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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Friday, November 18, 2005

Shutting the Door on Self-Righteousness

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional

Verse of the Day – Matthew 6:6
But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

Daily Scripture ReadingLuke 12

Puritan Catechism
Question #6: How many persons are there in the Godhead?
Answer: There are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one God, the same in essence, equal in power and glory (1 John 5:7; Matt. 28:19).

Devotional Thoughts
Jesus uses that word again, the word "when." I do hope you find time regularly to pray. To commune with God. Jesus expects it! And when we do pray He tells us how. And the how here is more than location. It is actually heart attitude or motive (seems to be a recurring theme, doesn't it?).

God is not concerned with the outward traditions of men. He is concerned with our hearts! Why are we praying? What are we praying about? Are we listening? If we pray and do not involve God -- we just talk! Then we really aren't praying. We're just talking! We have to understand that prayer involves, indeed is centered on, God.

When we pray we are to take the attitude of going to the most private place we can find, shutting everything out but God, and then commune -- fellowship, relate, ask, tell, plead, praise! He is contrasting this to the hypocrites in the last verse who pray so that others can hear them. They worship self and pray for the benefit of men, not God! We instead are to shut the door on self righteousness. It's not about us. It's about Him!

We are to shut out as much as we can so that we can concentrate and be talking and listening! You know, we really do need to take prayer seriously, God has to humble Himself just to look into the day to day affairs of heaven -- how much more must He condescend if He wants to commune with us? We must listen. "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10).

Jesus here, by the way, does not forbid praying in public. We are encouraged in Scripture to pray in public (1 Timothy 2:1-4). We are also to follow the example of men like Daniel. When Daniel was commanded not to pray he could have simply prayed in his room with the door and windows shut. He could have hidden his faith, right? He didn't! He was bold in his faith and did not let evil men disrupt his time with God. Three times a day he would open his window wide and prayed on his balcony as he was accustomed. He did not do this for men, but because to fail to do this would be a change in his routine - a change made because of the fear of men!! (see Daniel 6:10-11).

The lesson here is the lesson of attitude. When God speaks to us or we speak to Him, it should be as though nothing else matters. Nothing else can get in the way or break that line of communication. Act as though we are behind closed doors, alone with Him. Pray in the secrecy of our hearts! And God who hears and participates in those prayers will reward us openly (1 Cor. 4:5) -- He will answer our prayers for all to see. The glory then goes to Him who answers instead of him who prays. You see, the power is not in the prayer!! The power is in Him with Whom we talk!

It was said years ago by an early church father that people were getting accustomed to going into their rooms, shutting the door, and then praying so loudly that others down the street could hear every word! Don't think that because we are in a room and praying that that is all God expects. He expects our heart to be right and our motive to be a desire for fellowship and a need and dependence on Him for all we need. Today, don't worry about how and when to pray. Just pray throughout the day. And focus. Many times in my prayer life the only distraction I need is a wandering mind. Focus on Him. Talk with Him. He wants to talk to you today -- be still. Shut the door on self and learn to listen today!

Puritan Voices
We are reading a small portion each day from The Sin of Man-Pleasing by Richard Baxter.

Signs of Living to Please God

See therefore that you live upon God's approval as that which you chiefly seek, and will suffice you: which you may discover by these signs.

1. You will be most careful to understand the Scripture, to know what does please and displease God.

2. You will be more careful in the doing of every duty, to fit it to the pleasing of God than men.

3. You will look to your hearts, and not only to your actions; to your ends, and thoughts, and the inward manner and degree.

4. You will look to secret duties as well as public and to that which men see not, as well as unto that which they see.

5. You will reverence your consciences, and have much to do with them, and will not slight them: when they tell you of God's displeasure, it will disquiet you; when they tell you of his approval, it will comfort you.

6. Your pleasing men will be charitable for their good, and pious in order to the pleasing of God, and not proud and ambitious for your honor with them, nor impious against the pleasing of God.

7. Whether men be pleased or displeased, or how they judge of you, or what they call you, will seem a small matter to you, as their own interest, in comparison to God's judgment. You live not on them. You can bear their displeasure, censures, and reproaches, if God be but pleased. These will be your evidences.

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship


Blogger The Once Dead Poet said...

That is so true...Prayer is fellowship. By praying in a one-sided manner, we are showing the lack of reverence we have for our creator. In doing that we are basically treating God as a "yes man," instead of the all-powerful, creator and controller of the universe that He is. We tell Him what we want and He is just supposed to say yes to everything. It is just as you said...self righteousness. We tend to pray as if we are the center of the universe and that lack of reverence is SIN.

8:35 AM  
Blogger Phillip M. Way said...


I am convinced in my meditation on Scripture that prayer is more about talking that requesting. I know God asks us to come to Him with our requests, but at times I think we forget that prayer is communion. It is a conversation. And asking is only part of the conversation. Even if it is intercession for others, we are still just presenting God with a list of requests.

It is one thing to be dependent upon Him and to humbly ask for mercy, grace, provision, etc. It is another though to assume He will answer and give me what I think I need as soon as I call to Him.

For me, it is learning to use my time in prayer as an opportunity to have my will bent to His. Is this not the picture we see of Christ in the garden? In essense - "here is where I am God. You know it. I know it. I know what I want.....and I know what You want. Bend my will to Yours."

And that involves trust, faith, contentment, peace, assurance, etc.

The single thing that has helped me most of late in my prayer life is examining the attributes of God. When we see Him for who He is it is that much more difficult for our flesh to make Him out to be an all-knowing 24/7 spiritual ATM machine!

Sometimes I think we need to stop asking and just listen. Think about it. How much of our conversations with other people are us asking them question after question? And yet at times this is exactly how we pray. We ask God question after question, make request after request. How shallow would our other relationships be if that was all we ever did was to ask people for things?

The hard part is learning to develop the other attributes of conversation as we pray. Praise, adoration, expressing our dependence upon Him.

Obviously, I do not think it is wrong to ask God for things. We are expected to do so. But for me, I fall too easily into the habit that all of my prayer time is asking. And that is not a balanced conversation.


2:33 AM  

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