Wednesday, February 6, 2019

EmmDev 2019-02-06 [Sermon on the Mount] Discretion... in prayer

Discretion... in prayer

Prayer can be a difficult exercise! When it comes to private prayer, we struggle with discipline, distraction and disconnection. When it comes to public prayer the pitfalls lie in pride and hypocrisy. For all forms of prayer there is the danger of wordiness and the failure to let go...

Jesus offers some incredible advice around prayer. Again, discretion is the key word. When it comes to prayer we should be discreet...
Here are His key points:

1. When people pray in public, there is a real temptation to put on a show for others to see. Some people use big words and clerical language. Others pray with power and authority, often ordering the devil around, and, if you listen carefully, they're ordering God around too... Others talk to God really casually as though to convey incredible closeness to God but the familiarity means that they have domesticated God and have Him safe in a box. But it's all false and Jesus warns that their reward is their own hot air.

2. True prayer begins in solitude, behind closed doors with no-one watching. This is because true prayer is a leap of faith into the presence of the One who is other side (the "Conversation Partner") of our conversation. When we pray in public we are not taking that leap... because there is an audience for our performance. When there is no audience, our belief that there is a Conversation Partner who engages us is at its most sincere.

3. Prayer should be simple. Shakespeare loved using soliloquies (a complex speech where the main speaker speaks to himself and the audience, showing what is in his head and heart.) The truth is that each of us has a tendency towards soliloquy when we pray. But we get caught up in the luxury of explaining ourselves to the One who both knows and loves us fully. The Lord's Prayer is a stark reminder that God is familiar with the details and He doesn't need us to colour it all in. It's the simple trust and not the verbiage and grammar that counts.

4. Brokenness is a particularly important dynamic to prayer: brokenness in others and in ourselves. Real, sincere and honest prayer must deal with the pain we experience and cause. Brokenness is best handled by forgiveness. When we forgive others it is a continuation of the stream of the forgiveness we have received. When we don't forgive, it means that we haven't really experienced the freedom of being forgiven. Then our prayers haven't really connected to the One who invites us to cast our burdens onto Him. It's about letting go...

"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 men. I tell you the truth, 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 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. '

14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.      (Matthew6:5-15)

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