In 2Chronicles 6, Solomon began to lead the children of Israel in prayer. He would seek the Lord’s help in many areas that affected the people. 1) crime (vv. 22, 23); 2) enemy attacks (vv. 24, 25); 3) drought (vv. 26, 27); 4) famine (vv. 28–31); 5) foreigners (vv. 32, 33); 6) war (vv. 34, 35); and 7) sin (vv. 36–39). But there is one reoccurring phrase that appears, and that phrase is “THEN HEAR FROM HEAVEN.” When you and I pray in corporate settings such as Solomon did, do you lift your voice more to be heard by others or by the Lord? Let me say, it is not necessarily a bad thing if others are hearing you, and are encouraged by your prayer as long as you are not praying to make a showcase for this is not the purpose of prayer meetings. Many prayer meetings are more like town hall gossip sessions, where there is more talking to one another than to God. Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon titled The Most High God A Prayer – Hearing God in 1736. In it he spoke about the fact that it was God that instituted prayer and that the institution of prayer is not because God is ignorant of our wants or desires. “Rather prayer furthers the glorification of God, the goal of all creation. Prayer is but a sensible acknowledgment of our dependence on Him to His glory.”
It is in light of this, going back to Solomon’s prayer on behalf of his people that it would seem that the phrase, “THEN HEAR FROM HEAVEN”, is spoken by Solomon repeatedly. I counted eight times in Solomon’s prayer that he echoed the aforementioned phrase. It does not matter if others hear you when you pray, it ultimately matters if heaven is hearing you. You may pray in a football stadium using top notch sound equipment, but if heaven is not hearing you, what does it matter if you mutter that most articulate prayer even prayed? Prayer is missing from many of our homes, churches, schools, etc…. Many say prayers, but few pray prayers. What do I mean? I’m glad you are wondering. Many say the Lord’s prayer, which is rode aptly called the disciples prayer, because the Lord’s Prayer is found in John 17, and because someone repeats the words, they believe that they prayed. However, saying the words, doesn’t mean you are praying, because this is an outline to help us know how to pray not what to say. Prayer begins with God not man. Here are three different lens’ to look through as adapted from John MacArthur’s sermon on the disciples prayer.
Lens 1: the RELATIONSHIP that we have with God, it’s relationally complete and amazing!
- “Our Father,” Father-child relationship with God. – Abba Father
- “Hallowed be thy name,” we have a deity and worshiper relationship with God. – His Holy Name
- “Thy kingdom come.” We have a sovereign and a subject relationship with God. – seek His Kingdom
- “Thy will be done,” we have a Master and a servant relationship with God. – Garden of Gethsemane prayer
- “Give us our daily bread.” We have a benefactor and a beneficiary relationship with God.
- “forgive us our (trespasses or our) debts,” we have a Savior sinner relationship with God. – Repentance
- “Lead us not into temptation,” we have a guide and a pilgrim relationship with God.- Strength to stand and flee
Lens 2: What is to be our attitude as we pray? Philippians 2:5 “Let this mind/attitude be Christ like in you”
- “Our,” that’s an unselfish spirit,
- “Father,” that’s a family spirit,
- “Hallowed be thy name.” A reverent spirit.
- “Thy kingdom come.” A loyal spirit.
- “Thy will be done,” a submissive spirit.
- “Give us our daily bread.” A dependent spirit.
- “Forgive us our trespasses,” a penitent spirit.
- “Lead us not into temptation,” a humble spirit.
- “Thine is the kingdom,” a confident spirit,
- “and the power,” a triumphant spirit,
- “and the glory,” an exultant spirit.
Lens 3: 3 Elements- the first three God’s glory, the second three man’s need.
The first three the glory of God,
- “Hallowed be thy name.
- Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done.”
- That’s the glory of God.
The second three man’s need,
- “Give us our daily bread.
- Forgive us our debts,
- and lead us not into temptation.”
Do you see the point is this first when you pray you set God in His rightful place, do you see it? Then everything else flows out of it. All prayer is to begin with the character of God, “Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done.” And then what follows? God is in His supreme place, and when God is first prayer makes sense.
Recall when Christ was being baptized, the God of heaven responded and spoke and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son;3 with you I am well pleased.”4 , as did God speak during the transfiguration of Christ as well. saying, “And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One listen to him! Heaven heard the life, prayers, and ministry of Christ.
Being in ministry, I have watched many of the trends in Christianity from types of music, particular songs, the latest book everyone is reading, church growth tactics, etc…. However, having a relationship with Christ by His Word and in prayer are what cultivates such a relationship. Christ communicates with those that are His, He said, “My sheep hear my voice (John 10)”. Are you hearing from heaven with your prayers, life, and ministry? If you are hearing from Heaven then God will illuminate His Word to you (Luke 24). Many people want to hear from God, they just don’t want take the time to open His Word. That is like wanting to be an Olympic swimming champion but not wanting to get wet! Much of Christianity today is more focused on emotionalism, rather than Christ; feelings instead of the Savior, vision and dreams in place of the Word of God. Trends will continue, but God remains the same, and commands us, “58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
Pray to heaven, hear from heaven (read the Scriptures), and obey heaven (obey the Word of God).
Until the nets are filled…
Phil, the evangelist