A Prayer Prompted by Matthew 22

Heavenly Father,

We say yes to your invitation to come to marriage supper of the Lamb, our Lord Jesus Christ. As we do, however, we admit that it is only by your grace and his shed blood that we can come.  It is not on the basis of our own righteousness.

We then confess our belief in Jesus as both our human Savior and our divine Lord.

We acknowledge our belief in the resurrection of the dead, and to that end we cry, “Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus,” as we await his soon return.

We also pray that you would help us to be model citizens while here on this earth, obeying those in authority and faithfully paying what we owe. At the same time help us to remember that all earthly authority is still subject to you.

Finally, we ask your help in doing all that we do in love, first of all in love for you, but also in love for others – a love that no one could deny in both our attitudes and our behavior.

And we pray all of this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen.

A Prayer Prompted by the Triumphal Entry of Matthew 21:1-10

Heavenly Father,

When Jesus came into Jerusalem that day, the crowds hailed him as their coming king.  In a few days, however, it is likely that some of these same people were crying out against him, which resulted in Christ being crucified.

I have already contributed to the sin for which Christ died.  From now on, by your grace, I hope to hail him and serve him as king.

Let me always be among those who worship and honor Jesus.  Help me to give him his rightful place in my life, my priorities and my desires.  Let me know more what it means that Jesus saves, even as the crowds cried “Hosanna!” or “Save now!”

Whether they imagined their Messiah’s ministry properly or not, this Palm Sunday crowd had one thing right.  Jesus was their king and their Savior.  He was worthy of heir worship and praise.  Help me to continuously bring glory to Jesus.  He is worthy of all the praises that have ever been uttered or will ever be uttered by every worshiper in all of eternity.

It is him that we serve, that we worship and that we will praise forever.

Amen!!

A Prayer Prompted by Matthew 19

Heavenly Father,

Our lives belong to you.  Help us to trust you completely as obedient children.

If there is anything standing in the way of our complete commitment, we ask you to reveal it to us so that we can serve you with all that we have and all that we are.

We admit that we have ignored your instructions for marriage as you intended it. We have made marriage more about our personal wishes than your perfect will.  Again, since we belong to you, help us to serve you, whether married or single, with contentment and with willing hearts.

In the end we see that eternal life is nothing more, nothing less and nothing other than life given to us as a gift from you and to be lived completely for you.  Make us people whose lives reveal that to the world.

In Christ,

Amen.

A Prayer to Avoid Bad Teaching Prompted by Matthew 16:6-12

Heavenly Father,

Our Savior told his disciples to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees,” by which he meant their bad teaching.  As Christ’s disciples in this present day, we are no less prone to error than those early disciples were.  Help us to avoid it.

Help us to rightly divide the Word of Truth.  Help all the teaching we give and that which we willingly receive to be free from legalism, loose practice, error in doctrine and wrong motivation.  Let us speak and believe what is true, rather than that which is convenient.  And let us simultaneously avoid excessive harshness by adding to your commands.

Let our beliefs be correct and our lives be honorable, full of grace and true to your word.

And we ask this in the name of Jesus,

Amen.

 

Matthew 15 Verse by Verse

Matt photoMatthew has been hinting at the fact that Jesus is the “prophet like Moses” that was foretold in Deuteronomy 18.  In this chapter the Lord begins to do Moses-like works not only for Israel, but also for the Gentiles.

Matthew 15.pdf

Matthew 15.mp3

 

A Prayer Prompted by the Stories in Matthew 15

Heavenly Father,

Some of the most religious people of Jesus’s day misunderstood both his heart and yours. Please help me to avoid making the same mistake.

Help to put aside any religious traditions or views that stand in the way of your word. And help me to avoid any concept of faith that goes soft on my own sin. I want to live a truly holy life that consistently brings glory to you.

I also ask that you would help my faith to be strong.

When I feel like I am not the kind of person that should be praying help me to remember that you want everyone to pray.  When I feel like you are ignoring my prayers, help me to be persistent. And when I feel like you will never answer my prayers, help me to be persistent again.

I understand that sometimes having great faith means being persistent in prayer.

And finally I thank you for your unending goodness and mercy toward me.

In the name of Jesus Christ,

Amen.

 

Great faith – Matthew 15:21-28

Sometimes we think of great faith as the kind of faith that prays for great things and sees amazing answers to prayer.  That is probably how great faith frequently looks, but great faith need not always look the same.  Consider the case of the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15.

21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

The greatness in the woman’s faith is not that she asked for anything more than others might ask.  The Gospels give several examples of people coming to Jesus on behalf of their children and Jesus healing them or even raising them from the dead.  He cast out plenty of demons.

Jesus commends her faith before granting her request, but only after an interaction in which Jesus seems to refuse her.  First he says nothing (v.23), then he pushes the Gentile/Jewish distinction beyond what we might even consider polite (vv. 24-26).  Her humility and persistence in the face of Christ’s seeming condescension and persistent refusal brings out his praise (v.28).

If you are like me you have several prayer requests that God has not seen fit to answer even after many years, maybe decades or most of your life.  And like me you struggle and are tempted to give up.  You might see numerous reasons why God would never answer these prayers.  “I’m not worthy.  I’m really not worthy.  God doesn’t answer prayers like these for people like me.  Why should he?”  These reasons (and I have more) sound a lot like “The Jewish Messiah isn’t about to grant the request of a Canaanite woman, is he?”  But he did.  

The point is that neither an unanswered prayer nor what looks like a humiliating refusal are the same thing as a final “no.”  Jesus used his delays to draw out further expressions of the woman’s faith.  That faith was in her all the time, but had Jesus responded quickly, none of us would have seen it and we might never know.  

Let’s be the kind of people who hang on like the devil – or better, like this Canaanite woman – with whatever faith we have and then even more.  Sometimes faith grows in its praying, its asking, humility and continuous kneeling before God.  Sometimes God’s answers come only after long delays.  A paltry, weak and sickly faith can be satisfied with quick answers, and then it may mislead us into thinking such faith is great.  In fact, great faith, like this woman’s, may be the faith that keeps asking without any answer in sight.