Prayer

Matthew 6:5-15

“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. 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.

“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. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus presents a picture of the ordinary life of the Disciples, while demonstrating how radically different life in Christ looks to the rest of the world. The character traits and calling we see within the sermon seem like impossibilities and when left on our own they would be. Yet because of the cross, through the work of the Holy Spirit, these supernatural, upside down callings of the radical lifestyle of Jesus have been made available to us.

One way we connect to the heart of Jesus and his calling is through prayer. Matthew 6:5-15 teaches us how we should pray and gives us a roadmap for our posture as we approach the feet of the Father. Jesus tells us to approach prayer with humility- not to pray with elegant words and phrases used to build ourselves or our reputations up. He tells us to keep it simple- not to pray for long periods of time, babbling on, just for the sake of someone else thinking you are extra spiritual because of how long we spend in prayer each day. When we pray- we should pray as Jesus- praying for his will to be done, his kingdom come, our daily needs to be met (no more, no less), forgiveness of our own sin and forgiveness from others, strength to withstand temptation, and and deliverance from the things Satan means to cause us harm. Yet, for many prayer, even with these guidelines is awkward and a struggle. We go into it with good intentions but so often we spend the majority of time running through our own thoughts, thinking of what we will eat next or what we are missing on Facebook. We never actually spend time in silence and give him our undivided attention.

Theophan the Recluse says “to pray is to descend with the mind into the heart, and therefore to stand before the face of the Lord, ever-present, all-seeing, with you.” To pray is to allow our whole self to enter into the presence of God. This doesn’t require long thought out prayers, but Jesus shows us quite the opposite- short and simple, unceasing conversation. Prayer is centering ourselves with no distractions so that we may hear the quiet voice of God. Prayer opens our minds to the truth about who God is and opens our hearts to the truth of who we are. Prayer is where we find rest in the midst of our daily struggles—especially now in a time where the noise and the news and the pain is so loud. Show me someone who “prays without ceasing” and I will show you a mature follower of Jesus.

Reflect

  1. What keeps you distracted from unceasing prayer? 
  2. Carve out 5 minutes today and simply sit in silence to quote the Lord’s prayer found in the passage.

Pray

Our father in heaven hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come your will be done o earth as it is in heaven. Give us this our daily bread and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Nick and Heather Viers, March 31, 2020
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