Summary: 4 Things Christians can do to honor God as they pray.
“Prayer is the process by which God helps us rearrange our priorities.”
- Henry & Richard Blackaby, Hearing God’s Voice (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2002), 114.
INTRO: Yogi Berra – “Let’s just let God watch the game, ok?”
Biblical Fact: God’s prevailing power is released in the lives of people who pray!
o Joshua prayed in the middle of Israel’s army for God to keep the sun in the sky
o David prayed that God would fulfill His promise to establish a King from David’s family
o Nehemiah prayed for several days about rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem
o Peter’s friends prayer for his release from prison
o Paul and Silas were praying and singing in the jail at midnight when God sent the earthquake
READ Matthew 6:5—13
“Just a few observations about the “Model Prayer” in general first, and then we’ll see some specific principles of prayer that Jesus gave to the Disciples and to us.”
o 1st, note that this is a model. In most translations, verse 9 reads: “Pray after this manner.” Christ was giving some guidelines here for the prayer life of His followers…not a method of rote repetition or verbatim chanting. To do that, to pray the same exact words, day after day, year after year can lead to the sin of hypocrisy that he condemns in verse 7.”
o 2nd, notice that Christ’s model is in line with the teachings of both OT and NT practices of establishing God as the priority in our lives. The first three petitions focus on the preeminence of God, and the final three are petitions for personal needs and relationships.”
o 3rd, notice the absence of the individual pronouns in the petitions. Every time Jesus mentions a petition, it is made in a corporate sense. We need to recognize the fact that our prayer life should:
o affect the body of Christ around us,
o reflect the needs of the body of Christ, and
o be centered upon God’s authority and His Will. If our prayers are in the will of God, then they should be a blessing to the body around us.
“The focus of Christ’s teaching here in this portion of the Sermon on the Mount is the intimacy of communion with God in one’s heart.”
“Christian, we need to remember that God calls us to walk with him in a relationship. Prayer is the most essential part of that relationship…for it is within the boundaries of prayer that we establish the primacy of God in our life.”
“But how do you pray?”
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To honor Christ with my praying, I should…
…Pray Regularly. (vv. 5—7)
o Jesus said “when,” not “if.”
o He said it 3 times! He was speaking as if His followers would be doing it like second nature!
o “Just as tailors do things with clothes and carpenters do things with wood, so the Christian should do things with prayer.”
…Pray Privately. (v. 6)
o God is not looking for outward displays of piety.
o 1 Sam. 16:7 – “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
o “Christ is not saying that you should not pray publicly. Christ himself prayed publicly several times after this teaching. He is saying, however, that your ‘acts of righteousness’ (as mentioned in verse 1) in your private prayer life should be what you focus upon…and not the prayers offered in public.”
o Henry Blackaby: “Prayer is a relationship whereby God interacts with us at the deepest level of human communication.”
o “We cannot experience the ‘gentle whisper’ of God’s voice with all of the distractions in the world today. We must separate ourselves and be alone with God for a time.”
o “Praying in private also allows you to practice some biblical postures in prayer that will reflect your heart. Postures such kneeling, lying prostrate, walking, hands folded or raised, and lying down. All of these postures can be used in private prayer time to help focus your heart upon God.”
…Pray Sincerely. (v. 7)
o God wants my heart, and not some formula.
o "The focus here is on the attitude of your heart as you pray. Jesus is making a point here: distinguishing the God-honoring prayer from the hypocritical self-honoring prayer.”
o “Jesus is saying the time has come for us to change not just the outside, but the inside. It’s time to realize that God is not fooled by appearances. We cannot fake behavior to impress him. He knows that inside the best of us lurk dark thoughts of hatred, pride, and lust—things only he can deal with.”
o John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress – “In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without heart.”