Waynedale United Methodist Church
Thursday, December 13, 2018
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October 22, 2017 Sermon

“The Prayer PATH” part 2
Matthew 6:5 – 13
Ted Jansen  October 22, 2017  Waynedale UMC
 

1.)        I invite you to think about the topic of prayer like taking a walk.  Prayer can be like a nature trail that you hike stopping at different stations to view different aspect of wildlife.   

            The PATH will guide us into God’s presence as we focus on: Praise, Apology, Thanks, Help.  Last week’s sermon focused on the first two aspects of the PATH, Praise and Apology, and this week as we look at the last two, Thanks and Help. 

            Before we look at our Prayer PATH model I want to unpack a word from Jesus’ teaching that might give us additional insight on the importance of prayer.  The word I want to discuss is the word “reward.” 

 

2.)        The word, “reward,” caught my attention because two different times it was mentioned by Jesus in his teaching on prayer.  Let me read the two different verses. 

            “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.”  (Matthew 6:5)

            Jesus is talking about one of the ways you should not pray and those that do this and the type of reward that they would receive.  Those who seek to make prayer something that others see and are impressed will only get good words and affirmation from others.  That is the reward in full. 

Let’s look at another verse that Jesus refers to as one the do’s of prayer.  “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.”  (Matthew 6:6)

            Jesus mentions the word reward again but this He clarifies that the reward will come from our Heavenly Father.  Do you see the difference in the rewards of prayer that are mentioned?  Let’s look further as we discover two very different meanings of the word, reward, in the Greek language. 

 

3.)        In verse 5 the word in the Greek is misthos.  This term is the understanding of reward that receives accolades for having achieved something important in the public arena.  The word “reward” is the recognition for achievement, something accomplished by a person’s effort.  The NT Word Dictionary says the meaning is, “to give or do something in fulfillment of an obligation or expectation.”  The reward is the feeling and affirmation as you meet an expectation or obligation.  For example if you are taking a good test and you study a lot and get a good grade your reward is because of your efforts.    

            Another example is when people in sports, business or movies achieve success in an area of expertize they are “rewarded” by attention from others.  This type of reward, Jesus says, is what the hypocrites receive.  The hypocrites who pray so that others may see them and think they are great people of prayer have their reward.     

 

4.)        In verse 6 the word for reward is apodidomi.  This is different than misthos in more than its spelling.  Misthos has to do with achievement and accolades and apodidomi has a meaning of the acceptance of God’s love.  The reward the Father gives in prayer is based on His Holy Spirit coming into our lives to love us.  The meaning of “reward” as understood by the Greek word, apodidomi, has nothing to do with merit but with God’s love.     

            Listen to this quote from the NT Theological Dictionary.  “He (God) demands obedience, but the rewards far exceeds what is deserved, and it is a matter of divine generosity rather than human merit!”

            Divine generosity towards our heart and soul is the reward of prayer as Jesus teaches.  We don’t get a type of “trophy” for being seen by others as spiritually important, but we get the assurance that we are loved, no matter what.

We come to prayer for the reward of allowing God’s presence come through the Holy Spirit.  This reward comes to us no matter what we are going through.  When we go through a tough time and have “peace” this is our reward.  When we go through a great time and have “joy” this is our reward.  God’s reward in prayer is called grace.    

            As we consider Jesus’s teaching on prayer let’s look at the Prayer PATH. 

 
5.)        THANKS.     

            To offer thanks is to name the tangible evidence of God’s generous love in your life.  When you are thankful you are aware of the personal, the practical, the tangible.  You thank God for freedom to worship, you thank God for your family, you thank God for your health, you thank God for that A on your science test, you thank God for the weather.  These are all tangible things that you can offer thanks to the Lord.     

            When we offer Praise and Apology they help us focus on God’s presence.  When we give thanks we look around at our lives and see where God has been present.    

Years ago I was driving to a pastor’s gathering and had the idea of naming out loud all the people I was thankful for.  This was a tangible way to say to God thanks for these people in my lives.  I had not done this before. 

As I am driving I began to offer my prayers of thanks for people and praying out loud.  I remember being so uplifted in this time of thanking God that 45 minutes went by.  I was surprised how long I could offer thanks and how much fun it was.      

               

6.)        Here are share some scriptures on giving thanks to encourage you in prayer. 

 

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:18) 

 

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, His love endures forever.”  (Psalm 136:1)

 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present you requests to God.”   (Philippians 4:6.)

 

As you think of these verses and the importance of giving thanks take a few minutes and finish this phrase.  Lord, I am thankful today for … 

 
 
 
 
7.)        HELP. 

            We end the Prayer PATH with Help.   Philippians 4:6 invites with a thankful heart to pray for help.   

If we are at a beginning point of prayer we often are motivated to start praying when we need help.  We have a need that we cannot fix, solve or figure out.  We care for a person that needs hope, healing, love, peace, direction and we are motivated to pray for them.

We want the Lord to do something because we can’t.  We offer love through prayer.        

            Have you noticed that this model or prayer has us waiting until we have offered Praise, Apology, and Thanks before we ask the Lord for anything.  Prayer is about asking for help, but in a God focused manner.       

 

8.)        We offer prayers of help for others and for our needs.   

            As we focus on prayer for others we do so in different amounts of time.  We pray for others in a one-time request, or we pray others for the rest of their lives or our lives.   

            I believe we should begin with our immediate family and their needs and then move our circle of help prayers wider and further out in relationships.  God will put on our heart the names of people we are to pray for.     

            I believe that after we pray for others it is a good thing to let them know that you have prayed for them.  Or, pray out loud for them on the phone or in person.  You can write a prayer for a card, email, text or message.  When others know we are praying for them that will encourage them.    

            Paul and James wanted the believers to understand how prayer works in our lives together and they shared their understanding in these two verses.

            “With this is mind, we constantly pray for you…” (2 Thessalonians 1:11)  “Confess you sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”  (James 5:16)

 

9.)        We can pray for others that they come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  We pray for health, jobs, comfort, money, marriages, schooling, etc.  We need to be willing to pray for anything in the lives of others.  You can see the prayer list that we create each week.  I believe that our prayer for others is vital to our vision of “Joyfully Connecting People to Christ and Community.”    

             

            I invite you to pray out loud for the person next to you.  I will give you the words to pray for them.  I ask that you find out their name, if you don’t know it, and if then offer this out loud prayer.  Lord, today, I pray for  ____ and their needs.  In Jesus name.  Amen. 

 

10.)      We pray for ourselves and the needs that we have.  We can offer our physical lives, our emotional lives, our spiritual lives, our financial lives, our parenting lives, our vocational lives.  We need to be honest and open as you bring yourself to the Lord in prayer.  The Lord loves us and wants us to bring what is on our heart in our lives before Him.  This might feel awkward but we might want to write down our prayer for ourselves.  

 

11.)      I invite you to finish this phrase in silence.   Lord, today I pray about this need in my own life…