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The Practice of Prayer

Matthew 6:9-15

Hurry is the Death of Prayer

Prayer can be one of those things we hurry past if we’re not careful. On some level, we all acknowledge its importance, but we also struggle to accurately estimate its value.
Have you resolved to be a person of prayer only to find it a struggle? Something as simple as talking and communing with God, yet I’ve yet to meet a person who says they pray too much. And so, regardless of what your experience with prayer is like, I’m hoping today's study will be an encouragement for you from the Word.
Our passage today comes from Matthew chapter 6, which is a part of a well-known sermon called the Sermon on the Mount. This was delivered by Jesus, and it stretches across three chapters. What we’re studying today is from that middle chapter and is a part of a larger teaching where Jesus is challenging all that was being taught and modeled by the Pharisees. Through these teachings, Jesus is revealing the heart of what it means to follow God and please him. And as it relates to prayer know this, prayer connects us to the heart of God.

"This, Then is How You Should Pray"

Jesus taught us how to pray, not what to pray. This is a framework, not a script. Because this is a framework meant to guide our prayer lives, I want to break it down and call out several principles that we can learn from this passage.

Our Father in Heaven

Prayer is how we remind ourselves of the Gospel. No one can call God “father” without the Gospel. We are only accepted into the family, through Jesus—that is the Gospel! We were enemies of God (Ephesians 2), we were children of wrath! But because of Jesus, we’ve been invited into a new family.
Have you grown numb to the gospel in your life? We never outgrow the need to be reminded of the goodness of the Gospel! When was the last time you paused and simply told God, “Thank you for making a way through Jesus, so I can be Your child?”

We Get to Call God "Our Father"

Over the last seven years, God has been opening my eyes to how wonderful this truth is by the fact that I get to be called someone’s father! Of all the things in my life that I enjoy, being a dad to my three girls is my greatest joy in life. I’m in no way a perfect dad, but I delight in those girls! And they don’t have to do anything for that to be a reality, just being their dad, brings me joy!
And I try to tell them, that only three people in this whole world get to call me “Dad.” Some people call me Adam, some call me Pastor, I’m really trying to not be called “Brother Adam” just because I think it’s odd, the people who call on behalf of my car’s extended warranty always ask for Mr. Brock, but only Hannah, Addilyn, and Chelsea get to call me Dad. No one else.
And only through Jesus, do we get to call God, FATHER!

Hallowed Be Your Name

Prayer helps us to think rightly about God. The word hallowed means “set apart or make holy.” Prayer doesn’t make God holy; it acknowledges that he is holy!
Let’s talk about what all it means that God is holy. It means his ways are higher than our ways. It means his thoughts are not our thoughts. It means that on our best day, we don’t come close to measuring up to his perfection!
Last week we said that our view of God determines our response to God. Well, through prayer we have the chance to remind ourselves of what is true about God.
Here's an illustration. Imagine a balloon. It takes a degree of focus and intentionality to inflate a balloon. But what happens if we blow up a balloon, set it down, and walk away? It will shrivel, of course, and slowly deflate.
In this illustration, this balloon represents our view of God. And just like your view of God, it will either inflate as a result of intentionality, or it will shrink as a result of passivity.
Far too often we let one great experience, whether that be a conference or a camp, or maybe a really great worship service, be the only thing that adds air to our view of God. And then we go through life, living off the air that has already been put into the balloon. But if you are not moment by moment, being intentional about thinking rightly about God, then your view of God will be slowly diminishing.
Remember, you have any enemy whose tactic for destroying your life is to come and speak lies to you about who God is, all to get you to have a small view of God. We pray so that we inflate our view of God every single day. We pray to breathe new oxygen into our view of God. It’s so that we can join the Heavenly Host in saying “You are holy, holy, holy, there is no one like You!” That’s what prayer does.
Prayer realigns our minds with what is true about God’s love, His mercy, His patience, His forgiveness, His justice, His wrath, His omnipotence, His omnipresence, and all that is right about God. This is what prayer does!

Your Kingdom Come, Your Will Be Done

Prayer is how we invite His rule and reign into our lives. The right response to having God as father, and understanding Him to be holy, is “Your will be done.” Prayer has a way of day by day, helping us enthrone God in our lives.
I think it’s important to note that Jesus wasn’t giving us a theoretical model here, He was giving us something that we must do, and he demonstrated what that looks like.
Fast forward to Matthew 26 and you’ll find Jesus praying in the Garden before the crucifixion and here’s what he says in verse 39, “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” And then he prays it again in verse 42.
This is the example of our savior. And when we pray, we are submitting ourselves to God’s rule and reign, even when it means sacrifice and pain.

On Earth As it is in Heaven

Prayer teaches us to long for his purposes to be accomplished throughout the earth. If we’re thinking rightly about God, and responding to him appropriately, then we will begin to long for Kingdom to fill this earth.
The task we have as believers is to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28). Prayer motivates us to live on mission!

Give Us Today Our Daily Bread

Prayer is how we invite God into our basic needs. You see, folks often like to say that God is the boss, but only as it relates to the big picture things. And then they try to be the co-boss, handling the day-to-day operations.
Are you willing to trust God, with EVERYTHING? Big and small? Or do you say you trust Him, but then spend countless amounts of energy trying to micromanage your life?
Jesus is saying that prayer should enable you to trust God instead of worrying about your needs. If it’s enough to worry about then it’s enough to pray about!

And Forgive Us Our Debts as We Also Have Forgiven Our Debtors

Prayer helps to keep our spiritual family healthy. When we pray in this way, we are reminded that forgiveness matters. And it matters as it relates to one another.
If one of my daughters decided they were mad at their sisters and didn’t want to be near them, that would also compromise their nearness with me, their father. Because when we sit at the table for dinner, if one says, I’m not coming because I’m mad at her, what they’re doing is creating division that affects my relationship with them as well.
When we refuse to forgive each other it’s as if we’re saying to God, "I know you were able to forgive me, but asking me to forgive them is too much."

And Lead Us Not into Temptation, But Deliver Us from the Evil One

Prayer is how we walk in victory. We ought to pray that as trials and temptations come our way, God would help us to cling to Him so that the temptation doesn’t overtake us.
The book of James teaches us that God does not tempt us but rather we are tempted by our own sinful hearts. But God does allow us to be in situations where testing occurs.
In chapter 4 we saw Jesus being tempted after being led into the wilderness by the Spirit. But He didn’t succumb to the temptation. And the life of Jesus demonstrates that prayer is somehow linked with victory.
In the Garden when Jesus was praying right before the cross, He asked his closest friends to pray with Him and they kept falling asleep. In Matthew 26:40-41, it says, “Then He returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with Me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
Another way of translating this part of the prayer would be "keep us from failing under trial."

For If You Forgive Other People

“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.”
Prayer reminds us of the importance of community. We don’t forgive so that we can earn God’s attention, rather we forgive so that we don’t interrupt our fellowship!
This prayer we’ve been given has an interesting cadence to it. Notice the first part speaks of:
  • "Your Kingdom,” 
  • “Your Will”
  • “Your Name”
He didn't teach us to pray for our own kingdoms, the accomplishment of our own wills, or the glory of our own names. Then it moves to:
  • "Give us"
  • "Forgive us"
  • "Lead us"
Do you see what’s missing here? Any hint of selfishness! This prayer is about God and community! It’s not simply a prayer to “My Father, give me my bread, forgive my sin, and lead me and deliver me!”
This teaches us that prayer is meant to be a personal and communal practice. The focus isn’t on me, and the application isn’t for me. We ought to practice prayer in a way that builds and maintains community. That means you ought not only be praying for people but with people!
Here at Trinity, we value prayer because we see it as vital, and we’ve experienced its effects. Prayer, like nothing else, has a way of connecting us with the heart of God. We want you to know that every week we have people who will pray for any prayer request you send them. You can find more about how to submit prayer requests, or how to join the praying team on our website.

I don’t know of any more appropriate way to respond to today’s message other than prayer. And so, I’m going to invite you to pray.
If you’ve never responded to the invitation of the Gospel and committed yourself to follow Jesus, then none of what we’ve discussed today will be of benefit to you. Prayer is a family activity. And if you’re not yet in the family, that can change today! We’re praying that today would be the day you respond to the invitation of Jesus and enter into the family of God.

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