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Praying Through the Bible #118
TEXT: Matthew 6:1-8
1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
So far in this series, we have looked at three principles that Jesus taught regarding prayer:
1. Prayer should be a regular, everyday activity. In other words, prayer is not optional for the Christian.
2. Prayer ought not to be done for the purpose of being seen by others.
3. Those who pray in a hypocritical manner — that is to be seen by men — will get their reward: they will be heard by men, and receive their praise from men, but they will not have their prayers answered by God.
Today, we are going to look at the principle of closet prayer. Jesus Christ says in verse 6 of our passage, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret.”
Someone once said, “The secret of all failure is our failure in secret prayer.” Ladies and gentlemen, our primary place of prayer ought to be a place of privacy and reclusion — a place where we are free from the observation of men and are subject only to the sight and hearing of God. Isaac went out into a field to pray; Jesus went up into a mountain to pray; Peter went onto a housetop to pray. The idea that Jesus Christ expresses is that we ought to be in a place where it is evident that the hypocritical praying of the Pharisees is not being done.
We ought to be content and we ought to prefer praying in private without being seen. If the only time you pray is when you are in public, that is a problem. If you examine your motives, you will likely find that you are only praying when you feel obligated to do so because of the circumstances, or you are simply following the example of the Pharisees whom Jesus rebuked — you are praying to be seen and praised by men.
Some people may think they are missing out by carrying their requests to God in secret times of prayer. They are not. Jesus says that we have a Heavenly Father who sees in secret. Nothing escapes the eyes of God. He knows who His faithful servants are, and He knows who is just praying to be seen and praised by men.
Jonathan Edwards said, “If you live in the neglect of secret prayer, you show your good will to neglect all the worship of God. He that prays only when he prays with others, would not pray at all, were it not that the eyes of others are upon him. He that will not pray where none but God seeth him, manifestly doth not pray at all out of respect to God, or regard to his all-seeing eye, and therefore doth in effect cast off all prayer. And he that casts off prayer, in effect casts off all the worship of God, of which prayer is the principal duty.”
The place of prayer which Jesus speaks of is a closet or “inner chamber.” The inner chamber was for the Jews the most private place in the home. It was the place where the owner of the house retired for the night. Rarely did anyone go into the inner chamber but the one to whom the chamber belonged. You may take the translation of a “closet” literally, and actually make the closet in your bedroom your place of private prayer. But this place can be a bedroom, an office, the den in your home — any place where you can get alone with God and be uninterrupted in your communion with Him. You may have to go out in the backyard to be alone. God blessed Iyanla Vanzant with a much better house after she lost her first house to foreclosure, and in her new house she has a prayer room — a room set aside for prayer. Those of you whom God has blessed with a big, fine house, do you have a room set aside for prayer to God?
It is said that Susanna Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley, would sit on a chair and put an apron over her head as a sign that she did not want to be interrupted while praying. She had nineteen children altogether, and in the midst of all that she had to do to care for them, she still found a way to be alone with God in order to pray.
Dear friend, when was the last time you spent time in your prayer closet — when it was just you and God alone? When was the last time you shut out the world and shut yourself in with the Heavenly Father so that you could talk to Him unhindered? David Jeremiah said, “It is impossible for us to do or to be anything that God wants us to do or be, apart from spending time in the prayer closet.” If Jesus Christ, the Son of God Himself, had to take time out to pray in private, certainly we ought to follow His example.
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Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. Please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…” This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.
The good news is found in John 3:16 which says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! I want to congratulate you on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in twenty-three foreign countries. He is the author of thirty-four books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts, The Prayer Motivator Devotional and the Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report and the Second Coming Watch Update. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, and a Master’s degree in Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for twenty-five years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.