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.
We will be on the subject of PRAYER Lord willing for the next three weeks: Today will be an introduction so to speak. Today we want to talk to you about the PRACTICE OF PRAYER and the PLACE OF PRAYER. Next week, we will get into the PATTERN FOR PRAYER.
I. FIRST LETS TALK ABOUT THE PRACTICE OF PRAYER
Prayer should be a NATURAL
Prayer is spiritual breath: it is to the spirit what oxygen is to the body. Every living being breaths. Prayer is simply conversation with God and Jesus assumed that every believer would practice prayer daily. Notice what He says in verses 5,6,7… “When you pray!” Jesus didn’t say, “If you pray.”
Prayer should become a PASSION
Prayer begins as a DISCIPLINE, then it becomes a habit and after months and months of practice, PRAYER WILL BECOME A PASSION. You don’t become an Elijah over night.
Prayer must be a PRIORITY
Jesus said, “When you pray…”When suggest a time. When do you pray? Do you say a quick prayer after a day of activity and then jump in bed. Prayer must be a PRIORITY. If you don’t put it first, you will not do it. The devil doesn’t want you praying and as long as you are undisciplined: he will use that to keep you out of the prayer closet. YOU MUST ESTABLISH A PRAYER TIME!
Set A time to pray but don’t time your prayer
Don’t be concerned about how long you pray. Jesus was not impressed by long prayers. We are not on a point system: you don’t get extra points for praying longer. When you’re in an intimate conversation with someone you love, do you look at your watch? It takes months to make PRAYER A HABIT and it take years to make it a PASSION.
II. LET’S TALK ABOUT THE PLACE OF PRAYER
You need a TIME and a PLACE
Without a TIME and PLACE, prayer will never become a passion.
This place needs to be a SECRET PLACE
I don’t mean clandestine. My place of prayer is my little building about 150 feet from the house. It can be a closet: for years I used an upstairs closet and I was behind three doors and I locked them all.
Pharisees like to pray in public
It is no sin to pray in public. Jesus prayed in public and so did the apostles. There are many great prayers recorded in scripture and all were prayed in public. BUT you can not be intimate with the FATHER in public and the bulk of our praying should be done in private.
Don’t be like the hypocrites
Don’t misunderstand the term hypocrite. Some people think failure makes them a hypocrite. NO, not at all, we all fail: it is pretending that we do not fail that makes us a hypocrite. A hypocrite is a person who prays in public but never in private. A hypocrite prays for the wrong reason: he/she is trying to impress people. They are trying to convince people that they are better than what they actually are.
I can tell when someone is talking to God or trying to impress the congregation. I was at a conference years ago and one of our friends was on the program: he was to pray the benediction: he prayed a prayer that rhymed. He said something like, “LORD chill us, fill us and thrill us.” I had another preacher friend that would pray alliterated prayers. I would go to him when he finished and say, “That was a good sermon, the best I’ve ever heard as a prayer.” God is not impressed with poetry or alliteration. When people start giving information in their prayers, I want hollow stop: you can’t inform God. Are you talking to him or us?
God cannot be informed or impressed
I don’t know this for sure but I imagine the Father enjoys hearing the children pray more than He does us. Their prayers are simple and from the heart.
Intimacy requires privacy
Folks, I love my quiet time, my time alone with the FATHER. There is nothing like it. I don’t attempt to hide anything from Him. Nothing, there are no deep dark secrets with HIM. He knows me inside out and that is important to me. He knows me and yet He loves me. He want to hear what I have to say. He cares about my cares. Listen folks, I did this pray thing wrong for years and I’m telling, the SECRET PLACE is where it is at: it is where He is.