Summary: Jesus gave His disciples and us a model prayer to help us figure out how you talk to the God of the universe.
September 2, 2001 Mat. 6:9-13
“What do I say when I pray?
I am not a talker by nature. Some people just bubble over with things to say. They find it easy to start up conversations, and before you know it, they have established a new friendship. That’s not me. I struggle to find words to say to people. Some of you may have a hard time believing that because of how much time I spend talking on Sunday. You might be wishing that my silent personality would show through a little bit more on Sundays so that I wouldn’t speak quite as long. The reason that I have so much to say on Sundays is because I’ve spend all week thinking about that I’m going to say, and I’m talking about something that I know.
But there’s another subject that I knew very little about when I was growing up – still haven’t figured it out – that kept me quiet. That subject was relationships, especially relationships with girls. I didn’t know how to talk to them. I didn’t know what to say. When there were times at school – parties or banquets – that you had to invite a date, I panicked. That would mean that I would have to call a girl up on the phone to ask her to go with me. That was bad enough, but then what if she said, “Yes”. That would mean that I would have to spend an hour or two actually carrying on a conversation with her. What would I say?! Dick Van Dyke’s character in “Mary Poppins” must have had a similar dilemna. His dad’s answer to the problem was to give him one word to say when he couldn’t think of anything else to say. Do you remember what the word was? Supercalifragilisticexpialidoscious.
As difficult as it may be to start a conversation with a girl – who to you is the most perfect creature who has ever walked the earth – how much more difficult it is to start a conversation with God – who really is the most perfect one in all the universe?! What do you say to God? Supercalifragilisticexpia- lidoscious just doesn’t seem to fit.
Jesus’ disciples must have had a similar problem. They came to Him one day and said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” In response, Jesus gave the same words recorded here in Matthew 6. We know it as “The Lord’s Prayer”. We’re going to look at this prayer today to learn 6 topics of conversation that we can talk about when we pray God. In the process, we might even gain some insight into how to successfully communicate with that special person in our lives.
Before we go any farther, I need to make you aware of two cautions. The first is that “The Lord’s Prayer” is just a starting point. Although beautiful, it is like the first books that you read. “See spot run. Watch Jane fall. The ball is red.” It contains all the components of conversation, but it is not personal. It gets awfully old saying this prayer over and over to God, just like it gets old saying supercalifragilisticexpialidoscious. This was meant as a starting point for you to build on.
Second, regardless of whether you’re talking with an individual or with God, you can never use conversation as a tool to manipulate – to get them to do for you what they would not normally have done. From time to time, you may be able to manipulate people, but you will NEVER be able to manipulate God. Saying the right things in the right order will not get God’s attention if your heart is not in the right place. He is God. You are human. He is in control. You are not. Always remember that.
Having said that, let’s learn how to talk to Him.
1. Tell Him how great He is – “Our Father…”
When talking to a girl, find something to compliment. [compliment some of the people in the congregation]
Not talking about flattery. Flattery won’t get you anywhere in the long-term.
The greatest compliment of all is when you compliment someone for their character. That’s the kind of compliment or praise that we give to God.
In some relationships, you have to search really hard to find something to say. This is not the case with God.
Magnify His qualities – love, holiness, beauty, mercy, justice.
Why would you want to pray to someone who isn’t great anyway?
Because of who He is, you want to spend time around Him and get to know Him even better. “As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longeth after thee.”
2. Tell Him how thankful you are for what He has done