Matthew 6:9-18 by Pastor Dan Walker
Join us for our New Year's message series Prayer That God Answers with the message How to Pray. Learn how to pray prayers that God answers and brings joy into your life. Many people simply pray for things that they want. God only answers prayers that are for the things He desires. That's what it means to pray in Jesus' name. Discover how to pray powerful and effective prayers in this series.
Duration:40 mins 28 secs

Today, we begin a new message series “Prayer That God Answers.” There are basically only two types of prayer, prayers that God answers and prayers that God doesn’t answer. God answers prayers that are according to His will He doesn’t answer prayers that are not in accordance with His will.

In this series, we want to learn more about praying that gets answers from God. God desires for you to pray prayers that get answered. He doesn’t want you to waste time on prayers that don’t get answered.

John 16:24 (ESV)  Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

To ask in Jesus’ name is to ask for something that Jesus desires, something that is God’s will. When we receive that answer to our prayers, it gives joy to our hearts. Can someone ask for something that is God’s will and not receive the answer? Yes, there is another important condition on prayer that God answers.

Matthew 21:22 (ESV)  And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

You must have faith that God is able to and will answer your prayer when you pray. If you don’t have faith, then even if you ask for God’s will, the prayer won’t be answered. In this series, we want to learn how to pray more prayers that get answers from God. Not only will that bring joy to our hearts, but it will cause God’s kingdom to grow.

Today, my message is entitled “How to Pray.” Like anything else of importance in life, prayer must be learned. A person can pray poorly and ineffectively. Another person can pray powerfully and effectively. The difference is not in the words prayed or the beauty of the words prayed. The difference between an effective prayer and an ineffective prayer is whether the prayer is answered.

James 5:16 (NIV2011) Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

So, how can we learn how to pray powerful and effective prayers? First of all, according to James 5:16, we need to be righteous people. What’s it mean to be righteous? You need to saved and living a righteous lifestyle. If you claim to be saved but you’re living an unrighteous lifestyle, your prayers are not going to be powerful and effective. What determines whether you are living righteously? God’s Word. Now, no one lives a perfect life, but a righteous person immediately repents of sin and does not make a habit of it.

Secondly, we learn how to pray from God’s Word. God’s Word has a wealth of both instruction in prayer and many examples of powerful prayers prayed by people of faith. 

Luke 11:1 (ESV) Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”

What the disciple meant was “Lord, teach us to pray like you.” And today, we’re going to study some of what Jesus taught His disciples about prayer. Today, we’re going to look at some of Jesus’ instructions on prayer found in Matthew 6. Jesus teaches that we must …

Pray with proper balance

Our prayers are not simply to be piling up as many words as possible or repeatedly reciting the same prayer, so how are we to pray? Jesus gives us an example prayer, which is commonly called the Lord’s Prayer. This was not a prayer that Jesus prayed, rather it was a prayer with which Jesus taught His disciples and us how to pray. The Lord’s prayer teaches us how to pray with proper balance, keeping our prayers from being one-dimensional. The most common out of balance prayer is one that only consists of a laundry list of needs. That is not how Jesus taught us to pray. Jesus taught us to begin our prayers with …

Worship the Lord

Matthew 6:9 (ESV)  Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Our prayers should begin with lifting the eyes of our hearts to look at God and see Him as our father. Prayer is a child talking to his loving father who lives in heaven. We pray that His name would be hallowed. To be hallowed, means that God and His name would be honored as holy, that He would be respected, treasured and loved. As we begin prayer, we hallow God’s name by worshiping Him and by praying that more and more people would also worship Him. Worshiping God first in our prayer, helps us to get our eyes off our problems and onto the only one who has the solution. Next, we choose to …

Agree with God’s will

Matthew 6:10 (ESV)  Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Basically, there are only two wills in the world. There is the will of God and the will of Satan and these two are always diametrically opposed. Our will, our choice is simply to choose between those two wills, God’s or Satan’s. If you choose to ignore God’s will and follow your own desires, you are following Satan’s will.

In this part of the prayer, we agree and ask for God’s will, which is already being done in heaven, to be done on earth. That’s what is means for God’s kingdom to come. You see, the coming of God’s kingdom is not just future. The kingdom of God comes when God’s will is done, in our lives, in our church and in our city. Your life should have its highest priority of seeking God’s kingdom first, that is, seeking for God’s will to be done. When you have agreed with God’s will, then you are ready to …

Request God to meet needs

Matthew 6:11 (ESV)  Give us this day our daily bread,

Six simple words, but so much is packed into them. God is the only one who can meet your needs, give you your daily bread. So, we need to spend time with our Father daily and asking Him to meet our needs. Those needs that we ask God to give us, must be in line with God’s will and His kingdom. That eliminates the wants that so many get hung up on, the wants that are what you want. However, they are not in God’s will and do nothing to further His kingdom.

Every decision we make in life, every prayer request we pray, should be made to bring God’s kingdom to this earth. When our prayers are for the things we want, not what God desires, those prayers are not answered and we get frustrated. When God replies to our prayers with a No, it is an opportunity to adjust our prayers and our requests to better align with His will. Which brings us to the next aspect of prayer …      

Confess your sins

Matthew 6:12 (ESV)  and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Our debts are our sins, those actions and attitudes that were not according to God’s will. We should ask God daily to forgive our sins. When we pray for forgiveness, we are not to pray generally, such as please forgive all my sins today. We are to pray specifically. God forgive my sin yesterday when I … and you fill in the blank.

If you don’t have sin to confess every day, there’s a big problem in your spiritual life. In the next verses, Jesus expands on the phrase “as we also have forgiven our debtors.” 

Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV)  For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,  but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.   

In these verses, Jesus makes clear that unforgiveness is not an option for His followers. We must forgive others in order to be forgiven ourselves. Finally …

Submit to God’s protection

Matthew 6:13 (ESV)  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

God’s Word promises that God will not lead us into temptations that are greater than we can resist. So, the petition “lead us not into temptation” is asking God to fulfill His promise in our lives, so that we do not sin. Of course, it is the evil one from whom temptations come, so we ask for and submit to God’s protection from Satan’s snares. Fittingly, the request for protection follows our confession of sins. We need protection from God to prevent repeating the sins we just confessed.

So, the Lord’s Prayer gives us an outline, an example of, of a balanced prayer, balanced in five areas. Worship, agreement with God’s will or commitment, requests, confession and seeking God’s protection. These five elements of prayer should be part of your daily time of Bible study and prayer in a secret place, as Jesus instructs. During the day, we keep in touch with God by praying continually, using all these elements of prayer. Learning to pray with proper balance. Finally, Jesus teaches us to …

Fast with proper motives

Oftentimes when we read or study the Lord’s prayer, we neglect the important instructions of Jesus on fasting. Prayer and fasting go together, they complement one another. Fasting makes prayer more powerful and effective.

Fasting is somewhat of a forgotten practice, to our own detriment. What is fasting? Fasting is abstaining from food for spiritual purposes, for purposes of prayer. Fasting is commanded in the Old Testament and in the teaching of Jesus. Jesus fasted, the disciples fasted and believers in the early church fasted. So should we.

Don’t fast for man’s attention

Matthew 6:16 (ESV)  “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

Earlier in this chapter, Jesus taught that ought not to pray for man’s attention. As Jesus began His teaching on prayer in verse 5, He said And when you pray. Prayer is not an option for a follower of Jesus. Jesus instructed believers not to pray for man’s attention. Now beginning in verse 16, His focus turns to the spiritual practice of fasting.

Again, He begins with the statement “And when you fast.” Fasting is something that every believer should do in conjunction with their prayer. As with prayer, fasting is not to be done to receive man’s praise or reward. We are to …   

Fast for God’s reward

Matthew 6:17-18 (ESV)  But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,  that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.  

In others words, there is no need to go out of your way to let others know you are fasting. Fasting, as prayer, is to be regularly done in secret. Notice the promise at the end of these verses. Those who fast and pray will be rewarded by their heavenly Father.

What is the reward for prayer with fasting? I believe the reward is answered prayer, which is what Jesus promised for prayers of faith. So, let’s talk some more about fasting and prayer.

A normal fast in the Bible was to abstain from food for a meal or a day or several days. The purpose of fasting is to humble oneself, to seek God, to repent, to find healing or to break spiritual bondage in yourself or others. Fasting supercharges prayer and often leads to prayer breakthroughs that have been a long time in coming.

As we begin the New Year of 2022, I am calling on our church to participate in 21 days of prayer and fasting beginning tomorrow. We will be joining of hundreds of other Assembly of God churches in Southern Missouri in these 21 day of prayer and fasting. When you fast for a meal, take the time that you would have been eating to pray. When you fast and are hungry, it humbles you and increases your awareness of and dependence on God. Ask God what meals or days, He would have your fast during these days.

What are our goals in the 21 days of prayer and fasting? Our first goal as individuals and as a church family is to grow closer to God. I would describe that goal as personal and church revival. Our prayers would be that God would stir up and revive His presence in our lives and our church.

Our second goal is that God would use us to help bring revival to our relatives, neighbors, workmates and the city of St. Louis. To help us focus our prayers, we will be sending out a daily devotional via email beginning tomorrow. If you’re a regular attender and we have your email, you should receive an email daily at 8am for the 21 days. If you or someone else would like to receive the emails for our 21 days of prayer and fasting, you can text “21days” to our number (636) 442-0210.

I believe that as we set this time aside at the beginning of these year for these 21 days, God will work miracles in our families, our church and our city. I can’t wait to see what God is going to do as we seek His kingdom first.

God wants us to learn how to pray powerful and effective prayers. So, today, we’ve looked at some of Jesus’ teaching on prayer. Prayer is not just a matter of saying the right words or going through the right motions. Prayer must be with proper heart attitudes, seeking to build our relationship with our heavenly Father. Jesus taught us to pray prayers with proper balance. Prayers that worship, commit to God’s will, make requests, confess and submit to God’s protection. 

Finally, when we follow God’s leading to both fast and pray, God will honor that and reward those who do it for Jesus Christ and His kingdom. Together, we will pray these 21 days that God’s kingdom would come, His will would be done in our families, our church and in St. Louis as it is in heaven. Together we will pray for revival in our lives, our church and our city.