BIBLE READING: 1 Peter 5:8-11
TEXT: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
It’s great that you want to ask God for help. That is what we call prayer! It’s also good that you are thinking about who we pray to. The disciples came to Jesus and asked him to teach them to pray – and that is how we got the Lord’s Prayer.
Let’s think what prayer is. There is a danger in using prayer in the way that someone uses a vending machine. You put your money in and out comes whatever you desire – a drink or chocolate. You need to make sure you put the right money into the right machine. Prayer is not like that. God is not at our beck and call. We need to be very careful not to treat prayer like a work in which if we do it right enough and long enough we get what we want. Prayer is first of all saying to God ‘Your will be done’.
So let’s look at the Lord’s Prayer which is a pattern for us (Matthew 6:9-13) and see how we would pray it when we are facing an exam.
OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN – This is who we pray to. God the Father. The normal pattern in Christian prayer is to pray to the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Spirit. Of course we can and should pray to Jesus the Son (1 Corinthians 1:12) and asking the Holy Spirit to come to us is not wrong but the primary focus is on our Father in heaven – who as Peter tells us, cares for us to the extent that we can cast all our anxiety on him.
HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME – We begin with God and we continue with God. The focus in prayer is not ourselves.
YOUR KINGDOM COME, YOUR WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN – Again we continue with God. We are longing for his kingdom to come. We want his will, not ours to be done.
GIVE US TODAY OUR DAILY BREAD – Now we are on to our exams. Our daily bread refers not just to food but all the necessities of life. As a student/pupil passing exams is a big deal in your life so of course it is not wrong to ask God to help you. Although asking him to let you miraculously pass the exams when you have done no work for them might not be the best way to go! Asking for mercy is one thing – presuming that you don’t need to do the work because all you have to do is pray and God will pass the exam for you is quite another! So praying that God would calm our minds, that we would have a good memory, that he would bless our work and enable us to pass the exam is a good thing to pray.
FORGIVE US OUR DEBTORS AS WE ALSO HAVE FORGIVEN OUR DEBTORS – Now in prayer we are considering our own sins, including our attitudes to others. We are to let go of all bitterness and hatred and seek forgiveness from our own sins. We know that if we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins (1 John 1:9). It may be at this stage that we are aware of not having done our work and we are asking the Lord to show us mercy in our exam! That we are really repentant and want to ensure that we don’t behave that way again!
LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL – There may be a temptation to panic, or despair, or even to cheat. We ask the Lord to deliver us from these.
FOR YOURS IS THE KINGDOM, THE POWER AND THE GLORY, FOREVER AND EVER. AMEN. We finish as we began – with God and his kingdom. Ultimately our exams are tiny and small in the great scheme of things – but they still matter to us and to the One who loves and knows us in so much detail that he even knows every single hair on our head. So we ask the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit, that we may pass our exams and we trust that whatever happens he loves us and will take care of us – because we are part of his kingdom, part of his family.
I should point out that this only applies if we are part of his family – if we have come to a living and saving faith in Jesus Christ. If you are not a Christian please don’t think you can use God at your own convenience to get what you want. Your greatest need is not passing exams but giving your life to Christ. The greatest question you will ever answer is ‘What do you think of Christ?”
CONSIDER: What does Jesus tell us to do about worry? What are the things you worry about? How do you cast all your anxiety (worry) upon him? Do you just pray when you feel a need or is prayer part of your DNA?
RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING: Prayer – Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God – Tim Keller.
The Valley of Vision.
PRAYER: Lord, teach us to pray. Teach us who you are. Teach us who we are. May your kingdom come. Amen
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