Prayer (Part 1)
This is the first in a two part series on prayer. Part one goes through Matthew 6:5-8 and part two goes through verses 9-15.
Prayer is essential to Christian growth as it is open dialogue with God. I personally, have been guilty of having a one way conversation with God and is vital if you are truly seeking to know what God’s will is in your life. Jesus gave the standard for prayer in the gospel of Matthew chapter 6 verses 5-15:
The Lord’s Prayer
Matthew 6:5 (ESV) “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Jesus (the man who is God) gave an example that we are to follow and we are to follow two simple guidelines
1) Preparation of the heart (verses 5-8)
2) Praying after Gods own heart (verses 9-12)
Let’s look at the first part – Preparation of the heart
Matthew 6:5 (ESV) “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
This might seem alien to us if we live in an area where Christianity is most certainly not popular, in that day, the religious people of the day liked to put on a self-gratifying show of their piety in praying for people and praying to God, it was all pomp and religion. Jesus (who being as God can see the emptiness of the ritual and the desires of their hearts) saw through it. They were the ones who would have reached the top of the pile in rabbinical circles and would be deemed “holy men”. They advertised their great spiritual voices for their own self gain and self-involvement.
They were about seeming holy and they were self-indulgent – Jesus was about humility and self-sacrifice, which was better?
Jesus quite rightly said, “they have received their reward”. They have the holy huddle kudos, they have contorted God’s perfect 613 laws by technicality upon technicality in order to suit and satisfy their own ends. They trumpet their giving, but would never think of “loving your neighbor”.
v6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
OK hands up? Who is guilty of saying on Facebook “will pray for you bro/sis” (delete as appropriate) and have not actually done it, you start off with good intentions but it doesn’t get from the keyboard to your prayer pad, or from your prayer pad to your quiet time. None of us are infallible, we all make mistakes, we just dust ourselves off and ask forgiveness when we mess up.
Quiet time should be that, no TV/Internet/Game console/whatever distraction you have. I used to fudge prayer a lot, then I heard a sermon advising me that this was a conversation between you and God and someone whom you respect in the same room, you wouldn’t allow your mind to wander, you would pay attention, you would have bullet points on what you were planning on asking. I find all of those pointers to be very helpful.
You will be rewarded! I am not going to get all health wealth and prosperity on you and say you will be rich! But God will certainly bless your life. I am not saying do not pray in public, but please do so at the discretion of the direction of the Holy Spirit and do it with the right heart.
v7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
When you first start off as a Christian, you try to learn “Christianese” the cool terminology that Christians use to show that you are “a real one” (sounds silly but I have fallen into this trap) and when we pray in prayer meetings I try to sound more intellectual than I actually am!
Pray as you would inside your closet, pray what God has put into your heart, if you are not fluid of speech, then don’t be fluid of speech, it is far more important to God for you to be used as his vessel with a pure and full heart than it is for you to sound great in the prayer meeting. (This is coming from a guy who 90% of the prayer meeting has no clue what he prayed for)
I pray that this first part of an introduction to prayer was helpful, please check out part two that looks at the LORDs prayer.
God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
For additional reading please read:
09/11/2015 – The LORD’s prayer – Introduction
09/14/2015 – The LORD’s prayer – Part 1 – Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name
09/15/2015 – The LORD’s prayer – Part 2 – Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven
09/16/2015 – The LORD’s prayer – Part 3 – Give us this day our daily bread
09/17/2015 – The Lord’s prayer – Part 4 – And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors
09/18/2015 – The Lord’s prayer – Part 5 – And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.