From the Archives! Sermon Manuscripts: Luke 11, Learning to Pray

I like reading sermon manuscripts! So, I thought it might be helpful for some if I shared some various manuscripts of messages I have preached from time to time. Now, I am not going to do the work of editing them, so please be patient the presentation, as I type them a certain way to make it easier for me as I preach. You can listen to the audio here. This particular sermon is an introduction to Jesus’ teaching on prayer.

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If you’ll take your Bibles and open to Luke.

Chapter 11.

I want us to look at. 

Verses 1 through 13.

And begin to talk about the whole subject of prayer. 

Which.

Is obviously the theme.

Of these verses. 

Because.

We find Jesus praying. 

In verse 1.

And his disciples looking at the way in which He was praying, and wanting to pray, like that themselves.

And so.

One of them. 

Asks him.

To. 

Teach.

Them to pray.

Which is a big moment of course.

And.
Jesus.

Responds.

By giving them.

A model.

Of how to pray.

In verses 2 through 4.

In other words.

He teaches them what to pray. 

And.

Then, gives them, a method, you might say for prayer. 

Or.

Maybe better. 
He shows them the manner in which they should pray.

In other words. 

How to pray.

In verses 5-8.

And, then, he concludes by giving them a motivation for prayer.

Or. 
Why they should pray.

In verses 9-13.

And so over the next couple of weeks.

We.

Are going to be talking about.

The.

What.

How.

And why of prayer.

 

And.

I say.

A couple of weeks.
Because.

We are going to be taking this a little more slowly.

Than we’ve been going recently.

Actually.

Because.

Prayer is just, such a central aspect of the Christian life.

Our ultimate position as Christians, Martyn Lloyd Jones once said, by the character of our prayer life.

As Robert Murray McCheyne once put it, 

“A man is what he is on his knees before God, and nothing more.”

 

Which means.

 

When it comes to being a Christian.

And following Jesus.
Prayer is not over here on the side.

It’s right there at the center of what it is involved in following Christ.

And.  

One of the ways we see that.

Actually.

Is in the way Luke structures his gospel. 

I thought I could begin this short little series on prayer.

With a call to prayer.

And so this is just a reminder of how important prayer is, and one of the ways we see the importance of prayer is by noticing where this teaching on prayer is located in Luke’s gospel. 

Because. 

You remember.

I.
Think.
Luke’s a historian.

The writer of this gospel.
But.

He’s also a preacher.

And so he’s bringing all these true stories about Jesus together.
In a certain.

Way.
To.

Make certain points.

 

And.
This teaching on prayer.

Here.

In verses 1-13.

Comes.

In a section of Luke, where, we are learning about the basics of, discipleship.

Or you might say, the basics, of following Jesus.

 

And.

So one way we see how important prayer is to the Christian life.

Is.

In.

The fact.

That.

This teaching on prayer, comes towards beginning of a section in Luke, that’s all about, discipleship.

From.

Luke.
Chapter 9. 

Until.

Luke.

Chapter.

18.
There’s.

A special emphasis in Luke.

On Jesus teaching his followers what it means to be one of his disciples.

After.

A public presentation of Jesus.
In the opening chapters.

Of Luke.

Now. 

He focuses. 

On the private preparation of Jesus’ disciples.

And.
That.

Means.

This is.

Like.
Discipleship 101.

Really.

For Luke.

If.

You want to know.
What’s involved in.
Being a follower of Jesus.

You.
Can start by looking here.

And.

You remember.

We’ve already seen a lot, actually.

About discipleship.

Beginning back in chapter 9.

Like.
How.

Jesus talked about the nature of the Christian life.

Picking up your cross.

Daily.

How it’s going to be difficult.
And.
As a result.

Require faith.

And looking forward to the second coming.

Not living for now, but living for then.

And a big stress.


Throughout.

Has been on the importance of humility.

You remember how Jesus talks about the least being the greatest.

And then there was the story about the religious leader who was putting Jesus to the test.

And one of the big points of that whole story was the fact. 

That.

It’s not enough to know your Bible and be religious and be a respected leader.

In your community.
If you are not humble.

You are going to end up missing Jesus, completely. 

  

And so.

Humility.

Is like the fundamental, starting point, for following Jesus. 

As John Calvin once said, 
“If you ask me regarding the basics of the Christian religion, I will answer, first, second, and third, humility.”

And.

Humility. 

Is going to work itself out.

In your lives.

In two important and specific ways.

Which is where Luke goes next.

In this little lesson he’s giving us on following Jesus.

And. 

First.

Luke talks about the priority of listening to God speak. 

In verses 38-42.

Of.

Chapter 10.

A.
Person who has been truly humbled before God.

Will.

Make.

A big deal out of listening when God speaks.

You are.

Just.

Not going to go.

Anywhere.

In the Christian life.

Until.

You begin.

Loving.
Listening to Jesus.

That’s priority number one when it comes to being one of His followers. 

If you want to go somewhere with Jesus, you know, you want to follow Jesus, you have to make a big deal out sitting at His feet.

And listening to His Word.

And.

You have to make a big deal out of.

Prayer.

As well.

Which is.

Really.

Priority number two. 

Humble people, depend on God in prayer. 

Which. 
It.

Is.

 

Where.
Luke heads.

Next.

 

In chapter 11.

Verses 1-13.

Which.
For me.

Is really.

 

Something.

Sweet.

Because.
I find.

Sometimes people make the Christian life so.
Complicated.

And you can understand, because there’s a lot to do.

And you don’t want to waste your opportunity.

Of living for Christ.

And so.

You are like.

What does God want from me?

What do I do?

What am I supposed to be passionate about? 

Where do I start?

And.

The reality is. 

Discipleship.

Or following Jesus is not actually all that complicated.
At least not.
When it comes to the fundamentals.

Or.

The basics.

I mean.

If you are sitting there.

And.

You are.

Thinking what does God want from me?

And.

What am I supposed to be doing?
Right now.

What is urgent? What is essential? What is fundamental?
We see.

As.

Luke describes the basics of the Christian life.

He identifies two. 

Absolute essentials. 

And. 

The first, involves, as we said, the study of God’s Word.

You have to learn to listen to God speak.

And the second, involves, prayer.


You have to learn how to speak to God.
 

Which means.

Of course.

You know.

If you are wanting to help a new believer learn how to live as a Christian. And maybe you are here, and you are a new believer, and you are like where do I begin? 
If you want to grow as a Christian.

You need to make sure you know how to benefit from studying of God’s Word.

And. 

That you are making a priority out of that.

And.
Then.

You need to make sure, you are learning to use what you are learning from God’s Word. 

To speak to Him.

In other words.

You need to learn how to pray.  

And.
This is something that is.

Just so important in your relationship with God. 

Prayer. 

That there’s no relationship with God, really, without it, and, it’s easy to see why Luke kind of puts it at the beginning. 

Of.

His discussion on discipleship.

Because.

As we look at the rest of Scripture.

We find, the importance of prayer, being emphasized in so many.
Different ways.

It’s not only at the beginning of Luke’s talk about discipleship, it’s at the beginning of the Christian life itself. 
I mean.

One obvious way.
We see the importance of learning to pray is.

The fact. 

That.

We can’t even become Christians without praying.

I mean.

It’s got to be pretty central to the Christian life, if you can’t even start the Christian life without it.

And.

Obviously.

While there is no one who is saved by praying.

There is also no one who has been saved without praying.


Either.

We are a church.

That’s big on grace.
Because.

We believe the Bible’s big on grace.

And.

That means.

We know.

There’s only one way to be saved.

And that’s Jesus.

 

You.

Absolutely can’t work.
For your salvation.

Which is good news.

Of course.

Because it means.

Anybody can be saved.

And.

So.

Even if you are talking to the biggest sinner who ever lived, and you are standing there as he’s dying, you can look at him and say, with absolute, confidence.

You know.

If you believe in Jesus, right now, you’ll be forgiven.

Of all your sins.

Because.

You.

Don’t have to go out and work.

To.
Somehow.
Earn.

Your.

Salvation. 

And.

Yet.

The thing is.
You do.

Have to ask for it.

You don’t work for salvation, but you do ask for it. 

I mean.

There.
Just isn’t anybody who is saved, without asking God to save him. 

And that’s.
Because.

This.

Is.

Just how God works.

We.
Were. 

In this.

Desperate situation.

And.
A lot of times we didn’t even know it.

And yet, somehow, at some point, it became obvious.

To us.

We needed help.

And.

Not just physical help.

But spiritual help.

And.

This is the process.
Of us becoming a Christian.

We realized we were sinners.

And.

That.

We had no way, of saving ourselves, and so, if we wee going to be saved, we knew we had to look for help.

From someone.

Outside of us.

And.

God showed us.

That.

Help.

Was found in Jesus.

 

And.

Jesus.

Alone.

And.

We saw.

He was and is the solution to the most significant problem we were experiencing.

And.

The only solution.

As well.

And.
So God.

Gave us the humility and faith to see that.

And.

That faith.

He gave.

Us.

Then.

Acts.

And.

Motivated us.
To seek from God.

In prayer.
What’s He showed us to be found in

Jesus.

You hearing me?

We cried out for salvation.

We asked for it.
That’s how the Christian life begins. 

And so.

Obviously.

Prayer.

 

Is.

Important.
You can’t become a Christian without it. 

And, what’s more, you know, if we are going to make a list of reasons, prayer is important.

We don’t have to just look at the beginning of the Christian life.

We can also look at the whole Christian life.

If we can’t begin the Christian life without prayer, we certainly, can’t live the Christian life.

Out.

Without it.

Either.

In other words.

You don’t stop needing prayer. 

Once you become a Christian.

You live out your life as a Christian the way you started it.
Depending on God.
By crying out to Him.

To show you mercy.
Because of Jesus.

And honestly, every true Christian knows that and not just knows that, but at some level, not perfectly, of course, but at some level, lives that.

Out. 
As J.C. Ryle once put it,

“A HABIT OF PRAYER IS ONE OF THE SUREST MARKS OF A TRUE CHRISTIAN.”

Absolutely.
Everybody.

Who really is a Christian is alike.
In.
At least one way.

If there’s any.


Reality.


To their religion.

At all.


They pray. 

It’s like a baby.

Really.

The first thing a baby does when they come into this world is.
They start breathing. 

And so the “first act of men and women when they are born again is praying.”

And babies.

Don’t just breathe once.


They live out their lives, breathing, and Christians live out their lives, praying. 

 “They cry unto God day and night.” Luke 18:1. 

   

When Jesus a Christian new life, He gives them a new voice and He says to them. “Be silent no more.” 

As J.C. Ryle puts it,

“God has no silent children. 

It is as much a part of their new nature to pray, as it is of a child to cry. They see their need of mercy and grace. They feel their emptiness and weakness. 

And.

They can’t do anything else.  

They must pray.”

And.
That’s just everyone.

You can read.

The Bible.
And look at the lives of all the godly men, you’ll find there, and you are not going to find one, from Genesis to Revelation, who was not a person of prayer.  

J.C. Ryle says, 

“I find it mentioned as a characteristic of the godly, that “they call on the Father,” that “they call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” I find it recorded as a characteristic of the wicked, that “they call not upon the Lord.” 1 Peter 1:17; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Psalm 14:4.”
And.
It’s not just the Bible.
You can also look at church history.

Again.

J.C. Ryle writes,

“I have read the lives of many great Christians.

And some of them were rich.

And some of them were poor. 

And some of them had much education, and some of them didn’t have any at all. 

But one thing, I see, they all had in common. They have all been people of prayer.”

Look at missionary reports.

People have gone out and shared the gospel across the world.

And you’ll see.

People being saved in Europe, in New Zealand, in India, in China.

And.
They are all different.

Except.
For one thing.

Those who have been converted, always pray.

Now.

Obviously.

People can pray without heart.

They can pray without sincerity.

Which means it’s not just the fact of praying, that proves anything about their relationship with God.  

But.
Even if praying by itself isn’t a proof that someone has become a true Christian, I will say this, not praying is definitely a proof that a person is not yet a true Christian. 

There is no way they really feel their sins, love God, feel a debtor to Christ, long after holiness, desire heaven,  been born again. 

No matter how much they boast.

They can say all the right words about grace and faith and hope and knowledge and fool almost everyone. 

But you can be sure.

It’s all empty talk.

If they do not pray.”

Prayer.
In Luke.
We see is a central aspect of discipleship.
It’s how you begin the Christian life.
It’s how you live the Christian life out. 

And.

That’s why.
God’s connected so much of what He does in our lives and in this world, to prayer.  

If you want to see the importance of prayer.

You can look.

Back. 
At how you were saved.

You can look.
Now.
At how the Christian is lived out.

And you can look.
To the future.

And.

At all that God says, He will accomplish through prayer, in our lives, as Christians.

  

And in this world.
As well.

I mean.

Obviously.

God doesn’t need us to pray, to do anything. It’s not like, He’s up in heaven, sleeping, and just waiting for us, to wake Him up, so He can know what to do next. 

It’s not.
That God.

Wants us.

To pray.

Because of some need in Him.

But instead, because of a need in us. 

He’s decided to work the way He does through prayer.

And.

Listen.

I want to make clear.

He does work through prayer.

If you read your Bible.
That’s obvious.
Prayer is not pretend.
It’s effective.

God rescued the people from Egypt.
When?

After they prayed.

God made the sun stand still.

When?

After Joshua prayed.

God enabled Samson to defeat pull down the temple.

 To that pagan idol.
When?

After he prayed. 

And.
You can go on.

And look at David’s victories, and that of other kings, like Jehoshaphat, and Asa, and Hezekiah, and you will see some of the remarkable ways God acted. 

When.

His people prayed.

And.

I haven’t even gotten started really, mentioning some of the more obvious examples, the Bible gives us.

Of the power of prayer.

Like.

Say.

Elijah.

And you can see why.
Men like.

Charles Spurgeon have said, 

“The power of prayer cannot be overrated.’”

Because.

 

God has chosen. 

To work through prayer.

And.

Yet.

It’s important to understand.
It’s not because.

He needs help.

But.

Instead.

It’s because He wants to do us good.

The very act of prayer is intended to be a blessing.

That’s why He has set it up like this.

Besides all the blessings that God brings into our lives as a result of prayer.

Praying is a blessing in and of itself. 

 

Praying.
Does us good.

The command to pray.

Is.

In and of itself.

Grace.

The way God works through prayer is actually a demonstration of His kindness to us. 

Because.

He’s filled.

The.
Very act.

Of.

Praying.

With all kinds of blessings for us. 

As we worship and praise Him, in prayer.

We are honoring Him.

We are talking about Him.
Of course.

And that’s the point, but even as we honor Him, we are also encouraging ourselves.

By remembering the kind of God we are serving. 

And. 

As we bring our requests to Him.

And.

We make petitions.
We tell Him what we need.

And.

As we are depending.

In that very act of asking.
God.

For something.
Something’s happening in us.

And.

We are learning how to depend on Him.

Which is hard for us to do.

We probably wouldn’t depend on God if we didn’t have to ask Him.

For help.

And.

You know.

Even as we obey God and go Him for help, we are having to stop and evaluate what we are asking for.

As well.

Is this something that is good for us?

Is this something that God would want? 

And.

So.

Prayer.
Forces us to think about where we are at spiritually.

And when God does respond, and answer our prayers. 

Our faith is strengthened.

And.

We are reminded.

He’s at work in this world.
We are not alone.

God cares for us.

And when He doesn’t.

Answer our prayers.

There’s still good that can happen, because we are being taught to persevere, and humble ourselves before God.

And trust Him.
Even when we don’t understand exactly what He’s doing.

 

And.

So.

I mean.

When it comes to the Christian life.

You can see.

It’s pretty hard to exaggerate the importance of prayer, this a very important subject, prayer, it is central to the Christian life.

And.

We need to ask ourselves.
Do I pray?

Is prayer as important to me, as it is to Jesus?

And.
This.

May be in fact, one of the proofs of the importance of prayer, that we don’t often think about.

And that’s.

The importance of prayer in Jesus’ life.

Prayer should be a big deal to us.
Because prayer was a big deal to Jesus.

And this is something, that Luke especially, out of all the gospel writers, seems intent on.

Pointing out.
To. 

Us.

This is the way he chooses to emphasize the importance of prayer.

Because.

While.

 

Obviously.

All the gospel writers talk about Jesus praying.

You’ll find.

It’s like.

Luke puts it in bold print. 

There are at least 8 different times.

When Luke highlights the prayer life of Jesus. 

And.
You know.

We’ve skimmed over a number of them.

Already.

Getting.

To Luke 11.

And.

One thing that is interesting.

Is you’ll notice.
If you go back and look at the times Luke talks about Jesus praying, they all occur at, the most significant moments in Jesus’ life.

Like.

At.
His baptism. 

For example.

Luke 3:21.
“Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying…”

Luke’s saying.

Jesus began his public ministry.

Praying.

And.

It’s as.

He prayed that the Holy Spirit descended down on him.
In bodily form.

And.

There’s more.

Obviously.

In.

Luke 5.

As Jesus begins to encounter opposition from the religious leadership of his day.
We find him praying.

Verse 16.
“But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”

And the way this is written.
It’s habitual.
It’s his pattern.

Just like.

He prayed at the beginning of his ministry.

His whole ministry was bathed in a spirit of prayer.

He prayed when he went through difficulties in ministry.

And.

He prayed when He made big decisions in His ministry. 

As well.

Like.
Take. 

The calling of the apostles. 
In.
Luke 6:12.

“In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.”
Which we like here in Africa.
Because.

This is all night prayer.

And.

It’s Jesus.

Feeling the need to pray.

All night.

Long.

Because.

Of the importance of the decision.

He was making.

“When day came, he called his disciples and chose from them, twelve.”

And.

Jesus didn’t stop praying at that point.

We see.

As.

He goes to speak to them about His role as Messiah, and the way He was going to accomplish the work God sent Him to do.

He.

 

Once again.

Is going to God in prayer.

Luke 9:18.

“Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him, and he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say that I am?”

And.

There’s this sense you get as you are reading the gospel.

If there’s a down moment.
And you want to find Jesus.
You are going to find.

Him.

Somewhere.

Praying.

I think.

Of right before the Transfiguration.

As well.
In Luke 9:28.

“Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray.”

He’s praying.
By Himself.
He’s praying with the disciples.
He’s praying, praying, praying.

And then.

Of course.

If we fast forward.

To the moments.

Right.

Before the crucifixion.

Even.
We read.

Luke 22:39.

“And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, ‘Pray.’”

And.

Luke tells us.
That’s exactly what Jesus did.

As well.

“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed.”

And.

Then.

Finally.

It’s pretty significant.
To me.

That.

Not only did Jesus begin his ministry in prayer.
And.

Not only did he make big decisions in his ministry, through prayer.

And.
Not only did he respond to difficulties and triumphs in his life, by going to God in prayer.

And.

Not only did He prepare.

To go to the cross.

By.
Praying.

He died.

Praying.
As well.

Jesus.
Died.
Praying.

His last words.

Before dying.

According to Luke.

Was a prayer.

Luke 23:46.

“Then, Jesus calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’”

Jesus lived his.

Whole life.
Praying.

 

Which.

I am saying.
I think.
Is huge.

And.

It’s.

Also.

Pretty deep.

Honestly.

As well.
Because.

 

Jesus is God.

And.

That’s where this gets a little mind blowing.

The Bible is clear.

Jesus is God.

Which.

Sometimes confuses people because they think, if Jesus is God, why is he.

Praying?

  

And.
I think one reason.
People get confused about this.
Honestly.

Is because they forget about what the Bible teaches about God existing in three persons.

The Trinity.

  

I mean.
We are Christians, and Christians believe the Bible teaches us there is one God.

Who exists in three persons. 

And.

That’s a truth the Bible teaches which we use the word Trinity.

To describe.

There.

Is.

God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. 

And.

These are not three separate gods.

But.

They are separate persons. 
Who share the same nature.
In other words.

God the Father is not God the Son and God the Son is not God the Holy Spirit and God the Holy Spirit is not God the Son.

And.

Yet.

God the Holy Spirit, God the Son and God the Father.

Are all fully.

God.

And truly.

One God.

The Bible is clear.

There is only God.
Who exists in three distinct persons.   
And.

One way we see the distinctions between these three persons in the Trinity is in the different role.

Each one of them.

Played in working out our salvation.

In other words, the three members of the Trinity.

Did different things to save us.

And what the Son did.

Specifically.

To accomplish our salvation.

Was take upon Himself genuine humanity.

And.

I know.
This is maybe deep.
But I hope you are following.

Because.

It’s important to understanding why Jesus prayed.

And.

Even.
Who Jesus was praying to.

Because.
I know sometimes Muslims will ask how can God pray to God.

And that’s because they don’t understand the Trinity, and they don’t understand the incarnation.

God the Father did not become man.

It was the second person of the Trinity, the Son of God, who became man, and emptied himself, not of the essence of deity, He remained God.

But for a time.

At least.

He emptied.

Himself.

Of the glory.

Of being God.

And.
He did that.
By adding human nature to himself, which means.
He actually.

Somehow.

Became truly dependent.

While he lived on earth.
He lived within his humanity, you might say.

While he was on earth.

Meaning.

He was.

Truly dependent.

On the Father.

And on the Spirit.

And while there’s mystery in this of course, and I am not saying I can explain it all.

It means.

That.

Somehow, while not stopping being God.

He was able to live his life in such a way here on earth that He had the complete human experience.

Apart from sin.

And that meant of course.

That.

He had to pray.

He had to pray.

Like us.

He was dependent on prayer.

And that’s. 

Why.

It’s no surprise, we read in Luke, over and over again.

Like.

Here in Luke 11:1.
That Jesus prayed.

You can see it.

“Now Jesus was praying in a certain place.”

And.
He prayed.

Because.
That’s what humans are supposed to do. 

That’s how.
We are supposed to live our lives out.

God’s giving.

Us a model of how a perfect human lives.
In Jesus.

Which means.

Of course.

If Jesus, was devoted to prayer like this.

We need to be devoted to prayer as well.

If we are going to follow Him.

All these times, we see Jesus praying, beginning his ministry, ending his ministry, all throughout his ministry, that has significance for us.

Because.

We are like, ok this is how life is supposed to be live?

According to God.

It’s supposed to be lived out.

In prayer.

 And so.

It’s.

Really.

Vital.

We stop and ask ourselves, do we pray? 

If someone wrote the story of our lives, would they.

Find all these evidences.

Of us.

Depending on God in prayer.

I am sure.
They’d find you going to church. 

You are here.

And I am sure they would hear you.
Calling yourself a Christian.  

And that’s good.
But would they find.
You.

Constantly.

On your knees before God.

It’s one of the two essentials.
For living for Christ. 

It’s how you became a Christian in the first place.

It’s a mark of whether you are a Christian.

Or not.

It’s a gift, God’s designed to do you all kinds of good, and it’s.

Your Savior.

Jesus lived his life.

Out.

It’s.

Obviously.
Important.

You pray.

And what’s more.
It’s important you learn to pray, correctly.

And.

Those are the two things we are saying today.

Really.
Looking at Jesus in Luke 11:1.

We need to be a church that prays.

And looking at the disciples in Luke 11:1. 
It’s obvious.
We need to be a church that learns from Jesus.
How to pray.
Correctly. 

It’s not enough.

For us.

Just ask, do you pray? 

We have to go one step beyond that.

And ask.

How exactly, are you praying?

 

As a church.

Because.

We.

Actually.
Can very easily get prayer.   

Wrong.

And.

The truth is.

A lot of people.

Do.

There are even.

A lot of places that call themselves churches.

That.

Get prayer.

Wrong.

Even though.

They pray.

And I mean.
They pray all the time.

But.

The thing is.

They are not praying in a way that does them any good.

And they are definitely not praying in a way that honors God.

Either.

 

Which.

Was a problem in Jesus’ day.

As well.

In that.

Even though.

They had a lot of good instruction in the Old Testament on prayer.

It seems.
Like.

By the time Jesus was walking around, on the earth.

And.
Teaching the disciples.
The religious leaders.

Who.

Were doing a lot of praying.

By the way.

I mean.

They were praying at least three times a day. This was something they were devoted to.

And so.

If I asked them.

Do you pray?

They would be like.

Of course we pray.

And.

Yet.

They were praying in ways that Jesus would have hated.

And.

We know that.
Because.

In one of the other passages where Jesus teaches his disciples to pray.

Matthew 6.

Before he teaches them to pray.

He begins by, exposing some of the common mistakes people were making as they were praying.

And I think that’s important for us.

If you turn there.

For a moment.

We’ll get to Jesus’ model for praying next week, but if you will turn to Matthew 6, for a moment, I think this important, because in Africa, there is a lot of praying.

And.

Yet I am afraid.

A lot of time what goes for prayer, when people think, does a church pray, they are actually thinking about the kind of praying, that Jesus.

Rejects.

Here in Matthew 6.

It’s interesting.

Actually.

If you look at Matthew chapter 6, you’ll see that, it is very similar to Luke 11. 

Especially.

Verses 9 and following.

And yet.

While the two prayers have a lot in common, they also have some things that are different about them.

And that’s.

Just.

Because Jesus taught his disciples to pray.

On two different occasions.

And.

What we’re reading in Luke 11 and Matthew 6 are two separate moments in Jesus’ life.

Where he’s teaching his disciples to pray.

And they sound a little similar.
Because.

Like any good teacher.
When it comes to really something important, Jesus doesn’t say it just once, he brings it up repeatedly, because he knows, that’s how we learn, through repetition, and also, honestly, I think, because prayer is so important, Jesus teaches his disciples to pray.
Twice.

Using similar language. 

Only.

In Matthew, one thing he does do differently.
Is. 

Before he tells his disciples how to pray.

Exactly.

He tells them how not to pray. 

And.

What he says is so significant for us.

First.

He talks about the danger of hypocritical praying. 

In.

Verse 5 and following.

 

He. 

Says.

“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.”

And.
While.

It seems a little crazy to say.

The reality is.
It’s possible to pray without faith.

And.

So.

While it looks like you are talking to God.

You are actually just talking to show off.

That’s the purpose of your prayer.

It’s to be seen by others.

You are not as concerned about God hearing you, as you are concerned about other people.

Hearing.

You pray.

Like.

These Pharisees.
Were doing.

You see.
They loved to stand and pray in the synagogues and the street corners, why?

That they might be seen by others.
And it’s that last statement that is so important.
Because.

The problem.
Is not that they loved to stand and pray.

And it’s not that they loved to stand and pray in the synagogues.

Or on the street.

Either.

The problem is that they loved to stand and pray in those places, because those were the places they could be seen by people.

In other words.

It was not about God.

At all.

It was not about honoring God and expressing their trust in God.

God might not have as well been there for them.

You could take God out and they would still be praying, because, they weren’t praying for God.
They were praying for themselves.
They were using prayer as a means to get what they wanted, which was, the approval and praise of men.

And.

So they were taking something that was supposed to be about, the glory of God, and they were making about glorifying themselves.

Which is incredibly foolish.

Of course.

And Jesus points that out at the end of verse 5.

“Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”

In other words, even though they are praying, they are not actually going to receive what they are asking for, because God knows, they are not talking to Him.

Anyway.
And it’s not just foolish, it’s ugly, it’s sin.

It’s like someone who has no relationship with his wife at home, there’s nothing, and yet when he’s out in public, maybe at church, he’s talking about her, and hugging her, and trying to get everybody to see, oh look at me, how much I love my wife.

It’s not about the wife.

It’s about using the wife, to look good, and that’s ugly, and that’s what religious people are often doing with prayer, and not just back then, in Jesus’ day either.

Even now.

Here in Africa.

This is an especially tempting way to pray.

Because prayer is still respected. 

And so.

One of the best ways, to look religious, is to make sure other people see you praying.

And.

This is honestly, why I have some concerns about those services, where people are all standing and praying, shouting out loud, all at the same time.

Because.
You know.
It can sometimes feel.

Very close to a performance.

If you look around.

And I am not sure I can say, hey we can never do that, but we have to be very careful, that. 
Our motivation.

To pray.

Is faith in God.

Not the promotion of self.

And that we are not the kind of people.

Who are. 

Always looking for places to pray, where people can see us praying.

Because.

Like the Pharisees, we are using prayer as a means of self-promotion.

And.

If that’s our praying.

We’re not praying.

No matter how many all night prayer services we have.

You know?

Because.

That’s the kind of prayer that God hates.

 And that’s why.
Jesus.

Says.

“When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. 

And your Father will reward you.”

And.
Obviously.

I don’t think.

Jesus is saying, that is always wrong to pray in a public setting.

Because.
The early church had prayer meetings.

And, even in the Old Testament.
That was part of the purpose of Psalms, to give guidance in praying together as the people of God.

And.

There are many other specific examples, in the Bible of godly people, praying.
In public.

And with other believers.

Which means.
The issue.

Is.

Not praying in public.
The issue.

Is.

Not praying.

With others.
This issue.

Is praying.

For the praise.

Of others.

And.

Because Jesus is seeing.

How often the religous people around him were using prayer as a means of exalting themselves.

He’s telling his followers.

He’s telling.

Us.

It’s not enough just to pray.

We need to take whatever steps we need to, in order to make sure we are not just praying, to make ourselves look good.

But praying.

Because we actually love God and believe that God.

Hears us.

If we are going becomes a church that prays, that really prays, we need to first reject hypocritical praying.

And second.

We need to reject pagan praying.

As well.

Which.
Jesus describes in verse 7.

“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.”

And.

Empty phrases.
Is basically.

Meaningless.
Repetition. 

And what’s happening here?

It’s saying a lot of the same words over and over and over again, because you think of prayer in almost a magical way, where.

It’s your words.
Or your technique.
Or.
The specific way you are going about the act of praying itself.

That somehow.

Forces God into a position, where he has to do what we say, and there’s a lot of people who think this way.

That’s why they go to the mountain to pray.
Because they think God hears you when you pray at a certain place.
That’s why they ask certain people to pray.
Because they think the power is in the person praying.
That’s why they use phrases like the blood of Jesus, over and over and over again.

It’s not that they can’t think of anything else to say, they think those words are like magic.

That force God to act

And the problem.

Of course.

With this way of praying, is that it’s based on a completely wrong view of God.

It’s more like Baal in the Old Testament you know.
They are acting like God is far away and unable to see what’s going on in our lives.

When He’s actually close, and completely involved, in everything that happens to us.

And He’s not the kind of God.

Who is impressed.

By our rituals.

Like he’s up in heaven and he doesn’t want to help his children, but then they bring in the magic stone, that’s been blessed you know, and God’s like oh, man, that stinks now I have to do something, because he has the magic stone.
That’s not the God of the Bible.

That’s not why we pray.

The reason we are praying is not because God doesn’t know what’s happening to us and it’s not because God doesn’t care about what’s happening to us.

The fact is.
If we are believers.
He is our Father.
And Jesus says.

Verse 8.

“Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”

To which.

Of course.

A lot of people.

Are like.

Why pray then?

And now you are getting it.

Because, biblically speaking, prayer, is not so much for God, as it is for us. It’s a means God has designed, as we were saying earlier, to do good to us, and to help us to have a real, living, continual relationship with Him.

Which is why God hates.

People making prayer a mere ritual.

It’s like bringing presents to your wife, not because you love her or have affections for her, but because, you think you can manipulate her to do something for you.

If you just say the right words, you will get you want.

And.
And any woman.
Who knew that’s what was going on, would hate it.

And because, God wants a relationship with you, and He can see into your heart, He knows why you are doing what you are doing, and He doesn’t want you to, come doubting that He loves you or trusting in, your little prayer techniques, but.

Instead.

In His love and concern for you.

What we are talking about here, what we are saying, is that if we believe what we say believe.

We’ll pray.

 

If we look back and think about the beginning of our Christian life, and how God saved us, we’ll pray.

If we, look at the Bible and all that God says He’ll do through prayer, we’ll pray.

If we look at Jesus, and we really believe he lived his life, the way Luke says he did, we’ll pray.
It’s important we evaluate whether or not we are a praying church, because it reveals whether or not we are a believing church.

If we believe what we say we believe we will pray, but at the same time, it’s also important we look at how we pray, because how we pray, reveals what we believe.

About God.

And the gospel.

Are you hearing what I am saying?

If we want to pray right, we need to go back to what we say we believe, and build our prayer life, on that.
Like.

For example.

How would I pray if I believed God were in complete control?

How would I pray if I believed God hears and sees what I am saying?


How would I pray if God loves me because of Jesus?


How would I pray if I come to God the Father in Christ?

 

Because that’s the kind of praying that honors God, that is effective, and is good for us and over the weeks and years ahead, I hope, that’s the kind of praying church, that God makes us.

 

 

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