For the next few weeks, we are going to be looking at the teaching of Jesus on prayer in our study of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus has already told us not to pray like the religious hypocrites (Matthew 6:5), and today He tells us not to pray like the unsaved (Matthew 6:7). This teaches us that the discipline of prayer in and of itself is no indication that a person is born again (John 3:3-7; 1 Peter 1:23). Not only is it possible for unsaved people to pray, it is a documented fact according to Jesus Himself!
As we work our way through this section that is historically known as “The Lord’s Prayer” or “The Disciples’ Prayer”, I pray that our hearts would hear what The Spirit is saying to us personally and congregationally, and turn that into practical application. It will be noted that relationship with God, through faith in The Lord Jesus Christ, is foundational for prayer. Only the regenerated person can pray, “Our Father” (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6). Only my two children can legitimately call me “father” or “dad”. Likewise, only those who have come to the saving knowledge of The Lord Jesus Christ are born of God (1 John 5:1).
So prayer is a gift from God that has a variety of uses and means of expression. It is in prayer that we give thanks unto God (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18). It is in prayer that we cast our cares upon God (1 Peter 5:7). It is in prayer that we intercede for one another in the body of Christ (Ephesians 6:18). It is in prayer that we petition God to open doors for reaching the lost with the gospel of His saving grace (Colossians 4:3). It is in prayer that we confess our sins unto God and receive that much needed cleansing (1 John 1:9). It is in prayer that we praise and adore our God and Redeemer (Matthew 6:9).
What a glorious gift prayer is! Through Christ we have access to The Father (Ephesians 2:18; 3:12). But we must always keep in mind that the ultimate purpose of prayer is that God’s will be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) The purpose of prayer is not for my will to be done, but God’s. Once again, that brings us to the very root cause of prayer: that we, by the grace of God, would be strengthened with might by His power in the inner man (Ephesians 3:16), to the end that we would live a life of faith that brings glory to God (Romans 4:20). “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy and for Thy truth’s sake.” (Psalm 115:1)