Summary: 3 of 5 messages. This message is on the Lord’s prayer and how we can learn to pray especially when we don’t feel like it.
Sometimes I don’t feel like praying
Prayer has always been a challenge in my life. I know that sounds wrong to many of you but this series is about confessions so I guess I’ve got to be honest.
Prayer is something I’ve always struggled with. Maybe it’s my expectations – or maybe it’s what I think God expects of me in prayers. Maybe its all the stories I’ve heard about the great prayer warriors who get on their knees and pray fervently for 5 hours before they get up to have breakfast.
In my first year of ministry I once got up at 4:00 AM to pray. I settled in at my office desk to pray and promptly fell asleep. I now know why so many of those great prayer warriors prayed on their knees. It was too painful to fall asleep. Well, right in the middle of my early morning nap I heard a rap on the window to my office and looked up to see a cop looking in at me. He had stopped in to make sure that whoever was in the building at 4:30 AM was supposed to be there – and he caught me with my face firmly planted on my desk snoring. I pretended that I had been deep in prayer and assured the officer that everything was fine. He went on his way and I decided that the early morning prayer thing was not happening.
Maybe it’s that I just am not at all sure of what it is that I’m supposed to do or what it is that is supposed to happen in prayer. The fact of the matter is that I don’t know how to pray all that well. I’m not talking about the words. I can say the words. I’m talking about the conversation – the relationship of prayer. And, whenever I don’t do something all that well, I generally don’t do it very much.
When I was a kid my folks signed me up to play on the community softball league one summer. We all got on the bus and they took us out to Log Lake. We were supposed to play ball in the morning and then go swimming in the afternoon. Well, the first time up to bat, I whiffed three times in a row and the other kids laughed at me – so I went swimming. Nuts to the softball thing. The coach talked to my parents and basically said that I had made a good decision. I swam the rest of the summer and never played softball again that year.
Do you do that with things in life? Do you find that prayer and spiritual things are a bit of a mystery so you find it easier to just stay away from it? Sometimes it’s just easier to avoid stuff in life isn’t it? Prayer is something that we often feel as if we don’t do it very well – so we simply avoid it.
Does this describe you? If it does you are in good company. Not only do you and I share the same struggle – so did the disciples of Jesus. They struggled with prayer too. That’s why they asked Jesus to teach them to pray.
Let’s all sit at the feet of Jesus this morning. We’ll be looking at the words of Jesus on prayer in Matthew, chapter 6.
Don’t Pose for People – Talk with God
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
Hypocrisy – pretending, acting, posing is a real problem in prayer.
Maybe this is why children are such good pray-ers. They don’t have a pretentious bone in their bodies do they?
We on the other hand are ever conscious of how we look to others. Put a camera on us, put a crowd in front of us, sit at a table with our family, be asked to say grace at a Thanksgiving meal, lead prayer in a worship service and we go into instant analysis mode – “How do I look? Do I look pious? How do I sound? Should I toss a few thee’s, thou’s and thy’s or keep it casual. What should I pray for? What would impress the people that I’m really a spiritual guy! Maybe I’ll pray that what ever God wants is fine with me – even if it isn’t. Or, maybe I’ll name it and claim it with great faith and pomposity!