Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
303-665-6105
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Mar. 8 – Honoring God In Repentant Praying

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Scripture reading for this evening, Matt. 6:5-13.  We begin with prayer.

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ:

  • Who would have thought that Jesus, and our Heavenly Father, could actually consider “prayer” to be horrible thing?   This is a big problem with human beings – we think we know better than God, and that He had better conform to our ideas rather than we conforming to His!  So people think that all “prayer” is good, and that whenever and however they are “praying” it is a good thing, and that God had better take notice, give them credit for being such “righteous” people.  And certainly He better answer their prayers, exactly as they prayed them and as they expect Him to answer, or there is something wrong with – God!
  • We suffer the same damnable temptations, to think that our “religiosity” and “religious behaviors” can be substituted for a genuine relationship with God, one of truth and integrity, and that it is perfectly proper to use our “religiousness” to impress other people, and perhaps even manipulate and coerce them.  But all of this is damnable arrogance, and is repulsive to God – and will surely bring down His wrath and punishment.  So Jesus is careful to explain all of this to His disciples, so that we not fall into these kinds of arrogant temptations.
  • First, He makes it very clear that:

 I.  Even Prayer Can Be A Damnable Thing

 A.  When People Engage In Praying In Self-Righteous Hypocrisy, So As To Be Seen By Others

 Text:  “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”

B.  When Prayer Is Turned Into A Religious Spectacle, A Mere Performance Of Many Words

Text:  “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.”

C.  When Prayer Is Not Done Humbly, With Repentance, As Honest Conversation With Our Heavenly Father

Text:  “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Statement:

  • Well, it is not only unbelievers who end up praying in these damnable ways, but believers can be tempted to do the same.  Of course, unbelievers can only pray in these damnable ways – because they have no knowledge of God’s great love and mercy in Christ Jesus, and so they have no proper knowledge of His heart and mind.  But surely those who know and believe the love that God for us in Christ Jesus would not want to offend God with such superficial, hypocritical, self-righteous, and devious prayers.

Application:

  • While we think that humbling ourselves, repenting of our great sin, and acknowledging that we are worthy of none of the things for which we pray might induce God to give us just that – nothing, this is completely wrong.  It is as God Himself declares:


Is. 66:2  “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at My word, declares the Lord.”

 

  • This is perfectly in line with what Jesus is teaching in the words of our text – as He includes the petition, “forgive us our trespasses as we have forgiven those who trespass against us.”

Transition:  But while Jesus certainly warns against damnable prayer, He just as certainly encourages us to pray properly, for:

II.  Prayer Is Intended To Be Loving Personal Conversation With God Our Savior

A.  Humbly Praying To God For All Concerns, Both Spiritual And Physical – As Jesus Instructs Us

Text:  “Pray then like this:  Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.  Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we also have forgiven those who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

B.  Humbly Expressing Our Faith In His Gracious Love As We Pray

Text:  “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”

C.  Humbly Expressing Our Devotion To God And Glorifying Him In Our Prayers

Text:  “For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”

Statement:

  • When it comes to prayer, faith is what matters most:

 

1.     Seeing our great sin so that we approach God humbly and repentantly, trembling at His Word

2.     Knowing His great forgiveness, mercy, and love – and His loving promises to give us everything we need, and working all things together for our good

3.     Making sure that our prayer is truly a conversation – and not some superficial, external performance, but rather a heart to heart talk with our loving heavenly Father

4.     So that we are giving all glory and honor to Him, and retaining none whatsoever for ourselves – so that our praying is worship and glorification of God

 

Application:

 

  • Such praying is hard work – just as it is hard work for us to be truly genuine and honest in any relationship, in any conversation.  This is exhausting for us, especially when our sinful thoughts of arrogance and self-righteousness keep intruding into our praying.  Repentance in itself is quite tiring – so we must humble ourselves further and ask God to help us to pray properly.  And we know His promise – to forgive, to heal, and to heed the prayers of the humble and contrite who tremble at His Word.

 

Conclusion:  And surely this is better than praying damnable prayers – which are no conversation with God, and only call down His indignation and wrath.  So let us humble ourselves and heed the instructions of Jesus, our dear Savior, whose blood cleanses us from all sin and frees us.  To Him be all glory, honor, and praise – now and forever, Amen.

 

Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.