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10-2-22 - Four Ways To Hinder Your Prayers

Lighting Your Way / Lighthouse Baptist
The Truth Network Radio
October 11, 2022 1:54 am

10-2-22 - Four Ways To Hinder Your Prayers

Lighting Your Way / Lighthouse Baptist

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October 11, 2022 1:54 am

October 2, 2022 – Message from Pastor Josh Bevan

            Main Scripture Passage:  Matthew 6:5-8

            Topic: Prayer


            Download SCRIPTURE REFERENCE

Encouraging Prayer
James Banks
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Wisdom for the Heart
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If you have your Bibles, if you would turn with me to Matthew's Gospel, chapter number six, Matthew chapter number six. And when you find your place, if you would honor the greatest book in the universe, we're going to read verse number five through verse eight. I confess I am filled with joy as we're going to be launching into a study on prayer. I know my soul is edified in studying prayer because it's always something I feel I never pray enough or well enough. And and it's something you never arrive at. I don't think anybody says, you know what? I feel like I have arrived in my prayer life.

When you land at such a level, then you need to go back to humility, right? And so we understand that we fall short in this area. The Bible even says we don't know how to pray like we should. So today we're going to be launching into a study on the words of Christ about prayer. And I I trust this will be edifying to our souls individually and as a church body.

I believe this could really stir up some some great things in the heart of God's people. And so let's read what Jesus has to say about prayer in verse five through eight. He's going to teach on it down to verse 15. But our text before us will be the first four verses says, And when thou prayest, thou shall 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. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet. And when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy father, which is in secret. And thy father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

Verse seven. But when you pray, use not vain repetition as the heathen do, for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not you, therefore, like unto them, for your father knoweth what things you have need of before you ask. You join me in prayer. Father, we do count it a privilege that we can't even understand this side of heaven. That on earth, our lips and our hearts can be lifted in prayer in the ear of heaven can be moved. Lord, I pray that you would renew in our hearts a fervency for the throne of God. Help us to elevate prayer, and in doing so, we will elevate God. Forgive us for having such small prayer lives.

Forgive us for not valuing you like you are deserving. Lord, I pray that we would make much of prayer so that we could make much of God, and I pray that you would stir us to do such. This city needs a church on fire. This nation needs a people burning on the inside for Christ and holiness and souls. May we rend our hearts before you today. May your spirit do a work in us.

Bring a fervency and a heat to this body. Let us not be content to simply come and listen, but may we participate at the king's banquet. May we feast upon God. May we experience the presence of Christ. Move us on the inside. Forgive our cold hearts.

How calloused we can become, how worldly minded and how much the world can grab our attention. Some of us can't even focus on God today because the world is so consumed in our hearts. Lord, we repent today. Lord, cleanse us on the inside. Let the text before us burn in our hearts. Let me be just a mouthpiece for God. Let me stand out of the way and may the Holy Spirit work upon us. May the soil be soft and may your word be fruitful. Glorify your own name for your own sake. And may we be recipients of the glory of God.

We ask it in Jesus name and God's people said, Man, you may be seated this morning. If I were to ask you this morning as we consider this topic of prayer, how is your prayer life doing? How is your prayer life been? When is the last time you got alone with the Lord and just spent time with God for more than 10 seconds in solitude and in prayer just to worship him?

When's the last time you said, You know what? I need to go into a room by myself, get on my knees and just worship God for the infinite sacrifice of his son, Jesus Christ. So overwhelmed that you just couldn't even speak for a while. You just had to sit with the thought of God. When is the last time that you you just said, I have some things in my life that are keeping me from being right with God? And you were so broken that your life was not where God wanted it to be and that you had to get alone with the Lord and just cry out in repentance to be made clean before him. When is the last time you were so broken for a lost soul that you had to bend your knees and pray to God that God would bring salvation to them? I believe much of the impotence and frailty of the church is found in the absence of prayer, fervent prayer.

James was right when he said you have not because he asked not. What if every one of your prayers were answered this past week? Every single prayer that you prayed would be answered. Let me ask you, would anybody have been saved this week? Is there anyone that you and I prayed for that was lost that needed to be saved? If you knew all of your prayers would be answered, perhaps in the coming week, who would you pray for that needs to be saved? If you knew it would be answered, what what marriage would you lift up in prayer? What uncle or aunt would you cry out to God that God would work in? What attitude would you say God change this attitude in me?

Give me patience, give me humility. What prayer of courage and boldness would you ask God for that you might be a witness for Christ? What struggle of sin would you say God take this sin away from me?

Give me complete victory. What child would you have prayed for this week? What parents or grandparents or grandchildren would you pray for? I challenge us as a church to renew our commitment to prayer, that we would treat prayer as Christ treated prayer, that we would pray as Christ prayed. In verse five through verse 15, our Lord teaches us on prayer. Then in verse 16 through 18, he teaches on fasting. What's interesting, before he can teach us how to pray, he has to teach us how not to pray. And in verse one through four, before he taught them how to give, he had to teach them how not to give. And in verse 16 through 18, before he could teach them how to fast, he had to teach them how not to fast.

Guess what? We know how to get the wrong things right, or the right things wrong, in other words. We know how to turn what's up down, we know how to turn what's true into false. We learn how to mess things up naturally, and so he has to come and say, listen, there are ways to give that are wrong, there are ways to pray that are wrong, and there are ways to fast that are wrong.

You need to learn what is wrong, and then also what is the right way to do things. In other words, there are ways that you and I can give, pray, and fast that are acceptable to God, and there are ways we can give, pray, and fast that are not acceptable to God. Now just consider the implications of that. What that is telling us is that truth is not subjective, but truth is objective. And what that means is, is truth is not based upon what I think it should be, or my experience, or even my sincerity. But rather, truth is based upon God, and God gives us the definite reality of His Word. Sometimes people say this, well, all that matters is that you're sincere. As long as a person's sincere, it really doesn't matter who or what they worship. Sincerity is not as important as truth.

Jesus said if you come to the Father, you must worship Him in spirit and in truth, both internally and accurately. And so you can be a, I can tell you the radical Muslims who blew themselves up in an assigned fatwa and a jihad, you think they were sincere? Yep. Let me tell you, can you be sincerely wrong?

Absolutely. And so just because you're sincere doesn't mean you're accurate and you're right. And for the Lord to say there are wrong ways to give, pray, and fast is to say there's a standard for us to live by. You know, in the Old Testament, there was a right way to transport the ark, wasn't there? And the wrong way to do it was not to put it on the ark or on a wagon like the Philistines did and send it back to Israel. And when the Jews decided to do that, they were transporting the ark based upon worldly methods.

And guess what? Uzzah reached out because the oxen stumbled and the ark began to slide off the wagon and he went to grab the ark and guess what happened to him? He died. The Bible says that God, the Hebrew word there literally means that Uzzah exploded, God exploded him. You know what Uzzah thought?

He thought his hand was cleaner than the dirt. And he reached out to study the ark of God and God blew him up. That's how holy and transcendent and awesome you say, well, I don't understand why God would do that because you and I don't understand the holy nature of God. And we take God lightly and we worship God fast and loose. And today you have entire church movements that have molded their sanctuary into an image that looks like a worldly rock concert and type of worldly system. I've never found smoke machines and light zapping faculties all through the Bible.

You know what those can do? They can stir your emotions and do nothing for your soul. We're not looking to reach people's feelings.

We're looking to reach people's wills. It is truth that transforms the inside. I grew up in churches like that for 15 years. I wasn't even saved. Been nice to get the gospel. Been nice to know that if I follow Christ, there's a cross involved with that.

You know what happens today? People want the same kind of religion that Peter wanted. They wanted to remove the cross. When Jesus said, I've come to die on a cross, Peter said, no, let that not be. Because what we want today is we want Christianity without confrontation. We want to sand down the old rugged cross so that the world makes us acceptable. They can accept the palatable message that we're now offering. God didn't call us to preach like Joel Alston. He called us to preach like John the Baptist.

It's a big difference, friends. And you may be new here today and I don't know your situation, but it's just going to come out like it is. We're here to preach the word of God and to share the truth of Christ, because I don't want anyone to get to heaven and say, I wish Pastor Josh would have told me.

I wish I would have known. And so let us go to the word of God and find out what does the book say and write when you open the Bible. It says in Matthew six here, when it comes to prayer, he says, you need to understand there is a right way to pray and there is a wrong way to pray. Anybody want to find out what the wrong ways to pray are so you don't do it right?

We want to know what those are. And so today we're going to look at four ways to hinder our prayer life. Four ways Christ tells us don't do that. Don't do this when you pray. And so to know how not to pray, we have to have first information and then we have to have submission to that information. We need to bow our hearts to that reality and that truth. And so the first way that can hinder our prayers is by pretending in prayer, having the wrong motive in prayer. This is the warning of the hypocrite found in verse five and six, verse five. He says, And when thou prayest, thou shall not be as the hypocrites are.

Now, what is a hypocrite? Well, in those days they had plays and just like they do down and across our country, they'll have a stage. And underneath the stage, they they would have amphitheaters and they would have a stage. And underneath the stage, there would be changing rooms.

And I was actually there in 2011 and saw some of these and accessory of Philippi in different areas. And and what they would what they would do is have somebody that was a character that would dress up. They would they would play a part. They would read a script. They would they would fulfill a role in and they pretended to be someone they were not. And the Bible refers to the person who does that as a hypocrite.

That was actually the same word they used for that stage actor. And the Bible calls Hoopocretes Christians who know the script, who act the part, who who their their phonies, their pretenders, they they aren't the real thing. And if you want to know how Jesus feels about hypocrisy, if you just read Matthew twenty three, Jesus gives the strongest rebuke and all the gospel accounts toward hypocrites, people that were pretenders. And in Matthew twenty four fifty one, he tells us that hypocrites would end up in hell. Jesus was very severe about preaching against hypocrisy and taught that true hypocrites are not true believers. Now, he defines what the hypocrite does in verse five. He says, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets that they may be seen of men.

First of all, we see their posture. They stand in the synagogues. Now, is this a wrong way to pray? Is it wrong to stand and pray? When you pray, should you only kneel or sit or lay down? The Bible tells us there's basically three different ways the Jews would pray. They would they would lay down and prostrate before God. And you find Jesus doing that in the Garden of Gethsemane. He fell upon his face and prayed in the garden. Father, let this cut pass from me.

Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done. They would also kneel and pray. If you remember, Daniel would kneel three times a day and he would face Jerusalem with the windows open.

And he would do that throughout the day, three different times. And then they also would stand and pray. You see the repentant publican do that in Matthew 18. He stood praying and beating upon his chest saying, God, be merciful to me, a sinner.

And Jesus says he was heard. And so standing was a common posture and there was nothing wrong to stand and pray. And next we see the place where he prayed that he would stand praying in the synagogue. Now, the synagogue was their place of worship. It was really the Jewish, the way you can understand it, it would be like the Jewish version of our Christian church.

And a lot of the systems of the Christian church are found in the Jewish synagogues. Jesus went to the synagogues. What they would do, they would come together.

Guess what? They would stand up and read the Bible. And then the leader would, the teacher would sit down and he would teach the word of God to the people. They would sing songs, they would have prayers.

All of this would go on in that setting. Luke 4 16 says, and it came, and he came, or Jesus came to Nazareth where he had been brought up. And as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up for it to read. Nothing wrong praying in a synagogue. They would pray in the synagogues, the place there was nothing wrong with. But they also prayed in the corners of the streets.

The street corner was a very highly populated place because it was where two roads would cross. And so, is it wrong to say it's wrong to pray at the corner of the streets to say you shouldn't talk to God at the corner of the street? And that's not the case. If you saw an accident happen, you would want to take a moment, God be with this situation as the ambulance comes. You wouldn't say, well, I'd love to pray for you, but you know, I'm in the corner of the street and I can't pray for you. And I'm sorry, I'm going to have to walk away, you know, and have a prayer somewhere else. That's not the idea Jesus is giving here. You need to understand this is not external that Jesus is focusing on the place, nor is he focusing on the posture, but he's focusing on the purpose.

What's the motivation? And so, their fault was found in the next statement without which I would encourage you to underline. It says that they may be seen of men.

You could underline that in your Bible. So, the problem was not their posture standing. It wasn't the place, the corner of the streets, or in the synagogue, but it was their purpose. They wanted to be seen of men.

And their posture and the place only provided their false purpose to unveil itself. Now, what was their reward? Verse 5 says that they would have the glory of men. They wanted the glory of men to be seen of men. They wanted that notoriety. They wanted people to notice them. Verse 1 and 2 of Matthew 6 says to have glory of men. They wanted to look spiritual.

They wanted people to think, man, you're really something. Boy, I wish my prayer life was like your prayer life. Oh, I wish I could be as eloquent as you. You know how to pray in such a way.

I mean, get into this kind of eloquent speech. And, you know, inside the Corinthian church, they had this kind of thing going on. They would even take in the city of Corinth smooth stones and put it under their tongue, go down to the river and practice speaking to elevate their eloquence. And when Paul came to the city of Corinth, he said, I purpose not to come unto you with eloquence or in any way of speaking that would be enticing that you would not rest your faith on the wisdom of men but on the power of God. He said, I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling.

And he didn't do that because he didn't have the ability to speak eloquently. He just didn't want them to rest upon that eloquence but rather to rest upon the power of the Gospel. Now, look at verse number six.

Here is the lesson. He says, But thou when thou prayest, enter into thy closet. And when thou has shut the door, thy door, pray to thy father, which seeth in secret, and thy father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. Now, first of all, he tells us that there needs to be a solitude in prayer.

Now, Jesus oftentimes resorted to a private place of prayer. Mark chapter one, verse thirty five says, And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, just to let some of you know, there is such a thing. There is existence a great while before day. You rise up early. There is people, there is people living at that time. Some of you wake up sometime.

You'd be like, there is life going on right now, you know? And he, Jesus, went out and departed into a solitary place and there prayed. What kind of place did Jesus go to in Mark one?

A solitary place. Why did he do that? So that he could be alone with the with the father. Mark six, forty five and forty six and straight away, he constrained his disciples to get into the ship and go into the other side before unto Bethsaida while he sent away the people. And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. So he sends the people away and then he goes away to pray in solitude. Luke six, verse twelve.

He does the same thing. Now, I believe it's essential to our spiritual life to take time away from everything and everyone else to be in prayer, because if we're too busy to pray and to be alone with God, what is that saying in our life? We're too busy, aren't we? If our Lord so valued prayer, should we devalue it by not praying? I would highly encourage you to pray first thing in the morning.

Get alone with God. I think all of us would do well to say tomorrow I'm going to get up at least 10 minutes early, 15 minutes early just to spend some extra time with the Lord. How often people can face the day unprepared, spiritually weak. They wonder why life could be overwhelming to them.

They get overwhelmed all the time. They fall into quick sins with their mouth or attitude or actions because they haven't spent time with the Lord. Christians today place a higher value on getting their coffee in the morning to prepare their day than to being with the Lord to prepare their day. Would to God that we would wake up and say, not that I need my coffee, but that I need the Lord. You know what Christians do?

They wake up. Oh, I need my coffee. I can't do anything until I get my coffee. Boy, it'd be nice to hear Christians talk about the Lord that way. I don't care if I preach to myself today. Listen, we need the Lord Jesus Christ.

You awake this morning? Well, some of us are, I guess. Now, some have taught that all public praying is wrong, but is that true? Is it wrong to pray in public? Should you only pray in private? Well, if that is true, then there is some explanation that needs to be done concerning public prayers in the Bible because when Jesus was on the cross, he said, Father, forgive them.

They know not what they do, right? He prayed on the cross, and also you find him praying publicly at Lazarus' tomb. Jesus said, my house shall be called the house of prayer. So prayer in public, there's nothing wrong with that.

That's something that's acceptable and good to do. We see the early church praying, and they did it in public ways. Jesus is not speaking about only praying in a literal closet, but rather the idea is when you pray, do not be a pretender.

Don't be one who prays to be seen of men. Rather, we are to pray to the Father, and the Father here says pray to the Father, and what that tells us is we don't need a high priest or a priest or a pastor to go to God and pray for us. Sometimes I have people stop, and they'll come in and say, hey, can you pray for me?

And I'll have a word of prayer with them, and I stop them. I say, listen, my prayers are no different than your prayers, and I don't have any special relationship with God that you don't have, and if you're saved, you're a child of God like me, and your sins were forgiven just like mine, and you need to understand that it's not some kind of person that you need to simply have pray for you. You need to make sure your life lines up with the word of God and the will of God, that you would honor what he says, and the reward is thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. God will see your humble heart seeking him without any desire for anyone else to see you, and God hears that prayer. 2 Chronicles says the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show himself strong on the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him, that he would hear your prayer, and the Bible says he which is in secret, he sees your prayer in secret.

He sees that. When you get alone with God, God sees that, and he will reward you openly. God will answer your prayer. He'll reward you.

The Bible says in Hebrews 11 6, he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him, and so the point is this. If you want your prayers hindered, then pray to be seen by men. Pray so other people notice you. Pray for the purpose of drawing attention to yourself. Pray so your husband, wife, mom, dad, friend will think you're really spiritual. Play the part. Be an actor. Tell others how good you're at at praying.

Use big words to try to impress people. On the other hand, if you want your prayers to be heard, then pray to be seen and heard by God only. Let God be your audience. This doesn't mean praying with others is wrong. It just means praying to be heard by others is wrong. So if you ever pray in the audience of people, pray to an audience of one.

Let me say something else. It's important for Christians to pray together. The Bible says pray one for another. On Wednesday nights, we have a time of prayer at the end of our service, at the end of the sermon. We break up in groups and pray. And sometimes I've had people through the years say, Well, I'm just not comfortable to pray. And I always pull them out of their comfort zones.

Every time I've I've disciple people and go through gone through discipleship material. I've done that with a lot of people over the years. Every time I get to the end of the time, I'll say, OK, let's have a. Let's close in word prayer. We share some prayer requests together and I'll say, if you go ahead and close in prayer and I'll put my head down. Inevitably, if they're not somewhat of a seasoned Christian, they always like pause. And they kind of look at me and my head's down and and they say, well, I'm you know, I'm not I'm not real good at this. I don't really prayed with anybody. I just look up and I say, oh, you'll be fine.

Put my head back down. And they know they're stuck. They have to pray. And and, you know, they pray and it can be so encouraging and so I'm so blessed by those authentic prayers, because they don't know any type of eloquent words and any type of external words that some religious lingo that they need to use. They just pray from the heart. The only thing that's on their heart, they share in prayer.

But let me say this. If you're so worried to pray in in front of other people, you need to you need to you need to get past that. Because what you're saying is that you're concerned what they think about you.

That's exactly one of the things Jesus is hitting here. Stop worrying about what other people think. Don't pray to be heard and don't pray out of fear of being heard. Both of them are concerned and allowing other people to dictate their prayers. So people who prayed to be heard, so they think there's something. It's also wrong to not pray because you're afraid of what people will think of you. Well, I don't want to pray with my husband or wife because what will they stop worrying about what they would think and worry about what God thinks.

Does that make sense? I mean, if I went to speak with a four star general, I wouldn't I wouldn't bring Tom along and be like, Tom, I'm really worried what you're going to think of me when I talk to this general. I wouldn't think that I would be concerned about who I'm talking to of high rate.

Right. And so in the same way, why would we be concerned with what another fellow sinner who saved by grace thinks? Worry about what God thinks the God of the universe.

And if you're not praying with other people, I can tell you you're hindering them from also praying for with other people. Get over that fear. Grow past that. That is a sign of Christian infancy. And I know I'm offending someone.

I don't know who, but I'm sure. But you have to get past that. Could you imagine me getting up to preach today and I'm like, can somebody else pray? Because I'm really concerned what other people think of my prayer. When you think how carnal is that guy?

How? Why would he care what the audience thinks? He should care what God thinks. And if we would say that about a pastor, how much should we think that of our own souls?

Friends don't have any concern about what other people think. Dads, you say, well, you know, I know I should pray over the meal for the family, but I'm concerned with don't worry about what they think. I'll never forget when we was in Chillicothe had this family and this dad came to me and told me this. He said, I was at a restaurant with my kids and my family. And he said, I went to pray and I didn't want to be real loud. So I just kind of like, Lord, bless this food.

Thank you for it. Nourished our body. He was kind of he said he was quiet. Look on his prey. His daughter interrupts the prayer in as loud as she could. She's like, hey, dad, why are you praying so quietly? You know, like a little five year old daughter. He's like, oh, hey, you know.

What do you tell her? I'm afraid that people know we're praying. I mean, so he just got blasted by his daughter.

He said that was just a conviction, man. And I think sometimes God would say, why are you so quiet praying? Can you not pray with me?

One hour is what he said to the disciples. Can you not pray with me? So there's a wrong motive that Jesus hits.

It's the motive to be seen by men, and we must not allow that to hinder us in any way. Secondly, he warns about emptiness in prayer. In verse seven and eight, he says, But when you pray, use not vain. That word means empty, meaningless, futile. Reputant repetitions as the heathen do.

Now, the heathen here speak about mostly gentiles who had false gods, pagan gods, because there's only one true God. And the Bible says here that they prayed with vain repetition. The word vain repetition is bought to look at.

Bato, which means like stammering, and lageo is the word for word, lagos, lageo. So it's it's stammering language, like meaningless words. You're just mumbling these things out, making sounds with your mouth, but inarticulate and indistinct. The idea is talking much without content, repeating something over and over again.

You're speaking with your lips, hardly with your mind and nothing with your heart. It is to utter meaningless, mechanically repeated phrases. The Jews were known for their repetitious prayers. It's been said that no other religion ever had a higher standard of prayer and the priority of prayer than the Jews had. They were people of prayer. They created prayers for almost everything in their life. They had prayers for light, prayers for darkness, for fire, for rain, for the new moon, for traveling, for good news, bad news. They had little prayers for everything. As the Jewish rabbis created these prayers, the people would observe them, and then they would begin to say them in a mechanical way or without thought.

All of us have been guilty of this. I know all of us probably have little prayers like Father bless his food, nurse her body. In Jesus' name, amen. It's like we said that, and it wasn't honoring to God.

It was just mechanical speaking. I remember growing up, I always prayed that prayer, now I lay me down to sleep. Anybody know that prayer? Pray the Lord my soul to keep if I die before I wake. Pray the Lord my soul to take.

In Jesus' name, amen. And I thought I had to pray that every night to like keep from dying or something, because it's kind of a scary prayer. Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to take, and if I die before I wake, and I'm like, Mom, is there not something better? Like this is really concerning to me. I'm like six years old, you know, am I going to make it through the night?

I knew those boogeymen were real, you know, good night. I should die before I wake. I pray the Lord my soul to take, you know, and you're worried about this. And I pray that, but what I found is the Bible tells us not to pray empty, meaningless, repetitious prayers. Get away from that.

Don't do that. That's stuff that the heathen do. That's what pagans do. Now a faithful Jew would always pray the Shema, which is Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 4 through 9, chapter 11, verse 13 through 21, and also Numbers 15, verse 37 through 41. They prayed those verses every day. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul. It's in Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 4 through 7. They would pray that prayer, and it's really the prayer of salvation from the Old Testament.

And this was something they did. They also prayed what was known as the Shamana Ezra, which means 18, and they had 18 prayers that they would pray morning, noon, and at night. And they prayed three times a day at the third, the sixth, and the ninth hour, which are equivalent to 9 a.m. at noon and at 3 p.m. And so the Jews who wanted to be seen, they knew those were the times that they were supposed to pray those 18 prayers. They would find themselves like, oh, I just happened to be at the street corner at noon.

I just happened to be in the middle of the synagogue. And they would find themselves in a place, well, I must stop and pray. And they would begin to go through their 18 prayers, and other people, they, oh, look how serious they are. Look how spiritual they are.

Boy, they're really something. And so they were doing this intentional to get attention and to really elevate themselves. Now, there is nothing wrong with having scheduled times to pray. In the early church, you find going to the temple and going up in places to pray during these set hours of prayer.

They continued what the Jews were doing in the early church. In Acts chapter 3, verse 1, now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour, which was at noon. Peter was found praying at noon in Acts 10.

Cornelius found praying in Acts 10, verse 30. Now, is it wrong to repeat a prayer? Should you never repeat the same prayer?

No. It's okay to pray a prayer that you've prayed before. We know that because Jesus did that. Matthew 26, 43 says, and he came and found them asleep again for their eyes were heavy.

This is in the garden before the night before he dies. And he left them and went away again and prayed the third time. What's the rest of it say, church? Saying the same words. So Jesus prayed the same words three times. And we know those seasons of prayer were around an hour because he told his disciples, could you not pray with me for one hour? And so to repeat a prayer is not wrong, but to pray vain repetitious prayers, to pray without thought is the problem. To utter prayers with no thought to the words or to the one to whom you are praying.

Anybody here ever been guilty of praying repetitious prayers? We can also sing repetitiously, can't we? Oh, victory in Jesus, my Savior forever. What time is it?

The Buckeyes won by, and yeah, that is good news. But you see how quick our minds can flutter away? Sometimes we can begin to sing in ways that don't honor God. Sometimes we can read the Bible and our minds over here, but our eyes are here.

Sometimes we pray and our words are coming out, but our mind is not intact. Men can do this with their wives. Yes, yes, yes.

And then comes the great fear of every man who's ever lived on this planet. She asks a follow-up question. Women, you're not allowed to ask a follow-up question when we have deer in the headlight eyes, okay?

When we have that glaze and you ask a question, we have no idea. You're attempting us to lie. Did you hear everything I said? Yes. So what did I tell you?

You're beautiful. I'll go do the dishes right now, okay? Oh, we're caught.

Folks, we can have this. So one thing to do to your spouse is another thing when that happens with God. Listen to what Ecclesiastes 5 says, because Solomon really grabs a hold of this truth. He says in Ecclesiastes 5, Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear than to give the sacrifice of fools. When we come to the house of God, we need to have ears ready to hear. The sacrifice of fools were people, Oh, I'm going to go up to the temple and offer my sacrifice and do all this stuff externally. And God says, that's not what it's about.

It's not just external process here in some form. The internal, be ready to hear, for they consider not that they do evil. Verse two, be not rash with thy mouth. Let not thy heart be hasty to utter anything before God. For God is in heaven and now upon the earth.

Therefore, let thy words be few. You know how you should enter prayer? This is how you and I should start prayer. I tell you, when you enter into prayer, start this way.

Silence is pretty loud, isn't it? Slow down and don't say anything. Learn to pause until your heart is ready to approach the throne of God.

McLaren has some insightful words. He says, fruitful and acceptable worship begins before it begins. He said, our forefathers Sundays began Saturday night.

Do you hear what he said there? Sundays used to start on Saturday nights, and I would encourage you to implement that in your home. Sunday doesn't start Sunday morning. Sunday should start Saturday night.

What that means is you begin to prepare your heart to come into the house of God on Saturday. There's no day that I go to bed earlier than on Saturday nights. People tease me, but I'm in bed by usually 8 to 830 on Saturday nights.

I get up a lot of days early throughout the week, but I go to bed early, not because I couldn't sleep, go to bed later, because I want my soul to be so rested out of any day I'm going to do that. Well, you must have an easy life and nothing to do on Saturdays. Well, I just make sure nothing disturbs me on Saturday nights.

People are like, hey, can you come over Saturday evening? No. Sorry. But it's very important. I'm sorry.

I just don't. Charles Spurgeon said he was up on Saturdays. He'd spend time in the Word and in prayer. He had a man come to his house, and so one of the people in his house came up and said, Spurgeon, there's somebody at the door that needs to talk to you, and he says, I'm in prayer and time with the Lord. He says, tell him I'll meet with him later. And they came back and said, tell him, tell Charles Spurgeon that it is a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I need his help immediately. He needs to come out here and talk to me.

I need help. And that man went to Charles Spurgeon and Spurgeon responded and said, tell the servant of the Lord that I'm with his master right now and I don't have time for him. Because I can tell you, when God's leaders are not right with God, they have nothing to give.

Do you hear me, Mom and Dad? You have nothing to give your kids if you're not where God wants you to be. We need to learn to avoid people to not avoid God. But instead, we avoid God so that we can be with people.

And this may sound strange to some of you like, well, that Spurgeon must have been wrong. We get so twisted in our minds that we think putting God off would be better than putting man off. Well, God can wait.

No, he can't. We can't wait until we begin to value God more than our necessary bread, more than people, more than any relationship. When you're when your spouse comes in. Hey, I need to talk to you. I'll talk to you later. I need to spend some time with the Lord right now. Well, I need Mom and Dad. I need child.

No, no. Put put people off. That's why when you go to the Lord in prayer, turn your phone off.

Well, I need because if my boss calls or if this person, you're not that important. That probably came out wrong, but we're not so valuable that God, I must leave you because I'm so valuable right now that I must leave your presence because somebody else is beckoning unto me. Is that who we are? Facebook just dinged.

I must see what they responded to. God forgive us when we allow a Facebook ding to usurp the glory of heaven. We need to get on our knees this morning church and cry out to God for repentance and forgiveness of our sins, because we have valued him so little that we can allow other things to so distract. And you know why I have to put my phone on mute when I pray?

Because I get distracted anyway. I have. So one of the things I tell people to do is when you get alone with the Lord in the morning, read a song.

You say, which one? Just open one up and read it. Read. Read Matthew six. Just prepare your heart. I like to sing. I grab a hymn book in my office and I'll sit down and I'll get on my knees and I'll sing a hymn to the Lord. And I do that not because I'm so spiritual, it's because I'm so unspiritual. My mind can wander so fast into the world that I have to sit. And sometimes it takes me 10 minutes before I can even get focused on how to pray for my own soul. Sometimes it literally takes. I'm like, I can't even get my mind slowed down. It frustrates me and I just slow down.

Think about who I'm talking to. McLaren says the heaviest rains run off parched ground. And unless it has been first softened by gentle fall of moisture, hearts that have no due of previous meditation to make them receptive are not likely to drink in much of the showers of blessing, which may be falling around them.

You can have a downpour, but if the ground's parched, it just runs right off. What do you mean by that? You can have the word of God be pouring out, but if our hearts are not softened by the general rain of preparation before God and seeking him early, then we can come to church and get nothing out of it. I can tell you, friends, if there's ever a thing you and I come early to, it needs to be church.

Let me ask you a question. What if all your employees showed up late? You know what you would do? You would say, do you treat this job so lightly?

Are you treating this business so lightly? Are you treating, if your kids come home late, are you treating our respect for your parents so lightly? Then we turn around and do that to our Heavenly Father. There's only one time in the week that we collect together and we sing praises and worship to God. I'm not good at singing.

I don't like to sing. It's not about you and I. It's about the glory of Christ. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord. Listen, it's a challenge that I would make with our soul to, God, if I'm going to prepare my heart on Saturday, how on earth could I walk in late every Sunday? Now, don't get upset if somebody walks in late because there's people that work in nursery and then they come over or they're out greeting and they're like, listen, I was greeting. I'm not coming in later. So I don't even know who came and when.

I had somebody in the early service say, pastor, I was out. Listen, I don't know. I didn't see anybody coming late. I don't. So if any day that I ever preach on coming on time, there's always that person like, ah, today had to be the day.

You know, they're looking at each other right now. Why did you make me late? So what I'm trying to say is don't let that become your pattern. Now, if you if next Sunday you wake up late and things go crazy in the morning, don't be like, well, I'm not going to show up late because pastors going to light into me.

No, no, no, no. You show up late and you give God your best and you glorify him by coming late because you're saying, you know what? Whether late or early, I'm going to be there no matter what happens if something crazy happens.

And there's people getting some kind of a wreck somewhere, get stuck behind traffic and you can show up. But just get here and worship the Lord. But what I'm trying to say is make it valuable.

Make it valuable. Don't rush in and out of God's presence and punch the time clock. But make God's presence the most valuable thing in your life, both privately at home, but also publicly as our church gathers together to worship the Lord. A third way to hinder our prayer life is feeling that we can earn answers to our prayers.

And that's what he says in verse seven. But when you pray, use not vain repetition as the heathen do, for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking. The Jewish canon taught that those who multiply their prayers are heard, that whoever prolongs his prayers, his prayers do not come back empty. And he who is long in prayer has his days prolonged. And according to their canon, every day a man ought to pray 18 prayers. They had prayer books. They had all these different things they would recite. And they thought that they earned that favor with God by praying.

And this is an act of the heathen and pagans, according to Jesus in verse six and seven. Do you remember when Elisha was challenging the 450 prophets of Baal? For hours that morning, they were jumping around, cutting themselves, saying, Oh, Baal, hear us in 1 Kings 18, 26. It says from morning even until noon, they said, Oh, Baal, hear us.

They would chant that over and over and over. And then in Acts 19, 34, Paul was at Ephesus and the people cried out for two hours. Great is the goddess Diana.

Great is Diana of the Ephesians. And they cried out for two hours. Today, Buddhists have wheels they spin. They believe, send up prayers to their God. Catholics even light candles and believe that allows the prayers to continually ascend to God. Catholics also use rosaries, which have 54 beads to count off their prayers, which they pray for. Hail Mary, full of grace, mother of our Lord, our father prayers. And most people don't know this, but the rosary actually came from the Buddhist by way of Spanish Muslims during the Middle Ages. The Buddhists also have a prayer bead that has 108 beads where the Catholics have 54 and they're called mala's, but they just pray those prayers and then flip the bead and then flip the bead and then flip the bead. That's that's what the heathen do.

That's from a pagan origin. Don't do that. You have prayer beads around you get rid of those.

That's that's a foolish thing to do. You don't you don't earn answers to prayer. You don't you don't pray something.

The Bible says he knows what you have need of before you ask him. It's it's not the multiplicity of praying. It's the humility, the brokenness and the sincerity of prayer. Charles Spurgeon says to repeat a form of prayer very large number of times has always seemed to be the ignorantly religious among the ignorantly religious to be a praiseworthy thing.

But assuredly, it is not. It is mere exercise of memory of the organs of noise making and is absurd to imagine that such a parrot exercise can be pleasing to the living God. Repetition, he says, we may have, but not vain repetition.

Counting beads and reckoning time occupied in devotion are both idle things. Christians prayers are measured by weight and not by length. Many of the most prevailing prayers have been as short as they are strong. The thief on the cross said, Father, Lord, remember me in your kingdom. Jesus said today you'll be with me in paradise.

Simple and sincere. We've looked at three ways not to pray. Pretending in prayer, emptiness in prayer, feeling like we can earn answers to prayer. And then lastly, let me give you a fourth one and we'll be done. The fourth way to hinder our prayers is by simply not praying.

So that seems easy. Look what Jesus says in verse five. And what's the second word in verse five? OK, that's where all you guys are supposed to like chime in there. OK, there you go. And when thou pray is verse number six.

What's the third word there? But thou when thou pray is the verse number seven. But when you pray.

So here you see Jesus over and over and over, assuming that people who are believers will pray. He didn't say if you pray, but when you pray. Let me ask you, friend, are you an if you pray Christian or are you a when you pray Christian? Are you an if you pray Christian or a when you pray Christian?

One of the greatest hindrances to prayer is to simply not pray. James Chapter four, if you have your Bible, just flip over to James Chapter four. The Bible says in James four, verse number one. From whence come wars and fightings among you, come they not hence even of your own lust that war in your members? You lust and you have not. You kill and desire to have and cannot obtain. You fight in war and yet you have not because you what?

That's not. Now, in this section, James discusses three different wars that are going on. The first war that's going on is our war with others. He says, whence come wars and fightings among you? So the believers were fighting among themselves.

That's always a problem. Secondly, he talks about fighting and wars within ourselves. He says in verse number one, come they not hence even of your own lust that war in your members? So we have wars going on inside of us, battles with our own soul. Thirdly, we fight with God.

In verse four, it says he adulterers and adulteresses know you that friendship with the world is enmity with God. There's battles going on with God. So the question James asked in verse one is, where do these wars and conflicts come from? Where do these fighting come from? Where does this divisive spirit come from?

And his answer in verse one is they come even from within you, from your own members inside of your own body. You know, when we get into a fight or an argument with someone else, we usually blame the other person. We don't we don't naturally say, you know, it's my fault.

I should have said that or did that. We turn the blame on them. We love to shift the blame because when we shift the blame, we shift the guilt. And so what he's saying is the problem for your conflicts with your with your neighbors, with your self and with God is not external to you. It is internal to you.

It's in your members. You lust, you crave, you rage on the inside. And it causes external conflicts. There then is a divisive spirit to the one that is unspiritual.

The carnal Christian is a Christian who is at odds with himself, with others and with God, and it makes a miserable person. So what is the answer that James gives here? He says, first, you need to see there's wrong actions you're committing. In verse two, he says you lust, you kill, you desire, you covet, you fight and you war. And after he lists the wrong actions that they are committing, he then tells them the right actions that they're not doing.

He says you have not because you ask not. And one thing that the prayerless life evidences is a life that is seeking to live in control. The reason people fight with other people, they get upset with even God is because they're living in control of their life. They want things their way. Their expectations are getting fulfilled.

And so they get at odds with other people. And the reason they don't pray is because they feel they can handle it. I can tell you what prayer is. Prayer is total dependence upon God.

And a person that has God in the driver's seat of their life, sitting as the Lord of their life, are people who pray because they realize God's the one who has to do that. They can't change their spouse. I can't change the heart of my kids.

I can't change society. I must lift them up in prayer. Therefore, it is natural that the prayerless life reflects a divisive spirit, a spirit that is at odds with other people. Let me ask you, what trials in your life have presented themselves because you haven't spent time in prayer for those situations? The Bible even says we need to pray for our enemies, bless them that curse you. So instead of fighting with your enemies, pray for them. Instead of fighting with your spouse, stay in your own circle, like has been said, and pray for them and work on yourself. We have enough problems in our own circle, right?

Why am I trying to fix somebody else? God says stop looking outward and start looking inward. We have to understand that change starts on the inside. We close with a quote by Charles Spurgeon. He said, if we possess little of God and his kingdom, almost certainly we have asked little. He said, remember the text Jehovah says to his own son, ask of me and I will give you the heathen for your inheritance. It's Psalms chapter number two. He said, if the royal and divine son of God cannot be exempted from the rule of asking that he may have, you and I cannot expect the rule to be relaxed in our favor.

Why should it be? If you may have everything by asking and nothing without asking, I beg you to see how absolutely vital prayer is and I beseech you to abound in it. He says, do you know, brothers, what great things are to be had for the asking?

Have you ever thought of it? Does it stimulate you to fervent prayer? All heaven lies before the grasp of the asking man. All the promises of God are rich and inexhaustible and their fulfillment is to be had by prayer. It's been said, prayer can do anything God can do because God moves at our prayers. So in your life, is your life a if pray Christian or a when you pray Christian?

We have not because we asked not. What would what would you pray for today if you knew that God would answer you? What would you come and kneel down and cry out to God for?

I would encourage a friend. Come and pray. Spend time, whether at your seat or at an altar. If you're watching online, spend some time in prayer. Get on your knees. It amazes me how little Christians get on their knees before God in prayer. We will get on our knees and beg before a TV for our team to win.

Oh, may they win and score. We get so worked up. But before God, we we have stiff knees and stiff necks. How much we need to understand our dependence upon God. I'm so encouraged by the praying believers at Lighthouse, the people who long and cry out to God in prayer. I can tell you the reason that souls are saved in the spirit of God moves in this place is not because of some talented person.

Or some gifted individual or some group of leaders. God moves because there are people who call out to God and God responds to believing fervent prayer. The fervent prayer of a righteous man prevails much. Jesus says, pray for laborers.

Pray for laborers. We need to pray for soul winners to go out and reach souls. So pray with sincerity today. Pray with sincerity. Pray to be seen and heard by God alone. Don't pray empty prayers repetitiously. And lastly, make sure that you indeed pray this Wednesday. I'm going to be teaching on six more ways that the Bible throughout the scriptures teach we can have our prayers hindered. Do you think that'd be important to come and learn about?

You think it'd be important to know that? Make God's house a priority and make prayer a priority. Let's all stand this morning. With heads bowed, knives closed, the altars open, maybe you want to come and spend a moment in prayer and encourage you to do that. We also have the elements of the Lord's Supper at the table. If you're saved and in right standing before God, the Bible says, then you can come and partake of that. And so during the invitation, when the music begins, you'll be invited to come down and to take one of the cups that have the fruit and the bread and the juice and the bread. You can bring that back to your seat and we'll partake together. But if you're here today and you were to stand before God and you don't know if heaven's your home, if God said, why should I let you into heaven? You're not sure what you would say, friend. I'll be down front.

We have other folks that will be down front. I would love to talk with you and have someone talk with you and share with you from the word of God how you can know when your life's over. You'll be in heaven.

Maybe you need to make a spiritual decision, recommitting your life to the Lord Jesus Christ, submitting your will to him. Maybe today you say that I just need to come into your presence and be still before you and just look into my own heart and see what value have I placed on prayer, because what value I place on prayer, friends, is a direct representation of what value I place on God. My prayer life reveals my view of God's value and worth in my life. Father, we come before you today and your word is a is a knife that cuts and what surgery needs to be done in my own soul.

God, I look forward to these next few weeks. I want to spend more time with you. I want to be encouraged to pray more. Lord, and I pray as God's people that we would be people of prayer.

The lighthouse would be a praying church. We would be those who, when trials come, we turn to God. Good times come, we turn to God. The bad times, whatever they are. Lord, I pray today, if anyone's lost, that today might be the day of salvation. Be glorified in what you see, not externally, but what you see internally. In Jesus name.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-19 23:13:15 / 2022-12-19 23:36:46 / 24

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