ONE THING NEEDFUL

At the close of  Luke, chapter 10, we have the story of Jesus’ visit in the home of Mary and Martha of Bethany. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, listening to His words. Martha, who was busy serving, complained to Jesus because Mary was not helping her. Jesus replied, “But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41,42)

The good part that Mary had chosen was to sit and listen to the words of Jesus. So many of us are as Martha was, ‘careful and troubled about many things,’ to the neglect of the one thing that is most needful. That is, taking time to commune with our Lord. It is of vital importance that we choose to give first place to spending time hearing what Jesus is saying and taking time to pray. Communion with Him is the ONE THING MOST NEEDFUL! Believe Jesus! When we prioritize our lives according to what Jesus said to Martha, and what He is saying to us through this story, everything else will fall into place.

LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY

“And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray…,” (Luke 11:1) It is likely that the disciples had been present when Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount at an earlier time, but they apparently didn’t quite grasp the part of that great sermon concerning prayer. It is interesting that on both occasions He gave them the same Model Prayer…the prayer that we refer to as the Lord’s Prayer.

In the Sermon on the Mount, the object or subject of prayer is inserted exactly in the middle of Christ’s teachings on Christian Living. The sermon covers three chapters and 111 verses. The subject of prayer occurs in Matthew 6:9-13, the 57th through 61st verses of the Sermon. This is exactly the position prayer should take in our lives.

The context for this instance of teaching on prayer was sandwiched between Service/Opposition and false teachers. Prayer is essential in respect to any and every part of our Christian experiences. The Model Prayer, commonly referred to as The Lord’s Prayer encompasses all of these. We should note that Jesus did not say if, but when you pray, His way of placing proper emphasis on prayer. This prayer is probably the single, most-repeated prayer ever prayed. It is one prayer that I have repeated many times and still often do.

A few years ago, I woke up in the wee hours of the morning with the Lord’s Model Prayer circulating round and round in my mind, with each revolution unveiling some unusual insight that I had never thought or heard of before. Usually, at that time of the morning, all I’m interested in is how to catch another nap. On this morning, however, I was enjoying an unexpected and undeserved visitation of the Holy Spirit doing what Jesus said He (the Holy Spirit) would do. “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13a)

I saw that in His Model Prayer, Jesus revealed two areas of concern: two primary areas of concern: 1) matters related to the Father, and 2) matters related to us. I saw that Jesus would have our prayers reflect a deep affection concerning the Name of God, the kingdom of God, and the will of God.

PRAYING FOR THE GLORY OF GOD

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First is the Father’s Name. “Hallowed be Thy Name!” The fourth of the Ten Commandments is, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7) To hallow entails veneration, reverence, and consecration. It is very difficult to comprehend all that the Name of God encompasses. You will remember that the Lord told Moses that he was to tell his people that “I AM” sent him to deliver them. Throughout the Old Testament,  His personality and character are revealed through various names ascribed to Him. However, in the Lord’s Prayer, it seems that Jesus emphasizes that we should recognize Him as “OUR FATHER.” Our relationship to Him is to be a familial one in which we acknowledge that He cares for us as His children, that He knows what is best for us, and is able to meet our every need. This serves not only to honor God but also to create that desired relationship. Jesus, in His prayers, addressed God as His Father. This veneration, reverence, and consecration of God as our Father is the very first thing, He stresses in teaching us to pray. It was Christ’s first concern, and it must be ours if we are to pray according to His will.

Second, His Kingdom, “Thy Kingdom Come.” No doubt, there is to be a twofold application of this part of the Lord’s prayer: 1) the present advancement of His Kingdom on earth and, 2) the consummation of the  Kingdom in the future. That is, His Kingdom now, and in the world to come. The Kingdom of God should be understood as His reign and rule among us, within us, and over us, culminating with His return to dwell among us to be our God, and we, His people. Jesus was concerned for the establishment and advancement of God’s Kingdom, and so should we be. It should be a part of the basis upon which we come to God in prayer.

Third, “Thy Will Be Done.” Jesus was concerned that the will of God ‘be done on earth as it is in Heaven.’ This entails knowing the will of God as revealed by the Holy Spirit in Scripture and doing it in the same way that it is being done in heaven. This requires diligent study of the Bible and personal and willing obedience with God’s help and by His grace. The Scriptures must become the basis for our attitude and conduct. This was a primary concern of Jesus in prayer and so it should be in our prayers. These first aspects of the model prayer relate to the Father and our relationship with Him. In my next post, I will share that the Lord cares about us, and how He would have us express our dependence on Him to supply our needs.

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