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Praying in Secret



(Matthew 6:5-8 NIV)  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. 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. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.


(Matthew 6:9-15 NIV)  "This, then, is how you should pray: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.  Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."  For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.


(James 4:3 NIV)  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.



Have you noticed that you find yourself praying most often with a group of people, or with at least one other person, rather than praying by yourself?  When was the last time you had a good talk with your Heavenly Father, just by yourself?  I believe that if you tend to have stressed relations with your parents or with people in authoritative positions, then you most likely have a need to devote yourself more to praying in secret to your God.   This will help get your focus of relationships straight and godly.


Praying = Communicating. Praying by yourself is what builds a relationship between you and your Heavenly Father.  If you only pray in public, or when others are with you, then you may be deceiving yourself into thinking that you have a growing relationship with God--the same thing goes for those who only practice giving in public.  Perhaps this is why Jesus answered those who thought they were saved by practicing many things, “I never knew you...” (Matthew 7:22,23).


What about if you are the one praying in public, do you go on and on?  Are you trying to show how much you know or are you simply thanking the Lord for what you have and putting in a humble request?  Which one is it?  To whom are you praying?


(Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 NIV)  Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.  Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.


The model prayer Jesus put forth (Matthew 6:9-15) for us shows the kind of attitude we need to have when communicating with the Lord. Since it was common for the Pharisees to use long, complex prayers, this simple prayer from Jesus showed the apostles how we should address our Father and petition Him.  The form of the prayer is not as important as the attitude and mindset Jesus teaches us to have in the prayer. 


When we pray to the Lord, we are also cross-examining our motives and desires.  Just like we need to examine ourselves before we partake of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:26-29), we need to examine our loyalty and our mindset and be aware of who we are communicating with when we pray (James 1:5-8; 4:3).


When you live a prayerFULL life, you are walking In His Footsteps…


In His Footsteps © 1998                                                    




Praying in Secret





Jesus teaches us about our intimate relationship with the Father in Matthew 6:5-15.  What was He criticizing about the prayer life of the hypocrites?  What did He criticize about the pagans?  If your prayer style or mindset is the same as the hypocrites and the pagans, how are you shortchanging your relationship with God?  Let’s examine the wrong type of mindset in Luke 20:46, 47.  Would you say these people were looking for the approval of men?  Do they really have a relationship with God?  How can you safeguard yourself from becoming like this? Now read James 1:5-8 and James 4:1-4.  Have you ever struggled with being double-minded?  What is “double-mindedness”?  Is there any kind of selfishness in a double-minded attitude?



To pray to our Lord in Heaven, we need to examine ourselves in light of the mercy and grace that God lavishes on us.  When Jesus spoke plainly to His disciples the night before He was taken away, He repeatedly reminded them the importance and privilege of petitioning the Father in Heaven (John 14:12-17; 15:16; 16:23-27).  What kind of relationship must we foster in order to have the privilege of petitioning our Father in Heaven?  What is the mindset and attitude we need to have?  Why does the Father love us (John 16:27)?  In the model prayer Jesus gave (Matthew 6:9-13) He begins by teaching us to have the proper focus on who God is.  Whose Father is He?  Where does He dwell?  Why do we need to remember that His name is holy?



As we continue to examine the attitude we must have while praying to God in Matthew 6:9-13, whose will must we be prepared to accept, no matter what we ask?  Did God’s Kingdom come already (Colossians 1:13)?  Why do you think Jesus suggest to His apostles to pray for the Kingdom to come?  Is this something we need to pray for today?  Do you think it is appropriate to pray now for the growth of the Kingdom, since it is here already (Matthew 9:36-38; Luke 10:1-3)?  Who’s involved in the growth of the Kingdom (Matthew 28:19, 20)?



What do you ask God for when you pray to Him?  What do you ask Him for when you lead in prayer with others?  Do you disclose yourself?  Are you open in prayer to the Lord?  Are you just open when you pray with others?  Read some of David’s prayers throughout the Psalms, among them Psalm 139:23, 24 and also Psalm 51.  Do his prayers emulate Jesus’ model prayer?  What should we be asking the Lord according to Matthew 6:9-13?  What do you really need from the Lord (Matthew 6:25-33; James 1:5)?  Should you focus your prayers on what you need or on what you want?  How should we approach God in prayer (Hebrews 4:16)?



When you go to God in prayer, do you go to seek direction or do you just tell Him what you want to do?  Read Proverbs 16:9; 19:20, 21.  When you go before the Lord, how should you approach Him (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7; Jeremiah 10:23, 24)?  What did Jesus emphasize concerning praying to God in Matthew 6:14, 15?  Should we be attentive where we ask God to lead us (verse 13)?  Should we be wise in what we ask of the Lord (1 Samuel 8:6-22)?  Even though the Lord warned his people about their request, did He give them what they clamored for?  Did the kings of Israel take advantage of them as the Lord had warned them?  Beware what you ask!  You might just get it!


And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18


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