Summary: Prayer that truly touches the heart of God and changes the world comes from a heart that is passionately dependent on God. Prayer is a great privilege and a great responsibility for believers.
The of Heart Prayer Is Prayer of The Heart
Prayer that truly touches the heart of God and changes the world comes from a heart that is passionately dependent on God. Prayer is a great privilege and a great responsibility for believers. While it is true that God is in-charge of what is happening in the world, prayer is something God allows us to participate in regarding His sovereign work in our midst.
It’s God’s desire that we seek to further His kingdom plans and purposes here on earth. It’s been said that no spiritual revival or work of God that has ever happened until God’s people set their hearts toward God and start calling out to Him. It’s important, therefore, that we keep an active prayer life, and that the spirit of prayer be alive in our hearts.
We often fall short in our prayer life because we don’t understand its importance. Jesus knows this, that is why in the middle of His sermon He took time to teach about the nature and character of prayer.
Read Matthew 6:5-15.
Jesus said, “In this manner, therefore pray.”
Jesus is giving us a model that we’re to build our prayers from. It’s a pattern by which we’re to follow, not a script to be repeated word for word. John Bunyan said, “In prayer it is better to have a heart without words, than words without a heart.”
Authentic Prayer is Practiced in Private Not Performed in Public
Mt. 6:5-6 – “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. 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.”
Jesus says, “WHEN you pray…” not “IF you pray…” Jesus expects that those who claim to be Christ-followers will practice an authentic prayer life. But He gives a warning concerning prayer. Jesus warns against prayer motivated by public recognition and a desire to impress others.
Don’t misunderstand what Jesus is saying here. The problem is not praying in public. Jesus prayed in public at varying times: when He was healing, when He gave thanks for the 5 loaves and 2 fish, when he raised Lazarus from the dead. The problem is not praying in public. It’s praying in public with the motive to be seen and noticed by other people.
The basic principle is that if I’m not making time to talk to Him privately, then I shouldn’t be praying to him publicly. If I pray in pubic when I don’t pray privately, people might think I have a great prayer life. But it wouldn’t be true.
Jesus says that this particular practice is hypocritical. Our word hypocrite comes from a Greek term that referred to an actor who changed roles by changing masks. In its biblical application, it’s pretending to be someone in public that you are not in private.
Jesus starts this section of his sermon with this statement in Mt. 6:1 – “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
Who is your audience? Are you motivated by the applause of people or the applause of God? We need to be careful that our acts of righteousness do not become just a show. Prayer can become a performance.
Sometimes, if I was in a group prayer, I was too busy trying to figure out what I was going to pray that I hardly hear the prayers of the others in the group. Sometimes you have a person in the group who is extremely articulate at prayer. Then I tend to become worried about what to say when it came my turn to pray. Jesus saw how easy it is for us to begin trying to win some sort of prayer competition. We become more concerned that others see how well WE pray instead of focusing on God who hears and answers our prayers.
Authentic Prayer is Based on a Loving Relationship Not a Lifeless Ritual
Mt. 6:7-8 – “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
Authentic prayers don’t have to be long prayers to be effective. Some of the most powerful prayers in the Bible are short in length but outstandingly effective. The example that Jesus gives us can be spoken in around a minute.