THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 8-14-05
LESSON TITLE: "GREAT LESSONS FROM THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT: LESSONS ON PRAYER"
"Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice." Just who do you focus on and rejoice in on this wondrous Lord's Day morning? I hope your joy is in God and that you are fully committed to His precious will and service.
Thanks for joining us this day for God's Living Word. Let me remind us again of just how blessed we are to have opportunities like this to praise our God and to do those things which are according to His will. Are you willing to do your part this morning to make this time successful in the service of God?
Now, as we begin our offering to God, will you bow with me in prayer!
What better way to worship God than in song. So at this time let's join together in our first hymn of the day, it's name, "Jesus Is Tenderly Calling."
(SONG # 1)
As we think about "rejoicing in the Lord," we might consider one specific thing, which we have reason to rejoice for in this life? How about the avenue of prayer which God has given us. Prayer is our way, as provided by God, of approaching His All mighty throne, so that we may speak to our Creator directly. Think about what a privilege this is as we can come before Him whenever we want and for whatever reason. Certainly prayer is an important part of the life of a Christian.
I might also ask us to consider the fact that prayer is a serious matter and it should not be handled in a care free or flippant manner! Read with me from Hebrews 4:16, "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." In this verse we are again reminded of the great outcome of prayer when it is done according to the will of God. However, we are also reminded of the seriousness of the situation, because we are coming before the very throne of God! Think about that for a moment! When we bow our heads and call on the name of the Lord, we are actually coming before His awesome throne! Now that puts things into perspective!
Finally, let me encourage us to consider just who we are to pray for! In 1 Timothy 2:1, we read, "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men." We learn hear that we are to pray for all men on this earth, whether faithful to God or not. Everyone needs the help of God to be able to know Him and to come to a full understanding and acceptance of His Word!
So consider this day the great opportunity and privilege we have to approach the wondrous throne of God in prayer. How blessed we are to have a God who cared enough for us to provide us a clear way to speak to Him whenever we need to. Furthermore, will we always remember that prayer is not only about our needs and wants, but about those who are around us as well.
Today we will be continuing our discussion on prayer for our main study of the day. The specific title of our talk will be, "Lessons On Prayer!" This is our next study from our series entitled, "Great Lessons From The Sermon On The Mount." So please stay with us this morning, and after our next song together, I will lead us in our main thoughts of the day. But for now let's join together in our second song of the morning. The name of this hymn, "He Leadeth Me."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
Thank you so much for continuing with us today as we have already begun our discussion on prayer.
We want to continue at this time to even mention what Paul had to say in 1 Corinthians chapter 14 and verse 15 where he really gives the conclusion on how important it is we understand when we pray. In fact, he mentions there that the conclusion really is that when we pray, we must pray with not only the understanding but the spirit. As well, when we sing, we must sing with understanding and spirit. We find two important characteristics there that not only include our attitude but we must understand what we are doing which I believe would imply the fact that we must not only know how to do it, but how God wants us to do it.
As we look at prayer though, it's important for us to understand as we have already introduced at the outset that prayer is our opportunity to speak to God. It is our way to communicate as I might communicate to my family, to my children, to my friends. Prayer is that way that I come before God Himself and that I speak to Him and as you and I well know, it is the Bible, the Word of God, in which He uses in order that He might speak directly to us. So our communication with God is two-fold. God speaks to us through His Word and then you and I return our speech and communication through what we refer to as prayer, that avenue again that He has provided, that He has given us opportunity to have and to actually know about in order that we might speak directly to Him and go through no other.
You might be able to remember with me some words of David back in Psalm 16 where he there was praying to God and he actually asked God, he said, "Preserve me, oh God, for in you I put my trust. Oh my soul, you have said to the Lord. You are my Lord. My goodness is nothing apart from you. As for the saints who are on the earth, they are the excellent ones in whom is all my delights." Here David uses several different ideas there in Psalm 16 showing us again that as he prayed to God, he approached the almighty throne and he acknowledged the awareness of who God was. He acknowledged here the awareness of the fact that he was nothing, who he was, nothing without God. Furthermore, we see his awareness of his need for God and his willingness to obey God that he might have all that he had need of in this life. You know when you and I pray, we must know God. How can we pray to God if we don't know Him? We must know ourselves. We must know where we stand before God to know if our prayers can be heard, if they are acceptable before Him. Finally, we need to also understand who we are and it is only because of God that we are who we are, but that we have needs and that God has made available for us this avenue that we might make requests of Him and be able to tell Him the needs that we have.
With all these things in mind about prayer, may we go to our text this morning, the text that we've been using together, the great Sermon on the Mount. There in Matthew chapter 6 you might recall last week that we talked about the very good deeds that we do, the charitable deeds if you will, that really are to be done with a proper attitude. Remember what we said about prayer earlier? That Paul said in Corinthians that prayer has to be done in spirit, in spirit and understanding with the right attitude and understanding what it is all about and having meaning to it. Well here we again see that prayer demonstrates a similar thing. Our attitude has to be right. Not only must we talk to God, but our attitude must be right when we do so.
Read with me there beginning in Matthew chapter 6 the words of the Lord in the great Sermon on the Mount beginning in verse 5. "And when you pray," Jesus said, "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." Notice what He says about those individuals there. He says, "pray." Certainly we are to pray and we all know that we are to pray, but He says, "when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites." That word is also interpreted as "pretenders," those who might really in some way say, "I love God," and claim to be followers of God, but when you look at their life, when you look at what they have to say, they really do not follow God at all. They pretend. Therefore, they are hypocrites. They say one thing and yet they do another. Sound familiar? Do we ever know those folks that on Sunday mornings do one thing, Sunday nights possibly, even on Wednesday... They are one type of person when they come to worship God, but throughout the week, it's a whole different ball game, a different story because they are pretenders. They are hypocrites. Notice that He even mentions here the guilty party, in fact, referring to many of the Jews here, those that would go out in the streets and pray before man. Why? Not to glorify God, to be seen. Do we have that today? I dare say that already this morning that on many television channels, I dare say that on many of the networks even today you can turn over there and you can see folks who are praying and preaching and jumping up and down and dancing and flipping and everything else in the name of God, but for whose glory? God here says when you pray, get in your closet. Do it for yourself. Do it with the right motive. Do not be a pretender. Do not be a hypocrite. Do not do it for the glory of man because of if you do, verse 5 says, "you will have your reward. God will bless you accordingly." You see prayer is not about the world. Prayer is not about what people think when I pray. Prayer is about me speaking to God in the most sincere, fervent way that I am able.
Continue with verse 6 there. Not only are those referred to as hypocrites who misuse prayer and do not pray properly, but verse 6 goes on to say, "But you when you pray, go into your room and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father in a secret place and your Father then will reward you openly." Although you've been in hiding, you've done it right and your Father will reward you.
Verse 7 says, "And when you pray, don't do as the vain repetitious, those who have vain repetitions as the heathens, for they think they will be heard with their many words." Have you ever heard somebody who prays the same prayer all the time? Have you ever noticed how that in our assemblies we often are guilty of repeating the same things we've heard before. Now there's nothing wrong with that if it is truly from the heart, but what God is saying here is that we need to make sure that when we pray, we're not just going through the motions, that we're not just spouting off many words or vain repetitions. "Father, we come before you tonight..." "Father, we thank you..." How many times do we hear the same thing over and over and over again? Well again, let's make sure that when we pray first of all we are not hypocrites because we're doing it for the right reason and we're sincerely coming before the throne of God to do what He has asked us to do. But secondly, let's make sure as we read here in verse 7 that we don't do it as the heathens and that is in a repetitious way. I'm just saying what I've heard before and really it's not coming from the heart. The spirit is lacking. Not only the spirit but the one who prays with vain repetition and has no meaning in it really as well has no understanding.
So you see, prayer is important. How we pray, our attitude when we pray and really the very words that we use can make a difference as to whether our prayer is righteous and acceptable before God.
But now what I would like you to look at with me is the following verses beginning there with the Lord's Prayer. The Lord's Prayer who again is clarifying for us, that is Jesus Christ in the flesh, exactly what prayer is all about. We have said what it is, but what is it all about? There are so many lessons that we learn here. We see Jesus coming before the throne of God. What do you and I do? We read earlier this morning in Hebrews 4 and verse 16 that "we come before God's throne of grace to make petitions." Certainly we come before the throne of God. Certainly we find that the writers of old over and over and over again when they spoke to God, they came before His throne. They magnified Him. They glorified Him and they praised Him the very same way Jesus did here as He proclaimed, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name." Our father. Our Father, hallowed it be your name. Thy kingdom. Thy Will. You see, God is the center of the prayer here. He is what it is all about. Not even we are the true center of the prayer. God is. Certainly God says we can ask our needs. We can ask about our concerns and we can make suggestions and so on and so forth before our God Almighty and we can speak to Him, but the prayer is about God, about who He is, about what He is all about, and we pray because we know He hears us. Certainly the Bible is clear here even as Jesus was praying that the prayerful individual will be heard.
Let me mention a few verses throughout scripture that help us to understand that we are to be a prayerful people.
First of all, in 1 Thessalonians 5 and verse 16, Paul said, "Pray without ceasing." In fact, he said, "In everything, give thanks."
Not only there but we as well find in Ephesians chapter 5 and verse 20 that "we are to give thanks always for all things to the Father in the name of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
We are to give thanks when? Always. For what? All things. Yes, we are to pray. We should pray and we should pray for everything.
Philippians 4:6 again we read that prayer is our opportunity to talk to God, to not only show our obedience, our love and respect for who He is, but that who we might ask of Him that which we would.
Even in James 5:16 we read about the fervent prayer, the fervent prayer of a righteous man and how it what? It avails much. It is answered. It is heard.
Even in the book of John, Jesus again telling His disciples there in John 14 verses 13-14, "If we pray and we believe, all things that we ask will be done." Certainly it will be done according to the Will of the Father, but it will be done. You might say, "Well, I've prayed before, Ray, and God didn't give it to me." Well you've got to remember God's a little bit smarter, in fact, a lot smarter than any of us, and God knows sometimes we ask for things that aren't best. So certainly God answers our prayers sometimes with a "No." We don't need it. It's something that is not good, that will not prosper or bring us closer to Him. So therefore, He answers the prayer, but not the way we want it. So therefore, we say, "God did not hear. God did not answer." We need to understand that God whom is the center of prayer knows what is best and so when we ask, let's let God answer the prayer. So that we understand, we pray to God, He's the center, He hears, He answers, but that we must do our part.
Finally then, I want to look at the Lord's Prayer itself, the Lord's Prayer that tells us again in short how we must pray. It is interesting because over in Luke chapter 11 and verse 1 the parallel of this passage. The disciples in that passage actually said, "Lord, teach us to pray." Here's what Jesus said. He says, "Our Father in heaven, hallow it be your name." Verse 10, "Kingdom come, your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven, and give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors and do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil, the evil one for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever." What do we learn here? We learn the great opportunities to approach God and all the different reasons that we approach Him. We approach Him to praise Him. Our Father in heaven, hallowed, holy, magnified, lauded be thy name. First we come in prayer to praise God and to let Him know that we honor, revere, and respect Him.
Second, we make requests. If you'll drop down there to verse 11, he states there, "And give us this day our daily bread.." We make requests. God help us. Help us to have what we need. Help us to have the daily allotments that are necessary to live. Then He says even forgiveness. We pray for forgiveness and forgive us of our debts, but why is God going to forgive us? Because we are already forgiving others. We're setting the example. God forgive us. We make requests then of needs. We make requests of spiritual things like forgiveness and then we even ask Him to guide us. Another great thing that prayer can do. Lord, lead us not into what? Temptation. Lead us not into those things that are wrong, but deliver us. Again, God help us. Request. Lord, deliver me from what? That temptation, from the evil one, from wickedness which is around me from all those things that keep me from being what I need to be. Then notice the humility that is there. God, I am nothing without you. If you don't deliver me, I will be lost. There again, the humility. But then finally again, He ends here by magnifying God. "Yours oh God is the kingdom. Yours is the power. Yours is the glory forever. So be it." You see, Jesus in the flesh taught them to pray by first building them up, by making the requests, by being thankful, by there again asking him spiritually to be there for them and to help them to be all that they could be as servants of God, but ultimately as well to be those who realize without God they were nothing.
Now I want you to back up to verse 8 with me because I think there it has a beautiful statement once again about prayer. "Therefore, do not be like them," He says, "for the Father knows the things that you have need before you ask Him." Some people say, "I don't need to pray because God already knows." Well that doesn't matter because God has said pray anyway. God wants us to pray, not only for Him, but for us. We need to know who God is and lift Him up. We need to know that we're asking and that He's providing. We often pray, I believe, more for ourselves than God, but the reality is that God says to pray. And then when we pray and when we are heard, praise be to God because we know that He loves us and that He will hear us at all times.
Are you willing today and everyday to preach, teach, and to pray before the Almighty throne of God so that you might lift Him up and show others through your life?
(SONG # 3 - "Heavenly Sunlight!")
What a blessing it has been to join together in the things of God this morning. Thank you for doing your part in making all these things to be according to His Will. As always, we invite you back every Lord's Day morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this offering for God!
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May we all learn to live a life that is more focused on God. Furthermore, as we focus more on God may we be a people who approach His throne in prayer - for there is true power in prayer!