Prayer has always been something that has been sort of a mystery for some people. People ask why do we pray, how do we pray and does pray really work? Whenever I pray is there really anybody on the other side listening or am I just talking to myself, and answering myself?
These are really good questions and pray does seem a bit confusing at times. Hopefully we can answer some of these questions and help give you a greater understanding of what the Bible says concerning our prayer life…yes it should be a life of prayer.
First we need to understand that in order to have a life of prayer we need to know that…
Communication is Key
How many of you have a best friend? Some of you may have many that you consider best friends. Can you remember back to when you first met each other? Did you know very much about each other? Probably not but over time you started to learn more…the more time you spent together the more you knew and your friendship became stronger.
If you hadn’t spent much time together, and lets say you only asked these 4 questions about each other…then could you say you really know that person? Not at all because you learn more about people when you communicate with them…when you spend time getting to know them and usually that is on a daily basis.
Communication is key to learning just who someone is. Communication drives our lives anymore. We live in a world that is technology driven…driven by social media and so we have many ways to communicate with people. We have many ways to spend time with people and make best friends with each other right?
You know I first met my wife in 1995 at a go cart track. Her cousin raced go carts at a small track right in front of the North Wilkesboro Speedway. Just so happened that I helped work on the cart…so that is how we met.
Now as soon as I met her I walked up to her and asked her my 4 questions and got down on one knee, proposed and we have been married ever since. Now that sounds just plum ridiculous doesn’t it?
What really happened is we started off by going out on one date. That date led to another and so on. Over the course of those dates we spent time together and grew to become best friends…to the point that we didn’t want to spend time with anyone else but each other.
What was really happening was we were falling in love with each other.
You see if you’re going to get to know someone you can’t go on a brief casual onetime conversation. It takes time and you have to want to spend time with them to get to know them better. Intentional effort has to be put into it…communication is key!
Alicia and I drove our parents crazy because we saw each other every single day of the week. If we missed one day of seeing each other it drove us insane. We became so close during the 9 years we dated and fell so deeply in love with each other that it was amazing. I still love her even more today than I did yesterday.
As you spend time together like we did…as I’m sure many of you can with your best friends…you start to know what that person is thinking before they say a word. You can even finish their sentences for them, you know what they like, what they hate, what makes then happy, sad, and what hurts them the most. You know what they will do before you see them do it.
You know during this time you spend together you are also going to gain trust in that person…that’s why they are your best friend right? You can trust that person and it shows because you share everything with that person. You share your secrets, your personal stuff that is going on in your life, your most private situations, whether it’s family issues or school issues or maybe issues with another friend.
You build confidence in each other…you have each other’s back through thick and thin times in life.
So why am I telling you all of this? Why is it so important that you communicate with someone to know more about them?
Well it builds the relationship between you and that person. I say all of this and we did the exercise at the beginning of class because God wants you to know that He wants to build a relationship with you!
We do this through prayer. That’s what prayer is…communicating, talking and listening to God. Once God saves a soul the relationship just starts and we build the relationship by spending time with God.
The Bible says in Revelation 3:20 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”
Where did this verse say that Jesus was standing? He is at the door and He’s doing what? He’s knocking on the door. When we think about this do you think Jesus is literally at the door of your house knocking?
No not literally in this setting. Do you think Jesus is speaking of our heart? Yes! Now if someone comes to your house and knocks on the door or rings the door bell. Do you hear it? Yes if you are to where you can…we hear it. That is what Jesus is meaning here. He is at the door of our heart everyday and the knock is Him speaking to our hearts and wanting to come inside.
Now what is our responsibility to do when Jesus knocks at the door? We have to open up our heart and let Him inside. When we do this Jesus says that He will share a meal with us. Jesus wants to spend time with us…a time set aside when we talk with each other…carry on a conversation with each other.
Communication is Key if we are going to learn anything about someone.
So how do we pray…how do we communicate with the God of all creation? I mean what do I say to Him? Did you know that the first disciples that Jesus chose had the exact same question?
They saw how Jesus spent time praying and the impact it was having on His life but also on the life of the people he encountered everyday.
Great news is that Jesus teaches us how we can pray and have a powerful prayer life through the model prayer found in Matthew 6. Now this is just a guide on how to pray and not the only source for prayer or meant to be the only words we say in prayer. The Bible from Genesis to Revelation gives many examples of the prayers we might say during the course of our life…depending on what situation we find ourselves in during our life.
Lets read from Matthew 6:5-13 to see what Jesus says on how to pray.
“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.”
Position in Prayer to God
If you look at verse 5…Do not be like the hypocrites those pretenders. Jesus is talking about the Pharisees who longed to pray in front of others reciting their formed out written prayers. Jesus does not want us to look to them or to man on how to pray.
These Pharisees love to pray and prayer is good because it gets us in touch with the Father. And Jesus is not saying anything against public praying like we do in church services or before our meal at a restaurant. The motive these Pharisees had in their heart was the real issue.
He is saying they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Jesus goes on to say that they also have their reward which is to be seen by the public eye. Praise from men.
These Pharisees in reality had no intention of speaking with God or even asking to God to answer their prayers. The only thing they wanted was attention from people…they wanted people to notice them and to mention how much they enjoyed what they prayed.
Jesus says for us to not have that kind of intention when we pray…prayer is a time when we really try to learn about God, learn from God and how we should handle the situations we are faced with in life…we need to also find out the things God wants us to do in our everyday life.
One thing I believe we can receive from Jesus here is that prayer should not only be done in the public setting…in other words not just in the Lord’s house on Sunday’s and Wednesday’s.
We shouldn’t let the two days of the week we come to church be the only time we pray, communicate or try to hear from God. Because look with me at what Jesus says next…
If you look at verses 6 and 7 Jesus says…not if but “when you pray…”
- Go to your secret place…your secluded room. Somewhere were it is just you and God.
- Shut your door and pray.
This is insinuating we should position ourselves into a daily quiet time with the Lord. A time when we position ourselves some place that is outside the community of believers…a time of seclusion.
This would be someplace that we go everyday to pray. It could be someplace at home, your office, or your car on your lunch hour.
Position yourself into a daily quiet time by…
We get into position…alone with God and Pray to our Father who is in the secret place…now look at the promise from Christ here that God will…
- God who sees in secret. That is that God is listening to you, sees you praying and knows that you are truly with all your heart trying to communicate with Him, and He will…
- Isn’t that so comforting that we know God hears us?
- Will reward you openly…I’m thankful that my reward doesn’t come from somebody. I don’t have to rely on another person to give me the desires of my heart or the things I need to live…but God almighty is the one who rewards me.
Here is what it boils down to and what Christ is saying. When you come to God, do not try to do some theatrical performance.
The inner room Jesus is talking about is your heart. Getting deep into the reality, the truth of your heart, and humbling ourselves before God.
Close the door…that is to close the door of your heart and mind to the world. Everything of the world, your family, job, sports, and anything that is wanting to take your focus/distract you from Christ.
So that our focus can be moved from us to focusing on God. Prayer should be a time of worship!
Listen when we pray…our prayers don’t have or need to be long either. We don’t have to repeat ourselves in the one prayer to be heard…God knows what we need long before we ever approach Him. Be specific in your prayer but simple and straight from the heart.
Listen friends we are dealing with a loving, merciful, gracious and giving Father. We do not need to try to impress Him because He is God, we do not need to make long prayers, nor do we need to repeat over and over in the one prayer our request. He is God!
He is all knowing and He knows what we need long before we ever are in need or long before we ever come to Him in prayer. He loves you and why would He, if we are striving to live for Him every day, hold anything back in answering our prayers? If it’s in His will, He will not hold anything back friends! He promised to reward us openly.
Next we see Jesus began to actually speak to God and He begins with…
Praise to God
If you look at verse 9…He recognized God to be in His Holy temple, His place of holiness and righteousness and one to be respected.
However, Jesus recognized God to be more of a nurturing, caring, and loving father figure or a parent as we would call them today.
Christ was saying that we know God to be the Great God Jehovah but by His nature He is a kind, gentle, a compassionate Father and we are His children. Basically what Christ was saying was in our terms was to call Him “Daddy”.
Secondly Jesus began to praise the Father. He began to tell God just how good He really is. Hallowed be Your name…we honor Your holy name.
You know one thing that the Lord has shown me in the text as he taught the model prayer…He didn’t tell us to think good thoughts about God or talk in your mind as you sit in silence…in Luke 11…Jesus says to say to your Father…folks we aught to pray audibly to our Father in Heaven!!
When you pray say!!!
Say praises unto God for His excellent greatness. When we get down on our knees, or flat on our face or standing we should begin by worshiping our Holy God. We need to praise Him and tell Him of the excellent things He has done. Knowing that He is God and we are His people, His well-tended sheep. Enter into His gates with praise and thanksgiving and worshiping Him.
You really know what this time is? It is a time to really show God and tell God just how much you love Him. When we take time to praise God and worship Him in the fullness of our heart we are really showing Him just how much we love Him.
So how do we praise Him? Praise Him with everything that is within us. We bless Him by reminding Him, telling Him of the excellent and marvelous things He has done, but also be thankful for the things He has done for us.
Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings now and for all of eternity.
When we come to God in anything; private worship or public worship, we should begin with praising Him because His is worthy of every bit of it!
Praising God is powerful! Just like prayer is powerful. Not only does Jesus show us that we should be praising God but we need to in pray be asking for the…
Perfect Will of God
If you look at verse 10…How much different would our whole perspective in life be changed if we prayed…God let your Kingdom come and Your will be done…flood/fill my heart, my life with you…let it all be about You!
Jesus is teaching us that we need to be submitting ourselves to His perfect will to be done. Submit to God’s reign, and rule for our life just like the angels in Heaven do.
We must empty ourselves of our selfish ways, doing whatever we want, and look to God for what He wants our lives to look like. Seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness. A lifetime devoted to living for God and serving Him. It’s a new lifestyle that we have committed ourselves to when we were saved.
Galatians 2:20 Paul wrote…”I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
One thing as Christians we need to learn is that our life is over at the moment of salvation…we died with Christ, we where buried with Him and we were raised with Jesus who was raised up from the dead. Christ now lives in us and it is His life that now possesses us.
How do we look for God’s will for our lives? Jesus teaches us that to find God’s will we just ask Him for it…look at verse 11…feed us God your perfect will and we learn by listening to God speak through His word.
Many folks…will say they are wanting to know what is God’s will for their life. First will is the salvation of your soul…then we live a life filled with Christ, and follow in obedience to God’s word.
We look to His word for His will to show us how we are to live each day. There is nothing like the written word of God for showing the way to salvation through faith in Christ. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another – showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, and training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the task God has for us.
Not only are we to look to the word for God’s will but we must be willing to ask Him how we need to apply the truth He teaches us to our lives.
“God how do you want me to apply this to my life? God how should this work into my life so that you can accomplish your ways?” We make ourselves available to God as a channel for Him to work through by fully submitting ourselves to Him. Not just the parts we want either. We must submit to all of His ways.
When we in full obedience submit ourselves and make ourselves available as a channel for God to work through; He will through the power of the Holy Spirit show us His will and give us knowledge and strength to accomplish His will. All we have to do is be available and trust Him!
Not only looking for God’s will but looking to God for the…
Provisions of God
If you look at verse 11 again…Not only does Jesus teach us to pray for Spiritual provision but Jesus teaches us here to lean and trust upon God for our daily physical needs. Ask and it will be given to you: look and you will find: knock and it will be opened up to you. If we can give good gifts to our children then how much more will our Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him?
God is our sustainer. God is the One who has created all and we are His and all we have to do is trust Him for the things we need. He knows what we need and long before we ever come to Him because His is God. He is all knowing, all powerful and He will provide for His children. He is a rewarder.
Jesus said if you will put your hope and trust in me you will never have to worry about your life. You will never have to worry about what you will eat or drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Because life is more than food and the body is more than clothing.
Even the birds of the air do not have to gather up into barns because God feeds them. And are you not more value than birds? You do not have to worry about what you are going to eat or drink. No need to worry about what you are going to wear. God loves you and cares for you and knows your every need. Seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you. You do not have to worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about its own things.
Not only are we to be asking God for the provisions the bread of life to keep on living, being healthy but also for the daily provision of forgiveness that will keep the relationship between God and us healthy…Spiritual health…Look at verse 12.
Jesus teaches here that we need to be seeking God’s forgiveness. Just because we are saved does not mean that we have been completely conformed to the image of Christ yet. We are not perfect people…yet! We are still in the flesh and we are still going to have times of trouble when we get a little carnal as the Bible says.
However we must not stay in a state of sin. We must continually be in the practice of repentance. When God called us to repentance and saved our souls it was not just a one and done deal of confessing our sins. We need to continually confess our sins to Him and ask Him to break those chains of sin out of our life.
I still sin. I still have to get down on my knees daily and confess the very sins that I commit each and every day. I’m not perfect.
So, Jesus teaches us to ask God for forgiveness because it is God’s very nature to forgive. He also teaches us that we need to be forgiving of others. Notice how Jesus words this verse. Forgive us as we have forgiven our debtors.
Jesus is very plain in His teachings that we must forgive in order to be forgiven. We hear a lot of times “well I will forgive but I will not forget”. Listen friends when we were saved…God came to dwell inside of us. Remember what Paul wrote? It is no longer I who lives but Christ in me and through me.
If God forgives and forgets then we having the Holy Spirit of God in us should not only forgive but forget.
God has said that all my sins have been cast as far as the east is from the west, and God promised in Hebrews 10:17 that my sins He will remember no more. Then if that be true of what God has done for us…then we must do the same for those who have wronged us.
Listen I know it is hard but this is where we do not have to rely upon our own strength but we can rely upon the grace of God and His strength to forget. How are we going to get this strength? Through asking Him in prayer and seeking His word.
God fill me with your Holy Spirit and help me love and forgive those that are in my life…and say it out loud…God I forgive them and I love them. You may have to say it a thousand times but every time you do that wall is being torn down and your heart softened with the love of God.
When we forgive others…then it is really freeing us from the chains because Jesus said forgive others so you will be forgiven.
Next Jesus says for us to ask God for…
Protection of God
If you look at verse 13…Listen God will never lead you into temptation. God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.
Temptation comes when we are drawn away by our own desires and enticed. We get tangled up in sin because we follow after what brings us pleasure…we go after what we want to do instead of what God desires.
Ask God to help you know what things in your life now and to show you things that come up each day that are going to lead you away from Him. Ask Him to show you what things are sinful and to help guard you from them.
We all have desires. We all like things that make us feel good or that we enjoy but how we go about satisfying those desires is not good when we do them outside of God’s plan.
I hope your life song will be a life time devoted to prayer…spending more time with God that we may learn to love Him more, more about Him and let our love for Him be the driving force behind us everyday to pick up our cross daily and follow Him.