- Focus – Focus needs to be a chief priority as we pray, since one can be easily distracted. We must bear in mind that prayer should involve an intense focus on the object of our prayer – God Himself. Of course, only a believer will have this God-given desire because the nature of the child of God is to want to be obedient to the dictates of Scripture.
Psa 42:1 “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.”
Psa 73:25 “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.”
Psa 38:9 “Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee.”
Isa 26:8-9 “Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.”
- A Matter of the Heart – We have learned that God is concerned with what is actually going on inside a person – his innermost thoughts and motives. The Bible refers to this as a person’s “heart”. By birth and nature we have a sinful and wicked heart. God has much to say about a person who merely pays “lip service” to God and does not seek Him with all his “heart, soul, mind, and strength.” We must never forget that one can only do this when one has become saved – or “born from above”, by the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who came to redeem His people from eternal Hell. Rev 1:14 gives this portrait of God the Son. Indeed, those eyes can penetrate the vast, dark regions of the human heart, open it up, lay it bare, and leave nothing hidden to Him, Who is Eternal Light.
Pro 4:23 “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
Jer 17:9-10 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”
Deu 30:6 “And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.”
Rom 2:28-29 “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”
Rev 1:14 “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire…”
Pro 21:2 “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.”
Pro 24:12 “If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?”
Heb 4:13 “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”
Isa 29:13 “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.”
- Humility – For each child of God, humility is not an option but a way of life. In 2 Chr 7:14, In the original Hebrew this verse reads, “shall be humbled”, because only God can humble someone. Indeed, everything we have received from God – both physical as well as spiritual benefits – are gifts from God’s gracious hand. Even His corrections and chastisements demonstrate His perfect, loving care and concern for each of His beloved children as He conforms them to the image of his dear Son. Our petitions should always include the words the Lord Jesus uttered, “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done,”
Jam 4:2-3 “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”
2 Chr 7:14 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Isa 57:15 “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”
Jam 4:6 “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”
Jam 4:15 “For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”
- Quietness – In Mat 14 we discover a principle of prayer in Lord Jesus Christ’s life that can be very helpful but is by no means a requirement for prayer. We also see Him alone – while the disciples slept – during His agonizing prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane “if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done”. As well as on the cross, where he cried out publicly, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”. We must never forget that in that instance He was enduring the wrath of God, as Jonah’s prayer typified in Jon 2:2 depicts. Wonderfully, one can pray anywhere, anytime, in any situation. However, prayer can often be facilitated by having a quiet spot where we can pour out our hearts to our heavenly Father. Dan 6:10 recounts Daniel’s personal habit.
Mat 14:23 “And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.”
Luke 22:42 “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”
Jon 2:2 “And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.”
Dan 6:10 “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.”
Psa 55:17 “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.”
- In Your Closet – As a prelude to the Lord’s Prayer later on in the chapter, Mat 6 gives some guidelines as to how to pray. Mat 23 rebukes the Pharisees as well as any of us who would place any trust in external rituals, and not in the Bible itself. Continuing in Mat 6, the Lord Jesus instructs His followers on how to approach their heavenly Father.
Mat 6:5 “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”
Mat 23:27 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”
Mat 6:6-8 “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.