Summary: When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, in giving them a pattern for prayer He gave them some valuable prayer principles. This sermon explores some of these principles.
A PATTERN FOR PRAYER
"When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, which is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins."
(Matthew 6:5-15, NLT)
A man, without consulting his wife beforehand, invited the new pastoral couple to stay for dinner. Somewhat annoyed at the short notice, his wife began hurriedly to prepare the meal. After much frustration and not a few uttered complaints in the kitchen, the wife served dinner. The man seeking to impress the new pastoral couple suggested that their young daughter give thanks for the meal. When the young girl appeared to stall, little overawed by the presence of the visitors, her mother sought to help her, prompting her “Go on, you know like mommy prayed.” The little girl’s eyes lit up with understanding. Closing her eyes she prayed “Dear Lord, why did he invite them to supper tonight off all nights!”
As children strive to imitate their parents, so the disciples sought to imitate Jesus at prayer. Luke records them as asking Jesus … “Lord teach us to pray.” Jesus then proceeds to outline in 66 words A PATTERN FOR PRAYER.
We call it the Lord’s Prayer. This is somewhat of a misnomer AS THE Lord could never have prayed this prayer. Perhaps a better name would be the Disciples Prayer or even the Family Prayer!
Notice that Jesus does not say ‘if you pray’ BUT ‘when you pray’. As we learnt last week, for Jesus …
PRAYER IS NOT
A MOUTHING OF WORDS (although words are essential in effective praying)
A RELIGIOUS DISCIPLINE (although effective praying takes discipline)
A CELESTIAL 911 (although pray does involve requesting God’s intervention in a time of crisis…
A DIVINE REQUISITION FORM (although prayer does involve making our requests known to God)
A SUPERNATURAL VENDING MACHINE (although God does supply all our needs)
A HEAVENLY HIGH (although sensing God’s awesome presence is vital, my praying should never be restricted to my mood or inclination towards feeling spiritual)