Weekly Sermon
Delivered By
Dr. E. G. Sherman, Jr
Delivered On
October 14, 2018 at 10:45 AM
Central Passage
Matthew 6:5-8

Special Prayer request first all the victims of Hurricane Michael, Special Prayer request first all the victims of Hurricane Michael, persons in the Albany/Doughery area, and the members of Institutional First Baptist Church, of which I am pastor. Many of them have been without electricity since the past Wednesday night!              Prayer    –  Matthew 6:5-8
There are many different religions in the world.  They have
their Supreme Being, Sacred Book, rituals, and doctrines. The
religions, also, embrace practices by which humankind can relate
to the Supreme Being. This process is known as prayer, a recurring
theme in the Holy Bible. Sadly, this glorious process is
misunderstood, incorrectly viewed, and even taken too casually
by professing Christians.  To, hopefully, properly align our view
with biblical teaching on prayer, the sermon has been entitled,
Prayer. It will entail three dimensions of prayer, namely: the
nature of prayer, errors in prayer, and power in prayer.
As background for the sermon, attention will be called to
the biblical evolution of prayer. The late Herschel H. Hobbs,
commenting on this topic, noted that “The Bible places great
emphasis on prayer.  There are 169 references to prayer in the

P. 2
Old Testament and 165 in the New Testament.  In contrast with
preaching, Hobbs, wrote that there are 5 references to preaching                                                                                                   in the Old Testament and 138 in the New. Using these figures, it
seems plausible to conclude that prayer ranks above preaching
as the means for fellowship with the Almighty God. Beloved, this
conclusion means that the minister may preach about prayer but
it is of no value to you unless you engage in it. This need to
understand and use prayer leads to the first consideration of
the sermon which is the nature of prayer.  A requirement for
understanding the nature of prayer is to know what the word
means. In this connection, there are many definitions of prayer.
In Smith’s Bible Dictionary, prayer has a variety of meanings, some
of which are: to ask God for a blessing; seeking the Lord; pouring
out the heart and soul before God; and beseeching God. In addition
to these Old Testament views on prayer, the New Testament has
several definitions; they include: approaching God with a desire for
help; spiritual communion with the Father; free utterance of the

P. 3
soul’s wants; and a petition for guidance and protection.
The nature of prayer was the theme of James Montgomery’s
hymn entitled, “Prayer is the Soul’s Sincere Desire”. Within that
he penned the words, “Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, unuttered
or expressed. A motion of the hidden fire that trembles in the
breast”.  Another hymnologist, W.W. Walford, in his hymn,”Sweet
Hour of Prayer” depicted prayer as providing a divine call from a
world of care; conveying wants and wishes to the Father; and
bringing about relief from grief and sorrow.
In sum, these definitions and views on prayer are united by
a common thread of divinity that unites humanity with the
Almighty God.  Hence, it is only through prayer that one can
have fellowship with the Lord; it is only through prayer that one
can spread desires before the Father; it is only through prayer
that one can seek guidance from the Father; and it is only through
prayer that one can request forgiveness from the Father.
Beloved, it is an unfortunate fact that the act of prayer is
so frequently misunderstood and incorrectly practices. The Bible
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has much to say about this problem, a fact that leads to the
second consideration of the sermon, which is – errors in prayer .
The textual basis of our sermon embodies the teaching of Jesus on    the topic on prayer; it is found in verses 5 through 8. Notice how
Jesus presupposed that people would pray, thus, he said, “When
thou prayest”. While recognizing the act of prayer, Jesus was –
nonetheless – mindful of guidelines, for prayer; hence, he warned
of three errors in prayer.  The first is that of praying to be heard
by others ( v.5 ). He is not herein condemning prayer in the Church
or public places; instead, Jesus is emphasizing the tendency of
people to use such places to demonstrate their literary and/or
oratorical mastery in prayer. He labeled such persons as
hypocrites and said that they were receiving their reward from
those who feasted on such prayer tactics. The second error that
Jesus mentioned was praying with mere words and empty
repetition ( v.7). He likened that type of prayer unto the heathens
who felt that their words produced the effect. The third error was
that of praying with sin in one’s heart ( vv. 14-15 ). Brethren, “God
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does not forgive us because we forgive others but on the basis of
the blood of Christ ( 1 John 1:9 ) However, our unforgiving spirit
will hinder our prayer life and show that such a person has no
reverence for God.”Oh! he/or she may engage in prayer several
times a day, but the action is rhetorical, or merely words.  The
prayers will be non productive owing to the one who is praying
rather than the lack of power in prayer.  This energizing power of
prayer leads to the final consideration of the sermon – which is the
the power of prayer. The word, power, denotes the ability to
activate, cause movement, instigate action, and to change direction.
Beloved, prayer extends beyond these descriptions of power. As is
true of any agent that causes change, prayer has to have an
energizing source; this is a fact for the Bible tells us that it is the
Godhead: The Father who answers our prayer; the Son who pleads
on our behalf; and the Holy Spirit who  interprets our petitions
( Matt. 5:6; John 14:13; Roman 8:26-27 ). Beloved, these Scriptures
remind us that the art of prayer is progressive rather than a mature
function at the first effort. In this regard, it is necessary to
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understand the development of an effective prayer model. It Begin
With  learning and reciting the Nursery Childhood Prayer – Now lay
me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  If I should died
before I wake, I pay the Lord my soul to take”. The Second Step in
learning to prayer is that of becoming familiar with the Lord’s
Prayer that Jesus taught his disciples.  It is found in the Chapter of
our text, Matthew 6:9-13. The Third Step  is to become familiar
with the hymnal petition  -“ Let the words of my mouth and the
meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my
strength and my redeemer”. Having masters these three stages, the
individual is now ready to venture into the vineyard of God’s mercy.
Therein the Savior stands with ten thousand blessing in his hand
to satisfy the poor, and all others who are in need of a blessing.
Under that divine canopy, the sincere petitioner will find that
there is power in prayer. It matters not the time of day, what is
the need, where is the petitioner, nor how big is the request. The
prayer, if consistent with the will of God, will be answered. This
fact is documented in the Bible where it is recorded “The effective
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fervent  prayer of the righteous availeth much” ( James 5:16 ).
Having heard so much about the power of prayer, it is logical to   conclude the sermon will some biblical proofs that prayer is
powerful, a few of which are: – through Hezekiah’s prayer the sun
moved backward – through Joshua’s prayer the sun stood still
– through Elijah’s prayer fire was rained down
– through Peter’s prayer the widow’s daughter was raised
-through Jesus’ prayer Lazarus was raised
-through Paul’s /Silas’ prayer the Philippian Jail was opened
In closing, this sermon on prayer has examined three
dimensions of prayer, namely: nature of prayer, errors in prayer,
and the power of prayer. Hopefully, it has been informative,
challenging, and reassuring, especially to the Christian
believers, that God does hear and answer prayer – not always
in accordance with our request but always in accordance with
His will. Amen.

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