Matthew 7:7-8; James 4:3
I propose to consider the conditions of prevailing prayer.
The first condition is a state of mind in which you could offer the Lord's Prayer sincerely and acceptably.
Christ at their request taught his disciples how to pray. In doing so, he gave them an epitome of the appropriate subjects of prayer, and also threw a most important light upon the spirit with which all prayer should be offered. This form is exceedingly comprehensive. Every word is full of meaning. It would seem very obvious, however, that our Lord did not intend here to specify all the particular things we may pray for, but only to group together some of the great heads of subjects which are appropriate to be sought of God in prayer, and also to show us with what temper and spirit we should come before the Lord.
This is evidently not designed as a mere form, to be used always and without variation. It cannot be that Christ intended we should evermore use these words in prayer, and no other words; for he never again used these precise words himself--so far as we know from the sacred record--but did often use other and very different words, as the Scriptures abundantly testify.
But this form answers a most admirable purpose if we understand it to be given us to teach us these two most important things; namely, what sort of blessings we may pray for, and in what spirit we should pray for them.
Most surely, then, we cannot hope to pray acceptably unless we can offer this prayer in its real spirit--our own hearts deeply sympathizing with the spirit of this prayer. If we cannot pray the Lord's Prayer sincerely, we cannot offer any acceptable prayer at all.
Hence it becomes us to examine carefully the words of this recorded form of prayer. Yet be it remembered, it is not these words, as mere words, that God regards, or that we should value. Words themselves, apart from their meaning, and from their meaning as used by us, would ...
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