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April 2017 Issue

The Gift of Intercession

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Devotion for Saturday, April 8, 2017

Jesus Teaches His Disciples to Pray

Read Matthew 6:1-15

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For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. Matthew 18:20

On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most famous presidential speeches in the history of the United States. His “Gettysburg Address” was only 272 words long—just ten sentences, but it defined the country’s purpose and set its priorities for generations.

Our study now brings us to the New Testament, and in today’s familiar passage Jesus establishes a focus and framework for His disciples’ prayers. First, He cautions them against pride. Prayer is an acknowledgment of dependence on God, and pride—in public displays of piety (v. 5) or in fancy, fluent language (v. 7)—has no place in true supplication. Instead, the one who comes to God can bring only what the English Puritan Thomas Manton called “the empty hand of faith.”

Jesus’ exemplary prayer, surprisingly brief, shows His disciples what to ask. He sets the primary concerns of God’s glory and the fulfillment of His saving purposes at the forefront. Then, He reminds the disciples what they need: material provision, forgiveness, and deliverance from sin. And Jesus shows them how to ask, demonstrating by His words a sincere and humble dependence on God for both kingdom concerns and daily needs.

He also tells them with whom they should ask. Jesus’ disciples were familiar with praying together; several times during His earthly ministry, Jesus took His disciples with Him to the place of prayer and asked them to pray alongside Him. So it is not surprising that the language of the Lord’s Prayer is consistently corporate. From “Our Father” to “deliver us from the evil one,” Jesus taught His disciples not just to pray in private (v. 6) but also to pray with other believers, asking their common Father for their common needs.

Apply the Word

We are not left to figure out prayer on our own. God has graciously given us an example of the kind of prayer that He is pleased to hear. What’s more, He encourages us to join in prayer with other people who share the same needs and concerns. Ask the Lord to show you someone with whom you could come to Him in prayer.

 

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