Matthew 6:5-6 Matthew 6:5-6 5 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.
Matthew 6:7-11 Matthew 6:7-11 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.
Matthew 6:12-15 Matthew 6:12-15 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.
Focus Verse Mark 11:24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
Focus Thought Prayer is not measured by length. Meaningful prayer takes place when the prayer touches God.
Introduction Introduction It is impossible to place too much value on the privilege of prayer. Prayer is simply conversation with God; yet there is nothing simple about the results of our time spent with Him. It is a phenomenal connection with the God of the universe where the Creator communes with His created masterpiece—mankind.
Introduction It is unfortunate that many people have never discovered the blessing of prayer, and some of them even complain that they do not know how to pray. Because of unbelief, others refuse to pray because they do not believe that God will answer their prayer. In either case, those who do not take advantage of prayer deprive themselves of the benefits of communication with God, who loves all people with everlasting love.
Introduction Anyone who believes in prayer has found that God answers prayer. Although God may not answer all prayers in the way we expect, and He may not grant all of our requests, He does answer our prayers. Consequently, every believer who trusts in God’s eternal wisdom will continue to pray. Daily prayer establishes and maintains a relationship with God, and our regular prayer empowers us spiritually.
Introduction Prayer is actually a manifestation of a person’s faith toward God: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). When we pray, we exhibit faith that there is a God and that He hears and answers prayer.
Introduction In this lesson, we will discuss when, where, why, and how we pray. The study of this lesson should provide us with a deeper appreciation for prayer and will increase our faith to keep praying until the answer comes.
When We Pray I. When We Pray (A) Pray Always “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1).
I. When We Pray (A) Jesus’ statement that individuals “ought always to pray” correlates with Paul’s directive to the Thessalonians: “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). Certainly, we should never stop praying, for those who continue to pray are blessed. The statements are not intended to be interpreted literally, for that would technically mean that a person could never do anything else.
I. When We Pray (A) God did not intend for us to pray and do nothing else; rather, He was admonishing us never to discontinue the practice of regular and consistent prayer. If someone were to ask a fisherman if he is still fishing, he could honestly answer affirmatively although he may have no fishing gear in his hand or even be near the water. One would not need to fish twenty-four hours a day to say that he is still fishing.
I. When We Pray (A) If God does not expect us to pray twenty-four hours of every day, how long should we pray daily? This question bothers some people because they feel that they should pray an hour each day in order to fulfill Jesus’ implied expectation: “What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” (Matthew 26:40). Others maintain that we should not confine ourselves to a particular amount of time to pray each day.
I. When We Pray (A) Moreover, some individuals may consider the early morning hours as the best time to pray, but the phrase “at all times” (Ephesians 6:18, New Living Translation), lets us know that we should continue practicing prayer at whatever time is appropriate; the choice is ours.
Pray When Afflicted I. When We Pray (B) “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms” (James 5:13).
The instruction of James regarding prayer in his epistle is simple and to the point—when we are afflicted, we should pray. The word afflicted comes from a Greek word meaning “hardship, trouble.” When things are difficult and we are having trouble, we should exercise prayer. No one should have to instruct us to do the obvious, but we often respond like the individual who fails to hit the emergency switch when confronted with a crisis. The switch is there and we have the knowledge of what we should do, but when under duress, we often fail to react logically. I. When We Pray (B)
I. When We Pray (B) The miracle of God’s grace is that He has made provision for our help in the time of need. He could have left us without the privilege of prayer, and we would have no recourse when in the midst of hardship and trouble. But, thankfully, He has given us the gift of prayer.
Affliction is not necessarily punishment from God or an attack of Satan, but it is something that visits all of us. Affliction often is the result of living in a world of conflict and change. The Preacher declared, “Time and chance happeneth to them all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11). Job proclaimed, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). It is not the reality of affliction that should concern us, but our response to it. We have no control over much of what we suffer, but we can control our response toward suffering. I. When We Pray (B)
I. When We Pray (B) As James 5:13 directs, prayer is the proper response to affliction. We often wait until things have escalated before praying, but we should promptly take a matter of affliction to the Lord before the matter worsens.
People who are suffering from affliction often call their pastor to pray for them. Although it is good and acceptable for the pastor to offer his prayers on behalf of his afflicted parishioners, we should note that the verse plainly indicates that the afflicted should do the praying. The sick are to call for the elders of the church to anoint and pray for them (James 5:14), but the afflicted are to pray themselves. A caring pastor does not mind praying for the afflicted, but some troubled people consistently want others to do their praying for them. I. When We Pray (B)
Pray for Jerusalem I. When We Pray (C) “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee” (Psalm 122:6).
I. When We Pray (C) It is no secret to students of the Bible that God loves Jerusalem and the land of Israel. (See Deuteronomy 11:11-12.) When we pray, we usually ask God for something that would benefit us or our loved ones. We do have needs, and we should not be timid about expressing them to God. However, we also should pray for Jerusalem because its needs are important to God, and it is the focal point of end-time prophecies.
I. When We Pray (C) For many years, teachers of Bible prophecy have considered Israel to be the fig tree that we are to watch as God’s time clock of the end times. (See Matthew 24:32-34.) For this reason, we need to watch Jerusalem and Israel and pray for them.
I. When We Pray (C) The prophet Joel declared, “I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land” (Joel 3:2). Since the world will be represented there when God begins to fight for and redeem Israel, it is important that we pray for God’s will to be done in everything leading up to those great events.
Where We Pray II. Where We Pray (A) It is interesting that most of us have favorite places to pray. Some like to pray at the spot where they received the Holy Ghost, while others like to pray in public places. However, most people enjoy finding a place away from others where they can talk to the Lord privately.
II. Where We Pray (A) Some people feel more comfortable praying while standing or walking, while others feel that they should be kneeling. Some even like to lie prostrate on the floor, while others enjoy praying while seated. The fact is that physical positioning is not nearly as important as spiritual positioning. Once again, we should remember that God looks on the heart rather than the position of the body.
II. Where We Pray (A) The important thing is that we pray wherever we can connect with God. If privacy enhances our prayer lives, we should certainly pray privately. If praying under our breath in a crowded shopping mall is effective, we should do it. The important thing is that we establish a relationship with God through regular, consistent prayer.
In Secret II. Where We Pray (A) “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” (Matthew 6:6).
II. Where We Pray (A) If God is not overly concerned with our physical position or place of prayer, why would Jesus tell His disciples to pray in their closet? With this statement, He countered the Pharisees’ vain display of self-righteousness. Standing in public places, they prayed to attract attention to themselves.
II. Where We Pray (A) On the other hand, overemphasis on being secretive with prayer, giving, and service to the Lord often indicates a spiritual problem. There are those, for example, who do not tithe and who give few offerings, so they hide behind Jesus’ instruction: “But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth” (Matthew 6:3). Again, Jesus was offering the righteous alternative to the Pharisees’ practice of blowing trumpets when they gave. (See Matthew 6:2.)
II. Where We Pray (A) Jesus was not condemning public prayer or public giving, for He prayed publicly many times. With people gathered at the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus prayed aloud in public, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 11:41-42).
On the Mountain II. Where We Pray (B-D) We understand the phrase on the mountain to be an idiom that indicates being successful, feeling good, or being on top of things. An opposite idiomatic expression is in the valley, a condition where one feels defeated and weak. We are to pray not only when things are not going well and we are in trouble, but also when everything is going great.
II. Where We Pray (B-D) Often, people tend to forget God when things are going well because they relate to Him primarily on a “need” basis. We should remember, however, that God has no valley or mountain experiences. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (See Hebrews 13:8.) As human beings, we are the ones who have up-and-down experiences in life. We need to learn to relate to God in all aspects of our lives, in both good times and bad.
II. Where We Pray (B-D) If we have an effective and consistent prayer life on the mountain, we will pray more effectively in the valley. Faithful prayer during the good times deposits “money” in heaven’s bank that we can “spend” when we have greater needs. Mountain prayer and praise makes for more effective valley praying.
In the Valley II. Where We Pray (B-D) The valley represents times when things are not going the way we want them to go, and we find ourselves in trouble. It is interesting that people pray the most when they are in the valley. Problems and needs create a more critical climate that seems to precipitate prayer. Perhaps it is only natural for us, like children, not to cry out to the Lord until there is a problem.
II. Where We Pray (B-D) Some people refuse to pray when they are in the valley, feeling that if they did not pray on the mountain when everything was going well, they have no right to pray in the valley. However, God does not ignore tardy prayers, nor does He close His ears to some prayers and open them to others. He always is ready to hear and respond to our prayers.
Everywhere II. Where We Pray (B-D) Contrary to what some people think about having to pray only in church, at a shrine, or at a pagoda, we are to pray everywhere. “Everywhere” means wherever we are. God does not care where we are when we pray. He just wants to hear from us.
II. Where We Pray (B-D) In the Old Testament, prayer was offered at the Temple. When Solomon dedicated the Temple, he asked God to hear prayer that was directed toward Jerusalem and the Temple. (See I Kings 8:47-49.) In the church era, we understand that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost; therefore, we do not have to go to a temple or a church to pray. (See I Corinthians 6:19.) We can talk to the Lord anywhere at anytime, and He will hear.
II. Where We Pray (B-D) Being able to pray silently is an advantage, for this enables us to pray anywhere. It is good to pray aloud, but silent or whispered prayer is just as effective. The key is communication with God. We can pray silently in a crowded room or loudly in a closed automobile. He hears it all.
Why We Pray III. Why We Pray (A-C) To Forgive and to be Forgiven Among the many reasons for our praying, to forgive and to be forgiven are perhaps the most significant. Because basic human nature is selfish, perhaps our prayers always should begin with our receiving forgiveness.
III. Why We Pray (A-C) What an opportunity and privilege we have in going to God in prayer and receiving forgiveness for our sins! Through prayer, we can receive something that no amount of money could purchase, no degree of power could force, and no measure of influence could persuade.
III. Why We Pray (A-C) Following are some encouraging Scriptures concerning obtaining forgiveness: •“And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). • “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
III. Why We Pray (A-C) • “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). • “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
III. Why We Pray (A-C) Unless we receive forgiveness, we generally are not that interested in forgiving others. A truly forgiven person is more inclined to forgive others, for he is more aware of the benefits of forgiveness. However, these two are so intertwined that it is almost impossible to separate them. Perhaps that is why Jesus always linked them together in His teaching: “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
III. Why We Pray (A-C) But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:25-26). (See Matthew 6:12, 14-15; 18:35.) In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul admonished, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). Certainly, we should pray both to receive forgiveness and to forgive others.
To Communicate with God III. Why We Pray (A-C) Communication is a necessary element of a relationship, for if we love someone, we will desire to communicate with that person. This is true whether the relationship involves our mate, our family, our associates, or our friends, but it is especially true if the relationship involves God. We cannot maintain a relationship with God without communicating with Him, and prayer is the means of that communication.
III. Why We Pray (A-C) God could have created us without the ability to communicate with Him. After all, many parts of His creation—animals, plants, rocks, earth—are unable to communicate with Him. Of all of His earthly creation, mankind is the only one with this innate ability. What a privilege we have in prayer!