Summary: This is a sermon about the power of short prayers.
The Power of Short Prayers Part 2
Nehemiah’s short prayer
A. We are continuing our sermon series on “Powerful Short Prayers.” There are so many of these prayers that are recorded in the Bible. They are recorded for our benefit that we might learn something from them. One thing we can clearly learn from all of these short prayers is that they really count! They are important and they actually are the essence of what a real relationship is all about. Short prayers are thought prayers that are prayed throughout our days. They are the evidence that we have a relationship with our Creator and that relationship is not some formal relationship that is only expressed in special quiet times every so often.
B. There is a lot of confusion among Christians when it comes to prayer. There is a place for devotional prayers. There is a place to set aside long periods of time to pray. Jesus said in one place that there was a need for much prayer and fasting in order to cast out certain demons. (Mark 9:14-29) Also we read about a certain lady who spent her time every day in the Temple praying and fasting (Luke 2:36-38). There were times in Jesus life where we read He went off to pray in the wilderness or when He prayed all night (Luke 6:12) But this was not every day experiences. Everyone is not called to be a prayer warrior, but everyone can have a living daily relationship with God through their short thought prayers throughout the day. Short prayers are just as important as special times of devotional prayer and maybe even MORE IMPORTANT. My hope is that this sermon series will help clear some of it up.
C. Before we take a look at another short prayer we are going to take a look at what Jesus had to say about prayer in Matthew 6 and then we shall look at the short prayer prayed by Nehemiah.
What makes a good prayer? Matt 6:7
“For when you pray do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.” NIV says “do not keep on babbling.” The Message reads, “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense.” This must have been happening a lot or Jesus would not have addressed it. It must have been common practice among the religious people.
A. Jesus warned about prayers being TOO LONG, especially if they were just filled with FLUFF! I don’t know about you but sometimes I think Christians actually do pray with a lot of fluff! You have probably heard those kinds of prayers, people praying in the King James language, “Dear Lord, I knowest that Thou seest all things, and Thine Hand blah blah blah” Or then there are the prayers, where people get all weird, and just keep saying, “Jesus, Jesus, thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus, Jesus, Jesus blah blah blah.” I think maybe this is what Jesus was talking about. Praying just to hear ourselves be heard. Praying to sound good. Praying is supposed to be talking to God almost like you talk to your best friend or your spouse. It is REAL CONVERSATION, not religious talk! Much of what is called ‘prayer’ by Christians is really ‘religious talk!’
B. Now to be clear here, Jesus is NOT SAYING, that you cannot repeat the same words in your prayers. You can repeat words, Jesus repeated the same words THREE TIMES when He prayed in the garden. “Father if it be Your will let this cup pass from Me.” (Matt 26:36-46) I don’t think anyone would call those words ‘vain repetitions. They were from His heart. He talking about making sure our hearts and minds are there when we are praying. Jesus, at other times, praises repetition in prayer in the parable of the unjust judge. The angels pray repetitiously. Revelation 4:8: "...and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” So Jesus is not saying we cannot repeat our words. He is just saying make sure our prayers are real and meaningful!
C. When I was a Catholic I prayed lots of prayers that would fall into this category of “vain repetitions.” I remember praying lots of prayers that I had memorized. I could say them fast and without any thought. I believe these are the kind of prayers that Jesus was talking about. I could pray the Lord’s prayer in about 10 seconds. I could pray the Rosary in about less than ten minutes. It was just something I did, sort of like paying my dues, saying my prayers and getting over with as soon as possible.