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Righteous Praying #2a

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
November 18, 2022 7:00 am

Righteous Praying #2a

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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November 18, 2022 7:00 am

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I'm eager to come back to the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ about prayer here in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 6, so that he can help you bridge that gap between what you profess about prayer and what you actually possess about prayer. It's one thing to have head knowledge about the importance of prayer, but it's another to know in your heart that your love for the Lord compels you to pray. Hi, I'm Bill Wright, and as Don Green continues teaching God's people God's Word on the Truth Pulpit, he'll be continuing our teaching series, Lord Teach Us to Pray. And Don, our Lord told us to pray in secret.

Why is that so important? Well, Bill, the Lord's teaching is very strategic here and it's very wise, because telling us to pray in secret guards us from praying with false motives. You see, my friend, when you pray in secret, men can't praise you for it. And when we pray in a way that only God can see, the Lord is pleased to hear and answer us. Thanks Don, and friend, there's much more to learn from Matthew chapter 6 as our teacher continues unpacking the meaning of righteous prayer.

Let's join Don now in the Truth Pulpit. Beloved, without any doubt, this passage in Matthew chapter 6 is a great gift from the Lord Jesus Christ to his disciples as he teaches us about prayer. Matthew chapter 6, beginning in verse 5.

So if you would turn there with me. Jesus said this in the context of telling people not to practice their righteousness before men. This is a glorious passage that will absolutely transform your prayer life.

I say that without fear of contradiction. Let me start by making two general but absolutely essential observations about this passage as we think about this whole matter of prayer in your life as a believer in Jesus Christ. First of all, and I alluded to this last time, Jesus says, look at the beginning of verse 5, he says, when you pray. That's all he says about it.

It is very broad and general. Beloved, get this, this will liberate your conscience so much. Jesus assumes that you will pray, and from what we saw last time, the Bible demands that you pray, but here in Matthew 6, Jesus leaves open the details about when and how long you will pray. He does not say when you pray, get up at 5 a.m. and pray for a minimum of 45 minutes or your prayers don't count.

Even though some of you laugh, and that's fine, you know, if you enjoy it and you laugh, hey, that's okay, I don't mind that one bit. But even though when we go to try to fix our prayer lives when we're convicted about how poorly and how lowly our prayers are, when we try to fix our prayer lives, we usually start with such superficial issues. Say, I'm going to start, and doggone it, I'm going to set my alarm clock for 4 a.m. tomorrow. I'm going to pray for two hours forever, or whatever. That's where we start in trying to fix it. We start by trying to pray more.

It's like the bad restaurant that brings you food, and you say, well, the food is bad, but at least there's plenty of it. If you're praying badly, praying more without some kind of fundamental change doesn't fix anything. And so, beloved, what I want you to see in this passage for your upbuilding and for your encouragement is that Jesus, when he teaches on prayer in this chapter, is not teaching you time management principles for a good prayer life. That's not what he's talking about at all. You have to put all of that stuff out of your mind so that you can receive this teaching that he has to find fertile soil in your life so that your heart will respond in the kind of prayer that we all want as believers in Christ.

Forget about time management. It has nothing to do, it is not in this passage at all. Secondly, and by way of contrast, this is the flip side, this is the other side of that coin, what I want you to see in this passage, what I want you to go home and read again and meditate on until it sinks into your mind is this. When Jesus teaches his disciples to pray here in Matthew 6, 5 through 8, he grounds all of the motivation for you to pray in the character of God. He tells you to pray because, verse 6, your father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. He tells you to pray in verse 8 because your father in heaven knows what you need before you ask him. He draws your attention to the great character of God, the great mercy, the great grace of God, the great omniscience, the great omnipresence of God, and says this is why you pray. Beloved, that changes everything. That changes everything. You can either go to prayer with your stopwatch out and say, okay, I've got to get my time in because that's my duty, or you can honor God when you pray and say, I want to go to prayer because of who this great and gracious God is and because he's promised to bless me and I want his blessing and I want to know him, therefore I want to spend time with him.

Beloved, that changes everything. Pagans, as Jesus says later in the passage, pagans can start a time clock, pagans can pray for hours at a time, but their prayers are meaningless. Jesus says in this passage, don't you be like them, and he lays out before you something completely different.

Beloved, your heart ought to just jump at this and latch hold of it and never let go of it. Jesus motivates you to prayer, not by setting down rules for you. He points you to the character of God. That gracious, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God will attract you to a kind of prayer that mere rules of personal discipline can never attain to. Beloved, rules do not generate passion in prayer.

You can set up all of the rules that you want about how you're going to pray and when you're going to pray, but that's not going to make you passionate before the throne of God. The one thing that will make you passionate before the throne of God is recognizing the glory of his character and saying, I want that. I want you, Lord. You say you'll come and you'll bless me. You'll see me in secret. You'll hear my humble prayers. You'll receive them. You know me so well, and you'll reward me for that. People, get out of my way. It's time for me to pray.

That's how your heart responds to it. Well, to help you along that road, that is just what we just said is just kind of an overview to what we have to say today. I want to give you two points of self-examination to help you along that road that Jesus lays out here.

There's two points, each with two sub-points. Okay? So just to help your notes, point number one is this. If you sit here and you take stock of your prayer life and in the coming days you take stock of your prayer life before the living God, here's what you need to do. First of all, you need to examine why you pray. Examine why you pray. Oh, this is wonderful. I am so thankful to God for this passage.

Two sub-points under that. Examine why you pray. And the first question that you should ask yourself is, do you pray to please men? Do you pray to please men? Because that's where Jesus draws our attention here in verse 5. Look at it with me again. Jesus says, 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, with this purpose, they may be seen by men.

Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. Jesus says don't be like the hypocrites. He says don't be like these stage actors who put a mask on their face.

That's where the term originally came from. A hypocrite is someone who hides his true identity and puts on a performance for his chosen audience. Jesus says, and he points to the Pharisees as he has been throughout this passage since chapter 5 verse 20, he points to the Pharisees and he says, look at them. He says, this praying man on the outside looks to be godly, but his private life is not consistent with the outward mask he puts on before men. He says sure, when there's a crowd around, when he's out in the synagogue where the religious people gather, when he's out in the broad, spacious public streets and prayer time comes, he's right there puffing his chest out and saying, oh dear God, I thank you that I'm not like so-and-so.

These hypocrites would choose the public places to do their praying. Jesus says, giving the assessment of God on those kinds of people, God looks into their hearts and he sees their motives. Just like he looks into your heart and mind and sees our motives for everything that we do, Jesus says God's not fooled by that.

That's a sham. He exposes their motives. He says they're only praying so that men will notice them. They want to look like they are praying so that they can get a response from those who are watching, but the reality of it is something that they couldn't care less about. When they get home alone, Jesus says they're not praying because they don't love God.

When these men pray, Jesus says they are only using God to get the approval of men. How abominable, how unthinkable is that? That someone would use the living God to advance their own selfish personal ends and to puff up their own pride. That's awful. That is absolutely awful.

And think about it this way. I'll give you an illustration to help you see just how awful and abominable that is. Suppose there was a man that went out of his way to give public displays of affection to his wife when people were gathered around. When you're gathered around and he's all lovey-dovey and praising and singing the praises of his wife. But in private, that same man to his same wife privately ignores her, belittles her, or even beats her. We would all be absolutely appalled at that kind of hypocrisy.

Wanting to look like the loving husband when the reality was much different. Beloved, it is the same thing when men want the public reputation of being godly without the private reality. Jesus condemns all of that hypocrisy. And he says they have their reward in full. Look at the end of verse 5 with me.

It says, Truly I say to you, you can take this to the bank. They have their reward in full. Jesus says when men pray that way, when they pray to be noticed by others, they have all that they're going to get. You were seeking the notice of men.

They noticed you. There's nothing left to do. God is not going to show his blessing on that kind of prayer. And beloved, we could expand it a little further.

We could take this principle and tease it out just a little bit. Because in a group of this size, I say it with tenderness and compassion in my heart, I have no doubt that there are some thoroughgoing hypocrites in this audience. I have no doubt about that whatsoever. You put on a show for men so that they'll think that you're a Christian, a godly Christian at that. But in reality, your whole heart is continually cold and hard and indifferent to Christ. Obedience to him is something that you don't really concern yourself with. The realities of private holiness do not trouble your conscience at all.

To you, my friend, I want to say this. Don't be deceived in that hypocrisy. Maybe you're fooling the men around you.

Maybe you're fooling me. Doesn't matter. God sees right through that. He pierces it with his omniscient eye and says, I see all of that. And beloved, he is not mocked. Eventually, you hypocrites will reap what you have sown because judgment is coming. But I say to you and trust that in the goodness and providence of God, he brought you for a point of conviction on such a day as this. Even now, even in the wealth of your hypocrisy, God is still extending his grace and calling you graciously to repent of that. Graciously calling you to put your faith in Christ, to repent of all of the hypocrisy, and enter into the living reality that is a true relationship with Jesus Christ.

I call you to that today. Let this word of warning against the hypocrites in Jesus' day go deep into your heart as well. For those of you who are true Christians here, let me encourage you with this thought as we examine why it is that we pray. What other men think about your prayer life is utterly irrelevant. You are not praying to please men.

When you pray, no matter where you pray, if it's in a private setting or if you have opportunities to lead others in prayer, you are praying to an audience of one, and Jesus is your Lord. And if you can pray to please him, whether you get the plaudits of men or not is absolutely a point of indifference. And Jesus here lays out before you how it is that you can please God with your praying. And so the question that you really need to contemplate for those of you that are in Christ is this second subpoint of my first question as you examine why you pray.

Ask yourself this question. Do you, or do I, do I pray to please God? Verse 6.

Do I pray to please God? Because that's the only thing that matters. Look at verse 6 with me again. Jesus says, but you.

Stop right there. Sharp contrast, especially in the original language. It is a pointed contrast. He says the hypocrites are like this. And he said enough about that to establish the way that they pray.

He says, forget about them. Different standards apply to you. There's something different that should animate the way that you pray, and I'm going to contrast that for you, Jesus says. A different kind of praying comes out of a true believer.

And when you see that laid out for you, you know what to aim your heart after. Jesus here in this verse, this is so precious. Jesus in this verse describes a private intimacy with God that is the exclusive domain of the born-again believer in Christ and intended to be the domain of every believer in Christ. This is supposed to belong to you, beloved, if you are in Christ. Nine times in this one verse, Jesus uses the singular person, you.

Not you among many, but you individually. Nine times in this one verse, Jesus says it's you alone with God. And what he says is, you say, how is it that I go about pleasing God then?

He starts with this. He says in contrast to finding the most public place to pray, that alliteration nearly threw me off. Public place to pray. In contrast to that, which maximizes your exposure before men, like the hypocrites do, Jesus says you go find the most private place that you can find to pray.

You get alone where no one can see you. That place of solitude, the inner room that he describes, the closed door, is really speaking to a kind of solitude. If a family of eight lives in a one-room bedroom apartment, there's no place for a guy to go for that kind of solitude, so that's not the main thing that Jesus is saying. He's saying, seek solitude where you can pray in private. And he says, as you pray privately, as you go out of your way to make sure that men aren't watching you when you pray, let this thought motivate you and encourage you. Jesus says, God is there in his omni presence, and he sees you in order to bless you.

Look at the end of verse 6. He says, close your door, pray to your Father who is in secret. Pray in secret so that you put to death all of those ulterior motives of wanting men to see the way that you pray.

Put that pride to death and pray in secret where only God sees. And he says, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. Beloved, this reality, this truth from the lips of our omniscient Lord, who is God incarnate Himself, that reality and that promise should change the way that you pray because when you remember the character of your Father, His seeing omniscience, He sees me everywhere I go.

That motivates me to holiness, but it also motivates me to encouragement. He sees me, He hasn't abandoned me, He hasn't forgotten me even when I'm alone on my knees in prayer. He sees me. I trust Him for that. When you see His fatherly love, His faithful willingness to bless, this is glorious, beloved.

Think about this. Let it sink into your heart. When you go in private to God to pray, you have the direct promise of the Lord Jesus Christ who says, your Father will see you and He will reward you. And so you run to prayer and you say, God, no one sees me here but you.

But I am absolutely confident of your promise. Promise to bless. And I seek that now and, beloved, as these things sink into your mind, your heart will want His presence. You're not going to need an alarm clock to stimulate you to prayer so much as you have a heart 24 hours a day that is drawn to the great character of this God, wanting His holy presence, wanting His private presence to enjoy the great intimacy that He bestows on those who are truly His children. So you have to examine why you pray. You settle in your heart that you are praying to please God, not men. And that reality turns prayer, get this, it turns prayer from a drudgery, from a duty that so many of you have felt over the years, this duty of, oh, I need to pray more, I'm not praying enough, let me get up, let me get started.

God here, this reality sweeps all of that away and leaves you with the promise of the person of God as the reason that you pray and turns it into a delight, a heart that reaches out to that and says, yes, that's what I want. Of course, God saved me to have fellowship with me. He saved me that I would enjoy this kind of intimate communion with Him.

Of course that's what I want. Of course I love His person. How could I not love the one who showed such great mercy on me at the cross of Jesus Christ? How could I not love and want to be with the one who says, I have all power, I see all things, and when you come to me alone, I will bless you, I will reward you. Beloved, you want that if you're a true believer. If that doesn't appeal to you at all, that's a sure sign that you need to examine yourself to see whether you're in the faith or not.

But we have to clear away so much of the stuff that we've piled on over the years. All of the rules that we've tried to put on to make prayer effective, to get what we want out of prayer. You know what, I don't care if I get what I want out of prayer. If God answers my prayers differently than what I ask, I don't want Him to change His perfect will to what my will is. That's why Jesus said, thy will be done, not mine. No, no, maybe God grants me blessing, maybe God answers according to what I ask, maybe He says no and does something else.

That is secondary, beloved. The primary thing is to enjoy the presence of this holy God who bids you to come. To seek Him for His own worth, at His own bidding, at His own command. You start with the character of God to motivate you to pray. That's why you pray. What a great reminder that it's important to examine our true motive for prayer. Is it to please or impress people like the Pharisees did?

Or is it to experience a time of private intimacy with our Heavenly Father who loves us? And along those lines, on our next program, Pastor Don Green will continue examining righteous prayer from Matthew chapter 6. So join us for more of our current series titled Lord Teach Us to Pray next time on The Truth Pulpit.

But right now, here again is Don with a special invitation. I want to thank you for listening to The Truth Pulpit. Thank you for being a student of God's word. You are the reason that we do these things. We want to bring God's word to you in a way that makes it alive and applicable to you.

And brings you into a deeper knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. You know, if you've benefited from this broadcast, we just ask you to do a simple thing. Go to our webpage or go to our Facebook page. Look us up on Facebook and just drop us a little note. Just a word that would let us know that you've appreciated today's broadcast or the other aspects of our ministry. We would love to hear from you. Thank you for listening to The Truth Pulpit. We are grateful to Christ for you. Thanks Don. And friend, I'm Bill Wright, inviting you back next time for more as Don Green teaches God's people God's word from The Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-18 04:41:49 / 2022-11-18 04:50:47 / 9

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