Writer: Steven Giordano
Big Idea: Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.
The most common themes of most prayers? Safety. Desiring safety isn’t bad desire but it’s not the ultimate desire. Why pray to not be led into temptation? Why pray to be delivered from the evil one? For safety? As soon as Jesus was finished with the Sermon on the Mount He went and healed a man with leprosy. He wasn’t focused on safety. Jesus lived a bold life. The disciples learned to be bold from Jesus. Peter and John were imprisoned because of their bold faith. When they were released from jail and gathered with believers to pray. Their prayer is recorded. How would you pray in that moment? I think 21st century Christians would primarily pray for safety . . . you know the “hedge of protection” prayer. However, these 1st century Christ-followers prayed a shockingly bold prayer. On the heels of the resurrection, they prayed that God would enable them to speak His word with “great boldness.” Are your prayers about you? Are your prayers primarily about safety? Do your prayers honor the power of God? Will you begin to add this to your prayers: “God give me boldness. Stretch out your hand and do something through me to get others to see You.”
Key Passages: Acts 4:24-31, Acts 4:12, Matt 6:13
Let’s face it, stepping outside of our own desires and our own way of viewing life is hard. On one hand I constantly find myself praying ‘leading’ prayers as if I’m a prosecution lawyer (or at least the ones I see on TV), leading a witness to hear and say what they’d like them to. I often act as if God is not all-knowing and needs to be clued in as to what I think should be going on around here. Yet somehow on the other hand and at the very same time I ask myself, “our triune God must have bigger fish to fry than my small issues, miniscule thoughts of praise, and one-sidedly botched relationships, right?” Thankfully no! He has invited us into an intimate relationship with Him where we can communicate with the God of the universe, a relationship bridged by the cross and empty tomb.
But how do we proceed in this relationship? How do we get our tunnel vision out of the way as God tries to incorporate us into His plan each and every day? Jesus spent 33 years on this earth, three of those years are well documented as He pursued the purpose for which He was sent. He lived ultimately to save us, but also to teach and show us the way firsthand. The difference between His humanity and ours, however, was stark: (1) He was perfect, not caving to any temptations, and (2) He was and is one with the Father. Understanding the gravity of Jesus’ oneness with God the Father amidst these earthly trials can certainly take more than a lifetime to pursue and appreciate, so I am left to look to His life, learning how to boldly follow where God leads, not where I lead. ‘Boldly follow’ seems oxymoronic at first. So, what can we glean from Jesus’ life to clarify this? Can that idea of boldly following Him even make sense for us?
Christ’s human life and His expression of empathy with humanity is first recognized as we read about His physical needs displayed in the gospels: hunger, thirst, work and physical pain. It is also revealed in the account of His time being tempted in the wilderness just as He is about to begin His three years of ministry (Matt 4, Mark 1, Luke 4). But it is Jesus’ time of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane that may display His empathy with humanity the clearest. “[His] soul is overwhelmed with sorry to the point of death….” (Matt 26:38), He knows He is about to be arrested, killed and about to take on the burden of humans’ sins, past, present, and future. Jesus then prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” (Matt 26:39a). Wow! Being one with God the Father, Jesus was also fully human, not wanting to go through with what was to come. But the next part of His prayer is probably the boldest prayer He or any of us could pray, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt 26:39b). Here in the Garden as well as throughout each line of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us to remove ourselves as the central driving force in our life to a place of surrender and humility, willing to be used by God in however He sees fit. This may be the boldest prayer we could pursue.
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name”
- His name is holy, set apart, and to be the central driving force of our lives.
“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”
- The surrender of our tunnel vision to His will.
“Give us today our daily bread”
- Realizing that God is the one who provides. What we have is His, to be used for His glory.
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”
- To have a debt forgiven is awkward and humbling. And to forgive another is to set aside pride, desire for retaliation, and the human comfort of a grudge.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one”
- My human will-power is not what delivers, it is God himself.
The more I hear this seemingly simple prayer, the more I realize how often God is calling me outside my comfort zone of control, and into the comfort of knowing He is in control. He’s inviting us to boldly follow Him, asking daily to be part of His plan.
- If anyone is new, start here, if not go to question 2:
- When/how did you become aware of God’s love?
- Who were the people who played a key role in your spiritual journey? How?
- What are 2/3 key moments in your relationship with God?
- Take a moment to ask questions.
- What has been your experience of prayer?
- How have you experienced God’s answering prayer? How does that impact or shape your understanding of prayer?
- As we go through this series on prayer – keep a journal on what God is teaching you and be prepared to share each week. What did God teach/reveal to you this week? How is God encouraging you to pray?
Read Matthew 6 (5-7 for the full Sermon on the Mount). Read the Lord’s Prayer portion (6:9-13) with your own relationship with God in mind.
- Share a personal example of when you gave or received forgiveness. How did that affect you? Did it humble you?
- What do you think it means to boldly follow God in your daily life?
- Where has God naturally gifted you to serve Him, others, and boldly follow Him already?
- Are you willing to ask God to use you in potentially uncomfortable ways? Where is God inviting you to boldly follow Him?
- What ways have you seen God move?
Prayer: Take a moment to share prayer requests and pray for each other. Consider using the prayer in the prayer guide.
Weekly Prayer Focus: What is something you’re hesitant to ask God for? This week pray boldly for that thing.