Week 29 “The Lord’s ‘un-prayer'” Day 5
Ask God to reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
Matt. 6:5-8 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
There are no rules for praying, either in this warning against how not to pray or in the model prayer that comes after this passage. There are, however, important principles for prayer here. The largest principle is that of trust. Prayer is about developing a trust relationship with God. When trust is low between two individuals, it is important to get every word just right. Any word that is misspoken can be taken the wrong way, even if the intention was good. When trust is low, conversation is slow because every word must be carefully measured to ensure the other person will not take it out of context or misunderstand a single meaning. The principles Jesus gives here and in the following passage are much more about heart direction than word perfection. A relationship with God is based on trust. We are only able to come to him at all because of Jesus and the way which he has opened up for us. Now, because of this trust relationship with God, we do not have to get every word right. In fact, we can come to him when we are confused, or angry, or doubting. We can speak directly and honestly from our hearts because that is what he desires from us. Some people use only pre-written prayers to be sure they say the “right” things to God. There is nothing wrong with pre-written prayers, but there is something wrong with a perspective that drives praying such prayers mostly because of the fear of getting it “wrong.” The one thing that we must be concerned with not getting wrong is our hearts. A single word prayer such as “help” or “thanks” or “why” that comes from a heart set in God’s direction is more profound than a long and eloquent prayer that comes from a disinterested heart. As you consider how to close the gap on a conservational relationship with God, do not be concerned with methods and patterns of prayer. Give great attention to a surrendered and honest heart. “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory” (Matt. 12:20). When we see our great need for God and talk to him out of that need, we don’t have to get all the words just right because our hearts will be right. When we come to him as the “bruised reeds” that we are, we experience his compassion. Jesus said, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask.” What exactly does he know that we need? First and foremost, we need him. He knows that and it remains for us to more fully know that as well.
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today.