Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Prayerful Thoughts


Prayerful Thoughts


Matthew 6:7-8


And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore, do not be like them: for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him”


As in Jesus’ day, there remains misguided and erroneous views concerning the subject of God and prayer. For example, after reading the above verse one might ask the question, “What can you tell God if He knows everything?” Many people might respond, “You can tell Him nothing”. By contrast, Jesus advises, “You can tell Him everything”. In like manner, Peter says, “Casting all your anxiety upon Him” (1 Peter 5:7), and Paul adds, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).


Practical Applications


  • Before God, we have the freedom to be ourselves. We can freely confess a sin hidden from the eyes of men, because He already knows all about it. “Is there really anyone you feel you can approach with absolute transparency — with complete honesty? Some couples find it with each other and a few have such a friend. But I am certain that thousands upon thousands feel there is no one whom they can trust enough simply to be themselves” (The God Who Hears, W. Bingham Hunter, p. 43).

  • In our Lord we have someone with whom we can share our anger, joy, fear, frustration, delight, endless struggles with sin, hurt, loneliness. This is the powerful liberating honesty which should result from understanding God’s omniscience” (p. 43).

  • Frequently, when people ask us, “How are you doing?”, we might say “fine” when we are not doing well, often because we don’t want to burden someone else with our problems. The good news is that God is never burdened, He encourages us to share our problems with Him.

  • It is strange that, even with God, we might try to put on a mask when praying to Him. This looks really silly when we remember that God is omniscient.


Yet, not being honest with others, not being honest with ourselves, and not being honest with God is no way to live. The more we try to “fake it” the less we will feel like being around others or being around God in prayer. Being completely honest with God is one important step toward real spiritual growth.


  • If we have doubts, then we need to express those doubts to Him and ask for wisdom (James 1:5).

  • If we are struggling, then we need to acknowledge it. If we find a sin more attractive at the moment than He is, then we need to admit that and ask for deliverance.

  • If we are expressing our thanks in a prayer, but are not truly thankful, then we need to stop and own up to what we are feeling and ask for help.


The Need of the Moment


God says that He is there to help us in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). We need to take advantage of His offer. The good news is that we can pray at any time (Nehemiah 2:4). No special place, person or atmosphere is needed.


  • When you are struggling with your perspective — pray!

  • When you are resenting a Scripture that you just heard or read — pray!

  • When you are not in the right frame of mind to worship — pray!

  • Obviously, God saw in us something worth dying for (John 3:16), and we should at least give ourselves a good opportunity of making it to heaven by making full use of this amazing, God given gift of prayer.


Prayer and Doubts


God certainly does not want us remaining or staying in doubt (James 1:6), or continually doubting His wisdom and love after we have seen it demonstrated continuously in uncountable ways. Yet God has patiently allowed His people to express their concerns, questions and doubts to Him, “How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and Thou will not hear…” (Habakkuk 1:2-4). The writer of Psalm 73 admits that he had struggled with all sorts of concerns or doubts, primarily the moral problem he had with the prosperity of the wicked and his own difficult life (73:12-14). He had been wise enough not to spread such doubts among impressionable believers (73:15), but he had wrestled with such issues for some time. Eventually, he finds the answer, and like many of us he finds the answer when he came to worship and reflect upon God and eternal issues (73:17ff). God did not strike this man dead for his doubts, envy of the wrong people, and his questioning of how God was running the world. God knew that if the man hung in there, and specifically if he got his mind on an eternal perspective, he would figure out the answer. Again, notice how the answer was found during worship (73:17). This is one reason why Satan tries to keep weak and struggling Christians away from services, because he knows that at services they will often find the answer or the right perspective. The answer to our perplexing questions are often found just on the other side of prayer, bible study, or some other act of worship.


What is to be made of all this? First, it is better to pour out your heart and soul to God in an honest expression of hurt, frustration and impatience than it is to repress these feelings and think they are hidden from God. Second, when you are feeling this way, don’t withdraw from worship. When Asaph came into the sanctuary of God things began to make more sense (Psalm 73:16). Third, confess your sin and acknowledge your creatureliness. Frustration does not excuse unrighteousness” (p. 177). This last point is often forgotten. After we find the answer, we need to do some confessing. This is what Asaph did. He ties his former bitterness not to God, but to being senseless and ignorant (73:22). Job did the same thing, “I have declared that which I did not understand” (Job 42:3). Thus, after wrestling with doubt or frustration, we need to reaffirm:


  • God is right

  • God is good

  • God is just

  • We are blessed


Strengthen the Brothers


It is noteworthy that Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32).


  • Asaph does this in writing Psalm 73. He describes a problem that he fell into, that is common among believers, and shows all succeeding generations not only the folly of such thinking but the right answer. The Psalm reaffirms that God is right, true, good, and that He knows how to govern this world.


  • David does the same thing in Psalm 32 and exhorts us to avoid trying what he tried, that is, hiding his sin and delaying repentance. Once again, the theme is clear, “Do it God’s way because God’s way works and is good for you!”

  • There is certainly a great need for such “brother strengthening” today. Sin in our past must not be allowed to silence us – rather, it has qualified us to speak out and to warn others about the heartache and dangers of following in that path. Essentially, we can say, “Been there, done that, trust God instead!”


Thy Will be Done: Matthew 6:10


  • Beware of the Media: “It is safe to say that in general what is presented on the big silver screen, TV, radio and in print is designed to get you to see your will, not God’s, as the most important thing there is” (p. 63). Scripture will get me back and help me see what God’s will is for my life.

  • Understand then, that prayer does not exist to get what “I want”, but rather, to receive what God wants for my life.

  • Remember other people when praying. God’s will includes all men, even the lost (Luke 6:35; 2 Peter 3:9). I might feel that it should always rain on the wicked, but that is not God’s will in the matter. In my wisdom, I might feel that the world would be better off if gas was 99 cents a gallon, yet I must admit that my wisdom is very limited. Therefore, when I pray, I need to be earnest and yet humble. I need to admit to God that my “solution” might have some blind spots and in the end, I want what is best, not just for myself, but for others as well. Like God, I want people saved (2 Peter 3:9). So, I need to be okay with whatever leads people to think about God and consider Jesus, even if that might be financial challenges, a world at war, the presence of disease and suffering, or a life filled with various frustrations.


Matthew 7:7-8


  • Keep on asking — because God exists!

  • Keep on seeking — because God is all-powerful

  • Keep on knocking — because God is wise, good, and a loving Father who wants to give us what we really need.




Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/503-644-9017