Summary: What is Prayer? How is it supposed to work? When and how do you do it, and why? Jesus answered all of these questions when he gave us a model prayer - the Lord’s Prayer. Student ministry PowerPoint format.
LESSON: AUTHENTIC PRAYER
[LEARN TO PRAY LIKE JESUS]
Slide Graphic – praying hands. Verse:
Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way
Amazon has over 13,000 books listed on prayer. It surprised many people in our country a few years ago when a small little book, Prayer of Jabez, knocked Harry Potter from the #1 spot on the NY Times bestseller list.
When we use the word “authentic” here, what we mean is prayer that God approves of
• It isn’t prayer that goes through the motions or trying to be religious.
• It isn’t about what time of day you pray, how often, or how many people are listening
• Twice daily (Psalms 88:1)
• All night (Luke 6:12)
• It isn’t about where you are when you pray or whether you are on your knees
• It isn’t about how you hold your hands or whether your eyes are closed or not
• It isn’t about the words you use or how long your prayer lasts
• Jesus asked Peter in Matthew 26:40, could you not watch with me for one hour.
• It is about being authentic
Prayer can be authentic, but how is it done?
The Bible tells us that it is a sin to not pray. We are to pray “without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Today, most people, if they pray at all, pray “without thinking”. Fortunately, the Bible also tells us we can learn to pray. We can be taught. We need, in fact, to be taught. If you don’t know how to pray, it doesn’t mean you are a bad Christian – it just means you haven’t learned.
Today we’ll learn.
[SERVE BEFORE GOD, NOT MEN]
Slide graphic – pumping gas at a pump labeled “self serve”. Verse:
1"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.
2"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
5"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.
16"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
Today we’re going to look at a passage known as “The Lord’s Prayer.” It is found in the sixth chapter of Matthew at the end of the famous “sermon on the mount.”
Before we jump right in to the actual prayer, let’s look at the context. The whole sixth chapter of Matthew is a section from the sermon on the mount warning against being a hypocrite. A hypocrite is someone who acts a part without authentically being what they are pretending to be – in fact the Greek word originally meant an actor in a theater. We aren’t supposed to be putting on a performance for the benefit of people who are watching.
First Jesus talks about being a hypocrite about giving to the needy, then he talks about being a hypocrite when you pray, then he wraps up with a discussion about being a hypocrite about acting godly. These are just three of many examples Jesus could have used. It was common literary convention of the time to give three specific examples to make a generic point.
The first thing we should understand, then, is that when we pray, it should be entirely between us and God. It doesn’t matter if other people see us or hear what we are saying, but nothing we say or do should be for their benefit. We aren’t praying to be seen or heard.
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. (Matthew 6:6)
A lot of trouble about prayer would disappear if we only realized…that we go to pray not because we love prayer, but because we love God.
[THE LORD’S PRAYER - MATTHEW 6:6-13]
Slide graphic – Gary Cooper sitting on mountaintop with Bible, from Sergeant York. Verse:
6But 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. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.