Summary: Sermon based on Matthew 6:5-8 - Helps hearers prepare to develop their prayer lives

“PREPARATION” Matthew 6:5-8

FBCF – 2/7/21

Jon Daniels

INTRO – Old joke – Airplane w/ serious engine trouble was rapidly losing altitude & falling toward the earth. Pilot contacted nearest control tower: “Pilot to tower, pilot to tower – We are 400 miles from land, 800 feet above water, & losing fuel quickly. Please advise, please advise!” Next transmission was loud & clear: “Tower to pilot, tower to pilot – repeat after me: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name…”

Begin a series today entitled, “Pray Like This.” Will focus on Lord’s Prayer for the next several weeks.

But, just as with many other important activities, preparation for prayer is very important.

- Farmer cultivates & prepares his field before he ever plants a seed. Break up crusty, dry soil so that water & nutrients can get down to the roots where they’re needed.

- Athletic teams practice & prepare to meet their opponents on the field & on the court. And even before they get on the field or the court to practice, they’ve been in the weight room & on the track conditioning & preparing.

- Military forces spend massive amounts of time drilling & preparing to meet the enemy. Intelligence is gathered, tactics are formulated, war games are played out, all to prepare to fight & defeat the enemy.

- We spend the formative years of childhood & adolescence preparing ourselves for the demands & responsibilities of adulthood – college or trade school preparing for jobs & careers, developing friendships & relationships, possibly one that will lead to marriage.

Preparation is a critical part of the success & fulfillment of any meaningful activity, & that certainly includes the activity of prayer in the life of the Christ-follower.

EXPLANATION – Matthew 6:5-8

Prayer is as basic & as essential to our spiritual lives as Christ-followers as breathing is to our physical lives as human beings. It’s our lifeline to the very throne room of God.

- Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

o AMP Bible – “Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment].”

- Multiple occasions that Jesus taught about prayer & modeled prayer:

o Mark 1:35 – “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house & went out to a solitary place where He prayed.”

o Matthew 7:7 – “Ask, & it will be given to you; seek, & you will find; knock, & the door will be opened to you.”

o John 14:14 – “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”

So right here in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount – His most important sermon – Jesus gives His most important teaching on this most important activity that we must practice – the activity of prayer. These 4 verses preceding the Lord’s Prayer can be summed up in these 2 statements:

- You can't be fake; you gotta be real – v. 5-6

- Your prayers can’t be hollow; you gotta trust God – v. 7-8

APPLICATION – Preparation is an important aspect of our prayer lives.

To prepare to pray:

Deal with Hypocrisy – v. 5 - There are a couple of times in Jesus’ earthly life that we see Him really show His disdain for certain things:

- One was when money changer were defiling the Temple – Matthew 21:12-13 – “…‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

- The other was when He was denouncing the hypocrisy of the scribes & Pharisees in Matthew 23:1-36. He lays those guys out – “hypocrites” – “blind guides” – “snakes” – “brood [sons] of vipers”

Pretty obvious that Jesus hates hypocrisy, the sin of play-acting; of using religion & religious practices to cover up sin that’s in our lives. Greek word for “hypocrite” literally means “an actor who wears a mask.” The mask conceals who they really are but shows who they want the audience to see.

And in our preparation for prayer, hypocrisy needs to be dealt with. The hypocrisy that Jesus is referring to here is the actions of those who want to pray in public so others will THINK that they are really spiritual. John MacArthur says that those who are praying this way are praying from a motive of “sinful self-glory,” & that’s one of the most serious perversions of what prayer is ultimately supposed to be all about – that is glorifying God as Jesus said in John 14:13 – “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

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