One of the most difficult things to do is to communicate. Many people talk and talk a lot, but talking is not necessary communication.
Communication is learnt through practice and hard work. It is being able to speak so that someone else is able to hear and understand what is being said. When that person hears with understanding … communication has been achieved.
Communication is making yourself known and getting to know others, their ideas, intentions, aspirations, feelings, needs and hurts. Amongst everything, communication includes learning.
One of the biggest marital problems that arises is the inability to communicate and problem solve. God sees His relationship with His people as a marriage … a bond, union, commitment … and one of the greatest problems God encounters with His Bride is that of her inability to communicate. He does it very well … so well that what He has to say has been penned within the Bible for many, many years.
His communication is actually “word perfect”. Although some parts of His communication are hard to understand, it’s basic message and intention is very easy to grasp and understand. Over and over He tells his Bride how much He loves her and wants her to be ready for the day He collects her and takes her to be with Him in glory.
The Bride on the other hand tends to struggle communicating with the Groom. She not only battles to talk, she really struggles to live up to His expectations.
This is the point … prayer is communication and if we struggle to communicate with each other on a human level, how much more will we when we are speaking to the Creator God who alone is the Eternal God, Holy, Majestic and Glorious in His Person. The next passage in the Sermon on the Mount is chapter 6:5-15. In this passage Jesus teaches about prayer.
1) Hypocritical Prayer. This teaching spills over from the previous passage … actors, pretenders, hypocrites don’t get rewards from God because they are not His “Bride”.
Mt 6:5 “And 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. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”
There is absolutely nothing wrong with praying in public. We do this at church services, prayer meetings, beach services, open air evangelistic meetings, burials, etc. There is a place for public prayer. Our Lord is not speaking against this. He is speaking against “hypocrites”! The picture is of what He had seen often and what the Jewish people would see often. There are those who would be seen praying in the synagogue … to be observed by the congregation. Others present would then be impressed by the style and content of the prayer and congratulate the pray-er afterwards on his eloquence. Attention and praise! The Jews also recited Scripture as a prayer three times a day. If they were walking in the street and it was prayer time they would stop, face the temple and pray … and to make it more noticeable to others, they would raise their hands into the air. Note … the love was not for praying! The love was to be seen, noticed and praised! Jesus tells us that such people are fake! They are actors, pretenders … hypocrites. He forbids His people to pray like this because such praying is not real pray. It does not reach the ear of God … the only ones who hear are people. In our environment this would be people who are …
(1) Not Christian, be they Pastors, Sunday School or Youth Leaders or Church Council Members … yet praying at meetings … not heard by God but only by man.
(2) They are religious and professional, fulfilling a duty but not a duty towards God. As someone said many years ago … God does not hear the prayers of the non-Christian … accept the prayer for forgiveness and salvation!
2) Genuine Prayer.
Mt 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
When Jesus says … “when you pray” … He is not meaning that prayer is done seldom as in “when … you pray”. His teaching and that of the whole Bible is that God’s people ought to pray often, daily and multiple times a day. Why does He say we should enter our room and close the door? Remember we have already said there is a place for public prayer. Here He is showing us what true intimacy is in communicating as the Bride with the Groom.
(1) Find a quiet pace. One of the worst interferences when it comes to prayer is being disturbed by other people, noise, the TV or radio. You need a quiet place so that you can focus on your thoughts. Communication cannot take place when there are other noises (voices) happening.
(2) Be loving. One of the most beautiful pictures one may have of being in union with God is intimacy … true, spiritual intercourse. Never forget that God is not your enemy and you are not His enemy. God is your Father. He is loving, kind, gentle, merciful and forgiving. There is no wrath and anger intended your way. He might be displeased with your sin, but He loves you passionately. This is to be understood so that you won’t be afraid. There is a love union … go and enjoy it.
(3) Be personal. You are part of God’s Bride. You may be personal, explaining your personal needs, your need of pardon, how much you love Him and need Him by His Spirit dwelling richly in your heart.
(4) Expose your heart. Don’t be shy or embarrassed to open your heart and let the feelings flow … but do it reverently.
God will reward you with His presence and His help … there and then … here and now … but the greater reward will be that your intimate union with God will be realized in being in His presence one day in glory. Don’t ever think you have arrived in being with God in prayer. Communicating with Him requires learning about Him through His Word and praying those Words back to Him. In this way You will find how He wants you to behave, speak, think and desire on the one hand … and on the other … how to dress yourself with His likeness as you look forward to the Day that climaxes in the Consummation of the Bride and Groom.
Father, graciously teach me how to pray, Amen.