#353 - THE REWARD OF PRAYER (19/5/21)
“Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)
If we listen to Jesus’ teaching regarding heartfelt prayer to the Father, we are promised a reward.
i) Answered prayer
There is much that could be said about rewards of prayer. Firstly, I’d like to focus on the reward of answered prayer. It Sounds obvious, but more answered prayer should inspire us to develop our prayer skills.
Answered prayer can be misunderstood. God always answers prayer. However, sometimes He says “No”. Sometimes He says “Later” and sometimes He says “Yes”. If we know God as our loving and perfect Father, we understand that each of these responses are right for us. He knows what we need before we ask Him. Later, in chapter 7, Jesus will teach us,
‘If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!’ (Matthew 7:11)
Knowledge of God as Father means that we will pray with great confidence that He hears and will do what is best.
ii) The comfort of the Father
A self-centred or dutiful approach to prayer will miss another important reward - the presence of the Father. Paul writes,
‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.’ (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
I’d like to suggest that much of Paul’s ‘comfort’ from ‘the Father of compassion’ came in the secret place of prayer (see Acts 18:9-11). Meeting and Knowing God are the most important aspects of prayer. Being comforted and refreshed in His presence are a great reward for those who will authentically seek to meet Him in prayer.
Jesus warns us that the Father will not answer prayer that is motivated by self-interest. If we treat God as a means to our ambitions, we have ‘received our reward in full’! However, if we come to the Father in love and humility, He will hear and reward us with answered prayer and the refreshing of His presence.
Are you believing the promise that our secret prayers to the Father are powerful and effective! Are you coming to Him as the only one who can truly comfort and refresh your soul? James gives us this promise,
‘... The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.’ (James 5:16-18)
COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY - PRAY LIKE GOD IS YOUR FATHER
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
What is the happiest moment that you can remember about your parents?
Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group
On Sunday we continued with our series on discipleship from The Sermon on the Mount. This week we began looking at Jesus’ teaching regarding prayer.
Please read Matthew 6:5-8
This parallels what we looked at last week about wealth from Matthew 6:1-4. Likewise, we are to pray to our Father, but not for a show.
1. When you pray
Jesus expects His disciples to pray. If we are to do this, we must believe that it's important. Secondly, we must make a plan; it's important that we plan when and where we will make time to be alone with God each day.
2. Pray to the Father
Effective prayer is mindful of the identity of God as Father. Without this, our prayers can go bad; we can come to believe that we must use many words and perform well if we are to get God to listen and act.
Our confidence in prayer is that Jesus has given us His perfect righteousness and adopted us into the family of God.
3. Your Father knows your needs
Finally, we are told that our Father already knows our needs. We come to one who loves us and is willing to do what's best for us.
This also means that we are to listen to the Father - principally as we read scripture - to hear what He tells us that we need. When God reveals His will and promises in scripture, we are then to pray the promises and according to His will.
1. What did God speak to you about from Sunday's message?
2. Why is it helpful to address God as Father and what does this mean?
3. When and where do you pray?
4. Jesus reveals His promises in scripture so that we can trust and pray them. Do you have examples of doing this?
Serving, Investing and inviting
1) Have you got any encouraging stories of serving, investing and inviting that you'd like to share?
2) Who has God put into your life that we could pray for together?
2) How are you planning to serve invest and invite?
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