Sermon: What to Pray For
Scripture: Matthew 6:11
In this week’s lessons, after first praying for God’s name, God’s kingdom, and God’s will, Jesus also taught us how to pray for things that pertain to our own interests.
Theme: Praying for Others
We have seen in John 6 that Jesus is the source and sustainer of life. But we must add to this that Jesus will fill us with abundance of spiritual life only as we give some of what we have received to others. We come to Christ for filling, but we must share some of what we have received if we are to receive more at His hands.
Our lives as Christians are like a bottle of rich perfume. The fragrance is Christ, and we are called to dispense His fragrance in the world. We cannot do it if the bottle is sealed or if the top is left on. But if we dispense it, if we break the seal, we shall find not only that others will come to a knowledge of Jesus Christ through us, but also that Jesus will constantly refill us to overflowing by the same miraculous power that multiplied the loaves in Galilee or the wine at the feast of Cana.
Perhaps you are one for whom this word is particularly relevant. You have been raised in a church in which you have been well fed with spiritual things or a home blessed by Christian parents. You have been taught in the Word, but you have failed to share what you have learned. If so, that must be corrected. You must share with others your experience with Jesus. Suppose you do not. In that case there will come a moment when you will be full and will be unable to absorb any more. Then you will go on year after year knowing only the same things, believing only the same things, reliving the same old spiritual lessons, and you will be unable to advance anymore in the Christian faith.
Perhaps God would have you be a witness right where you are at this moment. Perhaps there is work for you to do that you have thought about but have put off, an opportunity to speak to a new family in the neighborhood and make them welcome, to befriend some poor secretary at work, to start a Bible class in your home, or some other such thing. If God has been leading you to do this, you must respond to His leading. For you will find that only as you share the fragrance of Christ in your life will God fill you again and again. Only then will you inevitably learn more and more about Him.
Now all of this actually leads us back to the wording of the Lord’s Prayer, for the final lesson there is that we are always to pray also for others. Have you noticed that each of these last three requests–the requests for life’s necessities, for forgiveness, for deliverance from Satan’s temptations–are not given to us in the singular (“I” or “me”) but in the plural (“we,” “us”, and “our”)? What does this mean? Simply this: that we are not to pray selfishly. We are to pray collectively for ourselves along with others—“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.”
The next time you pray, stop right in the middle of your prayer and think whether you have prayed selfishly. You may not have, but it is likely, and so many of us do. If you have, learn that you are to ask God to provide for others (as He has provided for you), to forgive others (as He has forgiven you), and to deliver others from temptation (as He has delivered you). In that way you shall intercede for others. You shall be led to give to others. And you shall enter more fully into the mind of Jesus who prayed thus for all of His followers.
Describe the connection between our spiritual growth and sharing spiritual blessings with others.
What is the final lesson on prayer from the Lord’s Prayer? How do we see this from the prayer itself?
Application: How is God calling you to share with others out of the rich abundance of spiritual blessings He has bestowed upon you?
Prayer: Make a list of specific things for which to pray concerning the physical and spiritual needs of other people. Remember to pray daily for others, just as you do for yourself.
For Further Study: Download for free and listen to Philip Ryken’s message, “When You Pray.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)