Today is Valentine’s Day, I wanted to take two minutes at the start to tell you a little bit about the history behind Valentine’s Day. On Valentines day we remember a man known as St Valentine of Rome. His real name Valentine of Terni, as he was born in the Italian town of terni around the year 226ad Valentine was a passionate Christian, eager to share his faith. At one point a local judge demanded that if he wanted to prove that Jesus was real, valentine should heal his daughter because she was blind. and Valentine prayed That Jesus would heal her and miraculously, the girl was healed. Valentine was later arrested for trying to convert people to Christianity. He was sent to Rome under the emperor Claudius II. Stories tell that St. Valentine was imprisoned for marrying Christian couples and aiding Christians being persecuted by Claudius. Valentine and Claudius got along until Valentine attempted to convert Claudius to Christianity. Claudius became raged and sentenced Valentine to death, demanding he renounce his faith or be beaten with clubs and beheaded. Valentine refused to renounce his faith and was executed on This day in the year 269. ————————— Today We are starting a series on Prayer. In Matthew chapter 5 we have a famous section of scripture called the sermon on the mount, here Jesus goes through many of the most significant teaches of his ministry. Right at the heart of these teachings Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray. The sermon starts off with the beatitudes, blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth. -Jesus then talks about being salt and light, shining an example of morality love and virtue -He talks about how he came not to abolish the law but to fulfill the law. -Jesus then carries on to make the law impossible to follow by raising the bar to new heights. “You have heard it said, do not murder, I say whoever is angry with his brother will face judgement” -If you lust in your heart you have committed adultery in your heart. -If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
-Don’t get a divorce unless someone is unfaithful, don’t make oaths, don’t repay hate with hate or injustice with injustice. Instead love your enemies. Bless those who curse you.
It gets more and more radicle, more impossible, then he says this; Be perfect like God.
Jesus reveals to followers that they cannot possibly achieve righteousness on their own, they have nothing to be proud about when they approach God, and they should approach God with humility, not self righteousness.
You can’t possibly pretend to be achieving this in your own strength. You have no right to walk proudly into the presence of God. No, when we approach him, we first realise our need for him, and we come in humility.
Right at the heart of all of these radical instructions on living a righteous life before God, Jesus teaches the people how to pray. It’s a humble prayer for people that cannot achieve righteousness on their own.
Jesus was addressing a group of people where the many religious leaders in their society would use a display of public religious devotion as a way of elevating themselves above others. Jesus again and again throughout his time addresses this behaviour of self exultation and self proclaimed righteousness.
5 "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. 6 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.
7 "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. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation,[a] but deliver us from the evil one.[b]’ as Jesus has been teaching on many matters of the heart, he reaches into the heart of prayer. Don’t be prideful when you pray, don’t allow your prayer to be ruined by pride. Get all that stuff out of the way. Come before God in humility. Jesus is asking his followers to be genuine in their love for God And To get to the heart of prayer, the basics. A love for God, A Pure devotion. Jesus told his followers that they needed to have childlike faith. That’s a simple faith. A simple adoration. A simple request and hope. Jesus is leading people to the heart of prayer. Matthew 22:34-39 34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” The greatest commandment isn’t something you can fake - it’s a matter of the heart. Do you love God? The heart of prayer is to love God. God is looking for our hearts.
St Augustine is credited to this wonderful quote: “Love God, and do whatever you please” That’s the essence of the Gospel. He wants our hearts, if we give him our whole heart, he will guide us in paths of righteousness. If you love God you will spend time with him. You won’t ignore someone you adore. Prayer would be a pleasure not an obligation. Think about people you love, is it an obligation to be in their presence? No you love them, so you enjoy their company Jesus enjoyed going to be with God. Luke 5:16 NIV 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Jesus loved God. He left everything behind to spend time with God. Jesus longed to be in his father presence, to hear his voice, to have communion. Matthew 1:35 NIV 35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. The heart of prayer, is simply loving God. If you love someone you will enjoy conversation with them, you will enjoy being with them. Even in silence you will enjoy their presence. You will also be sensitive to what upsets them. I love my kids, I want to be in their presence The heart of prayer is to love God, and to love others. If we love God, we’ll want to be with him, if we love others, we’ll want the best for them, we’ll want them to know God, we’ll want them to be blessed and not to suffer. If we love other people we will pray for them.
It’s a challenging test - how much to I love God? Do I spend time with him? Do I talk to him throughout my day? How much do I love others? Do I pray for others? Do I bring them before God? Jesus models this as well. In John 17 Jesus is praying in the garden before he is about to be betrayed and handed over. In this moment of distress and anxiety he models how to respond. He prays, a selfless, focused and loving prayer. For others, John 17:1-11 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. 6 “I have revealed you[a] to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of[b] your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one Jesus in the garden is concerned with others. The heart of his prayer is love for God, and love for others. Band up ————————- Remember the our father - not a my father - our father “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation,[a] but deliver us from the evil one.[b]’ As you pray this week - I encourage to ask yourself, what’s the heart of my prayer? If I simply love God, how would i pray? How would I live every day? If I truly love others, will I pray for them? Maybe today you can make some new habits, find a new routine to love God and love others with your prayer life