Prayer and Its Relationship to Our Understanding of God
Text: Matthew 6 : 1 - 18
As Jesus taught His disciples about prayer, it becomes more and more obvious that He was also teaching them about God. Prayer and one’s understanding of God are inextricably bound together. The more one understands who God is, the more it would affect the very way prayer is offered.
PRAYER USHERS ONE INTO THE VERY PRESENCE OF GOD
One of the most important things that man must realize is that when he prays, he enters into the very Presence of God. He may indeed be described as One who inhabits the very heavens, and yet it is equally true to say that we are ushered into His Presence when we pray. Let us ponder this profound truth as stated in the following text.
“Thus says the Lord:
‘Heaven is My throne,
And earth is My footstool.
Where is the house that you will build Me?
And where is the place of My rest?
For all these things My hand has made.
And all those things exist.’
Says the Lord.
But on this one will I look:
On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
And who trembles at My word.’ ”
What an awesome thing it is to be able to pray at all! Sometimes, we are guilty of taking the privilege of prayer for granted!
CONSCIOUSNESS OF SIN BEFORE A HOLY GOD
One of the things that Jesus certainly sought to teach His disciples was how they must recognize the holiness of God. Anyone who understands God at all will appreciate the Biblical emphasis on His holiness. Hence, a person who enters into His Presence must also deal with the problem of his sinfulness. Let us consider the following texts.
One of the most classic examples of how a human being feels as he is ushered into the Presence of God must be Isaiah. The prophet recorded how he felt that day when he caught a glimpse of the throne room of God.
“In the year that king Uzziah died,
I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and
And the train of His robe filled the temple.
Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wingsÃ?Â¢?Ã?Â¦
And one cried to another and said:
‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!’ ”
What was Isaiah’s response as he stood in the glorious and holy Presence of God?
“So I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a people of
For my eyes have seen the king,
The Lord of hosts.’ ”
This was what Jesus sought to teach His disciples. Much more important than a verbal confession of sin, is the awareness of how wretched and sinful we are before a Holy God! What is the most natural response when a sinner comes before One who is supremely holy? Surely he would cry out,
“And forgive us our debts…”
CULTIVATING A GREATER SENSE OF SORROW FOR OUR SINS
Just as we take many things for granted, we also tend to take forgiveness from God too lightly. There is every reason to rejoice that there is great and complete forgiveness from God. However, we must guard our hearts against taking His forgiveness for granted!
The psalmist David recalled a time when he took God’s forgiveness for granted. He did not come to Him confessing his sins. He noted how he felt on that occasion.
“When I kept silent, my bones grew old
Through my groaning all the day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was turned into the drought of summer.”
David realized that there was only one thing that he must do with the greatest sense of urgency. He must confess his sins before God and plead His forgiveness.
“I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I have not hidden.
I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’
And You forgave the iniquity of my sin.”
Many gloss over the need to confess sins appropriately. Confession must never be made glibly. There must be more than just a verbal acknowledgment of sin. There must also be true repentance. There must be sorrow from the heart. How we need to cultivate this sense of sorrow for our many sins against men and against God! Let us train our hearts to be more sensitive to the problem of sin in our lives.