Pastor Mike Gerhardt, September 3, 2017, Series on Prayer - Outline 8, Prayer Individually, Matthew 6:1-14. This is about the worship of an individual.
Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. Introduction: Will prayers ever be banned on planes? Prayers are said on planes everyday. Whenever it is turbulent, I always think this is it, the plane is going down. Someone defined a landing as a controlled mid-air collision with the planet. A flight instructor told his student: A good landing is one where you can walk away from the plane, and a great landing is one where you can use the plane again. As soon as the stewardess serves the coffee, the airplane encounters turbulence. The strength of the turbulence is directly proportional to the temperature of your coffee.
As we have been studying the topic of prayer, I do hope you have been praying and not just on planes. I want to remind you again that prayer changes ME if nothing else. Personal prayer also must be life changing.
Soren Kierkegaard said: Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays. In this section of scripture, Jesus is teaching what godliness or righteousness really looks like especially in the three areas of Jewish piety: giving, prayer, and fasting. After scorning the religious leaders on public giving, Jesus begins to teach on prayer.
PRAYING TO BE SEEN BY OTHERS (vs 5): If there was one thing Jesus despised, it was the very thing every Pharisee seemed to have majored in at the Jerusalem seminary: showing off and acting self-righteousness in front of everyone, especially sinners. They prayed standing in the synagogues and on the corners to be seen by men. In their hypocrisy, they received their reward in full.
Before moving on, what about standing in prayer? Is the posture of prayer important? Our posture can sometimes reveal our hearts. There are several postures: Standing with hands lifted like Moses, prostrated face down on the ground like Abraham, on their knees like Paul with the elders, Jesus in the Garden or Stephen while being stoned to death. What is your posture? My posture is often sitting comfortably in an easy chair or lying in bed almost asleep. What is wrong with that picture? No wonder my prayers aren’t vibrant in that posture. The best posture for you is the one in which you connect with God on a regular basis. Think about this. Find your place of prayer, your time with Jesus and talk with your Father regularly. C.S. Lewis wrote: Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine. In it God shows himself to us. That he answers prayers is a corollary-not necessarily the important one-from that revelation. What he does is learned from what he is.
When I really concentrate on what prayer is all about, I wrap my mind around the idea that I am entering God’s realm, the primary reality of the spiritual world we all must interact with. It is a place where the Holy Spirit’s interacts with our spirit. We dare speak with our heavenly Father in prayer.
PRAYING WITH LOTS OF WORDS AND TIME (vs 7) Chants, mantras, incantations, monosyllabic repetition that are found in pagan prayer languages all over the world: whether witch doctors, monks or Tibetan priests.
Babbling comes from Aramaic battal, idle or useless talk. It is what babies do, the sound they make, onomatopoeia.
So how much time should we pray, especially if God knows our every need? Remember Jesus prayed all night long, and it may have been on a regular basis (see Luke 6:12, or in the Garden of Gethsemane). In the parable of Luke 18:1-8, Jesus encouraged praying the same thing over and over to show God your sincerity and persistence. In Psalm 136 the phrase for His steadfast love is repeated 26 times. Jesus mentioned repetition of empty or meaningless words. Asking God for a spiritual blessing is always appropriate. James 4:2: You do not have because you do not ask. Pray for God to enrich you spiritually. See Ephesians 1:17-19, 3:16-19, Philippians 1:9-11, Colossians 1:9-14. Here are some topics of prayers for Spiritual Blessings: prayers for wisdom, knowledge of God’s love, peace, victory over depression, sound sleep, holiness, purity, family, hope for tomorrow, strength for today, and simple prayers of blessing.
Not many words but the right ones. If the US president came to your house, you would be awed and inspired; you would put on your best. He would talk of world affairs, global economics, and universal peace, but you would want him to focus on the local economy, rising school taxes and the potholes in your street. What if the president invited you to the White House, you would be awed and inspired; you would put on your best. He would talk about world affairs, global economics, and universal peace and you would begin to try and understand his concerns over yours.
The model prayer Jesus gave us, has only seven petitions.
PRAYING IN JUDGMENT OF OTHERS (vs 14-15) A forgiving heart is primary; forgiveness comes from God to us. God’s forgiveness is completely undeserved mercy and grace. He wants us to have that for others. I was listening to KLove on Forgiveness Friday. A woman called in and said that her husband was in jail for sexually abusing their daughter. She told how her life became meaningless, joy ceased and bitterness filled her days. Then with the help of Jesus, she forgave her husband and began praying for him. A burden was lifted, the peace of God returned and the joy of living began again. Our spiritual poverty and his sanctified riches in forgiveness are the beginning of a powerful and prayerful relationship. God is the source to satisfy our soul. Knowing our spiritual need for Him opens our soul to his filling us to overflowing.
Ask for God's heart to be in your heart.
Conclusion: Take time to pray before the Lord in your closet often and in the Spirit.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.