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Monday, October 15, 2012

Prayer With Others

Prayer With Others

Read: Matthew 6:7-13
Pray like this . . .  - Matthew 6:9

Audio:  Matthew 6

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 45-46; 1 Thessalonians 3

Early in His earthly ministry, Jesus sat down on the side of a mountain and delivered one of His most memorable and stirring sermons (Matthew 5:3-7:27). He covered a lot of ground that day, including the topic of prayer.  Jesus taught the large crowd who had gathered, telling them not to pray in ways that drew attention to themselves (Matthew 6:5). He also said they shouldn't try to manipulate their heavenly Father into answering prayers by using lengthy, meaningless repetition (Matthew 6:7). He added that it's best to use fewer words since God knew what they needed before they even asked for it (Matthew 6:8).

Jesus then went on to give His listeners a model for prayer that many have dubbed "The Lord's Prayer" (Matthew 6:9-13). It's not a magic incantation, but more like a guide that underscores some of the basic elements of prayer.  Jesus modeled a worshipful and personable way to pray to "Our Father in heaven" (Matthew 6:9). He demonstrated the importance of praying for the advancement of God's kingdom, for daily needs and personal relationships, and for deliverance from the evil one (Matthew 6:10-13).

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of Jesus' prayer was recently pointed out to me: He prays in the plural. He addressed God as "our Father," and prays, "Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us . And don't let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one" (Matthew 6:11-13). In other words, Jesus may have also been modeling a form of prayer that's meant to be prayed together with other believers.  Yes, He showed us the importance of praying alone (Matthew 14:23). But He also showed us that sometimes it's important to pray with others.

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