January is “prayer month” at Eastside Baptist Church. We focus and prepare ourselves for the year ahead by asking for God’s blessing and direction upon us and the work which God has called us to do for the sake of His Name.
Last Sunday we saw that the Lord Jesus was approached by one of His disciples with the request “Lord teach us ( i.e. me and your other disciples) to pray “. The disciple was obviously impressed by the reality and the significance of Jesus’ communion with His Father in prayer. We considered verse 2 in which the Lord Jesus began by instructing the disciples to focus firstly on God Himself in prayer - that His Name might be sanctified; that His kingdom might come on earth.  We learn from this that all true prayer begins with God. The truth and the priority of this fact is summed up very well in Matthew 6:33 : “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
In and of itself that part of prayer being answered would solve all our problems. If God’s Name were ‘hallowed’ in all the earth, then the earth would be a perfect place in which all the wants and needs of man are supplied , for God would be honoured , and we would honour our fellow human beings.
But we are not living in a perfect world . Sin makes us godless and selfish .Sin makes us grow distant from God and distant from our fellow human being.
We see this in a number of instances:
We see it firstly in the fact that many people in our world suffer from food shortages - from lack of bread. Now there is really no need for anyone to starve, for in truth so much food gets wasted and thrown away on this planet. There is more than enough farming land to feed 6 billion people and beyond. However, so much land cannot be farmed because war and selfishness prevent it being used to produce food. Think of South Sudan at this moment. This is a rich and fertile land , but right now the fields lie wasted , and the population lives by and large in UN shelters , depending on food aid from abroad.
Furthermore, many selfish economic policies of countries keep excess food productions from being imported and exported. In addition there is so much corruption among politicians and governments who prevent food aid to reach the poor and the needy – all because of political manipulation. In reality however if we were God centered and obedient to care for our fellow human being, there would be no shortage of bread .
Secondly , sin is also the reason why we commit sins that cause others to suffer and for which we need to be forgiven whilst , whilst we also have to learn to forgive those who have sinned against us, whether parents , siblings , thieves ,murderers, rapists – you name them! Unforgiveness makes emotional wrecks of so many people. Many people are emotionally crippled because they cannot forgive , and because they have not met the Living God who alone can forgive our sins through Jesus Christ our Lord. Forgiveness is a huge need in the world. Man needs to be forgiven by God, and man needs to forgive his fellow man for sins mutually committed.
Thirdly, we live in a sinful and fallen world in which Satan and his demon forces have been thrown down to the earth and where people ultimately suffer because evil forces are at work stirring and tempting people to sin. This fact must never be underestimated or disregarded. We need protection from their temptations to sin.
WHAT WE ARE TO PRAY FOR ON A FREQUENT BASIS
These three areas according to the Lord Jesus need particular and consistent attention in prayer to God .  Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins ( Matthew : debts) , for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” (Matthew 6:13 adds “… but deliver us from evil… “)
In a fallen world we are to pray for :
(i) daily bread i.e. everything essential for physical survival
(ii) forgiveness of our sins and grace to forgive the sins of others against ourselves i.e everything essential for emotional survival
(iii) escape from temptation i.e. everything essential for spiritual survival.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO ASK THESE THINGS IN PRAYER ?
God knows what we need to survive as we live in a fallen world where physical, emotional and spiritual need is so very apparent . Every person is a physical , emotional and spiritual being , and if any one of these components are challenged, our whole being is challenged.
We cannot function very well without physical sustenance (food, clothing , shelter) . This is a basic need. A lack of these basics will have an impact upon our emotional and spiritual well -being. We are to ask God in prayer to provide for our daily needs : “Give us this day our daily bread.”
We cannot function without emotional well being. At this level unforgiveness is the greatest culprit in draining us emotionally , and therefore Jesus specifically addresses this matter here. However , this aspect of our emotional wellbeing goes further in that it also incorporates a spiritual dimension: Unforgiveness has spiritual consequences ! Jesus elaborates on this very specifically in Matthew 6:14,15 : “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. “ Being forgiven for our sins by God and forgiving others for having sinned against us is a basic need for survival in this world . It is a spiritual requirement for our entry into the world that is to come . Without forgiveness received or given, we do immense danger to ourselves and to others – and if not dealt with, unforgiveness may become pathological – hidden so deeply in our souls that we do not recognize the dangers. Unforgiven and abused people often become abusers, perpetuating the spirit of unforgiveness, of violence and abuse . We are to ask God in prayer for forgiveness . We must learn to keep short accounts with sin. We need to learn to pray regularly : “ … and forgive us our debts ( sins) as we also have forgiven our debtors .”
Thirdly, we cannot function in a fallen world without spiritual protection. We live in a world ruled by evil principalities and powers which do their utmost to hinder the progress and the work of the kingdom of God. Each Christian is committed to the advance of God’s kingdom. It is part of the first half of the Lord’s prayer : “ Your kingdom come !” . The way Christians are hindered is by causing them to fall into temptation . We must understand that Satan, the tempter easily exploits our weaknesses. These weaknesses are inherent in our personalities , in our gender , in our circumstances, cultures etc. , and we must learn to understand our weaknesses and to submit these to God in prayer : “ lead me not into temptation…”. Men must submit their roving eyes to God. Women must submit their temptation to jealousy and covetousness to God . Young people must submit their rebellious natures to God. Falling into temptation can have awful consequences , and the more responsibility you bear the greater the fall. The tragedy of the story of David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11 à cf Psalm 51) is a point in case. The story where Satan incited David in 1 Chronicles 21 to conduct a ‘sinful census ‘ is another point in case.
David was consumed by delusions of grandeur and Satan quickly exploited this and David in an unguarded moment and with a prayerless heart fell right into Satan’s snare!
We need to learn to pray : “Our Father in heaven … lead us not into temptation.”
We need God’s help to survive against the tricks of Satan in this world , “ so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” ( 2 Cor. 2:11)
Satan is forever trying his best to get to fall. He even tried this with Jesus . It is important to retain our confidence in God and in the truth of His Word. Jesus was able to withstand the devil in every temptation because He trusted His Father’s word … “ It is written” . He knew the word and the will of the Father so well that He also knew when Satan misquoted biblical texts.7]
Life in this fallen world is difficult. Sin always has consequences – physical, emotional and spiritual . So we must talk to our heavenly Father daily about this. We must watch our hearts and we must always remember that we are responsible for giving into temptation ( James 1:14,15). Although the devil is the first cause of temptation we cannot blame the devil for our sinful actions . We are moral beings . We choose to sin .
Therefore we must learn to be vigilant, and the main way in which we are to do this is by praying to our Heavenly Father for help .
“Oh what peace we often forfeit , O what needless pain we bear , all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer.” 
So then, learning about this aspect of prayer is absolutely vital. Make it apart of your daily prayer habit, and fill in the details . This is after all an outline for praying .
So, we have learned where to begin in prayer . We start with God – His Name – His kingdom – His will (Luke 11: 2)
Secondly , we have learned that should pray for our physical , emotional and spiritual well being. Starving, hurting , wounded , compromised soldiers cannot fight in the battle for the advancement of the kingdom of God. So the Lord commands us to pray that we may remain well fed, emotionally robust and spiritually alert .
Against such people the devil has no effective strategy. They will cause Him to loose ground . May we be such people , for the sake of Christ and His happy kingdom! Amen .
 Matthew adds ( Matt 6:10b) “ You will be done on earth as it is in heaven” . “They are in essence one petition expressed in a threefold way “ ( Norval Geldenhuys: The Gospel of Luke, NICT p. 320)
 Revelation 12: 4,9,10, 12, 13
 Satan is called the tempter ( Matt. 4:3; 1 Thess. 3:5 )
 see Ephesians 6:10-18 ; 2 Cor. 2:11; 4:4 ; ; 11: 3; 11:14-15 ; 1 Peter 5:8
 Gr. “Opheilēma” – sin is described here as debt , because it demands expiation by way of punishment ( Vines)
 See Luke 4:1-13
 E.g. Luke 4:9-11
 What a friend we have in Jesus : Joseph Scriven ( 1819 – 1886)