“Teach us to pray.” This simple request from Jesus’ disciples is also one of their most profound. Prayer is absolutely fundamental to the life of a Christian. As the puritan preacher J.C. Ryle said, “Just as the first sign of the life of an infant when born into the world is the act of breathing, so the first act of men and women when they are born again is praying.”
However, if most Christians were honest, their prayer life is not as strong as it could be. Sometimes we are afraid to pray because we don’t know God as a loving Father. Other times we fall into the rut of just asking for the same things over and over again. Maybe we are harboring secret sin and don’t want to come before God. Or maybe we’re under spiritual attack and the enemy has us cowering in fear. Or, sometimes we simply don’t know how to pray.
Fortunately, Jesus addresses all of these concerns and others in the Lord’s Prayer as he teaches his disciples how to pray.
The Lord’s Prayer appears in two passages: Matthew 6:5-14 and Luke 11:1-13. In Luke, Jesus teaches this prayer in response to the disciples’ request, but in Matthew, this prayer is presented as part of Jesus’ sermon on the mount. This means that this teaching on prayer was likely part of Jesus’ regular repertoire of teaching content. In both passages, the prayer lines up in terms of order and content. However, in Matthew’s gospel, each line of the prayer is slightly expounded upon. Because the version in Matthew is longer, this sermon series will utilize that passage, primarily verses 2-4.
For this sermon series, there are two primary goals. The first is simply to teach the people of Sound City Bible Church how to pray. We want to address some of the practical concerns and common questions that many Christians have regarding their prayer life. What are the main elements of a healthy prayer life? What should I say to God? What if I get it wrong? In order to help the members of the church learn how to pray, each week we will provide a list of reading material, examples of prayers in the bible (particularly the psalms), and sections from the Heidelberg Catechism related to the Lord’s Prayer.
The second goal is to encourage prayer and to foster an environment where people pray regularly. It would be of no use to Sound City Bible Church to learn how to pray but to not put it into practice! In order to encourage prayer, we will make several opportunities for additional prayer: (1) the reading of thematically-related Psalms in-service, (2) time for individual and corporate prayer in service, and (3) weekly prayer points for community groups (in addition to the regular discussion questions).
This first list of resources are some primary ones that will be used in the preparation of the weekly sermons, and ones that the elders recommend specifically on the topic of the Lord’s Prayer. These books can be found online and should be easy for members to procure. Specific chapters will be highlighted each week for additional reading and study.
- Alone With God by John MacArthur
- The Lord and His Prayer by N.T. Wright
- The Prayer of the Lord by R.C. Sproul
- Learning to Pray: The Lord’s Prayer by J.I. Packer
- Heidelberg Catechism 120-129
This next list of books are not specifically on the Lord’s Prayer but are on prayer in general. If you are looking for more material on the subject of prayer, then these are good ones to check out.
- Prayer by Tim Keller
- A Call to Prayer by J.C. Ryle
- Praying Backwards by Bryan Chapell
- The Valley of Vision by Arthur Bennett (a collection of Puritan prayers)
- A Practical Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer by Thomas Manton
May God use this sermon series to grow Sound City as a praying church!