#16 December21,2021
We seek to become children of God. We seek to become a people willing in their obedience to God and the ways of God. We seek to become so filled with compassion that we just reek of charity. We seek ways to make life here on earth filled with truth, righteousness, and the assurance for each of us of our place at the side of God. We seek righteous labor and the strength to be both patient and diligent, but how do we receive all that we seek, and all that we need. Are Scriptures enough? Will our fellowship with those who believe as we do sustain us in all the ways we need? Believe me Brethren, I asked all those same questions, and God answered. As with all things in God, my answer began in scripture, but it led me to a way that I might have that intimate relationship with the Father that fulfills all my needs and nourishes me that I might grow to become all that I can be, in God. In a single word, it is prayer.   

Matthew 21:20 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, in faith believing, ye shall receive.

In the beginning I questioned the veracity of the answer I had been give. When I looked to the world around me I saw prayer as a complicated practice involving everything from the prayer wheels of the Buddhist, to ridged rituals that involved time of day, facing the right direction, and saying exactly the right words. I see traditional postures of anything from laying "spread eagle" with the face planted firmly on the ground, to kneeling, to standing rigidly upright arms spread outward form the body with the hands palms up so that we might catch the words of God as they come down. What is right, what is proper, and most importantly; how in the world is all this nonsense supposed to be about anything other than proving to the world that I believe? How does it help me as I grow in God?   

My offering today centers around the "Lords Prayer" as found in Matthew 6:9-15. 

Matthew 6:9-15
6:9 Therefore after this manner shall ye pray, saying,
6:10 Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
6:11 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is done in heaven.
6:12 Give us this day, our daily bread.
6:13 And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

6:14 And suffer us not to be led into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
6:15 For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

You are probably familiar with our target verses. In the world we have heard these verses again and again. Some churches of the world use them as almost a magic incantation. These verses are used as penance by which sins might be absolved. They are used as at the beginning of worship services to draw the people out of the world. They are even formed into a hymn, but we will discover that they are so much more. God warns us against using prayer as a recited litany.

Matthew 6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the hypocrites do; for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

There was a time when I believed that these verses were a pattern for prayer, but again they are so much more. Christ wants us to know that prayer deals with the intent within our heart. He brought this ideal to us David in Psalms 37:4-5.

Psalms 37:4-5
4 Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
5 Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

Christ wants us to be able to use prayer to bring us closer to God's through His Holy Spirit. In this attitude we will come to recognize how we can allow this to happen. 

I will present the verses in passages and offer discussion that will open your hearts to the truth and the use of prayer as a way to come closer to God.

6:9 Therefore after this manner shall ye pray, saying,
6:10 Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 
6:11 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is done in heaven.

In verse 10 (Our Father) Christ began the prayer by stating our need to remember that God is a Father to all who seek Him. He is not just Christ's Father; He is a Father that we all share together. We share His love, His knowledge, and the wisdom He offers to cause us to grow in Him. The final phrase in verse 10, "Hallowed be thy name" lets us know of our need to sanctify God within our hearts. We need to believe God and all He says to us. In this we come to realize that all we attempt; we do not attempt alone. He is right there with us. 

The final verse of this passage is a statement of purpose. Yes we need to know what we are doing and why we are doing it, but in conjunction with the verses 9 and 10 we have cause to believe that this is not a task we need to, or are able to attempt alone. He wants us in prayer to realize that our labor in God is an "US" thing. We are together with each other and Him every step of the way. 

6:12 Give us this day, our daily bread.

Verse 12 tells us that God assures us that everything we need is available through Him. In the past we were taught to realize that we are dependent on God for all that we have and all that we will have, but I think that He is showing us something much deeper. 

Yes, we depend on God for all that nourishes us. Whether that be the temporal food that nourishes our bodies or the "bread of life" that sustains us spirituality, but we can choose otherwise. God wants us to allow Him to be the source we look to in all things and prayer is the very way we do this. Many have made prayer either a private commitment to God or a way to stand before the world and make a glorious public statement of our willingness to raise our voice in praise to Him. Brethren, God wants it to be these things but most of all He wants prayer to be the first and most dependable means by which we communicate with Him. He wants to be close to us, and if we allow it to, our prayers are the way to establish an intimate relationship with a Father who loves us. We will realize that love more deeply in prayer that any other way.    

6:13 And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

I believe this verse brings us to the crux of all we need to learn and accept from God that deals with the power of and our need for prayer. 

Understand this completely. Forgiveness is a blessing that comes from God, and all that God blesses us with creates a stewardship that gives us the ability to bless others in the same way God blesses us. We are given that we might share with each other. This is the basis of the oneness we seek and the outreach that is our labor. The scriptures open our minds to this but in prayer this concept finds a place in our heart and allows us to live in the ways of the Kingdom. To expand on this idea I will use our most easily understood type of stewardship, tithing. I will expand on this ideal with my own personal testimony of tithing.

A number of years ago our gathering decided to approach tithing in a way that followed the scriptures exactly. 

Genesis 14:36-39
36 And this Melchizedek, having thus established righteousness, was called the king of heaven by his people, or, in other words, the King of peace.
37 And he lifted up his voice, and he blessed Abram, being the high priest, and the keeper of the storehouse of God;
38 Him whom God had appointed to receive tithes for the poor.

39 Wherefore, Abram paid unto him tithes of all that he had, of all the riches which he possessed, which God had given him more than that which he had need.

Understand fully what is being stated here. Abraham was tithing to the Church in Salem (a covenant church in God) and His tithe was arrived at by what was His surplus (more than that which he had need). 

DC 106:1a-1b
1a Verily, thus saith the Lord, I require all their surplus property to be put into the hands of the bishop of my church of Zion, for the building of mine house, and for the laying the foundation of Zion, and for the priesthood, and for the debts of the presidency of my church;
1b and this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people; and after that, those who have thus been tithed, shall pay one tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them for ever, for my holy priesthood, saith the Lord.

Again we find that the beginning of tithing is surplus, more than we have need. I highlighted the word interest in verse 1b for a particular reason.  

The Doctrine and Covenants were written in the vernacular of 1830 American English. The Webster's 1830 dictionary of the American language has a lengthy definition of the word interest. The last entry was that one definition of note.
5. Any surplus advantage.
Again, you can see that tithing begins in surplus. 

In our immaturity to this system, we decided to use as our model commitment, money. What we had compared to what we needed. All the dollars we had in excess of what we needed were considered surplus. We gave that to God to form of a bank account used for the church needs and those needs presented for other households. Brothers and sisters, first tithe was a chunk that scared me with visions of every TV evangelist I had ever made fun of, but I did it. After many hours of prayer seeking direction from The Spirit and arriving at the same figure, I did it. At the anniversary of our original tithe we agreed to pay a tithe equal to 10% of our newly figured surplus. I was amazed to find that 10% of my surplus this year was almost equal to the 100% tithe of the year before. I was sure that I had made a mistake, so I refigured. I was right. I had made a mistake. The 10% tithe was exactly equal to the 100% tithe of the year before and stayed the same amount through six more calculations. My surplus had risen by 10 fold. In checking my own records I found many good reasons. My vehicles were getting five to six more miles to the gallon. My work shoes didn't wear as bad and didn't need replacing this year. Left overs were lasting longer in the refrigerator. Many little reasons like these led me to finally accept that God was blessing me. Did that make me a better believer? No that made God a greater God. But the lessons from God were not over and here is what God brought me. 

As I grew in my understandings I began to notice the culture of the Church and what it seemed to be. We were becoming a gathering of people that cloistered ourselves away from the world. We were gathering so that God and His design for His Kingdom could protect us. We recognized the needs of one another in our group, but were closing ourselves to the world outside. In prayer one night God led me to this verse. 

Deuteronomy 15:11 For the poor shall never cease out of the land; therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.

I realized that as a people we were more than just a gathering to be protected by God. We are a people protected by God meant to reach out to the world seeking out those in need. If that need was spiritual we were to minister to them spiritually. If the need was temporal we were to reach out to them temporally. I didn't know how I as a person could ever afford that. Then it occurred to me the in my tithing I always began with my surplus. I told God what I had, what I needed, and what was more than I needed. The kicker in all this, after paying my 10% tithe, I was still in possession of 90% of what I didn't need. God had told me that all He needed of the surplus He had blessed me with was 10%. The rest was mine to deal with. God in His wisdom had supplied me with a resource that I could use to help those in need whether or not they were of my belief. I have been given a way to show the world the love of God they were truly able to understand, and I was not using it. This truth came to me only though prayer. God was showing me a way to take the hope of His Kingdom to the world in a way they could both use and understand. 

6:13 And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

This is my testimony of the grace of God and the stewardship each blessing brings. Prayer brought me this wisdom and prayer was in every aspect of my understanding of it. 

6:14 And suffer us not to be led into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Verse 14 assures us that God will be with us. As we reach out to the world our request to God should be that He walks with us that we might use all His grace for the purpose of our covenant labor. That He will be there to lead us as we testify to the world of His love and that we do it in a manor that praises God, His work, and His glory.  

6:15 For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

When we allow prayer to uplift and edify our covenant labor, we will become a living testimony of verse 15. We have no need for the ridged traditions that surround prayer in the world. He is our Father and we can speak to Him anytime we want. We can seek Him out. We can ask Him questions. We can praise Him. We can cry out to Him that the pain we feel might find its resolution in Him. We have prayer.

Matthew 21:20 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, in faith believing, ye shall receive.

With this new information, each of us can share a common understanding of all Christ means in His description of prayer. Such is the tool of prayer, its design, and its use. If you suffer from any more confusion....................................

Take it to God in prayer.

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