• Mike Plant

Having a framework for our prayers

Dear Friends, HAVING A FRAMEWORK FOR OUR PRAYERS How do I pray when I don’t know what to pray for? One of the pressures we experience in living through a time of difficulty, like the present one, is knowing that we should be praying but feeling inadequate to pray. Very graciously God speaks to us in situations like this because we are promised the help of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8: 26 + 27): ‘Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.’ It is also true that in giving the Lord’s Prayer to his disciples the Lord Jesus gave us a framework for prayer which we may know is divinely approved.

The Lord’s Prayer as a pattern for our prayers

The Lord Jesus was like other teachers of his time in giving a form of prayer to his disciples (see Matthew 6: 9 – 13 and Luke 11: 1 – 4) which had two uses, the one which is familiar to everyone, which is using it as a form of words in prayer, and the second which is using it as a framework for our prayers. When I first learned that this was a proper use of the Lord’s Prayer it was a wonderful liberation and help to me in my Christian life. We will look at how it might be prayed in our current situation. The Lord’s Prayer prayed in the locked down United Kingdom

This comes from Dundonald Church in London – prayed at their last normal Sunday Service:

OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN – thank you for Jesus in whom you have adopted us as your beloved children; help us to remember that sickness and death will never separate us from your love, help us to believe you will be with us through whatever lies ahead, and help us to trust you are fully in control and perfectly good.

HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME – we pray this crisis will result in much praise for you. Please would believers be strengthened in their faith, and unbelievers recognise our human frailty and mortality and turn from sin to worship you.

YOUR KINGDOM COME – until Jesus returns to rescue us from this world of pain, as far as this virus spreads, we pray your kingdom will grow further. May the hearts of people of all nations find in Jesus the sure hope of resurrection into your new creation, free from sickness, suffering and death to enjoy you forever.

YOUR WILL BE DONE, ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN –Father, we rejoice in your sovereign power; in your mercy, please end this crisis soon, deliver us and all your people, and may your gracious plan to save the lost be advanced by this season of humbling.

GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD – thank you for dedicated doctors, nurses and other NHS staff, for our government and its advisors. Please grant them the wisdom and endurance they need. Sustain us with the daily bread of Christ crucified for our sins, in the living bread of your Word. Reassure us when we are anxious, heal us when we are sick, strengthen us when we must die, comfort us in our bereavement, and embolden us to share the gospel of Jesus, the living bread we all need.

FORGIVE US OUR SINS, AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO SIN AGAINST US – have mercy where we have presumed upon our health, forgotten our frailty, or neglected to thank you for daily care and protection. Forgive us because Christ died for our sins, count us acceptable in his perfect righteousness, and in the light of your mercy, show mercy to all.

LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION, BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL – deliver us through this time of testing. Help us to resist every temptation to doubt your love. Help us to stand firm in our faith against Satan’s lies, knowing that all over the world your people are enduring the same kinds of trials.

FOR YOURS IS THE KINGDOM, THE POWER AND THE GLORY, FOR EVER AND EVER. AMEN. No doubt as the situation has progressed there would be additional elements in the prayer – in praying for the Government and its advisors I am sure we would now be praying for wisdom in the timing and details of an exit strategy – but it does provide a helpful example of how we could all profitably and fruitfully develop our use of the Lord’s Prayer. I hope you will find this helpful to put into practice. This coming Sunday I’ve now finished preaching on John 3: 16 but that doesn’t finish the series of sermons. The series of sermons is dealing with our assurance of God’s love through the gospel and also how that love is to be worked out to God’s glory in the life of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. So far we have looked at how we come to realize God’s love to us through the gospel. This is the logical point to begin because (John Calvin), ‘before we can have any feeling of his fatherly kindness, the blood of Christ must intercede to reconcile God to us.’

However behind the love of God experienced in the gospel lies, ‘the secret love in which our heavenly Father embraced us to himself (which) is, since it flows from his eternal good pleasure, (before) all other causes.’ To know God’s love through the gospel introduces us to a love which originated before time and will continue forever. This coming Sunday’s sermon examines the greatness of God’s love as explained in Ephesians 3: 14 – 21.

I have been asked if I could put in this letter the hymns for Sunday – the difficulty is that sometimes I change hymns at the last minute. I think they will be 452MP ‘Loved with everlasting love’, 671MP ‘There is a fountain filled with blood’ and 1329MP ‘Loved before the dawn of time’. However last minute inspiration may strike as I prepare the sermon and plan the details of the service. Yours in the Lord, Mike Plant 1st May 2020

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