DO YOU KNOW HOW TO PRAY?
In Matthew 6:5-15, the Lord Jesus Christ gives us plain, clear instructions about how we are to pray. "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. (6) But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. (7) But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. (8) Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. (9) After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. (10) Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in 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 lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (14) For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: (15) But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
Our Savior here assumes that all Christians pray. As soon as Saul of Tarsus was converted, we read, “Behold, he prayeth.” All who are godly, all who are born of God pray (Psa. 32:6). I do not say, “They say their prayers.” Saul of Tarsus did that all his life. There is a huge difference between saying a prayer and praying! Yet the Word of God does declare that every regenerate soul prays. “You may as soon find a living man that does not breathe,” wrote Matthew Henry, “as a living Christian that does not pray.” In these verses, our Lord does not teach his people to pray. There is no need for that. He teaches us how not to pray and how to pray.
In verses 5 and 6, he says, Do not pray to be seen of men. Do not use a posture in prayer that causes people to look at you or calls attention to yourself. In public places, other than places of public worship, we are not to engage in public prayer. Prayer is between you and God. As much as possible, let your prayers be unobserved and unheard by men.
Do not use vain repetitions (v. 7). That prohibition extends to all memorized prayers, pious sounds and voice tones, religious jargon, and “Hail Marys”. This is a prohibition against much speaking in prayer, too. God does not need to be informed or argued with, but acknowledged, sought and honored. The prophets of Baal put on a show when they cried aloud to their deaf god. The servant of God simply uttered the desire of his heart (I Kgs. 18:36-37). That is what prayer is!
True prayer is an act of faith. Place, position, and posture are meaningless. Words are really insignificant. Prayer is the acknowledgment of God as my Father with the confidence that he knows and will supply all my needs. In prayer, the believer simply and confidently seeks the glory of God (v. 9), the increase of God’s kingdom (v. 10), the will of God (v. 10), daily provision (v. 11), daily mercy (v. 12), daily preservation (v. 13), and the praise of God (v. 13). Let men talk all they will about prayer, unless our prayers arise from sincere hearts of faith and love, they amount to nothing but meaningless noise. That is what the Lord Jesus says in verses 14 and 15.
Grace Baptist Church of Danville - Grace For Today Radio Message #619
2734 Old Stanford Road - Danville, Kentucky 40422-9438
Donald S. Fortner, Pastor -Telephone 606-236-8235 - Email firstname.lastname@example.org