In Jesus’ Words: What is Prayer? (Matthew 6:9-15)

prayerPrayer is the most powerful thing we have.

It is the only thing, where we have a direct, immediate and continuous voice to God in Heaven.  It’s a two-way communication. Prayer is also a special privilege to Believers in Jesus Christ.  Jesus intercedes on our behalf to God.  I can only imagine the conversations that must be going on constantly – more airwaves than the internet!  But prayer is also a very serious thing.  It is not something we should take frivolously.  It is not a vehicle for wishes or a pleasant greetings.  When you offer to pray for someone, do it!  Write it down in your prayer journal, set aside some time in your day, and devote it to prayer.  Not everyone may be open to talking about God, but almost everyone, including strangers, will be open to sharing a prayer request with you, or will let you pray for them.  We all have that same longing.

Prayer is often very misunderstood.

When prayers don’t seem to be answered, some give up on faith, or use that as an excuse not to believe.  But real prayer is less about our wants and desires, and more about aligning our hearts and will to God, and getting to know God better.  When I look at prayer requests from my church, work associates, friends and family, I never see requests for a bigger house, fancy things, or a new sports car.  But if you watch most tv commercials, you would think these things are our biggest desires.  No, our true prayers and needs are deep, personal longings – a healing for sickness or cancer, for our children to return, for a widow’s comfort, for a husband to find a job…  By prayer, I’ve seen drug addicts turn their lives around, alcoholics begin a new life, prodigal sons and daughters find their way home, and most importantly, a person calling on the name of the Lord to be saved (known as the Believer’s prayer).  No one else can do that for you.

Prayer is less about our circumstances and more about our hearts.

It can start with one simple thought: God, I need your help.  It is the honest, humble, real crying out prayer to God, not just once but daily, that will begin to change a person.  And when our hearts are changed, our circumstances will begin to change.  When we relinquish everything to God, we allow Him to intervene in our lives.  Don’t miss out on God’s intervention in your life!

 ~ Matthew 6:9-15  The Lord’s Prayer ~

Jesus demonstrated and talked a lot about prayer.  It was very important to him.  As I continue on my journey of reading through Jesus’ words in the New Testament, the next passage is Jesus showing us how to pray.  Rather than just reciting or memorizing this prayer, I wanted to look closely at what Jesus is saying.  My additional thoughts are in parenthesis.

“This, then, is how you should pray:

    Our Father in heaven,     (acknowledge who God is)
  hallowed be your name,
    your kingdom come,       (acknowledge the kingdom of God)
      your will be done,          (align with God’s will)
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread. (give us what we need, daily dependence on God)
 And forgive us our debts,        (acknowledge we are sinners and need a Savior)
as we also have forgiven our debtors.  (forgive others in same way as Christ)
And lead us not into temptation,      (Satan is powerless when we pray)
 but deliver us from the evil one.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  (evidence of a true, changed heart)

In Jesus’ Words: How to give and pray in secret (Matthew 6:1-8)

jesus-quotes

 

It’s been an incredibly hard week.  I’m sure we’ve all had a week or two like this… It starts out normal, with the usual routines and the usual hello’s, and the promise of making plans – a party to attend, a get-together for dinner, that work project… and then wham!  Something unexpected happens.  Plans stop, you begin to remember the last conversation you had with someone, and suddenly life takes on a whole new meaning.

This week, my Bible study teacher passed away at a too-young age.  Sunday morning, I sat in my regular chair listening to him talk about Jesus with a smile on his face.  He talked about how life is a vapor and we should be spending our time and talents on the things that matter in heaven, not on the empty things which do not last, for none of us know how much time we have left on this earth…  On my way out, he asked how my family was doing, always thinking of others.  Less than 24 hours later, he was in heaven.

Though it was a complete shock with no satisfactory answer for his quick passing, I too would want my last 24 hours to be spent talking about Jesus with a smile on my face.  Jesus never promised us a long life, but he warned us many times about making our days count.  I would rather have 40 years of living for God than 80 years living without.

So as I come to the next passage on my journey of reading through Jesus’ words in the New Testament, it seems to be a very appropriate one on how we should live our lives:  Give to the poor. Give in secret, so your motives are like Jesus. Pray. Pray all the time, in secret, just between you and Jesus.  We may not always get everything we ask, but we will never walk alone and will be closer to Jesus for having done so.

~ Matthew 6:1-8  How to give. How to pray. ~

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

“Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. When you pray, don’t babble like the idolaters, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him.”

My grandfather was an old country preacher.  There aren’t many like him any more.
It’s been told that when he was on his deathbed in his old age, surrounded by family, he took his last breath and then opened his eyes from an unconscious state, looked up toward the hospital ceiling and smiled.  I believe he saw Jesus at that moment, coming down from heaven to greet him and take him home.  I cannot think of any better way to leave this life than to know you will be greeted by Jesus and that he knows you personally.  Jesus will say to God, I know him. He’s with me and he’s been forgiven.”

This is the statement of faith we proclaim: If you confess with your mouth that “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  Romans 10:9,13