Praying Like Jesus Series #3

The Prayer Closet


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“Prayer is an act of faith. Just by praying to God, you are declaring our trust in someone other than yourself. Your faith is increased as you pray and watch how God answers your prayers. God says in Jeremiah 33:3, Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know. God is awesome in power and there is never a time when He is not beside you.”

Charles Stanley

There is no promise God cannot keep, no prayer God will not answer, and no problem too hard for Him to solve.”                                                                Adrian Rogers

Our country is terribly divided today. Civil discourse has ceased. The two leading political parties – Democrats and Republicans – will not work together with a common goal. Even the Church in America seems to have lost its purpose. Beloved, we as Christians must pray.

True Prayer Begins In The Prayer Closet.
Our Lord Calls Every Christian To Pray Daily.
We Must Pray Often.
We Must Live Lives Of Prayer.

Let us stand together and read this promise from our Heavenly Father:

2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV) If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

How Does Christ Want His People To Pray?

E.M. Bounds “What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use – men of prayer, men mighty in prayer.”

The disciples often heard Jesus pray in public.
They saw how passionate Jesus was about prayer.

When Jesus spoke to God He did so not as other Rabbis of that time did, but spoke to God as “Father”. Though God is called “Father” in the Old Testament Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology notes that:

Throughout the Bible we find God portrayed as a Father. This portrayal, however, is surprisingly rare in the Old Testament. There God is specifically called the Father of the nation of Israel ( Deuteronomy 32:6 ; Isaiah 63:16 ; [twice] 64:8 ; Jeremiah 3:4; 3:19 ; 31:9 ; Malachi 1:6 ; 2:10 ) or the Father of certain individuals ( 2 Samuel 7:14 ; 1 Chronicles 17:13 ; 22:10 ; 28:6 ; Psalm 68:5 ; 89:26 ) ONLY FIFTEEN TIMES.” {emphasis mine}

The Jews had an almost superstitious fear of calling God “Father”. Yet when Jesus prayed His prayers were intimate. He frequently and lovingly called God “Father”. This happened so often in earshot of His disciples that one day we read:

Luke 11:1 (KJV) And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

John the Baptist taught those who followed him how to pray. Now the disciples were committed to Jesus, and asked Him to teach them how to pray.

Jesus Taught That Effective Prayer
As Well As Giving Begins In The Heart.

Luke records the request of the disciples, but Matthew gives further background to Jesus’ teaching on prayer. Jesus taught that both giving as well as prayer – to be effective – must begin in the private life of the believer.

Prayer And Giving Are Tied Together

Matthew 6:1-4 (KJV) Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. [2] Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. [3] But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: [4] That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

When we give, we are to give out of a generous heart to our God. We are not to be like the hypocrites are. Who were the hypocrites?

The word hypocrite is the Greek HUPOCRITES, which means “an actor under an assumed character, a stage-player, someone who is playing a part”. A HUPOCRITOS is someone who is pretending to be what they are not. Jesus used HUPOCRITOS for religious pretenders like the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes). They did not give out of a love for God, but out of a love for good PR – public relations. The HUPOCRITOS loved the pat on te back, the atta-boyz, the commendations and rewards. When they gave, they gave just enough to gain the praise of man. Our God looks on the heart:

1 Samuel 16:7 (KJV) … the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

Jesus taught His disciples how to GIVE before He taught them how to PRAY because God will not listen to the selfish or prideful person. We are told in Job 35:12 “there they cry, but none giveth answer because of the PRIDE of evil men.” James tells us (James 4:3) “Ye ask, and receive not, BECAUSE YE ASK AMISS, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”

You Must Get Your GIVING Right
Before God Will Give You Anything!

If our giving comes from a heart that is perverse, then our praying will be perverse. We will find ourselves publicly praying like the Pharisee in the Temple who said:

Luke 18:11-12 (KJV) …. I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

Proud at the offering plate, proud at the altar. Get right in your giving and you will be right in your praying!

Matthew 6:5 (KJV) And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

The hardest thing for me to do is to pray publicly. Why? Because many times the flesh rises up, and I begin to listen to the background noise of the congregation as I pray rather than to the Lord. Frequent and daily private prayer helps me to focus my attention on the Father and not on that which is going on around me. When we pray to be heard of man then you have your reward. You need not expect God to answer your prayer.

Matthew 6:6 (KJV) But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

The “closet” that Jesus speaks of is a TAMIEION, which is a dedicated place used for praying. It doesn’t mean a “closet” as in a “clothes closet”, but does speak of a sacred place where you meet with your Heavenly Father. Where can your “closet” be? It can be any place where there are no cell phones and no interruptions. It could be a favorite place in the woods or by a stream, in a park, or on a prayer walk. It is a place where you can speak to your Heavenly Father in secret, where no one else will hinder. A place where you can pour your heart out to God. Your prayer closet can even be in a crowd of people if you can focus yourself Godward. Before Jesus was crucified He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. We read:

Luke 22:39-41 (KJV) {Jesus} came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. [40] And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. [41] And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,

Prayer Is Not A Formula But A Conversation

It is surprising to me as to how many professed Christians are involved in Yoga today. The dictionary definition of Yoga is:

a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation”

Yoga has no roots in Christian or Judaic faith. An integral part of Yoga is the mantra, a word that is repeated and focused on. This is not what Jesus taught His disciples to do. Jesus said:

Matthew 6:7-8 (KJV) But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

The “heathen” or unbelievers use vain repetitions. This is the Greek BATTOLOGEO, which means “stammering speech, stuttering, prating tediously”.

The purpose of prayer is communication with God. You do not communicate with God when you say ten “Hail Marys” and fifteen “Our Fathers”. You do not communicate with God when you rattle off the “Lord’s Prayer”. You do not communicate with God as your “Father” when you repeat “Om” or some other word.

The Elements Of Effective Prayer

Matthew 6:9-13 (KJV) After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

What are the elements of effective prayer?

a Prayer is made to the Father Who is in Heaven. He is to be exalted, for He is exalted!

b Before we ask anything of God, we pray that “His Name be hallowed”, that God be glorified. We pray that “Thy Kingdom come, and Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven”. God is to be praised and magnified first before we begin to seek the satisfaction of our needs.

c We ask that God “Give us this day our daily bread”. This request shows us that prayer

(1) is made in before the day has begun. It would make no sense to pray “give us this day our daily bread” at the end of the day, because you would have already received it.

(2) Further, we do not pray for more than our daily bread. Just as Israel was given manna for each day, we should not expect a treasure trove, but that our Father meet our daily needs.

d We also pray that God deliver us from the evil one, which is the literal translation of the text. By praying thus we remind ourselves that our preservation from evil and evil’s Master is in God’s hand – not in ours.

e We pray “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”. Every day we pray for forgiveness, and every day we forgive those who have offended us. Jesus added as He finished the model prayer:

Matthew 6:14-15 (KJV) For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: [15] But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

An unforgiving heart is an unforgiven heart!

The Christian is called to love our enemies. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:44-45 (KJV) But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

f We end our prayers with “Thine is the Kingdom”. We recognize that our existence is devoted to God’s Will and God’s Work, to build His Kingdom on this earth.

When Should I Pray?

Jesus made solitary prayer the first part of His day. The Scripture says:

Mark 1:35-37 (KJV) And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. 36 And Simon and they that were with him followed after him. 37 And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee.

Prayer was not something that Jesus tacked on to the end of His day. It was something He did first. He found a solitary place, a place where He could be alone with His Father. Jesus didn’t apologize for this either. When the disciples came and said, “All men seek for You”, Jesus didn’t say “I’m sorry, I’ve been praying”. No, not at all! Jesus said, “Let’s go into the next towns, that I may preach there, for that’s what my duty is” (Mark 1:38).

Jesus made solitary prayer the last part of His day as well. Jesus prayed before He preached. Prayer did not stop Him from going, but prayer came first. Jesus prayed after He preached as well. We read:

Matthew 14:23 (KJV) And when {Jesus} had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

Prayer was a deliberate act for Jesus. He sent the crowds away. He literally said, “Go away – I’m busy. I’m going to talk with My Father.” Jesus walked away from the crowds. The Scripture says:

Luke 5:15-16 (KJV) But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. 16 And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.

Jesus had multitudes clamoring for Him. They all wanted to hear. They all wanted to be healed. Yet at the end of the day Jesus withdrew Himself into the wilderness and prayed. If we would be a blessing to others, we must go to our Heavenly Father in prayer. We must seek His guidance and His protection. He must guide us through the day, and give us perspective at the end of the day.

There were times when Jesus prayed all night long, forgoing physical rest so He could gain spiritual rest. The Bible tells us that just before He chose His disciples He prayed.

Luke 6:12-16 (KJV) And it came to pass in those days, that {Jesus} went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; 14 Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, 15 Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, 16 And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.

While we toss and turn, worrying about important decisions we are going to make, Jesus prayed until the Father told Him what to do.

Isn’t that the much better option? Wouldn’t it be better if we prayed over the important stuff of our lives until the Lord gave us clarity and direction? This is what the Scripture tells us:

Philippians 4:6-7 (KJV) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. [7] And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

One day, a little girl is sitting and watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly notices that her mother has several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast on her brunette head. “Why are some of your hairs white, Mom?” she asks. Her mother replies, “Well, every time you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white.” The little girl thinks about this awhile, then asks, “So how come ALL of Grandma’s hairs are white?”

If we want to peace that is our inheritance, we need to do as God says. Don’t worry – pray!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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