Summary: A sermon addressing some misconceptions on prayer.


Matthew 6:5-8

Introductory Statement: I once saw a poster in an Adult

Christian Education classroom that said, “Prayer is not the last

resort.” I thought, ‘That’s true. It should be the first resort.’ Then

I thought about how many people use prayer as a last resort. Why?

I believe it is because prayer has a bad rep. When people think

about prayer, they think ‘boring,’ ‘long,’ ‘waste of time’, ‘useless,’

‘in vain,’ and the list goes on. I want to take this opportunity to

clear up some misconceptions about prayer.

In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus was preaching His Sermon on

the Mount. One the things He wanted them to understand was the

importance of prayer. It was the first thing He talked to them

about. He didn’t start off talking about giving alms, fasting, or

tithing. He started off this portion of His discourse talking about

prayer. There were three things Jesus wanted them to know about


I. Prayer is not an Option.

A. Prayer is a requirement. Jesus, when He taught on

prayer, did not even take into consideration if the Jews

would pray, but when they would pray. The Jews were

going to pray if for nothing else but for religious reasons.

The question was not if, but when and how. Jesus did not

want for His new people to be like the hypocrites–the

fakers and pretenders of their day–but to be different. They

were to pray. When they prayed it was to be different–in

secret and without vain repetitions.

B. For Christians, on the other hand, it is more of a matter

of if rather than when. It’s a sad indictment but for many

Christians prayer is a last resort. We turn to every worldly

aid– banks, loan sharks, casinos, shrinks, secular counselors

and friends, psychics, ungodly people, the dead, alcohol,

and drugs to find help. Some even find their help in Oprah.

When they all fail, and they will fail, then (and only then)

do we turn to God. Prayer should not be the last resort. It

should be the first.

C. Thomas Watson said, “Christ went more readily ad

crucem (to the cross), than we do to the throne of grace.”

What a friend we have in Jesus/ all our sins and griefs to

bear/ what a privilege to carry/ everything to God in prayer.

Have we found a friend so faithful/ take it to the Lord in

prayer. In His arms He’ll take and shield thee/ Thou wilt

find a solace there.

II. Prayer is not One Way Communication.

A. Jesus also wanted to teach that prayer was not a rote

speech to God. Prayer was not a long soliloquy or a

monologue to God. It was not meant to be a one-way

discourse of repetitions. It was meant to be a dynamic and

interactive conversation with a dynamic and personal God.

Prayer reinforces our dependence upon God. Prayer

strengthens our relationship with the Creator of the

universe. Any relationship without constant

communication will die.

B. Prayer is boring because we make it boring. Instead of

being interactive, is has become a one-way speech, poem,

ode, or lecture to God; a wish list or self-centered

communication to God and not a conversation with God.

For many people prayer is nothing more than, ‘Now I lay

me down to sleep...’ or ‘God is great. God is good...’ or

‘God, if it be Thy will, let me do such-n-such or give me....’

Another reason why prayer is boring is because it is too

constrained. You do not have to talk to God in the King’s

English to be heard. “God, I knoweth that Thou art a

merciful God, righteous and just in all Thy ways, forgiving

sins and calling others....’ If you spoke to God like that, I

don’t know if he’d been offended or entertained. Talk to

God as you would talk to a friend or a parent. You can’t

say anything that will shock Him. He knows you better

than you know you. So be transparent with Him and build

a relationship with Him. John Bunyan wrote, “When thou

prayest, rather let thy heart be without words than thy

words without heart.” More importantly, listen to what He

has to say.

C. If you hate it when some hogs a conversation, how do

you think God must feel when He has to listen to millions

of hoggers.

III. Prayer is not in vain.

A. Jesus definitely wanted His listeners to know that

prayer was not for nothing. God already knows the need.

He is just waiting for us to humble ourselves and ask Him.

(Prayer is more for us than it is for God.) The Bible

teaches us if we ask we shall receive. James said, ‘You

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