Summary: Everyone can and should learn to pray - a look at what Jesus taught about prayer and applying those truths to our own relationship with God.
Learning to Pray
Matthew 6:7-15 7 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. 9 "This, then, is how you should pray: "’Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ 14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Intro: Dr. Clarence Bass, professor at Bethel Theological Seminary, early in his ministry preached at a church in Los Angeles. He thought he had done quite well as he stood at the door greeting people as they left the church. The remarks about his preaching were complimentary. That is, until a little old man commented, "You preached too long."
-Dr. Bass wasn’t fazed by the remark, especially in light of the many positive comments. And the old man said, "You didn’t preach loud enough.” Dr. Bass thought it strange that the man had come through the line twice, but when the same man came through the line a third time and exclaimed, "And you used too many big words,” he began to wonder.
-Dr. Bass sought out a deacon who stood nearby and asked him, "Do you see that little old man over there? Who is he?" "Don’t pay any attention to him," the deacon replied. "All he does is go around and repeat everything he hears."
-Mark Twain attended a Sunday morning church service one time. He met the preacher at the door afterward and told him that he had a book at home with every word he had preached that morning. The minister assured him that the sermon was an original. Twain still held his position. The preacher wanted to see this book so Twain said he would send it over in the morning. When the preacher unwrapped it he found a dictionary and in the flyleaf was written this: "Words, just words, just words."
-Someone said, “Long-winded speakers exhaust their listeners long before the exhaust their subjects. Recognizing this danger, one speaker began his talk this way: "I understand that it’s my job to talk to you. Your job is to listen. If you quit before I do, I hope you’ll let me know."
-Someone else said that some preachers preach "longhorn sermons." That is, a point here, a point there, and a lot of bull in between. Well, Jesus never did that. He always delivered words that were worth paying attention to. We’re going to talk about some of His words today as we take a look at what many call the Lord’s Prayer.
Prop: Everyone can and should learn to pray.
TS: Let’s take a look at what Jesus taught about prayer and apply those truths to our own relationship with God.
I. How not to Pray
A. Don’t Pray with man as the audience (5-6) Review from last week.
B. Don’t Pray Impersonally (7-8) The reference to the many words used by the pagans reminds me of Charlie Brown- wah wah wah wah wah. Sociologists have noted that the more comfortable we are with others, the less we have a need to talk. (Strite) Of course, that doesn’t mean that we stop communicating, but our communication becomes more meaningful and we become comfortable just being with someone, without having to carry a tiresome dialogue or in some cases monologue.
-When the Greeks would pray to one of their many gods, they would try to use every title and euphemism they knew of, hoping to gain their attention. Pagan prayers usually included reminders to the deity of sacrifices that had been offered or other services done implying that the deity had some sort of binding obligation to answer the prayer. But Jesus said your Father already knows what you need and He is more than willing to provide it without being obligated to do so.
-The kind of prayer Jesus taught is not formula-based. It is relationship-based. It is not manipulation or coercion to get a deity to give you what you want or need because they owe it to you. It is communication with One who already knows everything about you because He cares for you and wants the very best for you. Prayer is not an incantation that brings some magic result when the right words are used. That is closer to witchcraft than effective prayer. Prayer is language that expresses our hearts to the Father.