Waynedale United Methodist Church
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!
   
“The Prayer PATH” part 1
Matthew 6:5 – 13
Ted Jansen  October 15, 2017  Waynedale UMC
 
 

1.)        Sue and I were on our honeymoon in Maine and we decided to go on a horseback ride.  It didn’t matter to me that I had never really ridden a horse before; I was inspired to do this with Sue.  Besides a guide would lead our group on this trip. 

            So, we got matched up with our horses and I happened to be at the front of the line.  I was happy and excited and ready to go.  The guide hollered out to me, “Let’s go!”  I thought the horse would know what to do, like the pony rides in the zoo.  I assumed that all the horses would follow each other; we were just along for the ride. 

            I sat there on my horse waiting for something to happen, waiting for the horse to go.  But the horse did not move.  I was embarrassed and realized that I was holding the group from starting.  I finally said, “How do you make this thing go?”  The group and the guide laughed.  Then the guide said, “You have to give it a kick.”  So, I gave it a nudge, and still the horse did not move.  The guide said, “Give it a hard kick!”  When I kicked with more force the horse got going, much to my relief. 

 

2.)        I want to talk to you this morning about prayer.  How many of you have been like me on that horse as it relates to prayer?  You want to pray, you get inspired to get on a prayer focus, but you don’t know how to “get this thing going.”  You might even feel like everyone around you knows how to pray, you are the only one who can’t seem to figure out how to “get going.” 

            I want to help be your guide this morning and show you how to give the prayer horse a kick.  

 

3.)        Jesus shared some words with a group of people one day on lots of different topics.  One of those topics was on prayer.  As we look to Jesus words in Matthew 6:5 – 13 we see two do not’s and two do’s for prayer.   

            The do not’s are found in verse 5 and verse 7.  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.  Do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” 

            The basics of the do not’s are these.  Do not pray to be seen and do not pray and use lots of words.  As you think of Jesus’ teaching on prayer they might give you a sense of relief.  Prayer, according to Jesus, is not a long public prayer, it is something else.   

 

4.)        Jesus shared these dos of prayer in verse 6 and verse 9.  “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.  This then is how you should pray; Our Father in heaven…”

            In order to pray as Jesus says we should: pray in private and pray the Lord’s Prayer.  Jesus shows us that prayer, this living conversation with the Living, Loving God is very personal, very intimate and very real.  You model the intimacy of prayer by the intimacy of the setting.  Prayer is personal and private in its essence.  It is not a public display.  That is why Jesus said to go by yourself to find a private place, so that you are all alone.       

            Jesus then prays using the words we call the Lord’s Prayer.  The words are simple and they reveal the idea that this prayer is based on a model, a format. 

Prayer is about a model, or format that works for you.  As important as the words are in the Lord’s Prayer it is as or more important to have a model of prayer.  A model of the different aspects of prayer to guide us each day.  A model can help us get started.    

 

5.)        I want to share with you a model of prayer I discovered when I was helping a boy with his Cub Scout “God and Me” award.  It is the Prayer PATH model.  This has been helpful for my prayer life and I have used it since then.     

            The PATH is a simple words that guides you in prayer.  Each of the letters stand for a different aspect of prayer.  P stands for praise, A stands for apology, T stands for thanks, H stands for help.  This model can guide you in getting started.

            I want to focus on the first two letters this week; P, A, and then T, H next week. 

 
6.)        PRAISE

            We begin with praise because it focuses our hearts on the Lord and not on ourselves.  Praise invites us to lift our vision, our spirit, our soul to the attributes of God, the qualities of God’s character.   When we praise we admire and appreciate a quality of God. 

            A few months ago I did a sermon and mentioned the attributes of God.  When we offer our praise to God we want to give the Lord all the worth we can.     

            We praise God for His guiding, loving hand. We praise God for his Holy, Creative work in life.  We praise God for His faithfulness.  We give God glory for His Son. 

Praise lifts us beyond our own lives to the eternal, the heavenly, the awesome, the majestic, presence of God.  Praise allows us to enjoy the splendor of God. 

One practical way to focus on praise is to read the Psalms.  There are 150 of them, and though they all don’t focus our hearts in praise a lot of them do. 

 
7.)        Let us share Psalm 148 responsively.  I will begin and you will read the bold.  It is on page 861 in our UM Hymnal. 
 
 

8)         As we begin in prayer we need to make sure that we are lined up with God.  When we offer praise this will happen to our spirits. 

If you need an alignment to your car it is because the tires are set in positions that are not the correct angle.  You will have excessive tire wear and potential hazards as you drive.  When your car is aligned then all your tires and steering are good and moving together.   

            I believe that when we line up our hearts in praise this gets everything else in the right angle in our lives of faith.     

            When we praise of God we receive the benefit of knowing that our Loving God is present with us.    

 
9.)        I invite you to finish this phrase in silence.  I praise you Lord today because…   
10.)      APOLOGY

            The word apology means, “a regretful acknowledgement of an offense or failure.”  It means a “confession” of wrongdoing, or sin. 

When we apologize we understand that God is wonderful and holy and we admit that we have messed up, we have sinned, we have chosen to follow our selfish desires. 

When we apologize we let God know we are not at the center of the universe, it is not about us.  It is about God and our desire to be obedient to God’s will.      

            Something happens inside of us when we apologize, or we confess.  When we disclose our faults we, by the grace of God, can be unburdened from our sins.  We humbly come before God and acknowledge that we are sinners made whole by God’s grace.

God’s grace is seen and known through the cross of Jesus Christ where His body was broken and His blood was shed, so that I might know forgiveness. 

We can gain freedom when we confess before God.  We are washed clean.  

Something else can happen when we confess, we are given strength to ask for someone to forgive us, as we also forgive others as we all understand we need grace.  There is no person who does not need to confess or apologize to God and others.      

 

11.)      I believe that when we come before the Lord with an honest apology this transforms our heart and we are more loving because we have been loved and forgiven. 

I believe that we need more honest and humble confession before God and one another in these days.    

We usually don’t hear of public “apologies, or confessions, or admissions of guilt,” until there has been some investigation, or some report, or some comment that was shared in a public way.  We don’t regularly apologize, but prayer is vital in leading us this way.      

 

12.)      King David was a very important leader and there was a period in his life when he messed up and committed adultery with Bathsheba.  David had to work hard to cover up this sin.  He thought he had it all taken care of until Nathan came to him.  Nathan was used by God to let David know that God knew that David had sinned.  When David finally broke down and admitted, confessed, and apologized to God and others it was a very humbling thing to share. 

            I want us to read out loud the words of Psalm 51, which were written by David.  Here is how this Psalm is introduced.  “For the director of music.  A psalm of David.  When the prophet Nathan come to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.”

            This is on page 785 in the UM Hymnal.  I will read the first line and you will read the bold. 

      

13.)      Each of us have sin that we don’t want others to know about.  I invite you to imagine all your sins down on a piece of paper.  Then bring this paper before God and hear God saying to you, “I love you, and I will forgive you for your sins.”   

I invite you to finish this phrase in silence.  I confess my sins before you now Lord…