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Summary: As his child, we can come boldly to the Father through the Son by the power of the Spirit.

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The Secret of Effective Prayer

Matthew 6:5-8

INTRODUCTION

A. E. Y. Mullins, “Now there is nothing clearer in the teachings of Jesus than the reality and efficacy of prayer.”

B. Committee on Progress and Prayer.

1. In 1881, they reported to the Southern Baptist Convention.

2. Their conclusion was that all real progress is a direct result of prayer and every step forward in the Christian life leads to more earnest prayer.

C. In 1808, the Shaftsbury Baptist Association in Vermont wrote, “Suffice it to say by prayer mercies are sanctified, afflictions are alleviated, holy dispositions are invigorated, corrupt passions weakened, and temptations resisted.”

D. There is necessity, confusion and power that surround any teaching on prayer.

1. Majoring on the sovereignty of God alleviates the need of prayer.

2. Majoring on freedom leads to believing everything depends on prayer.

3. Some believe prayer is lining up with what God has already determined to do.

4. Others maintain it is asking God to do what he would not otherwise do.

E. Most are probably in the middle of the two above extremes.

1. God is in charge but he responds to our prayers.

2. Scripture seems to support this view.

3. It tells about God’s control but also tells us to ask.

4. All of this can make the elements of prayer confusing.

F. Story of John Wesley and George Whitefield.

1. Whitefield was a Calvinist (believed in predestination) and Wesley an Armenian (maintained free will).

2. Preaching together during day and rooming together at night.

3. After strenuous evening, they returned exhausted to the boarding home.

4. Before going to bed, they both kneel to pray.

5. Whitefield, “Lord, we thank Thee for all those with whom we spoke today, and we rejoice that their lives and destinies are entirely in Thy hand. Honor our efforts according to Thy perfect will. Amen.” Then he went to bed.

6. Wesley was barely past the invocation of his prayer when Whitefield finished. He said, “Mr. Whitefield is this where your Calvinism leads you?” Wesley kept praying.

7. Whitefield wakes up two hours later and Wesley seems to still be praying.

8. He actually found him asleep, “Mr. Wesley is this where your Arminianism leads you?”

G. Have different ideas about prayer.

1. Where do our prayers lead us?

2. True prayer enters the presence of God.

PRAY TO GOD

A. Some have construed these verses to mean the following:

1. Should not have public prayer.

2. Not have prayer meetings.

3. Should not pray with others.

B. Seems pretty basic to say we should pray to God.

1. Not all prayers are directed to God.

2. Some pray to themselves as the proud Pharisee did.

3. We can pray to other things or beings besides God.

C. Judaism had a high priority for prayer.

1. Israel was favored and the teachings of God came to them.

2. Their praying had been corrupted by rabbinical teachings.

D. Faults of Judaism’s prayer system.

1. Ritualization. Prayers were simply read or repeated from memory.

2. Shema was said at morning and night.

3. Shemoneh essay was another formalized prayer that contained 18 prayers for various occasions.

4. Faithful Jew prayed all 18 in the morning, afternoon and evening (9, 12, 3).

5. Some prayed out of indifference and pride.

6. Prescribed prayers for every object and occasion.

7. Limited their prayers to certain times with no relation to genuine need or desire.

8. Thought long prayers were sanctified and effective.

9. Some wanted to be seen and heard by fellow Jews.

E. Prayers must be addressed to God.

1. He stands ready to answer.

2. They bring us into his very presence.

3. Minds can wander (think about family, friends, worry, today’s activities).

F. Psychologists may say prayer is just wish fulfillment.

1. For some this is true.

2. We can recite our wish list for God.

G. Dr. R. A. Torrey, Bible teacher and evangelist, said, “We should never utter one syllable of prayer, either in public or in private, until we are definitely conscious that we have come into the presence of God and are actually praying to him.”

PRAY THROUGH JESUS

A. How do we gain access to God?

1. He is holy and righteous and we are sinful.

2. We come based on the atoning death of Jesus.

3. “Therefore, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.” (Hebrews 10:19)

4. Jesus, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

B. All other ways of approaching God are futile.

1. God turns away from all other prayers.

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