Sermon – The Actor, The Babbler and The Child (Matthew 6:1 – 6:8) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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The Actor, The Babbler and The Child

Tom Sweatman, Matthew 6:1 - 6:8, 9 June 2024

Today we start a new series in the Lord's prayer and Tom takes us through the first of a two part introduction starting in Matthew 6:1-8. In this passage we see how the Lord's prayer should be understood in light of the broader context of the sermon on the mount. Listen in to hear how the gospel of Jesus plays into our prayers and relationship with the Father.

Matthew 6:1 - 6:8

6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

And if you have a Bible and you want to turn to our reading, it's Matthew chapter 6, and we're gonna read verses, 1 to 8 5 to 8 on the screen, but we're gonna we're gonna start at the beginning of the chapter. And then Tom's gonna come and preach god's word. Afhew chapter 6, verse 1. Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your father in heaven.

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets to be honored by others. Truly, I tell you they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that you so that you're giving maybe in secret. Then your father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in a synagogue and on the street corners to be seen by others.

Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But 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. And when you pray, Do not keep on babbling like pagans, or they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them.

For your father knows what you need before you ask him. Thanks, Dean. Morning, everybody. Nice to be with you. If we haven't met, my name is Tom, and I'm 1 of the pastors here.

And, as Dean said, we're beginning this new series this morning in the Lord's prayer. We're not actually going to come to the lord's prayer itself, for at least another 2 weeks. So this is something of an introduction, part 1 of an introduction, to the lord's prayer. And, it's always worth remembering, and I think quite easy to forget with the lord's prayer, that this prayer is actually part of a a much broader package of teaching. It's part of a big sermon that Jesus is giving called the sermon on the Mount.

And what you notice about that sermon is that it doesn't actually begin, with lessons on prayer or lessons on giving or less on fasting, the sermon itself actually begins with the good news of the gospel, and then everything else that Jesus says flows from that. So if you just have a look back in your bibles with me to chapter 5 verse 3, you can see where it begins or or verse 2. His disciples came to him and he began to teach them. Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Now, those words are pretty famous.

But they are much more than just fridge magnet words. And they are not just meant to be vaguely comforting to people in the world who've got a bit less money. These are words that are all about self evaluation. In the world, we might be very successful. We might be CEOs of big companies we might get all the right qualifications and pass all our exams with flying colors.

We might be rising stars in the world of music and sport. But the question here is if we want to be part of god's kingdom, do we know who we really are before god? Do we know that there is a poverty in our spirits that we are bankrupt before him? That we have nothing to offer him, that we have sinned against him, that our guilt is stacked up to the heavens before him. That we have misused his name, that we have dishonored our mothers and our fathers, that we have told lies and said things that aren't true, that we've coveted things that don't belong to us, that we've exchanged the glory of the triune god for rivals, that there is a poverty in our spirits.

That's where it begins. To be poor in spirit, Jesus says, is to know that for all of our achievements, for all of our qualifications, we are in the final assessment desperately needy and without anything to offer before the living god. Now, by nature, that is not something that we like to admit about ourselves. And it's certainly not something we like other people to know about us, but in Jesus' upside down topsy-turvy kingdom to realize that you are poor in spirit and then to bring that poverty to Christ. Is the road to supreme happiness.

That's what he says in this sermon. To let go of our pride and to let go of our selfish ambition to leave all of that behind and to bring it to the cross where Christ died for wretched sinners like us to abandon everything is to lay hold of the greatest riches available to any person, friendship with god, our savior. Forgiveness of all of our sins, the blotting out of our guilt, reconciliation with the god who made us And the privilege, as we've already said this morning, of knowing him as our heavenly father, to abandon hope himself and lay hold of Christ and his cross is to be blessed supremely happy. So counter intuitive, isn't it? But there is no kingdom of god.

Without that realization. And so it's important to begin here because otherwise, what happens is we'll come to a passage like this. And we'll think, oh, yeah, I think I, yeah, I think I basically know what this is about. This is about where I should or shouldn't pray. Should be very careful about praying in public, and instead I should find some kind of closet or private room in which to do my praying.

Or we'll come to this passage and we'll think, oh, I see this is mainly about praying in my heart and not out loud. Jesus doesn't seem to want me to pray out loud. He seems to prefer heart prayer only. Or we'll say something like this who seems to be out praying on my own and not with other people. Better be careful praying with other people and just do more of it by myself.

Well, this seems to be about getting some kind of prayer closet. I don't really have 1 of those. And so maybe I better get 1 or build 1, and should it have a window, or shouldn't it? I'm not quite sure. But do you see to to think to think like that is really to miss the whole heart of what Jesus is really teaching here.

That that this passage is not really about any of that stuff. It's about, do we commune with god on the basis of the gospel or not? If we know that Jesus Christ came into this world and died for our sin, and that if we will trust in him, we will be made altogether right with God. If we if we know the gospel, we will enjoy authentic sincere communion with God wherever we are, whether we're at home, alone or in public with others where we're praying in the heart only or the heart and the lips so others can see whether we're in church or in the closet or at work, if we are relating to god on the basis of Christ crucified and risen as my only hope and god is my father. If I'm relating to him on that basis, then I'll enjoy sincere prayers, sincere relationship with God.

Wherever wherever I am. See, it's very interesting. If you look down at this passage and just just glance down, Here's a question for you. Who prays in this passage? Everybody prays in this passage.

The Hippocrits pray in verse 5. In fact, Jesus says they love to pray. They love to pray. The pagans, which really just means anyone who does not worship the triune god. They love to pray.

In verse 7 and 8. In fact, they're heaping up loads of prayers. The disciples, it is assumed throughout this teaching, pray. Jesus doesn't say, if you pray, if you feel like praying, if you decide to pray, what word does he use instead 3 times? When?

When? Not if? When? When? When?

Everybody in this passage prize And so what is it that distinguishes real Christian prayer from everything else? Do we relate to him on the basis of the gospel or on something else? And to help us see that, We're going to examine 3 images. We got 3 images this morning. We're gonna look firstly at the actor on stage.

It's the first image, the actor on stage, and we're going to see that that's a fake because it's not rooted in the gospel. Secondly, we're gonna look at the Babula on the mountain. And we're going to see that's a fake because it's not rooted in the gospel. And then lastly, we're going to see the child with their father, the child with their father, which is the only only authentic way to relate to god. Okay?

3 images. Firstly, then the actor on stage. And you can see him or her in verse 5. 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 others. Truly, I tell you they have received their award in full.

And as you can see, although the word pharisee is not actually used in this passage. Hippocrit is a name that Jesus uses of them. All the time. So it's fair to assume that those are the kind of people that he has in mind here. And you might know already from talks or from your own bible study, that the word hypocrite here has to do with actors.

So this is a word that was used for those who wore a mask. On stage. So much like today, really, the actors would show up at the theater and they would go backstage and they would put on their costumes and they would put on their masks and then at the right time they would go out on stage and they would perform for whatever audience had gathered to see them. It wasn't really then, they were pretending to be something that they weren't. They were playing a part for the sake of those who were there.

But with the pharisees, this is quite an interesting thing about them. With the pharisees, and often, to be honest, in my own heart, the hypocrisy is is almost at a deeper, a deeper level than that. You see, when I think of hypocrisy, and perhaps you're the same as me, I tend to think of something like this, so here I am, let's say, giving a talk about, self control and patience. And we're all gathered here and we're preaching on how important it is to be self controlled. But then on the way home, you drive through Tollworth Junction, and you see me outside of my car thumping my fist down, on the bonnet of somebody else's car, leaning through the window pointing at them and shouting about how awful they just were to me, as we both tried to cross Tollworth Junction.

Now, what are you gonna feel if you see that? I would hope you might feel a little bit sympathetic towards me because we all know how awful that junction is. You might think I I've been there. But mainly, you're going to feel quite disappointed at the gap between what I urged you to be like and what just a short time later I myself was was really doing. I think that's how we tend to think about hypocrisy.

But there's there's something else going on here. In this passage, there's not much that is outwardly wrong with what these hypocrites are doing. They go to the synagogue. Well, that's okay. They're praying out loud in public.

Well, that's that's okay. It's not that they're giving a sermon on the importance of prayer and then not praying themselves. They are actually praying. And so where is the hypocrisy? Well, it's not so much in the outward behavior But in the inner world, in the inner caves of desire and motive, and why we do the things that we do.

See how he puts it in verse 5. And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites for they love to pray. Standing in the synagogues on under the street corners to be seen by other people. See that? The hypocrisy is in the world of of the heart.

Matthew Henry, who's an old Bible commentator, in his comments on this passage, he describes these hypocrites, so he compares them to birds of prey. So if you can imagine, you know, driving along and you see a kestrel or a hawk or a bird of prey on the side of the road, he says what they do these hypocrites is like the birds of prey. They take wing and they soar up into the heavens. They soar up into the heavens going higher and higher and higher, but where are their eyes fixed? Not upon the heavens, not upon the sky, but firmly down on the prey.

On the people in which they're looking at. He says that's what they're like, these hypocrites. They're like birds of prey. They go to the street corners. Which by the way if you want to be seen by other people is a great place to go because on a street corner, you get 2 streets worth of people.

On the corner. Not just 1. You get 2 streets worth on the corner. And then they begin to pray, and they flap their wings and they they soar up to the heavens. God.

I thank you. God, I thank you. They're soaring up. But where are their eyes? Like the bird of prey?

Rooted on the floor looking sideways. Who's there? Who's watching? How are they feeling about what I'm doing? It's interesting for an example of this, you probably, and maybe it's come to your mind already in luke 18.

Jesus tells a story. About the pharisee and the tax collector, the pharisee and the tax. And if you've got a bible on you, it's worth just flicking over to have a look and to seeing how similar this is. This is luke 18 and verse 10. Jesus says 2 men went up to the temple to pray.

1 a pharisee and the other a tax collector. The pharisee stood by himself and prayed and here he is the bird of praise gonna take wing now God, I thank you. He ascends publicly. God, I thank you, but where are his eyes? That I am not like other people.

Robbers, evildoers, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. He knows who's in the room. He knows who's in the room. Thank you that I'm not like him. And so do you see outwardly?

It's very interesting, isn't it? Outwardly, his behavior might have been in check. He's not a robber. He's not an adulterer. He did give to charity.

He did do all of that stuff, but inside in the world of desire and motive, and reason. He was using god, and he was using prayer to elevate himself and to bruise other people. And here's the thing with this. To some extent, Jesus says, it it it sort of works. You do get what you want.

There is a prize to be had. People will listen, and they will think, car, listen to him. Listen to his theology. Listen to how many books she's so clearly read. Listen to the words she uses and how she talks.

I feel rebuked just listening to him. It feels like he's praying directly to me. And people will put their eyes on the person and how they're using these religious things. But that's all that the prize will be. And in the end, what is that, but dust and ashes?

Wanna other commentator says, nothing destroys prayer like a sideways glance at a spectator. Nothing destroys prayer like a sideways glance at a spectator. Who's watching? What are they making of me? Have I sufficiently told them off?

Have they been impressed by me? Have I managed to use religious things to bruise that person? And to elevate myself, nothing destroys prayer like a sideways glance at a spectator, which is why Christ says brothers and sisters, if you know who you are, If you really know who you are, not much, a sinner, a law breaker, desperately needy, but loved and adopted by the god of heaven. If you know that Christ, the son of god, purchased you on that cross, to make your hiss and to bring you into his family, you won't want to use religious things. To manipulate the opinions of other people and to serve yourself.

Not only is that sinful, It's just daft, isn't it when you think about it? It's just daft. If you are a Christian here, you you are already loved by the living god. He counts you perfect in his son. The most important person in the universe loves you as much as he could love you.

You are not better or worse than any other Christian you have ever met. You're all the same. Equently, equally made perfect by the blood of Christ, equally adopted into the family of god. It it just doesn't make sense. If you really understand who you are and who god is.

And so you see praying in public is not the issue. And even thinking about other people when you pray is not the issue. Because that can be a very kind act of service, can't it? If you're praying with a whole load of people who don't have English as their first language, and you choose simpler words and save them more slowly so that they'll understand you. Well, that's an act of service.

Or if you know somebody in the room is suffering greatly, and you think about a phrase that you could use that would really bless that person. That's an act of service. This is not about whether we pray in public or who's this this is about the gosh This is about the gospel in the heart. Do we know who we are before god? And do we know that he is our father?

And so do you see there's the first fake that Jesus is trying to warn us off the actor on stage? But secondly, look how he moves then to the Babula on the mountain. Here's the Babula on the mountain. This is, verse 7 and 8. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.

Do not be like them, for your father knows what you need before you ask him. The ESV, which is another translation of the Bible, has verse 7. Do not heap up empty phrases. Do not heap up empty phrases. The old King James version has it.

Use not vain repetitions. Use not vain repetitions. And for an example of this 1, maybe it would help to think of the prophets of bail. In 1 kings 18 on the top of Mount Carmel, if you know that story, where, Elijah goes to the top of Mount Carmel, and, there's gonna be a big demonstration about who the true god really is, and Ahab and Jezebel and the prophets of Baal and the prophets of Asherah, are going to be shown that their gods are not the real gods. And yet we read in that story that there are 450 of the prophets of bail who have gathered for this all day prayer meeting on the top of Mount Karma.

For hundred and 50 of them, all at the same time, morning until noon, and they cry out with the same vain repetition. Bail answer us. Bail answer us. Bail answer us. And they go on for hours.

And as the sun moves across the sky, things become more and more frantic and more and more desperate, because Bayon isn't answering. And so they have to shout louder and they have to prophesy with greater energy and they even have to self harm. They they do anything that they can. To try to get the attention of bail. You might imagine it like having a piano in front of you.

And with both hands, you're you're smashing down on the keys over and over again, smashing the keys harder and harder, faster and faster, hoping that your fingers might just land on the right key and produce a tune. And so you smash louder and louder to try to unlock the attention of god. Tragic, isn't it? It's a tragic scene because they've got no idea what to do, or who god really is, or how on earth they're gonna get his attention. And so they keep hitting and hitting and hoping that if they do it long enough or say the right thing, then god will answer them.

And you know, that is what always happens. When we look to man's religion instead of god's true revelation. When we don't relate to god on the basis of who he is and what he said, and instead have to just go into the dark and try our hardest. That is where we end up. If you've got no idea who the father is or who you are, then you end up with some version of what we find in verse 7 and 8.

And so do you see the difference between these 2. The hypocrites use prayer to get man's attention. But the pagans use prayer to try to get god's attention. Verse 7. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans.

Why do they why do they babble like that? For they think that they will be heard because of their many words. And don't we see versions of this sort of thing today as well? If we ring the bell enough times, then god will come and fill the altar. If we work the music and the atmosphere, as best we can, then god will come down and fill the room.

If we repeat mystical phrases, angelic phrases, that even we don't understand, then maybe god will grant me the intimacy with him that I long for. If we stay up all night, he'll be forced to act. Won't he? If we pray all night, Won't that getty's attention? See how it works?

Somehow, with our religion, we will get god to come down. There he is in his castle, and the drawbridge is up. But if we pray enough, And if we throw enough rocks at his windows, and if we batter his drawbridge enough, he'll see our devotion, understand that we're serious, and then he'll come and do what we want. And so we've just gotta use prayer to try to manipulate him to do what we want to come down. Well, why is that pagan?

Because in the gospel, god has already come down. He's already come down. Isn't that the great news at the heart of the Christian message? That god himself at a time of his own choosing, took flesh and came down and came to walk this earth that we might know him. Isn't that the Christian gospel?

But god so loved the world that he gave his 1 and only son. He gave to us. We didn't summon him down with our religion. We didn't persuade him to act with our devotion. He loved, so he gave.

He gave to us. And so faith is recognizing that we are empty, but it's laying hold of the god who has come. And knowing that in him is every spiritual gift and blessing that we could ever dream of. That in Christ Jesus, every promise of god is a yes and an amen, that everything that we could ever need is provided for us in our savior, the lord Jesus Christ. Martin Luther, the German, reformer, is, meant to have said, we pray not to overcome god's reluctance but to lay hold of god's willingness.

We pray not to overcome god's reluctance. It's not that he's out there reluctant to bless us, serve us, or save us, and we've gotta overcome it with our prayers and our religion. But rather it is laying hold of his willingness to bless us and to give us what we need in Christ, as our dad. So in the end, you see that the pharisee and the Pagan are more alike than they are different. It's us with our works and with our prayers and with our religion trying to control god.

To get him to come down and to give us what we want. Jesus says that is foreign. To the spirit of truth prayer, knowing yourself to be a sinner, how could I summon god with my pathetic wickedness that lives in my heart and mind. How could I summon god? But no, he came, and he loves me in Christ.

And I'm his child. And so do you see again, repetition in prayer is not the problem? Children often do that with their parents, don't they? They say the same things day after day after day after day. That's all.

That's okay. Repetition's not the problem. And even having 450 on the top of the mountain for a prayer meeting is not a problem. You can do that if you want to. But if we think that by doing it, we will force God to bless us and we'll control the outcomes.

Then we've really we've really missed it. Christian prayer tells us that god has come. And so thirdly and lastly, let's have a look at the real thing. We've seen those 2 fakes. Thirdly and lastly, this is the child.

With the father. And this is the authentic version, the child with the father. And really, this point is just trying to rub in what we've what we've already seen, I hope. But look at some of the differences here. Verse verse 6.

But 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. And once again, this is not about the size or the shape of a closet or the amount of light that it lets in and who could see it. This is about the father. This is about the father.

Who sees what is done in secret. You don't have to get his attention, you know. You don't have to say. Oh, god. See, see what I'm do you see me?

Do you see me? Do you see what I'm doing? Jesus says that your father is everywhere, and he sees everything. And he knows your heart. Isn't that wonderful?

Really? To know that wherever his children are, whether they're in a dirty prison, in a horrible part of the world because they follow Jesus, or whether they're on the train to work tomorrow morning, or whether they're at the hub or at home, wherever they are, they can pray. They don't need to go to the mountain. And they don't need to go to the desert or to the special building. They only need to go to the father through the son in the power of the spirit and wherever you are, he sees you and he loves you, and he wants to hear you wherever you are.

See, it's so sad with the religious hypocrite because they they miss out on all of this, don't they? The reason that they pray is only because of external pressure. It's the only reason they pray. External pressure. There are other people in the room, I feel like I've got to perform, but there's no internal desire to just be with the father.

Do you see that? They pray just because of external pressure, not because of internal desire. And therefore, when they're on their own alone, they never pray. Why? Because there's no reason to.

There's no reason to because what makes me pray, pray is external pressure. And so if nobody else is there, I'm on a low all alone and there's no internal desire, then I'm not I'm not gonna do it. And so they miss out. But Jesus is saying, no, look, here, you have a reason to pray. Your father sees you.

Your father sees you. That's what this closet or this private room is really about. You just You just picture it. You just try to picture it. A child of god alone, praying to their father.

What's what's it telling us? It's telling us that real prayer cannot be a performance, can it? Nobody else is there. Nobody else is looking. There's nobody to manipulate.

It's just me and my dad talking and I enjoy him and he loves me And in that moment, that's all that really matters. Nothing destroys prayer. Like a sideways glance at a spectator. The other half of that quote is that nothing enriches prayer. Like the knowledge that you are a child of god, and your father sees you, and he loves you, and he knows you and he wants to hear you and he cares about you.

Nothing enriches prayer, like that conviction in in the heart. But also, look, wonderful, isn't it? He knows what you need, verse 8. Isn't this amazing? Do not be like them for your father knows what you need.

You don't have to babble in order to tell him what you need. He knows what you need already. So the cynic might say, well what's the point praying? If he knows what I need, why bother? Well, 1 reason is because he knows what I need, but very often I don't actually know what I need.

And so I need to pray to find out. He knows what I need. Have you ever had that experience? You want to pray, and you're gonna pray, but then maybe you hear a talk or you read a passage of scripture, or you sing a sing a hymn, or you just begin to pray, and you find that the very act of praying alters what you thought you needed anyway. Just bringing yourself before your father, you think maybe I don't need to plead for that new kitchen.

As much as I thought I did. Maybe I just need to rest in Christ and enjoy being a child of God and pray that I might be said to say something to Jesus in the world today. Have you ever found that? How what you need is changed as you come to him who knows? What you really need.

But the other thing about that is is relationship, isn't it? The reason we ask, even though he knows is relationship. You see, it is true that most parents know what their children need better than they do. And, yeah, what happens in most homes? Well, it's not that the parents just lay out everything that the kids need on the table.

So that when they come down in the morning, it's all there. Everything they need for the day. But that because that cuts out the process of asking and providing and learning and talking. That's right, isn't it? The parent doesn't just say, don't talk to me.

Everything you need is there because there's something lovely about knowing what they need, but hearing them ask and providing and helping them learn what they need. That's relationship. Because otherwise, you don't need mum or dad. A robot can lay out everything you need. Who needs it?

That's if that's all it is, is you can just have a robot to do it. But this is about relationship. It's about knowing, mum, and dad, knowing our father who knows what we really need. But then lastly, look at verse 6. Isn't this wonderful?

Truly In in the synagogue truly, I tell you they have received their reward in full, but 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. Now, I think there's lots of nonsense about what this reward is. You know, if we if we just pray more often and pray more secretly, then we'll have a bigger treasure chest in heaven waiting for us rewarding us for all of our secret prayer. I think it's just nonsense. I think that's all about us again.

What is the reward here? Well, surely the reward is knowing that you are communing with the genuine authentic god. And that your father is listening to you and he loves you and he knows what you need and he wants to provide. Isn't that enough reward in and of it self that you've got the genuine article praying to the father who loves you and provides for you. That's what it is.

The child with the father. The child with the father is the authentic in this world of fakes. And so as we close, it might be that we're here and we've fallen for 1 of these fakes, and we all do, don't we? So so regularly, I know I do. We fall for these fakes.

And so do you see the answer is not just surface by a closet, pray more, pray more in secret. It's to it's to rediscover who I am and who god is. I'm a sinner, but Christ died for sinners, and my father loves me. That's the way to banish the fakes from our life. And to enjoy the authentic.

But then it might be that you're here, and you think, well, to be honest, I don't really pray like any of these fakes. My problem is I ne I never actually pray at all. I just don't I just don't pray at all. But you notice if you're a Christian here, That is the only thing that is not in this passage. Said at the beginning, Jesus doesn't say verse 5.

And if you pray, do not be like the hypocrites or verse 6, but if you decide to pray, go into your room or verse 7, and if you feel like praying, do not keep on babbling. It's when verse 5, when verse 6, when verse 7, when? When? And so we're, if we're in that position, where we feel no desire to pray at all ever. It might be that we need to go right back to the beginning and to properly understand for the first time.

Who we are and who god really is, that we are sinners, that we are poor in spirit, but that through Christ, we can know him as father. Surely, the child of god who has understood even the beginnings of that wants to talk to the 1 who has been so kind to them. Don't need to impressing with loads of words and with loads of religious actions, but we do need honesty about ourselves. And to trust in Christ. Because when we've got that, we have got the only thing that will begin and sustain authentic prayer, a child of god before the father.

So in weeks to come, we're gonna have a look at what Jesus actually says that we should pray. But do you see how critical these foundations are? We're gonna stay away from the fakes. A child of god before the father. Let's bow our heads now, and I'll just give you a a moment or 2, and you can take an opportunity to talk to your father in heaven about anything we've looked at this morning.

And then I'll lead us in a prayer. Heavenly father, we are sorry for the ways in which we have used religious things, like prayer, like learning, like knowledge of the Bible to bruise other people and to serve ourselves. And we recognize that that really is a complete misunderstanding of who we are and who you are. We thank you father that we don't have to summon you, that we don't have to try to impress you, that we don't have to twist your arm We don't have to try to manipulate you to do what we want. Lord, forgive us for ever thinking anything like that.

But we thank you that as people who are poor in spirit, law breakers, sinners, god ignores, that you have been so gracious to people like us that your very own son shed his blood on a cross for those very sins. And all we must do is come empty handed, and we will be adopted into your family. And we'll be able to know you as father And when we get that, we'll we'll be able to enjoy authentic communion with you. We won't have to use these things. For horrible purposes, we'll just be able to enjoy you wherever we are.

And so, lord, please, these lessons are are so hard for us to learn. And they take so long to get into our hearts, and it'll be a lifelong battle. But lord, we wanna grow in this place. So help us by your spirit in Jesus' name.

Preached by Tom Sweatman
Tom Sweatman photo

Tom is an Assistant Pastor at Cornerstone and lives in Kingston with his wife Laura and their two children.

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