Hopefully In trying times, we realize our need to cry out to God more frequently. Realizing our inability to fix everything that is broken in society right now, we have an opportunity to call on the only One who can make things right. Our prayer life reveals two significant things about our faith. First, it demonstrates whether we believe God can do something about our situation. Second, it reveals the degree to which we realize we need Him to do something about our situation.
Prayer is one of the critical spiritual disciplines. Jesus highlighted three spiritual disciplines in the Sermon on the Mount – praying, fasting, and giving. We all have offered up a prayer at some point in our life. Just not enough. We rarely fast, though the pantry may be more empty than normal. Hopefully, we haven’t stopped giving to the Lord’s work. These spiritual disciplines reflect our devotion and dedication to God in our spiritual pilgrimage.
Jesus teaches us about our prayer life in verses 5-8 in order to avoid being religious hypocrites. These hypocrites pray with long words and vain repetitions to be noticed by men and not God. How then should we pray? Jesus taught that we could have a productive prayer life if we will focus on the right audience and communicate in the right location. Before teaching about what to pray, Jesus instructs us to get alone with God in a quiet place.
The first secret to an effective prayer life is location. Find a place of solitude. Jesus referred to it as a closet. It may be helpful to try this especially with so many confined at home. Placing a chair in a closet and closing the door enables us to remove many of the distractions around us so we can deal with distractions within us. Finding that quiet place is essential to stilling our heart before God and allowing Him to speak into our lives as we pray to Him.
The second key to effective praying is to communicate with the right audience. Religious people put on a show praying for the ears of men rather than the heart of God. But something happens when we sit quietly before the Lord without the interruptions and interferences from daily living.
God wants to teach us how to pray. Not just about the timing, the seclusion, and the critical need to pray but also what to pray (v 9-13). We will examine the content of our prayers over the next couple of days so we can all grow in our spiritual walk. But for today, place a chair in a closet and take a seat. God wants our attention to communicate with us!
Pastor Chris Thompson