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What Every Christian Needs to Grow - Part 2 of 4
Matt. 6:5-15 & Selected
Rick Warren
Matthew 6:5-15 - Jesus explained how simple and easy it is to make contact with
God: through prayer.
1. _____________________________________________
"When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in
the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men." (vs. 5)
* Don't try to
* Don't try to
2. _____________________________________________
"But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father wh
o is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you
." (vs. 6)
3. _____________________________________________
"Don't recite the same prayer over and over as the heathen do, who think prayers
are answered only by repeating them again and again. Remember, your Father kno
ws exactly what you need before you ask Him!" (vs. 7-8 LB)
"This, then, is how you should pray..."
1. PRAISE: _____________________________________________
"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name." (vs. 9)
2. PURPOSE: _____________________________________________
"Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." (v
s. 10)
3. PROVISION: _____________________________________________
"Give us today our daily bread." (vs. 11)
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petit
ion, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Phil 4:6
4. PARDON: _____________________________________________
"Forgive us our debts..." (vs. 12a) "sins" Luke 11:4
5. PEOPLE: _____________________________________________
"... as we also have forgiven our debtors." (vs. 12b)
"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father
will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father wi
ll not forgive yours." (vs. 14-15)
6. PROTECTION: _____________________________________________
"and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one." (vs
. 13)
III. THE POWERFUL KEY TO PRAYER: ______________________________
"OUR Father... give US ... OUR daily bread ... forgive US ... OUR debts
... as WE have forgiven OUR debtors ... lead US not into temptation ... deliver
US ..."
"I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for
, it will be done by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together
in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matt. 18:19-20
What Every Christian Needs to Grow - Part 2 of 4
Matt. 6:5-15 & Selected
Rick Warren
... Prayer warriors who get up at 4 a.m. in the morning and pray for four hours
and spend all night in prayer. They were travailing. More than anything else I
wanted to be a spiritual giant. I tried that. I got up at 4 a.m. and went out
to the dugout of the baseball field at the college I went to and prayed and hal
f the time fell asleep. I never did realize that all those guys -- John Wesley,
Martin Luther, Calvin -- who got up at 4 in the morning to pray, there was no e
lectricity in those days. That meant they went to bed at 6:30 in the evening. A
nybody can get up at 4 in the morning if you're going to bed at 6:30 in the even
ing. But being in college, in the dormitory, I didn't even start my homework un
til 10:30 at night. So I was trying to burn the candle at both ends. I remembe
r forcing myself to be in these marathon prayer meetings to pray all night.
I remember the first time I prayed all night. I went to this prayer room, got d
own on my knees and started praying. I mentioned everybody -- every distant cou
sin I could think of, people I didn't know, movie stars and the president. I na
med every country I could think of. I was praying around the world. I looked do
wn at my watch when I was all prayed out and I had gone 25 minutes. This is goi
ng to be a long night! I felt like I wasn't spiritual enough to be a prayer war
rior. That was really my honest feeling. I just don't have what it takes spiri
tually to have that kind of prayer life like I read of.
Many of you may be able to identify with this from a book by Chuck Swindoll. It
says, "To be painfully honest with you most of the stuff I've ever read or hear
d about prayer has either left me under a ton and a half truckload of guilt or w
earied me with pious sounding phrases and meaningless god-talk. Without trying
to sound ultra-cynical, I've frequently walked away thinking, `Who needs it?' be
cause I didn't spend two or three grueling hours a day on my knees as dear Dr. S
o and So did, or because I failed to just say it the right way (whatever that me
ans) or because I wasn't able to weave several scripture verses through my praye
r or because I had not been successful in moving mountains, I picked up the dist
inct impression that I was out to lunch when it came to this part of my Christia
n life. It seemed almost spooky, mystical and (dare I say it) even a little sup
erstitious, a lot of verbal mumbo-jumbo laced with a secret jargon that some peo
ple had and others didn't. And I definitely didn't."
Some of you can relate to that and feel that way. I want to tell you here this
morning, on the authority of God's word, that God did not create prayer simply t
o create guilt in your life.
Jesus Christ, when He came to earth, was constantly sharing radical, revolutiona
ry ideas. He exploded the myths about prayer. He taught us that prayer is not
a guilt producer. It is an anxiety reliever. It is not a dreaded obligation.
It is a wonderful privilege.
This morning I want us to look at "How Do You Make Contact With God". We're goi
ng to look at what Jesus said. I want you to throw out, for a few minutes, ever
y idea you've ever had about prayer. Just put in on the shelf and let's go the
Master, the Authority, and see what He had to say about "How to Make Contact Wit
h God."
Jesus, in Matthew 6, which is in the Sermon on the Mount, gives us three specifi
c instructions first of all on how to make contact with God.
Be honest with God. Matthew 6:5 "When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites,
for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be
seen by men." Circle "hypocrites". In the New Testament times, the Pharisees w
ere pros at pretentious prayers. It was a regular ritual. The Pharisees prayed
at 9 a.m., 12 noon, and 3 p.m. every day -- just like drinking Dr. Pepper. It
was set times. They had set prayers. It was all cut and dry. You did your thin
g. You said your 'Hail Mary's' or whatever it was -- your rituals-- and you did
your thing. It was kind of like Moslems do today -- three times a day bow towa
rd Mecca. It became quite a source of pride. They were showing off. They'd st
and out on the street corners and proclaim.
The point that Jesus is making here is prayer is not something you do to be seen
. He said you need to be real, be honest with God, be genuine.
A couple of suggestions that will revitalize your prayer life:
1. Don't try to impress others with it. Have you ever heard a prayer p
rayed and when they finished you wanted to go, "Wow! What a performance!" It s
ounded so good and you thought that it was great.
Or have you ever been in a prayer group and everybody's praying around a circle
and you're thinking, "There's only three left until me... only two left... only
one... I'm next! What am I going to say that hasn't already been said? What ar
e they going to think?" The moment you stop worrying about what other people wi
ll think about your prayer life, you're going to be released to enjoy prayer. S
top trying to impress others.
God doesn't care two bits about how you say it. There are no rules. He doesn't
care how you say it. Don't try to impress other people with fancy words and so
2. Don't try to impress God with your prayers. That's a little more su
bconscious, subtle. Often we do it unconsciously. We pray things that we think
God wants us to say, rather than praying what's really on our hearts. God says,
"Be real."
v. 6 "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Fath
er who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will rewar
d you." Remove the distractions out of your life. Get off where you can focus
in on God, where you can relax, calm down, be quiet for a minute, loosen up, let
go of tension and just tune into God.
I have a habit in my prayer life, before I pray any prayer -- it is almost spont
aneous -- that I take a deep breath. I just relax, settle down, let go of all t
he tension. Then I'm ready to tune into God. Just take a deep breath.
Be real and be relaxed. Hurry is the death of prayer. When you to hurrying, wh
en you're rushed it's going to kill your prayer life.
Share what's really on your heart. Tell God exactly what's on your mind, not wh
at you think you ought to say but what you're thinking about.
v. 7-8 (Living Bible) "Don't recite the same prayer over and over as the heathen
do, who think prayers are answered only by repeating them again and again. Rem
ember, your Father knows exactly what you need before you ask Him." In New Test
ament times, the prayers were long, wordy. It was a meaningless ritual. There
were actual set prayers you prayed for certain occasions. There were prayers al
ready written out. No spontaneity, no genuineness. He says, "You just need to
reveal yourself." Don't get caught in a rut.
For years I tried to copy other people's prayers. If it sounded a certain way,
I'd try to make my voice a certain way. I got caught up in all of these religio
us cliches. I love to hear new Christians pray -- no pious pomposity. They hav
en't learned the cliches yet. They just say, "Hi God. It's me." That kind of
thing. We get caught in these cliches-- "lead, guide and direct us", "bless thi
s food to the nourishment of our bodies", "bless the gift and the giver", "God,
help so and so...". Our favorite word... when you don't know what to say, you s
ay the word "just" -- "God, we just want you to do this, Lord, we just thank you
," That's a spiritual word for "uhh-mmm". It's a filler. Don't you get tired o
f religious cliches? I do. You hear the same thing over and over, you click ou
t, snore city! You wonder who's going to say the cliche first so I can't repeat
God says don't get into ritual and these kinds of things. Just pray your heart.
Reveal yourself. A couple weeks ago when we were talking about the Fatherhood
of God I said can you imagine I walk in the door at night and my kids say, "Oh,
almighty procreator of our family. How wonderful thou art, who sovereignly dep
osits our allowance to us. Oh, the majesty of thy wonderful self! We beseech t
hee to come eat dinner with us." Hey! I'd check my kids' pulse, their temperatu
re, if they started talking to me like that. I want them to say, "Hey! Dad's ho
me. Good to see you, pop!"
I'm not saying be flippant. God is not the Big Man Upstairs. But He is your Fat
her. Jesus said, "Pray Abba Father." Daddy. You don't have to use fancy langu
age. Prayer is spontaneous. It is conversation with God. You talk to God in c
onversation. God couldn't care less how it sounds, so forget trying to impress
Him. Forget trying to impress your pastor, or your Bible study leader, or anybo
dy else. Just focus in on what really is coming out of your heart.
That's how you make contact. What do I say when I make contact with God? Fortu
nately, Jesus tells us. He gives us a model. "This, then, is how you should pra
y..." Circle "how". It does not say, "This, then, is what you should pray." I
n the Bible, we are never commanded to pray the Lord's prayer, although we do. M
any churches pray the Lord's prayer every week. Just prior to that, Jesus has j
ust said don't use a prayer that you repeat over and over. So why world He say d
on't use repetition over and over and then say, "Here's what you should pray." I
t doesn't say, "This is what you should pray." It says, "This is how you should
pray." This is not exactly the wording, but it is a model, a framework, and outl
ine by which you can learn to pray.
Prayer is an act of giving and receiving and Jesus says there are six things we
can give to God in prayer.
1. BEGIN WITH PRAISE: I give God my love.
v. 9 "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name." He's talking about praise. Y
ou start by praising God. That's how you should begin your prayers.
What is praise? Praise is thanking God for who and what He is. To praise God mea
ns to prize God, to value Him, to esteem Him. It means to brag on God. Praise me
ans bragging on God. God, You are good! That's what it means to praise.
How do I do that? Simply read the Psalms. If you don't know how to praise God, r
ead the Psalms. Do it aloud.
Why should I praise God? Because it gets your focus off yourself and onto God so
you can talk to Him. That's why we start with praise.
Notice it says "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name." Did you know that
God has many names? In the Old Testament there are at least eight different name
s of God-Hebrew compound words. A name, in the Bible, meant your character. The
Bible reveals the character of God. Each name has a different meaning.
I've done an outline on the eight names of God and how you can pray those back t
o God. You can actually pray the names of God - God is present with me, God is m
y shepherd, He is my provider, He's my healer, He's my peace, He's my victory in
conflict. All of these things. To say "...hallowed be thy name" means to pray t
he names of God. It means to remind yourself that God has promised to take care
of all your needs, remind yourself of who he is, what He's done. You declare wha
t God is like. You begin with praise. I give God my love.
2. PURPOSE: I give God my life.
The second part of prayer is to commit myself to God's will. I give Him my life.
Notice it says, "Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come
, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." Circle "your will". God has a
will for your life. A specific will for your life. Success is knowing the will
of God and getting right in the center of it. Part of prayer is saying, "God, wh
at is your will for me today? I want to know Your will. I want to do your will."
The problem is, God's will is not always done. That's why we're to pray, "Your
will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Why? Because in heaven, God's will is
done perfectly. On earth it is not done perfectly. We're saying, "God, what's h
appening in heaven, I want you to do it in my life. Put heaven in my life." I gi
ve God my love and then I give Him my life. I say, I want to submit to You. I w
ant to be involved in Your will. I want to do what You want me to do." God has a
specific will. The Bible says in Romans 12 that His will is good and perfect an
d it fits.
There are two or three attitudes you can use to phrase this - "Your will be done
." You can say it in resentment-"Thy will be done, but I don't like it." Or you
can say it in resignation-"Thy will be done, because I can't help it." Or you ca
n say it in anticipation-"Thy will be done, because, God I know it is the best a
nd that's what I want for my life today!" I give You my love. I give You my life
. I want Your will in my life.
Remember the show years ago on television, "Father Knows Best". Your Heavenly Fa
ther knows best. That's what it means to say, "Thy will be done" God, I want to
give You my love and now I want to give You my life.
Once you have done those two things - you have given God your love and you have
given God your life - then Jesus says there are four other requests that you can
make that categorize every need you're ever going to have.
3. PROVISION: I give God my worries

v. 11 "Give us this day our daily bread." Bread represents the necessities of l
ife -- your physical needs, your material needs. God wants you to pray instead o
f worry. When you pray for things then you don't have to worry about them. He'
s promised to provide all our needs. Philippians 4:19 "My God shall supply all
of your needs."
It's interesting the phrase "daily bread". Circle "daily". The word daily in t
he Greek is the word epiousios. The only time this word is used in all of Greek
literature is right here. It's only used once in the Bible and it's not found
in any other Greek document in history. Many Bible scholars thought Matthew mad
e the word up, until in 1945 when they discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls. They fo
und a little fragment of paper at the side in the cave. It was a shopping list
-- a several thousand year old shopping list. That word was on the shopping lis
t -- epiousios. It was a category of things to buy at the market which represent
ed perishables. They didn't have refrigerators in those days so some things you
had to buy every day. He's saying, "Give me today what I need for today so I d
on't have to worry about it."
What do you need today? Energy to make it through the day? Finances? Wisdom?
Give me today my daily bread. Remember manna in the Old Testament? God gave it
, God provided it, but it spoiled if you tried to keep it longer than a day. Go
d wanted them to trust Him moment by moment.
Philippians 4:6 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer
and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." You've got two
alternatives: panic or pray. I don't think we really believe this verse. It s
ays, in everything. Circle that. You can pray about everything. I would be em
barrassed to tell you some of the prayer requests I've made in my life. Some ar
e kind of silly or petty or not really of major importance. But it doesn't emba
rrass God. God says you can pray about everything. Have you got an ingrown toe
nail? You can pray about it. You got a tough decision to make today? Pray abo
ut it. Whatever. Anything that is worth worrying about, is worth praying about
. If we prayed as much as we worried, we'd have a lot less to worry about. Giv
e God your worries.
Nothing is too great for God's power. Nothing is too insignificant for His care
. You can talk to Him about anything. I have discovered that the more specific
I am, the quicker God is able to answer the prayer. When you say, "God, bless m
e", what does that mean? God, give me a bunch of things? How are you going to
know if He answered it or not? What's a blessing? Sometimes a blessing is a pro
blem. You'd better be careful when you pray, "God, bless me."
Be specific. I remember when Kay and I were praying for a home. We needed a hom
e to live in down here. I prayed very specifically. I wrote it down in my pray
er journal four things:
I want a place with a view.
I want a place with pine trees on the property. I grew up in the countr
y, in a little town of less than 1000.
I want a spa.
I want a dark room.
You tell me the likelihood of finding a house like that in the Saddleback Valley
with all four of those things. Yet that's exactly what God gave us. Exactly.
I challenge you to be specific. Get specific.
You know why you're not specific? Because you're afraid to back God in a corner
. If you want to learn how to be specific, listen to the prayers of your kids.
I pray with my two older ones, Amy and Joshua, 7 and 5. Some of their prayers
are so specific I'm thinking, "God, how are You going to get out of this one?"
I've developed the habit of anytime I have a major request, I delegate it to my
kids because they're a lot more specific than I am. Now for a year and a half,
my kids have been praying for land for the church, every night, "Dear God, we're
waiting on You for the land." I didn't tell them, they remember it on their ow
n. Someday when we get it, we'll put up a little monument, "Prayed here by Amy a
nd Josh". Kids are incredibly specific. They don't have any problem believing
God. If God said it, they believe it.
Notice it says, "Do not be anxious about anything [don't worry] but in everythin
g, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving..." underline "with thanksgiving".
When you pray, be specific and do it with thanksgiving.
Last week we took the whole family and went grocery shopping together. We came
out, loaded all the groceries in the car. We were talking about how great it wa
s -- all the selection -- I said, "Why don't we stop right here and thank God fo
r groceries?" Right in the parking lot, in our jeep, we prayed around. Everybody
in the family prayed and thanked God for the groceries.
I'm trying to teach my kids gratitude. Gratitude is the healthiest emotion, psy
chologists say, that you can have. The more gratitude, the more grateful you ar
e, the more you develop the attitude of appreciation for other people and your f
amily and others and to God, the healthier you are emotionally. It says pray wi
th thanksgiving. We thanked God for the money to buy groceries, the selection w
e had. We developed a chain of thanksgiving.
God says here's how you pray. First, praise -- I give God my love. Second, pur
pose -- I give life. Then he says provision -- I give God my worries.
4. PARDON: I give God my guilt.
"...forgive us our debts..." That's the next category of prayer. All of us hav
e regrets. All of us make mistakes. All of us fall short. I don't come up to
my own standard, much less God's. It's not very hard to admit you're not perfec
I was listening on a radio station to one of these talk show psychologists. A g
uy called in consumed with guilt. The guy was devastated. He was pouring his h
eart out to this doctor on the radio. He said, "Doctor, I want to know, how can
I get rid of my guilt?" This talk show psychologist said, "You can't. You've
got to learn to live with it." I wanted to say, "Wait a minute! Give me the pho
ne number. Let me call that guy. I know the secret!" He doesn't have to go th
rough life filled with guilt.
There is no reason in the world that you leave this place today and have guilt.
None at all! God has made a provision for that. It is called confession. You
don't repress it. You don't suppress it. You confess it. That's how you get r
id of guilt. God says, "I will cleanse you" and He forgives us instantly, totall
y, completely, freely, continuously. He says one of the benefits of prayer is t
hat I can unload my guilt. There is no reason a Christian should carry guilt in
his life day after day. None at all. If you are, you're not taking advantage o
f what Jesus Christ did on the cross. I give God my guilt.
God wants to forgive you. He says that over and over. When you come to God and
you confess your sins to Him, you don't beg God ("God, please! Pretty please w
ith sugar on it!"). You don't have to beg Him. And you don't have to bargain w
ith God ("God, if you forgive me, I will never do it again.") If that's your ar
ea of weakness, you'll be back there within a day or two. You don't have to bri
be -- "God, if You'll forgive me, I promise to always read my Bible. I'll take
notes on all of Pastor Rick's sermons." You don't have to beg, you don't have t
o bargain, you don't have to bribe.
You simply have to believe. You believe that you are forgiven. That's what He's
saying. "Forgive us our debts." I give my worries to God and then I give my g
uilt to God.
If you ever run out of things to pray in prayer time, what you need to do is get
specific about your sins and your weaknesses. I've discovered that when I talk
about my weaknesses and sins, I never lack for subject matter. In fact, I'm alw
ays coming up with new material. There's plenty of things to talk about in my l
ife that need to be changed.
5. PEOPLE: I give God my hurts.
Prayer involves other people and our relationship, because relationships are imp
ortant. "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." People.
In life you will be hurt. Sometimes intentionally. Sometimes unintentionally
. How you handle that hurt determines your happiness. When you bottle up hurt
in your life and you hold onto it, that is called resentment. Somebody hurt you
years ago and you're holding onto it, that's called resentment. It will poison
your life. For your own happiness, you must learn to forgive.
v. 14 "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father wi
ll also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will
not forgive yours." He's saying if I don't forgive other people, I am burning
the bridge that I've got to cross myself to get to heaven.
Somebody came to John Wesley one time and said, "I just can't forgive that perso
n! They hurt me too badly." Wesley said, "Then I hope you never sin." The Bib
le says forgive and be forgiven. They are inter-related. For your own sake, le
t go of the past. If somebody hurt you, let go of it, release them. That's one
of the values of prayer. It helps you unload. Forgiveness is the only way to ge
t rid of the past. Forgive them and let it go. Get on with life. Forgiveness
erases that videotape of that hurt memory that keeps playing over and over in yo
ur mind. Stop rehearsing it.
In my own marriage, the times I've felt closest to Kay, the times of most intima
cy and oneness, have been times after a major blow-up, an argument. We've worke
d the thing through. We both confessed to each other, asked forgiveness, then w
e pray together. The oneness that comes out of that kind of experience you can'
t explain unless you've experienced it.
We let go of our hurts. I give God my love. I give Him my life. I give Him my
worries. I give Him my guilt. I give Him my hurts. This is what prayer is all
about. See how practical it is?
Then he says...
6. PROTECTION: I give God my fears and my temptations.
"... And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one." That's
Two questions:
1. In what area do you need self-control? What is out of control in yo
ur life?
2. What scares you the most? The fear of failure? The fear of bad he
alth? The fear of a divorce? The fear of rejection? The fear of the future?
What scares you the most?
Jesus says that those are the two things you ought to be talking to the Lord abo
ut. That is prayer material. The areas where you're most tempted, you ought to
be praying about. And the areas that scare you to death, that's what you ought
to be praying about. That is prayer material. God understands.
Hebrews 4:15 talks about Jesus Christ, why we can come to Him with our hurts and
our temptations and our fears. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable
to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in ever
y way just as we are yet without sin." This is talking about Jesus. The Bible s
ays Jesus came to earth, He walked around for 33 years, and it says He experienc
ed every temptation known to man, the same ones we do. It is not a sin to be te
mpted. It is a sin to give in to temptation. The closer you get to God, the mo
re you will be tempted.
The Bible says Jesus experienced all the temptations. The devil pulled out all
the stops. If he had any greater ones, he would have used them. He experienced
the greatest temptations ever and yet He didn't give in. The Bible says when I
come and I pray, "God, I'm struggling in this area. I'm just not making it her
e. I keep stumbling. I keep falling," God understands because Jesus has been t
here. He knows what it's like. He knows what it's like to be single and deal w
ith those kinds of temptations. He knows what it's like to want to be depressed
, to want to be angry, lash back, to be misunderstood, to be lonely. He understa
nds it all. Every temptation.
Then it says, "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that
we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." We can hav
e confidence and come before God knowing that when I pray, no matter what it is,
God understands. He's been there. He knows what it's like. He understands so
you can come with confidence and find help at a time of need.
Do you notice what Jesus is saying here in the model prayer? He is saying that
prayer is the antidote to life's four most damaging emotions. You give your lov
e to God, you give your life to God and then He says, you give Him your worries,
your guilt, your resentment and your fears. Those are the four greatest damagi
ng emotions in life. That's what prayer is all about. Unload it on God. That's
why prayer is a stress reliever not a stress producer.
There's an overlooked element that many, many people miss. What is the powerful
key to prayer?
"OUR Father... give US ... OUR daily bread ... forgive US ... OUR debts ... as W
E have forgiven OUR debtors ... lead US not into temptation ... deliver US ..."
All of the nouns are plural. It does not say, "My Father give me my daily brea
d. Forgive me my debts and lead me not into temptation, deliver me." What is t
he powerful key?
Praying with other people. That is a powerful key. Many hundreds of thousands
of Christians miss out of so much in their life because they only pray by themse
lves. Jesus, when He laid out how we pray said, we pray together. There is pow
er in group prayer.
Experiment I read about recently: A psychologist named Dr. William Parker did a
psychological test case, a study, for over nine months to discover, to find out
, if prayer rightly understood and practiced would equal the treatment of psycho
They got three different control groups. They all had emotional needs, crises,
stress in their life and were having different kinds of personal problems.
Group one over the nine months was given weekly individual counseling se
Group two were made up of random pray-ers. They said, just pray about y
our problems. Go home and pray about them.
Group three was a prayer group that was to meet weekly for a couple hour
session to talk, study the Bible, pray together.
At the end of nine months the tests revealed the following:
1. Those receiving individual psychotherapy showed 65% improvement.
2. The group that randomly prayed showed no improvement at all.
3. Group three, the group that prayed together and discussed and shared
on a weekly basis 72% improvement.
There is power in group prayer. Do you have problems? It's because you're not
sharing with other believers in the body of Christ. You're not getting the supp
ort that you need. You're not learning to pray with others. People say, "I jus
t pray by myself." Then you're missing out on one of the major benefits of bein
g a Christian. You're missing out.
Matthew 18. Jesus said, "I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about any
thing you ask for it will be done by my Father in heaven. For where two or thre
e come together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." That's the power
of praying with other people.
The question is this: Who am I consistently praying with on a regular basis? W
ho are you praying with, on a regular basis?
In four weeks we're going to start the Saddleback small groups. You've been hear
ing about them. Groups are not a gimmick. It's not some program. We've studie
d scripture and believe that this is the church. God says we're to get together
in groups. Encourage each other, pray for each other, support each other. I wo
uld encourage you to sign up for one of those groups. Begin thinking right now,
"I'm going to become a part of one of those groups when they start." You say y
ou don't have time. Make time. You'd have a whole lot less hassles and problem
s if you'd get into a group and learn to pray with other people. Last week we t
alked about the importance of studying the Bible together. We interact, get idea
s, share, question, answer, get' insight. Praying together is the power of praye
r. You say you've never prayed with anybody before and it scares you to death,
you'd be intimidated. Relax. To pray in front of this many people here today,
that would be scary. When you get together with five or six other friends, you
don't have to pray if you don't want to. You can sit there and be quiet. Then o
ver a period of weeks you feel comfortable and develop and feel comfortable with
people and you begin to pray. You'll find a new level of stability in your lif
e. Let God teach you.
A couple of suggestions. If you've never prayed with other people before start
by praying aloud when you're alone. Hear the sound of your own voice. Pray alo
ud. I do most of my praying, more than any other place, on the freeway. I'm dr
iving down the road and talking aloud to the Lord, "Lord, here's some things I w
ant to talk with you about today." It takes me about 20-25 minutes to get to th
e church -- We live in Laguna Niguel. Every Sunday, all the way to church, I ju
st pray aloud the whole way. Talking to the Lord.
Then begin to pray at meals. Our family holds hands together. Sometimes we pray
sentence prayers. Thank you prayers.
It will unlock a new level of joy in your life. You'll find yourself dealing wi
th stress a whole lot better. I guarantee it on the authority of God's word.
Do you want to make contact with God this morning? Isn't it amazing how many di
fferent ways people try to make contact with God? Seances. Hypnotism. Reading
tea leaves. Astrology. Different kinds of things. Trying to make contact with
You don't have to go to some seance to make contact with God? Jesus made it very
simple, very clear. It's called prayer.
Making contact with God is neither scary nor spooky nor difficult. You
don't even have to close your eyes. Let's make contact with God this morning.
First, let go of all your old ideas about prayer -- those preconceived ideas abo
ut the agony and guilt-ridden duty, God's going to think more of me if I pray an
d less of me if I don't. That's not what grace is all about. Prayer is a privi
lege. Would you just let go of those old ideas? First remember that God wants
you to be real. You don't have to impress anybody. You don't even have to impre
ss God. He can read your mind. It's just conversation, just talking with God ab
out what's on your heart. Be real.
Next, relax. Just take a deep breath. Just forget everybody else is ar
ound you and just focus in on Him just for a minute. Calm yourself down and get
still. "Be still and know that I am God." Be real and relaxed.
Then reveal yourself. Tell God exactly how you feel right now. "Father
, I want You to know this is the way I feel. ... I feel a little tense right now
. ... I'm tired right now. ... Father, I don't even know what to pray right now.
" That's ok. I've often come to God in prayer and said, "God, I don't even know
what to say to You." That's a prayer in itself. Say, "Lord, I don't even know
what to say."
Then, let's do what Jesus told us to do. First, give God your love. Th
at's called praise. Thank Him for who He is. "God, thank You that You're loving
. Thank You that You are faithful even when I am unfaithful. Thank You that Yo
u're big enough for my problems. Thank You that You care for eerie detail of my
life. "Hallowed be Your name." Thank You for who You are.
Give God your love. Tell Him you love Him. "Lord, I love You, and I wa
nt to love You more." Then give God your life. "Lord, Father, Your will be don
e. Father, I want Your will to be done in my life today. I want to know Your p
lan for my life. I want to know Your purpose. I know You didn't make me by acc
ident. I know that You have a purpose for my life. Father, I want to submit to
it. Whatever it is, Thy will be done in my life. I look forward with anticipa
tion because I know You know best." Give God your life.
Next, Jesus said give God your worries. What do you need on a daily bas
is? Do you need more energy? Some of you need financial help. Some of you nee
d wisdom. Some of you don't feel good and you need healing. You need help. "G
od, give me enough strength to make it through this day." He won't give you str
ength for next year but He will give it to you for today. Give God your worries.
Whatever you're worrying about, right now, mention it to Him.
Then give God your guilt. Be specific right now. I commit sins one by
one, I ought to name them one by one, not just say, "Forgive all the things I've
done wrong." I committed them individually. I ought to confess them individua
lly. Say, "Father, I know I've been selfish at home. I admit that I've been dem
anding at home." Or, "I've been unkind. Father, I have the tendency to exaggera
te." Whatever... mention it to Him.
Give God your hurts. Let go of them right now. Somebody hurt you this
past week. They said an unkind thing. They did an unkind thing. They took adv
antage of you. They took you for granted. Years of hurt have built up. Would
you let go of them? Would you release them for your own sake? Would you forgive
? Say, "Father, I forgive them as You've forgiven me. I want to let them go.
I want to release them. I want to let go of that hurt." "Forgive us our debts
as we forgive our debtors."
Then give God your temptations and fears. What's out of control in your
life? Give it to God. That's prayer material. "God, this is out of control i
n my life. I can't control my temper. God, I can't control my wandering though
ts. I can't control my appetite. I can't control this dependency. I can't con
trol my tendency to..." Give it to God. What are you afraid of? "I sought the
Lord and He heard me and delivered me from all fears." Say, "God, I'm scared t
o death about the future... or this new job... or that I'm out of work... or tha
t I've got a problem... or that I'll never get married." Give Him your fears.
"Help me, please!"
Some of you are saying, "I've heard all this before." You probably have
. But it's one thing to hear about prayer and it's another thing to do what the
Bible says. If you're really serious about growing as a Christian, I'm going t
o ask you to make two commitments this morning in your heart. One, I'm going to
challenge you to get a prayer partner, somebody you can pray with every week. C
all them on the phone. Call them at work. Say, "These are our prayer requests
this week. Let's pray together." There's power in group prayer. Get a prayer
partner. You need one.
Two, I'm going to ask you to commit yourself to joining a small group.
Make time in your schedule. It will be the most stabilizing factor that you can
imagine -- even more stabilizing than coming on Sunday morning. There is power
in praying together, studying together, sharing together. Commit yourself to jo
ining a small group.
Father, thank You for Your word. Thank You that prayer is not mystical
mumbo jumbo or something that was created to give us guilt, but to relieve us th
at we might be released of these damaged emotions of worry and fear and hurt and
resentment and guilt. We give You our love. We give You our lives. In Jesus'
name. Amen.
What Every Christian Needs To Grow - Part 2 of 4