Prayer Matthew 6

May 10, 2015   Matthew 6:1 – 18    Prayer  

 

   This is an article from Eric Watt President, RUN Ministries dated April 24, 2015.   I offered a prayer up to God yesterday that I have never spoken before. It came up from the deepest part of my heart. But when I spoke those words to the Eternal Creator, I was surprised.   A bit of background might help. I offer hundreds of short conversational prayers to God every day. Multiply that times nearly five decades of following Jesus, plus the added responsibilities of being a leader of my family, my church and RUN Ministries (a charity that works in some of the "darkest" places on earth), and you can understand why I was surprised that it was the first time I had ever prayed this single two-word prayer: "Come quickly!"   Why did I pray that yesterday? The Bible teaches us that, in the last days, evil will become so pervasive that even those chosen by God will be tempted to "fall away."

     Honestly, I never thought I could imagine, let alone see, that day. But that day may be here.   Right now, while our own nation struggles with issues like sexual identity (feelings vs. chromosomes), political scandals, and social entitlements, the rest of the world is battling evil on an entirely different level.  International bullies are redefining national boundaries without recourse, and terrorists are using chemically engineered weapons of mass destruction.  And, in unprecedented horrors, Christians are being slaughtered like animals: beheaded, hung on mock crosses, tortured and persecuted.   To make matters worse, the positive solutions to many of these ills: abstinence, honest work, honor, integrity and respect seem to be out of the grasp of many leaders, who are apparently overly concerned about the opinions of others and upcoming elections, rather than the things we hold dear -- like mercy and truth.   Has our generation's "Day of Reckoning" finally come Eric asks? 

   We can make a difference and we can be a people of prayer.   We can be effective and see God’s power.   God cares deeply about your neighbors.  God cares deeply for the town or city that you live in.   There is such an attack on God’s people today and the lost people.   E. M. Bounds writes the life of the church is the highest life, and its office is to pray. Its prayer life is the highest life, the most fragrant, and the most conspicuous.    When God’s house on the earth is a house of prayer, then God’s house in heaven is busy and powerful in its plans and movements. ‘For mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people’ (Isaiah 56:7), says our God.   Then, His earthly armies are clothed with the triumphs and spoils of victory, and His enemies are defeated on every hand… The very life and prosperity of God’s cause - even its very existence - depend on prayer.   And the advance and triumph of His cause depend on one thing: that we ask of Him.”  E.M. Bounds   I think that generally when we think of the church we think of fellowship, worship, and preaching.   Jesus was clearing the temple in Matthew 21:13 when he said my house shall be called a house of prayer.  This is a place where God’s people can connect with God.  

    I think we all want to be effective in prayer and the plan is to bring some messages on prayer.  I know it will make a difference for us.  Lives are going to be changed.   The enemy has been fighting me in this series of messages.   God wants our families and communities changed.  In Ezekiel which I read this week God said I looked or sought for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so that I would not have to destroy it but I found none.  God is looking for people who will pray for their spouse, their child, their church their town their state.   If a family catches your eye in a store you can pray Lord how do you want me to pray for them?   Isaiah 62 I have posted watchmen upon your walls O Jerusalem they will never be silent day or night.  You who call on the Lord give yourselves no rest and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.   The watchmen were not to rest and they were not to allow God to rest.  That is one kind of prayer isn’t it?   When you pray for me pray that I will be a man of prayer. 

     Are there ineffective prayers?   Can certain prayers be ineffective?   Jesus speaks to couple of them in this passage doesn’t he?   Jesus was not too impressed with vain babblings.   Some people believe just saying words is effective.  It looks like just saying words over and over again is not effective.   Jesus also talked about praying to be seen by men.  That was not effective prayer.   The show off prayer does not go very far.   I was asked recently about prayer and the person said I pray the same things every night.

    I told them God wants to hear your heart.   What happened during the day and what needs did you see in the day?   Just pray the stuff on your heart.  Prayer is communication with God.  Vain babblings is not prayer.   It might be called prayer but it is not prayer.  True prayer is connecting with God.  It is communication.   Prayer is expressing what is in our heart and we know that God looks on the heart.  Jesus said those that worship will worship in spirit and in truth.   Prayer that is being expressed to impress others is not really prayer.  The person praying has his attention on others and not on God.   There is no real connection with God.  The person that is babbling is not really praying to God.  People can say the disciple’s prayer in this passage and not even be thinking about the words and unfortunately are not connecting with God. 

     Effective prayer is a transforming prayer.   In the Transformation video by George Otis, Jr., the following words were spoken that stress the requirements for transformation: “It’s risky, aggressive, and brought about through prayer. It’s not predictable and out of our control. There is an unexpectedness of God. We are fooled by strategy. We lack God’s processing power. You can’t format God. We are proud and impatient. God’s approach is to come in through the back door. He shows up, not shows off. There is a flow with the Holy Spirit that is not stage-managed. He is willing to be invited but only on his terms. 

       Ask the church what is the best prayer?   The best prayer is the answered prayer.  The best prayer is when God connects with me.   The best prayer is when I connect with God.   It is the prayer that is effective and gets God response.    What do you think is the best verse in the bible on prayer?    Do you have a favorite verse in the bible on prayer?   I personally like James 5:16 as I memorized it in the KJ translation the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.   The Amplified bible says the earnest heartfelt continued prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available dynamic in its working.  The person is righteous, persevering and fervent and I think that all of those points mean that the person is praying in faith.    I get the sense that this person walks with the Lord and knows the will of the Lord and perseveres to see God’s response.  Maybe some would say I am reading too much in that verse.   

     Are there different kinds of prayers?     Does one size so to speak fit all?   How do you make out when you buy a one size fits all?    Does that ever not work for you?   Jesse Do a skit.   Have carpenter come up and ask him to remove a nail driven in wood.  Have him ask for a tool and give him some mechanic tools.  Then state he is a carpenter and give him some carpenter tools such as a ruler.  Then offer a hammer or flat bar.  I think I have been guilty of praying one kind of prayer a lot.   I can identify with Peter when Peter walked on the water and he looked at the wind and the waves and his faith just sort of got blown away.   Peter starts to sink and he cries out lord save me.  

    In the book Secrets to powerful prayer there are chapters on casting all your care, prayer of consecration, united prayer, prayer of praise, worship, thanksgiving, prayer of faith, prayer of agreement, prayer of supplication, prayer of intercession, watching it the spirit and waiting on God.   My plan is to preach on some of this material.  God has given us different ways to pray so we can be effective.   We need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit on how we need to pray. At times God may want you to just believe Him but at times God may want you to get a prayer partner. God may want you to get a prayer partner and write up a contract and agree in prayer regarding something. 

     I think often when I pray there are a couple of things that I do not think about very much that are very important.   I find it too easy at times to just jump right in prayer.   I sense that I need to mention them.   I sense that others do the same thing.   The prayer of Peter Lord save me is valid but that should not be our only type of prayer.   We come before a holy God who hates sin.  It is good to be aware of that and ask God if there is any sin you need to confess and if there is anyone who you need to forgive.    In Job 42 God told Jobs 3 friends that they did not speak correctly about God and that God’s servant Job would pray for them.  Verse 10 says that after Job prayed for his friends God made him prosperous.   Job I think forgave his friends and prayed for them and then after Job did that God blessed him.  It is hard to forgive. Jesus said in this passage for if you forgive men when they sin against you your heavenly father will also forgive you.  James 5:16 says therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  Many times the confessing of sins is totally ignored. 

    The other item that I wanted to mention is listening to God and being thankful.  I had a meeting with some other pastors Friday and part of I Thessalonica 5 was read which says in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you and pray without ceasing.   Those are very challenging verses.  The Holy Spirit is telling us to be a thankful person.  Psalms 100 tells us to enter his courts with praise and thanksgiving. 

    Your prayers are very important.  Jesus always spoke very positive about God answering prayers but many prayers are ineffective.   The problem is not with God but with us.  I believe that you want to have an effective prayer life.   We all want to see answers to our prayers.  God is able to do and desires to do great and mighty things.  He is a great God bring great requests before him.