Text: Matthew 6:9-13
We are going into the New Year with a brief, 3-part sermon series on the spiritual disciplines called “Disciplines for Delight”. A spiritual discipline is something we do as Christians that helps us grow in God, like reading the Bible, praying, worship and evangelism, just to name a few. Doing these things do not save us. That only comes by faith in Christ. But the spiritual disciplines are a means of God’s grace to strengthen us in Him, to help us grow to delight in Jesus.
We start with an overview of some of the spiritual disciplines and how God uses them to bring about revival in the hearts of His people. And to do that, we’re going to look at 2 prayers of Jesus: The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6, and the High Priestly prayer in John 17.
The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13)
Consider a few connections between Jesus’ prayer and to how God revives His people through spiritual disciplines:
1. PRAYER: “Our Father in Heaven”
The first thing we see is the fact that Jesus is praying. He’s modeling what it means to look to the Father for our needs. The act of prayer is an act of dependence. We are not self-sufficient. “Lord, apart from you, I can do nothing. I need you.”
And Jesus is not only showing us how to pray, but also who to pray to. His prayer begins, “Our Father in heaven.” Jesus could have started this prayer with “My Father.” But instead, Jesus says, “Our Father”. Even before Jesus went to the cross, He was training His disciples that God is our Father, and we are His children.
Prayer is not only expressing our needs to God, but prayer changes us. It causes our affections and desires to align with those of the Father. So that when we pray, we are being revived and are becoming more like Christ.
2. WORSHIP: “Hallowed be your name”
“Hallowed” means holy. Jesus is affirming that God’s name is holy, and He is asking that God’s name would be kept holy, that it would be treated with reverence. Just as Jesus is modeling prayer for us, He is also modeling worship. “Father, your name is holy. Your character is perfect. You are without sin. You are good and you do good. May all see how holy you are.” That’s worship.
When God’s people worship Him, when we lift His name above all others, when we desire to see Him magnified and glorified, when our hearts desire to make much of the name of Jesus, to sing the name of Jesus, to proclaim the name of Jesus – that is evidence of a revived heart.
3. THE WORD: “Let your will be done”
Jesus prayed to the Father, “Let your will be done”. Sometimes, when we want to know God’s will, we pray to hear God’s voice. “Speak to me, Lord.” There’s nothing wrong with that. But too often we pray for God to speak, when we’ve neglected what He’s already spoken. When we neglect God’s written Word.
To know God’s will, you must read God’s Word. To desire God’s will is to be in God’s Word. You cannot have one without the other. Where God’s word is central, where His word is read and proclaimed and held high, where God’s Word is valued as unchanging, unwavering truth – when you find a people like that, you have found a people ripe for revival.
Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer (John 17:9-22)
4. EVANGELISM: “I have sent them” (vv. 18-20)
One of the most important, yet most neglected spiritual disciplines is sharing the gospel with others. Jesus prays for His church to be evangelists. Just as He was sent, so we are being sent.
To be inward and insular is to be dying. But to be outward facing and outward focused is to be revived and on the mission that Jesus prayed for us to be on. When we face trials and struggles, we can be tempted to turn inward, to circle the wagons, to forget about other people. But a revived church is an outward church, living the gospel, spreading the gospel, making disciples, and serving others.
And it’s often the case, when we reach out to others, that’s we find our own hearts being ministered to. Sometimes God lifts your burdens when you and I help other people with their burdens, and lead them to Christ.
5. UNITY in FELLOWSHIP: “That they may be one” (vv. 21-22)
Jesus is praying for His Church to be unified with one another. In the early church they spent time together, eating together, praying together, studying God’s word together, and serving together. Just like revival is not private, revived lives are not meant to live in isolation. We are meant to be in fellowship with one another, not just living out the gospel, but living out the gospel together.
It has become acceptable in our day to say you are a follower of Christ but not be part of a local church. There is no such example of that in the Bible. You cannot say you love Christ if you do not love His Bride.
To follow Christ is to want to be with others who follow Christ. We are to be unified in our fellowship with each other, just as Christ was one with the Father. Even now our souls are revived when God’s people love one another and live out life together, reflecting the unity of our Triune God.
Jesus prayed, “Lord, let your kingdom come. Make earth look more like heaven.” God is answering that prayer. He is making earth look more like heaven by making His Church look more like Christ.