Monday, September 26, 2016

September 26, 2016

"When you pray, don’t be like those show-offs who love to stand up and pray in the meeting places and on the street corners. They do this just to look good. I can assure you that they already have their reward. When you pray, go into a room alone and close the door. Pray to your Father in private. He knows what is done in private, and he will reward you. When you pray, don’t talk on and on as people do who don’t know God. They think God likes to hear long prayers. Don’t be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask." Matthew 6:5-8

You undoubtedly recognize that this teaching comes from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount is a vision statement for the Kingdom of God. Though the people of Israel were looking for Messiah that would come to restore God's Kingdom to Jerusalem, Jesus set about describing a spiritual kingdom He came to bring to God's people.

He also spends considerable time in these three chapters of teaching (Matthew 5-6-7) setting the standard for those how those who populate that Kingdom should think and behave. 

Central to those teachings is an understanding of prayer. Jesus wanted His followers to know when to pray, where to pray, who to pray and how to pray. We will be exploring those topics this week.

Jesus was aware that most people pray so He began this teaching with the statement with, "When you pray". You do pray. You will pray. You should pray. So, knowing the proper way to pray is basic training for a Christ-follower!

George Barna research says slightly more than four out of five adults in the U.S. (84%) claim they had prayed in the past week. That has been the case since Barna began tracking the frequency of prayer in 1993.

U.S. News and the Internet site Beliefnet funded a poll to learn more about why, how, where and when people pray. Here is a summary of the findings: 

· 75% percent were Christian. 
· 64% say they pray more than once a day.
· 56% say they most often pray for family members, with 3.3% saying that they pray for strangers.
· A little over 38% say that the most important purpose of prayer is intimacy with God.
· 41% say that their prayers are answered often.
· 1.5% say that their prayers are never answered.
· Over 73% say when their prayers are not answered, the most important reason is because they did not fit God’s plan.
· 5% say that they pray most often in a house of worship.
· 79% say that they pray most often at home.
· 67% say that in the past six months, their prayers have related to continually giving thanks to God.

A Newsweek poll titled “Is God Listening?” indicated that, of those who pray, 87% believed that God answers their prayers at least some of the time. Even so, unanswered prayers did not deter them from praying. 85% insisted that they could accept God’s failure to grant their prayers. Only 13% declared they have lost faith because their prayers went unanswered. 82% don’t turn away from God even when their prayers go unanswered. 54% say that when God doesn’t answer their prayers, it means it wasn’t God’s will to answer.

The things people pray for include health, safety, jobs, and even success, valid or not. 82% said they ask for health or success for a child or family member when they pray. 82% believed that God does not play favorites in answering prayers. 79% said God answers prayer for healing someone with an incurable disease. 75% asked for strength to overcome personal weakness. 73% answered that prayers for help in finding a job are answered. On the lighter side, 51% agreed that God doesn’t answer prayers to win sporting events. 36% have never prayed for financial or career success.

If prayer is that significant, and it is, then we should learn all about it. Then we should have a good understanding of it.

That's what we will focus on Jesus' teaching on prayer. So, how's your prayer life?

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