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.

An Open Letter to all those who helped and attended PUSH

Pray until something happens (PUSH) is a quarterly activity that we have in our ministry. This is a time where we join in corporate prayer to pray for different concerns within the ministry, church and even personal matters. This is an open letter to all those who helped and attend PUSH last Saturday.

Pray Until Something Happens

It is always a joy for me to see people serving the Lord. When I saw everyone together and united in preparing for PUSH last Thursday, I was already overjoyed. You guys showed your dedication and love for the ministry God had trusted to you. Despite your busy schedule in work, you all came to serve Him on a weekday. All your efforts and hard work paid off last Saturday. Everyone was blessed and had a wonderful time praying and worshiping God – I know God was glorified that day.

PUSH John17:21

To the Production team:

I know it is not easy preparing the backdrop. Ever since you’ve started to design the stage it has always looked wonderful. The backdrop in our Love, Sex and Dating series was amazing! Moreover, the backdrop that you have created for PUSH was amazing as well. Cutting the tree was no easy task but the output was a sight to see. I pray that you guys will never get tired of creating wonderful designs and backdrops for His glory alone.

 

PUSH-prayer-team

To the Prayer team:

You guys did a heck of a job thinking about the program and helping out in the preparations of the event. I see the bond that you guys have for each other, and you treat one another as a family – Praise the Lord for that. I know it was nerve-racking for those who went up stage just to facilitate the prayer, but I thank you for challenging yourself and stepping out of your comfort zone. I know everyone in the prayer team contributed to this. You were all united, and your unity made a big impact in this event. Pray is a vital part of the ministry. I want to say thank you for always covering us with prayers and reminding us to continue to pray and push on. May you never get tired of praying and seeking the Lord in prayer.

 

Push

To the Worship Team:

I was expecting only four songs, but you guys stretched yourselves to play for more. Thank you for pushing yourselves and serving us through the talents that Lord has given you. How I still long to play and make music with everyone, that desire for me to play for the Lord is still there but I know I need to give this up for something greater. However, I know as well that I am letting this go because all of you are already well capable enough. Practice hard and continue developing the talents you have.

 

To others who have helped out in the event:

I may not be able to thank everyone, but the Lord sees the work that you have done – great is your reward in heaven. The audience is only one. He sees your heart and your service.

 

People Praying

To all those who attended:

A lot will be happening in the ministry for the next couple of months. Can I just continue to encourage everyone to pray for this ministry? Pray for the Retreat this coming August. May the Lord bring in a harvest that will be discipled and grow in their love and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Pray for the leaders of this ministry. May they be sensitive to the leading of the Lord and be protected from attacks physically and emotionally. Pray for the different clusters within the ministry that they will be faithful to the responsibility that they have and always serve the Lord with gladness of heart. And lastly, let’s pray for one another. Let’s pray that we will always be united in our love because of Jesus Christ. Let’s not neglect fellowship every Saturday. Let’s follow the model of the early church before.

In Christ,
Marc

Marc Sorongon Speaking

Note from the author: The B1G South ministry is the singles ministry of CCF Alabang. We have service every Saturday at 6pm at the 3rd floor of CCF Alabang. Everyone is invited! I would love to meet you if you have time to visit. Thank you to Noel Costes for the pictures.

Finding Strength Through Prayer

I want to be strong. I want to be tough. I want to be unafraid.

Trying to be strong has a correlation with a particular fear that you may have. For example, you want to be physically strong. You try to build muscle through working out because there is a particular fear that you don’t want to be bullied by anyone. Another example, you want to be emotional strong. Your whole family is down due to financial problems, but you don’t want to be affected by it, so you try to encourage everyone and carry the burden of showing everyone there is still hope. Because if you won’t do this, you fear everything might crumble down, and your whole family might end up losing their faith.

There is a particular fear that is wrong, but I believe there is a fear that is right as well most especially if it’s  fear for the well-being of someone else. Fear is an emotion and I believe the best way, to counter this feeling is through prayer. Through prayer, we can find the strength that we need to battle fear or other emotions related to it.

Let’s look at the Prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane in Mark 14:32-38.

32 They came to a place named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here until I have prayed.” 33 And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled. 34 And He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.” 35 And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. 36 And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” 37 And He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38 Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

 

Garden of GethsemaneGethsemane means “oil press” and currently, ancient olive trees are still found in this garden. We have to understand that this is a place where He and his disciples commonly pray. In John 18:2, Judas knew where to find Jesus because he knows where he would usually go with his disciples.
In verse 32 when they arrive in Gethsemane, Jesus ask his disciples to sit here while He prays but it’s surprising to note that from His group he specifically asked Peter, James and John (verse 33) to accompany him.

Jesus is 100% God and 100% human, it was perfectly normal for him to desire companionship during this time. Jesus was under heavy emotions that he felt very distressed and troubled. It was a very heavy feeling. A feeling of terrified amazement; gripped with terror. And Peter, James and John was the ones who was with him in the Home of Jarius (Mark 5:37) and Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:2).

I believe Jesus wanted to teach Peter, James and John a lesson also. The three are leaders who will be able to teach the other not to rely on their self-confidence during this time. They need to learn to be alert, not to give in the temptation and most especially pray. Jesus addresses that in verse 38.

Only in the book Mark will see how Jesus address the Father in his prayer.

35 And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. 36 And He was saying, “Abba! Father!…

 

Abba means “papa” or “daddy” and it showed his relationship and intimacy with His father. Upon starting this prayer, He understood whom He was talking. Because in times of weakness:

  • Strength is gained through knowing who you have beside you
  • Strength is gained through knowing who you have supporting you
  • Strength is gained through knowing who you have taking care of you

Jesus prayed in and said “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”

We mustn’t think that the Lord feared death or that the physical suffering ahead was overwhelming for Him. It was the thought of being separated from His Father that was so intense that it was to the point of death because of sheer agony. In Luke 22:44, Jesus had such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. He knew would be made sin for us – 2 Corinthians 5:2. He would bear the sins of the whole (1 Peter 2:24) and the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13). And because of this, he would experience being forsaken by His Father (Matthew 27:46). The cause of His overwhelming anguish and distress, but he said “Yet not what I will, but what You will.”

Jesus did not wrestle with the Father’s will. He willing submitted to it. That’s why in verse 35 you would see He “fell to the ground” as a sign of surrender. Three times He prayed this and three times He acknowledge His father’s will.

He saw his disciples sleeping, and this is what He said.

38 Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

 

He wanted to teach his disciples a lesson. They needed to be alert and sharp because a lot will happen in the next couple of minutes – Jesus will be arrested, disciples will be scattered (mentioned in the same chapter in Mark); Peter will deny Jesus, Jesus will be in Trial and then crucified. From Wiersbe Bible commentary – “Be alert as you pray! Keep your spiritual eyes open, for the enemy is near!” Judas is already coming with soldiers to hand over Jesus.

In times of weakness, the enemy will always target the flesh. How easy is it at times when we’re tired and emotionally down to get easily irritated. If we put our guard down, worldly pleasure or desire can easily lure us. Busyness resulting in physical deterioration can result in worrying and stress.

In this example, in the few moments the disciples will be scattered because their master will be arrested and crucified. They will abandon him and feel weak without a leader. But they are to be strong, alert and not give in to the temptation. They should remember the things Jesus taught them and remain spiritually connected through prayer.

That is our defence whenever we feel weak and vulnerable. Jesus modelled it. You may be going through a lot of problems and trials. Follow what Jesus did during this time of distress. He shared to His Father what he felt. He was Honest. He was connected with the Lord in prayer. He was Intimate. And He submitted to the will of the Lord. He Surrendered.

In the end, we find our strength in God alone. Remember you are HIS, and He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7 – Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

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Note from the author: This is an excerpt from my message in B1G South TOP (Time of Prayer) entitled “Finding Strength Through Prayer”. The B1G South ministry is the singles ministry of CCF Alabang. We have service every Saturday at 6pm at the 3rd floor of CCF Alabang. Everyone is invited! I would love to meet you if you have time to visit.

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