Sincere Attitude of Prayer
By Nick Bibile
This sermon is not an exposition of prayer or a study of prayer but deals with our hearts and motives when we pray.
John Calvin said, “To prayer, then, are we indebted for penetrating to those riches which are treasured up for us with our heavenly Father.” John Knox said, “Who will pray must know and understand that prayer is an earnest and familiar talking with God.” What is prayer? John Bunyan said, “Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God hath promised, or according to the Word, for the good of the church, with submission, in faith, to the will of God.”
The word sincere means, truthful, genuine, unmixed and pure.
The opposite of sincere prayer is to praying in hypocritical attitude to please men, to be seen by men to be applauded by men, it is a prayer to please people. And also if we are praying selfishly then the prayer is not sincere. If we are praying untruthfully means not telling the whole truth to the Lord then that prayer is not sincere. God is not going to hear if we are not sincere. How many times we hear when people pray together, one person is preaching a sermon to the other person in prayer, there are prayer battles, they use prayer as a means to rebuke a person. I believe this is getting into the flesh. As an example if we are in a group of prayer, then I am praying, “Lord I pray that John will have more love, and Sue has a bad temper, Joe is very lazy.” Now do you see what I am saying, this person sees all the other people’s weaknesses according to this person’s judgment but he never prays for his weaknesses, he is ok. We need to see our own sins instead of the other person’s sins in prayer or else we become hypocritical. John Knox said, we need to expel all fleshly mediations when we come to God.
Jas 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another,
In a group prayer meeting we should not look for other peoples faults, but we need to confess our faults one to another. We need to remember in prayer we are coming to the Almighty God’s throne, so need to come trembling as he sees our motives and our hearts and every thought behind our prayer. We need to be sincere before God.
Pr 15:8 “. the prayer of the upright is his delight.”
It is the heart that God looks at. Sometimes our prayers can be very fleshly, as gossip can start through a prayer meeting. “Did you hear what so and so prayed about the other person?” And this kind of prayer can bring a lot of speculations to the body of Christ, as we have to wonder about John, “Hmm so John does not have love for others, Joe is a lazy person.” The truth of the matter is that John and Joe even do not know about this, they are very innocent. It is very tempting to rebuke, or correct someone not directly but use prayer as a means. This is an easy way out. The Bible is very clear that we need to correct and rebuke.
2Ti 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
Pr 27:5 Open rebuke is better than secret love.
But if I rebuke him or her he or she will get angry with me. It is much easy to do it in prayer. Remember what Jesus said:
Mt 5:23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
Mt 5:24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
Matthew Henry said, “prayers made in wrath (anger) are written in gall.”
Let us see a true incident in the Bible.
Ga 2:11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
Paul did not have a prayer meeting and rebuked Peter through prayer, but he rebuked Peter directly. And Peter being a godly man, did not take Paul’s rebuke to his flesh and get mad at Paul. You have to give a lot of credit to Peter for being humble. In a group prayer meeting if we speculate something and pray for someone’s faults and the other person is not at present. It is not healthy for the body and also it is personally not good for you as you will gradually get away from that person and you don’t feel comfortable anymore, this is totally in contradiction to the body ministry as a body we need to love one another. Later on you will realize half of the things what you thought is not true, because you do not really know what the other person is going through, only when you have a heart to heart direct talk then you realize that you should have done this long time ago, instead of infecting this in your mind.
We need to lay aside our fleshly thoughts, as those thoughts will not interfere with our pure mediation with our holy God. We need to be sincere and rise our souls to the purity of God. Sincerity carries our soul and opens our hearts to God. Sincerity is the true carrier of prayer to God.
A humble confession of sin.
Again, do not pray upon your own justice, praying upon all other people’s faults but confess sins as a whole, not saying he has or she has sinned but we have sinned. True humility in prayer is to admit we have sinned even though it was that someone else in the church who was involved in sin. Our flesh does not want to do this, as our flesh wants to show how good we are and how bad the other person is. It is the other person’s fault and not my fault, remember when one hurts the whole body hurts. When one is at fault it hurts the whole body.
John Calvin mentioned that the Old Testament saints were holier than we are yet look at their humility in their prayers; they took the other peoples sins upon themselves.
Ps 79:8 O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low.
9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name's sake.
Jer 14:7 O LORD, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name's sake: for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee.
Da 9:5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:
Da 9:15 And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
16 O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.
17 Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake.
18 O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.
19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.
We may have to do a separate Bible study on this passage alone on prayer on another day. See Daniel’s reverence to God, as he is pouring out his soul saying “O Lord, O Lord” Spurgeon said, “the prayer that hits the target is asking for forgiveness.”
Today if a Pastor or someone prays like this, the others think, “Hmm..He is confessing his sins because he has sinned, I wonder what he did..” Speaking about Daniel and the others of their humility in prayer John Knox said, “Behold, that in these prayers is no mention of their own justice, their own satisfaction, or their own merits; but most humble confession, proceeding from a sorrowful and penitent heart.”
Charles Spurgeon prayed, “Our Father, we are very weak. Worst of all we are very wicked if left to ourselves, and we soon fall a prey to the enemy. Therefore help us. We confess that sometimes in prayer when we are nearest to you at that very time some evil thought comes in, some wicked desire. Oh! What poor simpletons we are. Lord help us.”
Humility will make us cry unto the Lord.
We living in a generation where pride rules, in the church sometimes we see pride is covered with humility. Even when it comes to prayer there is pride, prayer becomes man centered. We approach God with a long list of wants, and even our intercessory prayers are more from the mouth than the hearts, we pray for others just because we have to pray or showing God, “look God I am praying for someone.” But in reality in why we pray? Because we are powerless, sinful. We need to rely on God. There should be a sense of powerlessness in prayer. When Daniel prayed he began, “O Lord hear.” It means I am not worthy to be heard from God. The tax collector who went to pray in the temple did not even look up to heavens, as he was unworthy before God Almighty.
True humility will make you bow down to God. Our soul will go to the very lowest depths in the site of His majesty. The prayer that goes to the heavens is the prayer that comes from the lowest of hearts. Proud prayers will knock on God’s throne but it will never find a place in heaven. We need to be a beggar at his footstool. In our generation today, we living as man is the center of everything. The motto of the world is, “a strong man will never weep.” But in Christianity the strong man always breaks down before God in humility, and true humility is found in genuine tears. In prayer we need to see how unworthy we are and how helpless we are and cry out to God.
Ps 69:3 I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.
David roars, cries, weeps, faints at heart, fails at the eyes, loseth his moisture.
Ps 38:6 I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.
Remember Hannah, how Phinehas provoked her all the time and made her life miserable, saying Hannah did not have children. Hannah being a godly woman did not take the accusations into her hands but gave to the Lord.
1Sa 1:10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.
This is where Hezekiah was sick, when Isaiah the prophet came and told Hezekiah, that he is going to die.
Isa 38:14 Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a dove: mine eyes fail with looking upward: O LORD, I am oppressed; undertake for me.
Mt 26:75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
Jesus who had no sin cried with tears.
Heb 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears….
We need to pray for the others who are weak and who at faulty, and we need to intercede for them. We need to do this in our closet, and when we gather together in public prayer, we need to be more sensitive to others around you who are listening to your prayers.
Let me close, that something we can learn from Daniel’s prayer. For certainly we know Daniel’s rebellion to God was much less than his own fellow Israelites. But yet he was the first to make confession on their behalf. So my dear brothers and sisters, when we have confessed our own sins and have found mercy, then we should intercede for others.