Summary: Built around the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 6 regarding prayer.
“FUNDAMENTALS OF PRAYER” Matt. 6:5-15
INTRO – “God has strategically chosen to establish & utilize prayer as part of His sovereign plan for us. It is like oxygen to our spiritual lives. It provides the needed wind in our sails to propel everything we do as believers, & it’s the unseen key to the success of every ministry of the church” (Stephen & Alex Kendrick, The Battle Plan for Prayer, p. 21).
It’s not just something we are supposed to do before we eat. It’s not just something we are supposed to do before we go to bed. It’s not just something we are supposed to do to open up a church service or meeting. As the Kendricks said in the opening quote, prayer is “like oxygen to our spiritual lives.” In fact, Martin Luther said, “To be a Christian w/out prayer is no more possible than to be alive w/out breathing.”
When we go into a burning building to fight a fire, we absolutely have to have oxygen. Without it, we will quickly succumb to the noxious fumes & smoke & eventually lose our lives if someone doesn’t rescue us. This oxygen tank contains what we need to live & do our work as firefighters. It helps us to save a person’s home. But, even more importantly, it helps us to save a person’s life.
When you & I as Christ-followers pray, we are inhaling the strength & power we need to do our work in serving the Lord. Without prayer, we will find ourselves growing weaker & weaker as the poisonous elements in the world fill our lives. John 10:10 tells us that Satan’s desire is to steal, kill, & destroy. We know that IF we belong to Christ, Satan can’t steal our eternal life. We are safe in the grip of God! But, Satan can certainly steal the joy & fulfillment of our life as a child of God. He will definitely kill the intimacy of our walk w/ Christ. He will totally destroy our effectiveness as a witness of Christ. And one of the primary ways these things begin to happen in our lives is when we begin neglecting our prayer life. When we begin doing that, Satan begins moving in, sneaking in a toehold in our lives. That toehold moves to a foothold. That foothold becomes a stronghold. And that stronghold become a domineering base of operations in our lives as he gains more & more territory in our spiritual lives. Again, I’m not talking about losing our salvation or becoming demon-possessed. But, Satan will stop at nothing in his attempts to steal, kill, & destroy anything & everything he can in our lives. And many times, his schemes & operations begin when we simply begin neglecting & minimizing our prayer life. This is one of the main reasons we are emphasizing prayer as one the 2 essential spiritual disciplines that every Christ-follower needs to have in his/her life.
This neglect of our prayer life usually happens as a result of one or more of these 3 life circumstances:
Jesus had a whole lot to say about prayer. And He prayed a whole lot. He taught a lot about prayer both with this words & by His example. Look at these 4 clear instructions He gave about prayer:
JUST DO IT! – Nike didn’t come up w/ that slogan first – Jesus did! He said, “WHEN you pray…” (v. 5,6, &7) – in other words, just DO IT! If you’re a Christian, then PRAY! Pray a lot. Pray all the time. Pray everywhere you go. Pray alone. Pray w/ others. Pray w/ people you know, & pray w/ total strangers. Pray silently. Pray out loud. Pray when you feel like it, & pray when you don’t. Pray when you’ve got a lot of faith, & pray when you’ve only got faith as small as a mustard seed. Pray for saved people. Pray for saved people. Pray even if you don’t seem to be getting any answers.
I love what Richard Foster said about prayer: “In one sense, prayer is complicated. How can a finite human spirit be in communion w/ the Infinite Spirit of the Universe? It would burn out the circuits of our minds to understand it. But in another sense, prayer is incredibly simple. God answers prayer b/c His children ask.”
So, PRAY, children of God, PRAY! But pray the RIGHT WAY!
DON’T FAKE IT – “…you MUST not be like the hypocrites…” (v. 5). A hypocrite is a pretender, an actor, a faker. It’s someone who is wearing a mask to cover up who they really are. Jesus gave a indicting definition of a hypocrite when He said this in Matt. 15:8-9 – “These people honor me w/ their lips, but their hearts are far from me. In vain do they worship me.” I like the way The Message puts it: “These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their heart isn’t in it. They act like they’re worshiping me, but they don’t mean it. They just use me as a cover for teaching whatever suits their fancy.”