Two weeks ago we looked at worship in the throne room of God. At that time we talked about worshipping the Lord because He is worthy. Last week Meagan talked to you about worshipping the Lord because Christ was slain for us. Today, let’s look at a prayer in Scripture.
A few months ago I was listening to Max Lucado talk about his new book on prayer. He gave a short prayer based off of all the prayers in the Bible.
‘”Father, you are good. I need help. They need help. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”’ This prayer, Lucado says, is a template for beginners to pray their balanced prayers rather than simply offering up a list of demands.”
I notice how Lucado begins this prayer with “You are good.” He analyzed many prayers in the Bible and tried to study all of them and realized this prayer. I see that prayer begins with worship in “You are good.”
Max Lucado said that he is not good at prayer. I would have to say that I am not good at prayer either. So, I have been reading Tim Keller’s book on prayer. Tim Keller spends time in worship in our prayer life. He writes:
There are three basic kinds of prayer to God. There is “upward” prayer— praise and thanksgiving that focuses on God himself. We could call this the “prayer of awe.” Then there is “inward” prayer —self-examination and confession that bring a deeper sense of sin and, in return, a higher experience of grace and assurance of love. That is the prayer of intimacy. Finally, there is “outward” prayer— supplication and intercession that focuses on our needs and the needs of others in the world.
Following that Keller spends a chapter on upward prayer. He shares:
Years ago I was preaching on the Lord’s Prayer and commented— rather offhandedly— that since adoration comes before asking for “daily bread,” we need to spend time thanking and praising God for who he is before we go to our prayer list of needs. One woman in my congregation took this to heart and a couple of weeks later related what a difference the advice had made. “Before,” she said, “I would run right to my prayer list and the more I went through all the problems and needs, the more anxious and burdened I would get. Now I’ve started spending time thinking about how good and wise he is, and how many prayers he’s answered of mine in the past. And when I get to my own needs— now I find I can put them in his hands and I feel the burden coming off me rather than on me.” I never forgot her testimony, because she had taken a principle I barely understood myself and had appropriated it in her life.
Eugene Peterson believes that, just as all prayer is framed by praise, in the end, all prayer should and will end in praise. He writes: All [true ] prayer, pursued far enough, becomes praise. Any prayer, no matter how desperate its origin, no matter how angry and fearful the experiences it traverses, ends up in praise. It does not always get there quickly or easily— the trip can take a lifetime— but the end is always praise. . . . There are intimations of this throughout the Psalms. Not infrequently, even in the middle of a terrible lament, defying logic and without transition, praise erupts. . . . Psalm 150 does not stand alone ; four more hallelujah psalms are inserted in front of it so that it becomes the fifth of five psalms that conclude the Psalter. These five hallelujah psalms are extraordinarily robust. . . . [ This means] no matter how much we suffer, no matter our doubts, no matter how angry we get, no matter how many times we have asked in desperation “How long?,” prayer develops finally into praise. Everything finds its way to the doorstep of praise. This is not to say that other prayers are inferior to praise, only that all prayer pursued far enough, becomes praise. . . . Don’t rush it. It may take years, decades even, before certain prayers arrive at the hallelujahs, at Psalms 146– 150. Not every prayer is capped off with praise. In fact, most prayers, if the Psalter is a true guide, are not. But prayer is always reaching toward praise and will finally arrive there. So . . . our lives fill out in goodness. Earth and heaven meet in an extraordinary conjunction. Clashing cymbals announce the glory. Blessing. Amen. Hallelujah.
C. S. Lewis says that a lack of praise of God is a lack of reality, and praising him helps us enter the real world and enjoy him more fully.
So, today let’s look at an example prayer. I want to go to the Old Testament and look at one of King David’s prayers as well as one of Daniel’s prayers. I also want to look at the Lord’s prayer. We will simply skim over these and see what we can learn from him. What is my point? My point, the great idea is that we are to pray in adoration and praise with an attitude of humility.
Read with me 2 Samuel 7:18-29:
Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said:
“Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 19 And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign LORD, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant—and this decree, Sovereign LORD, is for a mere human!
20 “What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, SovereignLORD. 21 For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant.
22 “How great you are, Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? 24 You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, LORD, have become their God.
25 “And now, LORD God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26 so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The LORD Almighty is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight.
27 “LORD Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’ So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.29 Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign LORD, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.”
I. We are to pray in worship, let’s look at Matthew 6:9-11:
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
a. Jesus, who is a descendent of King David, gave us instructions in prayer and at the very beginning of those instructions He tells us to begin prayer: Our who is in Heaven. Hallowed or Holy is Your name. In prayer we understand that God is Holy and that God is in Heaven. In prayer we say Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
b. So, Jesus instructs us to begin prayer in worship. By what Jesus instructs we do not have a choice. We do not begin prayer about ourselves but about God. Before we ask for any request we give glory to God. So, in reality, our prayer is not to be about us but giving God the glory due His name.
c. Tim Keller writes: In Jesus’ instruction on prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, praise comes first. In what ways is praise primary? Praise motivates the other kinds of prayer. The more we attend to God’s perfect holiness and justice, the more readily we will see our own flaws and confess them. Seeing God’s greatness also leads to supplication. The more we sense his majesty and the more we realize our dependence on him, the more readily we will go to him for every need. We could say that awe-filled adoration of God corrects the other forms of prayer.
d. I love that last phrase: awe-filled adoration of God corrects the other forms of prayer.
e. Now we are ready to look at David prayer once again.
II. In David’s prayer, David prays in praise and adoration with an attitude of humility.
a. Let me set the context first.
b. Prior to this passage, the Ark of the Covenant was moved into Jerusalem, David was wanting to build a Temple for the Lord and then Nathan the prophet came to David telling him that God did not want him to build a temple, but for his descendant will build the temple. Prior to this passage there is an amazing passage in which God declares His covenant with David that David’s throne shall last forever. This is an amazing Messianic prophesy.
c. In this prayer we see that ten times David called Himself the Lord’s Servant and eight times David referred to the Lord as the Lord Most High.
d. Let me just outline the prayer.
e. David begins prayer with thanksgiving, which I would say is a kind of praise in verses 18-21.
f. Then David gives praise for what God has done in the past in verses 22-24.
g. Notice verse 22: How great you are, Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.
h. Then we have a petition for God to fulfill His promises in verses 25-29. Notice that his request is still more of an addendum. One writes: David included humility (v. 18), gratitude (v. 19), praise (v. 22), remembrance (vv. 23-24), and acknowledgment (vv. 25-29), as ingredients in this prayer. Normally Israelites stood or kneeled to pray. Perhaps David “sat” back on his heels to pray in a kneeling position because he was a king.
i. David, even in asking his request does so with worship. In verse 28 David says that the Lord’s words are true. Jesus said the same thing in John 17:17.
j. So, we see this as a model of prayer in worship and humility.
III. Allow me to site another example: turn to Daniel 9:3-5.
So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.
4 I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed:
“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws.
a. Just notice that Daniel began this prayer with worship. Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments.
b. Following this there is great humility: we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws.
c. So, there we see another example of prayer in Scripture, yet there are countless examples of worship in prayer in the Scripture.
Tim Keller writes about adoring God in prayer:
Adoring God, God is transcendently and infinitely bright, blessed, and beautiful. He is self-existent— depending on nothing for his being. Instead, all things are dependent on him. He is an infinite and eternal Spirit, the only perfect One, the God of absolute glory and importance. God’s perfections are matchless and without comparison. Those perfections include his eternal and unchanging character; his presence everywhere; his perfect knowledge of all things; his perfect, unsearchable wisdom; his absolute, irresistible power and sovereignty over all that happens; his unspotted moral purity, beauty, and holiness; and his justice— his inexorable judgment that will ultimately put all things right. God is a Creator God, the maker, protector, sustainer, and ruler of all creation. He is a God of truth, a speaking God with whom we may have a personal relationship. He is the covenant God, who is faithful to his promises, who has bound himself to us that we might bind ourselves to him. He is the triune God, one and yet three, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is not only our King but our Friend and Spouse. Our hearts were made for him to be our only joy.
Lastly, he continues:
We must suppose ourselves to be in perfect love with God— drunk with, drowned in, dissolved by, that delight which, far from remaining pent up within ourselves as incommunicable, hence hardly tolerable, bliss, flows out from us incessantly again in effortless and perfect expression, our joy no more separable from the praise in which it liberates and utters itself than the brightness a mirror receives is separable from the brightness it sheds. The Scotch catechism says : “a man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” But we shall then know that these are the same thing . Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.
You know what? In David’s prayer, verses 27 is Thy Kingdom come and the thrust of verse 28 is Thy will be done.
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)