Summary: 4 keys to powerful prayer drawn from the Lord’s Prayer.
PRAYING WITH POWER
In our services, we often begin with prayer. I typically pray before I preach. We generally pray several times during a service. On Wednesday nights, we pray even more and in many of our discipleship classes we teach on praying. This afternoon in the discovering membership class we are going to discuss prayer. We have a prayer ministry in this church and a prayer coordinator. We often sing about praying as well. With all of this you would think we take prayer very seriously. C. H. Spurgeon once said he would rather teach 1 man to pray than 10 men to preach. When Paul finished teaching on spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6, he closed by asking the church in Ephesus to pray for him. He took prayer very seriously.
Seldom do you find the disciples asking Jesus to teach them something, but in Luke you find them asking Jesus to teach them. They didn’t ask Him to teach them to make disciples, though Jesus commanded they and us to do so. Jesus said they would be “fishers of men” but He gave them no formulas for evangelism. No Jesus gave them the key to it all, the key He offers to us today, the key of prayer.
Before Jesus left, He said His disciples would do greater things than He did, and yet we seldom see those great things happening today. David Bryant said “Prayer is laying the runway so God can land,” and I believe one of the main reasons we do not see more of God’s miraculous work in our world today is because we see so little praying and even less praying with power. This morning I would like us to see together how to unleash the miraculous power of God in our world today. I would like us to see “How to pray with power.”
- Read Matthew 6:5-13
In this passage Jesus taught what we often call today “The Lord’s Prayer.” In this prayer, I would like you to see with me the 4 keys to praying with power.
I. WHEN YOU PRAY, TALK TO GOD – v6
In this passage, Jesus said that we were to pray in private. Several years ago I saw Madeline Murray O’Hare on the Donohue show, attacking a principle that allowed prayer in his school. She said that Jesus said we were to pray in private, not in public. Now, I do not believe that is what Jesus is saying here at all. We know Jesus Himself prayed in public. He prayed when He multiplied the loaves and fish. He prayed when He raised Lazarus from the dead. He prayed in public when He healed the blind man and as He hung on the cross. No, Jesus is not here emphasizing the location of our prayers as much as He is the audience.
There are some people who pray who are worried about what the people who hear them will think. They worry that their prayer will seem too simple. Others try to impress people when they pray.
We can’t pray to please others, or to show our piety. We pray, talking to God. Let me ask you my friend, when you pray, who are you praying to please? Who do you most want to hear your prayers? If you want to pray with power, then talk to God. That is the first key.
II. WHEN YOU PRAY, MEAN WHAT YOU SAY – vv 7-8
Verses 7-8 warn us not to use vain repetition. In other words, when you pray, mean what you say. Now, when Jesus warns about this mindless repetition, He’s not saying that you can’t pray for the same thing on more than one occasion. In Luke 11, immediately after He taught “the Lord’s Prayer” Jesus told the parable of the neighbor who went to his neighbor’s house to borrow some bread. He said, “Even though the neighbor tried to send him away, the man continued to knock at the door until he received the bread he needed.” No, Jesus isn’t saying that you cannot pray for the same thing on more than one occasion. What could be more natural than for a parent to regularly pray for his child?
No, Jesus insists that you don’t use prayer like some kind of mindless magical formula, where if you repeat it often enough God will hear you. The Muslims do that. They pray a certain amount of times per day, and a certain number of prayers each time they pray.
Let me ask you. Do you think about what you are saying when you pray? Before you eat, do you run through a quick blessing out of habit or do you think about what you are saying and Who you are saying it to? I wonder how often “In Jesus Name” is tacked onto the end of a prayer, without thinking about what we are saying, thinking it is some kind of magic formula that gets the prayer access to heaven?