In 2005 a study was conducted from 860 Protestant church pastors around America. That study revealed that only 16% of those pastors were satisfied with their prayer lives. 47% were somewhat satisfied, 30% somewhat dissatisfied, and 7% very dissatisfied. Wonder what their church members' prayer lives are like, then? Which percentage would you fall into, as an "average" Christian?
Much of the reason Christians are dissatisfied, including pastors, is that we've strayed far from the type of praying Jesus taught His disciples how to do. Often referred to as the "Lord's Prayer", the better phrase is the "Disciples' Prayer" because it was the disciples who asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. The "Lord's Prayer" is more accurately situated in John 17, which is a prayer Jesus Himself prayed.
The "how" of prayer is often misguided. The Roman Catholic Church, as well as many mainline Protestant denominations misunderstand and therefore misapply the "Lord's Prayer" and turn it into a repititious cycle. Yet just before Jesus introduced the "Disciples Prayer" He told them, "When you pray, don't babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again" (New Living Translation). So evidently, when we just recite the prayer in a rote manner, we're actually missing the point, and misleading ourselves. I wonder if God gets bored with that kind of praying?
Instead, Jesus teaches us to pray in full faith that God is not only listening, but that He already knows what we need before we ask Him (v. 8). We're gonna deal with that issue as well, in terms of how God's sovereignty relates to our responsibility to pray.
The prayer Jesus leads us to pray is all about the "how" of praying, as well as the "what". In other words, we pray in full faith in God's loving, kind, good, and faithful sovereignty to us and over us. And we also pray through the concepts and truths He taught in the prayer. That prayer is all about the mission of the kingdom of God from beginning to end. So I can think of no other better topic for a church plant to discover together than Praying the Mission.
Finally, for those interested in the literary resources I'm using for this series, I've given some Amazon.com links below to those books and audio resources I'll be benefiting from. These come after the links to the series articles from which I'm preaching, as well as the MP3's. Further, you can access the introductory study I've done on the prayer here, seeing some awesome connections between the Lord's Prayer and the Exodus motif, accompanied by the massive implications it all has on our prayer life.
Series MP3 Files
- Message 1: The Father as the Foundation of the Mission
- Message 2: The Father as the Foundation of the Mission
- Message 3: Jesus Christ, the Only Teacher on How to Pray
- Interlude: Prayer and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit
- Message 4: The Family of the Father, Part 1 - Defining the Father's Family
- Message 5: The Family of the Father, Part 2 - Defining the Father's Family (Cont.)
- Message 6: Are You Praying Like an Orphan? Or a Son and Daughter? (Review)
- Message 7: The Family of the Father, Part 3 - Defending the Unity of the Father's Family
Series Articles & Manuscripts
- Introduction: The Lord's Prayer as a Biblical Theology for the New Exodus Community
- Part 1: Jesus Christ, Our Only Teacher on How to Pray
- Part 2: The Father as the Foundation of the Mission
- Part 3: Knowing the Father, Part One
- Part 4: Knowing the Father, Part Two
- Part 5: The Family of the Father, Part One - Defining the Father's Family
- Part 6: The Family of the Father, Part Two - Defending the Unity of the Father's Family
- Part 7: The Sovereignty of the Father (Available Soon)
- Part 8: How God Vindicates His Reputation (Through Your Prayers) (Available Soon)
- Part 9: Bringing God's Kingdom and Will from Heaven to Earth (Available Soon)
- Part 10: The Father's Provisions For You, Part One: Daily Bread (Available Soon)
- Part 11: The Father's Provisions For You, Part Two: Forgiveness of Sins (Available Soon)
- Part 12: The Father's Protection of You, Part One: In Temptation (Available Soon)
- Part 13: The Father's Protection of You, Part Two: From Satan (Available Soon)
- Part 14: The Glory of God Comes to Planet Earth In a Church That Prays (Available Soon)
- "The Exodus in the New Testament" by R. E. Nixon.
- "The Lord's Prayer and the New Exodus" by Brant Pitre
- "The Lord's Prayer in the First Century" by Simon Kistemaker
- "The Lord's Prayer as a Paradigm for Christian Prayer" by N. T. Wright
- "An Adult Study of the Lord's Prayer" by Herman Waetjen
- "The Lord's Prayer" from The Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of the Bible
- "The Lord's Prayer in its Preterist Context" by Jason Bradfield