We will look at Jesus’ teaching on the true nature of prayer and how we are to pray. Our passage is from Matthew 6:5-13:
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (Matthew 6:5-13).
Purpose in prayer
Place of prayer
Privilege in prayer
The Purpose in Prayer
The word for “pray” here means “facing the Lord,” emphasizing direct approach in seeking God's face. Prayer conveys the sense of being immediately before God, in His presence and would include the ideas of adoration, devotion, and worship.
He is talking to the crowd, to everyone, when you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites. The hypocrite is the man or woman who puts on a mask and pretends to be what he or she is not in the inner person or as we say they are not being "real."
The Scribes and Pharisees wanted people to think they were holy and close to God. They would stand before all the people, lifting up their hands and speaking loudly to impress them. They chose the widest streets, or certain corners at specific times of the day, to draw attention to themselves and their outward piety.
Their prayers did not direct people’s hearts and minds towards God but put the focus on themselves. These religious leaders were perverting the real purpose of prayer. Jesus was not forbidding public prayer, but He was teaching those listening that their motivation for praying wasn’t pure.
The main Purpose of prayer is to talk with God, it is where we get to know the One who created us.
It is spending time with our Father.
Prayer brings us before the face of God, it is where we pour our hearts out to Him (Psalms 62:8), where we give Him our thanks and praise as well as bring our burdens, complaints, anxieties, fears, our concerns for the future, and our failures - where we ask for forgiveness, cleansing, direction and wisdom for our decisions. This is where we come to Him on behalf of others asking God to intervene in situations.
Often we pray for God to change the situation or if we are in a difficult relationship to change the other person.
But when we spend time with God in prayer, we begin to see things from His point of view, God is changing me and the way I see things and that’s when everything changes.
Place of Prayer
In verse 6, Jesus said, “When you pray” (singular) - emphasizing private, personal one on one communion with the Lord God, you are to go into your inner, most private room. The original Greek speaks of a separate apartment, ones’ private chamber, closet, or “den” where he or she can withdraw from the world and shut the door so they can focus on their time with God alone.
The apostle Paul said:
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
Prayer gives us the personal confidence and assurance that He will give us what we need to face each day. Even if our outward circumstances remain the same, we can experience a deep confidence that God is with us in every situation.
Even religious people recite the “Our Father” prayer but many times the words is meaningless since God is not, in reality, their Father. Even Christians fall into the trap of thinking that praying many words and phrases for an extended period of time will merit God’s favor or coerce Him into answering their prayers. This is not purpose of prayer.
In verse 8, Jesus tells us, “Do not be like them, [praying as they do] for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
Once you place your faith in Christ, God takes your hard, stony heart and replaces it with a new heart (a heart that is responsive to Him) (Ezekiel 11:19-20 Amp).
Privilege in Prayer
As a child of God we have the privilege of coming to God in prayer.
We come to God because He is our Father and as His children we have a living relationship with Him, He hears us, speaks with us and assures us of His love first hand.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children (Romans 8: 14-16).
Adoption allows us to look affectionately and trustingly upon God as our Father rather than as a slave-driver and taskmaster.
Paul points out that as God’s children we are deeply loved.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)
Jesus said, the Father who feeds the birds and clothes the lilies of the fields cares even more for his own children (Matthew 6:25-34).
In verse 9 Jesus told us to pray to:
Our Father - He is the one we can give our burdens to because He cares for us. Our Father is the giver and sustainer of all life; the whole world and all its people belong to Him (Psalms 24:1) and we have the privilege of coming to Him with confidence.
Who is in heaven - He is involved with every aspect of His creation yet He is distinct and independent from it being beyond His creation and not limited by it or to it (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Hallowed be your name: In our prayer we acknowledge that God is holy, as unlike any other. He alone is God. His name speaks of His power, wisdom, holiness, justice, mercy, and truth. He is our Redeemer, our Savior, our hope.
And as His children we can pray Father “Your Kingdom come,” - I know your kingdom has always existed and you have always been King even if the world does not want to recognize that, but I recognize you are the king of my life and I want my life to reveal it more and more.
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven – There are many things explicitly stated in God’s Word that we know are His will and so we do not need to pray for it.
Our troubles come when we know the will of God but don’t do it because we want our will to be done and then wonder why God is not blessing me. But then there are many circumstances in life that are beyond our reach or control, but we have to make decisions and entrust those decision to God. There are times when we face tragedies and can give the situation into the Lord’s hands and say:
Give us today our daily bread
This request for daily bread is doubtless to be understood in two ways, both for the necessary supply of food for our physical bodies and for the necessities of our spiritual support each day.
With all the demands on Jesus life, He spent time with God in prayer, he made it a priority to be with God the Father before making any major decisions (Luke 6:12) and after spending time with people.
We can approach God in absolute dependence for wisdom and guidance, and everything we need for our physical and spiritual life.
Father - forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. When your own sins seem small, the sins of others against you will seem big indeed.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. We realize that our flesh is weak, and our propensity is to go right back into the sin we were just forgiven for.
We are asking, “Father I ask you not to bring us into temptation at any time - keep us far from it.” Because we know that You can rescue us from temptation (2 Peter 2:9).
Sometimes there is a temptation not to pray because we get so discouraged and have no capacity to pray to God. There may be times when it seems that God is not answering your prayers, that heaven is shut and you’re not experiencing His presence, blessings, or favor.
But in those times remember that Jesus is able to save forever (completely, perfectly, for eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede and intervene on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25 AMP). Always praying for us - what a friend we have in Jesus!
Jesus has shown there is purpose in prayer, he calls us to a place of prayer, because we as God’s children have the privilege of coming into His presence, into His throne room 24/7 in prayer.