5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
Prayer is the most basic component of all religions of all time. When people believe they have a deity that is greater than themselves they will pray to that deity asking for help, for healing, for guidance, and for eternal benefits. The people of Israel, going back to Abraham, knew what it meant to pray to their God and they believed that their God was the only God, the one true God. So you would think that by the time Jesus came, nearly 2,000 years later, they would have this prayer thing down. Apparently not.
Jesus gave these instructions about prayer:
- Don’t pray like the hypocrites pray, they pray to be seen of men.
- Pray alone, in your private place.
- Pray to God who alone sees and when you pray in private God will hear and will reward you openly, before others who seek the praise of men.
- Do not pray with vain repetitions. (It amazes me how many religions today have memorized prayers in light of the Lord’s clear teaching against it.)
- God does not hear us when we repeat ourselves hoping to get his attention.
- When we pray, God already knows our needs before we ask and already knows what is best for us and will answer us accordingly.
Too often, in prayer, people try to give God advice, to tell God what is the best action that he should take on their behalf. Become familiar with Isaiah 40 and it will change your prayers. God does not come to us for counsel and if he did he would cease to be God. We really do not want a God that we control but a God who is in control.
Can we take time today in private prayer? Can we go to our “closet” to get alone with the God of the universe and open our hearts and wills to Him? Prayer changes us when we get alone with God. In His presence the fog is lifted, the blur is made clear, and the peace comes back. Let us lay aside our own ideas of prayer and go to the Father as He desires we come that He, hearing our prayers, will do with us as He sees fit and right.
We are grieving today for the seventeen families who have lost their teen children this week. As I walked into Waubonsie this morning to drop off something that Stefani forgot, I was struck with the reality of potential threats on all children in all schools. My friends, gun control isn’t the best answer. There are too many guns in our country for that. I would like someone to do a research project on all of the shooters over the last twenty years, going back to Columbine, and look for similarities that can be honestly addressed. There have to be contributing factors to this immense issue, factors that can be dealt with. The vast majority of kids would never think of shooting one another. What are the painful issues in the lives of those who would and do?
Sunday morning I will be bringing a message on spiritual growth and maturity from 1 John 2. Read through this chapter and prepare your hearts for the message.
Have a great day in the Lord,