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Righteous Praying #1b

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
November 17, 2022 7:00 am

Righteous Praying #1b

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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November 17, 2022 7:00 am

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The thing that is really going to cause you to grow and change the fundamental dynamic is what Jesus brings to us here in Matthew chapter 6.

You have to go further back than just checking your watch to see what time you start and what time you finish. Prayer should not be something we just check off our to-do list every day or maybe even every week. God is calling us into His holy throne room. He's waiting to spend quality time with us.

That is an incredible privilege. Hello there, I'm Bill Wright and today as Don Green continues teaching God's people God's word from the Truth Pulpit, he'll be continuing our series titled, Lord Teach Us to Pray. On today's broadcast, Don turns once again to Matthew chapter 6 starting at verse 5 to teach more about righteous prayer. So let's join our teacher with insights from God's Word on the Truth Pulpit. The other example of prayer that I want to show you is the early church in prayer. The early church in prayer. And for the sake of time, I'll limit this to four passages. Although again, there's many more that we could look at.

I'm being suggestive here, not exhaustive. But Acts 2.42, I won't ask you to turn there. Acts 2.42 said that they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship to the breaking of bread and to prayer. That's Acts 2.42. Secondly, in 2 Corinthians 12 verse 8, the Apostle Paul, singularly speaking on his own prayers, he reports that when he was under affliction he said this, I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. The Apostle urgently, fervently praying, Lord deliver me from this. We see him praying under affliction. We see him praying for the lost in Romans 10 verse 1. Out of a godly heart burdened by the impending doom coming down upon the lost Jews, Paul reported this about his prayer life. He said, Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. And finally, in his intercession for believers, Paul could say, I do not cease giving thanks for you while making mention of you in my prayers.

Ephesians 1, 16, Colossians 1, 9. Now, beloved, really, really pay attention. Follow me in what I'm about to say. Through these biblical passages that we've looked at all too quickly, which emphasize the call to prayer and the example of prayer, you have to agree, there's nothing else that you can do, but agree that God intends for prayer to be a vital part of your daily life as a believer, as central to your spiritual life as breathing is to your physical life. That, it seems to me, is absolutely undeniable.

And I would assume that most of you would agree with me on that. It's hard to argue against so much biblical teaching and still say I believe the Bible. Now, if you are like me, you feel the conviction that these kinds of passages bring upon you. You know that your prayer life falls short of the example that the Lord and the Apostle Paul set forth. You know that the multiplied exhortations to pray that are found throughout the New Testament might not necessarily be reflected in your life at all times. And you know your prayer life falls short.

I know a preacher who says his most frequent prayer is, Lord, forgive me of my prayerlessness. And here's my question to you, beloved. If you recognize that about yourself, if that is true of you, and you realize that the pattern of your life is that I just don't add up here, let me ask you this question. Aren't you tired of being that way?

I am. Tired of being that way, tired of groveling around, gnawing on a few husks of prayer in the light of such biblical teaching. I would venture to say that in one manner or another, to one degree or another, we are all exposed before God once again, before the searchlight of His Word. Some of you may even despair to the point of saying, even my best righteousness, even my best praying is just rags before Him. And here is where, beloved, you have to trust Christ immensely. Instead of trying to deny that conviction, instead of arguing against it, instead of making excuses, well, if you only knew how busy I was, forget all of that.

Do away with all of the excuses and just put them to death. Don't run from that conviction, beloved, because it is a blessed point of change. It is the blessed point of God's blessing on your prayer life if that conviction would drive you to put away all pride and self-importance and come to the living God and say in a fundamental, basic way, even after all of your years of living the Christian life, to say in a fundamental way, God, I am a beggar before You. God, I have not loved You as I should. God, I have not prayed as I should and it grieves me.

God, when I think of the Lord Jesus Christ dying for my sins willingly, His love keeping Him on the cross for me, all I can say, God, is that You are worth so much more than I bring to You. God, I am so sorry. Now, when you get to that point, beloved, hear me on this.

When you get to that point, it is where you have to do your most careful thinking and diagnosis about how you got to this point. You have to think very carefully because the immediate temptation, probably formed by 50 sermons that you've heard on prayer, the immediate temptation is to say, okay, here's what I need to do. I need to pray more. I need to get up earlier to have time to pray. And you go right to an external solution to the problem. And those things may be good for you to do. But ultimately, beloved, the thing that is really going to change your prayer life, the thing that is really going to cause you to grow and change the fundamental dynamic is what Jesus brings to us here in Matthew chapter 6. You have to go further back than just checking your watch to see what time you start and what time you finish. That couldn't possibly be the right answer to this problem that we all have with prayer.

That could not possibly be it. Think about it this way, you folks that are married. Say that your relationship with your spouse has gotten off track a bit, you know, and there's a coldness in your relationship, and you're just kind of going through the motions with each other. And you say, okay, here's what we're going to do. We're going to spend one hour together a day starting at six. Okay, go.

And you start fumbling around and you're, you know, and you're not dealing with any issues or anything. And then seven o'clock comes, the TV show's on, good. We got our hour in.

We punched the clock. That doesn't solve anything in a relationship, does it? That's meaningless if you don't bring your heart to the table when you do that. It's absolutely meaningless. And if that is true, and it is, on a human relational level, then we have to think more deeply about what the problem is in prayer than simply saying, okay, I got my stopwatch going.

I'm going to punch in my 30 minutes today. That's meaningless if it's not accompanied by something more than that. It's not just about putting the time in. Some people pray better in five minutes than a lot of people pray in an hour.

And I'll prove that to you in a little while. But you have to start, and when you recognize the problem, you have to step back and think. And your sensitivity to your sin and your prayerlessness drives you to confession. As I was saying earlier, God, I'm a beggar before you. It drives you to the Lord Jesus Christ. You despair of your own righteousness. And you cling to the Lord Jesus Christ who died to give you a righteousness that is not your own. You cry out, God, be merciful to me, the sinner. And at that blessed point of brokenness, your heart is prepared to receive the words from Scripture.

God's hand on the shoulder, as it were, Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners. What a marvelous point, a marvelous illustration of the grace of God that your consciousness of inadequacy in prayer becomes the very opportunity, perhaps the entrance point to you drawing closer to Him and appreciating more deeply the Lord Jesus Christ. You are not a perfect prayer, but Jesus was. And it is His righteousness that is credited to your account when you put your faith in Him. You are accepted in the Beloved, and now a loving Father awaits you to bless you in prayer and bid you to come. That is completely different when you're thinking along those lines and saying, I'm such a wretch, but Christ is such a great Savior. That is completely different, a completely different way to approach when you approach God in the merits of Christ and trusting His mercy and saying, God, I'm going to put in 45 minutes today.

I bet you're going to like that, huh? Let's not insult the Spirit of grace with such trivialities. It's about the realities that are going on in your heart that we're after here.

Which brings me to my third point, my final point. When you plow this ground in your heart, you're ready to receive some really good seed from the Scriptures to stimulate your prayer life. Matthew chapter 6 verse 5, turn there with me.

I'll cover this passage in greater depth next time. And as we read this passage, may God give wings to His word in your heart. Jesus said, and when you pray, He's talking about the righteousness that should mark that of a truly repentant one. Now He's going to focus on the aspect of prayer. He says, and when you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men.

Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, sharp contrast here, you singular, speaking to each one of you individually in this room today, Jesus says, but you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.

So do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Beloved, I want you to notice this right from the start. Here in His first public teaching about prayer, Jesus does not say anything remotely like setting a schedule or a minimum time frame for you to pray. That's not His emphasis here. That is not what He's talking about at all.

Notice what He says. Look at how the verse starts out in verse 5. When you pray, whenever you pray, whatever quality you bring to the table of your past and your prayer life, He says, whenever you do, I'm going to meet you right where you're at and tell you here's what I want you to do. This is what should mark your prayer. And beloved, having heard so many sermons that tell me that I had to get up at 4 in the morning if I really wanted to pray, I want you to see that what Jesus does here is He gives great freedom and latitude to what the actual form of your prayer life is going to look like. When you pray, you pray at 8, great. You pray at noon, great. You're a night person, you pray at midnight, great. Time is not the issue. Let's start with that point of liberating from the shackles that bad teaching has put on us in the past.

Time, the time frame is not the issue. I know Jesus got up early in the morning and prayed. He also prayed late at night, just in the passages that we looked at. And He doesn't say you must pray 30 minutes, you must pray 60, you must be like Luther and pray 2, 3, 4 hours. He's not talking about that here, beloved.

Let that encourage your heart. You don't have to jump up from where you're at to some unattainable standard before your prayers start to be acceptable to God. Because Jesus, get this, write this down, Jesus is not talking about a quantity of prayer here in this passage. He is talking about a quality of prayer. Whether you pray for 5 minutes or you pray for 3 hours, here are the qualities that should mark your prayer life. What that means is this, is that what we're going to look at in the rest of our time is that you, no matter where you're at in prayer, if you are a born-again believer in Christ, you can take this teaching and immediately apply it, no matter how weak and shallow your prayers have been up until now. And I want to suggest this to you, beloved, just in the way of a quick overview of the passage, and we'll flesh out the details next week.

Get this. Good praying, right praying, starts with remembering who you are speaking to. You are speaking to a person. You are speaking to the person of Almighty God. You're not just simply coming to recite a laundry list of prayer requests.

That's secondary. The fundamental starting point is to remember who you're talking to. And the fact that you're talking to an intelligent person who understands, and who sees immediately past pretense. And you call to mind, even as you're beginning in prayer, you call to mind the attributes of this glorious God. Just in this passage, just sticking to three verses here, verses six, actually verses six and eight, two verses, you see in this passage His omniscience and His willingness to hear your humble prayers. Look at the end of verse six. Your Father sees in secret.

That's glorious! When I go to prayer, God sees, He knows, He understands. That immediately changes things. In this passage, you see His fatherly love and His willingness to bless you.

Let me say that again. His willingness to bless you. Look at the end of verse six. The love of God is seen in the fact that Jesus says, Your Father will reward you. He's a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. That is the essence of faith that you believe that. And you see His fatherly care about every detail of your life. Look at the end of verse eight.

Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. His care, His omniscience, His love, the perfection of His knowledge. And beloved, what I want to say to you is this. The place to start the improvement of your prayer life is not to make another resolution about when you're going to wake up or how much time you're going to spend praying. Jesus does not even begin to allude to those kinds of superficialities. You heard me right.

Superficialities in this passage. No, the place where you start the improvement to your prayer life is that you lay hold of the great realities of the character of God to whom you are praying. Remember the person to whom you are praying before anything else comes off of your lips, before anything else comes out of your heart.

Remember the person. And then run after this gracious and omnipotent God. Run to this one who bids you to pour out your heart to Him.

Run to this God who promises to hear and bless. If you believe that to be true about God the Father based on the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, you have all the motivation you need to pray. And the details and the mechanics will take care of themselves depending on how God has ordered your life and His providence. But if your commitment to prayer is based on, I know who I'm praying to, and this God is good, and He knows all about it, and He sees me, and He will reward me for praying to Him, then your heart has all of the positive motivation it needs to say, when can I pray? Beloved, when you are carried away with the knowledge of this glorious Father in heaven who hears and will reward you when you pray, those mechanics take care of themselves. One writer put it this way. He said, when I realized that prayer was having an audience with God, actually coming into His presence and asking and getting things from Him, that fact transformed my prayer life.

Listen to what he says here, because I'm not the only one in this room that can identify with it, I know. He says, before that time, prayer had been a mere duty, and sometimes a very irksome duty. But after that time, prayer has not merely been a duty, but one of the most highly esteemed privileges of life. Before I understood this, the thought that I had was, how much time must I spend in prayer? Now the thought that possesses me is, how much time may I spend in prayer without neglecting the other privileges and duties of life? That's a great quote.

That is the heart of what Jesus is talking about here. Beloved, when you think about prayer, go beyond the sense of obligation and duty. See this glorious God who calls you into His presence, who gives you an audience in the throne room of the universe, and says, I know all about you. I love you.

I know every need that you have. Come and know as you do that, beloved, that He will keep this promise. Your Father who sees in secret will reward you. How often we fall short of God's glory and feel inadequate to even approach Him in prayer. Well, we're out of time for today, but Pastor Don Green will have more of his series, Lord Teach Us to Pray Next Time on The Truth Pulpit.

Do join us then. Don, it's obviously important to pray, so is the key simply for us to pray more? Well, you know, Bill, so many people start there, but I really don't think that's the key as I understand what Jesus says to us in Matthew 6. What we need to understand, my friend, is who our God is and how He loves us and what He knows and the way that He responds to prayer. He is a loving, gracious God who delights to answer the prayers of His children. We don't have to badger Him to hear us. He's gladly responding to us as we pray. So you should go to God as a God who cares for you, understanding that prayer is not a mechanical duty, but rather it's a response to the Christ who loved you and gave Himself up for you. Thanks, Don. We look forward to learning more about righteous prayer on our next program as we continue the series, Lord Teach Us to Pray. Now for Don Green, I'm Bill Wright, inviting you back next time as Don continues teaching God's people God's Word from the Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-17 10:42:19 / 2022-11-17 10:50:40 / 8

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