Wednesday, July 16, 2014

More on Prayer

Hey.  Before I get to more on prayer, what I think is the least popular biblical subject for anyone to talk about, I'm going to do a little house cleaning here.  One, yesterday I posted the thing about my diet.  I was 199 today, so that goal is reached in case you wondered.  I've got to be there on the 29th of June to have succeeded.  If you need a diet, you should try it and let me know how it goes.  I could sell it on one sheet of paper and save people who want to buy the entire books on diets.  We could give it a Warren Wiersbe title, Be Hungry.  And as I think about it, no wonder the Sermon on the Mount says, "Blessed are they that hunger."  And some other things.  Last part a joke.

Numero Dos.  I'm going to write more about prayer, despite the unpopularity, because I want to explain plainly.  I recognize by doing so I'm holding this up to criticism, which, as I said, I'm good with.  I got a couple of comments to the last piece.  Two.  And thank you to those two.  One simply quoted from James 5.  To get a head start on what I'll write next about the same subject, this post on James 5 and prayer needs a read.  When you read James 4 and 5, it is odd to drop into that context a prayer for someone who is sick to be healed.  It doesn't fit the flow of the chapter.  My explanation does fit the flow.  And then you have the absence of praying for sick people to be healed anywhere in the New Testament.   I think other passages should be helping our understanding of James 5.  You might want to read or reread part one and part two and a first related post too.  Someone needs to reread Mark 11:24 too.  Prayer involves faith that we will receive that for which we are praying, not faith that God can answer it.   Sure, all will relates to can.  You won't if you can't.  God can do things, like give wisdom.  I can't manufacture wisdom out of thin air that God can give.  But He also will give wisdom, so I pray for it, because I know I will receive it.  Knowledge precedes belief.  I can make shots from half court and even full court, but those are far from certain.  Prayer isn't like a full court heave.   Some thought about those might give a suitable answer to some of the challenges by going to certain passages of scripture.  I might be talking more about James 5 in future posts.

Three.  I preached on prayer on Sunday night and hit some of these things.  I went about 50 minutes and I know I wasn't even half way done.  Maybe I'll link to that sermon soon here.

Now to your regularly scheduled post, which I have chosen to be about prayer again.


As I've written here recently, I follow Jesus model prayer in Matthew 6 and Luke 11 as my model. Interesting concept -- a model as a model.  It's a little more than an outline, because Jesus said 'pray after this manner' and 'when ye pray, say...'.  I use it as an outline and as a model.  I even pray it, not as a liturgy, but as a real prayer.  The model prayer of Jesus in Matthew 6 and Luke 11 is a prayer. We pray.  Because it is a prayer, we are asking.  We are requesting.

The first prayer, the first request, the first thing we pray to the Father is "Hallowed be thy name." This prayer is praise.  We are requesting that God would be praised in this sense.

If you look at that in the Greek, you see that it is an imperative.  Imperative is the mood or mode of command.  In the English, when we say it is imperative, we are saying it is a command.  In the Greek, it isn't necessarily a command.  It can be an imperative of request, like this one is.  However, "Hallowed by thy name" is a request.  The verb is hagiostheto, an aorist imperative passive, third person, singular verb.  "Name" is the subject with the action directed to the subject, which is the nature of the subject of a passive verb.  The example of Jesus is praying to or requesting of the Father that His name be hallowed.

Because of this aspect of Jesus' model prayer, I begin my praise with the following type of verbiage:  "Father, I ask that you would be praised."  I'm not saying that it is wrong to pray, "I praise you, Father."  I believe that this would not follow the model prayer.  You'll find something like "I praise you" in scripture, but it isn't the model that Jesus gave us.

Daniel in Daniel 2:23 says, "I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers."  Besides Daniel, you see only Jesus actually do this kind of thing.  The Apostle Paul reports that he thanked God.  And I'm talking about thanks here too.  But when you read actual prayers, the language isn't "I praise thee" or "I praise you."  You may find that hard to believe.  Often the psalms say, "I will praise thee" or even "Praise the Lord."  Hopefully you understand that this is different.  A commitment to praise God or a command to others to praise God is different than the actual act of praising God.  When we do praise God, Jesus taught us to request that God be praised.

This idea of requesting that God be praised is regular in the psalms.  An example of what I'm talking a

Psalm 67:3 Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.
Psalm 67:5 Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.
Psalm 69:34 Let the heaven and earth praise him, the seas, and every thing that moveth therein.

There are many more like those.  So why do I ask that God be praised?  First, again, it is the model for praise in the model prayer.  We are praying.  We are praying that God would be praised.  Second, it is respectful.  Who are you to praise the Lord?  You are nothing.  You praise God only by His grace. When you enter into His presence to pray, show Him respect by asking that His name be hallowed, that He be lifted up to His rightful place, that He be praised as the Almighty.  Request that God be praised.  Ask that God be thanked.


Anonymous said...

Hi Kent,

Just looked over the previous post you had on this topic. I suspect that some of the reason for the lack of responses is the way the post is written. While I doubt that it is intentional, the tone of much of it seems like you're saying that disagreement with you means that someone else is just getting "emotional" about prayer, and therefore can be dismissed with an "I told you so." Again, I don't think that's your intention, but it does kind of come off seeming like that.

Tim Dunkin

KJB1611 said...

Dear Pastor Brandenburg,

The "Be Hungry" was funny.

I would like to hear your explanation of how Mark 11:23 fits in with your view of 11:24 teaching that you can only pray for things Scripture states are hundred percent sure to happen. Is there a place in the Old Testament that promises anything about asking mountains to get thrown into the ocean? is not, why wouldn't Mark 11:24 teach that God can give the believer faith to not doubt for specific things when it is His will to give them?

I would also like to hear your response to someone who would argue that we cannot conclude the negative about what kind of prayer sinful from the positive statement of Mark 11:24, but that such is a converse fallacy.

Thanks again. The point that the model prayer begins with "let thy name be sanctified" is definitely worth thinking about.

By the way, I had some time to comment today, but I may not have time to respond to responses made to my comments. A little bit of prophylaxis.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I'm polemical, my commenters are definitely polemical, and some of the most hotly debated topics have brought dozens of comments. I'm talking about an overall observation about prayer. It's very personal and thus not to be analyzed. I mentioned Matthew 18:19 that this was a major reason for group prayer. If someone is going to argue about prayer, they will have to analyze it, and that might be polemical.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thomas and anyone else,

I think I might answer everyone's questions. If I don't, I'm not singling anyone out. I can learn and I am open minded, but I also have preached through the whole NT, and several books multiple times, as well as talked about prayer at every men's prayer time for 27 years. It's a big discussion here. We talk about it. All of your comments are going through my grid, but I have opened this up to a lot of critique face to face with people for a long time.