Lesson 90—November 15, 2015
My Prayer Life—Part 2
Scripture: Matthew 6:7-8
Lesson Goal: To learn that praying is about gaining the attention of Almighty God not about impressing others.
Introduction: Today we continue our study on the purity of our hearts as we pray. In the book of James, chapter 5, verse 16, James wrote: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Purity of heart is an essential characteristic of a truly righteous man. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).
(V7) “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathens do.”
“Vain repetitions”—Greek “battologesete,” meaning “to babble much; to use many phrases; to say idle things; to say meaningless things.” According to the Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible, vain repetition means at least two things: saying the same words over and over again without putting one’s heart and thought into what is being said, and using certain religious words or phrases (sometimes over and over again) and thinking God hears because one is using such religious talk.
Warren Wiersbe states: “A request becomes a ‘vain repetition’ if it is only a babbling of words without a sincere heart desire to seek and do God’s will. The mere reciting of memorized prayers can be vain repetition.”
“as the heathen do, For they think that they will be heard for their many words”
This makes reference to the Gentile practice of the day concerning their pagan ceremonies and worship. Often they would name and designate all the various gods in order to avoid leaving out the appropriate one (see 1 Kings 18:26-28).
God is not impressed by the mere multiplication of many words, no matter how eloquent or fluent they may seem.
• Is the heart of the one praying more important than the words being spoken? Please answer thoughtfully.
Prayer should not be thoughtless or filled with the vain (empty) repetition of careless words or phrases without regard for the words and meanings. It is not the honest, properly motivated repetition of needs or praise before God that is wrong, but the mindless, indifferent recital of spiritual-sounding incantations or magical formulas over and over. Not only must our hearts be right before God, but also our minds must be right. Thoughtless prayer is almost as offensive to God as heartless prayer. In most instances, they go together. Prayers are offered to gain the attention and be heard by God, not to impress men who may see or hear the one praying.
(V8) Again I remind you that Jesus was not condemning prayer; He was condemning the thoughtless manner in which some prayed. The underlying message of Jesus’ words is that when His followers prayed they prayed to the one true and living God who knew their needs even before they asked. They did not pray to idols of wood, gold, or stone.
When we (His followers) pray, there is to be a genuine sincerity which flows from a pure heart. Simple and direct prayers offered from pure hearts accomplish much.
• Please explain this statement from the Believer’s Study Bible:
God, who is always more ready to hear than we are to pray, already knows our needs, as well as our ignorance in making proper requests. Prayer avails one of God’s willingness. Through prayer, one recalls personal needs and adopts an attitude of dependent trust which is ready to receive God’s gifts and to yield in open trust and praise to His demands. Prayer is communion, not a battering ram used to break down the door of God’s treasure house; it is a receptacle with which the child of the Father receives that which He is already prepared to give.
• Describe prayer and what it means to pray.
• Why do we pray so little?
As we come to the end of this study, “My Prayer Life,” I have intentionally shortened today’s lesson to allow time for your Life Focus class to join together in prayer. May God bless your sweet time of communion with Him, as you pray with pure hearts, not with vain repetitions or multiple meaningless words.
If you are having difficulty knowing what to pray during this time, I remind you that we are only eleven days from Thanksgiving Day. Sincere prayers of thanks-giving, from the genuine and pure hearts of His children, would be a blessing to our Father.