3 Words for Prayer

I want to propose THREE words that will help you in times of prayer.  I pull them out of Jesus’ teaching on the subject of prayer, as recorded in Matthew 5:5-8. The four verses are pools of wisdom and practical application in the subject of prayer. Many of us may cruise through these four verses in fourth gear and then drop down into second gear when we reach “The Lord’s Prayer” in verse nine.  I challenge you to read the following text slowly, hearing the words from the Master, God Himself in human flesh. He who is both perfect man and God, The Mediator between God and man, tells us how to pray. Wow!

Matthew 6:5–8 (NKJV)

5“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. 6But 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. 7And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8“Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.

Volumes of books have been written on the treasure within these verses. But let’s shut off the stadium lights and use a spotlight to zero in on three lessons from Jesus.

1. Sincere.  This deals directly with the condition of the heart. In this text Jesus is condemning the religious leaders for praying to men rather than to God. Sincere prayer only seeks the attention and acceptance the Father God. The sincere heart not only seeks Him and His Will over its own will, but it also examines itself as a part of prayer. Check your motives and attitudes. Remind yourself that God cannot manipulated with sacrifices, pious good works, long prayers, or by evoking dead saints and repetitive mantras. Your prayers are only accepted in the presence of the Father by and through Jesus Christ (John 6:14; Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 10:19-22). Just be yourself, after all He knows you better than you know yourself. This lesson overlaps into the next two lessons.

2. Solitude.  Jesus calls us to get away and find a private place to pray. Take your requests to the Father somewhere away from the attention and distractions of others and of this busy, noisy world. Once alone with Him, open your heart. Just you and Him; heart to heart; one-on-one. There are many reasons for a solitude time of prayer, all of which goes beyond the length of this blog. Jesus gives us one reason in our text, which alone is reason enough. He promised that “your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” How great of a promise is that?!

3. Simple. The Father isn’t impressed with fancy words or theological statements in your prayers. Yes, your prayers need to be theologically correct–meaning biblical. But don’t worry about complicated prayers, big words, and long, eloquent phrases. The Father already knows what is in your heart, just be real, just be you.

David’s Psalms are perfect examples of someone getting alone with God and offering up both sincere and simple prayers. But if you’re like me you may initially feel uncomfortable and struggle with how to verbalize what you’re feeling and thinking. The silence may even sound weird. That is okay because the God who makes and inhabits our hearts knows what we’re trying to say and He knows how awkward we may feel. And He’s fine with that; He’s the One inviting us to this place. So don’t feel inadequate or intimidated, just open up and start sharing with Him. Over time you’ll find yourself more and more comfortable alone in His presence and praying with confidence.

You can learn more on these three lessons and how to apply them with Jarrod Burrell as he discovers The Place of Prayer.


Praying with Humility

It is rare these days that we hear of or see a repentant heart such as penned by John Wesley (1703-1791) copied below. We need more pastors and more spiritual leaders to be this kind of an example before the Body of Christ. We don’t need celebrities. We don’t need entertainment in the Church. We need examples of humility who will lead us away from worldly attributes and the “pride of life” – I John 2:16. We, that includes you and me, need to cultivate and nourish a humble heart.

The Psalmist prayed, “Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me (Psalm 19:12-13).”

Spiritual growth and maturity is not measured by one’s skills, gifts, charisma, popularity, or materialism (or the lack thereof). How about humility? How about one’s faithfulness to the Savior? Understanding who you are and who you aren’t, and living accordingly? I’m thinking of the progressive growth in the Beatitudes as a type of self-measurement.

Humble repentance; ask the Lord to help you develop humility in your prayers, in your walk before Him, and your life before the world.

Forgive them all, O Lord;
Our sins of omission and our sins of commission;
The sins of our youth and the sins of our riper years;
The sins of our souls and the sins of our bodies;
Our secret and our more open sins;
Our sins of ignorance and surprise,
And our more deliberate and presumptuous sin;
The sins we have done to please ourselves,
And the sins we have done to please others;
The sins we know and remember,
And the sins we have forgotten;
The sins we have striven to hide from others
And the sins by which we have made others offend You;

Forgive them, O Lord, forgive them all for His sake,
Who died for our sins and rose for our justification,
and now stands at Your right hand to make intercession for us,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

A Christian isn’t someone who repents one time and then never again acknowledges personal sin. A Christian is someone who never stops repenting. Does this sound like a contradiction to your faith that you’ve already been forgiven? The Apostle John didn’t think so. He wrote (I John 1:10) “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.” John tell us in the previous verse to, “confess our sins” because “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Let’s be clear on this repenting thing! Repenting is not a “work” by which the Christian obtains or maintains salvation. Repentance is a humble acknowledgement that I’m still sinning and still need the Gospel–100%. It is an expression of complete dependence upon the love and mercy of Christ Jesus, our propitiation (I John 2:1-2).

Why is repentance an ongoing practice to the Christian? Because he loves holiness and hates sin. Because he desires to please the Father and to follow his Master in truth and righteousness. Because he wrestles with sin but also knows that the power of sin is broken in his life. He repents out of godly sorrow and never, never stops trusting the eternal saving power of the Gospel that keeps him in Christ.

One reason that I wrote on this subject is because I am constantly working on this virtue in my life. A personal aid that reminds me of who I am and who I am not, and helps me to get my mind off of me and dependent upon my God, other than the scriptures, is a book of Puritan prayers and poems– The Valley of Vision. I use this book in my morning prayers. There is nothing like it out there. Check it out.