Jesus Teaches Us About Prayer
THE FOLLOWING ARE PASTOR CRUTCHFIELD’S NOTES FROM HIS 3/3/2013 SERMON AT COMPASSION CHURCH OF KATY
Jesus was about 30 years old when he started his earthly ministry among us. He did many things through his ministry while he was here. One of the most common and important things he accomplished during his ministry is his teaching. One of the most important topics Christ taught about was prayer.
Lets first look at what he had to say on the subject in the words of,
“When you pray don’t be like hypocrites. They love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners so that people will see them. I assure you,that’s the only reward they will get. But when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to your father who is in that secret place. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you.”
If you were to read this verse by itself you would think that Christ is saying that we should never pray in public. However if you read the verses which come before, and other similar ones you come to understand that this verse is as much as anything about the sincerity of our prayers. The first century like our world today is full of way too many of what you might call social Christians. They are Christians not because they believe, but because they want to belong, or they think it will make them more popular or successful. It is this kind of insincere Christian that Jesus is warning us against becoming. We should pray what we feel, and what we truly believe, not what we feel will “get us in” with the crowd around us. God and our faith in him should guide our prayer, not popularity of ideas.
Many people have trouble coming up with the right words. The reality is this is meaningless to God for he can read our thoughts. He hears our prayers even when we cannot find the right words to put them into. Jesus understood this, yet he also understood people of this world sometimes need help getting started. Let us now continue with what he teaches us at,
“When you pray, don’t pour out empty words, as the gentiles do. They think that by saying many words they will be heard. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows what you need before you ask. Pray like this: Our Father who is in heaven, uphold the holiness of your name. Bring in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us the bread we need for today. Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, Just as we also forgive those who have wronged us. And don’t lead us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.”
One of my former mentors in the secular world was fond of saying “ Blessed are the brief, for they will be asked to speak again. “ Much of what he would always tell us applies to what Christ is trying to teach us about our prayers life. Many times less really is more ! As Jesus himself points out God already knows our need. He only needs our request for his help, not long winded explanations. At the same time God does want us to spend time with him in making our requests. When Christ talks about not using torrents of words, he is not saying that God wants to “hurry us off the line.” so to speak. What he is saying is that every word we pray should be as precious to us as it is to him. We should take every word necessary to pour out all our needs to our Father in heaven. However we should not add extra words which mean nothing just to seem we are trying harder than we are. God the Father is not so easily fooled anyway. He is an expert at spotting insincerity. After all he’s been doing it since the beginning of time. We call this the Lord’s Prayer because it is the one example we have from Jesus on how we should pray. It is not enough that we simply memorize his short prayer. We must also work to completely understand what he is trying to teach us through it.
One of Christ’s most effective teaching techniques was his own example. The same is true of all of us today for that matter. Remember what we saw in Mathew 6 earlier about what Jesus said about the need to pray in private ? We see him practicing what he preaches in,
“But Jesus would withdraw to deserted places for prayer.”
This is not the only account in scripture of Jesus praying in private, but you get the point. It also cannot be over emphasized here that Christ taught so effectively because those he taught so him back up his words with his own personal actions. How many teachers we look up to these days could hold up to that standard ?
So Jesus teaches us that when we pray we should pray for God and our faith, not the attention of those around us. He also teaches us that God knows our needs even before we pray. He goes on to teach us that because God knows our needs, and because we are alone with him that we don’t need a lot of showy words. We are blessed even today because Christ’s teachings on prayer are recorded in the Bible for our continuous benefit.
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