How to Close a Prayer by Pastor Abidan Shah

HOW TO CLOSE A PRAYER by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

howtocloseaprayer

Introduction: This is our final message in our series on the Lord’s Prayer called “Talking to the Father.” At the end of the service, Ryan will be making an exciting announcement about it so stay tuned. Today’s message is titled – “HOW TO CLOSE A PRAYER.”

Matthew 6   9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Overall Background: Would you agree that how you end a conversation matters? There are conversations that end on a high note and then there are some that end on a low note. Some end with hope and anticipation while others end with doubt and despair. Some end with joy and gladness while others end with tears and sadness. Prayer is also a conversation and it matters how you end it. Jesus ended the “Lord’s Prayer” with the doxology – “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” By the way, according to Jewish custom, prayer was always followed by a conclusion, a doxology. In the Mishnah (m. Ber. 1.4) it says, “In the morning two blessings are to be said…which they ordered to be concluded (with a benediction) must not be left without such a conclusion…” In the Old Testament, you see this repeatedly at the end of prayers. Psalm 106:48 Blessed be the LORD God of Israel From everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the LORD!

Question: How do you end your prayers? Is it with hope and anticipation or is it with doubt and despair? Is it with joy and gladness or is it with tears and sadness? Do you pray? Are you saved? It’s hard to have a conversation with someone you don’t know.

Matthew 613 footnote

Matthew 6:13 with a footnote

This morning we will look at the doxology or the end of the Lord’s Prayer and my desire is that it will encourage you to pray with hope and joy and faith. But before we jump in, there’s an important issue that we need to address. Some of your Bibles may have this statement next to this verse or at the bottom of the page – “The earliest and most reliable manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have these words” or “some late manuscripts add the doxology” or “the NU text omits the doxology.” In many translations the doxology is included but in brackets and in several Bibles it is not included at all. What exactly is going on here?

Matthew 613 brackets

Matthew 6:13 in brackets

Matthew 613 omitted

Matthew 6:13 omitted

My first encounter with this issue came when I was in elementary school. I went to St. Aloysius, a Catholic School, where every morning during school assembly we said the Lord’s Prayer. What was startling to me was how the nuns would end the prayer with “And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil. Amen.” Wait a minute! You’re forgetting something! “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” Later on I learned that the Catholic Bible did not have the doxology. Why? Because it was based on the Latin Vulgate which also did not have the doxology. Little did I know at the time that one day I would pursue a PhD in the field of New Testament Textual Criticism (I don’t like to brag about that), which deals with these very issues. I believe that the doxology should be included in the text. Why? I don’t have time to go in depth but let me quickly give a couple of things to remember. But before I do that, let me be clear – I am not a “King James Only.” It’s a great translation but I’m not here to defend it.

  • It is true that the doxology is not found in the earliest Greek manuscripts that have survived (Aleph and B) from the 4th It is also not found
    Gk Mss Dist Matt Doxology

    Greek Mss Distribution of Matthew’s Doxology

    in 3 manuscripts from the 5th century (D Z 0170). But one thing that many people don’t realize is that 4 out of those 5 seem to have a common origin, which narrows their weight.

  • But, what many people don’t realize is that the doxology is found in 1 early Greek manuscript (W) from the 5th century and 2 (sigma and phi) from the 6th
  • Furthermore, the doxology is absent from only 13 or so manuscripts and 10 of them after the 13th
  • But, from the 8th century on 1504 manuscripts have the doxology! One of my friends (Jonathan Borland) did the math and altogether 98.6% of all Greek manuscripts have the doxology, a few with some variations. They had to be copied from somewhere.
  • It is also true that the Latin version omits it (I just mentioned that) and so also the early church fathers (Origen, Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrose, and Augustine).
  • But the doxology is found in an Old Latin, (k/1), some of the Old Syriac versions, some Coptic, Gothic, Ethiopic, Georgian, and Armenian.

I can go on and on but the question is why did some manuscripts drop it?

  • Maybe because Luke does not include it, some scribes may have felt that Matthew shouldn’t either. They should have remembered that maybe Luke left it out because the Gentiles didn’t see the need for a doxology at the end of every prayer.
  • Maybe because when the church collectively read the passage, they would stop at “deliver us from evil” and the priest alone would say the doxology. This could have become a norm and the doxology got left out by a handful of manuscripts.
  • Personally, I think its because some scribe thought that it was contradicting the opening of the prayer – “Your kingdom come.” It could be that the scribe felt that if the kingdom was still to come in the future, how can we say “Yours is the kingdom,” as if it is already in the present.

We don’t have all the answers but my conclusion is that the evidence is in the favor of the doxology. Please don’t misunderstand – this does not mean that people who don’t include it are liberals or unsaved. That’s not true. So, why did I go through all this trouble? Our young people are bombarded daily with allegations that the original Bible has been lost in transmission. That’s not true and cookie cutter answers won’t work. We have to, as Peter says in I Peter 3:15, “…always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”

Back to our message – This doxology reminds us of 3 things about God as we close our prayer:

I. HE IS THE RIGHTFUL OWNER, NOW AND FOREVER. 

“For Yours is the kingdom…forever.”

Background: If you remember the message on – “Your kingdom come” – the Jewish people knew that God was their eternal King. He was their rightful King. And one day He was coming to take His rightful throne over the world and rule forever. By ending with the doxology– “Yours IS the kingdom” – Jesus was saying that even now God was the rightful King. Even now He owned everything and everyone. It was very similar to the doxology that David prayed in I Chronicles 29   10 Therefore David blessed the LORD before all the assembly; and David said: “Blessed are You, LORD God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever. 11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, And You are exalted as head over all. If you remember, the people of Israel had rebelled against God and had demanded a king to be like other nations. Even though David was the king of Israel, He was humbly acknowledging that God was Israel’s true king. 12 Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all. 13 “Now therefore, our God, We thank You And praise Your glorious name. Is it any wonder that God repeatedly heard David’s prayer and established His kingdom forever?!

Here’s the point: No matter how we come to God in prayer, we need to remember that God owns this entire creation and everything in it, including all our problems and us. Like that old song—

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears

All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought

Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;

His hand the wonders wrought.

……….

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget

That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:

Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,

And earth and Heav’n be one.

………

This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?

The lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.

Application: When you close in prayer, do you acknowledge to God that He owns it all? Do you proclaim Him king over your circumstances and over yourself?

II. HE CAN CHANGE CIRCUMSTANCES, NOW AND FOREVER.

“For Yours is…the power…forever.”

Background: This almost sounds like the last point but there is a difference. It’s one thing to be the rightful owner but it’s another thing to be in control. To say it differently – you can own something but still be helpless to change a situation. By ending with the doxology – “For Yours is the power” – Jesus was saying that the Father was not only in charge but He also had all the power to change all circumstances. By the way, Jesus demonstrated that when they brought a paralytic to Him on a bed. Matthew 9   2 “…When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.’ 3 And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!” 4  But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 7 And he arose and departed to his house. 8 Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.

Here’s the point: No matter what we are facing in this life, when we come to God in prayer we need to remember that God is perfectly capable of handling that situation, be it physical healing or spiritual healing.

Application: When you close in prayer, do you acknowledge to God that He has power to work in your situation? Do you proclaim Him all-powerful and all capable?

III. HE GETS THE GLORY, NOW AND FOREVER. 

“For Yours is…the glory forever.”

Background: The Greek word for glory is “doksa” from which we get the word “doxology.” At the end of it all, God wants to get the glory and He will get the glory. It means that when your prayers are answered, it’s not because of how strong or wise or patient or even prayerful you were. It was all because of God, for God, and to God. The best example of this is the healing of Lazarus. If you remember, Jesus was a friend of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus from the town of Bethany. He often visited them. One day He got word that Lazarus was sick. Now you would think that Jesus would leave it all and go help out His friends. Instead, listen to John 11:4 When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. How strange?! He loved them and so He stayed 2 extra days instead of coming to them immediately! He finally gets there. The sisters are distraught and they get to the grave and Martha says to Him – “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” What was His response? John 11:40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” What was the result? Not only Lazarus was raised to life but many believed in Him. Ultimately, God got the glory.

Application: The real question is “Are you willing to give Him glory in your life and through your circumstances?” Are you willing to let God use you to draw people to Himself?

Are you saved? Are you praying? Are you praying for His kingdom, His power, and His glory?

Talking to the Father: Prayer that gets Heard – Pastor Abidan Shah

PRAYER THAT GETS HEARD by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

prayerthatgetsheardIntroduction: Today I am starting a brand new series on prayer through the Sermon on the Mount called “Talking to the Father.” Prayer is not just some formal communication with some distant deity or the CEO of the universe. Prayer is a child talking to his/her Father. Prayer is family talk. The first message is titled – “Prayer that gets heard.”

Matthew 6   7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.

Overall Background: If there’s one thing that stands out more than anything else about the ministry of Jesus, it is His prayer life. Repeatedly, the gospels tell us that Jesus prayed. He prayed in the beginning of His ministry. He prayed throughout His ministry. He prayed at the close of His ministry. He would pray early in the morning and He would pray late into the night. Not only that but He also told His disciples to pray and taught them to pray. Prayer undergirded everything that Jesus did. That’s mind blowing to me! Jesus – the Son of God, the second person of the Godhead, the One who made this entire creation, the One who came to fulfill the promise to save us from our sins – constantly prayed to His Father!

Question: If Jesus took the time to pray, if Jesus believed in the importance of prayer, why is it that many of us hardly pray or don’t pray at all? If God the Son prayed, shouldn’t we pray? How is your prayer life? Do you take the time to pray daily? What are you struggling with today that you haven’t prayed about yet? Are you saved? Have you prayed to receive Jesus as your Savior?

Today our passage is very short. I was tempted to skip over it but I felt that the Holy Spirit wanted me to preach on it because there are 3 very important truths buried here that have a great significance for our daily prayer life:

TRUTH #1 – PRAYER IS ABOUT COMMUNICATION NOT COERCION.

7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.

Background: The word for “vain repetitions” is a Greek word battalogew, which is a very unique word. It is not found anywhere else in the New Testament or in ancient Greek literature or the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament). This was somewhat of a derogatory term. Let me give you an example – there’s a word in the English language called “Hottentot.” It was a name given by the Dutch settlers to the Khoikhoi people of Southwestern Africa. They got the name because the Khoikhoi used a lot of clicking sounds when speaking. Now it is very insulting to use that word to describe these people. In my opinion, the word battalogew was also an insulting word used to describe pagan worship. “Look at those mumblers. Listen to them stuttering.”

Jesus is using that same insulting word to apply to the people who were claiming to be praying and saying – “You sound no different than those pagans whom you mock.” He says to them in verse 8 Therefore do not be like them…” You can hear them say – “What?! We don’t stutter or mumble. We know what we are saying.” Jesus is exposing them because they too are repeating words and ancient prayer and old rituals, albeit in coherent words. He says to them – “Your prayers are like the Gentiles.”

Folks, this is no different from what we do even today.

  • Father God
  • Give us your Grace and Peace
  • Give us your Mercy and Grace
  • Shine your light on us
  • Hallelujah!
  • Glory!

By the way, sometimes it is not repeated words due to habit but because we really want God to do something for us and so we use magical formulas like –

  • Plead the blood of Jesus (Do you think that you can coerce God through some magic formula.)
  • In Jesus Name (Is it another way of saying – the plane has landed?) I am guilty of much of this too.

Other times we repeat the Lord’s Prayer or the Doxology or the Apostles Creed. I’m not suggesting that any of this is sinful or wrong but the point is this – “Have you lost the meaning and focus of what you are saying by mindless repetition?

Here’s the whole point – Prayer is family talk. It is a loving conversation between a father and a child. Just listen to the number of times Jesus says, “Father” throughout the Sermon on the Mount:

  • 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

I don’t have time to go through all of them.

  • 5:48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
  • 6:6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
  • 6:9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
  • 7:11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Application: When you pray to God, how do you see Him? Can you visualize Him as your Father? By the way, if we have damaging experience with our earthly fathers we will have a distorted view of our Heavenly Father. The only way you can move forward is ask for the Holy Spirit to forgive your father where he failed, give him grace, and recast your view of your Father in heaven. Are you ready to pray – “Our Father in heaven?”

 

TRUTH #2 – PRAYER IS ABOUT COOPERATION NOT NOTIFICATION.

8 “…For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”

Background: On the surface this seems like an ordinary statement. Of course – God knows what I am going to say to Him before I say it to Him. After all Psalm 139 says, 1 “O LORD…2 You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. 4 For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.” Here’s where it gets complicated – “If God already knows what I am going to say to Him, why do I have to say it to Him?” “If God already knows what I need, why doesn’t He just give it to me instead of waiting for me to ask for it?” Don’t we do that with our children? For example: Summer is on its way and Nicole told me the other day – “I need to look for some sandals for the boys. They’ve grown out of there’s.” She didn’t wait for the boys to come ask her – “Dear earthly mom, we just want to thank you and praise for being such a wonderful mom. We thank you for how you have bought sandals for us through the years. Now we ask for sandals for this summer to come. We thank you in advance for what you’re about to do.” Why doesn’t God just do that? Why do we need to ask Him? In fact, further down Jesus even says in Matt. 6   31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?’ or “What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 …For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. It almost appears that Jesus is implying that prayer is a non-essential, doesn’t it? Not true.

Here’s the point again – Prayer is not notification. God already knows. Prayer is not handing God His “to-do list.” He is already working on our behalf. Prayer is coming to God and submitting your will and your desires to Him. It is really saying – “God, I know that you know. I know that you are already working on my behalf. Change my mind and my heart to align with your perfect and good will for my life.”

Question: Wouldn’t you agree that many times the way we began our prayer is not the way we ended our prayers? Wouldn’t you agree that many times we don’t know what we’re asking for? Aren’t you glad that God didn’t answer some prayers in your life? In the words of the great theologian Garth Brooks –

“Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers

Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs

That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean He don’t care

Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

Prayer is learning to cooperate with God and His best for our lives. Someone said it this way – “It is we who need to pray, not God.”

 

III. TRUTH #3 – PRAYER IS ABOUT CASTING YOUR BURDEN NOT QUITTING THE BATTLE.

Now someone is bound to say – I guess I am just going to come to God and say – “Hi God. Just do whatever you think is best. Amen.” No use trying. God’s going to do what He wants to do anyways. Not true

I don’t understand why but God has chosen to partner with us in doing His will in our life and in this world. John Wesley once said – “God does nothing but in answer to prayer.” On the other end of the spectrum, A.W. Pink said – “God has decreed that certain events shall come to pass, but He has also decreed that these events shall come to pass through the means He has appointed for their accomplishment.” C.S. Lewis said it best – “God has not chosen to write the whole of history with His own hand. Most of the events that go on in the universe are indeed out of our control, but not all. It is like a play in which the scene and the general outline of the story is fixed by the author, but certain minor details are left for the actors to improvise.”

I can go on and on but here’s the point – “Yes God is sovereign but He has sovereignly chosen to work with us through prayer.”

Truth #1 – Prayer is about communication not coercion. Truth #2 – Prayer is about cooperation not notification. Truth #3 – Prayer is about casting your burden not quitting the battle.

Question: Are you willing to battle in prayer for your spiritual life? Are you willing to battle in prayer for your marriage? Are you willing to battle in prayer for your children? Are you willing to battle in prayer for your church? Are you willing to battle in prayer for your community, for the lost?

Are you saved? Is God your Heavenly Father?

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