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June 9, 2013

“When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen” – Jesus (Matthew 6:6)

Back to prayer again (see my earlier blog “Fire!).

I’m continuing with my reading on the Sermon on the Mount – Jesus’ “manifesto”.

This brings us back to basics. Back to the nuts and bolts of prayer. We’ve been taught how to pray. We have been told it is simple. We have seen others modelling prayer. We have maybe been told to expect instant answers.

So what does Jesus have to say about prayer? A lot actually, and much of it is contained in this sermon. Jesus himself, we are well aware, spent lots of time in prayer. Privately – just him and his Father.

We can I think assume Jesus to be the authority on prayer! If he needed to do it, then how much more do we?

Jesus focused on the inner life. When it’s just you and God. That is what counts.

Giving he tells us is not about making an announcement at a press conference.

And similarly prayer is not first and foremost some kind of performance, it is about the private place when no one else is watching. Of course there are times we pray together, but that is the overflow from that private time.

Jesus paints a picture of the hypocrites, the actors, who said their prayers to attract attention, and hopefully win a religious Oscar. It’s not all about words. I can remember when I was young, I seemed to hear an awful lot of VERY long prayers in church services. Some people had the gift of talking their way through the whole Bible in their prayer. If there was any chance God had forgotten the story, this would have been a big help to get him remembering!

In my young rebellious years, I probably did these people a disservice. They knew their stuff and they knew their God. But as a model of prayer for younger people to follow it was so forbidding. There is no way I can pray like that.  I don’t know enough to pray like that. I have got nothing to say. I’ll talk to myself.

It is not about performing to everyone present. It is not about “babbling like pagans”.

Jesus encourages us to get into our room, close the door and do business with God.

Where is your prayer room? Your study, your car, your office, a lunch time walk? There is a need to make time. So many things will push that out.

It’s the priority of private prayer.




From → Christianity

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