Summary: Today's passage provides the context for what we know as the Lord’s Prayer. A Google search for the word “prayer” generates approximately 82,400,000 results. Let’s explore what Jesus reveals in Matthew 6 regarding the Practice of Prayer.
The Practice of Prayer • Matthew 6:1, 5-8 • April 24/25
As we cont. in our Behind Closed Doors Series, we come today to the passage which provides the context for what we know as the Lord’s Prayer (series after Mother’s Day). Prayer is an exhaustive topic. There is an overwhelming amount information… nearly everyone has their own definition… there are memorized prayers… offertory prayer… obligated prayer… panic prayer… confessional prayer… salvation prayer… at times we offer a hopeful prayer… (bridge to Hawaii illustration)
Google the word “prayer” generate 82,400,000 results. Let’s explore what Jesus reveals in Matthew 6 regarding the Practice of Prayer. STAND. READ. PRAY…
TRANSITION: Some have a this passage to mean that Jesus is opposed to public prayer… if that were the case, read thru Acts… early church had it wrong. Jesus is opposed to prayer that is simply practiced to be seen by men.
INTRODUCTION: Prayer is more than a DISCUSSION which God hears. Prayer is a DISCIPLINE that connects people with God’s HEART!
I. The Contrast of Prayer (vv 5-6, 7) (hypocrite & disciple of Christ)
In the synagogues, public prayer was customarily led by a male member of the congregation standing in front of the ark of the law. At times of public fasts & at times of the daily afternoon temple sacrifice the trumpets would blow as a sign that prayer should be offered. Right where he was… so we can see the temptation for attention of men to creep in…
• The Contrast of FREQUENCY. (when you pray… 3x in 4 verses)
Do I pray? How often do I pray? What do I pray?
Do I pray more frequently when alone with God in private than I do in public? If we fail the test of frequency, we fall under Jesus’ condemnation and we are hypocrites.
The disciple of Christ understands that prayer connects with God’s heart
• The Contrast of FERVENCY.
Do I pray to be seen by others? Sometimes we like the reputation of being a person of prayer more than the reality of praying.
What is my motivation in praying? ((box of chocolates illustration)
Do I pray more fervently when alone with God in private or in public? If you don’t pray publicly often, do you depend more on the public prayers of others than private personal prayer with the Father?
• The Contrast of FOCUS. ( 6… go into your room and shut the door…
Jesus acknowledges our tendency to be distracted in prayer. Ex. Disciples falling asleep in Garden… We are to shut the door against the disturbance and distraction but also to the prying eyes of men & to shut ourselves in with God. That is the only way we can pray to the Father who is in secret.
Greek word for room = tameion = store-room where treasures might be kept… all of these references are in the singular… private prayer…
Why? Because prayer is about a vertical relationship with God. The hypocrite approaches prayer from the horizontal – focused on pleasing men or receiving attention… Do I focus upon my vertical relationship with God in prayer or my horizontal relationship with people? When I pray am I so distracted by people or my problems or my plan or am I focusing my attention upon God.
• The Contrast of FLOW.
Jesus says prayer should not consist of empty phrases, idle repetitions, or even the ridiculous assumption that the answer is in correlation to the words that we use in prayer. (See ECCL. 5:2)
Jesus is not concerned with the length of our prayers in this passage, he is concerned with the attitude of heart which thinks it is heard for its many words.
Whether we are praying privately or publicly, what is the flow of our hearts and lives? When I pray am I allowing my heart to flow outwardly/upwardly to the Father or do I focus my attention on an inward flow of what I need and want? God wants to connect with our hearts. He wants us to share the secret things of our hearts.
Is my prayer life more about getting something from God or giving to God?
II. The Confidence of Prayer (v 6b, 8)
God is ACTIVE. Father sees in secret…
God is active in His Word. (Hebrews 4:12) – pray Word!
God is active in His World. (1 Cor 2:9-11) – He is at work!
God is AWARE. Father knows what you need…
Aware of our hurts…
Aware of our hearts…
God loves us so much that He sent His only Son Jesus to heal our hearts by dying for our sin. He wants to heal your hurt by the power of His forgiveness.