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Dr. Walter D. Huyck Jr. D.Min.

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The Sermon on the Mount

When You Pray

Matt 6.8-13

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[Americans and Prayer (Gallop Poll) ] 

  • [78 % of Americans pray once a week.]

  • [57% of Americans pray once a day.]

  •  [91% of Women pray occasionally.]

  •  [85 % of Men pray occasionally.]

A.     When You Pray, Pray Secretly (Matt 6.5-6) [-  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. ] 

1.      Pray in your Closet (vs 5-6; 1 Sam 16.7) [–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, . . .  - This tells us where should we pray?] 

a.       [The Pharisees would time their prayers so they would be seen of people.  They would go to the market to pray.  They would speak loudly on the crowded corners so people would hear them pray.  Why did they pray like this?  Because they felt they needed someone to hear their prayers.  After all, what good is it to pray if no one hears you when you pray?  Our Lord Jesus Christ called them Hypocrites (actors).] 

(1)   [There's a story of a young lawyer who had just opened up a brand new office. He was seated behind his shiny new desk, eagerly awaiting his first client. Soon he heard footsteps in the hall and then a hand on the doorknob. Well, wanting to look important he pretended to be busy. So as the man walked in he picked up the telephone and carried on a fake conversation. He said, "I'll have my secretary get to that as soon as I can. Understand I have a very heavy schedule." He then motioned toward the door beckoning the stranger to come in. He said, "I do appreciate your calling, call back in a few days and if I can take your case, I will." He put the receiver back on the hook and looked to what he hoped was his first client and said, "Now what may I do for you?" The man said, "I'm from the phone company, I came to connect your telephone."] 

(2)   [Those who only pray when there is someone with them to hear them are mere actors in prayer.  They are putting on a front for people to see.  Those who only pray such public prayers have lost sight of what prayer really is.] 

b.      [What Is prayer? (vs 6) Many of us here this morning would laugh at such a question as this, but there may be some here today who have honestly never really answered this question.] 

[Matthew 6:6 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.]

[Biblical prayer is talking with God.  It is merely communication with God.  Now, no communication is one sided.  I did not say that prayer was talking to God I said it is talking with God.  Communication is always full duplex which means it is two way.  You do some talking to God and then God does some talking to you.  You ask and speak and then listen.  That is true communication.]

[The Late Adrain Rogers used to say,]

 [“What God says to me is more important than what I say to him.”[1]]   

c.       [Jesus said, enter into your closet to pray Why did Jesus say enter into your closet to pray?  Because you need to be sure that when you pray you are really talking to God rather than talking to those who are around you.  When there is no one around but your Heavenly Father, then you have nothing to prove to anyone but yourself and you already know who you are.  Be certain that you will never convince God that you are anyone but who you are, because God looks at your heart (1 Sam 16.7) and nothing is hidden from our God.  God knows who you really are.] 

d.      [You must be God’s child for God to hear your prayers (Prov 15.8,29) – If you have never accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, then you stand in rebellion to God, you are trampling the precious blood of God’s only begotten Son under foot, and God says He will not hear your prayers.  The Bible says,] 

[Proverbs 15:8 8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.]

[Proverbs 15:29 29 The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.]

[If you have never been born again then there is only one prayer God will hear from you and that is the sinners prayer whereby you receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.  Then God becomes your Heavenly Father (John 1.12-13), and you receive the incredible privilege of powerful and availing prayer.] 

e.       [If God is your Heavenly Father, through the redemption offered by the Lord Jesus Christ, and you enter your prayer closet to talk to your Heavenly Father, rest assured your Heavenly Father will meet you in that place.] 

[Matthew 6:6 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.]

["Real prayer, attention-getting prayer, God-honoring prayer, Spirit-answered prayer, is prayed in secret."[2]] 

f.        [A Private God and I Time – My Christian friend do you have a daily, private God and I Time.  Do you enter your prayer closet and privately meet with your Heavenly Father every day.  Your God and I time is the most important time of your day, everyday.  You need a private and secret God and I time everyday.] 

[Illustration – Your Prayer Track – Pastor James Merritt once said, - "On one of my mission trips I stayed out in the African bush, and we walked through a tiny African village, and even got to go into some of the huts. These huts are very close together. One of the things I noticed is that it is very difficult to have any privacy in these villages. I was reading about a certain West African village where the Christians had no privacy for prayer in their huts. So every Christian would go off into the bush behind his hut to have his prayer time. After awhile there would be a worn track from the hut to the place of prayer. If it ever happened that the track would become overgrown with weeds and grass because it was not being used, another Christian would come and admonish his brother and say, 'Brother, there's something wrong with your prayer track.'" [3]] 

g.       [Public and Private Prayer – Now our Lord is not saying that we should never pray publicly together.  We should pray with each other at Church and in other prayer meeting.  We should touch and agree in our prayers and ministry (cf. Matt 18.19).  But your public prayers should never take the place of your private prayers.] 

[I recall hearing a seasoned pastor once mention how he had learned to discern those who, through busyness or distractions allowed their private God and I time to falter, so that the only time they prayed was when they prayed at Church or in a Church prayer meeting.  He said that their public prayers would become long and personal.  Things that they should have prayed for in private and those things they should have interceded for at home would come to their mind when praying before a worship service or over a meal.  Their prayers will drag on and on.  They should have prayed for all of those things in their private God and I time then their public prayers would be concise, powerful and availing.] 

[Do not make the mistake of thinking your public prayers can ever replace your private secret prayers.  You need a daily God and I time.] 

2.      Pray with Conviction (vs 7-8; James 5.16;Philip 4.6) [- 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. - God looks on the heart.  The New Testament reminds us,] 

[James 5:16 16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.]

[Vain Repetitions - In our text our Lord says “. . . use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do:. . .” (vs 7) Just saying the same thing over and over again accomplishes nothing.  Saying something someone else tells you to say is meaningless for you.  Your Heavenly Father wants to hear from you, He wants you to speak your heart and mind.  He wants to hear your effectual fervent prayers.  In other words talk to God about what is really on your mind.  Don’t beat around the bush.  After all, Jesus said, . . . your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. (vs 8).  Pray with your mind and heart intact.]

[Pray about what is really on your mind.  Someone might say, “Preacher you just don’t know what’s on my mind.  It just might not be appropriate to pray about what’s on my mind.”  The Bible says,

[Philippians 4:6 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.]

[My friend if it’s on your mind then it’s a part of your life, and you need to talk to your Heavenly Father about it.  There is nothing in your life or on your mind that God does not already know about.  The fact is,]

[There is no sin in your life
that proper prayer could not avoid
or no need that
proper prayer could not supply.[4]]

[Someone might ask, “Well preacher, if God already knows my sin or need, then why do I need to pray and ask about it?”  Because God will never take away your free will.  If you want to live in sin and rebellion against God, God will let you.  If you want to try and take care of your problem on your own, then God will let you.  But if you want to be right with God all you have to do is ask Him.  If you want your loving and good Heavenly Father, who never makes a mistake, to help you with our problem or need then all you have to do is ask Him.]

[Hence, to pray with conviction, to pray effectually and fervently, is to pray with all your mind and heart and to sincerely mean what you say when you pray.]

[John Bunyan, that great Christian who wrote Pilgrim’s Progress while locked in a prison cell for preaching the Word of God once said,] 

["When you pray it would be better to let your heart be without words,

than to let your words be without heart."] 

[Charles Spurgeon, that great preacher, once called the prince of preachers, said,] 

["The prayer of the heart is the heart of prayer."] 

[Someone once said,] 

["That God does not respect the arithmetic of our prayers;

it's not how much we say.]

[God does not respect the rhetoric of our prayers;

it's not how eloquent we say it.]

[God does not respect the logic of our prayers;

it's not how methodical our prayer might be.]

[God respects the sincerity of our prayers;

how heartfelt they are."] 

B.     When You Pray, Pray Systematically (vs 9-13) [– After this manner therefore pray ye: . . . – Jesus taught those on that mount that day a method of prayer.  Our Lord did not mean to pray the exact the words that He said.  Instead, He meant to give a method or example of prayer that we might learn from.] 

[Manner - Οὕτως (Gk) - an adverb from the near demonstrative οὗτος (this); in this manner, in this way, thus, so; (1) with reference to what preceded; (a) in combination with a correlative to produce a comparison (just) asso (LU 11.30); (b) used absolutely to intensify what preceded thus, so, in this way (MT 11.26); (2) to refer to and introducing what follows as follows, in this way (MT 6.9); (3) before an adjective or adverb to denote degree of intensity so (RV 16.18)[5] ] 

[Hence what we mean by systematic prayer is not to provide the actual words to be incorporated into your prayers but to lead you to understand what types of elements should be incorporated into your prayers.  Therefore, Our Lord Jesus Christ provides us with,]  

The Four P's of Prayer: 

1.      Start With Praise (vs 9-10) [- . . . Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.  - In Praise you need to always remember who you are talking with.  Notice in these verses,]

a.       [You are praying to your Heavenly Father - He is a personal Father who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.] 

(1)   [Talk to God as a child talks to its father – It’s just that simple.] 

(2)   [God becomes your Father at the moment of your salvation.] 

(3)   [This speaks or our access to God] 

b.      [In Praise know the high honor of prayer - "Hallowed be they name."] 

(1)   [The God of all creation is listening for and to you when you pray.] 

(2)   [Almighty God is perfectly holy, perfectly just, incredibly powerful.  He is higher than the highest, greater than the greatest.  By Him you live, breath, and have your being.  He is to be highly exalted.   We must never forget to whom we approach when we come to Him in prayer.] 

(3)   [This speaks of the respect we should always show toward our God.] 

c.       [In Praise seek to glorify God on earth - "Thy will be done . . ."] 

(1)   [The goal of prayer is not the get what you want, but to see God do what He wants.] 

(2)   [Real prayer occurs when we get in touch with heaven and then let the Holy Spirit pray God will through us.] 

2.      Share Your Petitions (vs 11; Philip 4.6,19) - "Give us this day our daily bread." [– Petitions are those things that you have on your mind, whatever they may be.  Nothing is out of order with God.] 

[Philip. 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. ] 

[Bread in Jesus day represented survival, it represented their needs.  God does not say he will give you all you want, He says he will supply all your needs.] 

[Philip. 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. ] 

3.      Seek God's Pardon (vs 12; Psalm 66.18; Matt 6.14-15) [- "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors."  Two things are necessary in all prayer:] 

a.      [You need to get forgiveness.   James Merritt once said, ] 

["If there is sin in your heart, there will be a leak in your prayers."] 

[The Bible says,] 

[Psalm 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:]  

b.      [You need to give forgiveness,] 

[Matthew 6:14-15 14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.]

[James Merritt once said,] 

["There can be no worship heavenward unless there is fellowship earthward.

You cannot be right with God if you are not right with your brother or your sister.

A grudge is a sludge that dams the river of prayer."] 

4.      Secure God's Power (vs 13; 2 Tim 2.22; 1 Tim 6.11; James 1.12) [- "Lead us not into Temptation, but deliver us from evil." - Our desire should be to avoid every temptation. Often Christians begin to play around with sin. The old sayings remind us that, ] 

        [If you play with fire, you are going to get burned.]

        [If you play with bee's, you are going to get stung.] 

[The Bible warns us to flee from sin,] 

[2 Tim. 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.]  

[1 Tim. 6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.]  

[We need to flee like Joseph form sin.] 

[Jesus is saying that we need to pray that we not even have to enter into the temptation to sin, but if I must be tested then keep me from the sin. God will test us, in the test we need not sin.] 

[God tries us that we might stand and be strong.  The Bible says,] 

[1 Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: ] 

[James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. ] 

[Prayer is a powerful, but you must pray!  Christian, are you praying?] 


[1] Adrianism, The Wit and Wisdom of Adrian Rogers, pg 42.

[2], "Hotline To Heaven," James Merritt, Matt 6.5-15

[3] Ibid.

[4] Rogers, 44

[5]Friberg, T., Friberg, B., & Miller, N. F. (2000). Vol. 4: Analytical lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Baker's Greek New Testament library (289). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.


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