Monday, June 29, 2009

Jesus’ teachings on prayers (Luke 11:1-13) [[Part II]]

In Luke 11:1, the disciples of Jesus asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. In the next 12 verses, Jesus taught about:

1. Praying for oneself (Luke 11:2-4) - the Lord's Prayer
2. Praying for another (Luke 11:5-10)
3. Praying for the Holy Spirit to be given (Luke 11:11-13) [covered in Part III]

[For this 2nd part of a 3-part article on this portion of the Scripture, I going to write on the 2nd item covered by Jesus – praying for another (Luke 11:5-10).]. [You can read Part I here.]

Praying for another (Luke 11:5-10)

Then he[Jesus] said to them,
"Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.'
"Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. 

"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

It is best we look at these verses in its context when we want to claim them as promises in our lives, so that when situations are within context, we can confidently speak the verses into our lives. Claiming Bible promises out of context can result in disappointments and diminish our faith. The context is as follows:

1. One man, Mr. A asking a friend, Mr. B for something for another friend, Mr. C.

2. Mr. A was just one of us, that was what it said, “Suppose one of you….”

3. Mr. A approached Mr. B at midnight. What could we liken midnight to be? An inconvenient time, a dark time.

4. Who was Mr. C? A friend of Mr. A, and Mr. C was on a journey and had come to Mr. A. It should be correct to say that Mr. C had needs, (a) need for a shelter and (b) need for food. It is also correct that Mr. A could provide the shelter need but not the food.

5. Mr. A went over to the house of his friend, Mr. B and knocked on the door and asked for some bread for Mr. C to eat. Mr. A knocked and pleaded repeatedly because Mr. B was initially reluctant to make an effort to help.

6. After persistent knocking and pleading, Mr. B conceded to go into action – got up, took some bread and gave them to Mr. A so that Mr. C could have his need for food met.

7. Then in verses 9-10, Jesus seemed to imply that we are to ask God and when we ask God in this manner, we will receive an answer. Verses 9-10 must be read as following from the preceding verses because it starts with the word “So”.

What we should understand:

1. The context is NOT asking for something for oneself. It is asking something for another
For e.g. you want to own a big bungalow but you are not wealthy enough to have one, and you claim these verses and ask God repeatedly for a big bungalow. Even if you somehow get to own a big bungalow, it is not because these verses came through for you, but because God has some other reason(s) for letting you have the bungalow; and the reason can be simply He chose to bless you out of His grace and wisdom. When it is out of his grace and wisdom, it is entirely up to God. It is different from a promise in its proper context, in which God will honour it because He cannot lie.

Even if in the above case, the thing you asked is not a big bungalow but some bread, and you get your bread, it is not because the above verses come through for you; some other promise has come through for you because these verses are not about asking for yourself.

Who is a friend? I do not think it includes oneself. I think it can be anybody other than oneself. It is interesting that Mr. C was quoted here as one who was on a journey. Narrowly speaking, “one of you” could be taken to mean “a Christian” (note here that Jesus was teaching his disciples), “a friend on a journey” could be taken as a fellow traveler on the Way (Highway) of Holiness, i.e. the friend is another Christian but this is not necessarily the only interpretation (For more on the Way of Holiness, click here).

Broadly speaking, everyone living on this earth is on a journey. We are all on a journey to either Kingdom of Heaven or Hell. You will no longer be journeying when you get into the Kingdom of Heaven (because you do not want to go anywhere else) or Hell (because you cannot go anywhere else).  [The way I used Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven is that, as believers, we are in the Kingdom of God (the earthly phase), but we are yet to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (the Heaven phase of the Kingdom of God)]

2. The context is NOT asking for luxury. It is asking for a need.
So if you are asking God for a big bungalow for a friend, sorry you cannot claim these verses, unless a big bungalow is a need for your friend. It is difficult for me to imagine a big bungalow being a need (I do not want to go into speculation that bread could mean something else, or that three loaves of bread can have some other meaning. It is sufficient to understand that it is a need that is being asked for).

3. The context is NOT some deceptive way of getting something. It is simple and straightforward – knock (at the door), open your mouth and ask.
You cannot arm-twist, fool or sweet-talk God into granting you the request. Just “knock on God’s door” and ask God, persistently. You can “present your case” but you really cannot arm-twist God. It is really not complicated and we should not make it complicated. 

Does God allow Himself to be moved by men in certain circumstances?  Yes, but it is still you cannot arm-twist God; it is that God does allow Himself be moved, at times.

4. It is about persistence.
A great many of us, are really not being persistent, and this is the key teaching of Jesus, here. Interestingly, in this teaching, Jesus implies that God will answer based on persistence even though your friendship with God does not warrant it. I strongly advise against reading these verses to mean friendship with God is not important for answering of prayers. Rather it should be taken to mean that even if we are not “very close to God”, God still answers if we are persistent. This should be an encouragement for many of us to intercede still, for others, consistently and persistently.

5. God is NOT bothered by your persistent petitioning.
Do not think that your prayers will be a bother to God, and it is that you can pray to Him anytime. The Word of God says that God doesn’t sleep (Ps 121:3-4). God may be busy but He is never too busy to answer your prayers. When He is bothered, He will let you know [an e.g. is in Moses’ life – separate article to come].

To recap: The context of Luke 11:5-10 is praying for another (for a need), not for oneself. It exhorts us to be persistent in prayer for others.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions - Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Phil 4:6)

PS1: Luke 11:9&10 were more or less repeated in Mat 7:7&8 without context specification (The Lord's Prayer appeared separately in Matt 6). I prefer the Luke's account with context specified because Luke (author for Gospel of Luke) being a physician would have tended to be more meticulous and detailed in his recording. So, I still insist that the correct context for these verses is that of praying for another.

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And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me (John 12:32)

Jesus said if He is lifted up from the earth, He will draw all men unto Him. Contextually, Jesus was referring to either the way He would die or His resurrection.

The Apostle John’s interpretation was the former – He said this to show the kind of death that He was going to die (verse 33). Jesus was crucified and crucifixion involved putting someone on a cross (put very simply, perhaps too simply) and standing the cross upright with the person on the cross – the person is lifted up from the earth. We can be very sure that when Jesus was hung on the cross at Calvary, many people were there watching to see what happened i.e. people were drawn to the crucifixion.

I tend to believe that Jesus was referring to the latter, i.e. His resurrection. The main reason for this is due to the second portion of the scripture; it stated that He will draw all men unto Him. I suggest no matter how you interpreted the word “all men”, it should suggest more than a local population/gathering of men in a locality. What I am saying is that Jesus cannot be referring to the crowd that would gather at His crucifixion. He was referring to all people of the world, his present time and future. I believe at least a portion of the past people (with reference to His time), were included [a separate article to come]. It was the resurrection (from death) that was the victory over Satan, Sin and Death. It is by this resurrection that Jesus will draw all men unto Him. If He died and was not resurrected, He would not draw men, would He? So, what Jesus was saying was that with resurrection, He will draw all men unto Him. [to avoid misunderstanding, it is only right to say the Apostle John understood the resurrection power]

How can we apply this verse in our walk with the Lord?
Why would we want to be bothered with this verse?
Isn’t it past or is it not?

It is not past. The power of resurrection is still available and on-going. The actual event is past but the consequence of the event is continuous. The key power of resurrection is the Saving power. This is the power to save people from their fate of eternal deaths in Hell. We should be bothered with this verse because we have been saved (that is if you are already a Christian) by this power, and it is the continuous will of the Father God for mankind – that all men be saved from their fate of eternal deaths in Hell. In Mathew 7:21 Jesus stated that not everyone will enter the kingdom of heaven but only he who does the will of the Father God.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Mathew 7:21)

Of course, God will many things, but we often say we do not know what is God’s will for our lives. But that is not good enough excuse for us not to try to comply with the requirements of entry into the Kingdom of Heaven [a separate article to come]. I know I sounded a little like we have to make an effort but I made no apologies for it. I do not subscribe to “salvation by works” but I believe God grants us grace to perfect holiness [Be holy because I am holy] and to do good works (produce acceptable fruits to God). I am not trying to put fear into us and suggesting that we will not be going to heaven if we die now, just because we are not doing the will of God all the time. I believe God does look at the heart of a person. Nevertheless, it is important that we take note of the explicit wills of God and walk in them. Saving people from the fate of eternal deaths in Hell is an explicit and continuous will of God that we can always walk in. So what must we do then? Tell people about the power – The resurrection story of Jesus and He will draw men unto Himself.

What else can we do apart from sharing the resurrection story? We have to be careful whenever we take a verse out of its context. One possible window of application is when a particular verse is consistent with the general theme of various parts of the Word of God. I do apply this verse in this manner:

I often pray this:
Lord, when I lift your name, draw men unto yourself (basically drawing upon John 12:32)

Father God resurrected Jesus and that resurrection draws men unto Jesus. In this case, I lift Jesus’ name by testimonies, by speaking of his attributes (like greatness, love, compassion, etc), by exercising faith in prayers and in exercising the gifts of the Spirit. I am saying, “Jesus, draw men unto yourself as I do these things.” Because I move in a little way, in the gift of words of knowledge (to a lesser extent, prophecy), I would pray this regularly:

Lord when I lift your name, come and hold up your name.
Let me receive from you clearly and that I speak only what you want spoken.
I rather not lift your name than to lift it up and see it fall to the ground.
My intention is to glorify your name and let people with needs be helped.
Lord, when I release your words, come and hold up your name by doing the necessary – healing, setting people free, convicting people, and ministering to people.
Lord, when I lift your name, draw men unto yourself

I am honored that the Lord honored the motivations of my heart and allowed me to be a blessing to others (some were healed, others felt ministered, still others were encouraged to walk closer to the Lord; indirectly, maybe even others gave their lives to the Lord because of what they see/experienced). I believe I have been a blessing to more people in the last one year than the previous 7 years. When we
lift Jesus’ name with the correct motivations, He will draw men unto Himself.

Anthony Chia -God wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4)

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Thank you, Lord. You are still affirming

While I must be conscious that this is a public domain so that I do not slander anyone, embarrass anybody and also in general, not get into trouble with the church or the laws, I am hoping this personal blog can also function in some way a record/journal of sort, of some of my experiences in the faith, especially if the “stories” can encourage or help somebody. I also must remind myself not to blow my own trumpet. Actually, sometimes I wondered why I want to write on this blog. I hardly get any feedback, my blog is not being read by many. By writing, I am also making myself vulnerable. Actually, the temptation is great for us not to say anything because by not saying anything, no one will know what we are thinking, and so we cannot be faulted. But in truth, someone knows, and that someone is God. He knows every meditation of our hearts. By putting it in writing, of course, because it can cause another to stumble, the responsibility is even greater – one more thing to answer to God. And if I ended up blowing my own trumpet in the process, God would not be pleased. I also do not want to lose whatever ministry, (if I could even call it a ministry to begin with) that I have, because pride has manifested. [This is not to say that God would not be upset with unexpressed pride in us]. Some of the readers here are members of the same church I attend, so I too must be careful so that what I say do not end up offensive or infringing on people’s privacy or confidentiality. Especially, I hope that my church leaders do not stop me from ministering in church just because I sometimes, write about something I am involved in.

With this, I like to pen down, maybe more of a expression of thankfulness than anything else, the follow through, to the most recent blog entry – More Lord, more ( ).

Desire regularity/consistency
Actually I was concerned and still is (and I think it is not necessarily a bad thing, though fear should not be the basic driving factor), that my functioning in the Lord for a period of one year or so, may come to an end. I think we all could accept that God could use anyone from time to time to minister or perform exploits for Him, wherever and whenever God deems necessary. But I desire regularity, consistency. By way of analogy, we can drink from any cup. When we go to the food-court and buy a drink, we just drink out of any cup that the stallholder used. Likewise, we will drink from any cup used by the host when we visit a home. But at home, we commonly have our own cups which we used when we have our drinks. Dad will have his own cup, mom will have hers, and the children will have their own cups. (There is nothing wrong if in your family you do not have this “practice”. Indeed there are families that do not make any distinctions – they just share the cups). For a moment, think that you are Dad’s cup in the house, would you not want Dad to use you each time he drinks from a cup. You can’t help it if Dad is drinking at a food-court or at somebody’s home, because you are not there (unless he brought you along). Dad may once in a while use mom’s cup when he drinks, but I would be wondering, if he consistently omitted to use me when he wants a drink. I am like the cup, although more correctly not for holding “water” but for pouring out from. I want my master to use me, consistently. By the way, a few months ago, in church when we did a prophetic drawing session, a brother drew a prophetic glass picture for me.

He affirmed again
Again, just as the lapses in the use by the Lord begin to bother, the Lord again affirmed. This time, at last Saturday evening service in church, I was a little late. I was unable to sit anywhere near to the front of the church. The reason for that was really that for that service, many children would be baptized and many seats were marked out for the children and their families and for the “Sunday School” teachers. In fact, I could not even get a seat in the sanctuary after trying for a while. Without a choice I proceeded to the upper sanctuary after being informed by an usher that the upper sanctuary was opened. To get to upper sanctuary, one had to leave the sanctuary through the back (vis-a-vis the pulpit), manage a flight of stairs and re-enter. Likewise if one wants to go from the upper sanctuary to the sanctuary (“ground sanctuary”). I did not expect any time to be allotted for words of knowledge/prophecy. I also did not think any altar call would be made in view of the time required for doing the children baptism. Furthermore a special item was planned, to celebrate Father’s Day that fell on that weekend. Unexpectedly, the children baptism was done very expediently and the Senior Pastor finished his sermon fifteen minutes before end of service time. People were invited to the front for ministry. Initially only one adult went forward, and when he was prayed for, he was slain. But no others went forward. Then the Senior Pastor announced that the children could go forward for ministry. Many children did that. The Senior Pastor also gave a few words of knowledge, and with that more adults went forward for prayer. I was watching from the upper sanctuary, and when I saw more people had gone forward and on the left wing of sanctuary front, quite a few people were there waiting for prayers, I decided to rush down to pray for people, especially for the people on the left wing which were not attended to (because bulk of the pastors/staff were ministering to the children at the centre and on the right side).

It wasn’t so convenient, yet I must
Actually it really wasn’t so nice to leave before the end of service, and that was what it appeared to be what I was doing, at least to the people around where I was sitting, in the upper sanctuary. But I did it anyway, left the upper sanctuary door, rushed down the stairs and re-entered the sanctuary (ground floor) through a door at the back, on the right side (door nearest to the stairs), went down the right side of the sanctuary and reached the front of the sanctuary, on the right side. Realising no seats were available to put my stuff (bible, water bottle and Father’s Day gift, etc), I threw down my stuff against the right wall of the sanctuary, moved quickly between the narrow spaces between the people (ministers and children) and the front stage, right across to the left side where the unattended people were. There were perhaps, 6 -7 people there waiting for prayers, and a pastor had just started to attend to those waiting. Although I was not short of breath, I was not really in the “best of state” to pray for people after the rush. Actually, that was one of my hesitations when I decided to rush down from the upper sanctuary. What happened next was that I prayed for 3 persons. I first prayed for a man with some blood in his stool discovered only in the last day or two. Then I prayed for a young man with pain and discomfort in his arm and shoulder (unable to freely move his arms without discomfort and pain). When I prayed for him, I sensed that he was “swaying” under the anointing of the Spirit. I moved slightly to my left, with my left hand on his injured arm, in attempt to position myself to break his fall should he fall under the Spirit. The moment I done that, he fell backward like a tree, and as he fell, my hand moved from his arm towards his neck and then the back of his head. Finally, he landed on the floor with my hand between his head and the floor. Come to think about it, I should have felt pain when his head crashed my hand to the floor but I just did not feel any pain. He fell without a catcher and my hand broke his fall. He stayed down for maybe 5-6 minutes. The third person was a woman at the front row of seats. She must have seen the young man fell under the power of the Spirit and got encouraged to step forward. I remember I went over to the centre to see if anyone needed prayer before returning to the young man who was still lying on the floor. It was at this moment that the woman stepped forward and asked me to pray for greater anointing and ability to hear God more clearly. While I was praying for this woman the young man got up and went off before I could have the chance to check to see if he was healed of his pain and discomfort in the arm/shoulder. In any case, I believe the Lord must have ministered to him whilst he was down on the floor. Of course, it is not to say that people who are not slain are not ministered/healed by the Lord. It is just that often people cannot tell whether anything has changed immediately after the prayer and we do not get updated subsequently of their conditions. So, I take comfort that from time to time some people I prayed for got slain.

Why am I sharing this?
The main reason for sharing this is to acknowledge God’s honoring of the meditations of my heart, to thank Him for affirming that He still moves through me regularly. I know my life is not without reproach by the Lord’s standard, yet He was so gracious to move through me. It is an honor and privilege to be used regularly by the Lord to minister blessing to others. Secondly, it is to encourage people to press in and be faithful in the little that the Lord is doing through their lives in blessing others.

Not on duty, yet on duty
Those worshipping in the same church will know I am not on duty on any of the services. In fact, quite a number of the members of the church have been qualified as lay Altar Ministers but no one is on roster for duty, we are just supposed to help (i.e. left to the individuals[to help]). All these times, I was not on duty, yet on duty. I was not on duty because I was not on roster, yet I was on duty for the Lord. Because of this, perhaps it was also easier for me to “tune” for words of knowledge from the Lord than some of the pastors, not because they are not more “spiritual” (whatever that means), but because they are preoccupied with their duties to ensure everything turns out nicely for the congregation to “enjoy” the services, whereas I was free to “tune” to the Lord. I tried to discipline myself but I was not without reproach (the Lord knew), yet whatever I did (I mean release of words of knowledge/prophecy and altar ministry) in church services, it was not intended to pressurize anybody in the church. I had a job I needed to do for the Lord, and my son, Andrew often would remind me that I had to do my job, least the Lord gave me the “sack”. If in doing what I did, had come off to anyone as “show-off”, I apologise. I need prayers. Pray for me. Pray that I will always be humble, pray for my protection, pray that I will hear God clearly, and speak only the words of God and not my own when I release words of knowledge or prophecy. Pray that when I pray for others, they will be ministered by the Lord.

Once again, thank you Lord

Anthony Chia -Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer (Ps 19:14)

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

More Lord, More

Since May 2009, I had had few occasions where I could release words of knowledge particularly, on healing. Also, along with that, fewer occasions for praying for people for healing (For an idea of how I function, see: ). My main place of ministry currently is really in church, during church services. I regularly attended all the 3 weekend English services of my church in which I function as a lay Altar Minister. A much smaller setting which sometimes accorded opportunities to minister, is the regular Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship weekly meetings. For various reasons, no times were allotted for release of words of knowledge by members of congregation (I am being one) in church for the most of the several weeks since May 2009.

It kind of trouble me a little, because I believe we must try to put into practice the things we learnt in the faith, we should all exercise faith and move in the spiritual gifts that we newly “acquired”. Exercise of faith and faithfulness are pertinent to the growth in the new spiritual gifts. Apart from the gift of tongues which is for self-edification, the rest of the gifts are ministry gifts. This means that we are to minister to people. Power gifts (gift of faith, healing, miraculous powers [gift of working of miracles]), revelation gifts (gift of distinguishing spirits, words of knowledge, words of wisdom), and oral gifts (gift of words of prophecy, interpretation of tongues, [gift of tongues is a self-edification gift]) are ministry gifts. Common sense tells us that we need to use them to minister/bless others, otherwise why would God gives us the gifts. If we are having them and we are not using them, why would they (the gifts) grow in depth and power.

It is really not fruitful if we attend various “power” seminars and afterwards not put into practice at least some of the things we learnt or gifts that we “received”. In my view, churches that organize these seminars/workshops should try as far as possible to encourage the putting into practice of these things. I feel paying lip service to such calls is pointless. The church leaderships themselves must be prepared to take some “risks” and allow members to practice these things in church services, cell meetings and various ministries and settings of the churches. Allowing times for and incorporating these things in the various settings of the churches are important. We must be prepared to change some things in the existing framework of things to accommodate the new things, otherwise each of these seminars would be another “let’s do it and then forget about it” project. I am not saying we cannot encourage people to try out these things in their “marketplaces” but be realistic, how many of us do not need “warm-ups” in these things? How many of us are that gung-ho to exercise spiritual gifts unsolicited in MacDonald, Starbuck or a supermarket?

Nevertheless, I want to encourage people who want to rekindle the “flame” of their faith to firstly, exercise some faith, step out of your comfort zone a little, secondly, worship the Lord more and lastly, instill in yourself a desire to glorify God, by doing things that do not benefit you directly but which glorify God. In this way, may you experience God’s moves through you. A small candle flame that flickered and went out and the acronym, “FWD” was what I received last year at the end of a series of teachings, including seminars, on moving in the supernatural with the Lord, with the renewal of the mind. I believe this is the interpretation of this vision that the Lord gave me (it was meant for the church congregation, but it is applicable to anyone who can identify with the vision of the candle flame) - “That there are those among us whose flames are dying out, to move forward, we need to step out in faith (the “F”), we need to worship the Lord a lot more (the “W”) and lastly we need to have a desire to glorify God (the “D”)”. When our flames are dying out, these 3 things, Faith exercising, Worship and Desire to glorify God, are things that we are reluctant to do/have. Yet, these are the very things that we have to tell our mind to do. We have to repeatedly tell our spirit man that, to move forward (FWD), we must exercise (F)aith, (W)orship God and do something to concretize our (D)esire to glorify God.

I have put into practice what the Lord had shown me, and I believe today my flame has been rekindled. For the few who know my situation more closely, things had not been going well for me for the last few years. Literally, my world crashed on me in early 2008. I hit my “most difficult patch” in my life. Now is still not the time yet to share the details of the “lowest period” of my life. It suffices to say that at one point, I literally did not know whether or not I could ever worship God. What faith was there to talk about? Kind souls then kept telling me to think about Job of the Bible, how he suffered at the hands of Satan and how he refused to curse God. How to sustain a desire to glorify God? For a moment I became like the Rachel (Jeremiah 31:15) of the Bible, weeping and weeping and refused to be comforted.

Today I am still not out of the patch that I had entered, things could never be the same again, yet I have gained – experiencing more of the Lord moving through me. More Lord, more. I want to experience more of you in my life. Thank you Lord for seeing me through, and for the spiritual gift experiences you brought into my life. Thank you Lord that despite the lack of opportunities to exercise the gift of words of knowledge in the recent weeks, you continued to show me that you are still moving through me by letting me experience about two weeks ago, for the first time, 2 consecutive slayings by the Spirit (falling under the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit) of 2 persons I laid hands on, consecutively. Also, another who said she felt great anointing upon her when I laid my hands on her. Thank you Lord for the privilege of leading a man through the Sinner’s Prayer on the 2nd night of that 2-nights meeting.

Lord, I want more; more opportunities to experience your moves through me. Lord, I want to see the gift of the words of knowledge in me used and grow. I want your healing anointing in me to increase, Lord so that more people will be healed or ministered. Lord, let me not take pride in your moves through me but even as you raise me, may your name be raised high and you be glorified.

Lord, may I grow in favour with you,

Anthony Chia – may this meditation of my heart pleases you, Lord

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Jesus’ teachings on prayers (Luke 11:1-13) [Part I]

In Luke 11:1, the disciples of Jesus asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. In the next 12 verses, Jesus taught about:

1. Praying for oneself (Luke 11:2-4) - Lord's Prayer
2. Praying for another (Luke 11:5-10)  [covered in Part II]
3. Praying for the Holy Spirit to be given (Luke 11:11-13) [covered in Part III]

For this first part of a 3-part article on this portion of the Scripture, I going to write on the first item covered by Jesus – praying for oneself (Luke 11:2-4).

Praying for oneself (Luke 11:2-4)

He[Jesus] said to them, "When you pray, say:
" 'Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us each day [today] our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.' "

What we should understand:

1. First we address God.
For Jesus, naturally He addressed God as the Father. Jesus is the Son, and God is His Father. I believe we can pray to the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit, or collectively, God. You can even use your own endearing terms like Abba and Father God. Some people use Lord Jesus or Almighty God.

2. Second, we honour God with our greetings.
Jesus said, “hallowed be your name”. I use “blessed be your name or blessed be the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”. You may also want to thank Him for his work in the previous day/your life.

3. Third, we acknowledge God’s desires, before ours.
So I would follow Jesus’ words on this, “your kingdom comes, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.

4. Now we petition for our needs.
If we look carefully at the Lord’s prayer (this is called the Lord’s prayer), we find that Jesus is trying to teach us to look at a day at a time, asking for what we need for the day. Jesus is saying, “Do not worry about tomorrow”, we just need to address this day. We are to address each day as it comes. I am quite sure many of us do not follow this. Almost all of us, and that include me, failed in this, it is not whether or not we failed but how badly we failed. God tells us not to worry (Mathew 6:34), yet almost all of us still do it. To worry is not trusting God. Another reason why we are “covering more than we should”, I believe is that we do not pray daily. And the reason for not praying daily can be one or more of these:

a. plain laziness
b. thinking you can/should handle “your life”
c. “too busy”
d. “too tired”
e. “why so troublesome”
f. so “cartoon”
g. thinking it is hypocritical

We should stop finding excuses for our failure to come before God each day.

There are different views about what “daily bread” mean in the Lord’s Prayer. Whatever the view, the daily bread is a need (not a want, and I know there are those who would like to say, “come on, our God is more generous than that, surely He grant not only our needs! That generosity is spelt out elsewhere, not here. I am also not saying you cannot tell God what you would like to have [a want]).

I also do not see anything wrong with the straightforward interpretation of daily bread as our basic needs – food, clothing and shelter. I know in Mathew 6, God asks that we do not worry about what we will eat and what we will wear, but do you know that our asking for just the daily portion is an acknowledgement on our part that God is provider. Even as we are gathering, we must always remember it is God who gives us the capacity to gather (Deuteronomy 8:17-18). If you want to interpret daily bread to mean more, like it should include His word, wisdom, “presence”, etc, I think it is fine, so long as the list represent your “needs” and not “wishes”.

5. Ask for forgiveness.
I view God’s forgiveness as a need just as I need food. We need food for physical life, forgiveness for eternal life.

I want to say that Jesus is telling us that we need to ask God for forgiveness daily (in fact every time we have sinned). Brethrens, be careful not to believe the preaching or teachings about God loving us so much that He will forgive us (Christians) whether or not we ask for forgiveness, or such things as there is not even the need for repentance since God loves us (Christians), or that we belittle the Blood of Christ when we repeatedly ask Him to forgive us.

Bible is very clear about the consequence of sin – the wage of sin is death. If I may be very blunt, it may be if we do not repent and have our sin forgiven of us, Hell we go, regardless we are a Christian. If the outcome is any different, it is because of God’s grace.

God’s Word says that there is a narrow door (Luke 13:24) for us to enter, yet, what many Christians are trying to do, instead of taking the already narrow door, is to take the chance and hope that they will squeeze through a tiny crack in the wall, greased by the grace of God.

I do not believe in auto-cleaning by the Blood of Christ. If you believe in that, you are implying that the Blood of Jesus is the license to sin. Or do you think that sin committed by you after acceptance of Jesus is any different from the same sin committed before you become a believer? Already many people are not accepting Jesus because they said Christians are so hypocritical – using the Blood of Jesus as the license to sin. So, don’t you go round propagating that Christians can sin and get away with it without even seeking forgiveness from the Lord. Please, if Jesus himself taught it, that we have to ask for forgiveness, it must be necessary; and He was not talking to non-believers, He was teaching the disciples.

I am saddened that “spiritual leaders” do not emphasize holiness and righteous living enough to the flock, and instead drop “contradicting” words/phrases here and there without proper explanations leading people to misunderstand the importance of holiness, repentance and seeking of forgiveness.

For example, a sharing about Christians loving the sinners but not the sin, if not done properly, can mislead people to think that repentance is not required.

Recently I had a first-hand encounter of this. A highly regarded preacher/pastor shared about how he continued to love a person who had sinned greatly against his son and had brought shame to his (the preacher) family. While the preacher’s love was commendable and perhaps when the sharing was done in a different context or done with more sensitivity as to avoid misinterpretation, it would have been excellent, but in this case, it was not. Subsequent to the sharing/preaching, a brethren spoke with me and reiterated that he was right about repentance being not required; he said the sharing confirmed he was correct about his interpretation of a certain parable in the Gospel, in which he said that no repentance was required.

I can agree God can work with very little, that a small step on our part can trigger a big move from God but we really have to be careful to say that God does not require repentance. I did not feel good that this brother's view had been reinforced, although I have to agree, preachers always run some risks that their messages may get misinterpreted.

If you are still not convinced that repentance is required, consider what was the mission of John the Baptist (Mathew 3:2), what were Jesus’ very first sermons about (Mathews 4:17), what Jesus said to the adulterous woman who was spared the stoning (John 8:11), and how Jesus taught about forgiveness (Luke 17:3b-4).

6. Forgive others when we want God’s forgiveness.
There are "requirements" for God’s forgiveness? I think the word “grace” has been overused, so much so that people subconsciously think that they have to do nothing! Christianity is not about doing nothing. Do not say, “It is grace-what, I do not need to do anything”.

I can name a few things you have to do for God’s forgiveness. First you have to ask, that is what Jesus said, the other is repentance, which has been touched on, above. Another is the forgiveness of others. In Mathew 6:15 it is clearly stated you need to forgive in order to receive forgiveness from God (The Lord’s Prayer is also found here – Mathew 6:9-13).

From the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Mathew 18:23-35), it is clear that if you do not forgive others, God will not forgive you. It is that serious, this is what verse 35 says, “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”(Mathew 18:35 KJV). [The lord of the unmerciful servant delivered the servant to the tormentors]. You can read the whole story at:;&version=9; [I am giving here the King James Version reference because it still retains the use of the word “tormentors”. Newer translations of the Bible tended to use “torturers” instead. We will look at this word, “tormentors” or its root word, “torment”, in a while].

I propose below the explanation for the seriousness of unforgiveness in the eyes of God:

From verse 32 of Mathew 18, we can see God equate the unwillingness to forgive with wickedness – “O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee…”. Wickedness is direct contrast with holiness. God is holiness. Holiness is the most fundamental attribute of God. Wickedness is unholiness and it violates holiness, God cannot have that. Wicked people cannot enter the Kingdom of God [God cannot have Himself violated] – 1 Corinthians 6:9a (I recommend you read my writings on holiness at: ). But you might say, “What is so wicked about not forgiving someone?”. Let me explain:

When you sinned against another, say, you slandered another. What will happen to you? If the person whom you sinned against, in this case, the person you slandered, does not forgive you, that unforgiven sin of yours hinders you from entering the Kingdom of Heaven, unless you yourself ask God to forgive you directly and He forgives you (Because we do NOT know if someone we have wronged, forgives or NOT, us, the posture is always that we have to ask God for forgiveness for the wrongs or sins we have committed, in accordance to 1 John 1:9). Yah, slanderers will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven – 1 Corinthians 6:10.

If the person whom you sinned against, forgive you, the sin you committed will be forgiven by God. Not enough preachers preach about it or explain this. It ended up so many people do not clearly understand this. I did not say you have the power to forgive, Jesus said it. Jesus told the disciples when He appeared to them after his resurrection. It is recorded in John 20:23 - If you forgive anyone his sins [against you], they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. Understanding this, now can you agree that you are wicked if you will not forgive another - you "are sending" him/her to hell, when in fact, you yourself are asking God to forgive you of your sin so that you are spared from having to go to hell.

[added 17/01/2011: I am aware that there is an alternative rendering to the verse, John 20:23 in which interpretation within the context of the preceding verses could mean that Jesus was speaking of the sending of the disciples, complete with the empowering (indwelling) of the Holy Spirit, to preach the good news, which is essentially is about God’s forgiveness of one’s sins through the faith in the works of the Son of God, Jesus, on the Cross. When we preach the gospel, we preach forgiveness of God (not our forgiveness) for those who believe, meaning we are agreeing with those who would believe, their sins are forgiven them. And when they are not believing, we are in effect, witnesses, to their sins are not forgiven them (their sins stay, and they stay condemned).

But I assert that the alternative rendering of John 20:23 above, is without contradicting the authority to forgive, as coming from God. When a believer forgives, the authority to forgive does come from God, for the Holy Spirit indwells the believer. In any case, it applies only to sins against us.

Furthermore, if God would ask us to forgive one another as He forgave, which is by grace, why He NOT forgive the offender if we have forgiven in the same way that He would like us to forgive - by grace.  Imagine if you have forgiven the person, God would NOT?!]

So if you do not forgive, you are wicked and what will happen to you who will not forgive. God does not forgive you either.  People without forgiveness from God, go to hell, eventually. In the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant above, what happened to the wicked servant? He was given over to the tormentors, i.e. he ended up being tormented (afflicted with acute and more or less protracted suffering). Think for a moment, what happens to people who end up in hell. Yes, they get tormented. See the parallel?!

Specific to unforgiveness, is it possible that tormenting may happen in this life? Some of what I am going to say in this para. and the next, is little subjective, not (yet) fully referenced to the Word of God but I believe they are valid.

I believe in some cases, people with combinations of unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness may actually be tormented in their present lives. I believe that wicked people, including wicked Christians may not have the full covering of God (by this I mean, as Christians, by default, God always “watches over” us – using angels, the Lord’s army, Holy Spirit, even men; yes, God uses men).

When “God withdraws” (partial/complete) his covering, from say, wicked Christians, the principalities of darkness (Satan, evil spirits, etc.) know and they will attack. It is as if now they have a right to torment you.

It is like when you received God’s forgiveness, you crossed over to God’s side of the battlefield and when you refused to do the very thing that God did for you (to forgive another by grace), you have done a mutiny and the enemy knows it and comes for you. We need to understand that God’s covering for us is a grace from God.

When it is grace, it means we do not deserve it, yet He extends it to us anyway. So, He is completely justified to withdraw his covering at any time. This idea is illustrated in the Book of Jonah, God caused a vine to grow to provide Jonah with a shelter from the heat, even after he (Jonah) was unreasonably angry with God, but only to take the vine away the next day. The specific verses are Jonah 4:5-8, but you really should read the whole Book of Jonah, it is a short book.

Here, I use the words, “God withdraws” but I believe, often we are the ones who “force” the hand of God. I believe that when we read in the Bible that people were “given over” to or “delivered” to (yes, sometimes, this word is used; in fact it is used in the Parable of Unmerciful Servant above), say, the enemies or tormentors (or more modern translations, torturers), it really means God lets go, letting thing takes its course, which often in this fallen world, can be pretty awful.

A man reaps what he sows (Galations 6:7c). Romans 2:9a says, “There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil”. God does not cause you to be tormented. You suffer the consequence of your sin (refusal to forgive).

Always remember God is good, yes, He does chasten but He cannot think and plan evil against you. [By way of mention, it is possible also that wicked people may still enjoy God’s covering as a result of imputed covering (that of righteous husband over wife, for e.g.) - covering accorded to them by God because of intercessions of protection by kind souls (eg. A mother’s persistent prayers of protection for her wicked son). But if they (the wicked) die unrepentant and unforgiven, hell may well be still their destination.].

So, in real life, we do find people, including Christians tormented for years but not able to receive breakthroughs, until the issues of unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness are addressed properly in their lives. Because of failure in this area, some get demonized, saddled with sicknesses that do not seem to have any cures (sickness does not go away or keep recurring), aches and pains all over, emotional instabilities, and loss of effectiveness in living normal lives.

7. The 3rd part of the 4-part verse 4, “And lead us not into temptation” is one of those difficult verses to understand.
Up until now, I really do not know how to interpret this. Even what I am saying now, may not be what you would agree, but I believe enough to think it is an acceptable interpretation.

It is difficult to interpret it on face-value because there is another verse in the Bible that put it very clearly that God does not tempt people.

James 1: 13-14:
When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.

Then why did Jesus ask us to ask God not to lead us into temptation. Yes, God does chasten us and test us, and the Bible explains why God does the chastening and testing. In short, it is to help us to grow and to be refined. So, it cannot be that Jesus is asking us to ask God not to chasten or test us. Also, 1 Corinthians 10:13 says that we will not be tested beyond what we could bear and God will provide a way out. There is no need to pray for avoidance.

I want to submit to you that this part of the verse may simply mean “Help us not to sin”. If you look at 1st 2 parts and the 4th part of verse 4, it would look like it makes sense – in 1st 2 parts we ask God for forgiveness as we forgive others (people sinned against us, we forgive so as to NOT sin [to NOT forgive, is sin], and we ask God for forgiveness for our own sins), then we ask God to help us not to sin and deliver us from the evil one. Jesus knows human weaknesses, and when He said this, He was walking the earth with the disciples; and the Bible said this of Jesus:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy {including forgiveness for our sins} and find grace to help us in our time of need {including the time that we are tempted}. (Hebrew 4:15-16)

8. Lastly, we ask God to deliver us from the evil one.
The evil one here can be simply evil men or principalities of darkness (Satan and evil spirits). The latter often perpetuates their evil schemes or plans through evil men. I often plead with God to hold onto me, not to let go of my hand even if I slip and fall, even as I want to “hold the hand that holds the world”.

God, may you help me to put into practice what you have shown me,

Anthony Chia, high.expressions - to practise what God has shown is high expression unto Him

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