The High Calling To Prayer

Bible Book: Matthew  6 : 6-8
Subject: Prayer
Series: The Heavenly Prayer Language
[Editor's Note: There are nine sermons in the series "The Heavenly Prayer Language." One will be added at about one per every two weeks beginning with the first on May 26, 2014]

(Also see Luke 11:1) Today we begin a series of messages to help in our communication with God. I have discerned over the years that bad theology can warp a person's spiritual walk. Never has that been more true than in the area of prayer. We have been told we must have "a" heavenly prayer language in order to be spiritual. You know, some mystical, indiscernible language that you talked to God in. A secret code. I went through years thinking, "Well, I just can't get through to God because I haven't received a special giftedness." It was frustrating. Then one day it dawned on me...

1. God loves each of us the same and does not play games with our lives spiritually.

2. God desires and longs to have communication with His children.

3. Therefore, if that is God's desire, if having a prayer language was the only way to have intimacy with Him, then God would zap everyone with a mystical language so He could ensure intimacy with His children.

No where, contextually in the Bible, does Jesus or anyone else teach this as the mode of operation of God! What the Scripture does teach is "the heavenly prayer language." Jesus tells us how to have a dynamic, vital, growing, personal conversation with God. Every saint of God has a high calling to prayer upon their life. Therefore, it would stand to reason we should desire to pray in the prayer language that Jesus Christ has given to each and every one of us.

This is what Jesus teaches about prayer.

I. The Purpose Of Prayer

A. The Inquiry Of The Men

Luke's Account States That These Disciples Were Carried Away With What They Saw In Jesus. So At The Right Time They Made A Specific Request Of Jesus Christ. Luke said Jesus Christ had been praying in a certain place. After He was through, one of His disciples said to Him...Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples. (Luke 11:1)

These Men Were Perceptive

They had seen Jesus heal the terminally ill and cast out demons. They had observed His amazing authority over nature. They recognized there was a connection between what they saw publicly of Jesus and what He did privately when no one was around. Realize these men did not ask Jesus to school them in personal counseling, public speaking, or miracle working. All they wanted to know was this: how do you pray like that? They recognized it was the process of prayer that gave Him the strength to do all the miraculous things He did. They recognized Jesus knew a level of intimacy with His heavenly Father that transform prayer from ritual into privilege and from privilege into raw power. They recognized Jesus prayers connected to God.

These Guys Were Religious And Knew About Prayer.

Their Jewish heritage required them to be disciplined and consistent in the practice of prayer. At the beginning and end of each day for as long as they could remember, they had quoted the Shema, the Jewish confession of faith taken from Deuteronomy 6:4-five. They had the ritual of praying down but something was different.

They Desired To Experience The Intimate Communion Jesus Had With God.

What they saw in His eyes, observed in His pace, discerned in His calm spirit, they had to know about this high calling of prayer. Lord, teach us to pray.

B. The Illusion Of The Multitudes

There are multitudes of Christians today who have given up on prayer. 

There Are Those Who Are Discouraged.

They ask what's the point of prayer? I've asked and asked and asked to no avail.

There Are Those Who Are Distracted

They see that having their requests granted is their primary goal of prayer. What you and I need to understand is that prayer is not simply the process of giving God our Christmas list. The Scripture talks about asking with wrong motives. I've heard of those who asked, and God granted only to later realize it would have been far better if they'd never made the request at all. Prayer is not even to alert God to our needs.

Listen, God knows your needs before you know them. Prayer is not badgering God in order to manipulate Him into remembering us. Those are not the goals of prayer in the eyes of God.

C. The Instructions Of The Master

According to Jesus, the goal of prayer is two-fold.

To Spend Time In Conversation With Our Father. Listen, when that is our goal we are guaranteed that it will be rewarded. You say, "Will it be answered the way we want?" Could be! But, will it be rewarded by bringing us into the Father's presence? Absolutely! One Discovers That Prayer Is Not About Answers; It Is About Reward. In verse 6 and 7 there is an emphasis on reward.When you understand the purpose of prayer, to converse with the Father and be rewarded, it will revolutionize the way you approach God. It will cause you to marvel at the miraculous privilege of being able to engage in intimate conversation with the One who created this world. You will be amazed that He opens up the windows of Heaven and allows us to spend hours at a time in His awesome presence. You will be consistently awestruck that moment by moment you are building a wonderful relationship with God. And you will enjoy His reward every time you pray.

Listen, Jesus will teach us that intimacy with God will bring provisions of God upon our lives. Illustration" Years ago Manley Beasley shared the story about his ministry as an itinerant evangelist. He said every week he would come home from being in a revival or Bible conference and be met by his two sons. As was his practice, Manley would always bring his two boys some small gift just to let them know he was thinking about them while he was gone.

One day he was a little discouraged when he realized all the boys wanted was the gift. He said he watched his boys develop differently. One would meet him at the door with the question, "What'd you bring me, Dad? What'd you bring me?" The other son, however, would always be satisfied just to go out in the backyard and sit with his Dad and talk to him.

Manley Beasley said one son was caught up in the blessing but the other son wanted to be with the blesser and that made the blesser want to give him more blessing.

So many of us only want what prayer can do for us instead of being in the presence of almighty God. Illustration: Ken Hemphill, in his book on prayer, said, "When I finally comprehended the fact that prayer permitted me to come into the presence of my Father to express my love for Him, to thank Him for His constant provision and give Him the honor He is due, I discovered a new passion for prayer."

Listen, being able to communicate with Him is reward enough for the saint of God.

II. The Problems Of Prayer

There Are Three Problems Jesus Pointed Out

A. The Absence Of Prayer

Listen to what Christ says in Matthew 6:5: When you pray... (Matt. 6:5a)

The first reason prayer doesn't seem to connect people with God is so obvious. Most are not praying. I like the word when. It brings the idea there is an assumption that the followers of Christ will invest themselves in prayer.

Illustration: A recent national survey conducted by a mainline Christian denomination indicated that 25% of its members admit that they never pray. Never! Add this to the number of people who would be honest enough to tell you that their prayer life is sporadic or dull at best and it doesn't take a genius to figure out that one glaring reason people are so dissatisfied with their prayer life is simply they don't pray!

Think how ridiculous that sounds! I'm a Christian who belongs to the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ. I am a saint of God who has been promised the avenue of communicating with the Father, but yet I never talk to Him. That would be like a football team that never practices. An orchestra that never tunes its instruments. A farmer who never plants any crops. Prayerlessness makes absolutely no sense and most are guilty of it! But we're also guilty of blaming God for not answering prayers we never pray.

B. The Pretending In Prayer (Matthew 6:5)

Jesus tells us we're not to be like the hypocrites.There is nothing that turns the stomach of God more than our phoniness in prayer. I've always been amazed at the way we pray with all the spiritual jargon. I wonder how often God just shakes His head and asks the question, "Who are you trying to impress?" If you're not careful you will be called on to pray and you'll start to pray and change your vocabulary and your tone so others can get a feel for your superior spirituality.

The point of this verse is don't fall into the trap where you will forgo communication with God in order to be seen, heard, admired, and appreciated by your fellowman. The encouragement of Jesus is to stop your showboating and Be genuine! If you must showboat, realize you have your reward in full. Our desire should always be to communicate with our Father and receive the reward of His presence.

C. The Problem Of Pointless Praying (v. 7)

The two key words are meaningless repetition. The Gentiles felt like their prayers carried magical power. Therefore, they would give themselves to babbling on and on and on in their prayers with no point. Finally, their songs and chants dissolved into silence.

Listen, long prayers, desperate pleading, and mechanical rantings are not required to request help from our Father. The One who treasures our intimate conversation with Him, who knows what we need before we ask, is not testing our faith with word counts and endurance records!

But let me tell you about the One who rewards us in prayer. He rewards those who seek His heart not just His hand. He rewards those who are passionate for Him.

III. The Passion Of Prayer

Passion Is Defined By Three Words

A. There must be Desire

The desire should always be to get into the presence of almighty God.

Illustration: James Montgomery Boice abandoned his characteristic optimism on one occasion when he told his congregation, "I believe that not one prayer in a hundred of those that fill our churches on a Sunday morning is actually made to almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. They are made to men or the praying one himself and that includes the prayers of preachers as well as those of the members of the congregation." Let our desire be to come into the presence of almighty God and not to please the flesh and blood we can see and touch.

B. There Must Be Devotion

Let me tell you exactly what I mean. So often we have memorized prayers of others we have heard all our lives. We have learned the language of Zion to the point that we pray words but have no heart. The problem we have if we aren't careful is that our prayers will be all words and no heart.

Illustration: John Bunyon once said, "In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without heart." Therefore, those kinds of prayers get us nowhere every time.

Remember prayer is a precious privilege that allows us to have direct dialog with the Father. We can never approach it with casual indifference or blank check repetition and expect to get the reward He offers graciously to us.

C. There must be Discipline

We are to discipline ourselves in holy commune with God so that the Spirit that indwells us can burst forth. Discipline so that we can live in the forever presence of Jesus Christ.


Have you been hungering for more of God in your every-day life? I have. I've been reading about great men of God and how they were mightily used of God; men like John Wesley, Whitfield, Charles Finney, and D. L. Moody--different denominations but a common thread. They were men of prayer! When a saint of God desires the presence of God devoted to the heart of God, discipline through the practice of prayer, zeroed in on the heart, God rewards them.

Charles Finney was used of God in a mighty way in the 1800's. One day Finney committed himself to prayer and discovered God rewards those who seek His heart. He said one day as he approached the church building where he would be preaching God's "light perfectly ineffable" so shown in his soul that it almost prostrated him. It seemed brighter than the noonday sun and reminded him of Paul's conversion on the way to Damascus. Many were saved, some were healed in body, and Finney learned what it meant to travail in prayer for the unsaved.

They said Finney would walk into a factory and without saying a word, people would begin to get on their knees and cry out to God, "Save me, oh God!"

In 1826 in Auburn, New York, professors in a theological seminary became hostile to his ministry. They encouraged ministers not to support the ministry of Charles Finney. Spies were sent to try to find something that could be reported to damage his influence.

One day while Finney was praying at length as he regularly did, Jesus appeared to him in a vision. "He drew so near to me while I was engaged in prayer that my flesh literally trembled," Finney said. "I shook from head to foot under a sense of the presence of God." Finney described the experience as "like standing atop Sinai with its thunderings."

Instead of wanting to flee he felt drawn nearer and nearer to God. As His presence filled him, Finney felt unutterable awe and trembling like Daniel. (Daniel 10:8-11) God empowered him through His presence all because Finney became a man of prayer.

Church, let me ask you. Do you have a passion for God? Are you willing to answer the high call to prayer?