Summary: Jesus taught us how to Pray in Matthew 6:9-13. Learn the six petitions of this model prayer in the following sermon.
HOW TO PRAY
Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to pray without ceasing, to be in commune with God from one moment to the next. While we understand the importance of praying as Christians, do we truly understand the way in which God wants us to talk to Him? God is our sovereign Creator and as such expects us to approach His throne with boldness but also with reverence. Jesus tells us that using “Christianese” terms, the theological words of the vain glory-seeking Pharisees, or using the vein repetitions and babbling of the pagans; are not appropriate ways to communicate with a holy God! In Matthew 6:9-13 Jesus gives us a model as to how we are to pray in six petitions: the first three focus on God’s name, kingdom and will and the last three focus on our physical and spiritual needs, forgiveness of sins and aid in spiritual battles. To begin this sermon lets first look at two things to avoid when praying to God.
THINGS TO AVOID WHEN PRAYING
For the most part it is the attitude of the heart that truly matters as to whether one’s prayer is acceptable to God or not. In addressing the Jewish people who prayed three times a day: morning, afternoon, and evening; Jesus tells them to avoid two attitudes of the heart that are offensive to God. First, “prayer can be perverted from a true act of piety into an act of hypocrisy when the external act masks an inner corrupt motive.” When the set time came to pray the Jewish people had a choice to make: where should I pray? For those who chose to discretely “go into a room, close the door and pray to the Father who is unseen” (6:6) Jesus praises them but for those who chose to “pray standing in the Synagogues and on the street corners” (6:5), Jesus condemns them. It was not the choice of the place that was wrong, for public prayer is far from a sin, but the attitude of the heart. God simply rejects prayer when one’s inner motive is self-seeking praise from ongoing watchers but welcomes prayer when one’s only desire is to have an intimate communion with one’s Creator!
The second attitude of the heart to avoid when praying is vain repetition or babbling. In Jesus’ day, Gentiles or pagans would repeat a list of divine names of their gods in hopes of manipulating them into giving them their heart’s desires. Since many believed the longer the prayer the greater the probability of being heard, repetition was used as the means of lengthening their requests. For example, from morning until noon the pagan prophets repeated the words “O Baal, answer us” (1 Kings 18:26) in hopes of forcing Baal to set fire to the alter. Jesus is not saying that long prayers are a sin, for in Luke 6:12 Jesus Himself prayed all night, but instead is saying that vainly repeating words in an attempt to force God to bow to your will is a sin. Since the Father already knows what we need (verse 8), “prayer is much about changing us, our character, our will, and our values, even while we seek for God’s response.” In answering prayers, God does not promise to give you your heart’s desire but does promise to do good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28)!
HOW TO PRAY
Now that we know that we are to avoid praying for human praise and are not to use vain repetition, Jesus gives us a model of how to pray. Even though many people call this model “The Lord’s Prayer” it should be called “The Disciple’s Prayer” because the sinless Lamb of God, Jesus would never have prayed for the forgiveness of sins. The shorter version of this prayer found in Luke 11:2-4 was a response to the disciple’s request for Jesus to teach them how to pray as John had taught his disciples. This prayer is not intended to be memorized and repeated without thought, but instead as a model of how one is to address a holy God. Since this model does not contain prayer for our brothers or sisters (James 5:16, Ephesians 6:18) or for our enemies (Matthew 5:44) it is not intended to be a complete model of prayer but merely how to properly address God and make requests of Him. The remainder of this sermon will explore the following six petitions of this model prayer: honoring God’s name, focusing on God’s kingdom, seeking God’s will, our physical and spiritual needs, forgiveness of sins, and our aid in spiritual battles.
HONOURING GOD’S NAME
Before petitioning God to provide for one’s needs one should first acknowledge His glorious name. While there are many names for God such as Elohim, the creator of heaven and earth (Genesis 1:1), El Elyon, the Most High God (Genesis 14:18-19), Jehovah, I am who I am (Exodus 3:14), or Adonai, the Lord; Jesus invites us to call God, “Father.” The term “Father” or “Abba” is a name often “used by children for their earthly fathers that denotes warmth and intimacy in the security of a loving father’s care.” In Romans 8:15 Paul tells us that the moment that we receive the Spirit we are adopted and get to cry out “Abba Father.” Addressing God as “Father” is our way of acknowledging His everlasting love and sovereign care for us. Even though not a single Israelite in the Old Testament ever directly addressed God as Father, Jesus invites us to address God with the same term “Father” that Jesus used in His prayers (Matthew 11:25; 26:39, 42; Mark 14:36; Luke 23:34; John 14:11; 12:27; 17:1, 5, 11, 24, 25).