PRAYER THAT IS PERSONAL
INTRODUCTION: It’s reported that a preacher in Redrock, Alabama prayed this prayer: "Oh Lord, give Thy servant this mornin’ the eyes of the eagle and the wisdom of the owl; connect his soul with the gospel telephone in the central skies; ‘luminate his brow with the Sun of heaven; possess his mind with love for the people; turpentine his imagination, grease his lips with ‘possum oil, loosen his tongue with the sledge hammer of Thy power; ‘lectrify his brain with the lightnin’ of the word; put ‘petual motion on his arms; fill him plum full of the dynamite of Thy glory; ‘noint him all over with the kerosene oil of Thy salvation and SET HIM ON FIRE. Amen!" That is a little unusual to say the least. But maybe it is illustrative of how many feel prayer must be, that is extravagant and wordy. Jesus deals with that in Matthew 5:7,8. READ TEXT
Notice how Jesus classifies the type of prayer that God does not want to hear. "Vain repetitions" RSV – "heaping up empty phrases" NCV – "When you pray don’t be like those people who don’t know God. They continue saying things that mean nothing." NIV – "Babbling like pagans" This is not the type of prayer that is meant to impress God, but to impress men. It is empty, vain, pretentious, and ungodly. Prayers that are long, rambling, wordy and gaudy are for all intents and purposes paganistic in nature. Why? Because God in not in the equation! So what does Jesus teach us concerning our prayerlife? Two things.
I. WHEN YOU PRAY DON’T BE PRETENTIOUS
A. The religious elite of the day were called hypocrites because they made a show of their prayers and deeds. Luke 18 contains a very pointed description of this. (Relate first half of the story) This is not what God wants! Gaudy, showmanship religious acts of any kind are never, ever acceptable to God.
B. Therefore if at all possible, avoid those wordy, popular phrases that run rampant throughout Christianity and our brotherhood as well. "Guide, guard and direct us until we meet again," "partake of this in a manner that is acceptable in Your sight," "Be with those who are sick of this church," "In Jesus name we pray," to name a few.
1. Now don’t get me wrong. Popular phrases are fine so long as they are sincere and understood by the speaker as well as the hearer, and not abused. But, I personally have found that when I force myself to abandon them I focus more on what I desire to say.
2. In our text, "think they will be heard for their many words"
3. Matthew 23:14, "Long, pretentious prayers merit greater condemnation"
4. Ecclesiastes 5:1-3
II. WHEN YOU PRAY BE PERSONAL WITH GOD
A. Prayer is not a marathon or a Broadway production. God is not going to sneer if you do not use a Thesaurus. You do not need a Baccalaureate in Language Skills to gain His affection or His favor.
B. Be yourself with God. Talk to Him in a way that you understand. Use simple terms that are respectful and concise. Flowery language does not equal powerful language. Sometimes the best prayer is from the soul that simply says, "God help me!"
1. Also speak to God as your relationship demands it. He is your Father and you are His child. Don’t be afraid to pour our your heart, empty your soul into His hands. He already knows what you need, as Jesus said in verse 8. He is just waiting for you to bring it before Him in humility and simplicity.
2. Again, I refer you to Luke 18. (Relate second half of the story)
3. Psalm 38:8,9, "I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart. All my longings lie open before you, O Lord: my sighing is not hidden from you."
4. I Peter 3:12