How Not to pray; When Bad Words reach God
Topic: Sunday AM Passage: Matthew 6:7–6:9a
How not to pray. When Bad Words reach God.
7“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8“So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
9“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done on earth
as it is in heaven.
11‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]
I've read and re-read these notes several times and honestly, didn't like them much. It seems a jumble and sort of disconnected, at first. And also very negative.
And then as I was praying this morning about this, the Lord helped. It dawned on me that this study this morning is not complete in itself. It's just the introduction to the Lord's prayer. And Jesus takes some time to show us how not to pray before He shows us how to pray.
So take that for what it's worth. Listen and consider what I say this morning as just partial truth. Bring it back with you next week and maybe even the week after that to combine to make a whole.
With our modern technology we're blessed with now, hopefully in 2 or three weeks you can go to the web site if you so desired and read all of the teaching on the Lord's prayer as a whole, almost like chapters in a book.
Even though I don't have a clue what that will be right this minute, I live week to week in this study. I don't know this week what I'm going to say next week. But I do have confidence in the Holy Spirit that it will come together as a whole.
So if you think this week is kind of dis-connected and negative, give me a pass, and wait for the next two weeks and see if it doesn't come together in some sort of cohesion. I'm confident the Lord will do that.
This section about prayer is actually an interlude. In vs. 16 we return shortly to comparisons with false religion. The scribes and pharisees.
A parenthesis. A note in brackets. But in these few simple words we can find books written that still have not plumbed the depths of instruction and meaning.
Here we have the most comprehensive instruction about acceptable prayer anywhere in the Bible.
Indeed it is a testament to the inspiration of scripture. Only God could in just 70 or so words, outline a subject that men could not exhaust if they studied and spoke regarding it forever.
Besides teaching us how to pray, it should inspire confidence, as all the stories about Jesus ultimately do, that what we have here is above the minds of men. Only God could do and say these things. No one could make this character that says these things up.
Vss. 7 and 8 are a transition into this prayer. They're different from the 2 discussions about false religion that the Jews were practicing. Giving to be seen by men, and praying to be seen by men. In Vs. 16 we finish this logical area by exposing fasting to be seen by men.
But beginning in vs. 7, He launches into this discussion about breathing.
That's right. Prayer is no less important than our need to bring in fresh air, and exhale the old air.
So let's begin our look, and I'll get myself in trouble almost immediately.
7“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.
Meaningless Chatter. This phenomenon is true of every religion on earth. The reason is that they are not making connection to a rational, conversational, intelligent being.
And so prayer becomes, by necessity, some fashion of rote. A mechanical or habitual repetition of something learned.
It's totally one sided. Man generated. Noise that goes into the air and does nothing. There's no one receiving at the other end. Partly. Not entirely though. We'll see that God hears every word. Even the evil stuff.
If we stand in the middle of a thousand men kneeling on their prayer mats facing mecca, you hear kind of a monosyllable buzzing.
Isaiah gives us a picture of this;
Isa. 8:19 When they say to you, "Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter," should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?
Those that "mutter" and "peep" as the older english says, are making a connection with spirits, like a medium or a spiritist. Jesus called this, Meaningless repetition.
I believe we see another instance of meaningless repetition in Acts 16:16-18 It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” 18She continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment.
A verbal repetition that went on for days. Like an enchantment. And notice something important. It was a demon, doing demon business distracting people away from the authority to reign of God, using a phrase over and over that was theologically accurate.
“These men are slaves of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” Satan's best trick, is to get so close to orthodoxy that it causes confusion and in-fighting amongst the saints. Can you picture people in Paul's party saying, what did you do that for??! She was on our side! She was saying the right thing!!
Often this idea of meaningless repetition becomes a Chanting. Humming. Other forms where your mind is disconnected. Sometimes a rythmic bobbing of the head.
The story of Elijah comes to mind. 2 altars. One with a lot of noise going up into the air making no connection at all. Speaking of the false prophets of Baal
1 Kings 18:26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. "Baal, answer us!" they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.
They kept up the repetitive chanting for hours. "Baal, answer us..." The demons couldn't help them that day. Even the demons are subject to sovereign God.
Paul tells the Corinthians that they are dabbling with demons; 1 Cor. 10:19 What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons.
This chanting with your brain disconnected is nothing but what later became known as transcendental meditation. Take up a yoga position and hum in some fashion until your brain is evacuated and the door is standing wide open for . . who knows what . . to come in.
OK, here's where I'm going to get myself in a pickle.
I would challenge you to watch parts of the 75 minute you tube of the Jesus Culture concert which is from Bethel church in Redding and tell me it is different from what Jesus describes here.
The fog machine is going and something in the ductwork is spitting some sort of ice crystals and the kids are engaged in a rythmic "praise" chant where the same words are said over and over and over. And yes, I believe they're definitely having a spiritual experience.
I don't believe it's the Holy Spirit though.
Now, my bad, I don't know which concert our kids were trying to go to (I called Karmin. Turns out it was Winterfest 2014) , but my fear is that this is the current "formula". A continual repeating of some "praise" chant over and over until you let your mind become disconnected and let who knows what come on in.
I don't think this is a battle I can win. I'm painfully aware what's attractive to youthful people. Let's see; old, fat, red faced, white haired preacher who just wants to teach sound doctrine" - or - "dreamy atmosphere with engaging music and beautiful people your age swaying together all chanting a "praise" line over and over waiting on the "spirit"
I think I have Jesus on my side though. 7“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.
Real worship, including prayer, is always between two persons who are having a meaningful exchange. I'm not ruling out group worship, but even in a group, each person has a rational connection with the Living God. It's never mindless. Our God is a coherent person who engages in rational exchange.
Anything beyond a direct conversation of intelligible reasoned logical words - is called into question.
Neither am I ruling out emotion. Wet eyes are normal. Getting choked up is normal. It's a conversation with the God who spoke the worlds into place. That's a big deal. I'm little. I get overwhelmed.
We breathe in the Word of God. We breathe out prayer.
Muttering, rocking, buzzing, humming, repetetive words, over and over. Chanting - saying hallelujah over and over and over with your mind, your intelligence, dis-engaged, so the spirit can come in, mind disconnected is equivalent to what Jesus described as meaningless repetitions.
It makes God put His fingers in His ears. He doesn't want to hear it.
All I want to say in finality about this is; if your mind is disconnected and you're repeating the same words, or gibberish, disconnected from your mind, over and over, I would think what Jesus says in these verses should throw up a huge CAUTION sign. Or even better, one of those big red signs we have all over the place at work. DANGER!
I believe there are a lot of people who think they are christians who are having a lot of spiritual experiences that fall well outside of the parameters Jesus is giving us here.
Vs. 8 “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
In Ecclesiastes, there's an obscure verse I love.
Eccl. 5:1 Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. 2Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few. 3For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words.…
You can see in every direction for a few hundred feet, at ground level. God can see . . ALL.
Sometimes, the old adage about better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt, is biblical. God will hold humans accountable for words.
Matt. 12:35 "The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. 36"But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. 37"For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
Words, words, words! We used to sing a little song in Sunday school I haven't heard in years. Maybe we still sing it;
Be careful little mouth what you speak.
Be careful little mouth what you speak.
For there's a Father up above, and He's looking down in love,
so be careful little mouth what you speak.
Words matter. Words Glorify God. Or words diminish God. God will hold us accountable.
The human race, in conjunction with evil spirits, released a stunning cacophany of false, careless, evil words this week. I was rather stunned at how much anti-God speak you could pack into so few words and what an impact it will have. Visually stunning. Message from the pit of hell.
Have you seen or heard about all of the 2 minute videos released this week by a web site called 'nature is speaking dot org'? All of them have uber famous movie stars as the voices. Julia Roberts is Mother Nature. The photography is beyond engaging. Gorgeous. The message is about global warming. But it's the earth speaking to humans.
Quoting Bloomberg's Business Week now;
"Should the human race suffer a massive die-off or even extinction, Mother Nature, to hear Julia Roberts tell it, won’t much care.
“I’ve been here for eons,” she says, giving voice to the natural world in a 2-minute video released today. “I’ve fed species greater than you. And I’ve starved greater species than you. My oceans, my soil, my flowing streams, my forests: They all can take you—or leave you… Your actions will determine your fate. Not mine.” end quote. I did a little count of the satanic antibiblical messages.
If you watch it, you will learn that mother nature exists on her own. NO God. She's done just fine for 4.5 billion years. Not 7,000 22,500 times longer than humans. NOT days of each other. 6th day of a 7 day creation.
She doesn't care about humans. NO, there is a God who DOES care about humans. She is dis-connected from humans. NO God is sovereign over humans.
She's hosted species greater than humans and she's starved species greater than humans. Really? But, humans were created in the image of God. So that must mean that there is someone or something greater than God who patterned the lesser species of humans in His image. NO Evidence. NONE. Science? Questionable. Blow hard?
My oceans. My soil. My flowing streams. My forests. It all belongs to Mother Nature. NO. The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it!
The well being of humans is up to how they treat her. NO. Sovereign God has every breath of every human in His hand, under His ultimate control, and they live and die at His pleasure.
Your future depends on her. NO. My next breath depends on Sovereign God.
He will use this earth for His purposes and His glory. Mother nature is the figment of vain imaginings.
The science that blatantly states Global Warming as fact is based on computer modeling from information that was never gathered. It's somebody's best guess. And they don't call anything a theory any more. They ram it down my throat.
Don't mis-understand me. There may be something like global warming happening, and surely the earth cannot sustain what 7 billion evil fallen humans are doing to it. But God has every bit of this under His sovereign control. And it will play out just as He has planned it, at His command, on His timescale and for His pleasure. Humans who think they can control a tenth of a degree of climate change are proud fools, raling against the Almighty.
Words. False words that speak evil against God. With pretty pictures, and a pretty voice, and millions of people are going to hear that message. And that's just one example out of millions of the cacophany of evil noise that is going up to God's ears. He waits patiently for the Day of the Lord.
8“So do not be like them;
Does that not become more than profound advice. Be careful little mouth what you say. Don't be like the world who spews millions of words that say God doesn't matter.
for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
This little phrase introduces a word that becomes important in the Lord's prayer. Father.
Is Jesus here talking about a universal fatherhood of God as creator to men? Or is this more intimate?
I'm going to say this is an intimate relationship, not a general one. And by reason, I'll point you back to the pro-noun. Personal possessive pronoun. Your father. So we need to ask; who is Jesus talking to here?
I will argue that in this case, He is father to Kingdom children. People who have come out of Satan's kingdom and become citizens of the Kingdom of God.
God is especially father to His children who are the chosen, who have had their sins cleansed at the cross of Jesus. Ps. 34:15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry. 16The face of the LORD is against evildoers, To cut off the memory of them from the earth.…
He is attentive to you. He knows what you need.
9“Pray, then, in this way: IF, Then. IF, Then.
This is like when Paul gives 3 chapters of doctrine, and then you have a tip-over verse that begins with "Therefore". Paul would say; You're the spiritual equivalent of rich as Croueses, therefore, why are you playing in the gutter. That is the style in most of Paul's letters. Here's who you are! Therefore, here's how you act.
Jesus is doing the same thing. Since you have a father, who is in heaven; All powerful. All knowing. Always present. Merciful, Loving, Kind, Forgiving; then, pray in this way.
We are quite different from any other religious expression on earth. Man's concoctions of deities are ogres, who could care less about you, who are angry with you, who need to be appeased and cajoled, carefully, lest who knows what may befall you. Those are the ogre god's men invent.
You, on the other hand, have a loving Father, who delights in doing good for you, and who is powerful enough to DO it. He's the God of the heavens. The God above this earth. Pray then, in this way...
Most scholars agree that what we have here is an outline that can be fleshed out with every kind of prayer. Not a rote grouping of words that needs to be memorized and repeated like it's a magic chant.
I agree. The Lord's prayer, often corrected to be called the disciples prayer, is an outline that can help us to learn to pray effectively.
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Notice the ownership of father in vss. 8 and 9. 8Your Father in Heaven. 9Our Father who is in heaven.
Vs 8 You have a Father in heaven. Vs. 9 Speak to Him. As a child to a father.
Jesus speaks of this relationship in very human terms. How tender we fathers can feel to our children. To this day, though my kids are grown, I delight to sit and visit with them. How they're doing. What their challenges are. Their kids.
The other day I was talking to Tina, my middle girl. She's 32 now. Her little guy, Rowan had an opportunity to take some free piano lessons, but they needed a practice piano. Later I was talking to my oldest girl, Heather. I knew they had a keyboard that belonged to Pam's mom before she died. I said I would pay if they would pack and ship it.
We all do what we can, when we can, for our kids. That's easy. You can magnify that idea when speaking of our heavenly father. He delights to do us good. And He knows a million times better than we do, what that perfect good for us, is.
Luke 11:11 “Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? 12“Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? 13“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
The idea of God as a father figure was not new to the Jews, obviously. While the rest of the world was worshipping ogres and fantastical monstrosities their minds had created, God, Yahweh, revealed to them in scripture as father, was familiar to the jews, at least nationally.
We are taught, as here, by Jesus, that God is a father personally to His elect, who are saved from their sins, seperated out of this world, unto Him.
But the disconnect with the Jews was that they came to believe, they were the chosen people, by father, God, and it didn't really matter what you did or how you lived, nothing could change that. False security in a way. Father of a nation, and anyone in that nation is KingsX.
Jesus blows that up in John 8 where the discussion with the Pharisees digresses to name calling. On their part.
John 8:39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. 40“But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. 41“You are doing the deeds of your father.” They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.” 42Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. 43“Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. 44“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.
Jesus lets the religious Jews know God is not their father. Satan is.
Which raises the question; Who then can call God, in heaven, father? The most religious people on the earth could not. Who can?
John 1:11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
If you have received Jesus, by His Holy Spirit and He dwells inside you. Your sins are forgiven. You are in Him and He is in you. And He is in the Father, therefore, you, in Him, are also dwelling in the Father.
Talk with your Father, this week.
More in The Lord's Prayer
November 30, 2014Pray then, in this way Matt. 6:7-13 Pt. 4 The Lords Prayer
November 23, 2014Pray then, in this way Matt. 6:7-13 Pt. 3 The Lords Prayer
November 16, 2014Pray then, in this way Matt. 6:7-13 Pt. 2