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Think Before You Pray #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
November 23, 2022 7:00 am

Think Before You Pray #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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November 23, 2022 7:00 am

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You need to think before you open your mouth in prayer. You need to stop yourself, take your right hand as you're getting ready to pray, and simply put it over your lips.

And hold it there until you have thought through who it is you're speaking to. Prayer is not meant to be a flippant request we throw out there when we're stuck in a challenging situation. We must first acknowledge the honor to have an intimate conversation with the Creator of the universe and the Savior of our souls. When we humble ourselves with that focus, prayer takes on a new meaning. Hi, I'm Bill Wright, and as Don Green continues teaching God's people God's Word here on The Truth Pulpit, he'll be continuing a series titled, Lord Teach Us to Pray. On today's broadcast, Don turns once again to Matthew chapter 6, starting at verse 9 to teach more about righteous prayer.

So let's join our teacher with insights from God's Word right now on The Truth Pulpit. John Stott said it this way, he says, it is always wise before we pray to spend time deliberately recalling who God is. Only then shall we come to our loving Father in heaven with appropriate humility, devotion, and confidence. And so beloved, when you think about praying righteously, when you think about praying well, I want to encourage you to think this way. Righteous praying does not start with you talking. Righteous praying starts with you thinking. Thinking about who you're addressing and letting that affect and influence your heart so that you pray in a way that honors Him, not out of desperation.

Go back to Matthew 6. With this context in mind, the priority of the character of God, the need to remember and think about who you are praying to before you say anything. Jesus says in chapter 6 verse 9, he says, pray then in this way. Here is a pattern for prayer. It's not a formula to be mindlessly repeated. Jesus had just condemned that kind of mindless repetition two verses earlier. He wouldn't have condemned mindless repetition and then say here, repeat this whether you're thinking about it or not.

That's ridiculous. No, what he's giving us here is he's setting forth in a very divinely inspired compact format the priorities and principles that should be the hallmarks of your prayer life as a pattern for the way that you pray. All I want to do is focus your attention on these simple words, our Father who is in heaven, because it's in those words where Jesus by the genius of a divine mind summarizes in such simple language the grandeur that belongs to his disciples when they pray to God righteously. You'll find three requirements for righteous praying in those simple words, our Father who is in heaven.

First requirement number one, you must be a Christian. You must be a Christian. These words presuppose the repentance that I described earlier. These words describe someone or into the context of a sermon of someone who belongs to the kingdom of heaven, someone who has been born again. Jesus had just rejected the prayers of the Pharisees and the pagans so we know that this couldn't possibly be a prayer that all men converted and unconverted alike are invited to pray.

The context forbids that idea. Jesus is talking to true disciples. John 14 6, Jesus said to him, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me. And so for Jesus to say pray this way and start out saying our Father is obviously an implication, is obviously an indication that he's speaking to people who have come to know the Father and can rightly call him that. Only through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ can anyone truly call God Father. The Father of everyone who is not a Christian is the devil. If you want to pray to that Father, well, good luck.

But even in this word our Father, Jesus is presupposing what at that time was still yet future. His shed blood for the forgiveness of sins that is necessary before anyone can rightly pray. The Father-child relationship that is intrinsic to true prayer begins with salvation in Christ.

It all flows from there. Only those who have been born again can know God as Father so only true Christians can pray in the righteous way that Jesus lays forth here. Simple point.

Point number two. You must believe the goodness of God. Point number two, you must believe the goodness of God in order to pray righteously. In the broader context of this passage, we see Jesus assuming the goodness of God as he teaches on prayer. It just bleeds out from everything that he says.

Think about this. First of all, Jesus is teaching the love of God by simply saying that he'll receive your prayers. That is a response of a loving Father that he would receive what his children say to him.

God is no remote deity who spun the world up and then kicked it out to let it run out on its own. No, he knows your need. He understands.

He loves you. He receives your prayers. It's part of his goodness. Not only his love, but in this passage he shows his faithfulness by rewarding those who seek him. Look at the end of verse six. Chapter six, verse six. He says, when you pray to your Father who is in secret, your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. A promise of reward based on the faithfulness of God. Part of his goodness.

Thirdly, his love, his faithfulness. We also see his wisdom expressed in this teaching on prayer. Look at the end of verse eight, where Jesus says, do not be like them.

Do not be like those babbling Gentiles who pray so foolishly. He says, don't be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Your Father is wise. He understands what you need. It's part of his goodness.

There's other things that we could say. God shows his personality by responding to heartfelt prayers. He understands human language. He understands communication.

He's a person. And so in this passage, you see the goodness of God already having been assumed and taught as Jesus leads up to this. And it's in that context of the goodness of God that Jesus tells his disciples to pray, our Father. My Father, our Father. Our Father who is love incarnate. Our Father who is faithful. Our Father who is wise.

Our Father who is a person, a holy person at that. That is what you call to mind as you begin to pray. You call to mind the goodness of God. His immutable, unchanging nature guarantees that when you as one of his children come to him, you're going to find a good God listening to you. The plural, our Father, indicates that your prayer life should extend beyond your own circumstances and include those of the people around you.

You are part of a kingdom that is bigger than you are. And your prayer should embrace the needs and the opportunities of those around you as well. So Jesus here decisively rules out a private and selfish approach to prayer.

That's just in passing. I want to focus more on this word, Father, because that is where we see the goodness of God expressed as we pray here. The true Christian who approaches God based on the righteousness of Christ alone, you approach God with a full assurance that because of the death and resurrection of Christ, because of his righteousness that has been imputed to you, that you are fully reconciled to God in Christ, your sins have been forgiven, and therefore you have entered into a relationship where God is your Father committed to your provision and protection. Father, I belong to you. Father, the one who provides and protects. Father, the one who is so good. This word, Father, which we use as a breath as we usually start out praying. Father, we pray, such and such.

No, no. Let that word, Father, stop you in your tracks. You're talking to the supreme God of the universe and calling him Father?

Wow! That is an intimate relationship. There is implicit and explicit trust in such a relationship. When we call God Father, we are saying, God, you are near. God, you receive the prayers of your children. God, I fear no judgment from you because there is no condemnation for those of us that are in Christ Jesus. I have privileged and confident access to you in Christ. And beloved, if you will just stop for just a couple of minutes and think that way before you start to pray, it will transform everything that you say. Because all of a sudden, you're not crying out of desperate circumstances. All of a sudden, you are speaking to one who you've consciously remembered you have an intimate relationship with, with one who loves you to the perfection of Christ, who has purchased your soul and will bring eternity to pass, and you will be a part of that. And you start out saying, I'm overwhelmed with the goodness of God. Martin Lloyd-Jones said that if you can honestly pray, our Father, in the sense that we're talking about it here, your problems are already over. Your problems are already over because the supreme one has set his supreme affections on you.

It doesn't possibly matter in light of that. And so as a good father, God lovingly protects his children. He lovingly provides for them. He knows your needs. He provides for that needs. He rewards those who seek him.

Beloved, just put your hand on your mouth for just a couple of minutes. I just beg you to do that before the next time that you pray and think about those things. You must recognize the goodness of God as you come to prayer.

If your father is with you, trust, confidence, and hope will be the mark of your discourse with him. Hebrews 11 verse 6 says this, he says, Without faith it is impossible to please him, for he who comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him. This is righteous praying, beloved. It is impossible to please God in your praying if you don't come to him with this mindset. Put out the doubts about his goodness. Before you get on your knees, look at yourself in the mirror and say to yourself, God is my good father. He will bless me as I come to him. Beloved, you can never let your soul fall into this place where your prayer life crumbles into cries of dark desperation because you're so worried about what's going on around you. Take yourself in hand, think about the goodness of God, and say to yourself, Out with this discouragement! Out with this despair!

Out with this doubt! My father is good! And he hears me, and one way or another, all will be well. If you'll just embrace that mindset as you go to prayer, beloved, confident trust will be the mark of your prayer. Don't you want that?

I do. I want to pray with confidence. I want to pray with trust.

I'm not about to look at the cross of Christ and his shed blood for my sins and have any questions about the goodness of God and his intentions for my life. Amen? Our father, those terms produce confident trust. There's a third requirement for righteous prayer in this passage. And it is this, you must believe the greatness of God. You must believe the greatness of God. Jesus says, pray then in this way, our father who is in heaven.

The juxtaposition of those terms is absolutely astonishing. An intimate relationship expressed by the term father, and yet a transcendent relationship because this father is in heaven. If you like the theological terms in these simple six words in English, Jesus has expressed both the eminence and the transcendence of God. He has been throughout this passage, just as he has been with the goodness of God, he has been assuming the greatness of God as he teaches on prayer.

It just bleeds out from everything that he says. In verse 7, he teaches the holiness of God, because God only receives right prayers. He's not indifferent to whether someone comes with sin-stained hands or not.

He's not indifferent to how he's approached. He's holy. His omnipresence is taught in this passage. Look at the end of verse 6 again.

Your father who sees what is done in secret. That assumes the omnipresence of God. That wherever you go, wherever you are in private, God sees you. He teaches the omnipotence of God in this passage. In that same passage in verse 6, he says he will reward you. God has the power to respond to your prayers in any way he sees fit.

He is absolutely unhindered, because he has the power to accomplish whatever he wishes. Jesus teaches the omniscience of God in this passage. Verse 8, your father knows what you need before you ask him. He doesn't need you to inform him about anything.

He already knows. In a perfect, simple moment from all of eternity, he has known everything, including your need. This is the greatness of God.

This is the transcendence of God. And so he is absolutely sovereign. Applying that to this particular matter, he rules over prayer. He determines how you should pray. He determines his response to your prayers.

And he's not manipulated by many words. Holy, sovereign, majestic God, this is. An essence when you pray. You are approaching God who has an essence that absolutely transcends you.

It is the distinction between a creature coming to his uncreated creator. The one whose special manifestation of his glory is not within your reach here on earth. And so, beloved, when you call God our Father who is in heaven to mind, you are recognizing his sovereign position as Lord of the universe, and his authority over you as well. With that in mind, this great sovereign God, this holy God, beloved, as you go to prayer, as you're thinking about his goodness, you also need to be thinking about his greatness. And you need to give this great God the priority that he deserves when you pray. Your needs, as pressing as they are, are not the most important thing in the universe. Praise God that he will receive our prayers about our needs, but he already knows those.

You don't need to inform him. The greater need for your prayer life, most likely, is to take that right hand and put it on your mouth again and say, I'm praying to the great God of the universe, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God. And you say to yourself, that's true. Therefore, God has the power to carry out his good intentions toward his children. He has heavenly power to accomplish his desires.

And you cultivate that conscious reality in your mind, and you do it again and again and again until your heart submits to the truth, until your feelings come in line with what you know to be true through the revelation of the Scripture. And as you do that, beloved, just as the goodness of God produces confident trust, because this Father loves you, so this Father in heaven, as you contemplate that, will produce humble reverence as you pray. Out with this flippant approach to prayer. Out with a casual approach that does not recognize that we're praying to one who is in heaven.

So where does this leave you? Your settled mindset. And what you call, it's your settled mindset, and yet you feed it again and again and again with your meditation, is this, my Father is good, and I trust him. My Father is great, and I bow before him. And that frames the entire way that you pray. Beloved, in the press of people, and in the press of circumstances all about you, and the daily stuff that we all go through, whether as a mom or as an executive or as a pastor or whatever, in the press of everything that life brings upon you when you go to prayer, you have got to engage your mind and step back from all of that so a godly perspective will govern the way that you pray.

Our Father who is in heaven. And so what Jesus lays forth before us here is a spiritual opportunity for you to cast aside spiritual mediocrity and get back to the serious and joyful business of a close walk with God, a walk where he has preeminence by his goodness and by his greatness in everything in your heart, particularly in your affections when you pray. So where do you start? For most of us, we need to start with repentance. We need to take ourselves at hand and say, you know, I am just so tired of being so selfish in prayer. I am tired of not giving God the glory that he deserves when I get down on my knees. And you repent of that and say, Lord, I want to embrace a God-centered approach that gives you the glory whenever I get down on my knees. And when you have repented and when you have chastened your own heart about that, then, beloved, with the doors to heaven flung open, with the goodness and greatness of God firmly entrenched in your mind, you go to him and you pray with passion, God, I must see your name exalted. I must see your will be done. Father, I've got these niggling needs here.

Can you help me with those too? Would you forgive me of my sins? Would you guard me from temptation as I go forward? That, beloved, is the way to pray righteously. What an important reminder that God is not just a vending machine waiting for us to insert our prayer request coins, if you will. Our Father in heaven is worthy of so much more. Pastor Don Green will have more of our current series, Lord Teach Us to Pray, next time. And we hope you'll join us then on The Truth Pulpit. So, Don, is there a particular way we can exalt God's greatness each time we begin to pray? Well, you know, my friend, I feel very blessed by God to be able to do what I do. I have a church that is loving and supportive of me, that love to hear God's word. I have this radio broadcast. I have the opportunity to speak to you in a personal manner like this.

What a wonderful gift that is. You know, I would just encourage you, if the Lord ever brings us to your mind, to pray for us. We're like all men in ministry.

We feel our inadequacy. We realize that we need the power of the Holy Spirit to attend the work that we do so that there would be eternal fruit for your good and for the glory of Christ. So pray for us as the Lord brings us to mind. Pray for those that support The Truth Pulpit with the labor of their hands. We're a wonderful team and we're just so grateful for you as you listen to us day by day on The Truth Pulpit. Thanks, Don. And friend, we're out of time for today. I'm Bill Wright and we'll see you next time when Don Green continues teaching God's people God's word from The Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-23 04:51:19 / 2022-11-23 04:59:27 / 8

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