--PRAY first, PRAY now--
...And because we all struggle and fall in actively living in connection with you here on earth, this may be hard to hear and work through, God please help us now! God you work miracles, please work one now in our minds and hearts. Set us free from ourselves. Amen.
*Many of these notes are acquired through different commentaries, one major commentary used in this message was completed by William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew.
The Sermon on the Mount Continues
GOD IS A RELATIONAL GOD! JESUS IS ALL about people, that is why he came to the Earth. He has started teaching concerning worship(giving, prayer, fasting) and the attitudes that were to characterize His followers.
THIS ENTIRE CHPTR: 1)warning against superficial, external righteous behavior; 2) encouragement to build treasure for the kingdom of heaven; and 3) prohibition against anxiety.
-We see Jesus revealing Religious Hypocrisy and daring the people to overthrow it in the way they live.
We now get to Jesus speaking and teaching and challenging people, us about prayer. If I'm honest, looking at my prayer I need the challenge and remembering of prayers importance in my life. I go through seasons where prayer is central to my personal existence and seasons of drought where it becomes something I only do with other people because I'm a pastor and that's what people expect.
In those times of drought...since I have experienced being open and connected to God through prayer(conversating with Him) it as if I am not breathing clean air, it seems as if I am half suffocating to death. It's like I have been buried alive and the O2 is becoming CO2.
-OR- I have dove to deep under water trying to get to the surface and my O2 level in my blood is dwindling with my mind and body not functioning like they should.
And once I pray, pray with faith and the realization that God is truly there the simple connection with Him(which I prevented) is made once again and it is as if I am getting a breathe of fresh air for the first time out the coffin or the water. It is breathing air that is pure and life giving as opposed to polluted, poisonous and death bringing.
Explain: Where scripture falls in entirety thru the Word. Gospel theme: Creation, fall, redemption, restoration.
BEFORE reading the scripture passage reference the questions below and have people keep them in mind as they hear the passage read and allow all to share.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, 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. (Matthew 6:5-15 NIV)
“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. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “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. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:5-15 ESV)
Also when you pray, you must 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 people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward in full already. But when you pray, go into your [most] private room, and, closing the door, pray to your Father, Who is in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open. And when you pray, do not heap up phrases (multiply words, repeating the same ones over and over) as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their much speaking. [I Kings 18:25-29.] Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Pray, therefore, like this: Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed (kept holy) be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven (left, remitted, and let go of the debts, and have given up resentment against) our debtors. And lead (bring) us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses. (Matthew 6:5-15 AMP)
“And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat? “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this: Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best— as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes.
“In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part. (Matthew 6:5-15 MSG)
PRAYER IS A BIG PART FROM THE BEGINNING OF MAN'S EXISTENCE.
-from creation, through the fall, kicking out of garden the God spoke with people and people with God. The first children are born and one kills the other because of insecurity and jealousy...It doesn't take long-The further the time frame you get the less people talk with God. They move to a place of self sufficiency and reliance and choose themselves or other little gods to be their god. (I encourage you to go and start at the beginning of the bible and watch the progression of communication between God and people. It is interesting read.)
God desires that his people, his creation talk with him.
Fragrance to God
-May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. (Psalm 141:2 NIV)
-Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. (Revelation 8:3, 4 NIV)
Example: IN light of the 4th of July Holiday: Like Fireworks to God. God knows the arsenal we have before us(the prayers we have to offer). We light the fuse(pray) and it shoots off to the sky and it explodes when received by God.
V5-8 HOW NOT TO PRAY
People Jesus was talking to: Faults- not of neglect but misguided devotion.(all people are guilty at some time or anothe)
(i) formalized- Jews used to pray daily the Shema (Deut. 6:4-9, 11:13-21; Numbers 15:37-41). Jews had to recite every morning and evening. Also, Shemoneh 'esreh Was recited by the Jews 3-times/daily, once at morning/afternoon/evening
-Shema: the imperative of the Hebrew word to 'hear'
--can be noted of Christians saying grace before a meal.
-Shemoneh 'esreh: means the Eighteen, it consisted of 18 prayers
(ii) certain prayers for all occasions-
-prayers for before and after a meal, prayers in connection with the light, the fire, the lightening, on seeing a new moon, comets, rain, sight of the sea, lakes, rivers, receiving good news, on using new furniture, on entering or leaving a city, etc etc.
--it is infinitely lovely that the intention is to bring everything before and into the presence of God.
(iii) they had set times of prayer- 3rd, 6th, and 9th hours that is 9am, 12 midday, and 3pm
-where ever you were you had to stop and pray.
--again a good thing to go to God 3 times a day! but can easily become a time to do so without a true thought of Gid.
(iv) a tendency to connect prayer with certain places.
-so prayer times became associated with going to the synagogue. Early disciples carried this custom (Acts 3:1).
--the danger is to think that God is limited to hearing prayers in certain "holy" places.
"The trouble with any system lies, not in the system but in the people who use it." -Barclay
(v) long prayers- tendency among the Jews to do so
-to often length was equated with devotion.
--there was and still is--a kind of subconscious idea that if men batter long enough at God's door, He will answer; that God can be talked, and even pestered into condescension.
---Rabbis, "the best adoration consists in silence." It is easy to confound verbosity with piety with piety, and fluency with devotion, and into that mistake many of the Jews fell.
(vi) repetition- eastern peoples had a habit of hypnotizing themselves by endless repetition of one phrase or even one word. (1Kings 18:26; Acts 19:34
-there is a kind of intoxication with words. When a man begins to think more about how he is praying than of what he is praying, his prayer dies upon his lips.
(vii) prayed to be seen by men-
-Jews prayed standing with hands outstretched, palms upward and with head bowed.
2 GREAT RULES FOR PRAYER- Jesus lays down
(i) true prayer must be offered to God-
(ii) remember that God to whom we pray is loving and more ready to answer prayer than we are to pray-
-a giving god of grace and love. They do not have to be coaxed, pestered, or battered to be unwillingly extracted from Him.
-we come to one whose desire is to give.
--when we remember that, it is surely sufficient to go to God with the sigh of desire in our hearts, and on our lips the words, "your will be done."
V9-15 THE DISCIPLE'S PRAYER
Certain General Facts:
-1.Jesus taught his disciples to pray. Only on the lips of the disciple has the prayer its full meaning.
-2.note the order of petitions. First 3 are about God and his glory; second 3 are about our needs and necessities.
-3.prayer must never be an attempt to bend Gods will to our desires; prayer is always an attempt to bend our will to the will of God.
-4.2nd part of prayer- dealing with our needs and necessities. Brings past, present and future to the throne of God, the footstool of grace. Bread- present, maintenance of life; forgiveness- past; and help with temptation- future. Lays the whole of our lives in the presence of God.
5.prayer that brings the whole of God into our lives. Bread- directs our thoughts to God the Father, the Creator and the Sustainer of all life; forgiveness- God the Son, Jesus Christ our Savior and Redeemer; and future temptation- God the Holy Spirit the Comforter, the Strengthener, the Illuminator, the Guide and the Guardian of our way.
"In the most amazing way in this brief second part of the Lord's Prayer takes the present, the past, the future, the whole of man's life, and presents them to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, to God in His fulness. In the Lord's Prayer Jesus teaches us to bring the whole of life to the whole of God, and to bring the whole of God to the whole of life." Barclay
A RELATIONSHIP RECONCILER
v9 THE FATHER IN HEAVEN "Our Father"
Father used of God is a compact summary of the Christian faith. The great value of the word Father is that it settles all the relationships of this life. See the following five:
(i) It settle our relationship to the unseen world-
-If you are one to believe there are many gods and you are trying to live your life to appease them, it would give you great comfort to know that there is only 1 God.
--Prometheus(Greek legend of a God). He took fire from heaven and gave it as a gift to men. Zeus, the king of gods, was angry at this act of a god helping mankind. So Zeus took Prometheus and chained him to a rock in the middle of the Adriatic Sea where he was tortured with the heat and the thirst of day and the cold of the night. Also, Zeus would send a vulture down to tear out Prometheus' liver which would regrow and be torn out again and again.
---When we discover that the God to whom we pray has the name and the heart of a father it makes all the difference in the world. We don't have to fear and live cowering before a horde of jealous gods; we can rest in a father's love.
(ii)Settles our relationship to the seen world-
-Because we live in a fallen, busted world with chances and the changes of life, the promise of death, sickness, suffering, pain, etc. it is easy to think the world is a hostile place where no comfort or solace can be found.
--However, Our God whose name is Father to us gives us hope and we know that no matter the amount of bad in the world we have a Father who loves us and behind us and everything is mercy, grace, forgiveness and love. We can be certain that the one who created the world, God, Our Father will take care of us.
(iii) Settles our relationship to our fellow-men-
-If God is Father, He is Father of all men.
--Jesus doesn't teach us to pray: My Father. In fact in the Lord's Prayer there isn't the words I, me, my and mine. Jesus came to bring back and replace those words with we, us and ours.
---God is not any man's exclusive possession. 'Our Father' involves the elimination of self.
---& the fatherhood of God is the only possible basis of the brotherhood of man.
(iv) Settles our relationship to ourselves-
-There are times in life where every man despises and hates himself. He believes himself to be lower than the lowest thing that crawls the earth. Our heart kknows its own bitterness, and no one knows a man's unworthiness better than that man himself.
--"Blessed are those who heal us of our self-despisings," stated Mark Rutherford wishing to add a new beatitude.
---God gives us back our self respect! In these grim, bleak, terrible moments we can still remind ourselves that, even if we matter to no one else, we amtter to God; that in the infinite mercy of God we are the royal lineage, children of the King of kings.
(v) Settles our relationship to God-
-It doesn't make God any less God. It is not that it makes God any the less mighty, majestic and powerful; but it makes that might, and majesty, and power approachable for us.
Jesus teaches us to call God, Our Father.
SIMPLE THINGS TO HELP YOU CONNECT- things to help you:
GUIDANCE to help prayers become God focused
"ACTS" covers 4 elements that are important in prayer
A- adoration- Mark 12:30
C- confession- Proverbs 28:13
T- thanksgiving- 1 Thess. 5:18
S- supplication- 1 Timothy 2:1-2
TIMES OF DROUGHT or Spiritual Apathy
IOUS - we need God giving us desires for Him, His Word and to pray
I- (incline!) an inclination towards God. God to create desires that are not there. Psalm 119:36
O- (open!) eyes of my heart opened for what is really there so that joy may be present. Psalm 119:18
U- (unite!) concerned that our heart is badly fragmented. Need a wholeness and unity from God. Psalm 86:11; Neh. 1:1; Isa. 11:3
S- (satisfy!) my heart to be satisfied with God alone. Psalm 49:13
THE BIG PICTURE & Gospel Application
This is very applicable teaching but boiled down comes back to the gospel and is gospel centered...& it is because the entire Bible is about Jesus from beginning to end...so when we look at the Bible and any teaching from it should seek to return to Jesus...because their is hope in the message of Christ, their is hope in the Gospel of Jesus.
Jesus was a praying man. Jesus was a man connected with the Father. Jesus was God's Son. He would say over and over that he was from above but here on Earth to accomplish the will of the Father. He would often go away from people to connect with the Father. He lived in constant awareness and in connection with the Father. He realized the importance for himself and for humanity to be connected to the Father. He taught his disciples how to pray. He prayed for His disciples right before he was arrested(John 17). He knew that teaching his followers how to pray and modeling prayer for them was not enough.
Jesus loves people and is compassionate regarding peoples relationships, especially their relationship with God. People left on their own, spiritually dead in sin, cannot connect with God and will not pray. He knew they had to be connected to the Father eternally and that He came to the Earth to make and be the Way so that his disciples could connect to the Father. Jesus knew his people needed to be connected to the Father, they need freedom and spiritual life to do so.
Jesus gave himself up on the cross so that his followers could be connected to the Father. Jesus gave his physical life so we could freed from sin and death. Jesus gave his life so we could have spiritual life. This allows us to pray, to talk with God as originally intended.
SO, while on this earth, you are to talk to God and stay connected with Him. In me, Jesus says, you are a new spiritually living creation. You are to conduct yourselves as one who is living not as one who is dead. In order to have conduct yourself as one of the living you need to breathe air and one way to ensure we are breathing fresh air you need to pray.
Jesus says believe me, follow me, live and pray with reverence of God and respect of people, pray and live connected with and bringing glory to God(the way I taught you)and show others how to follow me, usher them into the kingdom. You aren't alone; I, my Spirit, will empower you to do so.
God desires that His people, His creation talk with Him. God desires his Church to be a praying Body which finds its life in a state of prayer,living and breathing in harmony with God, a state of constant living connection, simply connected. Let's Apply this now, let's pray, before we do...