Summary: Jesus tells us what to do when we pray.
INTRODUCTION: ILL.- Two men met up on the street.
One asked the other: "Hi, how are you?"
The other one replied: "I’m fine, thanks."
"And how’s your son? Is he still unemployed?"
"Yes, he is. But he is meditating now."
"Meditating? What’s that?"
"I don’t know. But it’s better than sitting around and doing nothing!"
ILL.- What did the Yogi say when he walked into the Pizza Parlor? "Make me one with everything." When the Yogi got the pizza, he gave the proprietor a $20 bill. The proprietor pocketed the bill. The Yogi said, "Don’t I get change?" The proprietor said, "Change must come from within.”
Brothers and sisters, I don’t mind joking about Transcendental Meditation, Yoga, etc. BECAUSE I THINK THEY’RE A JOKE!
There are many people involved in meditation, TM, Yoga, etc. But this meditation is not prayer! One is thinking and one is talking, communicating. This TM kind of meditation is nothing but some kind of self-hypnosis. It focuses on self, not God.
Meditation in itself is not bad. It all depends on the object of meditation. If we meditate about God and Christ, that’s great! Even then that meditation must be centered or based on the Word of God, because this is where we learn about God. But if we just sit and meditate about ourselves, we’ll become greatly depressed. Our world is already self-obsessed enough without adding any more to it.
Psalm 1:2 “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
Psalm 77:12 “I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.”
Psalm 119:15 “I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.”
Psalm 119:99 “I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.” Meditating on the Word of God will make you smarter than the average bear and perhaps even smarter than those who have taught you in life!
If you are focusing on the Lord and His Word, meditation will come naturally. It will be a natural response to the awesomeness, holiness and graciousness of God. We will want to think of Him and consider His ways and words.
In Luke 11:1 Jesus’ disciples came to him, and said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus never taught His disciples to meditate or chant. He taught them to pray! And learning to pray is one of our great needs!
ILL.- One preacher wrote, “I don’t understand prayer, but I believe it works. There are a lot of other things that I don’t understand. I don’t understand how I can push a button in my car and my garage door opens before I even get there. But I use it. I don’t understand how a cordless phone works. I don’t know how your voice can travel through the air, through a transmitter and amplifier and then someone can hear you clearly across town or across the nation or around the world. I don’t know how. But it works.
“I don’t understand how prayer works, but it works. So I pray in faith to my unseen God and He promises that He will hear.”
Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Billy Graham once said, “Heaven is full of answers to prayers which no one ever bothered to ask.”
PROP.- The Lord has given us some guidelines in this text for prayer.
1- When you pray, don’t put on a show
2- When you pray, get away from people
3- When you pray, don’t babble on and on
4- When you pray, forgive others
I. WHEN YOU PRAY, DON’T PUT ON A SHOW
Matthew 6:5 “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…”
ILL.- When Lyndon Johnson was President, he had several guests in for a meal at the family room of the White House. LBJ had given the honor of giving grace to journalist Bill Moyers (an ex-Baptist minister). As Moyers began to softly say grace, LBJ - who couldn’t understand what was being said, interrupted Moyers, "Speak up man." Without looking up and barely stopping in mid-sentence, Bill Moyers replied, "I wasn’t talking to you."
ILL.- Preacher D. L. Moody said, “A man who prays much in private will make short prayers in public.”
Brothers and sisters, there is nothing wrong with praying in public but we must not be too quick to offer a public prayer. Meaning: Why do we want to lead in public prayer? Is it to communicate with God and ask on the behalf of others? Or is it because we want to appear “religious” to others?