What the Bible says about Prayer

Matthew 6:5-13

5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and you’re Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

9 “Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’

 

Let’s start with verse 5:

“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites…

This verse would help us establish that there is a possibility that we would act like the hypocrites during that time. And the next couple of words would help us see what are the things they were doing wrong with regard to prayer during Jesus’ time. What did they do?

5…for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

Let me just give you a brief background to appreciate better what was happening during that time. Because there were certain rituals or practices that the people needed to follow and be aware of.

The Shema consists of three Pentateuch passages (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21; Numbers 15:37-41) and basically it starts with Deuteronomy 6:4 which is “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! This is a prayer that needs to be recited twice every day – during mornings and evenings.

The Tefillah prayer which was later called “Amidah” which means standing, indicating the kind of posture that should be used while praying. This was also called Shemoneh Esreh. Shemoneh Esreh literally means eighteen. It was eighteen blessings and divided into three categories: praise, petitions and thanks. For example: Prayer 3 (The Holiness of God’s Name) - “You are holy and your Name is holy, and your holy ones praise You every day. Blessed are you, Adonai, the God who is holy.” Another example: Prayer 9 (An appeal for a prosperous year) - “Bless for us, Adonai our God, this year and it’s crops. Grant us a blessing on the eart. Satify us from Thy bounty and bless our years like other good years. Blessed are You, O Lord, Who blesses the years.” Now this was most probably what was happening when this was said in verse 5 “they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners”? Because they had to cite this prayer three times a day, one in the morning, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. Plus take note of this where ever you are, when it was time, you have to stop and do this.

And how where were they taking advantage of this situation?

5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

For they love to stand and pray where? In the synagogues and on the street corners.

For what? To be seen by men. For people and not for God.

Showing yourself as pious during that time was to be identified like the Pharisees during that time. They want to be seen and praised for their so called acts of righteousness.

Because they had to cite this three times a day and whereever they are, they have to stop and pray, they ensured that during those specific times they would be in a place where there were people who would see them and commend them.

There was an issue about their pride and what was Jesus telling them to do instead in verse 6?

But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and you’re Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Go into your inner room – be alone this is only between you and the Lord. You shouldn’t desire the approval and praise of man. Only God should be your ultimate focus.

6 But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and you’re Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Close your door so no one will disturb you. It should be a time where there will be no distractions – an intimate time between you and the Lord.

6 But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and you’re Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Pray to your Father who is in secret means pray to your father in private. Allow it to be a time where it is just between you and the Lord.

But then again, there can still be something wrong despite this setup. Even if you are in your inner room, you can view prayer as dependent on your number of words and time spent in it. Look at verse 7.

7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.

They had a wrong view of what prayer is because they thought that the longer they prayed the more effective it will be. They used repetitive words just to ensure that their prayers would be long.

So if they want to pray for an hour they can cite these words over and over again and if they even want to extend it they just have to endure and repeat those words again.

For example if they use Shemoneh Esreh and Prayer 9:

“Bless for us, Adonai our God, this year and it’s crops. Grant us a blessing on the eart. Satify us from Thy bounty and bless our years like other good years. Blessed are You, O Lord, Who blesses the years.”

They can spent more than an hour repeating these words in hope that the Lord will give them a prosperous year.

The logic behind this is this, they are hoping that God would just get tired of their continuous prayers and would just answer them. But what this Jesus say?

8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

You do not need to repeat this words over and over again because God already knows what you will be praying for. Just like what David said in Psalm 139:1-4

1 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.

And then He taught his disciples how to pray in verse 9

9 “Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]

Notice the depth and intimacy in the prayer as you start with:

  • Praise Him (v9)
  • Acknowledging His will to be done not yours (V10)
  • Acknowledge Him as your source of needs (v11)
  • Acknowledge Him as your source of forgives and deliverance (v12)

Because as we approach him in prayer it’s important for us to understand our place first. He is God and we are not. He is not just anyone that can give us whatever we like to ask

With this is in mind allow me we share two simple application points on what prayer is based on these verse.

Application

  1. Prayer is to communion with God
  2. Prayer is centralized on God

Number 1, Prayer is to communion with God.

I need to go back to verse 8 because I don’t know if you’ve asked the question: “if the Lord already knows what I need then why do I need to pray?”

8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

Because if you would think like this what does this show you? What you will be getting in your prayer is much more important than the act itself.

But the act it indeed important why?

Because the Father wants you to approach him and from your heart acknowledge what you need, your desires or what you feel because this will show your relationship to him.

He already know what you want. But when from your heart you acknowledge and still pour out your soul to him you are establishing how much you know God.

When you pour out your heart to him you are showing him how you know him. Your prayer life will be an indicator of your relationship with the Lord.

If you are hesitant to say what you need then you might have not firmly establish that God can provide and care of you.

Philippians 4:19

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

If you have something big that you are envisioning and you are doubting to pray about it – maybe you haven’t establish that the Lord can do the impossible.

Luke 1:37

For nothing is impossible with God.

If you are hesitant to pray because that Lord might be busy with other things you might not have really believe that He is not a God far away but a God near by

PSALM 66:19-20

19 But God did listen!
He paid attention to my prayer.
20 Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
or withdraw his unfailing love

If you are not comfortable sharing the deepest part of your live then maybe you have not known that he care for everything that is going on in your life

1 Peter 5:7

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

David always communion with God and has honest with everything that he felt with the Lord. Because he knew his God. He knew he cannot hide anything from him and that he wants to unload all of his concern, problems, doubts and feelings to the Lord.

Psalm 54 – A psalm of David, regarding the time the Ziphites came and said to Saul, “We know where David is hiding.” To be accompanied by stringed instruments.

1 Come with great power, O God, and rescue me!
Defend me with your might.
2 Listen to my prayer, O God.
Pay attention to my plea.
3 For strangers are attacking me;
violent people are trying to kill me.
They care nothing for God. Interlude

4 But God is my helper.
The Lord keeps me alive!
5 May the evil plans of my enemies be turned against them.
Do as you promised and put an end to them.

6 I will sacrifice a voluntary offering to you;
I will praise your name, O Lord,
for it is good.
7 For you have rescued me from my troubles
and helped me to triumph over my enemies.

And there is really no other simple way to explain this but if you want to build a relationship with someone you communicate. Prayer is your communication to the Lord

So if we want to develop an intimate relationship with God it is to communication with him daily.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 – pray without ceasing

Where ever you are pray. Driving or Commuting. Office or Meetings. Eating or Having Coffee. Walking or Working out. Using the computer or ipad.

Just talk to him. Prayer is your direct access to God. Prayer is for him and if there is any pressing concern then pray to Him so that He may answer it and that he may be glorified.

Number 2, Prayer is centralized on God.

Prayer is not for you. It is not to get the things that we want or the things that we ask for. Prayer is a worship for the Lord. That when you come to him in prayer you want to talk to him and be with him – not because you want to get what you prayed for.

The Lord’s Prayer show us that, prayer is supposed to be focused on Him alone:

9 “Pray, then, in this way:

Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’

Look at those words highlighted. This prayer has been centralized on God alone. That the Lord is the ultimate source of everything and our prayer is too focused on Him and not on us.

Sometimes, we just really have the tendency to focus our prayers to ourselves. As imperfect human beings we have that tendency.

Who is the first person that you are concerned for? Isn’t it you most of the time?

When you listen to your prayers, what will your prayers sound like? Is it more what you want to happen?

Again, prayer is centralized on God. As John McArthur has said:

“Prayer is first and foremost an act of Worship”

The answer to your prayer will not be what you asked for but the answer will just be the Lord. Prayer is not the answer but the approach for the answer. What do I mean?

When we do pray for financial assistance and he provides – there we get to know a God who can provide no matter the circumstance. When we’re praying for a relationship to be restore and it does – there we get to know that God can soften any heart and can work miracles. When we’re praying for direction and he leads us – there we get to know God as our shepherd. When our prayers don’t get answer – there we learn to develop our faith and trust that God know best and He is in control

You see friends, prayer is centralized on God that in the end – He may be glorified. It should bring us closer to him and be more intimate with him. But again you need to spend time in prayer.

You need to give time to prayer and not just feel it is a ritual you have to do every morning or evening but daily as you go through life, you want to talk to him and communion with him.

In summary,

  1. Prayer is to communion with God
  2. Prayer is centralized on God

Friends, it is a privilege to pray. Only through what Jesus Christ has done for us can we pray. Develop that intimate prayer life that you may be able to experience the Lord in your life.

Lift up your prayers to him that He may answer you according to the goodness of his perfect will and when it’s answer allow that experience to change your life.

Allow the answer to always be reciprocated in praise to Him.

And as He continuously answers your prayer allow the truths in His word to be confirmed in your heart that indeed he is a God who is faithful, gracious and loving. A God who is near and not far.

Let me ask you this questions:

  • How is your prayer life?
  • Are you praying without ceasing?
  • Is it drawing you nearer to him?
  • Is your prayer life revolving around you?
  • Are you focusing your prayer on him that in the end all you want is for Him to be glorified, no matter what that means?

Take this time to pray. I know He wants to talk to you. I know He wants to spend time with you.

Excited to Start Planning for Next Year

We’ll be leaving in a couple of hours, headed to Mt. Makiling Re-creation center. It’s the time of the year when we plan for the upcoming year. I’m really excited about our planning sessions for 2015. It has always been part of my system and was trained more when I started working in the corporate world. Of course, other than planning implementation is also important, but for now, the focus is preparing for the great task ahead next year.

This is all God’s work. As far as I am concerned, it’s His plan and not ours. We just move according to the direction that He wants us to take. But how do you know His direction? How do you make the plans? I’m entering our planning sessions with a lot of ideas in mind. Things that I believe the Lord has laid down in my heart. How do I know if it’s truly from Him? To be honest, you don’t really know. You can’t really claim 100% or worse, 110% that this was from God.

That’s why it’s important first that you maintain a close walk with God. That you never neglect your time with Him in prayer and in reading His word. As you dwell in His presence, walk closely with Him and obey His general commands towards all mankind – you will know what He wants. You will make decisions close to His heart. You will plan things according to what He wants because you are so intimate with Him and know what He wants you to do. This is all still through faith and according to the principles of His written word.

Second, as you make decisions you need to surround yourself with Godly people who maintain a close walk with God as well. I have only been a ministry head for 6 months and I have already learned that you cannot make decisions on your own. There will be times that you will be pressured and you need to decide on the spot, but if you have the liberty of time, do not rush your decisions. Take the time in prayer about it and consult other people. Talk to your core leaders about it. Share your concern to your mentor or to someone who disciples you. Then, collectively think about their inputs and make a decision. You will be amazed when you realize that there are certain areas that you haven’t thought about and getting others’ input will help you see it in a different perspective.

I’m really excited to start planning and seek the Lord during this time. All I want to follow what He wants and honor Him. In the end, you need to take it to heart that you can plan, but in the end, it is the Lord’s will that prevails.

An Open Letter to all BOGLS in the Brand New Retreat

The most memorable moment for me during the Brand New retreat was the volunteer’s huddle during the first night. I know everyone was shocked and surprise. I was also. I was trying to keep it in and compose myself. But I was overwhelmed with the passion and love for the people God has entrusted to me. I wasn’t able to look directly in the eyes of everyone until I was able to compose myself from crying.

This is just the longing that is in my heart – I long to share Jesus to everyone but I know that shouldn’t stop there. Discipleship needs to happen. I know (and I’m full of joy) that everyone gave their time, effort and love to facilitate the discussion and consider the interest of your group rather than yours. I know everyone gave their love for the people entrusted to them and shared Jesus along the way. I am grateful for all of you.

The reason that I was brought to tears during the huddle was not only because I long for everyone to have a relationship with Jesus but to also see them grow by being discipled. That’s why the work doesn’t end in the retreat. It is only starting. I have seen, in the many years that I have been in a dgroup and have been a dgroup leader, how powerful discipleship is. I pray that we will all be passionate about this as well.

The world will not go easy on us and them, that’s why discipleship is crucial. It helps us move forward in our walk. It helps us refocus and realign ourselves to God. It helps us grow in our relationship with God. It produces growth, change and maturity. This is a command and common strategy that we have always followed in our church. I believe in it and I believe in you as well.

I do not want to make this long anymore. All I desire is for you to be faithful with your group. Faithfully meet them and faithfully communicate with them. Do not feel discourage if they don’t reply. I’ve experienced that. Just remain faithful because I have seen how the Lord has rewarded faithfulness. The Lord will be the one who will do the work, we are just called to be faithful.

Be faithful as well in having regular dgroup meetings. If it’s hard to find a common time and day where everyone is available during weekdays just make Connect your dgroup meeting. But if you can, meet them during the week and meet them at least once a week. We spend most of our time in our work and a day within a week will make a big difference in helping us remain strong in our walk in the Lord.

You may think that doing all of these things will help the people under your care grow. But let me also share with you because of discipleship I know it will also produce fruit in you. If you are faithful to the great commission, this will help push you to study God’s word and be accountable with your every word and action. There were numerous moments in my life that I was always what will happen to my group if I do this and that. That has kept me in check and has helped me grow in my walk with God.

This will be an awesome journey for you. It was been for me. I have always looked back in the time I started leading a group and have never come to a point I regretted my decision. It brought me joy and it brought me closer to Jesus as well. I pray you find that as well. Just let me know if you need anything from me. If you need training or materials for your group, just let me know. I am here to serve you and help you in this journey you are taking. I am excited for you. I am excited to see the Lord work in your life and see the movement happen in your group. Thank you for volunteering to be a breakout group leader. May the Lord richly bless you.

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