Summary: Sermon on prayer
“A Knight of Prayer”
August 31, 2008
"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.’”
When you think of the Apostle Paul, what do you think of? Missionary? Preacher? Church Leader? Church Planter? Transformed sinner? He was certainly all those things – but I have come to realize that above all those things - he was a prayer warrior. In fact, I have come to realize that it is just about impossible to do any of the things Paul did (at least successfully) without being a prayer warrior and having a great team of prayer warriors supporting you.
When you think of Jesus – what do you think of? Creator, Savior, Healer, Miracle worker? Certainly, He was all of that – and more. But He was also a Prayer Warrior. Check these Scriptures out. Before power and victory came – Jesus prayed.
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35
”Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:15-16
“After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone” Matthew 14:23
“After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.” Mark 6:46
Jesus was our example of a “Prayer Warrior”. Here are some other times that Jesus Prayed. They are in your handouts. I encourage you to study them this week.
AT HIS WATER BAPTISM - LUKE 3:21-22
BEFORE CHOOSING APOSTLES - LUKE 6:11-13
PRAYING ALONE - LUKE 9:18
IN FAITH - MATTHEW 26:53
AT THE TRANSFIGURATION - LUKE 9:28-29
INSPIRED OTHERS TO PRAY - LUKE 11:1
FOR CHILDREN - MATTHEW 19:13
FOR PETER - LUKE 22:31-32
In our Scripture this morning, Jesus gave us some instructions on how to pray and how NOT to pray. Let’s first take a look at how NOT to pray.
Jesus first cautioned us in praying not to do it for show. He said the hypocrites did it to show off. They loved to pray public prayers so everyone could see how spiritual they were. I’ve seen that a time or two in church. Usually it is some old saint who is well versed in the King James language and prays with ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ in a loud voice – often weeping, sometimes kneeling or throwing themselves prostrate on the alter. Now, that’s perfectly okay – if it’s real. But if there is a hint of pride or pleasure in giving a ‘show’ – it’s wrong. If there’s an ‘look at me!” It’s wrong. God will not hear that kind of prayer – even though it may seem tremendously spiritual – to some.
Jesus says that we are not to use vain babbling, like some do. What is that about? John Wesley said:
“To repeat any words without meaning them, is certainly a vain repetition. Therefore we should be extremely careful in all our prayers to mean what we say; and to say only what we mean from the bottom of our hearts. The vain and heathenish repetitions which we are here warned against, are most dangerous, and yet very common; which is a principal cause why so many, who still profess religion, are a disgrace to it. Indeed all the words in the world are not equivalent to one holy desire. And the very best prayers are but vain repetitions, if they are not the language of the heart.” Wesley’s Notes
“It is taken for granted that all who are disciples of Christ pray. You may as soon find a living man that does not breathe, as a living Christian that does not pray. If prayerless, then graceless. The Scribes and Pharisees were guilty of two great faults in prayer, vain-glory and vain repetitions. Verily they have their reward; if in so great a matter as is between us and God, when we are at prayer, we can look to so poor a thing as the praise of men, it is just that it should be all our reward. Yet there is not a secret, sudden breathing after God, but he observes it. It is called a reward, but it is of grace, not of debt; what merit can there be in begging? If he does not give his people what they ask, it is because he knows they do not need it, and that it is not for their good. So far is God from being wrought upon by the length or words of our prayers, that the most powerful intercessions are those which are made with groanings that cannot be uttered. Let us well study what is shown of the frame of mind in which our prayers should be offered, and learn daily from Christ how to pray.”