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Monday, October 15, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship Chapter 15

Matt 6:5-8 Sermon on the Mount con’t

“Jesus teaches his disciples to pray. What does this mean? It means that prayer is by no means an obvious or natural activity.” 

Jesus not only tells the disciples to pray, He also assures them their prayers WILL BE HEARD.
We have access to God through the Mediator of Christ. Because of Christ, we can have certainty God hears us when we pray.

“This is what gives Christian prayer its boundless confidence and its joyous certainty. It matters little what form of prayer we adopt or how many words we use, what matters is the faith which lays hold on God and touches the heart of the Father who knew us long before we came to him.” 


Read that again!

This gets even better, “Genuine prayer is never “good works,” and exercise or a pious attitude, but it is always the prayer of a child to a Father.”
Do you realize this when you pray? You’re God’s child and He listens as a loving Father, not a vengeful God!

How great is that!!!

If you don’t have a good relationship with your Earthly father I can see how it would be hard to relate to God as your Father, but He longs for that type of relationship with you. It’s not impossible to have, it just takes transforming your mind (“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIV).  

A Father knows what His child needs. All dads know (or should know) their kids need love, discipline, encouragement, food, clothing, fun, support, medical attention…you name it.
God knows this too. Therefore we don’t have to worry about telling God all these things, He ALREADY KNOWS! 

So why pray if God already knows?

“Of course it is not as if God needed our prayers, but they are the means by which the disciples become partakers in the heavenly treasure for which they pray. Furthermore, God uses their prayers to hasten the coming of the End.” 

But that’s not the only reason to pray. Bonhoeffer explains eloquently how prayer, when done as Christ instructs and not to show off, brings us into harmony with God.

“When men pray, they have ceased to know themselves, and know only God whom they call upon. Prayer does not aim at any direct effect on the world; it is addressed to God alone.” 

In this passage of scripture Jesus tells us that prayer is an intimate time with God. While corporate prayer is done, one should still remember they are praying to God alone and not to those around who listen.  They pray TO God not AT God. It’s not to hear themselves sound holy; it’s to communicate with the Father. Communication is a two way street. We pray, God listens and GOD ANSWERS! 

Just don’t get impatient for the answers and create them for yourselves. That’s robbing God of His job and your reward. When you force your own answers to prayers you have your reward. Instead, we must remember this is a relationship.

“The right way to approach God is to stretch out our hands and ask of One who we know has the heart of a Father…True prayer does not depend either on the individual or the whole body of the faithful, but solely upon the knowledge that our heavenly Father knows our needs. That makes God the sole object of our prayers, and frees us from a false confidence in our own prayerful efforts.”  

Matt 6:9-15 The Lord’s Prayer

In the next pages Bonhoeffer breaks this prayer down and explains it in detail. If you’re interested in hearing it let me know in the comments section and if the majority wants it, I will do a post solely on The Lord’s Prayer.

Bonhoeffer sums up the prayer wonderfully with this sentence: 

“God’s name, God’s kingdom, God’s will must be the primary object of Christian prayer.” 

Questions to reflect upon:

1.        Do you see God as a Father? If not, why?

2.       What hinders your prayers? Identify them and then turn them over to God in prayer, allow Him to transform your mind Romans 12:2.

3.       Take time to evaluate your prayer life. Do you feel frustrated when you pray, like God doesn’t listen? If so, perhaps it’s because you’re trying to answer your prayers YOUR way and not allowing God freedom to be God. Ask God to reveal your heart to you, then take time to listen. It might take a while, but God promises to listen and answer. God does not lie. He will answer; you just may not like His answer. I’ve found He answers with “yes”, “no” or “wait”.

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