Summary: Prayer is about developing a relationship of trust and dependence upon God.
A Messiah Who Prays
Text: Matt. 6:5-13
1. Illustration: Dr. R.G. Lee said, "If you trust in administration; you will get what administration can do. If you trust in hard work; you will get what hard work can do. If you trust in your sparkling personality; you will get what personality can do. If you trust in prayer; you get what God can do."
2. Martin Luther said, "as it is the duty of the cobbler to mend shoes, so it is the duty of the Christian to pray."
3. Prayer is the single most important spiritual discipline, and Jesus wanted to teach His disciples not only the importance of it but also how to pray.
4. He instructs His disciples about:
a. The motive of prayer
b. The substance of prayer
c. The model of prayer
5. Read Matt. 6:5-13
Proposition: Prayer is about developing a relationship of trust and dependence upon God.
Transition: First, Jesus teaches us about...
I. The Motive of Prayer (5-6)
A. When You Pray
1. The first thing that ought to jump off the page at us is that Jesus says, “When you pray..."
a. He doesn’t say "if you pray," but "When you pray..."
b. Prayer is not an option for the Christian, rather it is a necessity.
c. Just as necessary to our well being as food, water, and shelter.
d. In his book Prayer Partners, John Maxwell quotes John Wesley as saying, "Give me 100 preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergy or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up a kingdom of Heaven on earth. God does nothing but in answer to prayer" (p. 7).
e. The greatest ministry that any Christian can have is that of a prayer warrior!
2. Jesus continues by saying, “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."
a. Prayer was very important to the Jews in Jesus day. They prayed three times a day, but not necessarily at set times, although the ninth hour seemed to be a normal time.
b. Standing was the normal posture for prayer, but kneeling and sometimes prostrating themselves on the floor was also used (France, NICNT: Matthew, 238-239).
3. Just as with giving, Jesus concern here is with the intention of the heart, and he warns against hypocrisy.
a. What Jesus is condemning is acting all spiritual without being real.
b. Jesus forbids hypocrisy here, not sincere prayer in public or in religious services (Turner, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: Matthew, 99).
c. The Bible does not condemn public prayer. On the contrary, we are all encouraged to gather together, and when we do we are to be actively involved.
d. 1 Corinthians 14:26 (NLT)
When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you.
4. Instead, Jesus says, "But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private.
a. What Jesus is referring to here was an inner room that was in a part of the house where no one could see you and you would not be distracted.
b. It was often referred to as a "storeroom" where a person’s most prized possessions were kept, and it is appropriate that "the treasure" of prayer was kept there too (Horton, CBL: Matthew, 107).
c. The place isn’t as important as separating oneself to God. In other words, it is giving God are full and undivided attention.
d. The point is being alone with God where no one else can hear.
e. John and Charles Wesley mother, who had a large number of children, used to pull her apron over her head to pray, and the children knew that if Mom had her apron pulled over her head to leave her alone.
5. Jesus tells us, "Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you."
a. This remarkable phrase reminds us that God is omnipresent (everywhere at all times), but that He is also invisible as compared to the hypocrites who seek to be seen (France, 239).
b. The issue here is motive. Pray in secret to you Father who sees everything.
B. From the Heart
1. Illustration: Early African converts to Christianity were earnest and regular in private devotions. Each one reportedly had a separate spot in the thicket where he would pour out his heart to God. Over time the paths to these places became well worn. As a result, if one of these believers began to neglect prayer, it was soon apparent to the others. They would kindly remind the negligent one, "Brother, the grass grows on your path."