In this study we are going to look at how God answers our spiritual needs if we ask Him in prayer; How He can deliver you from every evil influence and every type of evil in your life.
In the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples to pray, in Matthew 6:9-13, we see first of all, that Jesus taught His disciples to pray putting God first – God’s name, God’s kingdom and God’s will. After that, He taught them to pray concerning their own needs: first of all their physical and material needs. There is nothing unspiritual about praying that, because if we are not physically alive, how can we do anything else. So to be physically alive is important before we can do God’s will. So he taught us to pray, ‘‘Give us this day our daily bread’’ – the necessities of life. We considered that in our last study.
Now we want to go on to the second request for ourselves and that is ‘‘Forgive us our sins’’ and the third request for ourselves, ‘‘Deliver us from evil.’’ See, we basically have two problems as human beings – one relates to our past and the other relates to the future. We could put it like this: in the past we have done so many wrong things and what we need is forgiveness. In the future, because of our corrupt nature, we may still do a lot of evil things. Because of that danger we need help from God to be able to overcome this evil in our nature, so that we don’t do the evil in the future. So we can say the first request concerns the past and the second request concerns the future. Those are the only two sides in our life – the past and the future.
So the first request here is concerning the past. ‘Lord, I have committed so many sins. Please forgive me all my sins.’ You don’t have to make a list of all your sins, and I think it is impossible for anyone to make a list of all the millions of sins he has committed in his life. We acknowledge that we are sinners and that we have done so many things to displease God and we are asking Him to forgive us as we have forgiven our debtors. See, that is the only condition. When we come to the Lord and ask Him to forgive us, it is important that we ourselves have forgiven other people who have done wrong to us. Isn’t that righteous of God to require that from us?
Jesus once told a story about a king who forgave a man, his servant a huge debt, let us say one crore worth of rupees or 100 lakhs worth of rupees. This man had such a huge debt to the king and the king forgave him. To be forgiven of one crore or a 100 lakh rupees of debt is such a fantastic experience. A man would just jump for delight and shout for joy that he has been forgiven so much. Then Jesus said that this man went out into the street jumping with joy and delight and he met another person, a fellow servant, who owed him ten rupees. He caught this other person by the throat and said, ‘You better pay up the ten rupees you borrowed from me, otherwise I will lock you up in jail’. He then took him to court for the ten rupees debt and got him thrust into jail.
Do you know what the king did when he heard about it? He called that first servant back said, ‘Hey come here. Didn’t I forgive you 100 lakh rupees debt and you couldn’t forgive that other person ten rupees? Why was that? Well, now you have to learn a lesson too. If you don’t forgive other people, I won’t forgive you. You get into the prison along with the other fellow and you pay up your one crore or 10 million and he will pay you your ten rupees.’ On conclusion of this story Jesus said, ‘My heavenly Father will do exactly like that to you, if you don’t forgive others.’
I want to tell you, dear friends, that one of the greatest sins found among Christians throughout the world today is the sin of an unforgiving spirit, an unforgiving attitude. If you have that towards another person, that is the one place where, Jesus said, your own sins will not be forgiven. And even if was forgiven in the first place, God will remove that forgiveness and un-forgive you. Have you ever heard of forgiveness? Yes you have. Here God un-forgives what He had already forgiven. That is the meaning of that story in Matthew 18. The king forgives the servant and later on withdrew that forgiveness. Jesus said, ‘‘My Heavenly Father will do the same to you.’’
See, not to forgive another person is such a serious crime in God’s eyes, that out of all of these six requests in the prayer (Hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, give us this day our daily bread, forgive our sin, deliver us from evil), Jesus picked out one and emphasized it at the end of that prayer. You know which was that? – This one on forgiving others. He repeated it like this in Matthew 6:14 ‘‘If you have forgiven men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you, but if you don’t forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.’’
Think of that for a moment. If there is somebody on earth whom you have not forgiven, your heavenly Father will not forgive you. That is impossible! You will not go to heaven if you have not forgiven everybody on this earth. Please remember that. There is no entry into God’s kingdom without forgiveness of sins through the death of Jesus Christ. But that forgiveness will not be given to you if there is one human being you have not forgiven. So let us ask the Lord to forgive us and let us forgive every single person who has ever wronged us in our life, and release them. Never mind, if you can’t forget the evil. God doesn’t ask you to forget what people have done. He only asks you to forgive them. A simple word to say to the Lord, – ‘Lord I forgive this person and that person and the other person. I am not going to hold it anymore against them whatever they have done.’
Then we can go to the next prayer, ‘Lord, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.’ ‘Lord, help me to run away from temptation. Give me strength.’ Dear friend, don’t try to act like a brave person. The Bible says flee from idolatry, flee form youthful lusts. Don’t put yourself in the place where you can be tempted unnecessarily. No, run away from it. ‘Lord, please help me; don’t lead me into situations where I face things which are too much for me to handle. Lord, deliver me from every type of evil Lord, especially the evil of sin. The corruption that is in my nature, please deliver me from it Lord, and all these things that I ask are for Your glory and for the honour of Your name, for Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory.’ He concludes with that, and said, Amen – It shall be so.
Let us look at that last request for a moment – deliver us from evil. Again it is not just me. It is me plus my fellow believers. Deliver us from evil for the sake of Your kingdom, for the sake of Your glory. Lord, your name is so dishonoured when Christians who take your name do evil. So deliver us Lord from evil; from everything that dishonours your name, deliver us. See here is an acknowledgement that I cannot deliver myself, just like I cannot earn forgiveness. God has to forgive me. I cannot deliver myself by self-control or by determination or any such thing. I am asking God, who is the only one that has power, to deliver me. ‘Lord, deliver us from evil. We acknowledge that You are the only one who has the strength to deliver us. The devil is too strong, the lusts in our flesh are so strong, the lust of my eyes is so strong, and my tongue is so uncontrollable, this anger is too powerful. Therefore deliver us from anger, deliver us from the lusting with our eyes, and deliver us from bitterness and wrong attitudes and from telling lies in our place of work. Lord the pressure is so great sometimes, but deliver us. Your power is able to do it.’
Then Jesus concludes the prayer as it began – with God. The Bible says God is the first and He is the last. In this prayer Jesus taught us to conclude acknowledging that the kingdom is of God, the power is of God, and the glory is of God. It is the prayer of a humble man who acknowledges that God is everything and he is nothing. ‘Oh God, Yours is the kingdom, Yours is all the power, and Yours is the glory that can make us live as we should be living. In other words, when You have done these things and answered our prayers, we won’t take any credit for it to ourselves. We won’t pretend that we did it. It was Your work and we give You all the glory. It is Yours.
Then that last word Amen in the prayer. That is a Hebrew word which means ‘it shall be so’. It is an expression of faith. Just like the prayer began with faith, by praying, ‘Our Father who loves us, who art in heaven, almighty sovereign king, ruler of the universe,’ it concludes also with an expression of faith. Amen means, ‘Lord everything that I have prayed, I believe it will be so. It is going to take place like I have asked for and I believe that Your name is going to be honoured and Your kingdom will come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, and you are going to provide us our need, you are going to forgive us our debts, and you are going to deliver us from all evil and Your name will be glorified.’
So when we conclude any prayer with the word ‘amen’, it means more than just a little signal to everybody that the prayer is over. It is a very meaningful statement. We are saying thereby, ‘I believe it shall be so, exactly like this brother prayed, I am saying amen – it shall be so.’ It is an expression of faith.
Now we don’t have to repeat this prayer every time we pray. Because Jesus said pray in this way in Matthew 6:9, which means all our prayers should begin with being centred with God, it should be an expression of faith, and conclude by giving God the glory and an expression of faith that God will answer our prayer. May all our prayers be like this in the future.
This is part of the Basic Christian Teachings Series, a set of 72 short messages presented by Zac Poonen. You can download the audio mp3 files or listen to Basic Christian Teachings by clicking here.