June 15, 2022

June 15, 2022

Author: Pastor Gordon Cook
June 15, 2022

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”.

Matthew 6:5-15

Well, let me go back to that Matthew 6 passage where Jesus talks about private prayer but also corporate prayer. He has that in mind I do think when he talks about praying to our Father using those plural pronouns. But anyway, what we should always remember when we pray, whether it be corporate prayer or private prayer, that this is one of the greatest privileges we have as Christians. We have the ear of Almighty God! Just think of that, who you’re talking to. You’re not talking to the President of the United States—you’re talking to God! The God who knows everything, who sees everything, the God who has rule and control over everything, and he hears our prayers. The bible even says that he delights in our prayers. Spurgeon said this about prayer, “What an encouragement we have to pray to such a prayer hearing God who so far exceeds the requests of his children. In other words, God always gives us more than we ask! But the word that often comes to my mind and maybe some of you I’m sure as well, when I think of prayer I don’t always think of privilege—I think of struggle. I’m not saying that’s the best word but that’s often the word that comes to my mind. It’s interesting that when Paul talks about prayer in Romans 8 about the privilege of prayer, he said we have been given the Spirit of adoption that enables us to cry out “Abba Father”. Remember what he said back in Romans 7. He hasn’t forgotten what he said about the struggle of remaining sin.

We are living a Spirit indwelt life, we are empowered by the Spirit—Romans 8. But let’s not forget Romans 7. We never get out of Romans 7. In Romans 7 Paul said—it’s sort of an autobiography—he’s telling his own story, his own struggle. He said “When I would do good—listen to the language—when I would do good I find evil is present within, so think about that when you would do good—when you would have helped your neighbor, when you want to do something kind to someone, when I would do good, prayer is a good thing. When I would do good, when I would pray, sin—you can say like a while animal begins to bark, howl, scratch, and bite. That’s why it’s easier to turn on a television often times than open up your bibles or get on your knees and choose to go to a football game rather than go to church. When I would do good, there is an active aggressive push back because of our own remaining corruption. That explains why every day we struggle at some level with dullness of heart, distraction of mind. Plus there is a devil—we can’t forget him. He doesn’t want to see us pray. He doesn’t like seeing Christians on their knees. Then there is the world. Does the world impact how you pray? We are not to be conformed to this world.

How can we be conformed to this world when it comes to our prayers? Well, the world doesn’t want you to pray because they think it’s a waste of time. So, we can conform to the world by prayerlessness. I think Jesus is teaching us here in the Sermon on the Mount that the Gentiles pray. They’re not Christians. But here’s the point—they don’t pray in the right way. They don’t pray to the right person or for the right reasons. The world prays—you’ve got lots of religions and lots of praying, so called praying. So Jesus warns us here of not praying like the world—Mathew 6. He has in mind praying hypocritically, superficially, or with mindless praying—just empty phrases. Do not conform to that kind of praying. Don’t conform to the world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. So, we always have to renew our minds when it comes to praying. Here Jesus gives us a lot of truth to help us renew our thinking about praying. How do we pray? Here’s the positive. We are to pray intimately—our Father. We are to pray reverently—hallowed be your name. We are to pray simply. Notice how simple the Lord’s prayer is. It is comprised of ordinary words—accessible vocabulary, short sentences, nothing fancy here. “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses”. We are to pray humbly, right? That’s not the way the world prays. Think of the Pharisee in Luke 18 how he prayed. He didn’t pray humbly. He came into God’s presence basically bragging about himself of how good a person he was. We are to come into God’s presence realizing we are sinners who need forgiveness. We come confessing our sins. But our praying is to be shaped by the bible not by the world. We have a wonderful pattern given by our Lord Jesus that should regulate our prayer life. We also have the commands of prayer and the promises of prayer. Here’s something we can be certainly asking God for, Lord renew our minds and keep us from being conformed to this world when it comes to prayer.