Prayer (Matthew 6:5-8)Elmer Schrock, August 31, 2014
Part of the Sermon On The Mount series, preached at a Sunday Morning service
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The sermon this week was a continuation of the Sermon on the Mount: the subject being Prayer, taken from Matthew 6:5-8.
Prayer is a very important part of our Christian lives. Jesus assumes that His followers will pray because he says "when thou prayest", and not "if" you pray. Prayer is casting all our cares upon God, for He cares for us. One of Adam Clark's comments is that prayer requires more of the heart than of the tongue. When we pray we should not pray to be seen or heard of men, but we should pray from the heart to God.
In verse 6 Jesus tells us to enter into our closet and shut the door and pray to our Father who sees in secret, and He will reward us openly. To shut the door means to shut out those distractions that would keep us from focusing on our prayer. In the illustration of Mary and Martha, Mary kept her focus on what Jesus was teaching and did not let the business of preparing a meal distract from her focus on Jesus and His teaching. That's the way we should be when we pray. We should not let external things distract from focusing on our prayers.
What then should we leave outside the closet door when we pray? It may depend upon our age. For youth, the distractions may be in one area, and for older people, the distractions may come from a totally different area; but the important thing is that we don't let the distractions keep us from an unhindered connection with God. If distractions entered into the closet with us, we need to lay them down and let God deal with us. Life outside the closet should reflect the same values that we need in the closet to revere God. Dealing with our fallen nature, with sobriety, and a Godly reverence is something that is sadly lacking in some churches. Hebrews 12:28 says, "Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and Godly fear". David said in Psalm 19:14, "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my Redeemer". That should be our desire when we enter into our prayer closet and close the door. If we have that same desire when we enter the closet, it prepares us for when we exit the closet and go out into the world to live a life that is acceptable to God with reverence and a Godly fear.
What then should we take into the prayer closet? Some of the things we should take along into the prayer closet are thanksgiving, adoration, and praise for the life of Jesus, the benefits of His sacrifice, and the mercy and grace of God. These are things for people of all ages to take into the prayer closet. The older people should pray for the youth in the church, and the youth should be praying for the older people as well. This would help the youth and the older people to relate well with each other. Some issues should not only be taken into the prayer closet, but shared across the table sometimes.
In conclusion, we realize that our Father in Heaven knows what things we need of before we ask him. (Matthew 6:8)
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the 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. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (ESV)