Summary: lessons on prayer
Practice in Prayer
Intro: Did you ever hear about the counting horse that was in the circus? They asked it the question how much is 2+2 and it stomped out 1,2,3,4. They asked it how much is 3 minus 2 and it stomped one time. They asked it how many hypocrites are in the church and it just started galloping on all four legs.
One of the complaints we hear so often about the church is the number of hypocrites in it. This was a problem even in Jesus day. There is nothing new about it. It was against the hypocrites that Jesus preached the hardest. This morning as we go on in chapter 6 of Matthew, we see Jesus calling us to be sincere in the practice of our faith. We all know those who "go through the motions." We know people who go to church every sunday but have no love or joy or peace in their hearts. Let’s look at what Jesus had to say about this.
Jesus talks about three areas of of putting our faith into action: giving, prayer, and fasting. Let’s read
"Be careful not to do your `acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
I. Giving - Here he goes again, that Pastor Dean is preaching about money again. It seems like he preaches on that every year!
Jesus teaches us here that one of the key ways we can test our relationship to god is by how we give. Jesus just assumes we will give: he says when you give. That giving is not to be done for the sake of being seen by others. The giving is done out of love of God.
***Hallelujah offering - Amen for $20, Hallelujah for $50, Praise the Lord for $100.
***Mt. Pleasant - plaque on everything - sometimes cost more for plaque that the gift itself
***Rhodes Grove - name in newsletter if gave
Two principles here: immediacy - give as soon as the need is there. Respond quickly to needs. Someone who is starving doesn’t want to wait on a committee to debate the cause and send it on for board approval.
Anonymnity - those who truly give do not need to be recognized. If your feelings are hurt if you aren’t publicly recognized for your gift, you have not truly given from the heart.
II. Prayer - A second area of showing our devotion to God is in prayer.
We don’t pray to be seen of others. That doesn’t mean that we can’t pray in public. Jesus prayed many times in public. But public recognition is not our motivation.
***Kevin Trayer - saved a few weeks - sincere
***Pharisee and publican
Why in closet - concentration - bow heads and close eyes as a child
Father will meet you in your closet, bedroom, whereever
No vain repititions - Craig Cassatt - count Fathers and Lords
Father knows what we need - ***JR and Joy - want to teach them to ask
How do we pray?
Jesus gives us a model prayer.
1. Encounter the majesty of God
2. Acknowledge the plans of God
3. Accept your place in these plans: God will provide
4. If God provides, you will not need to take personal vengeance
5. Strength for overcoming
III. Fasting - fasting is a key spiritual discipline. Some fast on a regular basis - some at times of special needs. Try skipping one meal this week.
***How many here will fast for one meal this week
Let spiritual sacrifices be between you and God. God rewards those who are sincere before him.