THE REWARDS OF PRIVATE PRAYER
FORGIVEN THROUGH FORGIVENESS
SUNDAY JUNE 23, 2019
Scripture To Consider:
“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corner of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
“And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”
“In this manner, therefore, 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 this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6.5-15
Something To Consider:
In our previous Scripture to consider Jesus dealt with our giving for all the right reasons rather than giving to draw undue attention to ourselves. In our text above Jesus declared, “And when you pray…” not if you pray, do so in a private manner without attracting undue attention to yourself. According to Jesus, private prayer is an essential and powerful element in the life of every true believer.
And yet, the mandate from Jesus is that we do not become hypocrites. We should not avoid private prayer as if it is the plague and then jump at every opportunity to pray publicly to be heard by many. Jesus was positively promoting private prayer. As I look back on nearly forty years of attempting to follow Jesus, if there is one thing I regret it is that I did not take advantage of more, it would be my praying more in private and praying more often in private.
I am attempting to obey Jesus’ admonition of Luke 18.1; “Then Jesus spoke a parable to them, that men [women and young people] always ought to pray and not lose heart.” More times than I might like to admit, I lose heart for a period of time before taking full advantage of praying to my heavenly Father. That is my bad! Thank God His mercies are new every morning.
Something Else To Consider:
After instructing us to keep our prayers private and brief, Jesus said; “In this manner, therefore, pray.” This prayer taught us by Jesus is often called the Lord’s prayer. But in reality, it is our prayer. It is a model, an example given us to guide us into the simplicity and often times shortness but to the point of personal private prayer.
According to Luke in his gospel, this prayer is the direct result of the disciples asking Jesus to teach them to pray. They realized the personal importance private prayer played in the everyday life of Jesus. Therefore, they requested of Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John [John the Baptist] taught his disciples.” Private personal prayer is a learned exercise with exceeding great rewards.
This model prayer taught by Jesus is seventy words long or short depending on a person’s perspective. For me this prayer is short in length but long in substance. This prayer as all prayers should, remind us of who we are addressing; “Our Father in heaven…” God, though in the heavens is extremely concerned about our wellbeing therefore, He sent His only Son to planet earth to teach us the way to God, the truth of God, and the eternal life that can only be found in God through Christ.
And even that new life in Christ begins with a personal private prayer. That personal private prayer of repentance, confession, and the forsaking of our sins brings about the forgiveness of those sins only available in and through the atonement made available through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. The atonement has been made and has been accepted by God our Father. What remains is our applying that atonement to our own sin through our own private prayer of repentance.
Something More To Consider:
There is one point in this model of private prayer so apparently important that Jesus repeats Himself following the prayer, “For if you forgive men [women and young people] their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men [women and young people] their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Jesus revealed our universal need as Christians to be people of forgiveness. Therefore, our prayer should be, “Lord, teach us the lesson of personal private prayer and the lesson of forgiving others.” Even Jesus upon the cross after suffering horrible violent beatings, the cruel injustice of the soldiers, and the blood thirsty nailing of His hands and feet to that rugged tree-like emblem of suffering and shame, Jesus in personal private prayer declared, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Are we as forgiving as Jesus? Or do we have more room for growth and improvement in this area of great spiritual importance? As it pertains to our forgiving others their trespasses against us, are we imitating Jesus or are we simply yielding to the flesh because of our spiritual weakness? Either way, it is a lesson that according to Jesus, we must learn in order to be forgiven by God for our many trespasses against Him, His Son, and His Word.
A Few Final Words:
Let us be reminded of future end time events that according to Jesus will require our forgiving our enemies. According to Jesus, in the end, true enduring to the end Christians will be hated by all nations. According to Jesus, Christians will be betrayed by one-time followers of Jesus because those one-time followers become offended by what they see as the delay of Christ’s coming; when in fact they had been lied to by false prophets declaring a pre-tribulation rapture unbiblical escape plan.
Matthew, in his gospel chapter 24, beginning in verse 9, recorded the words of Jesus predicting the above-mentioned end time events, by stating; “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.”
Is that not exactly what is taking place around the globe even now? Are not Christians being afflicted, and hated, and killed by the opposition on a daily basis? And are there not many false prophets that have risen up and are deceiving many? Just listen to the preaching and teaching that fills the air waves. And then open your bible and determine whether what they are proclaiming is the truth according to the Word of God!
And according to Jesus in Matthew 24.12-14, “And because lawlessness will abound, the love [love of God and for God] of many will grow cold. But he [or she] who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel [enduring to the end gospel] will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.” And because that message of enduring to the end is not being preached is one of the tell-tale signs of the rise of many false prophets.
Will God’s allowed human hatred and or unexpected betrayal that will affect our lives, spiritually prepare us for Matthew 24 end time events? If so, have we learned to forgive those of whom will inflict hatred and betrayal upon us? Spiritual leaders and leaders in training are commanded to live and walk in forgiveness, thereby increasing their capacity to lovingly lead by example.
How then are we doing so far? If needed, we can be forgiven through personal private prayer. According to Jesus, sometimes it may be a prayer of seventy words or less!
Our Father in heaven, forgive us our wrongs as we forgive those who have wronged us and painfully mistreated us. In Him Always, Amen!