Five Things to Seek from God in Prayer
Begin with story of Praying Hyde from "Fire in Your Heart" by Sammy Tippit.
How not to pray:
- Like hypocrites -- Faithful Jews prayed three times a day. Usually this was done at the third, sixth, and ninth hours (9 AM, noon, and 3 PM). According to Josephus, sacrifices were also offered at the third and ninth hour in the Temple. (Jesus was nailed to the cross at the third hour, and died at the ninth). When people stopped to pray during these times, they would often pray publically wherever they were -- even on a street corner. Apparently some were loving the spotlight and would make sure they were in a place where everyone would see them when they prayed. Jesus said, instead go to a closet -- a secret place -- to pray. This way it would only be for God, not people. Since people didn't usually have closets or ever private rooms in their homes, Jesus must have been saying to simply keep it between you and God wherever you are. Sometimes the prayer shawl was referred to as a closet.
- Like heathens with vain repetitions. Examples of this include the Baal worship in 1 Kings where they false prophets spent all morning chanting, "O Baal, Answer us!" It can also be seen in Acts 19 where the Ephesians chanted, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians" for two hours.
- Some religions today emphasis mindless repetition of prayers. Surprisingly, some people even quote the Lord's Prayer over and over mindlessly even though Jesus here espressly forbade it!
- This is not saying that repetition is bad. Jesus repeated Himself in Gethsemene, and He gave a story of a widow who asked the same request day after day. It's also not saying that lengthy prayers are bad. Instead, it is emphasizing the need to have thought and meaning to prayer, not just mindless repetition. This can be applied to Christians everywhere who get into their own prayer ruts and say the same thing without even thinking. Warren Weirsbe quoted Dr. Robert Cook as saying, "Everyone has their own routine prayer. Only once we get rid of it, then we really start to pray."
1. Seek God's presence with a worshipful heart. (Matt. 6:9)
- "Father" -- was a common term for God in the OT, but became somewhat forgotten by Jesus' time.
- "Hallowed" -- hagiazo (hag-ee-ad'-zo) - "to make holy, purify, or consecrate"
- "Name" -- some Jews tried to outdo each other adding the most adjectives to God's name possible.
2. Seek God's plan over your own. (Matt. 6:10)
- Kingdom and Will -- seeing things God's way.
- Larry Crabb sermon ("Preaching Mystery) -- sometimes God's plan is not to solve our problems, but for us to see Him and learn about Him and draw closer to Him through our problems. The songs of both Hannah and Mary were not when they happy things happened in their lives, but rather were at the points when they realized they were just a small part of God's greater plan.
- "Seek first the kingdom of God" (Matt. 6:33)
3. Seek God's provisions for your daily needs. (Matt. 6:11)
- Daily bread -- a reflection back to the manna in the wilderness. Asking God to provide daily and trusting that He will continue to do so.
- It's not asking for lifelong sercurity in stuff. Our security should be in God's promises, not in our possessions.
- "God will supply all your needs..." (Phil. 4:19)
4. Seek God's pardon for your sins. (Matt. 6:12)
- Debt -- we own obedience to God.
- "If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive..." (1 John 1:9)
- Forgive others! (Story of man who was forgiven much, but then refused to forgive another person).
5. Seek God's protection and power to overcome temptation. (Matt. 6:13)
- God doesn't tempt us. (James 1:13)
- It's OK to pray that I won't be tempted...but I must realize that even Jesus was tempted once.
- "God will make a way out..." (1 Corinthians 10:13)
- Consider using the Fruit of the Spirit as a sword to cut through temptation -- "Is this loving? Is it kind? Does it bring joy?" (Gal. 5:22-23)