Today's text: Mt. 6: 1-8 (NKJV)
The World is not a Stage: The words of Jesus in paraphrase. I have not reflected on the words of Christ.
"Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don't make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding.
"When you do something for someone else, don't call attention to yourself. You've seen them in action, I'm sure - 'playactors' I call them - treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that's all they get.
When you help someone out, don't think about how it looks. Just do it - quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.
Pray with Simplicity
"And when you come before God, don't turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?
"Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
"The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don't fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply.
Trust God in Prayer: Reflections on the words of Christ: Focus on: Mat. 6:7-8
Do not use empty repetition: Read Mat. 23: 4, then the text below.
There is nothing wrong with saying a memorized prayer but it should not be repeated without thought. Written, well-worded prayer is fine but again, the heart must be offering the prayer and not the mind or ego.
Do not use "ritual prayer," nor formalized worship prayer, as it can become habitual instead of heartfelt.
Do not use "thoughtless" prayer, letting the mind wander or become insincere.
Do not use habitual words or references, for example are you often using the same words and titles "Lord this and Lord that," "in Jesus name," etc. (Is. 9:6)
Several things can keep us from using repetition in prayer:
Have a genuine heart. Pray with thought and concentration. Every Christian has a desire for fellowship with God. Preparation and meditation on God's word ensures our prayers are heard!
Do not speak much
Length of prayer does not mean you are more spiritually devoted. If your intent is to impress God or others that you are more spiritual, you have missed the point of prayer!
Prayers are not automatically heard by God. Again, the intention of the heart of the one praying makes all the difference. If you are trying to impress God or someone else, you've missed the point! Sometimes, our prayers rise no higher than the ceiling.
There is nothing wrong with a long prayer, nor short prayer, if the prayer is heartfelt. Clear your mind, go before the throne of God and pray with boldness and sincerity!
God knows our needs before we ask. Prayer demonstrates our need for God.
God is the believer's Father. We ask in faith, trusting God to do the best thing for us.
God desires to hear the prayers of His children. (Rom. 8:23-27; 8:28-39, Is: 65:24)
God has ordained prayer as the way that He blesses and moves among men. (Ps: 31:9; 32:10; 125:1.)
When we have an active, vibrant, private prayer life, it overflows into our public prayer life. Prayer is a discipline. The Holy Spirit will teach you this discipline and He will speak for you when words cannot express our heartfelt needs!
In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can't get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God's part.
When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don't make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won't make you a saint.
If you 'go into training' inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn't require attention-getting devices. He won't overlook what you are doing; he'll reward you well.
May the grace of God be with you and your loved ones!
("From the Pulpit" is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)