Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
We say it every week, the first two thirds of that was what Jesus told the disciples to say. It is elegant and powerful but it can mess children up in their understanding. I read about one little girl who said it this way: “Our Father, who are in heaven, hello! What be Thy name?”
Another five-year-old girl: “Give us this day our daily bread, and liberty and justice for all.”
A kindergartner asked God to “give us this day our jelly bread.” Then there was the little boy who prayed, “Forgive us our dentists, as we forgive our dentists.” Children have a very simple view of prayer. They’re not nearly as somber and “religious” as adults are.
Now what we’re going to talk about this morning is a childlike faith in prayer. Paul described childlike prayer this way in Philippians 4:6: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”. (repeat) We’re going to come back to that in just a minute …
But first I want to focus on a couple of things Jesus said about children. In Matthew 18:4 Jesus said: “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” Mark 10:8: “anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Get this point, Jesus isn’t looking for religious FORM in life, period. He’s looking for childlike FAITH. That is what impresses Jesus. And it’s the same with our prayer life. God is NOT impressed with how fancy our prayers are. He’s impressed when we TRUST (like a child) WHEN we pray.
Jesus’ disciples asked about the form when Luke 11:1 states: They said to Him: “Lord, teach us to pray!” They wanted to “do it right!” because they felt if they didn’t do it right then God wouldn’t hear their prayers. For those who want “form” that’s why I have us pray in unison before the congregation prayer. Frankly, many have looked at me when I have asked them to pray and they think they don’t have the form right. Don’t do that! Haven’t you ever listened to my congregational prayer each Sunday?
Just talk to God. Talk to Him like a child would talk to their father. TALK NORMAL. Most importantly, talk with faith and expectation. That’s what impresses God. Childlike prayer is simple. The only attempt I will make today at form is remember this acronym known as A.C.T.S
Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. Jesus taught us that in the Lord’s Prayer.
“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” What’s that all about? It’s all about realizing WHO it is you’re talking to. Talk to God, not to a person or a group of people. Prayer is not to be used to teach others.
Prayer shouldn’t be a sermon to others. Real prayer is about talking to God, not someone else. Prayer is not just talking to God, it’s talking to your FATHER. The best of earthly fathers can fall short, but God is a FATHER the way real fathers ought to be. When you pray you are NOT talking to an uncaring, uninterested, indifferent deity. He’s not going to give you what you don’t need when you ask Him. You are talking to your Heavenly Father who cares enough about you to give you good things. You are talking to you Father who loved you so much that He gave His only begotten Son that, when you believed in Him, you would not perish but have everlasting life.
Our Father loves us and wants to give us good things. AND we pray to the God of the universe.
The God who created all things by just speaking it into existence. He has power beyond anything we can even begin to imagine. Romans 8:32, “He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?” If He’d give His son to die for our sins, what else do you think He’d be willing to do?
The problem with adults is that they often tend to DOUBT that God cares. And they DOUBT God will do anything. Children don’t have that problem. You tell them that God hears their prayers, they pray. You tell them God care-s and that God can do anything, they believe it. Unless you tell them otherwise.
We need that kind of faith when we pray. We need the faith of a 4th grader. That’s why we adults need to start by adoring God – we need to remember our God CARES and that our God CAN do anything He wants to do.
What would we be confessing? Our sins, right? How many of you have sinned? Me too.
Have you ever felt you’ve messed up so bad, or you’ve done, thought or said something that shamed you so much that God wouldn’t listen to you? Yeah, me too. That’s why God told us in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Confession solves our guilt. Confession makes it so that our shame is removed. That’s God’s promise… a promise we can and should accept with child-like faith.
Now, that brings us too: Thanksgiving and Supplication. (Backwards)
Philippians 4:6 says “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” God has NO problem with us presenting our requests. He’s NEVER had a problem with that. It doesn’t offend Him when you ask Him for anything.
Last week, remember Matthew 7:7? “ASK and it will be given to you; SEEK and you will find; KNOCK and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7 Jesus taught His disciples that “they should always pray and not give up.” In James 4:2 last week we read “You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ASK God.” Just ask!!! Can God say “no”? Of course He can.
Would you be any worse off if He said “no” than when you were if you hadn’t asked? Of course not. So ask.
Ask big – swing for the wall in your prayers. If the answer would be too big for you to handle, God won’t give you everything you ask, but He will hear. And He will be honored by your faith. And He MIGHT just give you part, if not all, that you ask. So ask. You’re not going to offend Him.
but when it comes to prayer, a lot of church folks don’t ask. How come? Well, I can think of a couple of answers to that. First there are people who believe God’s gonna do what God’s gonna do anyway, so why bother. One study says that 85% of people who pray regularly do NOT expect to have their prayers answered. They don’t have the child like faith it takes to BELIEVE God cares for them to answer their prayers.
Another problem for many good Christians is that they don’t ask because they don’t want to bother God. Something may be on their mind but they think for God, it’s not that big a deal. They think they can take care things themselves. They want to save their prayers for the “big stuff”. But there is nothing you could ask that would “bother God.” Someone once pointed out, “The Lord’s Prayer is as specific as bread and debt or trespassing” You don’t get any more basic than that. Plus, if something is on your mind, it’s big enough to pray about.
But, now, the question is: WHY? Why would people NOT believe God would care, or that God would bother? Well, they don’t believe, because they missed THE major component of their prayer time. We’ve covered all but one of the letters in ACTS, the big one.
If you miss out on the thanksgiving part of your prayers there will be no JOY in your praying.
Let’s look at it again: “Do not WORRY about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known to God” Some translations say “Do not be ANXIOUS. A lot of people, when they come to God in prayer, are anxious.
You know why they’re anxious worry? It’s because they can’t see any way out of their problems.
They’ve come to God as their LAST resort. They can’t think of anything else to do so their prayers go up in kind of a “Hail Mary” pass style. And they didn’t pray to begin with because they weren’t quite sure He would or could do anything about their situation. So there’s no peace in their hearts. And there’s no power in their prayers.
But Paul writes:
“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” But he doesn’t stop there. Paul goes on to say in the next verse that when we DO THAT (when we flavor our prayers with thanksgiving) “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Did you catch that? If you focus on thanksgiving in your prayers you’ll have a peace from God that doesn’t even make sense. It’s illogical. It’s irrational. It goes way beyond anything you’d expect… but it happens anyway. Why? Well, think about it for a moment: When you sprinkle your prayers with Thanksgiving, what are you thanking God FOR??? (PAUSE)
You are thanking God for what He has already done in your life, right? You are remembering the times when God DID CARE and the times God DID DO something in your life. YOU ARE CALLING TO YOUR MIND GOD’S FAITHFULNESS. And Paul says when you do that – you can have God’s peace.
In fact, right after this Paul writes this: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy— think about such things.” In other words, crowd your mind with God’s faithfulness. Crowd you heart with the beauty God has given you. And you know what will happen when you do that?
Paul writes: “put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9b In other words: IF you sprinkle your prayers with thanksgiving – THE PEACE OF GOD will guard your hearts and minds. And if you continually focus on the good stuff God has given, the GOD OF PEACE will be with you. You get BOTH His peace, AND Him, all in one package. Now that’s the ultimate buy one get one free!
As a result, you won’t have to be anxious or worry about anything. Why? Because you have a God who can give you peace. All you have to do is remember what’s He’s done in the past and then use that memory as your measuring stick of what can happen in your life in the future as a result of His powerful response to your prayers. That is why Paul began this scripture with “Rejoice in the Lord always. I’ll say it again – rejoice!” Philippians 4:4
Why should we rejoice like that? Because we have a Father who is faithful. We have a Father who cares about us. We have a Father who can do whatever HE wants to do. And if someone gives us a hard time in our lives well, God have MERCY on those folks because they’re not just picking on us. They’re picking on the child of a heavenly Father who loves us so much that He’s got our backs!!! As followers of Jesus, we need to have the faith of a child in a God who WAYYYY bigger than we are, and he loves us, he cares for us, and he has us covered, forever.