Jesus and Prayer, Part 1 - What Should We Say?

Bible Passage: Matthew 6:5-13

Items you will need: teaspoons (1 per family member but keep them aside for now)

Prayer is important because it is one of the primary ways we can connect with God. It offers us a chance to thank God, seek forgiveness and ask the Lord for what is on our hearts.

Often, people pray before meals, first thing in the morning or before they go to bed. Different families often have different traditions of how they like to pray or to recite certain prayers.

Take a minute and discuss with your family, how do you pray? Do you recite a prayer you have learned or do you pray from your heart?

Today, we are going to look a little bit into the life of Jesus and some of the things that Jesus taught about prayer.

Turn in your Bible to Matthew 6:5-6 and read it together,

As you read this, you might be wondering, what is a hypocrite? (v.5) Well, the word comes from the Greek word for “stage actor” because a hypocrite is someone who behaves one way but actually believes or does something else. So, just like some actors play villains in movies or tv, that doesn’t mean that they are that way in real life!

Real life example of hypocrite or “stage ac: Margaret Hamilton aka the “Wicked Witch of the West”

In the Wizard of Oz, the main villain is the wicked witch of the West played by Margaret Hamilton.

Both images taken from here.

But the real Margaret Hamilton was the complete opposite! She taught kindergarten, was a Sunday school teacher and was even the president of the Beverley Hills board of education at one time. You can read about her here.

You can even see Margaret Hamilton talking with Mr. Rogers talking about her role in The Wizard of Oz on youtube.

We also see that Jesus speaks against those who pray in public just “to be seen by others”. (verse 5) Those people were hypocrites, because while they were supposed to be praying to God, they were instead just wanting other people to watch them.

Discuss as a family: Would you pray differently if you knew people were watching you?

Now read Matthew 6:7-8 together,

In this section, we see that Jesus warns against “babbling” NIV), or “vain repetitions” (KJV) or “empty phrases” (ESV). What Jesus is warning against is trying to get what you want through flattery. Flattery means using lots of nice words just to get what you want. There were some people that believed that the more use said nice things, the greater the chance of getting what you want. Jesus tells us not to behave this way but instead know that God knows what we need before we ask and so while we must glorify God for who He is, do not expect flattery to work or be acceptable in prayer.

A Good question: “If God knows what we need before we ask it, does that mean we still need to ask?”

While it is true God already knows what we need, we are also about to see that Jesus will teach us to pray for our needs. (Matt 6:7-13)

Remember, prayer is us communicating with God, so, prayer helps us to connect and remind ourselves that God is faithful (2 Tim 2:13), God is in control (Prov 19:21) and that God is the giver of good things! (Matt 7:7-11)

Another good question: “I have asked God for something and I did not receive it. Why?”

There may be a number of reasons why God does not give us what we ask, some reasons include: because it is a selfish request (James 4:3), or possibly because we need to learn to trust in God and not ourselves (2 Cor 12:9), or because it is not part of His plan for us (Prov 19:21).

Remember, “no” is an answer to prayer, it just isn’t an answer we want.

Discuss as a family: What is something that you should ask God for in prayer?

After teaching us what not to do, Jesus now teaches us how we should pray! This prayer is incredible and is called the Lord’s Prayer, because it is Jesus Himself who taught it to us.

Read together the Lord’s prayer, Matthew 6:9-13

There is a lot of things going on in this prayer, but it starts with us praising God for who He is (v.9), reminding us that He is in control (v.10), that we must ask for what we need and that God provides it daily (v.11), that we must seek forgiveness (v.12), that we must stay away from the things that would harm us (temptation to sin) and that to ask God to protect us from evil. (v.13)

A Good Question: “I thought the Lord’s prayer ends with ‘For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.’?

Most people do say that ending and if your Bible translation doesn’t have it right there after verse 13 check the bottom of the page, or the notes and you will find it there! The reason it is not always there as you read this passage is because while many of the older manuscripts of Matthew’s account of the gospel have it, the oldest ones don’t. So, we are not sure if Jesus actually said those words or if he ended it with asking for protection from evil.

Regardless, those words are true. God is all powerful and we should be doing all things for His kingdom and glory!

Applying this to our daily lives:

This prayer is incredible to say but it also teaches us the things that we should include in all of our prayers. One way to look at this prayer is to break it down into three major things:

Thanks (thanking God for who He is and what He has done),

Sorry (asking for forgiveness),

Please (asking God for needs within your heart).

Now, make sure everyone has a teaspoon

When you look at a recipe, a teaspoon is often written as tsp. But, tsp also happens to be the three things we should include in our prayers: Thanks, Sorry, Please.

So, while holding your teaspoon, take a moment and each person practice praying using the three elements: Thanks, Sorry, Please.

So, the next time you are making a cup of tea (or hot chocolate) or bake cookies, stop and take a moment to pray remembering those three elements.

Have a blessed day!

Pastor Greg

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