People have taken advantage of me. They've said unkind things about me etc. I just forgive them. Lord, I commit them to you and forgive them. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us.
Point number seven, my last point: we cannot overcome the devil in our own strength. Folks, we're in a spiritual battle. It's real and it's radical and we need God's help. We need it each and every day. Just as much as we need his provision, just as much as we need his forgiveness, we need his power to overcome the evil one. Verse four, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil". A more literal translation would be "Deliver us from the evil one", and that, of course, would be the devil. We cannot remove ourselves from temptation otherwise we would have to leave the planet. Even if we did that, we'd still get tempted, right. So here's what we're really praying, we're saying, "Lord, don't allow me to walk into a situation that will overwhelm me and cause me to sin. Deliver me from that temptation and any trap the devil has set for me. This is really an admission of human weakness and our need for God. I'm just acknowledging I'm vulnerable. I could fall. Lord, I need you".
Because every time you're tempted you will either surrender to the temptation to sin or surrender to the Lord who can help you overcome that temptation and not sin. 1 Corinthians 10:13, a verse I memorized many years ago when I was a kid actually. It says... And now, I've forgotten it. That's unfortunate. No, I remember. Okay. It says, "There is no temptation taken you but such as is common to man. God who is faithful will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but will with the temptation make a way of escape that you may be able to bear it". Lord, don't let me be tempted above my capacity to resist. Lord, give me wisdom to avoid situations where I would put myself needlessly within the realm of potential temptation. Now, you can get tempted anywhere of course, but if you're vulnerable in certain areas, avoid those areas, lest you be a person who falls into that sin. Lead me not into temptation but deliver me from the evil one.
The reason I gave this message today in particular is to simply say this: we need to pray about everything. We need to pray about everything. Just learn to pray all the time. Yes, it's nice to fold your hands and close your eyes and let's pray "Lord, bless this meal". That's great. Do that. Yes, it's nice to have a prayer with your children as they're going to sleep. Pray for them. That's a really good thing. Yes, it's great for us to pray together as a church, but get in that lifestyle of prayer. Maybe you're talking about something, you're discussing it, and yeah let's just pray right now. Let's just right now let's pray about it. Let's just bring it to the Lord. As you're driving along and something is troubling you, you're going "Oh man". Pray about it right there. Boom. Pray. Just keep your eyes open because you are driving.
Again, Philippians says, "Don't worry about anything, pray about everything, and the peace of God that passes all human understanding will keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus". Give thanks in prayer in your joys and sorrow. In your joys, so in your sorrows I might add because it says give thanks for everything. So I mean, this is hard but I'm thankful you're on the throne. But when things are going well, remember to give thanks. We pray when things are not going well. "Lord, that was a great meal". Here with family and friends, "Thank you for this awesome evening, Lord". Giving him glory for that. But then now we have a problem, Lord, and we commit that to you as well. We call out to him for his provision, his protection, his guidance. As Jesus said, "Men ought to pray always and never give up". Listen, the greatest weapon you have against temptation and guilt and bitterness and against the devil himself is prayer. Pray.