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How, and why should I pray?

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1 How, and why should I pray?

2 Luke (ESV) 1. Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘‘Lord teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’’ 2. And he said to them, ‘‘When you pray, say: ‘‘Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. 3. Give us each day our daily bread, 4. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.’’

3 Matthew (ESV) 5. And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly I say to you, they have received their reward. 6. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7. ‘’And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.

4 And whenever you stand praying,..
Matthew 6. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Mark (a) And whenever you stand praying,.. Notice the TEFELLIN (English PHYLACTERY) or small black leather boxes attached to the left arm and the head. These contain scrolls of parchment with texts from the TORAH. The authority for this is usually taken from the Book of Deuteronomy – see for example - Deut. 11:18.

5 What do we mean by PRAYER?
O.E.D. Definition – ‘‘A solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or another deity.’’ Anonymous – ‘‘Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the muscles of Omnipotence.’’ Wayne Grudem – ‘‘Prayer is personal communication with God.’’ Notice in the first quote prayer is not considered simply as a Christian exercise.

6 PRAYER is a multivalency term - it is known by the company it keeps!
Petitions/Requests – for ourselves, e.g. Luke ; Philippians 4.6 Intercession for others, e.g. Colossians Confession of sins, e.g. 1 John 1.9 Praise, e.g. Matthew 6.9 Thanksgiving, e.g. 2 Corinthians 2.14 We communicate with God through prayer, and He communicates with us by His answers to our prayers PETITIONS/REQUESTS – ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’ + ‘ Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God… PRAISE – ‘Our Father in heaven hallowed be thy name’

7 Cultural background to the Disciple’s Prayer
Jews had set prayers for each day. The two most important prayers were the SHEMA (‘Hear’) and the SHEMONEH ESREH (AMIDAH) (the so-called 18 prayers). These prayers covered every aspect of Jewish life, and whatever they were doing during the day, Jews had to stop to recite these prayers. They were required to say these prayers at least 2 to 3 times a day, so in Jesus’ day, prayer tended to be formalized and, sadly, almost became superstitious incantations. Prayer was said with very little meaning SHEMA - Which provides us with a central theological text in Deuteronomy chapter 6 verses 4-9. ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord’

8 4. Prayer was also confused with the idea that verbosity was a mark of piety and length with effectiveness. Take for example the following quote from the famous Rabbi Levi, ‘Whoever is long in prayer is heard.’ 5. Piling up every title and adjective in addressing prayer to God was considered an indication of devotion, e.g. ‘’Blessed, praised, and glorified, exalted, extolled and honoured, magnified and lauded be the name of the Holy One.’’ 6. In terms then, the whole process of prayer was ritualised, highly competitive, and wholly exaggerated.

Jews prayed to be seen, and heard - it was ostentatious. It is not QUANTITY that is important with God, but QUALITY. 2. Jews prayed to impress others, and failed to engage with God. It has been said that you can learn more about a person’s theology by their prayers than anything else. 3. Jews thought that God needed to be coerced, even flattered or battered into answering prayer. Note the Greek word used in Matthew 6. 7, translated in English by ‘empty phrases’ literally means ‘to babble’. THE PRAISE OF MEN

10 So how should I PRAY? NOT like them! But the Bible does encourage both praying in public and private. REVERENTLY/HUMBLY because you are addressing your heavenly Father, BUT understanding that you are a child of God. BRIEFLY – notice the brevity of the Lord’s prayer! Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple is probably the longest prayer in the Bible. You can pray his prayer in 1 Kings in about 6 minutes. SIMPLY – anyone can pray the prayer that Jesus taught. But it does not mean that you have to limit your vocabulary! CONTINUALLY – Pray without ceasing, everywhere!

6. IN FAITH (WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT’S AID) believing that God will respond to our prayers asking in the name of the Lord Jesus. 7. IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE WILL OF GOD ASKING IN JESUS’ NAME – John – Truly, truly I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father he will give it to you in my name. Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full.’ HOLY SPIRIT’S INVOLVEMENT – Romans 8.26 ‘Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.’ JUDE 20 – ‘Pray in the Holy Spirit’. THE WILL OF GOD – How do we know what God’s will is when we pray? Knowledge of Scripture is important in discerning God’s will in prayer. So soaking in the word of God helps us to understand His will for our lives and grants us wisdom in making those important decisions in life – see James 1.5-8

12 Because God wants us to pray to Him – Matthew 6.8
Why should I PRAY? Because God wants us to pray to Him – Matthew 6.8 Because we are encouraged to pray, and Jesus Himself placed great emphasis on prayer in His own life –Col. 4.2/John 14.16 Because prayer changes the way God acts – James 4.2 Because prayer is an intrinsic part of the Christian community. Only those who have a relationship with God through Christ can pray meaningfully – John 1.12; Acts 2.42 Matthew 6.8 – ‘Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Colossians 4.2 – ‘Continue steadfastly in prayer..’ John – ‘I will pray the Father and he will send you another comforter..’ James 4.2 – ‘ You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly to spend it on your passions. John 1.12 – ‘But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.’ Acts 2.42 – ‘And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.’

13 5. Because our prayers can be related to the advancement of the Kingdom of God – Matthew 9.38 (2 Corinthians 5.20) 6. Because it is a way of supporting one another in our Christian life – 1 Thessalonians 5.25 7. Because it ultimately reflects our trust and dependence upon God – Mark 11.24 Matthew ‘Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send our labourers into his harvest’ 1 Thess. 5.25– ‘Brethren pray for us.’ Mark – ‘Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.’


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