(Delivered on Aug 8, 1943 at Centerline Baptist Church)
THE PATTERN OF PRAYER
INTRODUCTION:We have before us this morning the true pattern of prayer. Many call this the Lord’s prayer, but this is not true for the Lord’s prayer is really the one in John 17. This is the prayer He taught them to use as a pattern or model. This prayer was never intended to be used as such but was a model for them to follow in their prayer life. In Matt. 6:9 we read, “After this manner therefore pray ye,” The disciples had listened to Christ pray and for the first time they realized that they were greatly lacking in their prayer life. They had all prayed before but only now do they see their need. Also note that they had been with Christ for quite some time, and only now they realized their failing. A good many Christians have been following Christ for some time and you have prayed a great deal and felt that you were doing all right. But I ask you to examine yourself this morning in the light of this model prayer and see if your prayer life might not need revising.
Christ in revealing the pattern of prayer to his disciples in answer to their request did not say to repeat this prayer like a parrot or to chant it or sing it. To constantly repeat a prayer until everyone can say it in their sleep is to be guilty of the very thing that Christ warns against, “But when ye pray use not vain repetitions.” There are three elements of prayer that are given to us in this portion and they all have to do with Looking. First there is the UPLOOK; second the INLOOK; third, the OUTLOOK. In prayer we should first of all be interested in God – That is the Uplook. Then we are interested in ourselves – that is the Inlook. Then we should be interested in others – that is the Outlook. Now these three elements of prayer are commonly called:
In communion we turn our face toward God. It is the first essential of prevailing prayer and the others are based upon it.
Until there is communion there can be o basis of petition and no power of intercession. Perhaps this is where your prayer life has been weak. You have not established communion with God. Communion is personal contact. Communion is a reality. Communion is subjecting one’s self unto God. It is being concerned with Him only. Do you ever take time to thank God for just what He is? For His beauty, power, glory, love? Many seem to come to God and think that He is merely a Santa Clause. But He does love and appreciate being told how much you love Him. He should be the altogether lovely one – the fairest of ten thousand to your soul.
Communion is having the line strung to God’s power house. Many have no power in their prayer, but it is usually because they have no communion. Being occupied with Christ is the main thing. Remember Martha and Mary? Mary sat at Jesus feet, but Martha set about working to entertain their guests and complained to Christ because Mary did not help her. But Christ spoke to her and said, “Martha, Martha, thou are cumbered with many things, but one thing is needful and Mary hath chosen that better part.” Christ did not rebuke her for her service but because it was not preceded by worship.
Communion does something TO US. Petition does something FOR US. Intercession does something THROUGH US. If we keep the lines clear, then when trials, dangers, or temptation comes into our lives we need but throw the switch of petition and we get what we will. That is what is meant when Christ said, “Man ought always to pray and not to faint.” Pray without ceasing.
In petition we turn our thoughts to needs of self. If we have first had communion then there is no reason why we should not have answers to our petitions. God has promised to supply every material and spiritual need that we have. Now as to why we do not have answers to our prayers we find several reasons.
- There is unconfessed known sin in our lives. If we regard iniquity in our hearts the Lord will not hear us.
- We may have an unforgiving spirit.
- We may be able to answer the prayer ourselves. The old saying still holds true that God helps those who help themselves. It’s foolish for a farmer to pray for corn if he never plants it. You can pray for lost sinners to be saved, but if you never bring any lost sinners in where they can hear the gospel how can God save them? You may pray for God to bless the missionaries, but if you don’t give your money to help support them you are a hypocrite.
- You may lack faith. When Christ came to the open grave of Lazarus He first thanked God that He had heard his prayer, and then he called Him by name. To you wives who have unbelieving husbands here’s a word for you. God has said that He is not willing that any should perish. DO YOU believe that? God says that if we ASK ANYTHING ACCORDING TO HIS WILL He will answer us. If you are worrying for fear God will not answer that prayer then you may be sure that it will not be answered. Take God at his word and BELIEVE THAT HE IS GOING TO DO IT. Go to the Lord and say, “Lord I will not stop reminding thee of thy promises, but at the same time I thank thee for answered prayer.”
The one thing that set Christianity aside from everything else in the world is the thought for others. The world and all false religions have only a thought for self, but true Christianity thinks of others. Paul was constantly praying for others. (Eph. 1:15-16, Phil. 1:3-4) "A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another.”