Prayer is a commandment of the Lord. It is a vital part of the Christian life. Prayer is simply talking to or communicating with God. Yet, the commandment to pray is one of the most misunderstood and abused commandments.
Many people use prayer to communicate with devils, including Christians, although they believe that they are talking to and hearing from God. Most religions throughout the world use prayer, but to whom are they praying? Religion is man-made. The Bible tells us in Romans 1:21-25, Galatians 1:8-9, I John 2:22-23 and 4:13-15 that men who rejected the truth of God (the Scriptures) are turned over to a reprobate mind so that they may believe a lie from a fallen angel and/or lying spirits. All of the world’s religions, except fundamental Christianity, have rejected the truth about God. They deny that Jesus Christ is God. Since they deny Jesus is God, they are praying to a false god, anti-god, or anti-Christ. They are praying to a demon or fallen angel.
Matthew 7:21-27 warns us that mere verbal profession or intellectual knowledge, recognizing with one’s mind the truth about the Scriptures and Jesus Christ, obedience and following the Scriptures, having a continual living relationship with Jesus and the Father are all different. Lucifer recognizes and acknowledges the validity of the Scriptures, Jesus and God the Father, but rejects, rebels against, and does not follow or obey them. So do many self-proclaiming Christians. They refuse to obey the Scriptures which results in a form of godliness (II Timothy 3:5). The Scriptures warn us that “...rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee.” I Samuel 15:23.
People that call themselves Christian, yet reject obedience to the Scriptures, are in rebellion, and they have no relationship with God.
Instead, when they pray as the different religions do, they are in reality involved in witchcraft. Their mind, thoughts, sleep and dreams are bombarded with evil, lying and seducing spirits. Let’s take a closer look at….
How to Pray
1. In Matthew 6:1-6 Jesus warns us against hypocrisy.
- Do not give money to the poor to be seen by men.
- Do not sound a trumpet before you when you give to the poor (do not draw attention to yourself either in Church or on the streets).
- When you give, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is giving. (We are not to be self-conscious in our giving where we allow giving to become self-righteousness and we allow our good works to become filthy rags. Christian giving is to be marked by self-sacrifice and self-forgetfulness…not by self-congratulation. In other words, we are not to become puffed up in our own vanity.)
- Jesus tells us to give money in secret; not to be boastful to others.
- Jesus tells us not to be as the hypocrites who only want to pray in Church or on the street corners to be seen by men. Jesus is not saying that we cannot pray in Church or in front of people, but He is saying not to receive the glory of men that belongs to God alone.
- When Jesus tells us to enter into a closet to pray, He is not saying that we must always pray alone. He is saying that our relationship with God is a private, personal issue. Our praying is between God and ourselves. It is not to be used for the wrong reason or drawing attention, admiration or glory to ourselves.
2. In Matthew 6:7-8, Jesus warns us against vain repetitions.
- Vain repetitions are meaningless, mechanical utterances.
- Vain repetitions degrade prayer from a real and personal communication with God to a mere recitation of meaningless words.
- Jesus is not prohibiting genuine repetition in prayer. He repeated Himself in prayer, notably in Gethsemane when he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. The Scriptures exhort us to continue to intercede ... to keep asking.
- Jesus is condemning vain repetition or verbosity…speaking without thinking….prayer which is all words with no meaning; all lips with no mind or heart.
- Jesus forbids His people to be involved in any kind of prayer with the mouth when the mind is not involved.
True meditation on the Word of God involves the conscious use of the mind, followed by prayer.
a) Transcendental Meditation is a mechanical technique for the relaxing of both body and mind. It is designed to bring a person to a state of complete stillness. It goes against the Bible’s instruction to dwell on the Word and consciously, intelligently pray. It allows the doctrine of demons to influence.
b) Jesus’ condemnation would include the mindless use of the rosary in which nothing happens but the fingering of beads and recitation of words.
The Lord’s Prayer
3. In Matthew 6:9-13 Jesus exhorts us to follow this model or style of prayer.
- Jesus told us to address Him (literally) “Our Father, which art in heaven.” This implies first that He is personal. Secondly, that He is loving. Thirdly, that He is powerful (in heaven).
- “Hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
- The first three petitions in the Lord’s Prayer express our concern for God’s glory in relation to His name, rule, and will.
- Again, God’s concern will be given priority. His name, His kingdom and His will. We are praying that His name will be honored and glorified and treated as holy by the Church, the world, and ourselves. We are recognizing the sovereignty of God and desire the rest of the world to do so, as well.
- To pray that His kingdom may come is to pray both that it may grow, as through the Church’s witness, people submit to Jesus, and that soon it will be consummated when Jesus returns in glory to rule the earth. We are praying that His will be done first in our lives…that all selfishness, sin, and improper personalities will be changed as we submit to Him and the Scriptures. We are praying that His will be done throughout all peoples and nations of the earth, as it is in heaven.
- God’s will rules in peace and brings perfection in heaven, and we want that on the earth.
- If we pray this prayer in sincerity, it has enormous implications as we express our priorities in terms of His priorities.
- The fourth petition, “Give us this day our daily bread”, in context with the first three petitions and with the totality of Scriptures throughout the Bible, continues to recognize the sovereignty of God and our dependence upon Him. God is concerned over every part of our lives and has promised to meet our needs if our relationship with him, our attitudes, and our priorities are in line with His. God still expects us to work, since we are under the penalty of Adam’s rebellion. But, He will provide us with work.
- Bread is also a symbol for everything necessary for the preservation of this life, such as food, a healthy body, good weather, house, wife, children, peace, and so on.
- Jesus wanted His followers to be conscious of a day-to-day dependence upon Him.
- Forgiveness is as indispensable to the life and health of the soul as food is for the body. So, the next prayer we are told to pray is “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”
a) God knows we are not perfect and must daily allow the Holy Spirit, through the Word, to change us. In order not to be condemned, we need God’s forgiveness. God is willing to forgive us as long as we are not hypocritical and refuse to forgive others if they repent and ask for our forgiveness. Obviously, there can be no forgiveness without confession, repentance and asking for forgiveness. If a person refuses to ask, then it shows that he is a proud rebel who is poison to the kingdom of God. God will not forgive him, and we do not have the authority to forgive him.
b) We must truly be willing to forgive. When we realize the enormity of our offense against God, the injuries which others have done to us appear, by comparison, is extremely small. If we have an exaggerated view of the offenses of others, it proves that we have minimized our own.
- Finally, the last two petitions, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”, again tell us to look to God’s Word, to be humble and depend on Him for His strength, and to overcome all temptation through his Word, defeating evil daily.
Jesus seems to have given the Lord’s Prayer as a model for true Christian prayer, in contrast to religious prayers as prayed by people who do not truly follow Jesus such as the Pharisees, other religions, the heathen, and nominal Christians.
One can recite the Lord’s Prayer hypocritically and/or mechanically.
But, if we mean what we say, the Lord’s Prayer is the perfect model to follow.
It is life transforming as one humbly submits his life to the will of God, recognizing God’s love, power and perfection. The prayer of the hypocrite or rebel is selfishness. Even in his prayers, he is obsessed with his own self-image and how he looks in the eyes of the beholder. But, in the Lord’s Prayer man is obsessed with God, His name, His kingdom, and His will…not with his own will.
True Christian prayer is always a preoccupation with God and His glory.
The error of the hypocrite, religious person, rebel, or heathen is mindlessness. He just continues with counting his beads, babbling through the liturgy meaninglessly. He does not think about what he is saying or doing because what he is doing is a form of godliness, being conducted by a person who has not submitted his life to Jesus Christ in reality. The hypocrite is concerned with volume of liturgy, not content.
The Christian prayer following the Lord’s model is God-centered …concerned with God’s glory…in contrast to the self-centeredness of the Pharisees’ prayer where they are concerned with their own glory. True prayer is intelligent, expressing thoughtful dependence upon and recognition of the will of God, in contrast to the mechanical incantations of the religious.
Let us all continually pray to God with complete humility and total dependence, understanding that our needs and requests require His guidance and direction toward His perfect will, looking for Him to change us into His image daily as we travel throughout this life.
Again, we pray for daily bread not because we fear we will starve. Millions get their daily bread without ever praying to the living God for it. But, we pray because we know that ultimately it comes from God and because as His children, it is right to acknowledge daily our dependence upon Him. We pray for forgiveness and deliverance because these gifts are given only in answer to our requests through prayer. Without them we would be lost.
I pray for myself before I pray for anybody else because I need Jesus! I ask Him to help me be a better husband, a better father, a better grandfather, and a better minister. I say: “I need Your love, Your compassion, Your sensitivity, and Your passion. I need patience, steadfastness and determination. I need discipline. I need faith to obey You in confronting those to whom You have told me to speak. I need Your power, Your authority, and Your anointing. I need the gifts of the Holy Spirit...word of wisdom, word of knowledge, gift of faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, gift of tongues and interpretation of tongues...to be added to me or increased.” I ask God to show me my sins, faults, shortcomings, and my fleshly temper or impatience, etc., so that I can repent and take the beam out of my own eyes before I try to minister to others. I then pray in tongues for a season, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak on my behalf to the Father and for self-edification..
Some say prayer does not work! But remember…the promises of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount are not unconditional. They are conditional!
TO BE CONTINUED
© 2002 World Ministries International