Thursday, February 5, 2015

When You Pray

Chuckle: "According to a child, Samson slew the Philistines with the axe of the Apostles."
Quote: “Anything that dims my vision for Christ, or takes away my taste for Bible study, or cramps me in my prayer life, or makes Christian work difficult, is wrong for me; and I must, as a Christian, turn away from it.” --J. Wilbur Chapman
WHEN YOU PRAY
    Jesus said, "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen of men. . . do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words" (Matthew 6:5,7 NIV).
As Jesus taught His disciples in His Sermon on the Mount, He didn't tell them to pray because He assumed they would do so as a part of their normal routine.  Rather, He focused on teaching them how to, and how not to, pray to make their prayers acceptable to the Father.  Jesus warns of two dangers when it comes to prayer.
First, He tells them not to be hypocrites.  Hypocrites pretend to be something they aren’t.  They are play-acting, and may fool people into thinking they are devoted followers of Christ, when, in fact, they are only trying to draw attention to themselves.  Praying in public should only be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our prayer life.  Every word we utter in public prayer should be backed by thousands of words uttered in a private quiet place with only God as our audience.  In the same way that only ten percent of an iceberg is visible above the surface, the ten percent of our spiritual lives visible to people should be based on the 90 percent visible only to God.  When we pray in secret, Jesus says, "Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you" (verse 6b).  Jesus does not prohibit public prayers, but deals with the attitude of the heart.
Second, He warns us about empty babblings in our public prayers. Pagans (unbelievers) may believe in a higher power, but feel they must use many words to get his attention -- the more words they use, the more likely they are to be heard, and the more likely he will do their bidding.  It’s not the length of our prayers that's important.  God already knows what we need (verse 8), but has instructed us to ask (Matthew 7:7).
In 1 Kings 18, we find the prophet, Elijah, challenging the prophets of Baal to call upon their gods to light the fire on the altar.  They yelled, screamed, and cut themselves to get their god's attention, but nothing happened.  Elijah needled them by saying maybe their god was asleep or had gone on a trip.  Then Elijah prayed a very simple prayer (1 Kings 18:36-37) which God answered in a mighty way.
Our rewards for praying in secret according to the will of the Father will be answered prayers and sweet fellowship with our Lord.  Is Jesus' assumption wrong?  Do we pray?  If so, are we willing to allow Him to teach us how to pray?  After Jesus had taught his followers about the importance of praying in secret, He gave them the Model Prayer -- often called "The Lord's Prayer." Let's ask God to show us how to make our prayers more acceptable to Him.

Love, Jerry & Dotse 

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