Summary: Jesus brilliantly answers their request with a prayer that helps them, and us, have a roadmap to navigate the wonders of prayer.
How Not to Pray
Chenoa Baptist Church
Pastor Jefferson Williams
Many years ago, I attended a Baccalaureate service at a church in Pontiac. At one point in the service, the pastor asked us to say “The Lord’s Prayer.” I had been studying this prayer in my private devotions and had been deeply affected by these words of Jesus. I was sitting next to a sixteen-year-old student named Katie. When the prayer ended I turned and noticed Katie had tears in her eyes. I asked her what was wrong. She said, “I’ve prayed that prayer in almost every church service I’ve ever been in. But that’s the first time I’ve ever heard someone pray that prayer like that actually meant it!”
This morning we begin a new series called “Kingdom Come.” We are going to spend the next weeks studying Matthew 6:5-18 and focus in on what has come to be known as the Lord’s Prayer in verses 9-13. [Luke also records an abbreviate version of this prayer]
As we’ve studied the small book of Habakkuk in our Wednesday morning Bible study, it’s become clear that God is God and we are not. My Scripture verse for this year is found in Habakkuk 3:1-2:
“Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.”
It is my belief that we will see God do amazing things “in our day” if we get serious about prayer. 2019 will be a year of prayer and fasting for First Baptist Chenoa. I’m praying for miracles to happen, people to be healed, marriages to be put back together, addictions conquered, and things to happen that we simply cannot take credit for. As my brother reminded us, we will be excited but not surprised.
Teach us to Pray
In Luke 11:1, we see the disciples ask Jesus to “teach us to pray.” They didn’t ask Him to teach them to heal people, preach, counsel, or cast out demons. They had been watching Jesus and had noticed how He related to His Father. In essence, they say, “Jesus teach us to relate to the Father the way you do.”
Jesus answered by given them a model prayer, a mere fifty-seven words in the Greek that takes less than 20 seconds to repeat. For 2,000 years, in churches all over the globe, this prayer has been on the lips of believers.
Prayer is part of every major religion. Muslims pray toward Mecca. Jews pray at the Wailing Wall. For Buddhist, prayer is the act of emptying the mind.
But just like the disciples, many of us still feel inadequate in the area of prayer.
Richard Halverson lists four reasons that we shy away from prayer:
1. Unbelief – we simply doubt that God is listening or that He cares
2. Indifference – if God already knows, then why pray?
3. Priorities – we are too caught up in this world.
4. It’s difficult – pray is hard work and takes discipline. Maxine’s mom and stepdad would pray all night. I have trouble praying for 20 mins!
Notice that the disciples didn’t ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. They say, “…teach us to pray.”
Dr. Adrian Rogers wrote this:
“The greatest problem we face is not unanswered prayer but unoffered prayer. Tragically, many of our prayers are so vague that if God were to answer them, we wouldn’t even know it.”
Jesus brilliantly answers their request with a prayer that helps them, and us, have a roadmap to navigate the wonders of prayer.
Text in its Context
Remember that we should always study the text within its context. This summer, we studied the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12 that begin what we know as the Sermon on the Mount.
The Sermon on the Mount is just that, a sermon that gives Jesus’ manifesto on life in the Kingdom of God. If we are truly born again and are part of the kingdom, it should affect the way we live and love others. It will affect our attitudes, beliefs and actions. It affects our mind and our hands and feet.
Starting in chapter 6, Jesus is going to give the disciples His parameters on three very important actions – giving (1-4), prayer (5-13), and fasting (16-18).
Jesus begins this entire section with a thesis statement:
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1)
Jesus wants us to know that God is not only looking at the outside actions but the inside attitudes. If you give, pray, or fast to be seen by others then you will receive your reward – the praise of men. And how pitiful that reward truly is!