Interviewing "Prayer" - Where Should we Pray?
So far we have looked at two questions about prayer, "What is Prayer?" and "Why does prayer matter?"
In looking at what is prayer we found two ways the Bible defines prayer for us. The first is as a memorial or a remembrance of what God has done; not for God to remember but us to remember. The second was as incense before God's throne. We looked at the very specific rules God set down for the use of incense in the Old Testament, the specific formula was not allowed to used for personal use, the incense had to burn 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and we even saw how God took the lives of two men who offered burned incense that was not done the way God required it, and indication that the attitude of the offer-er is more important that the offering.
Last week we looked at the question "Why pray?", or more specifically "Why does prayer matter?" We looked at 3 reason that prayer matters. First, we saw that prayer was commanded. We are told to "pray continually" in 1 Th 5:17. To be obedient then to God, we are suppose to pray. We read about how God says he would be near us when we pray (Deu 4:7). We talked about how there is nothing we can do on our own to come near to God, but through prayer, God will come near to us (James 4:8). We remembered the mention in the Old Testament about turning toward the Temple to pray and how (since the direction you pray is irrelevant) it must have been a symbol of turning toward God. We talked again about how we need prayer time that is 100% focused on God with no distractions. Lastly, we looked at how prayer could keep us from falling into temptation. We know that temptation is born out of our own evil desires (James 1:14-15), but Jesus said to "watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation." In other words, prayer can keep us from giving into the temptations we all deal with because our flesh has it's own desires.
Does location matter?
Does where you are at matter to God? Does he hear you better when you are alone what when you are driving? No, so does it really matter where we pray? Where are some of the places you pray? In your car? In bed at night, or maybe morning? Do you kneel at the side of the bed, or maybe a chair when you pray? Do you go for a walk? Maybe you have a special room set aside to pray in, literally familiar to you, then I'll ask again.
Matthew 6:6 NIV 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.
So, does that verse change your answer? Why or why not? (please comment below) Let's look at the examples of Jesus when he prays and see what it shows us.
Jesus Prays alone
Matthew 14:17-23 NIV "We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish," they answered. (18) "Bring them here to me," he said. (19) And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. (20) They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketful's of broken pieces that were left over. (21) The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. (22) Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. (23) After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,
Matthew 26:36 NIV Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray."
Mark 1:35 NIV Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
Luke 5:16 NIV But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Luke 6:12 NIV One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
Luke 9:28 NIV About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.
We can see from the very example Jesus demonstrated that He did practice private prayer. Does this change anyone's mind about the location of prayer being important?
What about this example from a miracle that Jesus did.
John 11:41-42 NIV So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. (42) I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."
Now wait, this is a public prayer! Didn't Jesus say to pray in private? Didn't he demonstrate that by His own prayer times, then what is the difference?
The differences between the two can be see in Mat 6:5, where we see the reason Jesus said to pray in your room.
Matthew 6:5-6 NIV "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. (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.
There are really two things going on here, the first being the reason you are praying.
We have already talked about the attitude we have when we approach God. We saw in Aaron's sons that offered stranger fire to God that their very lives were demanded of them because they did not understand the seriousness of what they were doing. We also saw in Ananias and Sapphira how they decided to deceive God and also paid the price for not understanding the serious nature of it all. Jesus give a full warning about these men in Mark.
Mark 12:38-39 NIV As he taught, Jesus said, "Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, (39) and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.
These men are not thinking about God but about themselves. It is all about them and what they get out it. The power of the priest's robe. One more example give by Jesus in the form of a parable.
Luke 18:10-14 NIV "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. (11) The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector. (12) I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' (13) "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' (14) "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
Our attitude matters! I find it interesting that God has shown me in all the weeks so far about our attitude in prayer. I wonder if when I wrap this up if that will not be the overriding theme of these lessons, attitude matters. Talking to God is serious business and we need to treat it as such. Sure, He's our Abba father, our Daddy, but that doesn't make it any less serious. If you get pulled over by a police officer and they ask for you license and registration, how many people will give the office a bad attitude? Me, I'm all, "Yes Sir," and "No Sir." I'm not messing around with this guy because he could make things really rough on me. Don't you think God could "make things rough on us" if we give Him some bad attitude?
So once again I ask, does it matter where you pray? After all we have talked about what do you think? No, I'm not summing it up yet, because I think there is an important item we need to get here. Jesus did say to "go into your room" and pray, and I don't believe that the only reason was to not be like the "hypocrites." Jesus Himself went alone to pray, yet He also prayed in public. What was the difference? The difference was in purpose. In the prayer for Lazarus, Jesus clearly states that this vocalized, public prayer was not for Himself but to as a witness to everyone else. Compare that to his private prayers. Most of them we don't even know what he prayed about. The one we really do know what He prayed can be found in Luke 22 among other places
Luke 22:39-46 NIV Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. (40) On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation." (41) He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, (42) "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." (43) An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. (44) And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. (45) When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. (46) "Why are you sleeping?" he asked them. "Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation."
This was not a prayer for others, or a prayer for trivial things, this was serious time alone with Abba Father. This was serious business (did you note the sweat like drops of blood, how many of use have prayer that hard). These times alone in prayer I believe were just that, serious time with God the Father. These were not times He brought up His feet that hurt from all the walking, or Peter's stomach illness from last nights bad fish, or even prayers for Thomas's faith that he would not be so full of doubt. No I believe these were times of an intense pouring out the heart of Jesus and an intense pouring in of the heart of God. These are the times we need more of. These are the times I believe we are missing the most, why we don't have the fire that we should or the excitement we should, or the humility and compassion we should. I know in my life I need this more. Are you in the same place? Would you admit it if you were?
So, does where we pray matter? Where should we pray? Thoughts? (please comment below)
I believe that where we are does not affect God's ability to hear us, but I do believe it affects our ability to hear God. Sure God can "speak" to us anywhere, but when there are not other distractions around, when no music is playing, when the kids aren't running in the room every 5 minutes, when we have set aside the time specifically for God, then I think we are ready to really pray, to really hear God's response. Is it easy, no, but is it worth it? What do you think? What are you going to do about it?
Interviewing Prayer Articles
- Interviewing "Prayer" - What is Prayer?
What is prayer? More importantly, how does the Bible define prayer. this is part one of a multiple part lesson taught in a Sunday School class where we opened the Bible and the Bible alone to ask about prayer.
- Interviewing "Prayer" - Why Pray?
To Pray or not to Pray, that is the question. Why do you pray? Is that even the correct question? They say that there are no atheists in a fox hole, but is praying out of fear a good reason to pray? What then is a good "why" to pray question.
- Interviewing "Prayer" - When Should We Pray?
When should we pray? Is there a Biblical mandate to pray at certain times of the day (before bed, early in the morning), at certain activities (meal time), or because of things that are happening around us. The Bible give direction for everything in
- Interviewing Prayer - Who are we Praying to?
Who do you pray to? Seems like a simple answer right, but do you KNOW the one you pray too? Who is God?