Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How To Bring Joy to Our Heavenly Father's Heart

Preached at Northwest Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, October 9, 2011

Matthew 6:5-13, “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
“Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray:

      Our Father in heaven,
      Hallowed be Your name.
       Your kingdom come.
      Your will be done
      On earth as it is in heaven.
       Give us this day our daily bread.
       And forgive us our debts,
      As we forgive our debtors.
       And do not lead us into temptation,
      But deliver us from the evil one.
      For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

How to bring joy to the heart of your heavenly Father.  Last Lord’s Day we began a look at this important, expansive and yes, provocative topic, as I introduced to you this thought, this theme: there’s NOTHING we can do to bring joy to our Heavenly Father’s heart MORE than to do that which pleases Him!  To do what HE desires us to do!  As far as my family is concerned, my wife and I, we only have one Abigail, only one daughter whose name means my father’s joy.  But, listen – this father’s desire, that all six of our children choose, above everything else, to please, to bring joy to their Heavenly Father!  The world tells us differently!  I mean, day-in-and-day-out the world and its satanically oriented value system SCREAMS at us this message: “Delight yourself, please yourself, indulge in what brings YOU pleasure!”  But, listen, are you a Christian?  Have you not only been made BY God, but begotten OF God?  If you have, then your mission, your purpose, your calling is to bring DELIGHT to Him!  To bring Him PLEASURE…

But, how do we go about doing that?  What steps must we take to do that?  The passage I read a moment ago undoubtedly is familiar to virtually all of us.  It is one that, likely, many of us have memorized.  It is taken from that passage we often call the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ or, what some have called the ‘Model Prayer’.  In it, Jesus, our master, our teacher, instructs us not only in the discipline of proper prayer, but in the direction He intends for our lives.  In other words, He not only tells us: ‘This is how you should pray,’ but also, He shows us, instructs us: ‘This is hoe you should live, how to bring joy to your Heavenly Father.’ 

Now, before we look closely at the three-fold description Jesus supplies for us here, I’d like to have you think with me about some related matters first. 

Prayer – a prayer with specific ingredients included in it, a prayer with a specific focus or orientation to it.  How does prayer and, in particular, this ‘model prayer’ relate to the subject of PLEASING God, the topic of bringing joy to our Heavenly Father’s heart?

While you are mulling that over, allow me to point out two or three things to you from the larger context of this passage.  First of all, please notice with me that – well – a lot of people pray!  Verses 5 and 6 – hypocrites pray.  Standing in the synagogues, stationed out on the street corners, long and loud; hypocrites pray.  But, does that mean that God hears them, pays attention to them, is DELIGHTED to respond to them, is pleased with their prayers?  A lot of people pray.  Pagans pray.  Yes, Jesus says, in verses 7 and 8, even pagans, when their car’s broke down, when they get the pink slip at work, when the doctor informs them that they only have a few weeks to live, even the pagans pray.  Babbling on and on, thinking that with a multitude of words, surely they’re bound to say something right, somewhere along the way.  Yes, even pagans pray.  But, does that mean that God hears them?  That His heart is overjoyed at their prayers? 

Listen, my Loved Ones.  A lot of people pray.  RELIGIOUS people, CHURCH people pray.  Many of them using these very words, in kind of a rote memory recitation.  Sunday after Sunday, year after year, at the designated time in the service, and in perfect unison.  But, does that mean that God hears that prayer?  Does that mean that He rejoices in those who are praying it? 

Yes, a lot of people pray; that is, a lot of people speak words, string together sentences and even paragraphs, supposedly aimed upward, toward the throne of God.  But, listen – is it the praying, the saying of certain words in certain ways, the going through the motions, bowing the head, closing the eyes, folding the hands, that gets God’s attention, that stirs Him to rejoice, or is it something else?

What does it mean to bring joy to our Heavenly Father’s heart?  What must we do to be our Father’s ‘Abigails’?  It may not be completely clear to us, yet, but listen, I think it is extremely powerful, and provocative - penetratingly provocative – to see HERE that prayer, this prayer, has everything to do with pleasing God, with bringing Him pleasure.  But, how is that so?  Again, what is the connection between prayer – THIS prayer – and bringing delight to God’s heart?

One more time, verses 5 and 6, and verses 7 & 8, a lot of people pray: hypocrites, pagans, the religious, even church people pray; that is, they speak certain words, aimed in the direction of heaven.  But, Jesus urges us, He instructs those who truly are His followers, not to be like them, verse 8, and instead to follow a different procedure when we pray – verse 6. 

So, is it the praying that pleases God, that brings joy to our Heavenly Father’s heart, or is it something else? 

I’d like to suggest to you, that what Jesus intends for all His followers to learn from this passage, is not simply a text, a prayer, to be memorized.  But, a prayer, a petition that is the overflow of a heart that is in sync, a life that desires to be in lie with this prayer’s requests.  In other words, I believe Jesus’ focus here is not so much on the words, the precise words, He wants us to say, but the direction, His direction for our lives, the direction He was us to go! 

Take a look with these three petitions with me, one-at-a-time, will you please?  Verse 9 – Addressing our Father, our Abba, our Heavenly Daddy, Jesus tells us that the first priority of our prayers, and, by extension the first priority of our lives, is to be:  “Hallowed be Thy name…”  As I said earlier, those four words, “Hallowed by Thy name”, and the remaining words of this prayer, are exceedingly familiar to most of us.  And, to an extent, that’s good.  But, listen, as we’ve seen, we must go father with this prayer, than just to merely memorize its words.  No, it must become the yearning of our hearts, our deepest desire, to hallow, to sanctify, to set ABOVE and APART from all other names, God’s wonderful, incomparable name!

And, how do we do that?  Keep in mind what we have observed already: praying this way, praying sincerely, fervently this way, coupled with a determination to live this way, that’s what God delights in!  That’s what HE’S looking for… Hallowing God’s name – how do we do that?  Take a look again at the fifth and sixth verses of this chapter, and at what Jesus says about the hypocrite’s prayers.  “Look, God.  I’m standing up to pray.   Look, God.  I’m stationed on the street corner to pray.  Surely, You’re going to notice my prayers.”  That’s the hypocrite’s prayer, and does God notice?

What does Jesus say?  Because their love, their yearning and longing, is for other PEOPLE to notice and congratulate them on their apparent spirituality, God gives them what they want, men’s applause.  But He, well, He looks the other way!  Do you understand where I’m going with this?  The hypocrite’s prayer is a prayer intended to make him famous, to hallow his name! 

But, the true disciple’s prayer and the direction of his life, modeled after Jesus’ word and life is what?  “I want to make YOUR name famous!  I intend to hallow YOUR matchless name!” 

Now, if you think about it, that petition, that request, that heart and life direction, ‘Hallowed be Thy name!’ has everything to do with the other petitions of this model prayer, doesn’t it? Because I want God’s name to be famous, set apart, lifted up above all others, because through my life I want His reputation to be honored, and be held in highest esteem, what am I going to ask Him to do, in me and through me?  What am I going to pursue, if His fame is what I am all about?

In aiming to bring joy to Him, in striving to cause Him to be pleased, I am going to pursue His kingdom, His kingly rule in and over every area of my life.  And, twin sister to that pursuit, I am also going to humbly submit to whatever He want me to do, in every area of my life. 

Whew!  This prayer, if it is to be MORE than just an empty recitation Sunday after Sunday, year after year, if it is to be as it was for Jesus, the game plan for our lives, then we must stop right now, not another word, and think, “Am I ready to LIVE OUT this prayer?”  And, “Have I truly entered in to relationship with Abba, Father, which is the only way – listen – being in genuine, saving relationship with ‘Abba, Father’, is the only way to be able to live out this prayer. 

You see, for Jesus, this was His prayer AND His life. 

John 12:27-28, “Now is My soul troubled: and what shall I say?  ‘Father, save Me from this hour’?  [No,] But for this purpose I came to this hour…”  What purpose, Jesus?  Verse 28 – My life, my goal for being here on earth, is this one purpose, “Father, glorify Thy name.”  Bringing God, His Father, fame; that was Jesus’ prayer!  That was His life!  And, so was doing God’s will and extending His kingdom on earth.  He prayed it in Gethsemane, “Not My will, but Thine be done…”  And, He died, on Calvary’s cross, carrying out that prayer!  And God was pleased!  His Father rejoiced! 

What does it mean to bring joy to the heart of your Heavenly Father?  How are we to bring Him pleasure?  To me there’s no more simply, but powerful answer to that question than these three petitions: ‘Hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…’ 

Children – God’s children – for them, that’s their prayer, their life direction.  May it be ours also. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks David. Your message is a blessing. Keep up the good work. God richly bless you. Ely