Today August 14 is the day the WWII ended. In Japan August 15 is the anniversary of the end of the war. Young people nowadays don’t know this day. An interviewer asked many young people in Tokyo. Results were surprising: They don’t know this day and they don’t know which country Japan fought against. “Nippon and America were enemies?!”
Y”ou kidding, you are a liar.” - their response. It’s hard to believe now these two countries are so close, without US, Japan may not survive in the same way. Two countries have more than a great friendship I think. And especially our church, Japanese Fellowship Church, is a symbol of Japan-America friendship. We have both representatives here. We are tied together in one with love of God.
Now my message today is totally different. About the Lord’s Prayer.
We have been reciting the Lord’s Prayer every week for almost 40 years(?) in our church, JFC. Is it correct, Matsuda-sensei?
The Lord’s Prayer contains great meanings; many hidden messages, systematically organized, and a perfect prayer pattern. Let us search into them each week for the next several weeks.
Say the prayer without knowing the meaning - less impact.
Recite the Lord prayer with rich meanings – greater impact.
Jesus shows us how to pray – it is a prayer pattern to follow.
Jesus was teaching his disciples and the other crowd – the sermon on a mount.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Matthew 6:5,
Hypocrite in Jesus time means an actor who pretended to be someone else he was not – acting just for money – kind of negative meaning. Who did Jesus refer to? Who were these hypocrites?
Answer: Pharisees, and leaders of the Laws.
How did they pray?
They stood at the corner of the streets, raised both hands upward, and said loudly, “God, all mighty, all powerful…, Hear me. I am praying to you.” You know they are showing off - how good they are. How diligent they are. How hard-working prayer they are.
Jesus warned, “Do not be like them.” They are showing off to people, not praying to God. They want people’s praises and admiration. Then, nothing left for God. Jesus said,
“Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”
Their prayer was addressed toward people, and so it was rewarded by the people.
Nothing to do with God.
Then, how should we pray? Let us hear what Jesus says here in verse 6.
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
The room Jesus mentions here is a special room, it is called “Tameion” in Greek.
Tameion: a storage like room, basement, or closet. The only room with a lock, but no windows - totally secluded area.
There are two-fold meanings in His teaching:
1. Enter into Tameion, close the door behind, then no one can enter.
There is only you in the room, alone with God.
2. In the Tameion no one can see inside – because the room has no windows. No one see you praying there, no one bothers you. No one to show off your prayer… only if you have a wrong intention like Pharisees.
In the Tameion you are secluded from the outside world, so that you have a complete privacy with the Lord alone.
In the Tameion pray personally; one on one with God, no one else can enter into your prayer.
Jesus emphasizes here that you pray in solitary, get more closely to God, and be one on one with God…. A personal prayer with privacy & intimacy with God.
Jesus is talking about your attitude in prayer. Tameion is your attitude in your heart.
If you don’t have the Tameion or a storage room, it’s Ok. In your car you can pray quietly, in your study, in your bed room, even in a bathroom, you can have a privacy with the Lord. Jesus looks at your attitude. He looks through your heart. Not the posture or form of the prayer, but He cares inside your heart - your good attitude in your prayer. Tameion is in your heart.
Many Jews and religious leaders prayed 3 times daily; 9am, 3pm and 6pm. They spent long hours for prayer. Sounds good, but Jesus said do not be like them. He knows inside of their heart, especially those Pharisees. Jesus condemned them for their ritual and formal but impersonal prayers - prayer without heart.
Martin Luther, brought the Reformation as you know, and then the Lutheran church started – we follow directly to his original teaching. Martin Luther was a man of prayer. I heard one story (anecdote) about him.
He has been praying for 8 hours a day, from 4am to noon everyday. When things got too busy for him to handle, he said “I cannot do so much, I must pray even longer.”
He prayed alone in his Tameion, spending time with the Lord alone for many hours.
How is your prayer life? How long do you pray everyday? 2 hours, 20 min, or 2 min, or 2 seconds?
Lord wants to be with you, one on one – He wants very personal relationship with you. Spend a good time with the Lord.
One question I have here.
“For your father knows what you need before you ask him.”
God knows everything; he knows our thoughts even before we say it.
A question is if He knows everything I want to say, then why do I need to pray?
I don’t have to say it because he already knows it, right?
What then is the reason for your prayer?
What is your answer to this question?
Prayer is not only asking things. Prayer has much more significant meaning in it.
In prayer you thank God, in prayer you praise God, in prayer you confess your sins, and most importantly, in prayer you talk to God personally; one on one. You do have a conversation with God. You talk to God he listens, and then you may hear his answer in prayer, too. Prayer is a conversation with you and God.
God is looking for your personal and intimate interaction. Just like your best friend, you can say anything to God. He will listen quietly. Then have him talk back to you in your prayer. He may not answer right away, but he will answer in some other ways. Listen to him carefully, then you will know His answer. He may answer through the Scripture, or may be in conversation with other Christians, or he may talk to you in your dream.
Lord wants to have a good communication with you. He wants to be with you at all time.
He wants to be your personal friend, your father, and your Lord. Intimated fellowship with the Lord is the most important thing in the Christian life. Faith is to know the Lord personally.
We call God, father because Jesus first called Him that way. Jesus called him “Abba”. Abba means Daddy, Papa, or Oto-chan. For the most Jews this was already blasphemy, outrageous way to address God.
7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”
Said in the Ten Commandments. Through Jesus His only father became our father and we can call Him “Abba, Daddy, Papa”. Our individual dad is God, almighty. Although God created heaven and earth, He is still your daddy.
Have a wonderful time in prayer with your dad, God, Father this week.
Spend a good time with God in your own Tameion- private room. Be more close to him personally each day, talking to Him, listening to Him, and have an interaction with Him.
Jesus teaches us so many important things through his prayer.