Summary: Jesus calls his followers to use the most powerful weapon possible; prayer.
Title: Love Expressed in Prayer
How do you connect with God? That is the question for us today. Let’s watch this short vidoe clip.
Connecting with God is so important that Jesus gave us instructions in how to talk to. Turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 6 verse 5.
Please read it with me.
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.
How not to Pray.
Jesus warns us about two dangers in prayer.
First, Jesus warns us to be serious about prayer..
Standing in the synagogues and on the street corners.
Jesus is talking to his disciples and they were Jews. Every Jew was required to say two different prayers every day.
The first was the Shema, which consists of three short passages of scripture.
The second Prayer which every Jew must daily repeat was called the Shemonçh ’esreh, which means The Eighteen. It consisted of eighteen prayers, and was, and still is, an essential part of the synagogue service. In time the prayers became nineteen, but the old name remains. Most of these prayers are quite short, and nearly all of them are very lovely.
The problem Jesus has in mind is that certain Jews were praying to be seen of men. The Jewish system of prayer made flashiness very easy. The Jew prayed standing, with hands stretched out, palms upwards, and with head bowed. Prayer had to be said at 9 a.m., 12 midday, and 3 p.m. It had to be said wherever a man might be, and it was easy for a man to make sure that at these hours he was at a busy street corner, or in a crowded city square, so that all the world might see with what devotion he prayed. It was easy for a man to halt on the top step of the entrance to the synagogue, and there pray lengthily and demonstratively, so that all men might admire his exceptional piety. It was easy to put on an act of prayer which all the world might see.
Jesus saw this practice and comdemned it. Jesus knew that prayer which focused on self is always hypocritical. Why? Because, by definition, the focus of every prayer should be on God.
Jesus warns not only warns us to be serious in prayer.
Jesus warns us to be sensible.
Jesus cautions us against long, vain prayers.
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
There was amongst the Jews an undoubted tendency towards long prayers. Rabbi Levi said, “:Whoever is long in prayer is heard.” Another saying has it: “Whenever the righteous make their prayer long, their prayer is heard.”
There was—and still is—a kind of subconscious idea that if we batter long enough at God’s door, he will answer; that God can be talked, and even pestered, into seeing things our way.
Jesus warns us about trying to muscle God through long meaningless prayer into seeing things our way.
But then Jesus turns his attention to how we should connect with God.
How to Pray
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.
As Jesus said this he probably was referring to a “bonus room” that the Jews sometimes built over the porch or gateway to their house called a Alliyah. The Alliyah was much more private than the rest of the house. This extra room had steps leading directly down to the street, and another flight of stairs connecting it with the central court of the home.
Because it was connected to both the house and street, Jesus may have been impling that before we can face the problems in the family, we need to spend time alone with God. Is the stress of parenting getting to you? Spend some time alone with God in your alliyah. Is the pressure at work overwhelming? Spend some time alone with God in your alliyah.
When we are alone with God, we can be real before God. He sees us with all our warts, why do we try to hind them behind flowerly words and carefully thought out phrases. God knows who you real are. God knows knows what you really need. Just come to him, as openly and honestly as possible. In The Message, Ugene Peterson puts it this way.