When You Pray
5 “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. 6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. 7 “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. 8 Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! 9 Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. 10 May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today the food we need, 12 and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. 13 And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. 14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
What is prayer?
What is prayer?
I think for us to understand things, it can sometimes be easier to understand what it isn’t.
According to this portion of scripture, we can see a few things that prayer is not.
It’s not pretend (something make-believe), God isn’t a genie granting wishes either.
It’s not for the attention of others
It’s not a repetitive, empty phrased, babble. We don’t get extra points for the amount of words we use or if we say it in the “authorized 1611 KJV” speak...
So, what is prayer?
a solemn request for help or expression of thanks to God.
a personal experience and intimate connection with our loving Heavenly Father.
a conversation or dialog with God.
Why do we pray?
Why do we pray?
With our theme/focus this year set on following Jesus, it’s a next logical step to observe and do what Jesus did. Did you know that Jesus prayed? In fact, he often withdrew to pray.
Jesus worshipped the Father through prayer (Our Father in Heaven, holy is your name)
He taught us that deliverance and healing came from prayer and fasting (v13 here and Mk 9:29)
He taught us that our source of help comes from the father and if we ask in His name, the father would respond, because He loves the son. (May your Kingdom come and your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need)
He wants us to draw closer to Him.
The Tomatis effect as described by Alfred Tomatis - “the voice does not produce what the ear does not hear”
I’ve been reading the book, “Whisper” by Mark Batterson. He talks about the Tomatis effect and how we may be experiencing the effects of a spiritual “Tomatis effect” in our lives. He reminds his readers of a story in the bible -
1 Kings 19:11-12
11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.
What did God use to speak to Elijah so that He would really hear? A whisper. What do we typically do when someone whispers? We get closer, we lean in.
Oswald Chambers said, “The voice of the Spirit is as gentle as a zephyr (breeze). So gentle that unless you are living in perfect communion with God, you never hear it.”
So, if we’re not leaning in to hear God’s voice, how can we know what to say?
Could it be that we have a hearing/listening problem, not necessarily a praying problem?
So then, How Do We Pray?
So then, How Do We Pray?
I believe we’ve determined that there’s more “listening” to it than we previously thought, right?
Well, what do the scriptures say in Matthew 6?
When we give, when we pray, when we fast - all these are things that Jesus is saying we will do - when we do it, do it in secret. It’s intimate, because the closeness that God wants is intimate. He’s whispering, really requiring us to lean in. That’s where he wants us, so He can wrap us in His arms.
I am not minimizing corporate prayer, since we are shown to do that as well. But those prayers come from spending time in our secret place with Him. (where 2 or 3 are gathered together, there I am)
Jesus took it a step further and not only told us How to pray, but He modeled it for us.
9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
He started with worship. He reminded Himself and His hearers that we should be aligned with God’s will. He asked God to meet the need, to change our hearts and to practice forgiveness, just as we have been forgiven. Then He worshipped Him again.
It’s almost like you can feel the love and devotion that Jesus expresses in His prayer. This comes from being in God’s presence and we can experience this too.
I like how John Piper describes how to be devoted to prayer. He uses each letter in the word Fades, nothing fancy here, that’s just what it spelled. Let our prayers be:
Free and Formed
Alone and Assembled
Desperate and Delighted
Explosive and Extended
Spontaneous and Scheduled
What would happen in 2020 if we all committed to pray like this? Not just for one out of the twelve months, but make it our practice to pursue Him in prayer, each day.
Let’s close out our time here today by praying together.