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                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"
                    Prayer That Pleases God (6:5-15)
INTRODUCTION
1. A wonderful privilege enjoyed by the children of God is prayer...
   a. Through prayer we can receive mercy and grace to help in time of
      need - He 4:14-16
   b. Through prayer we can find peace that guards our hearts and mind
      - Ph 4:6-7
2. But the privilege of prayer assumes God will heed our prayers...
   a. Not all prayers are acceptable to God - cf. Pro 28:9
   b. Indeed, God does not hear the prayers of all men - cf. Isa 59:
      1-2; 1 Pe 3:12
   c. Jesus described the prayer of one man which did not please God
      - Lk 18:9-14
3. Do we know what qualifies as "Prayer That Pleases God"?
   a. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus had much to say about prayer
   b. Especially the kind of prayer which finds favor in God's sight
[In this study, let's take a look at Mt 6:5-15, where Jesus taught
His disciples regarding prayer.  First, we find Jesus telling us...]
I. WHAT "NOT" TO DO IN REGARDS TO PRAYER
   A. DO NOT BE LIKE THE HYPOCRITES...
      1. Who love to pray...
         a. Standing in the synagogues
         b. On the corners of the streets
      2. This they do "that they may be seen of men" - Mt 6:5
   B. "THEY HAVE THEIR REWARD..."
      1. That is, they are indeed seen by men
      2. But that is the extent of their reward (the praise of men)
      3. They have no reward or blessing from God!
   C. JESUS IS NOT CONDEMNING ALL PUBLIC PRAYING...
      1. Evident from the fact that He Himself prayed in public - Mt 
         11:25; Jn 11:41
      2. As did Paul - Ac 27:35
[The emphasis is the same as stated in Mt 6:1, "do not do your [deeds
of righteousness] before men, TO BE SEEN BY THEM."
How, then, are we to pray as to be heard by God?]
II. PRAYER THAT PLEASES GOD
   A. OFFERED "TO BE SEEN OF GOD," NOT MEN...
      1. This is the main idea of "praying in secret" - Mt 6:6
      2. "The sincere and humble worshiper, one who is not interested
         in making a public display for the sake of enhancing his 
         prestige, will find the secluded nook or den to be most 
         appropriate for his devotions." (unknown)
      3. The person who prays much in secret is praying to be seen of
         God, not men!
   B. OFFERED "TO BE HEARD OF GOD," NOT MEN...
      1. Avoiding the use of "vain repetitions" - Mt 6:7
         a. As was often practiced by the heathen religions
         b. "The heathen tried to tire out their gods with such endless
            prayers. Mere formulas were repeated over and over again;
            the Jews had such prayer formulas, Catholics also have 
            them in the form of their rosary." (Lenski)
      2. This is not condemning all repetition, but "vain" (insincere,
         useless) repetition
         a. Jesus repeated Himself in prayer at Gethsemane - Mt 26:
            36-44
         b. Paul repeated his requests concerning his "thorn in the 
            flesh" - 2 Co 12:7-8
      3. Since "your Father knows the things you have need of before 
         you ask Him," prayers to be heard by God do not have to be 
         filled with superfluous words
         a. Have you ever noted the brevity of prayers recorded in the
            Scriptures?
         b. God is not swayed the by quantity of words, but by the
            quality of the heart!
   C. OFFERED ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN...
      1. The phrase "in this manner" suggests that this prayer...
         a. Is a pattern for praying
         b. Not a liturgical exercise as sometimes practiced
      2. The pattern of proper prayer:
         a. First, simplicity
            1) Notice the word "therefore"
               a) It connects what follows with what was said before
               b) Jesus' pattern for prayer is an "illustration" in 
                  contrast to the "many words" used by the heathen
            2) In the prayer itself, note the brevity of words
         b. Then, in its content, proper prayer includes...
            1) Reverence for God and His "Name" (i.e., His being and 
               character) - Mt 6:9
            2) Prayer for the progress of God's Kingdom and His Will on
               the earth - Mt 6:10
            3) Asking for physical necessities - Mt 6:11
            4) Also, our spiritual needs
               a) Forgiveness of sins - Mt 6:12
               b) Protection and deliverance from evil - Mt 6:13
            5) Praising God - Mt 6:13
   D. OFFERED WITH A MERCIFUL SPIRIT...
      1. As indicated in the pattern prayer itself - Mt 6:12,14-15
      2. Otherwise, we cannot expect mercy for ourselves - cf. Mt 18:
         21-23; Ja 2:13
      3. This must be very important to Jesus, for this is the only
         part of the pattern upon which He elaborates!
CONCLUSION
1. This is not the only occasion in which Jesus taught on prayer...
   a. Later, His disciples would ask Him to teach them to pray - Lk 11:
      1-4
   b. He taught them about the importance of persistence, faith and 
      humility in prayer - Lk 11:5-13; 18:1-14
2. But in this sermon Jesus sought to stress prayer that is designed...
   a. To be seen by God, not man
   b. To be heard by God, not man
   -- Who knows better what kind of prayer that is, than He who now
      sits at the right hand of God!
If we believe that God hears prayer (Psa 65:2) and that He is a
rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (He 11:6), then let's be sure
we offer the kind of "Prayer That Pleases God"!
 


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