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Praying Through the Bible #120
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 four principles that Jesus taught regarding prayer:
1. Prayer should be a regular, everyday activity.
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.
4. Prayer ought to be carried out faithfully in private before God alone.
Today, we are going to look at the “why” behind that last principle. Why ought we to be committed to praying in secret with the intent of being seen and heard by God alone? Jesus Christ tells us why in the latter part of verse 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.”
Now, it seems quite obvious to say that God sees what we are doing in secret. Of course He does. The point for us is: do we really believe that God sees us in secret, and that He is listening to our prayers offered in secret? Secret prayer is a matter of faith. If we are to be consistent and faithful in prayer, we must really believe that God sees us and hears us while we pray.
Another thing we must remember is that we are praying to God who is invisible. Jesus points this out by saying that the Father not only sees us in secret, but that He is “in secret” as well. The Pulpit Commentary states, “The thought here may be partly that to be unseen of men is a help to communion with Him who is also unseen by them, but especially that the manner of our actions ought to resemble that of our Father’s, who is himself unseen and works unseen.”
Many of us become concerned with who sees us carrying out our Christian service — be it praying, preaching, or ministering in some other way. But, we forget that God Himself does not always allow us to see Him or to know what He is doing. If you have been saved long enough, you have probably had an experience when you were worried or concerned about something, and after a while everything was resolved, and you realized that God had been working behind the scenes and working out your situation even when you could not see or sense that He was doing so. In a way, He was doing as Jesus describes in this verse — He is our Father in secret acting in secret on your behalf.
So, when you go into your secret place to pray — when you go into your closet, or your private place — don’t allow yourself to become discouraged by what may seem like the absence of God. Have faith that He is there with you in your private place of prayer.
Now, look at the reward of secret prayer. Christ says that our Father who sees us in secret will reward us openly. Many people strive for recognition, applause, and rewards from others, and they completely miss out on the rewards that come from God. You see people reward us for what they can see us do. But, God rewards us for what people cannot see us do. God rewards us for having the right heart and spirit toward Him and others. God rewards us for being faithful in private, secret prayer to Him.
Not only does God reward us, but He rewards us openly. He rewards us in such a way that others will see and will not be able to deny His blessings in our lives.
Mike Yaconelli shared this story in his book, Dangerous Wonder: The Adventure of Childlike Faith: He said, ‘Those of us who had anything to do with the Billy Graham Crusades know how well organized everything was. In fact, if you were involved in any way, shape, or form, you know that practically every detail is planned. You might even be tempted to think that the well organized effort is what brings people to Christ. But, while that is necessary, it is not the secret of Billy Graham’s incredible success. This story took place during the last Billy Graham crusade in Sacramento, California. The night before the crusade was to begin the crusade choir rehearsal went late. One of the musicians in the choir was a pastor by the name of Ray Johnston. He was driving through downtown when he noticed a homeless man slumped over on the steps of the state capital building. It was cold outside, almost midnight and, at that time of night, definitely not the safest place to be. He decided he couldn’t ignore the plight of this poor homeless man. He was nervous as he approached him, not really sure what he was going to do. The homeless man was crouching almost cocoon like on the steps and the choir member reached out and gently touched his shoulder and asked, “Sir, can I help you? Are you okay?” The man looked up and in that instant, the choir member realized who it was — it was Billy Graham himself praying for the city of Sacramento. It’s was not just the incredible preparation and work that brought thousands of people to Christ each time Billy Graham held a crusade, it’s the fact that Billy Graham depended on the Lord’s power through prayer.’
Billy Graham engaged in secret, private prayer, and God rewarded him by blessing his ministry in public. Everybody saw the blessing, everybody saw the reward, but not everybody saw the prayer.
Just like with anything else in life, what you do in private behind closed doors will eventually show its effects in public. Let’s not be as the hypocrites are and pray to be seen by men and then receive empty rewards from men. Let’s be faithful in private prayer to God so that God will bless us and use us for his glory!
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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.