Saturday, July 18, 2015

How to Pray - Matthew 6:5-15

Jesus continues in His Sermon on the Mount with another act of righteousness - Prayer. In Matthew  6:5-15, Jesus tells us the manner in which we should pray, where we should pray and He even offers us an example of how we should pray. The model is beautiful in its simplicity. It does not try to drown God in words. It does not try to manipulate Him or ingratiate Him to the pray-er.


“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 others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“This, then, is how you should 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 today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
    but deliver us from the evil one.[b]
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.


Jesus says not to pray like the hypocrites that make a show of it. Aside from what Jesus offers here, in what ways does prayer become a show; A work to be done so that everyone will know you are righteous? 

-We've all heard windy, flowery prayers offered in King James English. Then there are the prayers that are not so much prayers to God as they are sermons to others that may be listening. Both kinds of prayers can go on and on. It's like the pray-er needs to inform God of things He did not know or advise others present of the pray-er's close relationship with God. These kinds of prayers are probably not what Jesus had in mind when He was teaching.

Jesus also indicates that private prayer is the best policy. So, why do we even offer public, corporate prayer in gatherings of the Church?

-This is a rhetorical question. You figure it out. I know what I think. I'm not sure there is a place for  corporate prayer inside the meetings of the church or outside. Prayer is personal. Where in the Bible do you see an example of corporate prayer? Seriously. It just is not there - especially in the New Testament.

The model prayer that Jesus offers is interesting. It honors God. It asks that His will be done. It asks  that our daily need for food be met and it acknowledges God as the giver. It asks for forgiveness. And it asks for protection from temptation and its source - the evil one. It is at once, simple straightforward and brief. Why do we not pray in this fashion? Why do we take this simple outline of a prayer and hang every last little request on it's parts?

-As Jesus said, God already knows what we need. We need to keep it simple. Keeping the line open is one thing. Jabbering on and on about the least little things that God already knows about is quite another. The Lord does not need it. We must not confuse our needs with the reasons for prayer. If we want to talk to Him about the issues of our day, perhaps that helps us more than Him? Maybe God does not mind that. Maybe He can work through that to help us. Maybe he would just like us to use the brains He gave us? Who is to say? I know we do not see prayer like ours today recorded in scripture. Do you really think there was a prayer list in the early churches? I wonder.

Before Jesus gave them this example, do you think anyone ever taught the people of His time to pray?

- I am thinking not. At least not like this.

The line in the prayer about debt is interesting. Do you think it's about monetary debt or something else? If so, what?

Here's a clue - the answer lies in vss 14 and 15. 

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