21 Days of Prayer and Fasting
Daily Devotional – Day 4
“And When You Pray”
Read: Matthew 6:5-8
In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus preached and taught the basics of Christianity. Prayer is one of those foundations Jesus taught on to remind us it was not a suggestion but a necessity. He said, “When you pray”, not “if you pray.” Prayer is vital to our Christian faith. It is how we communicate (which is talking and listening) to God. “When you pray” reveals Jesus fully expects us to talk to God. During this time of fasting, don’t forget to pray. Seeking God is the purpose of fasting. Without prayer you are just on another fad diet. You might as well eat if you don’t pray during a fast because the two are married together.
There are some basics of a powerful prayer life listed in Matthew 6:5-8. First, Jesus said, “Don’t be like the hypocrites.” He was simply stating that prayer isn’t a show for others to see or hear but reserved as an intimate time with the Lord. Those that flaunt their fancy prayers in front of others receive their reward of being seen. But I’d rather be heard by God than seen by man any day. Secondly, Jesus says to, “Go into your room, close the door, and pray…” Distractions can keep us from intimate prayer. It is best to put away everything that can keep your attention from seeking God. Some use their phone for their Bible. I suggest not doing that during serious prayer and study. It’s too easy to switch over to social media or answer that text that just arrived. Go old school and use a paper Bible. After all, it’s worked for hundreds of years. Find a quiet room and time. A good time for me is before my kids wake up or after everyone has gone to bed.
Another good point here is, “the Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” “Secret” really means “hidden” or “hideaway”. It is really a harbor or refuge. This is a time of solace and meditation on the Lord. You will have to fight wandering thoughts and idle thinking. Disciplining your mind and concentration on Him takes practice but the reward is knowing Him. Don’t think about what needs to be done – close the door – slam it on the world and its problems. This will open up the door to His presence and power.
Our prayer should not be ramblings either. We should focus our prayers specifically. How many times do you have to pray something before God hears you? Once. It doesn’t mean we can never pray it again but must learn to trust Him. Prayer is not begging. I tend to ramble a lot and have to remind myself to get to the point. You aren’t trying to cut your prayer time short by making bullet points nor are you trying to hurry up because God is busy. Pagan prayers were polished verbal formulas. They repeated the same things over and over, almost in a loud, chanting style. A mistake usually required the action or sometimes the entire festival to be restarted. Prayer was a recitation of formulas. It was more about what was done outwardly and perfection was thought to be necessary to get answers from the various deities. Jesus is reminding the Christian that God hears your prayer and knows your need before you even ask. The amount or order of the words is not the important factor – it’s the heart.
- What are you praying for that only God can answer?
- Have you talked to people more about your needs than God? Could this be like the hypocrite who prays on the street corner?
- Do you have a quiet place to seek the Lord? Perhaps it’s that one chair in your house or on the back porch. For some it’s that hour commute to work. Ask God to show you that special place you can connect with Him daily.
- Does your prayer life seem routine or repetitious? Do you feel like you say the exact same things every day? Do you need a freshness to your prayer life?
- How comforting is it to know God knows our needs before we ask? Why then if He knows do we have to pray? What does God desire more – relationship or ritual?
Lord help me to focus on you. Life can be so distracting. I desire to place my full attention on you and discipline my mind and actions accordingly. Thank you for meeting with me secretly – privately – one on one. How special I am to you! You are also special to me. More than answers I desire you. You are my true reward! Teach me to pray and know you and your will in a greater way than ever before. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Church Prayer Request:
Pray for the leadership of our church to be focused on the vision for the church. Pray the leadership would listen to God’s voice concerning next steps and growth for the church. Pray the leadership would multiply themselves into others (discipleship).
Stephen and his wife Haley have called Arkansas home all of their lives. Stephen has served in several ministry roles over the last 25 years and as a lead pastor for the last 8 years. Stephen attended Williams Baptist College and earned a BA in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University, an MA, MDiv, and DMin in Christian Leadership and Pastoral Ministries from Liberty University. When not pastoring, Stephen enjoys running, cycling, reading, writing, camping, fishing, and spending time with his family.