“And when you pray…” Those are the beginning words of Jesus in Matthew 6:5 (NKJV). It sounds like Jesus expects us to pray, does it not? He doesn’t say “if you pray”, but “when you pray.”
The greek word for pray, proseuchomai, is used 90 times in 82 verses in the New Testament and in many of these verses we find Jesus Himself praying or teaching others how to pray. These verses are given to us so that we may also learn the
importance of necessity for prayer in our own lives.
Over the next week or so we will be looking at the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:5-15 and how we can use it as a model for prayer in our own life.
Before we go any further, please take a moment and simply ask the Lord to reveal His heart to you as you read His word. Ask Him to clear up any misunderstandings or preconceived notions you may have about this passage.
Yes, please stop reading right now and pray… Alright, finished? Here we go.
“And when you pray, 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. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:5-8 NKJV)
The hypocrites failed to understand the purpose of prayer. They prayed in public for one simple reason — to be seen. And because that is what they desired and sought, that is was what they were rewarded with.
Prayer is not intended to be a public speech, but a private moment with our Savior. And in those moments the Lord is delighted with us because we have sought after Him and His will.
Take a moment to read these passages in your Bible: Deuteronomy 4:29, 2 Chronicles 7:14-15, and Isaiah 55:6. If you have time read them in context. Meaning, read a few of the verses before and after each passage. Perhaps even read the whole chapter in which they appear.
These passages show us it doesn’t matter where we are in our walk with God. It doesn’t matter who healthy our relationship is with Christ. We can always call out to Him, we can always seek Him, and He will hear us.
But there is one small “catch,” if you will. If we want to be heard, our prayers cannot be vain repetitions, babble, or idle words. Prayer is not something to check off of our Christian checklists. If we want our prayers to be heard and answered they need to be heart-felt and meaningful. (Side note: God always answers prayer. Sometimes His answer is yes, sometimes it’s no, sometimes is wait.)
We also need to remember that we don’t come to our Maker to tell Him something He doesn’t already know. The “Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 5:8 NKJV). He knows our needs but that doesn’t mean we just take advantage of His knowledge, power, and provision by neglecting prayer. When we pray we are communicating with the God of all creation. When we come to the Lord we are acknowledging our dependence on Him. When we pray we are recognizing our need for something bigger than ourselves, and that Something is Jesus.
Feel free to speak the following prayer aloud as your own. However, don’t just say it with your lips, speak it from your heart.
Lord, I am here now seeking You and Your will. I know I have neglected my prayer life in the past and am guilty of vain repetitions. Please forgive me. I come to You now, recognizing my need for You. Over the next few days, please stir within me and help me to make communication with You the number one priority in my life. This I ask in Your name. Amen.
Now it’s your turn. Please feel free to leave a comment answering all, some, or none of these questions. What stood out to you in the Bible passages? Are you comfortable with your prayer life? What, if anything, is hindering you from making prayer your number one priority?
Only by grace,
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