1. A three-fold Reminder: Matthew 6:5-8
Here are instructions as we approach the subject of prayer. In any true prayer there must be:-
(a) Sincerity (v5) Beware of the wrong motive in prayer (to be publically seen). Only the heart that is set upon God will experience that communion with God which is the basis of effectual prayer. “Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, uttered or unexpressed.”
(b) Secrecy (v.6). Our Lord is not excluding united prayer with others. He is excluding prayers intended for the ears of others. “Pray to your Father.” Always our prayers must be framed with only God in mind. Beware of “horizontal” prayer, which reaches only our companions and not our God.
(c) Simplicity (vv. 7-8). Vain repetitions are the snare alike of liturgical or extempore prayer. Whatever is only a form of words and not the expression of the heart’s intense desire is a vain repetition. Beware of long and wordy prayers, which inform the Almighty. He knows! (v.8)
2. A Two-fold Requirement: Mark 11. 22-27
Here are the two qualities of soul without which we cannot truly pray.
(a) Faith (vv. 22-24). Faith is the vehicle through which God’s spiritual blessings come to all His children. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him,” because faith is the first condition of right relationship with God and until that relationship exists prayer has no meaning.
(b) Forgiveness (vv. 25-26). Just as we need faith, so we need God’s forgiveness if we are to stand in right relationship with Him. But we are not in a position to receive Divine pardon if we have not learned what it means to forgive. God’s forgiveness is based upon the work of the Cross, which alone made it possible. God does not forgive us because we forgive others, but He cannot forgive us unless we do.